Jenny briefly talks about different types of borders as well as how color choices affect the look of the completed quilt.
Years ago I never thought about the angle at which quilts would be viewed. I simply laid the pieces on the floor or on the bed, rearranged the blocks to what looked OK, and sewed them together. Today, however, I realize that how quilts are viewed during construction compared with after they are made may be totally different. The perspective is totally different when looking at a quilt on an angle on the floor or bed versus straight on when on the wall. As a result, I have found that using a design wall is essential to audition and make choices on the patch colors in a block, block placement, fabric colors, border and binding choices. In fact, seeing the quilt take shape on a design has even changed some of the choices previously made because they simply didn’t contribute to the quilt as I once thought they would.
What is a design wall?
A design wall is simply a vertical space that is large enough to audition anything from block
patches to a quilt. It can be any size that meets the quilter’s needs. Some design walls are inexpensive or an easy DIY project, others are more costly. My small design “wall” is a 18″x24″ foam core board with a flannel pillowcase over it. I use it to audition block patches and to layer block patches for sewing. It is close to my sewing machine, keeps the patches organized, making it easy to pick up the patches when stitching them together. My other design wall is larger and attached to a wall in my studio.
Design Wall Options
- Flannel backed table cloth. Very inexpensive and easy to tack up on any wall surface. Flannel backed table cloths can be purchased in a range of sizes. The largest size, however, would not be big enough for a large quilt.
- Flannel covered insulating board. This is a relatively easy DIY project made from 2’x8’ or 4’x8’ insulation board available from a home improvement store. It is light weight, yet strong enough to lean or fasten on a wall. Use this link for instructions to make this project. http://christaquilts.com/2013/11/11/a-new-design-wall/ Instructions for other similar projects are also available online.
- Portable design walls. Offered in different sizes, this design wall is made of a light weight frame with flannel stretched across it. This type of design wall would be ideal if it needed to be used at a class, moved from one room to another, or had no permanent location. http://www.cherylannsdesignwall.com/
- Mounted retractable roller design wall. When delivering a Longarm system a couple of years ago, I discovered this unique product at our customer’s studio. Mounted on a wall or over a closet, this design wall pulls down, like a shade, offering space to audition a quilt. The beauty of his product is that it takes up very little space and can easily be rolled up out of view or allowing access to whatever is behind the design wall. It can even be rolled up with the patches or blocks still on it as illustrated in the photo. This would make an ideal design wall in a small sewing area where a larger fixed design wall would not be possible. http://www.design-a-way.com/
Regardless of how much quilting you do, the design wall is an important “tool” that allows you to visualize the finished quilt helping you make good design choices. Besides having a design wall, make sure you also have good lighting.
For those on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/explore/quilt-design-wall/
Recently one of the legends of the quilting world passed away. Yvonne Porcella, who never even won a ribbon for any of her quilts, influenced the quilting world for decades. Learning to sew from her Mother when she was growing up, Yvonne was influenced by the art and quilting motifs found in textiles purchased in the 60’s from Afghanistan and other nearby countries. Although trained as a nurse and crafting as a weaver years ago, she began quilting to be able to do something near her children and even sewed standing up with her machine on the kitchen counter top to keep the pins away from the children. Her eclectic art quilts are only made with a couple of blocks and almost always her signature black and white, often checked fabric.
The link below from a 2010 The Quilt Show episode is now available for all to see and
met Yvonne Porcella. I was first introduced to Yvonne on Alex Anderson’s quilt show years ago. Yvonne reminded me of a hippy with her unique, colorful clothing that she made. Her quilts also had that unique signature, not uncommon for today’s art quilts, but certainly very different from the traditional quilts of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Yvonne’s quilts made such an impression in the quilting world that the Smithsonian even purchased one of them in the mid 1990’s as well as having one chosen for inclusion in the 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century.
I hope that you will set aside about an hour to watch this video, meet this amazing woman and see how different things in life influenced Yvonne to become the quilt maker she was. More importantly, watching the video should make you think about what has influenced you to become the quilt maker you have become or are becoming. Most of all, I would hope that we each would be encouraged to step out of the box and express our individuality through our quilting.
The video is broken into chapters (listed to the right on the page) with short advertising interludes, so, if you do not have time to watch all of it, book mark it and go back later.
