Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wedding Ring : Quilting the White Spaces

I'm so happy with the way this came out!  Not nearly so hard as I thought it was going to be.
It probably helped that Auntie Rosita was looking over my shoulder the whole time to give me directions--and reminding me not to sweat the small stuff.  She wouldn't!

Here's the motif I chose for the football shapes.  Above, you see it sized and traced onto Quilt (similar to tracing) Paper, then stitched down to the quilt.  This is just before I tore off the Quilt Paper.  The black lines are not visible on the finished quilt -- just made it easier for me to see the design as I stitched.

I tried doing this with the walking foot, but it was just too much turning and changing direction.  Much easier with the free-motion foot.  That was the way to go -- totally!

Here's the view from the back --nicely stitched in neutrals.


I decided to go with a simpler motif for the larger white spaces.  Heart Flower Squared Stencil from RGA Designs.  I stretched and morphed it a bit to make it fit the distorted square shape I had to fill.

I had a different one in mind, more loops and feathers, but finally decided it would be too much with the thread overlap.  Besides, I like sewing loop-de-loops. 

Here's the modified Heart Flower stencil traced onto the Quilt Paper, and beginning to stitch with the free-motion foot.  This went to smoothly and easily, I'm surprised it didn't take as long as it might have.  It helped that this was a simpler design with less overlapping stitched.  That also helps the quilt paper rip off easier.  With too many over-lapping stitches, I have to spend more time picking out the paper stuck underneath the stitches.   

Detail of the Quilt Paper Motif stitched onto the block, but not yet ripped off.
The black lines are only on the quilt paper, and make it easy for me to see where to stitch.
The black lines are not part of the finished quilt.

Here it is after ripping off the quilt paper.   So nice!

View from the back showing the completed quilting.   
But not yet washed.   I was a little concerned that some of the white X shapes had some fullness to them, but that tamped down and behaved nicely as soon as I quilted it down.

Detail of quilting on a single block from the back. 

Wider view of the quilting from the back.

The full quilt -- after washing it up.  That's when the fabrics and batting shrinks a bit.  The Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly Batting gives such a beautiful crinkly antique look to it.  
That's why I love this particular batting!
My favorite moment is when it comes out the dryer after it's first wash-and-dry -- still warm and fluffed from the dryer.  You can see all that wonderful texture from the batting and fabrics settling into their final resting places.  The Ahhh moment!

Please indulge me some more pictures -- I'll be giving this one away in a few weeks, so I want to have a nice photo record.

Another view of the full quilt.  
Hard to see how nice it turned out from this distance.  That's why I'm including so many detail shots. 

Detail of the football knot motif.

This one shows off samples of the quilting on both the square and the football white spaces.

From the back.  

Ahh--I suspect the Bride will be pleased to have pieces of her Gramma in this one, even if someone else had to finish it.   ;-)

I remember when I got married, the quilts given at weddings from that generation of the family were just 2 pieces of fabric and some batting tied together with yarn.  Simple but functional, and still special.  When I got married in 1999, my own Gramma Matucheski was no longer able to sew, and off living in a nursing home by then.  As one of her last grandhildren from that generation, I didn't think I'd be getting one of Gramma's quilts, but My Auntie Marge came to the rescue.  She made a quilt for us from Gramma.  It's on our bed right now -- slept under it last night, even.   ;-)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wedding Ring Quilt on The Basting Boards

All Wound Up.

This one is being posted out-of-order.  I actually did these steps BEFORE I could quilt the rings.

It's just such a wonderfully colorful and scrappy quilt.  Here I am winding it onto the basting boards.  This quilt was enveloped, so it doesn't need a traditional binding.

I wanted to set out the proper order of the layers for enveloping a quilt, because it's easy to get it wrong (as me how I know, and how I spent a perfectly good afternoon un-sewing ...)

