NOTE: Once again I have two blog posts in one day! I’m a part of Teri Lucas’ Blog Hop for her new book with C&T Publishing, Color, Thread & Free-Motion Quilting. Comment on that post and you’ll be eligible to receive a free e-book!
It is pure coincidence that I’m reviewing Teri Lucas’ book on thread and the main focus this week for me has been….thread. I have been working on this tea bag and silk piece for a week or two and I had it all assembled last week. I was going to do some fancy design in the blocks but decided against that and I love the effect of what I’ve chosen:
All was well until I got to the border. I had been dithering over that stupid border, done a zillion sketches and tried a few things. I knew that either feathers or a pumpkin seed border would look good, but it was too expected and I didn’t want to go to “expected”. I tried a few things on plastic:
When stitched out, that piano key border died! I’m used a sheet of plastic from a big box store to sketch my auditions upon.
So maybe it needed curves:
That seemed logical. But stitched out it was way too complicated for the space, so I ripped that one out too and went to a simplified version that I was sure would work:
Okay, that was meh, at least it wasn’t bad. But I knew it needed something better so I ripped all that out also. The piano key and both spirals were a bust in my view.
I doodled around until I came up with what I’m calling a “Flower Grid”. That seemed just perfect.
It actually took a good bit of fussing around and a lot of marking to get this down, but I liked the effect and began to stitch:
Ah but the stitching died once again! Above I show my work in transition. The blue just fell away visually, so I auditioned the same stitching in black and yes, that made a huge difference. Sooo, that meant I had a LOT of ripping to do.
That is micro-stippling there, done with a magnifying glass and 100 weight silk thread. Those are tiny stitches, too tiny to get a seam ripper underneath. So I used the proper weapon, my stiletto, and a mean set of tweezers:
It took four hours to rip out those tiny stitches on just one side of the border! All that time produced this itty bitty pile of skinny picked-out thread. Ugh.
Yeah, but even that was not enough to make that design pop. I had to go over the blue stitching line twice to give it enough presence:
You may not readily tell from the photo but it does make an impact. Also, I had to travel from diamond to diamond with black thread stitched over blue thread. When I went back in to double up with the blue thread, I was able to cover the traveling black thread.
I want to write about my mission statement for this piece. I occasionally make what I call “pet quality” pieces and this was one of them. Personally, I think you’ll drive yourself crazy and suck all the joy out of creating if you try to hit it out of the park with each piece. You need “pet quality” pieces every once in awhile to bring the joy back.
You may know that purebred dogs can be purchased as “show quality” or “pet quality”. Show quality has a higher standard of perfection and the “pet quality” pup has some likely or visible conformation issues.
In quilting, when I am working on a “pet quality” piece, that doesn’t mean I’m sloppy or willy-nilly in my approach, I’m just relaxed. I missed that line, I think I’ll let it be. Stitches not quite even, it’s okay. The free-handed shape is not symmetrical – that’s just fine. Yet you can see that I took great care to make sure the thread and design was dead-on. That’s my definition of “pet quality” and this piece was chosen to be so.
Now, I have to write about my thread choice. I didn’t have the right color in my stash so I went to my local quilt shop to find the right color. Unfortunately the “right color” was in the wrong thread, a less-than-best brand polyester. Against my better judgement I bought it and used it in this piece – the blue thread. That stuff is ick:
The top thread is Aurifil 50/2, a high quality cotton thread. The bottom thread is the ick I purchased, a poly. The problem is not that it’s poly, it’s the quality of the thread. Can you see the fuzzies and the irregularity of the cuticle? See how stiffly it lies? The fuzzies, the irregularities, the stiffness – all can cause problems. This junk broke or gave me surface barf every 24″. I got too far into it to change threads. I even started to just switch to the Aurifil mid-stream, not worrying about how it looked. I just wanted to run good thread!
Fortunately, I wrote Teri Lucas who suggested I switch from my top stitch needle to a MicroTex, the exact needle I never would have chosen because this thread is so slubby. But it worked – whew! Keep in mind, every single thing about my set-up was dead on good except the crappy thread. Icky thread is NEVER worth it! And no, I won’t tell you what the thread is. I’m a thread snot and some have good luck with this thread. Just know how to recognize good thread. Hmmm, maybe I need to write about how to recognize good thread….
I hope this is done next week!
I’ll link up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday and there are always good links there.