It seems fairly easy. Put the spool on the spool pin and thread the machine. This simple task, however, may be the source of thread issues if you have not first noticed how the thread is wrapped on the spool.
How Thread Is Wound On The Spool
You have probably noticed that thread is wound differently with some thread wrapped around the spool in parallel winds (stack wound) while on other spools or cones the thread is cross wound creating the “x” signature. How the thread comes off the spool or cone does make a difference in how it sews. In fact, some thread may actually kink up or twist as it unwinds.
Position the Spool/Cone Properly
Spools with thread that is stack wound or parallel wound should be positioned so that the thread will unwind straight from the side of the spool. On your home sewing machine the spool should be placed on a vertical spool pin so that the thread can unwind off the side of the spool as the spool rotates. For cones or spools where the thread is cross wound, the thread should come off the top of the cone/spool rather than the side. On a home sewing machine, these small cones or spools would be placed on a horizontal spool pin where the thread pulls off the top of the small cone/spool.
Longarm quilting machines typically use cross wound thread on large cones which unwind from the top of the cone when sewing. The cone holders are vertical pins near the back of the machine where the thread unwinds up off the top of the cone and up through a thread guide above the cone as the machine is threaded. Sometimes Longarm quilters want to use specialty, decorative threads that are usually used on a home sewing machine. Often these threads are stack wound (parallel wound). To use these threads successfully on a longarm, a horizontal spool pin must be used to prevent these threads from twisting and knotting. Additionally, because a Longarm machine stitches so much faster than a home sewing machine, the twisting and knotting can be very frustrating with many stops and starts to try and remedy this situation. Horizontal spool pin adapters are available and may be made of plastic or metal. Some of these adapters screw into the machine and others clamp onto the existing spool/cone pin.
The video below from Superior Threads below illustrates the two different types of thread wrap as well as how to use the Superior Threads thread stand for use with either type of wound thread. I have one of these stands and use it at my home sewing machine when using the large cones of thread I might use at my Longarm. These cones, of course, are too large to mount on my horizontal spool pin in the top of my Janome Horizon. Other times I might use a decorative stack (parallel) wrapped metallic thread. These threads are known to have kinking and twisting problems. The only way to successfully use these threads is with a side delivery method. The Superior Threads thread stand can be set up for this use, too.
Another spool pin adapter system is called “Specialty Thread Spool Pin Adapter,” www.thethreaddirector.com. This has a sturdy post adapter with a spool pin that is perpendicular to the post adapter. Depending on which way you attach it to a vertical or horizontal post it can be used for either stack (parallel) wrapped or cross wrapped thread.
Although you might “get by” positioning a spool incorrectly, using the correct thread delivery method for the cone or spool allows more successful stitching. While a stitching issue might look like a tension issue, it may really be caused by how the thread is coming off the cone or spool. Remember, when thread is manufactured, parallel wrapping goes on from the side and must come off of the side. Cross wrapped goes onto the cone from the top and must come off of the top.
Like a frame is designed to complement a photo or painting, a quilt is not complete with out its frame, the binding. Binding nicely applied is even, has sharp mitered corners, and the quilt fills the binding.
In The Quilt Show video below, Julie Cefalu demonstrates a technique to make sharp mitered corners and another technique for a nice finish. Add these techniques to her previous video and you are all set to perfectly bind your next quilt.
Although the video is made demonstrating the techniques on a domestic machine, the same techniques can be used when stitching the binding to the quilt using a longarm.
Have you had trouble with your binding being either two wide on the back, or not quite covering the stitching, or your corners are crooked? As a scribe for judges at a quilt show this past summer, from hearing and recording their comments, I know how important well placed binding is to the overall look of a quilt. In fact, a poorly applied binding can detract from an otherwise beautiful quilt. A binding that has been applied evenly, is filled by the quilt sandwich with nicely mitered corners provides a beautiful frame for any quilt.
This binding technique video from The Quilt Show blog will illustrate techniques for getting the binding width correct, as well as making a mitered corner that turns perfectly. Although the machine promoted in the video is a Bernina, these techniques will work with current domestic machines.
Next time you bind your quilt, take a little extra time using these techniques to give your quilt the perfect frame.