Layer 1 (bottom layer) : Batting - Free-floating
Layer 2 (middle layer) : Backing - Right side up
Layer 3 (top layer) :  Quilt Top - Right-side down
     In other words, the top and backing are right sides together, on top of the batting.

Baste all 3 layers.
Sew the edges, leaving an opening to turn it inside out.
Trim the edges so they are all even.
Turn it inside out.
Stitch the turning opening shut
Top-stitch the edges to reinforce the enveloped binding.
Baste and Quilt as desired.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sweet Leaf Buttons : Wood Finishing Reference

 Feed N Wax on Apple Wood.

 Tung Oil on Aged Oak Rounds : Two Hearts

Left - Right :  Oak with Tung Oil - Apple wood with Feed n Wax - Lilac with Feed N Wax
Bottom row is virgin Lilac round, for comparison.

I've started making wooden buttons from sticks.

There was a guy who came to the Fox Valley Tech School Sewing Expo a few years ago selling the most gorgeous wooden buttons.  They were pricey, too.  I splurged and bought a few from him.  I use them on my handmade journals, so I only need 1 for a journal closure.  Not like knitters who need many more for a sweater ...  I guess that keeps it more economical -- for me anyway.  I've never seen him again ...

So out of necessity, I decided it would be easy enough to make my own wooden buttons.  The trick is finding just the right sticks.  Ones that have been properly aged -- even better if it has that meandering black line running through it.  But not too old, or they get "punky."  Hard woods seem to work best; fruit woods (apple and pear). oak, cherry. even lilac.  This is the perfect time of year, too, as people are pruning their trees. 

There are lots of tutorials on the web that explain how to make wooden buttons from sticks.

Easy enough to find the wood, and cut off rounds.  Easy enough to sand them down, and drill the holes.  It's been a good excuse for my husband to purchase a few new tools, too!

I'm definitely still in the exploration stage, choosing wood with interesting patterns and designs in it.
Choosing the finishes ...  There are so many options!

My journals won't be washed, so I don't have to worry so much about durability that way.
But if I sell them to other people, I'll need to find the right finishing techniques.  I also want to experiment and see what I tolerate best (fumes, mess, etc.)  To that end, I am creating a reference list of finishes.  Of course, it will also matter what type of wood you are starting with, as well.

*  Soaked in Olive Oil  [not fried] :

These buttons sat in a jar of olive oil for about 4 days.  That gave them enough time to soak up all the oil they wanted.  Then I took them out and let them drain on a paper towel for a day.  They look as nice as the orange paste-wax buttons but without the waxy smooth finish.  I'll have to see how they age, but for right now, I'm impressed with just plain olive oil.  The Olive Oil even made one of the blah mystery wood (top) (soft maple?) buttons look kinda of nice.  Like maybe it just needed the right finish to bring out it's personality and beauty.  The large white button on the right is untreated, so you can see what a difference the olive oil treatment made.

Tung Oil -  I've seen this recommended in several places, as the Tung Oil polymerizes into a hard finish that is water resistant -- which means if it's on clothing, it can be washed.

Doesn't smell bad, but you do have to be careful of the rags, as they could combust.  After a certain point (say 20 minutes) it does get sticky -- that must be when it begins to polymerize.  And you need to put on multiple coats.   I'm thinking this finish is more trouble than it's worth for my purposes.

These looked nice soon after application, but it also seemed to "dry out" and get dull after a few days.

Oak Rounds soon after Tung Oil application.  See the the original Oak Stick in upper right corner.
They almost look like they've been stained.

Oak Buttons with Tung Oil after 1 week.  These were quite a bit darker/richer upon initial application.  They really lightened up after a few days.   The original stick is at the top of the picture.

Found Stick Buttons with Tung Oil Finish, soon after application.  After 1 week, they lightened to this : 

 Found Stick with Tung Oil finish, after 1 week.  Really lost the luster and richness, unfortunately. 

 Lilac Wood with Tung Oil, after 1 week.  Untreated lilac round in upper right corner.

