Monday, July 31, 2006

Fans Turning the Corner

I've gotten a few questions about how things are here in Egypt, whether or not we've been affected by the ongoing turmoil in Lebanon and Israel. So far, knock on wood, it's been very quiet. We're fine. The embassy has sent out Warden Messages which say to avoid areas where protests may occur, but there haven't been any problems for Americans here.

Now to completely switch gears, figured I'd better throw some quilting content in here. I wanted to show you this cool area where I turned the corner on the freehand fans. I'm doing the spiral pattern (you can see how this looks drawn out in my freehand fan tutorial) and this is the lower right corner where I'm ending the third row (or ring really) and beginning the fourth.

Just to the right of the bottom of the t, you can see where I began my last fan arc. It's an incomplete arc, since it runs smack into the second row. That's how it works. I also thought this arc set was too short so I threw in an extra arc - making seven of them instead of the usual six.

Then, below the o, I started the first fan of the fourth row.

And I wanted to include this pic to show you how the widths etc can change in these arcs. Look in the lower left - that arc is narrower. And as seems to be usual I have a bit of a bulge at the top of the arc set and then the whole thing sort of flattens as it goes down. That's not a mistake or a problem - it's just the way it goes.

I made these pics larger than I usually do, so you should be able to click on them and see the details.

If you want smaller stitches, try working without the hoop. Seriously. (You can read the tutorial here.)

I got an email asking for some advice on hand quilting. Does anyone out there have a good alternative for using a regular thimble? I know one alternative is a leather "thimble" and I have friends who swear by them, but I found them awkward and they do wear out much faster.

I don't think I could quilt without using a thimble. I swear by mine - it's got a ridge around the top that helps control the needle and keeps it from sliding off. I think it's made by Dritz. It's fabulous. One key thing is that the thimble has to fit well - not so tight that it pinches and not so loose that it wobbles around and wants to fly off.

As far as the quilting stitches going all the way through to the back of the quilt, I wouldn't worry about that when you are first learning. If the stitches aren't going through at all to the back, then maybe every tenth stitch you could do a stab stitch (send the needle straight down through the layers, then move your quilting hand underneath the quilt and send the needle straight back up. As you keep quilting and get more experienced I suspect that your stitches will start naturally going all the way through.

At least mine did. They're not pretty and don't look at all like the stitches on the top, but they go through. They didn't use to, I assure you. The other thing to try is a different batting (wadding for my British/Aussie friends) - one that is ultra-thin. I've also heard that wool is delicious to quilt through, but my allergies rule out that option.

We rented a couple of movies over the weekend. "National Treasure" was completely silly and predictable but fun. I'd heard good things about Woody Allen's new film "Match Point", but bleck. It wasn't a mystery - it was another plodding character study like "Crimes and Misdemeaners." That's it Woody, we're through. No more new movies from you. I'll stick to rewatching "Love and Death," "Annie Hall," "Manhattan Murder Mystery," and "Hannah and Her Sisters."


Kathie said...

I love the fan quilting pattern--I have about half a dozen quilts made by my g-grandmother and that was her quilting design of choice on every one of them. I wish I could adapt it successfully to machine quilting. I machine quilted one quilt in this pattern and it just involved too much backtracking for me--I am not a patient backtracker.

The Calico Cat said...

I have a question about your terms of endearment... When you stitched the terms, were the quilted or just embroidered through 1 layer? If they are quilted, did you then quilt fans over them using a different color?

Finn said...

Morning Ton, heard on the morning news of demonstrations in Cairo. Glad to hear you all are ok. Egypt is way too close to Israel for me!

Great job on the pictures of the fan arcs..they look terrific.

I'm a leather thimble quilter, but I do use the "Coin Thimble" that has the little metal part in the finger pad area. It really does do a good job. I do, however, have to use a dab of glue stick to keep it on my finger as it gets broken in. The leather does stretch over time.
I concur with all of your quilting stitches advice. That plus practice, pratice, pratice...or quilt til you wilt!!! It does improve if you don't give up...right?? *VBS*

Wool or a thin poly batt, like Mountain Mist is a great help while learning. And I kind of doubt if anyone will ever get a really nice stitch(the normal running stitch typee) while using a high loft batt. Stab stitch give a great front stitch, just don't expect it to look the same on the back. Many of our well known famous quilters began with the stab stitch and progressed from there.

