Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Construction of a Wholecloth Free Motion Quilted Tablecloth

Free Motion Machine Quilting

Living in a very tiny one bedroom apartment, without air conditioning, in temperatures that make flip flops too hot to wear, presents some interesting challenges, particularly (for myself) when making a large quilt. The size of this tablecloth is 104" x 64". For this reason, I sandwiched, basted and quilted only the actual size of the table top (82" x 42") on the first go-round, then added the borders once the centre section was completed. Constructing the centre of the quilt in this way worked very well; there was smaller layout space required and less bulk to fit into the machine. When it came time to add the borders, I did encounter difficulty in the sandwiching and basting process, because at this stage, the quilt was full size, and our apartment had not grown. Having squared up the centre section, it was possible to sandwich and baste one side at a time, keeping the fabrics taut. This is certainly not a preferable method of quilt construction, and I would not recommend it to anyone, however, it can be done. "Where there's a will there's a way!".

The actual sewing station was another challenge. My husband, an architect who has always promoted resource efficiency, embraced this challenge enthusiastically and creatively. With 2 saw horses, a sturdy wooden slab, some movable furniture cubes, and a 40" diameter dining room table (that collapses to 6"), I had a sewing space that accomodated this project, and furniture that neatly collapses to a very managable size for storage. Although there will be some refinements required (as in a wooden slab that completely covers the saw horses) for the next time, this temporary sewing station allowed me to complete the project.

(Not seen in the photo are the three fans directed towards me; an essential ingredient in the whole opertion!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Designing a Whole Cloth Freemotion Quilted Tablecloth

Marking, Sandwiching, Basting

Marking fabric for a quilt, especially for a large project, always presents interesting challenges. There are many very good options available now, such as water erasable, air erasable, iron away, etc., which all work well for smaller projects. However, when working on a 106" x 66" quilt, that will take weeks to finish, all of the above options have their drawbacks. Quite by accident, while travelling in Germany this summer, I found a chalk cartridge set called "Kreideminen-Set", by hoechstmass Signet (I have seen it on eBay since then), that made marking the quilt a very easy process, even on the dark coloured fabric. Being chalk, I knew that it would be necessary to remark some of it. However, when that time came, the chalk marks were still visible enough to use as a guide, and at that point, I used an air erasable pen on one area at a time. I found this procedure much more efficient then wiping off the water erasable marks once the quilting has been done.

It was necessary to do the sandwiching and basting in stages, because I do not have a very large layout space available in our apartment in France. The size of the table is 82" x 42". The finished size of the tablecloth is 104" x 64", (allows for an 11" drop). I cut the backing fabric in one piece, larger then the quilt size, centred the batting to match the dimensions of the table top (cut larger at approx. 86" x 46") on top, then centred the marked quilt fabric on top of the batting (cut larger at approx. 84" x 44"). These 3 layers were then sandwiched and basted, and prepared for free motion machine quilting. This reduced size was much easier to manage considering the limited space that is available to me in our apartment. It was also necessary to reduce the bulk for the sewing machine I have here. It's a Bernina 350, which sews beautifully like all Berninas do, but the space between needle and arm is noticeably smaller then on a "normal" Bernina.

Once this whole centre section was machine quilted, I squared and trimmed the finished fabric top and batting to the correct dimensions and was ready to proceed to the borders.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Designing a Whole Cloth Freemotion Quilt

Motifs and Symbols Provencaux

(The first draft combining the symbols and motifs into a continuous design.)

Through the ages the people of the southern regions of France in Provence and Languedoc, have revered and celebrated the generosity of the light and the natural beauty of their land. These colours and images have been immortalized in various art forms. The repertoire of motifs and symbols that has develpoed through local traditions is vast and covers many areas of nature (flowers, trees,fruits and veg, animals, etc.) , as well as objects representing sentiments of life (hearts, stars, crosses, etc.).

When recently designing a quilt, whose main focus was to be a "sanglier", or the wild boar found in the thickets and brambles of the French countryside, I chose designs that would likely be found in these regions. The centre motif is a very large "Sanglier". He is surrounded by scrolls and vines of thistles, artichoke blossoms, acanthus leaves, ghekos, cigales, etc., all held together by the ever symbolic "fleur de lis", the emblem representing the whole of France.

Once the research has been done, I begin the process of drafting the pattern. The first step is gathering and drawing the images that will be used. Wherever possible, I use my own photographs as a guide an inspiration. Once the rough images have been drafted, my husband enters them into his computer aided drawing program, refines the images and re-sizes them to my requirements. The last step in this initial stage, is to trace the resized and refined drawing onto vellum, which will be the pattern used to trace the design onto the fabric.

(Rough drawn symbols and images. These images are then connected to the "fleur de lis" to make a design that can be sewn in a continuous line. (photo at the top of the blog entry) )

(Image - Refined and resized with CAD.)

(Final tracing onto vellum. This tracing will be used on a light table to trace the pattern onto the fabric)