This is just a teaser photo of the whole cloth brown silk miniature I made that I call Thistles and Feathers. You can see from the photo and the bobbin sitting on the quilt the size of motifs I worked with on this quilt. Read on for more and to see the finished quilt in it’s entirety. Time to make another whole cloth silk miniature and here is how I start. I love to draw my designs by hand but this time I used my recently purchased The Ultimate Stencil by Cindy Needham to shorten the design time. I purchased the set of stencils and downloaded the free paper master grid originals and made copies to help draw the designs for this quilt. Cindy offers the free downloads to anyone so check it out. With a little math and geometry anyone can draw the designs but I found this to be a real time savor for me since all I had to do was print the grids out and start sketching. I do plan to use the grid stencils to help plan and draw quilting lines in the future.After many revisions, tweaks and corrections my design is ready to trace onto the silk. I take my sewing machine out of my sewing table, lay a piece of Plexiglas over the opening and slide a flat bar light onto the shelf that holds my machine and turn it on. I tape the design over the Plexiglas as I will have to move both it and the fabric that is taped over it to be able to see the entire design for tracing. This makes such an easy and cheap light box so give it a try. If you don’t have a large piece of Plexiglas you can always take out one of the storm door windows from a outside door, clean it up and lay it over an opening. I will caution you though if you do this that the glass can break and it will break into a million pieces. You might ask how I know but as you can guess I have had the lovely experience so please get the Plexiglass or some stiff plastic if you can. You might look for a poster frame in a hobby store as a source of Plexiglass/plastic as they use it to cover the poster.As you can see my silk is brown and you can see the design lines through it very well. I use a white chalk pencil to trace the lines, turning off the light every once in a while to check for missing lines.After the design is all traced I layered it with the wool batting and silk fabric backing and pin it together with straight pins. A new way I am basting the quilt and have found works very well is using Vanish Lite thread from Superior Threads. It is a water soluble thread so I use it in the top and bobbin for my basting.
I basted a grid, starting in the middle going each way so as not to stretch the top or backing. I did use the walking foot to do this basting. As you can see, for this small 13x13” square my basting lines are no wider than 1 1/2” apart one way and a bit farther the other. After quilting the vertical lines first I decided it didn’t need so many going the other direction. This held everything together so well and I could snip the thread if it was in the way or leave it to be rinsed out later since it dissolves in water. I think this will be my preferred method of basting from now on.I used 50 wt. silk thread to machine quilt the design areas first. As you can see I snipped out the basting lines in the middle but not in other areas. It just depended if the basting thread was in the way so I couldn’t see my lines. One change I did make on my design was to change the thistle blossom. My original design had several rows of zig-zag lines of quilting curved over the top to form the flower. I stitched one first on a practice sandwich and found I could not stitch that small of zig-zag so changed the flower to radiating lines.
The two photos below show the same area of the quilt with my first attempt at doing some background quilting with black thread and the second one with the dark green background thread. If you look closely at the one with the black thread I crossed over lines and kind of had a mish-mash of lines. Why you ask, well the problem was that after I stitched a line with the black thread I could no longer see it well and therefor crossed over my lines. I was using the magnifying lens attached to my machine and very bright lights from all angles but just couldn’t see it very well. After spending parts of 2 days ripping out the 100 wt. black thread I changed to the dark green thread and got along fine. I kept the thread dark so it would recede into the background but light enough for me to see when I was stitching. In real life it isn’t quite a bright as it shows up in the photo though.
Blocked and bound and ready to enjoy.
PS Sorry about the color variations of the photos. The true color is closest to the finished quilt photo that is the last one on this post.