Little Red Fish

I’m going to the International Quilt Festival in Houston again this fall, and I’ve signed up for a couple of classes there. Going through this year’s class listings, I started thinking about the classes I’ve taken there in the past. I have some partly finished projects from those classes, and it seems like a good idea to dig those out and finish them. I have a bad habit of bringing things home from classes and putting them away, adding them to the stack of UFOs hidden in the closet.

This one is from two years ago. I took a class with Judith Baker Montano to learn how to make an under-the-sea piece using fabric and embroidery and various other embellishments. I’d done quite a lot there, but had not had enough time to finish it in class. I got out the partly finished piece and all of the materials from the class kit. Most of the background was done, and I decided that all I really needed to do to finish it was to add some embroidery and beading to the foreground.

This picture shows the work in progress, with some newly added embroidery. I’m not very experienced at embroidery, which made it hard to decide what to do. I followed some of the stitches in Judith Baker Montano’s book, Elegant Stitches. I definitely want to get more practice with embroidery, so that I have some experience to draw on when working on something like this.


Originally the piece was supposed to end up being 7” by 10”, but I decided I’d make it smaller so it could become a page in my sketchbook of small quilts. I used a piece of card stock with a window cut into it to see how it would look trimmed down. 


At this stage, it looked almost finished to me, but I thought it needed a focal point, so I added a bigger red fish to the foreground. I also added a few beads to the orange brain coral, and a bit more ribbon embroidery. Here’s a close-up of it, after I trimmed off some of the excess canvas.


To finish the embroidered piece, I first hand-basted the edges through all of the layers of fabric. Then I used a small zigzag stitch to attach a length of textured yarn all the way around.


Here it is, all ready to mount on a quilted background.


The final task was to make the quilted 8” by 8” page to mount it on. I chose some batik fabric for the front that I thought looked a bit watery.


For the back, I used a piece of batik that had shells and other sea critters on it. I layered the two fabrics with batting in between, and quilted around the shells, filling the spaces in between with some free-motion doodles. This is a fun way to get in some free-motion practice. Next, I used a couple of rounds of zigzag stitching to finish off the edges.


I mounted the embroidery piece on the quilted page with a straight line of machine stitching, and finished off by adding the grommets so I could add it to my sketchbook. Here it is, all finished.


I have a couple more class pieces I’d like to finish off before the end of October rolls around. I’ll post them here when they’re done.


Quilting the Sampler Quilt Blocks – Part 2

This post covers the quilting of the second half of the blocks in my sampler quilt. You’ll find the first half of the blocks in my previous post.

First up is the Baby Blocks block. This block is a bit different than the other blocks in that the lines are on 60 degree angles instead of 45 or 90 degrees. It’s also the only block that was pieced first and then appliquéd onto a background. I decided to emphasize the angularity of the blocks by quilting a grid of lines at the same angles as the lines of the blocks. The quilting lines are roughly one inch apart.


The Peace and Plenty block is all about angles, too. I like the pinwheel effect of the triangles, and I thought that concentric square quilting lines would emphasize the feeling of a pinwheel spinning around. The lines on this one are also approximately one inch apart.


These Bow Tie blocks were a little bit tricky due to the 3-D effect at the centre of each one. I didn’t want to stitch that down, so instead I quilted around it. Then I stitched straight lines on the diagonal. Once again, the lines are about one inch apart, with minor adjustments to avoid stitching in the ditch. I like the way that the lines emphasize the bow ties.


For the Steps to the Alter block I decided to emphasize the strong diagonal lines already present in the block by stitching a series of straight diagonal lines. Once again, these lines are about one inch apart, with a small adjustment to avoid stitching in the ditch.


Those are all of the pieced blocks in the quilt, but there are also two strips of the main print fabric and a square of one of the secondary fabrics that needed quilting. For the latter, I repeated the same square spiral quilting that I used in the Log Cabin blocks, because that square was next in line on the diagonal that they create.


For the two strips of the main print fabric I stitched a simple Greek Key design along their length. I thought that worked well with the horizontal and vertical lines created by the print. To do that stitching, I drew out the design on strips of Golden Threads Quilting Paper, and pinned it to the fabric. I stitched along the lines using free-motion quilting, then tore the paper away.




That completed the quilting on the blocks. In my next post I’ll show you what I did to quilt the background fabric that comprises the sashing and borders.

Some details:

Thread used for quilting the blocks is Mettler Poly Sheen Multi in colour 9938 on top and colour 9302 in the bobbin.

Related posts:

Planning the Layout of a Sampler Quilt

The Sampler Quilt – All Together Now

Pieced Back for the Sampler Quilt

Quilting the Sampler Quilt Blocks – Part 1


Quilting the Sampler Quilt Blocks – Part 1

I’ve been working on quilting the sampler quilt that I wrote about in previous posts. It took me quite a long time to decide how to quilt it. Sometimes the choices are simply overwhelming. I used my usual method of taking a digital photo of the quilt top and printing it out in draft mode on regular paper, and then drawing lines on the photo. It usually takes me a few tries to find something I’m happy with, but in this case I think I printed a dozen or more copies of the photo and drew all over them before settling on something.

I wanted to quilt each block in a way that would bring out some aspect of its design. I also wanted to have some sort of consistency from one block to the next, so that they would come together as a whole while still being individual blocks. I settled on sets of straight lines, in most cases about an inch apart.

The first quilting I did was in the ditch on every seam around the blocks and sashing to stabilize the quilt sandwich. I used cotton thread in a colour to match the background fabric on top, and a neutral polyester bobbin thread in the bobbin, to help keep that stitching invisible. Then I quilted the blocks. For that I used variegated polyester thread on top and in the bobbin to provide a bit of colour and sheen. I used the walking foot on my machine for all of that straight line quilting.

I’m splitting up the photos of the quilting over three posts to keep them from being too long. Here are the first four blocks.

I quilted the Log Cabin blocks in a square spiral about a quarter inch away from the seam lines:


For the Fair and Square block I wanted to add some movement, so I quilted diamonds that echo out from the centre. The lines are an inch apart.


I had a harder time deciding what to do with the Mother’s Basket blocks. I wanted to stick with the straight line quilting, so I stitched lines on the diagonal that are parallel to the lines of the top and base of the baskets:


The Broken Dishes block is quilted with straight lines in an incomplete diagonal grid. There are some places in this block that are quilted in the ditch so that there wasn’t too much space between lines of quilting.


That covers the first half of the blocks. The remaining blocks will be in the next post.

Some details:

Thread used for the initial quilting in the ditch is Superior Threads Masterpiece in colour 168 on top, and Superior Threads Bottom Line in colour 617 in the bobbin.

Thread used for quilting the blocks is Mettler Poly Sheen Multi in colour 9938 on top and colour 9302 in the bobbin.

Related posts:

Planning the Layout of a Sampler Quilt

The Sampler Quilt – All Together Now

Pieced Back for the Sampler Quilt