 Lilac Buttons with Tung Oil after 1 week.

*  Feed N Wax - a combination of paste wax, mineral oil, and revitalizing orange oil.  This is a nice finish, that combines the best of some of the individual approaches.  So far this is one of my top favorite finishes, as it has a staying power some of the others seem to lack.

 Apple Wood with Feed n Wax - Very nice!

Apple Wood Buttons with Feed n Wax after 1 week.  They still look almost as good as when I first applied the finish.

Apple Wood Buttons with Feed n Wax after 1 week.  They still look almost as good as when I first applied the finish.     Ther whitish button at the top has no fisnish, so you can see what a difference it makes.


Lilac Buttons with Feed n Wax after 1 week.  The round in the upper right has no finish for comparison.

Lilac Buttons with Feed n Wax, after 1 week.

 Side-by-side comparison of Tung Oil vs. Feed n Wax on Apple wood.
It's clear that the Feed n Wax retains the warmth and richness I like so much.
The tung oil really lightened up after a week.


Deep Frying
Found a video on this, and I was intrigued, so this was the first finish technique I tried.
I can't say I was all that impressed.  I used Canola Oil at about 350 degrees for about 2 minutes.   They did get darker -- maybe I left them in a little too long?  Over-cooked?  They came out smelling like fried plantains (Well, to be fair, it's the very same concept!) -- maybe if I had used a different type of oil?  They used olive oil in the video, not canola.

Pledge Revitalizing Oil - Orange
This one definitely brings out the richness in the wood in the short term.  And it smells nice! But it seems to be lacking something ...  and may need to be re-applied periodically, or used in conjunction with the paste wax?   I think this might be comparable to Lemon Oil. 

Paste Wax - This is the one I've had recent experience with on my triangle loom.   Before I started this experiment, I was leaning toward paste wax, but wanted to give the other options a fair try.  It looks wonderful as soon as you apply it, bringing out the natural beauty of the wood.  But it does "dry out" after a short time, and looses some of that wonderful luster.   The half-round at the bottom is untreated for comparison.

What else can I try?
Any other suggestions?

In the end, I think it's between the Feed n Wax and just plain olive oil.  These are the simplest solutions for me, with the nicest results.

Which wood finish is YOUR favorite?

Ending with some eye candy :

Three Hearts - Oak Rounds with Tung Oil.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Progress on the Wedding Ring Quilt

Freshly-quilted rings, with a simple echo pattern.

Last Saturday, I was able to quilt the rings.  This is such a nice size to work with, because it's not such a struggle to maneuver, and you can actually finish a step in a reasonable amount of time.

I decided to use a clear polyester thread with the walking foot to quilt the rings, with a cream cotton in the bobbin (on the backside).  Even with the new batch of variegated threads I bought, nothing really seemed to work for all those oh-so-colorful rings.  The clear thread keeps the emphasis on the rings and doesn't fight with the many colors. 

Here's a shot of a freshly stitched section against the window with the sun shining through the needle holes.  The fabric will soon relax and fill in those spaces.
Such an honor to be working on this quilt.  Every single swatch of fabric is from my Aunt Rosita's scrap bin -- every bit used in some other quilt she'd made.  I have a little photo of Rosita attached to my sewing machine (which was hers, as well).  She's watching over me, offering guidance and encouragement.  I can hear her saying, "Looks good, Kid!"  "Aw, this is so wonderful."  "Kayleigh's going to love it!"  "Thank you so much for finishing it for me."  [How's that for positive internal talk?]  Thank you, Rosita.

Here's a shot of the back to show off the quilted rings.

My mom decided that we should give this quilt in June at the wedding shower, instead of August at the actual wedding.  This way we have a better chance of explaining some things about it to the Bride and her Mother, neither of whom are quilters--yet.

Still left to do : the white spaces in between.  I'll save that for a different weekend, as that requires some tracing and marking, and getting the stencil patterns to fit the spaces I need to quilt.