Free-motion stitching detail, Penelope’s Art, 1995
Believe it or not, at one time I made pieced quilts. And soon discovered that I was no good at it. Then I discovered pictorial quilts made with fusing. Yipee! I also realized that free-motion machine stitching looked best on that type of quilt. So around 1993 I started to learn how to do free motion stitching on my sewing machine.
Free-motion stitching detail, Blue Chip Chair, 2005
About 10 years later, I finally perfected one stitch pattern, the MEMEME. Or so I thought. Sure my stitches were inconsistent in length and jumped all over the place. But the MEMEME was so usable on pictorial quilts with all those odd shapes and nooks and crannies.
Free- motion stitching detail, Color Chip Collage #6, 2015
About 20 years after first attaching a free-motion foot to my sewing machine, I’m still trying to figure it out. My friend Frieda says it’s practice, practice, practice. I say if I don’t see any improvement in the next 10 years, I’m giving up.
It was a struggle but, I finally chose a hot red thread to do the machine quilting on Spring Blooms #4. For a while I was going to take the safe route and use a green thread. But the red thread twisted my arm and made me use the color found in the other elements of the design.
Spring Blooms #4 by Laura Wasilowski
What do you think? Would you have dared to use red thread for the quilting and binding stitches? I kind of like it!
The fused collage used as the tablecloth in my Spring Blooms quilt was looking a little sad and lonely today so I added some Cross Stitches in the Sprouts colorway. That cheered it up! Add a few Running Stitches to make a grid on the green tablecloth and we are about to call this quilt done and ready for machine stitching. Still loving this color combination!
One can never have enough hand embroidery on ones quilt. That’s why I just had to decorate the top of the red vase on my Spring Blooms quilt. With that much real estate to work with, you gotta do some decorative stitching! The blue squares on the vase are made up of rows of Blanket Stitches. Then a French Knot is dropped in the center of the square like a pearl in a pond. Isn’t this a sweet color combination?
Like any fused art quilt, the improvised vignette quilt, Spring Blooms #4, is steam set to the batting before hand stitching. An even set of Blanket Stitches surround the blue flowers (the focal point) which are topped with a healthy dose of French Knots. (I’m using a Size 8 Pearl Cotton Thread with a Size 4 embroidery needle.) The Red Hots thread colorway repeats the same color spicy red in the wallpaper stripe.
For the leaves I’m using my version of the Fern Stitch. The thread is a Size 12 Pearl Cotton Thread in the Green Grass colorway with a Size 5 embroidery needle.
I must admit, hand embroidery really makes the quilt!
Now that the center vignette of my quilt is cut to shape, I can start adding the flowers, stems, and leaves to the vase. Here’s a tip: slip a piece of release paper or parchment paper under the rim of the vase. Arrange the leaves and stems and tuck them under the rim. When they are in place, remove the release paper and fuse the rim into place.
The improvised vignette is removed from the Teflon sheet on which I’ve been building. It is centered onto an over-dyed batik fabric and fuse-tacked into place. I like the idea of the flowers extending into the frame of the green fabric as if they are reaching beyond the confines of the wallpaper.