Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mystery Quilt

Last fall my quilt guild started a mystery quilt challenge. Each month another step was in the newsletter. The last steps just came in the April newsletter so have the center of my quilt together but have not added the borders yet.

I have decided to add some applique to the center section in the 6 lighter areas of the top. My idea was to have berries and leaves swirling in a circle and overlapping the dark fabrics some.

My first mistake was choosing my applique fabrics. The leaves were too close in value to the dark squares on the quilt and you could not even see them.

Instead of pinning them up and standing back and looking at it from across the room first I went ahead and machine appliqued them down using a tiny hemming stitch and clear thread on top. I then put it on my design wall and was horrified that you couldn't see the leaves. It really bugged me enough I knew I couldn't keep it this way as I couldn't even see the tips of the leaves and it looked like a jumbled mess.

I got out the seam ripper and started removing the leaves trying to be really careful as the stitching is practically invisible and the stitches were very tiny. Wouldn't you know it, I poked the seam ripper through my background fabric and made a tiny hole. Yikes! You know how a seam ripper has the pointed end and the short end with the plastic bump on it. That bump is to help you not do what I did. The problem was I had the pointed end under the applique (where I couldn't see it) instead of the short protected end and that is how I jabbed it through the fabric. Think I will remember to use it correctly from now on! Took quite a bit of time to get the leaves ripped off and all the threads out of the quilt top. I had to use the hemostats and a magnifying lens to see all those tiny stitches. I didn't even think of taking a photo of that first circle of leaves before I removed them but this is the original design.

Of course now I needed to change the configuration of the new leaves to cover the hole. I re-cut green leaves out of lighter and brighter greens and am in the process of appliqueing them down. Not sure I still like it yet but it is much better than the first one. This time I did stand back and look at it first and even dug out my value finders to check to see if I had enough contrast - better but not perfect. If I lived near a quilt shop I probably would have jumped in the car and just picked up something that might have worked better. Living miles away from a quilt shop and living in the middle of farming country I've learned to make do at times if I don't want to take the time or use the gas to make that trip. This was one of those times I guess.

I think I will stitch tendrils from the stems that the berries are on later. Not sure whether to do it before I quilt or make them part of the quilting lines. Am hoping I can make the leaves stand out more with the quilting as they are not as good as I had hoped they would be. They still tend to blend into the background. Oh well...

Back to getting more leaves ready for the next circle. Think I will get the rest all prepared before I do any more applique. I usually use freezer paper and have to open the backs of my applique shapes to remove it before quilting but am trying something new for me. Got the advise of an expert friend and she has used this product called RinseAway. (She has used other brands too) You cut the applique shapes, glue stick it onto the wrong side of the fabric, cut it out and glue stick the seam allowance to the back. This is then laid down on the background fabric and stitched down. You don't have to remove it as it just kind of softens after the quilt is washed.

Maybe I can get my sewing table cleaned up today and have more room to work than the 1 foot section there is now. There is fabric everywhere all jumbled up. I like working in a more ordered state but was so irritated about the first leaves I was anxious to see if I could make it better.

Happy Quilting,

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