Hi Crazy Quilters, you’ve been busy working on the first block of this mystery project! My email box was filled with your comments, the number of viewers on this Bernina Blog climbed to incredible heights, and the messages at my FaceBook group ‘Crazy Colors Mystery Quilt 2017’ were filling up my computer screen! Even with the Swedish group, especially created for this project. Please, continue to make a lot of pictures (I’ve seen all your wonderful blocks and they look great!) and place them in the Community of this Bernina Blog or at the FaceBook group. So we can all enjoy!
What I’ve noticed, is that quilters are squaring up their blocks, after making the last decorative stitches. This is NOT what you are supposed to do! (Some even cut their sandwich/block back to 27 x 27 cm – I don’t know where that measurement came from – or even smaller, to 26 x 26 cm. This is never mentioned in my diretions so that is not what you have to do). Your sandwich/block should be 32 x 32 cm (or slightly smaller due to shrinkage after making the decorative stitches), the fabrics on top should extend almost to the sides of this size of 32 x 32 cm. The decorative stitches have to extend way past the square in the middle of 26 x 26 cm, so a couple of centimeters beyond those (imaginative) lines.
If you want to add sequins and beads, you can do so in the centre of the block, but be sure to stop sewing them on 5 CM AWAY FROM THE SIDES of the 32 x 32 cm. (You can add more sequins and beads after month 12, when all is assembled). You will need this free space for assembly in month 12. If you are finished with everything, leave the sandwich alone – do NOT cut anything, do NOT straighten anything (not neccessary), and do not sew through all the layers on the edges, just put it aside till month 12, even if this is difficult for you.
If you are ‘new’ to this project, you probably would like to have the basic information about this Mystery project. Please check the Bernina Blog post from December 15 2016 (preparations and yardage) and of January 15 2017 (the first patterns and directions). You can view them whenever you like on the Bernina Blog
All basic materials and the way to handle them are the same as Month 1: to make the sandwich, take a piece of backing, batting 100% Bamboo and a piece of non-woven interface Vlieseline L11, all 32 x 32 cm.
Place the Vlieseline L11 on top of Pattern 2 and draw the lines of the patchwork and the square (dotted lines, square size 26 x 26cm), but NOT the numbers; use a pen. Make sure the pen doesn’t stain. Be sure the Vlieseline L11 is centered on top of the pattern; each side of this non-woven interface must protrude equally on all sides, and will cover de sandwich of 32 x 32 cm completely.
Now make this sandwich, and pin it down.
What will you do with Block 2? Making combinations of pre-programmed decorative stitches and freehand quilting.
Take the first (batik) fabric – you can make a template for the size plus seam allowance on all sides (remember to add extra seam allowance with the templates, that will touch the sides of the sandwich 32 x 32 cm: at least be sure the fabrics will protrude aprox. 3 cm, related to the square in the middle of 26 x 26 cm).
Make the first row of decorative stitches, using the right presser foot (I have used #20C), sew this row of stitches away from the sides, a bit to the middle, on the width/short side of the fabric (NOT in the length!): I have used stitch 619 with my BERNINA 770 QE. You can use any stitch you like, as long as it has arcs on top and a straight line at the bottom. If you have no decorative stitch like that, make one with your straight stitches – draw a pattern with water soluble pen and follow these lines in a slow pace. Make it look like a pre-programmed stitch.
I have made the stitch on the green batik with a bright yellow (variegated) thread (Tutti/Wonderfil).
Make a second row of decorative stitches: sew them on the other side of the fabric. I have used stitch 651 with my BERNINA 770 QE. If you are using another machine, find a stitch with arcs on both sides, or a stitch that makes circles. Or make a stitch with straight stitches, like with the first row.
Choose one out of two options: 1) make all your decorative stitches and freehand quilting per fabric, and change presser feet (#20C or other presser foot for making decorative stitches and a quilting foot for freehand quilting, lowering the feed dogs),. Do this before sewing on another (batik) fabric – or 2) make all decorative stitches on all fabrics first, sewing every fabric to cover the sandwich/block, and quilt freehand afterwards.
If you have never quilted freehand before (free-motion quilting), practice before working on your sandwich – choose the right quilting foot for freehand quilting, lower the feed dogs, and you will see that nothing happends if you don’t move the sandwich yourself. The size of your stitches depend on the speed you are working. There is no need to turn the sandwich, because you can work in all directions, while holding the sandwich gently down with both hands. You can make patterns with thread, as if you are drawing with a pen.
The advantage of quilting per fabric: all beginning- and end tails of the threads are neatly concealed under the ‘next’ fabric, but you will have to change presserfeet multple times (and don’t forget to ajust the feed dogs).
If you choose to work freehand (quilting) after all the fabrics are sewn on and decorated with sttiches, you have to be careful to make the freehand stitches exactly in the ‘ditch’ of two fabrics sewn together, and end them the same way: leave a large tail of thead (on top of your work), and bury these tails after quilting.
