Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Out of the Blue

"Out of the blue" is defined in Wikipedia as "an idiom that describes an event that occurs unexpectedly". I'd bought this kit of Kaffe Fasset fabrics to expose myself to combining them in a way that was out side my comfort zone. My post on its assembly and my reluctant, but dogged, forging ahead was posted on April 20th. I am just now getting to FMQing it three and a half months later. The quilting went very well much to my surprise with myself. I have titled the quilt "Out of the Blue" because unexpectedly, I really like how this quilt turned out. It was an experiment and my goal was to learn but not to necessarily like the results. Even my novice attempts at the FMQ worked out well for me. I did not do it alone, I did have lots of guidance along the way.

Initially I tried to pre-plan what I would do in each section of the quilt but fairly quickly abandoned that idea as it got too complicated for me to draw and remember. I did however know I wanted to preserve the medallion aspect of the quilt. I decide to wing it and make it up as I went.

My inspiration of how to quilt to quilt the myriad of triangles was drawn from Angela Walters' Midnight Quilt Show episode titled A Wallflower Quilt Giveaway + Tips for Continuous Curve Quilting. The four arcs within a right triangle (beige in the following photo) were easy enough for me to accomplish and I thought they were very effective in forming a central petal or leaf. I just needed to decide in which triangles to repeat that shape. I let the fabric dictate my choices.

Here is my version, replicated twice, in two khaki right triangles that were right next to each other. I liked how adjacent arcs formed an additional "petal" of sorts

Repeating that pattern four times in the very middle of the quilt resulted in a blossom pattern, not too fancy, but anchoring the center without calling too much attention to itself. I preferred the blue toned fabrics so was content to let the khaki and chintz green take a back seat with those simplistic arc shapes. Here I previewed and practiced my pattern with dry erase marker on plastic sheet protectors.

In her Midnight Quilt Show episode, Angela Walters also advised to shake up those arc shapes a bit. She suggested serpentines but I like spirals instead. So went with curlicues in some of the richer toned floral prints. In the deep purple/ burgundy print I did two spirals, kind of like vine tendrils, and still flanked by two peripheral arcs.

In the aqua larger scale floral print I put only one larger spiral with more revolutions and in keeping with the size of the flowers.

In the geometric pebble print on the corners I reverted to the simple four arc pattern like I did in the khaki. Although it seems to be an obvious choice, I avoided doing pebbles. I am horrible at them and my pebbles look like scribbles instead of a collection of mellow O's. I once spent 16+ hours removing pebbles from the corner stones of a quilt for my son. See my 5/14/2014 post. I am generally bad at any patterns that require a lot of back-tracking so I avoid them.

To remember what went where in the four corners of the quilt, I inserted paper in my practice overlays and posted them on the wall by my machine.

The quilt corners turned out like this.

Notice the parallel straight lines in the speckled fabric and in the plaid/grid fabric. In my choice of quilting motifs, I was also influenced by the Inbox Jaunt blog by Lori Kennedy. Lori Kennedy advised placing straight stitching lines next to curvy ones for contrast. Her post shows an example.

I added parallel straight lines to my repertoire. They were a bit time consuming since I put them ¼" apart or a tad closer and my shoulders got a bit sore from the intense repetitive motion. But the effect was worth it and I suspect with FMQ experience also comes relaxation of posture.

Even though I treated most of the triangles individually there was a sequence of triangles in a large scale floral print with big royal blues leaves and vibrant pink Peony-like flowers that formed a band within the central portion of quilt top. See photo near the beginning of this post. It had truly bothered me to cut up that gorgeous fabric so, in the FMQing of this top I wanted to treat the continuous region of those fabric triangles as a unit. I decided to have a quilted feather decorating that band rather than an all over filler. I like feathers that require no back-tracking, and so I refer to the book Hooked on Feathers by Sally Terry. You can see my first foray into feathers in my post for June 13, 2015 my post for June 13, 2015 where I used Sally Terry's feather method on a strip quilt. In the following photo I have her book open to a page to remind me of the feather sequence. The band where I am quilting feathers is under the hopper foot.

To create a curvy spine for my feathers I used a semi-circle ruler, flipping its orientation when negotiating bends and rounding corners.

How did I choose my thread color for the quilt stitching? At first I thought I wanted royal blue, since the quilt is shades of blue and my favorite fabric was the one with the bold pink peonies nestled among the two-tone leaves of royal blue and aqua. I considered matching the backing, which is a rich purple. By the way, I was also happy that I was able to match the seam on the backing so well. Can you find it?

I lay the royal blue and purple thread colors, on the front and also considered a pale celery color that would go well with the khaki. For my previous quilt, Storybook Charm (7/5/2017 post), I used a taupe thread on a white background. The taupe did show up strongly, and my stitching was highly visible, but I thought I would prefer light thread on a dark background this time around and let the prints sing for themselves.

I again was also influenced by Angela Walters' thread selection in the Wallflower Quilt from the Midnight Quilt Show episode I cited earlier. I like that she does do examples of quilting on prints and not on solids only. I considered both of these similar toned thread color options and chose the more green, less blue, option on the left because I thought it blended better with the interspersed khaki tone. My backup if I ran out of thread was to switch to the more blue thread for the outermost rounds of the quilt. In fact, I considered switching thread colors as I moved outward in the medallion-style top, but reasoned that would be a fair amount of trouble for very little gain. Did I really want to have all those partially filled bobbins left?

That reminds me of something else for which I was grateful. I have a sit down Handi Quilter and so I do not load the quilt and proceed from one edge to the opposite edge. I have the freedom to work around the quilt rather than back and forth allowing me to decide concentric band variations as I proceeded toward the outer edges.

On the outer edges I decided to repeat a feather motif as I had done in the peony band. As I was working my way along one edge, I was not pleased with the proportion of my feathers. They were not quite plump enough for my taste and I was not quite sure how to improve them. But I have convinced myself I am not going to get better at my FMQ by spending my time picking out stitches. My new policy, reinforced by many of the FMQ professionals, is to rip out only if absolutely necessary.

Instead I decided to mix it up a bit and do spirals on two of the other edges. I liked the spirals better but actually enjoy the presence of the feathers as well.

Feathers and spirals together break up the monotony of the stitching process as well as providing variety along the edge of resulting product. Purely by chance, I discovered they are quite similar and tend to complement each other.

All that is left to do is to trim the edges, make and stitch on the binding, attach a label, and add a hanging sleeve. Once finished, I will post the photo of the completed quilt in its entirety. For now I will link up with Let's Bee Social #190.


  1. Goodness, I love all the detail you have shared here! And it all looks so good! I find FMQ very challenging, I have tried and tried, but would never risk it on a quilt yet!

  2. This turned out so great! I did not notice the different thread colors, but I did notice that your quilting looked spot-on and eye-catching, and that it really played up the original piecing design the way good quilting should.