Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mt Robson Landscape Quilt

I did it! I finished my Mt Robson landscape quilt:
The final size is 20" x 13.5". Large enough to hang on a wall but not so large as to dominate. (If you compare it to standard picture sizes, it's roughly the same as a 20x16, if that helps.)

Making this quilt pushed me in a few new directions. Strictly following a pattern, for one. Not something I do a lot of in quilting. Although I did have to pick my own fabrics since the store was out of kits. I followed the suggestions of the pattern but the lower line of dark green trees coming from the left blends right into the hill of dark green behind it. If I had noticed that, I would have gotten an additional green fabric. But otherwise, I'm pretty happy with the tones and textures of the batiks.

Another thing I've done some of, but not a lot, is free motion quilting--especially on a realistic design. Here is a close up of some of the quilting:
The pattern instructed you to outline each piece with monofilament (or "invisible" thread), but obviously I went my own way. I made rough branch shapes in the trees, the ground is covered in round "pebbles", the water is rippling, the winds in the sky are swirling and in the mountains, I tried to imagine which way the layers of rock were oriented. And I think it was artistic license to imagine the center patch of steele blue was a giant glacier coming down so I quilted it in "flowing" shapes following the design of the fabric.

Here is a picture of the back were you can see all the different quilting lines:
(The triangles at the top corners are for hanging the quilt--you insert a
dowel into each pocket and you're good to go. So it looks like there is
no quilting, but there is.)
You may recall I had a lot of trouble with my machine on this many-layered quilt. It couldn't free motion quilt at regular speeds. So after doing the trees, I did the rest at super slow "clunky" speed. (That's the sound the machine makes when you go that slow, as opposed to a good steady hum.)

It was a new experience to work with the fusible for the applique. Being a bit of a purist, I'm not partial to raw edge applique, but it was certainly the way to go for this quilt. Next time I will definitely look for something much more lightweight. For most of the quilt, you have multiple layers as the scene builds and it is stiff and hard to work with. Being rigid will make it hang nicely, but I think having a quilt that's easy to work with and then layering it with one stiff layer at the end would be a better option.

The pattern called for a border that looked like a traditional frame. I debated different options but decided in the end to just put on a narrow binding. I didn't really want it to be much bigger and didn't think I would be happy with a faux wood frame around the outside. I looked through the stash and found a brown I was happy with for the binding.

I have no idea where the idea came from, but when I went to stitch down the back of the binding I thought of a way to do it so that the stitches are even less visible. I'm going to apologize for not having pictures, but if you've sewn binding I trust this will make sense.

The Evolution of Sewing Down Binding
1. You use a whip stitch and just keep the stitches neat and uniform. This will show a small diagonal thread for each stitch.

2. You modify the whip stitch so that your needle enters the quilt back directly under the spot where the needle came through the binding. This will show a small vertical thread for each stitch. But sometimes the diagonal thread leading to the next stitch shows a little too.

3. This is what I started using on the landscape quilt: a modified hem stitch. You bring the needle from the back of the binding to the front close to the folded edge. * The needle enters the back of the quilt just below the spot on the binding where it came out, moves inside the quilt (between the layers) to the next stitch location and comes out the back of the quilt, just below the binding. The needle picks up a small piece of the binding from the back to the front. Repeat from *.

In this case, the only visible thread is the small piece over the edge of the binding. The rest of the stitch is hidden inside the quilt. It also includes only "straight" stitches--nothing diagonal--so it will not shift or distort.

It's noticeably slower because you can only make one part of the stitch at a time and you can't load multiple stitches onto the needle, but I found it was worth it.

I'm sure I'm not the first to invent or use this stitch, so if it has a name, please let me know!

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