Thursday, January 02, 2014

All That Glitters - finished!

Ta Da!   I'm so very glad this wall-hanging got finished in 2013, although, sadly, not in time for the recipient to use it for the holiday season.  But, it's sure ready for Christmas 2014!  :-)

Our youngest daughter, DD#3, loves everything Christmas.  I'm sure she would start listening to Christmas carols in July except for people around would her would probably thwap her over the head for starting too early.

This was a kitted project, fabric, pattern and LED lights, available from a vendor at Pacific International Quilt Festival 2013 in San Jose, CA.  Their sample didn't have the LED lights inserted, as they "ran out of time before the show".  :-)  But even without the lights, it was simply spectacular.   Even though I tend not to buy kitted projects, this was one I couldn't pass up.  So I did not. :-)

What I loved about this project was the layout.  Prior to buying it, I had not realized this was a panel print (the Christmas tree and snowflakes immediately above/below it).  But later Googling for quilting ideas showed me that MOST people who used the panel print did not have this specific pattern and simply used the panel print as-is.

The piecing is absolutely straightforward; nothing tricky about it at all.  I was even pleased that all of the star points were just exactly right.   Go me!  :-)

As for the quilting.  Oy vey .. my downfall every single time.  Sometimes a brainstorm will hit me and some times I just sit and stare for days.  To be sure, I have a lot of reference books for inspiration, as well as Googling the internet.  Sometimes, there is just TOO MUCH inspiration and I become overwhelmed.

But, eventually, I settled down and devised a plan.  Mostly, I used Glide "Khaki" thread - this is totally a misnomer.  It really looks like a burnished old gold.  It is absolutely luscious stuff.  My Tin Lizzie has never had a problem with this thread (knock on wood).  Where I didn't want the quilting to overly show, I used Superior's So Fine in a matching color.  The backing is muslin and the thread used in the bobbin is Superior's Bottom Line.

I'm very pleased with the quilting I did.   It's all custom done, with each area given careful consideration of what motif should go there and in what color.  I did a lot of outline stitching first; this stabilizes the area as well as giving it definition with respect to the surrounding areas.  Outline stitching on the longarm machine is not a trivial effort ... it's waaaaay easier to do outline stitching on my home machine because the control is so much greater.  Outline quilting on a longarm is kinda like patting your head whilst rubbing your tummy, BUT, outline quilting makes a quilt look so nice, so that's why I do it, even on Lizzie. :-)

I wanted the tree itself to be three-dimensional, so I densely quilted the background around the tree in a matching green
color with a clamshell/peacock feather design.  That flattens the background and allows the other areas to "puff up".  For the tree itself, I used the Glide thread and outlined the major snowflakes.  I did the same outlining in the snowflake strip above & below the tree. There are some small snowflakes in the background and they were outlined in gold also.  

Now here's a note about those small snowflakes in the background: they required me to *start and stop* the quilting for each one, since I couldn't stitch to the next one without the gold thread being seen.  Each start/stop requires that the tails be tied off and buried.  It's a major PITA but I do love my Dear Daughter.  :-)

The red sashings got a really nice undulating, circle-in-a-circle design in matching red thread. 

You can still see the chalk marks I made, as guidance, in the sashing.

The outer pieced borders are made of alternating "plain" fabric squares and pieced star blocks.  The "plain" fabric blocks have gold snowflakes printed on them.  Although printed fabric tends to hide any quilting designs (so it's not a terrific idea to do complex designs on printed fabric), because this was something that I was doing on my own (versus a client) and I wanted to do some feathers, I drew a circle in that plain block and quilted a feather within the circle.  Sure enough, you really can't see it when looking at the wall-hanging from a distance, but *I* know those circular feathers are there.  :-)

The star blocks were outline stitched for definition.  Holly leaves and nested ovals were stitched in the surrounding areas

As for labels, I have a standard "pirate" label that I use only for family quilts (and maybe on some gift quilts) ... it never goes on donated quilts but I also machine embroidered a label with the quilt's name, "All That Glitters". 

The machine embroidery design came from Ginger's "Gone Sewing" and stitched out absolutely beautiful.  I love her designs.  Unfortunately, it seems that Ginger has problems in keeping her website available, as it has been in existence under several different domain names.  At this time, I can't find this design, so I can't link to it for you.

The verbiage doesn't come with the design; you add what you want. 

As the final pièce de résistance, there is bling on the wall-hanging!  

Originally, mini-LED Christmas lights were to be inserted through buttonholes in the snowflakes, so that you could light up the tree.  But other quilters who finished this panel before I did, complained that the wires and battery pack on the back of the wall-hanging made it very bulky and unable to lie flat against the wall.  The universal consensus was that, while the lights were conceptually a great idea, practically speaking, it was a disaster. 

Instead, I put Swarovski crystals in the center of the snowflakes.  They twinkle when sunlight hits them and look so pretty!  :-)   This was the first time I have used hot fix crystals and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was (although you do need the special hot fix applicator).

The wall-hanging was bound in matching green fabric and a hanging sleeve was sewn in with the binding.  Dear Daughter will take possession of the wall-hanging, decorative curtain rod and removable Command Strip hooks the next time she makes a personal appearance at the ol' homestead. :-)

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