Some of you may know that I had entered one of my quilts into the National Juried Show at Quilt Canada this year. Thanks to Johanna Elford (Past President), she challenged me to step up and enter! So I pulled out all the stops and completed my “Flower Power” quilt by the submission date in February this year. Wow, I even took up swimming at my local Rec. Center to keep those shoulders & neck loosened up as I really worked long & hard from Nov – Feb on nights & weekends. There was no guarantee it would be accepted into the show, of course, so big excitement in April when I heard it had made the grade.
I used our Elna 9500 and Janome MC 11000 to do 48 embroidered blocks using Smith Street designs collections “Wildflowers” & “More Wildflowers”. I used 30 of the 48 blocks for this quilt. Most of the thread used was Wonderfil’s rayon & polyester threads though I did use some other brands (Diamond; Mettler etc) depending on the colours I had & needed. After embroidering each block – which was digitized applique in the hoop – I cut the blocks into circles and set them into a frame using a different batik fabric. (A bit like a set -in sleeve or see Jenny Haskin’s Aquamarine Ambiance book for more info on this technique).
I decided to sew the blocks together in an uneven way horizontally as I did not want them to be like “soldiers in a row”. I wanted something irregular. I also did not want to quilt the whole quilt as one big piece so I sewed it in vertical panels of 2 +2 +1 rows and quilted the 3 sections first before putting it together, adding mitered borders and piped binding after the 3 sections were joined. It made handling the bulk a lot easier. Also working on the EL740 EXCELLENCE with its 11 inches of space made my work SO MUCH EASIER!
You might notice in the picture that the embroidered circles are “puffy”. This is because I trapunto quilted these using 2 layers of high loft polyester batting and water soluble thread which was removed later. Excess batting was cut away behind each circle so only the circle remained. Then a layer of fusible Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting was added + the backing fabric.
Next came a decorative stitch on the EL740 (feather stitch) using varigated cotton thread to compliment the colours of the fabric & applique. This was stitched in a circle around the embroidery. This was done through all the layers of the quilt.
Finally I used Wonderfil’s Invisafil which is a super fine polyester invisible thread for the free motion stippling around each circle/ embroidery and in the border. Wonderfil’s Invisafil comes in a wide range of colours – so not just light & dark – which makes matching and blending very successful. I auditioned many different threads from matching cottons & rayons to varigated cottons & rayons but only the invisafil gave me the result I was looking for: blending that did not detract from the embroidery. I used dark green for the blocks and brown for the border. I used brown polyester sewing thread in the bobbin to match the backing fabric. I really like the fine thread as it does not add bulk and contrast and being polyester, it is strong and can be ironed. I did have to use a fine universal needle (size 70) to get thorough all that tightly woven batik fabric. Another choice of needle could be microtex needle which I would maybe have used only I did not have any! I had virtually NO thread breakage after I selected the right needle which I changed many times during the free motion to ensure I had a super sharp needle.
The EL740 with its Convertible Free Motion foot and Automatic plate converter APC (to single hole needle plate) was pure pleasure to use for the free motion. OF COURSE, I also used our BLUE DOT BOBBIN CASE which has a lower bobbin tension than the regular red dot bobbin case. This is VERY important if you wish to have great stitching on top & underneath your quilt. No loopy-loo’s on this quilt!!!
OK, so the big excitement for me was that my quilt won second place in the Excellence for Thread work sponsored by Wonderfil so I am so happy that I now get to buy all the specialty threads I need like Invisafil – I’m like a kid in a candy store! Thank you, Wonderfil & Quilt Canada. You made my day, my month, my year!!!!!