Friday, October 3, 2014

Hand Printed and Hand Tied Quilt

Although I am being bombarded with "Christmas Boot Camp" emails from Etsy, (my own fault, as I signed up for them) telling me how organized and prepared I am supposed to be right now, I find myself, as usual, in the exploration phase! Lets see, last year it was placemats and it looks like 2014 is shaping up to be  the year of the quilt.

For a year or more, I've been longing to try this tutorial from The Purl Bee. Tied quilts really appeal to my nostalgic side. I know I grew up with one or two around! The tutorial has a different twist on things in that it uses a bar tack or "a very short  and wide zig zag" stitch rather than the usual tied yarn. This would have been a great solution for me if I could have gotten either of those stitches to hold. I tried to lock them all sorts of different ways but could not. I decided what I really needed was one of these machines. Something to save up for! After watching that (it's worth it!), I wonder if what I thought was the bar tack stitch on my machine really is….

So, I decided I would have to do things the traditional way. After consulting numerous blogs and hunting down various threads and yarns and their appropriate needles, I proceeded as follows. First of all, you may have noticed that my sample quilt is made up of beautiful hand printed fabric from India on one side and hand-printed-by-me linen on the other. I found this linen, at a fantastic price, in a wacky little store in mid-town Manhattan (one great thing about living here!) and it has been the source of inspiration for several exploratory projects. It's my favorite neutral off-white that has sort of an antique, or vintage, look. It rumples nicely after washing and is soft enough for bedding. Anyway, the built-in advantage of hand printing that side is that you have to mark the fabric anyway so you'll know where to tie the knots. May as well make it pretty! The above photo is self-explanatory concerning the first step for the knot tying. Put your needle down and then come up again about 1/4" away.

I'm using mint green cotton yarn here, as you can see. Call me crazy but I like it with the lavender fabric paint and I like the lavender with the red print fabric. I leave the thread doubled through the needle so that there are two threads running through the stitch. Pull the thread through, leaving a rather long "tail" behind. I would say that tail is about 3"

But don't go yet! In order to make that stitch really secure, we need to go back and put our needle back down REALLY close to where we took the first plunge. You don't want to use the same hole because you don't want to make it any bigger. At least that is what I saw on somebody's YouTube video. I just do as I'm told until I prove it wrong and, so far, this seems to work and make sense. 

It seems most people just want to feel their way through this, but I prefer to actually look and see what's happening on the other side. The layers shift and the thread can unintentionally knot, so all sorts of crazy things can happen. You want it to look nice! My camera is having a hard time focusing on that needle, but I think you can see it coming up RIGHT NEXT to the first hole of the previous stitch. 

When you come back up and pull tight (but not too tight), you have this cute little stitch that looks really pretty in the center of that hand printed flower motif! Hmmm I think it is just what that flower needed!

Make your threaded yarn nice and long so that you can stitch several spots all at once. This saves the time of threading your needle over and over. 

The motifs are placed 6" apart, so when you cut the yarn tail in the middle, you have the 3" tail length on each side to make the knot. By the way, the motif is from my most popular stamp set, "Modern Flowers".  In fact, it is so popular that I am all sold out. Hope to have it back in stock by Christmas. 

This is where I tried something a bit unconventional. I decided to tediously tie a knot in the end of both tails, about 1/4" from the central stitch, rather than make the customary square knot or surgeon's knot. I tested it on a fabric swatch and I would say it's close to impossible to untie.

A nice decorative touch. Looks like the stamens for the flower.

On the other side is a simple mint green dot. Pretty!

This was an exploratory project which came out to be gift-worthy. One of my nieces just had a baby, so I sent it off to her. Hope she likes it! I did warn her about the potential for the knots to come loose. Can't be too carful when you are trying to make the world safe for a baby!

Then I made a grown-up version using the same linen and my lovely "Tropical Garden" fabric.

I used black embroidery thread for the knots.

I'm fairly happy with the results but I'm wondering what would happen if I doubled up on the layers of batting. I'd like to have more puffiness. And, I don't know about you but I miss the hand printing on the back. My thought was to keep it simple, but the hand printing gives it that unique, personal touch. 

I really need to make some things for my shop!

I do have these two deep-pocketed half aprons!

Along with two that are hand printed but have no pockets. A friend told me she liked her aprons without pockets, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's a marketing experiment! The motif in the red & black apron comes from my Deco Garden stamp set and the rose with curly stems in the second-from-bottom photo comes from a new set I am working on. Would be nice to have that out by Christmas….. I know I said in my last post that I wasn't going to try. I have reconsidered. 

Stay tuned!

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