Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bear Pa -- and late summer goals

I can hardly believe that August is around the corner.

This has been a wonderful summer -- fun and also productive (both in terms of my work-work and sewing). I still have a couple of research & writing tasks to complete in the next couple of weeks and although the semester doesn't begin until the first week of September, August always feels a bit anticipatory -- not quite like holiday, although technically it is as close as I get. (Officially the summer months are my research semester, not time off work.  But we are asked to declare when we are truly "on vacation" and I named two weeks in August as my window...so I really should try to do something differently during that time, like drop off of e-mail...wouldn't that be radical?!)

With summer's sweet days now numbered, I am in the mood to wrap things up -- and am energized by the recent finish of the Biggest Quilt I Have Ever Made, the Bear Pa (bear paw) quilt for my dad!

Bear Pa, complete :)

I feel like I have been working on this close-to-forever (not as long as the Farmer's Wife Quilt, but still quite a long time).  If I remember correctly, I started planning this last Fall (shortly after receiving EQ7 for my birthday), and made the first blocks over the holiday break.  I think I was actually planning to give this to my father for his birthday...in January.  Ha!!  Anyway, now it is complete, and I am happy.

Bear Pa, king size -- quilted!

Bear Pa, detail
I added a strip of the Secret Garden "party dress" print to the top of the backing, for fold-down interest.

free motion leaves in the border of Bear Pa quilt

I was a bit stumped by the backing choice, but a group of generous women at Sew Sisters helped me to cull some choices -- and I settled on this Heather Bailey rose print, which I absolutely love for this project but which I probably wouldn't have chose if shopping online.  Sometimes you really do need to see fabrics together, in person!

I handquilted, using Aurifil 28 wt in a variegated lemon yellow, around each "paw" and each centre square, and machine quilted straight(ish) lines in the sashing -- using Bottom Line (super fine polyester thread) in both needle and bobbin.  I also used Bottom Line to free-motion quilt little leaves in the outer border.

Bottom Line thread mini-review: Having used Bottom Line for the first time and in two different ways, I feel like I can offer a little review of it.  It is a very, very fine thread, designed as a bobbin thread specifically but usable in the needle too -- where it is a great choice for subtle stitching.  I didn't want to overwhelm the texture of the Painter's Canvas (the brown fabric I used for the sashing/background) with quilting stitches -- but as you can see above, the FMQing still does show (which is good). It just doesn't jump out at you.

I did have a fair amount of needle thread breakage while FMQing, but only when moving to the left -- which is an ongoing issue with me, probably because I work on an oval dining table so I get a fair amount of drag from large quilts like this one.  I try to prop up the quilt mass to my left using the other dining chairs and even stacks of books, but this is obviously less than ideal. Bottom Line seems like a fairly strong thread given how thin it is.  I don't think you could work with a cotton thread this fine, so my first foray into polyester quilting thread feels justified.

And finally, one nice thing about FMQing with Bottom Line is that stops and starts can be well-hidden!  This thread hides mis-steps very well.

What's up next?

The following may be of no interest to anyone out there, but for the sake of my own mental health I feel like I need to write this out because there are still quite a few creative projects rattling around the house, calling out for attention...so here it goes.

High priority: My clementine shot cotton should be here soon, so hand-quilting of my Farmer's Wife quilt can begin.  This will be a slow evening, sitting-around-after-Frida's-bedtime kind of project.

FW pieced...better pic's soon!
I'll take any excuse to share this again :)

Another high priority project: I still want to stitch up the final two blocks of my Swoon quilt, languishing for since April. I loved the first seven, and it would be nice to wrap this up -- especially since I have yardage of a beautiful aqua architectural print (Moda Ethcings) for the backing.  Mmmmmm.

Swoon 4, 5, 6, and 7

Swoon 1, 2, and 3

HAL: Loulouthi hexies in progress

Lower priority:
In the past few evenings I have been picking up the Loulouthi hexi/EPP project I began last summer (yikes!), so perhaps that one can move towards closure too.  It's way beyond the point immortalized in this photo from last June...I'll have to take some more pic's soon, since it's looking pretty interesting now.

I have a couple of quilt tops I would like to finish up and turn into usable quilts.

Bee (A Little Bit) Japanese quilt top!
For instance, there's the one from Bee (A Little Bit) Japanese two years ago -- when I was first exploring my love of fabric (it all started with Japanese quilting fabrics, surprise surprise!).  I really might need to bump this one up to a high priority finish -- I know I'm going to love it as a finished quilt, and there's some interesting quilting I could do here....

I just pieced a backing (using a lovely big strip of Happy Zombie's Holiday Happy "Gnoma" in blue, so cute) for North Star, my quilt top stitched in a one-day frenzy during the Made in Cherry QAL -- last seen back in January, ugh.  I like but don't love this quilt top (I think it's the medium blue background fabric that irks me: I was determined to use something from the stash, and this is what I ended up with), but hopefully that will change with quilting. At very least, it will be a big quilt, which is always useful, and the colours are mellow and easy to live with... but that doesn't sound like a stellar recommendation, does it? Oh well.  It's nice and the backing is very sweet.

North Star quilt top (Made in Cherry QAL)

Well, I guess it's time to stop blogging, finish the article due tomorrow...and then start stitching.

Savour this last day of July!


LizA. said...

Wow! So many wonderful projects here......great job on Bear Pa--I'm sure your dad is going to love it. The Farmer's Wife just makes me feel guilty I haven't touched mine in ages. Love, love, love the Swoon blocks. I have the feeling I will be caving and doing those someday--after this move is all said and done. No quilting at all going on around here, not even knitting in the evening as I'm so exhausted. Hopefully the house will be ready to go on the market shortly....still haven't even touched the mess that is my sewing room.......

Hoola Tallulah said...

ah your quilts take my breath away!

Bubbles said...

It is too bad that you don't love the North Star, I think it is beautiful. If I could offer a tiny piece of advice, Don't quilt and bind it if you don't love it. It doesn't look like much work to change out the medium blue that you don't like. I have learned the hard way that I shouldn't finish something if I can turn it into something I will love.

Nic said...

Congrats on the bear paw finish.
You've got a lovely bundle of projects there. Love the colours in your swoon blocks.
I know you're planning to hand quilt fwq, but have you decided yet what type of quilting you will do on it?
I think you should take your two weeks vacation away from research, away from email and just sew. Think of all you could get done :)

Elizabeth said...

I followed your Farmer's Wife quilt here from flickr--it's gorgeous. And I really love your Bear Pa, Swoon blocks and other quilts, too. I don't even own a sewing machine yet--it's time--but thanks in advance for all of the inspiration!

quirky granola girl said...

have you started any of your FW hand quilting? is the clementine for the back? that sounds lovely.