Saturday, August 8, 2009


Sometimes it is more work to “unpack” from a trip than it is to pack. For some mysterious reason I always bring home more, even though I distribute the handouts, eat the food taken with me, sell the thread. My quilts “fluff” after being out and about in the classroom and take up more room, I buy a few things here and there, and clothes that have been worn and just tossed in the suitcase definitely take up more room.
Plus, the anticipation of the trip makes packing so much more fun than unpacking and getting back to the normal routine of everyday life at home. It is raining hard here in Wisconsin and we really need it for the parched lawns, gardens, farms. Good weather for "unpacking."

The laundry is in the washer, stencils back in the drawer, quilts out flat on my cutting table to relax and de-crease after being smooshed in the suitcase in hot, humid weather. I tacked the notes I made to myself on the wall, and now just have a bit of bookkeeping to do, then relax, quilt until it is time to get ready for the next trip.

I had a wonderful time with 39 students in two sessions at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY last week, and I too learned new things. Ideas, techniques, all were shared, and of course the quilts in the museum continually inspire and delight. It was a pleasure to visit two of my quilts on display and recall all that went into them and see them with a fresh perspective of time and distance.

The photo, below, shows some of my quilting on a small muslin sample. The circles, or “froth,” the bubbles on top of a hot latte, an heirloom variation of rocks or pebbles, are about 1/8” across.
When quilting them you need to slow down a bit, be sure the stitches don’t get too large or you’ll get rolling hexagons, adjust the top tension maybe a bit lower so the thread doesn’t pull as you do tiny designs. I used yellow thread on muslin and the effect is a subtle colorwash of color that blends and enriches.

Most of us in both classes found that quilting small circles like this is better done in small amounts at a sitting, short sessions at the machine. Be sure and take frequent breaks, look up, blink, rest your eyes. I use a magnifier on my Bernina whenever doing this sort of quilting design and it helps tremendously.

I do still take plenty of breaks though, and no one could pay me enough to quilt an entire background of tiny circles. I use them here and there, like a dash of seasoning in my quilt.

We discovered that #100 silk thread has this colorwash effect. Quilted heavily over a fabric color in a non-matching but blending shade it adds to the richness of the quilt without screaming “Thread!” or looking too contrasty. Thread is another tool we machine quilters can use to define our designs, control color, and let negative space show better.

Stitch length, color of thread, and machine tension are the three defining things that make or break the quilting.

Play around with some quilting and try a slightly “off” color of thread instead of matching it to the fabric, or contrasting it. Chartreuse silk thread on gold fabric, oh my, wonderful. How did I not know this twenty years ago?

Keep quilting, your work indeed will get better!



YankeeQuilter said...

Your quilting is just beautiful on that piece...I have to go through my stash (fabric and thread) and find some slightly off pairings!

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks YankeeQuilter - even on a sample or prototype I try to quilt the best I can at the time. Some days are better than others,but if you look down at your work and see something beautiful, the quality of your overall work increases tenfold.

Dena said...

Although I've been quilting for about 12 years, I've always been a handquilter and am in the process of teaching myself how to machine quilt. Not an easy task for me, but the tips you share are invaluable. Thank you. Your machine quilting is beautiful.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks Dena! Switching over from handquilting is easier than you think. Find a speed you feel "in control" and always try to do the best you can; don't get sloppy, something that's waiting right around the bend all too often.

Babette said...

Hi Diane,

Just finished reading all your posts, loved reading it.

I love Yli #100, I did it in my quilt called: The parrot who bumped into the peacock. I also found out about the colorwash. Color 211 looks a bit Salmon and shows up as light orange on orange red etc. It shows up as light pink on light blue and light green. I also love working with all the other colors, I used about 15 colors in it. It's such a good example for my classes. I really love Yli silk and I am fortunate to have about 50 colors.

Best wishes, Babette.