Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A tale of many threads

Spots quilt blocks

OK, things have gone quiet for a while, mainly because I've been tethered to the sewing machine and ironing board to make the blocks for my latest quilt, tentatively called Spots. Once again, the solid scraps come from Column Inches; the prints were gathered from my last trip to the Carolinas. I was originally going to do something really simple, with circles of only one size, but I finally opted to go with this more lively Verner Panton–ish design. The photo above is two of the blocks on my "design wall" (that is, carpet).

I'm using machine appliqué to stitch the circles down to the squares. Not satin-stitch appliqué, but what the splendidly comprehensive BHG Complete Guide to Quilting calls "mock hand appliqué." You use a blind hem stitch, which looks something like this:
--v--v--v--v--
The Vs catch the appliqué. The top thread is invisible nylon thread, which the Mother recommended the last time we were shopping for quilting supplies together. My trouble came with the bobbin thread. BHG recommends cotton machine embroidery thread, 60 weight, but I only had 50 weight (which is thicker, for those of you who don't sew or, like me, can't ever remember numbers). The 50 was too heavy—it basically worked, but even with my machine's tension turned almost down to nothing, little dots of bobbin thread were popping through to the front.

I've lamented before the lack of quilting shops in Philly, but I determined that there was one in Chestnut Hill, Byrne Sewing (the address comes up on a Google search, but apparently it's no longer actually affiliated with the Doylestown Byrne Sewing they link to). It's a ways out, but the train got me there on Saturday just in time to stock up on thread before they closed.

Of course, a man in a quilt shop is like a woman in an auto-parts shop: the people who work there assume you really don't know anything (credit to Middle Brother for drawing the astute parallel). "Now, you know there are different kinds of thread," the shopkeeper said to me. She was quite friendly, and certainly helpful, offering to order the embroidery thread in other colors if I wanted it, but I had to prove my mettle. It didn't help my case when I said I was doing embroidery when I meant to say appliqué. Anyway, it's always a laugh.

So, armed with 60-weight thread (which does work better), I've been sewing up a storm. All the solid-on-print blocks are sewn together, so now it's on to the print-on-solid ones.

4 comments:

Libby said...

Yeah that's my favorite design wall, too. The blocks look great.

rose said...

your applique-embroidery looks great! and i love these prints. can't wait to see more...

Kim said...

This is looking really cool! You might want to try Dale Fleming's "pinless piecing" technique for blocks like these -- it's even easier than what you're doing! The tutorial is here: http://tinyurl.com/mf6eu

Feed Dog said...

Thanks for the comments! And thanks for the tute link, Kim--I'll give it a go sometime. It looks pretty much like what I was doing in reverse.