Picture above: Prior to working on my fabric, I have made a drawing of the first row of stitches (blue pen). Then I have drawn multiple lines above and below the first ‘stitches’ with color pencils to see what the effect will be. I’ve started drawing on the left upper side (arrow for sewing direction), rounded the corner on the right to go to the lower side of the ‘stitches’ and worked my way to the left again (arrow again for sewing direction). This is a perfect way to practice working with continuous stitches, for hand-eye coordination, before working with threads on your sandwich/fabrics.
For the second row, I’ve drawn some lines with white water soluble pen, because I want to make high loops. Even if I am quilting freehand, I would like to have some uniformity with my stitches… You can measure everything up front, but I like a bit ‘irregular’ work, which makes it appear ‘hand made’.
Work in a slow pace: practice on a sample – make the choosen decorative stitches and make rows of freehand stitches around them. You can follow my example, or design something yourself.
This is all the freehand quilting I have done on this particular fabric, I’ve filled out the empty spaces between these stitches with decorative stitches (remember to use presser foot #20C or your own presser foot again, and raise the feed dogs), and I have sewn on two Multicolor Zigzag trims with a wonderful rainbow effect, and some silver.
Then the next (batik)fabric is sewn on (with the last machine thread used for the decorative stitches), and I have made another row of decorative stiches on the empty space between the freehand quilting and the pink fabric (purple stitches).
The next stitches I have made are stitched on the edge of the pink fabric: I have choosen one that jumpes between the opening of the presser foot: it starts to the left, makes a few stitches, then jumps to the center, makes more stitches and jumps to the right to make even more stitches, jumps back to the center and so on, back and forth. The needle makes these stiches, and my presser foot just walks forward, but still it is difficult to make such a stitch on high speed. Just slow down and be careful the presser foot stays on track.
To know how such decorative stiches work, means to try it out on a sample. They will move kind of jerky, and you will find out it is sometimes difficult to stay on track. Using the side of your presser foot and the edge of the fabric means looking at everything at once, while the stitch jumps from one side to another. Just conecntrate on the side of your presser foot only: the machine will do the rest. But working slow makes it much easier… Don’t push or pull your sandwich, but gently guide it under the presser foot.
Another special effect: sew two rows of decorative stitches close to each other, but mirror them. There is no guarantee that they will be sewn exactly the same way (pushing or pulling the sandwich can make longer or shorter stitches, and other distortions). Sew one row, then mirror the other or just start the second row from the other side.
I have made these with Magnifico, a 100% polyester thread, which I have used in Neon colors, to stand out more.
With some stitches you can follow a line, or use a seam as guideline. Some stitches are starting in the middle, and continue to the left and to the right, but always follow that middle line, or the seam – be sure to work slow so you will stay on this middle line or seam.
A decorative stitch, made with metallic thread, has a high lustre. Be sure to try this stitch on a sample first, check if the upper tention needs ajustment. No matter what kind of metallic threads or needle you are using (Schmetz Metallic 80/12 of Superior Topstitch 90/14), or the BERNINA topstitch needles, and slow down while working.
But the best advise I can give you – especially befóre working with delicate threads – is to clean the bobbin case and the bobbin case housing of your sewing machine. That is something you should do every now and then, but particularly when working with so many different threads, making so much stitches per minute. The picture above shows a bobbin case housing (not mine, I can assure you!) with a lot of lint, that really needs to be cleaned. The quality of the stitches you are making will improve significantly after cleaning!
Do you notice the extra fabric, extending beyond the square of 26 x 26 cm, all the way to the sides of the sandwich 32 x 32cm? That is how it should be done – to be able to assemble everything properly in month 12.
After changing presser feet (and lowering the feed dogs), I have quilted flowers freehand, with connecting stitches between them. Quilting freehand is actually quilting a continuous row of stitches, starting at the edge of the fabric and ending at the other edge. Do not stop somewhere in the middle, for there will be too much tie-offs. Practice on a piece of paper, drawing a continuous line, see how this works, before quilting freehand on your sandwich.
And this can be the result… the flowers don’t have to be all even, and the distance between them can differ, because you are working ‘freehand’, it is not a pre-programmed stitch. Adding a bead or a sequin later can bring the flowers to life!
Don’t you think the curved stitches look wonderful? They are made with variegated thread. Remember that – when a stitch is very wide – you have to be careful to secure the (batik)fabric with pins, hold it flat, to prevent the stitches pulling the fabric and creases can appear. Do not pull or push the sandwich, just work slow.
Remember that with sewing sequins and beads to your block, you will have to leave 5 cm on all sides empty, for being able to assemble the blocks in month 12. After assembly you can add more sequins and beads to fill up the empty spaces.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: You can do more freehand quilting, leaving a lot more space between decorative stitches. There is no limit to this. I have only quilted freehand on fabric 1 and 4, but you can do this with all fabrics, or some, it is up to you. Remember you can embellish with sequins and beads afterwards, to brighten things up if neccessary or to fill empty spaces.
IMPORTANT: when your sandwich/block is finished, check if the size is aprox. 32 x 32 cm. It can be shrunken a bit because of the stitches you have made, and the freehand quilting. BUT DO NUT CUT THE SANDWICH, not even to make it tidy!!! Leave it like it is, and put it aside until month 12.
Well, this is it for month 2, next patterns and directions on March 15. Have fun making your block!
Sylvia’s Art Quilts Studio