I think you and I both know, the new quilters just won't get there if they don't just keep at it!!! Quilt, quilt, quilt!

joyce said...

THe pictures are great. Maybe I should put away my huge quilting frame and try without a hoop. I am glad to hear the troubles in the Middle East are not affecting you directly. It is all too sad.

quiltpixie said...

good advice on handquilting Tonya. I'd add one caution to "new" quilters though -- take your time. As you had quilt the finger on the bottom that guides the needle back upwards gets sore if you over do it too soon by stitching for too long. Give it time to form a callous and you'll be much more comfortable :-)

Judy said...

The stitches, as usual, are so tiny and precise...but a testement to quilting for a long time. I think the fans are fabulous, looking just great. All the tips are right on the money. I followed them and after about 3 hours of practice I was in the zone and getting good results on the front and the back. SO anyone out there just grab fabric, make a quilt sandwich, and practice! It will come. I'm doing the hearts quilt with no hoop and it's working great!

The thimble I use is dark brass and by Clover and it has an open top because I have long nails and I needed that. It's adjustable and looks simple, but it's solid and perfect for me with really deep dimples to hold the needle and a nice ridge to protect the needle from slipping under my nail. No thimble, no quilting. I also use ??Quilters Dream ??? cotton batt, in the Request, which is the thinnest size.

Jan said...

Your tutorials are so thorough, Tonya. Fabulous! I haven't handquilted in a while and the tops are starting to back up on me. You're making me anxious to get back to it.
I love the older WA films, too.

Tazzie said...

Your fans are amazing Tonya. I purchased a template for fans while in the US, but now I'm thinking I may just forget about marking them out and just go with it.
Your comments about Match Point are right on. I watched it on the flight over to the US, and to me, it just took too long to get going, and by the time the story started to pick up I was just bored with the whole thing. I don't think I've seen any other WA movies to compare it with.
Hope you're having a great week

cher said...

as usual, your quilting is the evenness of your stitches and it really is coming along- thanks for the close ups-

Lois R. said...

So glad to hear that you are safe. Please stay that way -- I worry about you, your sweetie, and your kitties.

I use the same kind of thimble as Judy, but not because my nails are long. I find it fits well, is comfortable, and stays put. I have tried so many different thimbles, but this is the only one I love. My advice is to try as many as you can. Borrow some from friends. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince (or your perfect thimble)!!!

Lily said...

TOnya your beautiful fans are really very inspiring. I'm reassured to know that the back of your stitches don't look as neat/perfect as the front!

There's hope yet. I have both a leather and a metal thimble. Don't know how to use them yet! Guess I'll work it out once I start the quilting!! One day, one day soon :)

Laura said...

Your fans are so wonderful, I must admit that I gave them a try and ended up ripping out what I had done. I am definately no perfectionist but I couldn't stand to look at how mine looked. I will have to give it a go again on a smaller project.

On thimbles, I can't use a real thimble, I have this issue with feeling confined and that even goes against wearing a thimble. I have had good luck with the thin leather ones. They wear out quickly but they work for me.

Dawn said...

Your free form fans never cease to amaze me - they are so perfect! And your stitches are truly amazing - I just don't know how you can do it without a hoop! Sounds like you use the same kind of thimble I use. Mine isn't a dritz but it sounds like the same idea.

Can you believe I got as far as getting out the fabric for "the project" this weekend! Maybe I'll even cut and sew some this weekend!

Joanne said...

Every time you post a sample or a closeup of your quilting, I get the extreme urge to run upstairs and pick up my hand quilting! But, yet, I haven't actually done it in a long time. I love your work.
Thimble of choice: Roxanne's -- very expensive, but I love them. I have two the same size -- sometimes my fingers are fat and sometimes they're skinny :-)!