Tag Archives: longarm quilting

Puppy Love, Part 2

Oh joy!!! I’ve finished something in less than a month; 2 1/2 weeks actually.  It’s such a thrill to jump into a project and just breeze through to the end.  With this piece, I took a break from thread painting and just did some dense stitching.  The new challenge was to establish some designs that would fit with each element of the composition.

The blonde hair of the girl was easy.  I used various values of yellow threads in long, undulated lines of stitching.

PL hair

Next, similar, but shorter, wavy lines were put down with some variegated threads in a pattern that alluded to the hair of the dog.  Several times I had to stop and pet my dear Coco’s face in order to really understand the changing direction of her hair.  She didn’t mind too much.

PL dog

Stitching the face was a leap of faith.  It is so tricky to stitch the face!  If you try to recreate the actual contours, and the lines aren’t just right, it throws off the perceived shape and makes the face look distorted.  I decided to go in a completely new direction: loop-d-loops.  I covered the entire face in a small repetitive design that had nothing to do with its shape or contour.  I still varied the threads, letting the values do the work.  I’m really pleased with the results.

PL face

The background was the most troublesome decision, just as with choosing the fabric.  The print was complex and busy.  Afraid that it would become too strong and overpower other elements, I didn’t want to stitch the printed design.  I came up with a wandering ribbon design with a tiny meandering stitch to fill in the spaces.  I feel like the 2 patterns of the fabric and stitching sort of neutralize each other and take away their power to dominate.

PL background

Finally, here’s the finished piece.Puppy Love


A Horse of Course

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, but, as you might have guessed, progress did continue on the horseman.  In my race to finish it in time to submit to the Houston quilt competition, all available resources were diverted to making progress on this piece.  I did take some photos along the way and will share that progress with you in my next few blog posts.

Shiny and dull threads for this horse

Shiny and dull threads for this horse

This week, let’s focus on the stitching of the first horse.

I selected a variety of threads in the full value range.  This first horse is pretty dark, and if I think about what the horse would look like in real life, my thread choices would fall in the medium to dark range.  My analytical brain has to take over to pick the very lightest threads.  Because this horse is standing in water,  a selection of threads with dull and shiny finishes were chosen to differentiate between the wet and dry parts of the horse.

Often, stitching begins with the lightest threads, working toward the dark areas, but this time, I did the opposite. I can’t say why with certainty.  Perhaps it’s because the dark threads will complete most of the stitching and the lighter threads will add the finishing touches.  The first step is to make some broad, sweeping stitch lines to hold things in place.  That is followed by several passes, filling in more and more each time.

These photos show how the work progressed.

Stitching horse 0

Stitching horse 1

Stitching horse 2

stitching horse 3

While working up close, it’s hard to fully appreciate what is happening.  I have to rely on

Reference photo on the computer

Reference photo on the computer

what I know should work as I’m stitching.  I also keep my laptop near by with a reference photo on display.  It is always such a treat to step back and look at the work and be able to appreciate that it has come together as planned.  Sometimes, it’s even better, like the stitching along the neck of this horse.  That’s when I smile, pat myself on the back, and say, “Lea, you’ve done well.  You should have some chocolate.”

After a cup of tea and a few Thin Mint cookies, I had to admit that I was not thrilled with the nose.  More on that next week…


See Me on The Quilt Show

I recently taped an episode of TheQuiltShow.com with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  Subscribers to that website got to see that episode last week.  Many thanks to those of you that sent kind words through email and Facebook.

sitting talking

Photo by Gregory Case

Now, I can share a link to that show with the rest of you. Click on the link here and you can watch too.

Watch The Show

This link will work until May 11, so make a cup of tea and sit back to enjoy.

Let me know what you think Also, for those of you that subscribe to The Quilt Show, I have a new series of lessons in the “Classroom” section of the website.  This course is on “Contemporary Batik”  If you’ve ever wanted to try batik, but were afraid of the mess, check out this class.  It will be FUN, and EASY!! http://thequiltshow.com/learn/classrooms FTI: you have to be a subscriber to the website to access this class.


Bike Boys and Road Trip

This has been a BIG week.  I traveled to Paducah this week with my parents, Willis and Dixie, for the AQS Quilt Week festivities.  I received a first prize in the Small Wall Quilt, Pictorial category for my “Panning for Gold,” and met lots of wonderful quilters.  We were actually in Paducah for just over 24 hours, but, thanks to Dixie on a motorized scooter, we barely stopped moving.

Lunch on the Curb

Lea with parents in Paducah

In spite of the out of town time, I still made progress on thread painting the Bike Boys.  I now have the first 2 guys stitched.  With a win at Paducah, I’m energized to get this piece done in time to submit to the show in Houston in November.

This is the front man.  I’m not totally satisfied with his face.  I’might give him a mustache.

Here is the second man.  I rather like him, but I will need to do some additional shaping of the hat after I stitch the background figure. Below, see the 2 guys together.


Bike Tire

This week, I’ve managed to finish the bike frame and the tires.  I’ve taken a series of photos of the back tire to show how I progress from the lightest threads to the darkest, and then add accents (bits of black) and highlights (bits of white).  Aside from the white and black, I used 4 values of thread, but chose 2 threads for each value.  One was slightly warmer and the other cooler.  I’ve set up my threads and a reference photo on the laptop.  Now, I’m ready to get started.

I work my way around the tire using both threads of each value, but use more of the warmer thread in the back, lit part of the tire, and more of the cooler thread in the front, or shaded side of the tire. Here is how it went.

scissors point to trouble spot.

On may way around I discover trouble: the lines of the tire don’t line up well as they appear between the parts of the frame.  I’ll have to keep this in mind and make some corrections with the darker threads.

I use the mid-value threads to blend the edges of the tire trouble spots with the background.

scissors point to blending away of bad edges

I use the darker threads to redefine the edges so that they line up.

edges redefined

Now, I consult my photo from several weeks back showing the strings.  I use this to select key spots to add white and black to create highlights and accents at just the right spots. (see blog from 3/1/2014).

A mere four hours later, and it’s all done. Hmmm, what to tackle next…







Bike Boys Ride a New Machine

After a week of taking care of other responsibilities, I’m back to work on the Bike Boys.  Today I loaded them on the long arm quilting machine.  This was no small task since pieces are still coming loose.  

In addition to the backing and batting, I’ve inserted a layer of painters canvas under the Bike Boys appliqué.  This will help to stabilize the piece as it is stitched.  A layer of fine tulle netting goes over the top.  This will keep all of those raw edges from getting fuzzy and will help to hold the small bits in place as I stitch.  Because of the difficulties with the fusible, I did not wrap the the appliqué layer around the bars of the frame.  I was afraid it would all come apart.  

The most time-consuming part of the process is getting rid of all those little bits of thread and fluff.  I have to carefully run a lint roller over the surface, and then over the tulle.  The tulle seems to have a lot of static electricity so things keep jumping back on to it.  

Finally, it is all pinned in place and lint free.  I’ll wrap up this work session by doing some outline stitching around various spots, just enough to hold all the layers in place as I roll the composition back and forth when the real thread-painting gets started tomorrow.

All goes well, until I stand back to appreciate my progress and what do I spot??  Two little what spots of lint trapped under the tulle.