Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Carpenter's Star for Lori's Mom

Lots of Lessons Learned on this Carpenter's Star.
This quilt is for Lori P's mother. Lori wanted a custom job with a light touch. She wanted to see the design I was planning to do. She wanted to see what I planned to put in each segment. I always plan my custom quilts. I carefully look at the size and scale of the quilt and figure out what design/pattern looks good on it. I draw a rough road map (quilt map) so I know which techniques I will be using. I find that when I have to walk away from a quilt before finishing it, I don't remember the details that I have already quilted. Since the quilt is already rolled, I would have to unroll it to see how many lines I used or what direction the swirl went or what areas I used SID, etc. The quilt map helps me. This design phase can be time consuming. I learned the hard way that you don't try to do a custom quilt on the fly. It comes out disjointed and unprofessional looking.

Most of my customers just give me the quilt and let me decide what to quilt on it. The only information I need is:
-- who will be getting the quilt (age, sex, lifestyle)
-- rough idea of the feeling they want to convey.

Lori wanted to have a more active roll in this phase and she wanted to approve the design elements before I started thee quilt. That meant that I had to produce a clear (not draft-quality) quilt map and segments, scan them into a file, upload the file to the internet and draft a blog post with the scan shots of the pattern so Lori could make her decision. It was like writing a bid proposal. This step took me an additional 3 hours. I will remember that next time. I didn't find out that she wanted to approve the design until after I quoted a price to her. I need to factor that "post time" into my price.

Who will be using the quilt
Knowing who will be using the quilt helps me decide the treatment, thread, and batting. A dorm quilt is not a crib quilt. It is like the difference between a kids dragger quilt that will be used and washed frequently and a quilt that a senior citizen will be using to chase away the chill. Though you want both of them to last, one will be used hard and the other will be handled gently.

So many threads, so little time
The thread content and texture is almost as important as the color. You wouldn't put glittery thread in a kids quilt. Flashy fabric like Fairy Frost seems to go flat when you use a pure cotton thread with it; it needs some sheen just so the quilting does not distract from the fabrics used. I typically puddle several threads on top of the fabric to audition them. Then I start to eliminate the ones that "just won't work", followed by the "right color/wrong shade" threads. Then I make my choice from the remaining threads. Some colors seem to give me more trouble that others. Brown is the hardest for me. I have a tendency to go to the dark side for brown. I have to get help from the local quilt shop to get pulled back into the light. LOL.

Not all battings are created equal
It is also necessary to consider the batting to be used. I like to put cotton in a crib quilt. It isn't as warm but it is predictable. The poly batting gets a bit warmer but has a nice puff. Quilter's Dream makes a fire-retardant batting called Dream Angel. It is a very light poly. QD's poly deluxe is a very dense batting that holds it's shape. A quilt with QD deluxe poly would be good choice for a dorm quilt for a student in a cold climate; It is a bit heavier and of course, durable. But if the student is going to college in Florida, the quilt would be too warm. Warm and Natural Poly is a good choice for most quilts. It gives good definition and is not heavy. Quilter's Dream Puff which is so light and fluffy and is 1.5 times warmer than down according to the package. You can stitch up to 10" apart on this batting. It is as light as a feather.

The Carpenter Star is a very recognizable pattern, two nested segmented stars with background squares, setting triangles and corner units. Lori put 5 different borders in this quilt with a big 8 inch border of the rust color fabric with the gold and rust hearts. The stars were made of 8 different fabrics, from greens to rust and each star piece was the same fabric. Some Carpenter Stars put 2 different fabrics in each star piece. Makes it more scrappy. Lori chose hers to be more formal. The backing is the same rust fabric used in the large border on the front.

Once I figured out the batting and the thread, I started working on the design. I liked the look and feel of Sally Terry's Fleur De Vine pattern pack. The patterns consist of leaves, flowers and hearts. The stitching is light and airy. I thought it was perfect for the quilt. Since it was to be custom, I knew that both stars had to be stitched in the ditch (SID) on the outside so the star pattern would be the focus. The patterns in Fleur De Vine lent themselves well to placement in each segment with a minimum of resizing.

I used Isacord Thread for the first time. It was the perfect shade of rust(#1312 Burnt Orange). I also used a PolyTex Natural #747 in the background segments. I used Superior So Fine Ginger #426 which is a rust color in the bobbin. The tension was no problem, thank goodness.

I am so pleased with how the borders came out. I tried a couple of new techniques. The first border is a 3-inch scrappy border which I quilted with dancing leaves using the Isacord thread. Border #2 is a 1-inch Fairy Frost; I left this unquilted. It is essentially a "stopper".
The third border is 2 inches and is same as the background fabric. I used a stencil with scrollwork in it and the natural thread. The large 8" border is the focus fabric. There are 8" hearts (with leaves) on each corner and also in the center of this border. These are hard to see because the flash on my camera bounces off the metallic gold in the fabric print. I put in a big long "S" between each Heart shape and then used my Circle Lord to put in diagonal stripes in the border leaving the big "S" puffed up. The 5th border is the background fabric and I used a dart stencil in this one. The stars are the primary pattern and the secondary pattern is a an on-point square made by the straight lines. She plans to use the rust fabric for the binding.

Turn-around Time:
In: 20 March
Out: 10 April

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great blog, thanks! I really love it.

My life has changed in the last couple of years - some bumps, I retired from quilting, and then I moved to Texas. I'm anxious to see what new adventures await me in the next phase of my life.

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I started quilting when a quilt shop opened in our little town in January 2004. I have been hooked ever since.

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