quilts Archives - Handi Quilter

Art or Math?

There is a whole bunch of math that goes into creating a quilt. Geometry too. Those are scary words to a lot of quilters. Some think MATH is a four-letter word. Others will go screaming from the room at the mention of the “M” word. So the question is: Is a quilt Art or Math?

Quilts are made for beauty. But it takes a lot of math to get to the artistry. Spaces are divided into smaller geometric patterns that interlock. Tessellations. Angles. Measurements. Formulas. Calculations. Ratios.

     

But, when all those little pieces come together, a quilt is much more than the sum of all those little pieces. All the fabrics that were painstakingly chosen, precisely measured and cut and sewn. That’s where ART takes over. That’s when emotion enters. Magically, art transforms those angles and measurements and geometry into something much more. Something that speaks to the heart and soul. And it matters not if it is perfect. Every quilt has that special quality, that harmony. Beauty.

The math is still there. Much of what the human eye / brain perceives as beautiful is based on some interesting math concepts. Just ask Mr Fibonacci.

So never fear the math, because it will take you to the art, if you let it.

Happy Quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter

 

Creating Texture

Every time you quilt you are creating texture. The very nature of what makes up a quilt, three layers, with the center being a compressible fiber, means that when you stitch the three layers together you will compress that inner layer with your stitches and create texture. The location of the stitches will be lower than what surrounds them. The contrast, low to high, creates a variation on the surface of the quilt. That variation is the definition of texture. (See last week’s blog post to refresh your memory of that definition.)

Seeing texture

Sometimes you look at a quilt and swoon over the gorgeous texture of the quilting. With other quilts, you might hardly notice the quilting. Why? If you look at a variety of quilts, (Pinterest is a good place to do that), notice where you can really see the quilting and you’ll come to realize that quilting shows up best on solid, lighter color fabrics. This quilted bag has a ton of quilting on the black background surrounding the mandala. But you can hardly see it.

Mandala tote by Mary Beth Krapil

This quilt has a lot of texture too. It is hardly noticeable on the colorful, busy and darker fabrics. You can see a bit of the texture in the light blue areas. This quilt is 12″ x 12″.

Miniature by Mary Beth Krapil

But look at the texture you can see on the back of the quilt!

Back of Miniature by Mary Beth Krapil

Emphasizing texture

What can we do to emphasize the texture? Here’s some tips you can use:

Pick the right place

Choose the lighter, solid fabric areas of the quilt to create the most interesting textures. [Don’t neglect the other areas with busier, darker fabrics though! If you want your quilts to lie flat, you want an even distribution of texture.]

And always remember, in the right lighting, even texture on darker fabrics can be seen.

back of Mandala bag by Mary Beth Krapil

Emphasize the contrast

Remember the contrast, low to high, creates a variation on the surface of the quilt, creating texture. So if you stitch some tighter quilting next to an area you want to emphasize, the tighter quilting will flatten out and allow the area next to it to pouf forward.

Mary Beth Krapil

The daffodils pop forward because there is tighter (or smaller) quilting next to them.

We usually refer to the tight quilting as background quilting.

Rule of thumb: The background quilting motif must be at least 1/3 or less the size of the motif you are trying to emphasize.

Choose the right batting

When you are trying to achieve texture choose a batting with a higher loft. There has to be something to fill up the unquilted areas to make them pop forward.  Avoid very flat batts.

100% cotton is an example of a flat batting. Wool is an example of a batting with loft. You can also use a polyester batting, just choose one with a higher loft or thickness.

When I want to emphasize texture I usually use two batts. A layer of 100% cotton or 80/20 on the bottom and a layer of wool on top.

But this was a faux leather pouch that I quilted with upholstery foam instead of traditional batting. It had super-defined texture!

creating texture

Faux leather bag
by Mary Beth Krapil

Choose the right thread

Both weight and color are important here. Matching the thread color exactly to the fabric results in seeing pure texture. The thread disappears.

micro-fill sampler
by Mary Beth Krapil

A fine thread also tends to disappear and leave the viewer seeing only texture.

Mary Beth Krapil

There are no hard and fast rules about thread though. Just like anything else in quilting, experiment and see what happens when you change things up. A contrasting thread can add to the texture!

Grid Sampler
Mary Beth Krapil

You’ve heard the saying, “Quilting makes the quilt”?  Well I think that’s true because quilting makes the texture.

What do you think?

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

Texture

There’s a lot of talk on quilting social media these days about texture. Just try a search on #TextureTuesday and you’ll see what I mean. What is texture, anyway? Dictionary.com says this:

Texture was what drew me to quilting.

I have no quilters in my family. My mother taught me to sew at a young age. But the intention was garment construction. She made our clothes, (my sister and I), until we were old enough to make them ourselves.

We had no quilts in the house as I was growing up. (Sad, I know). My grandmother knitted and crocheted. We had afghans, from dictionary.com: afghan: a soft woolen blanket, crocheted or knitted, usually in a geometric pattern. They were scratchy to this little, allergic to wool, girl. I kind of hated them, but oh, what I would give to have one of them today. I had no appreciation of my Gramma’s artistry.

afghan, wikipedia

Every year at Christmastime, we would get a card from a woman that worked with my Dad. They were the most imaginative cards with moving parts and they were embossed. I was enchanted by them. The Christmas tree branches had needles and the little girl’s sweater had knitted stitches. They were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. The design elements of not only image and color, but texture. And I thought the lady who sent them must be some kind of princess artist with the best taste in things ever.

Later in life, I really can’t remember when, I saw a wholecloth quilt. The emotions and thoughts I had about those Christmas cards came flooding back. A practical item with gorgeous texture that you could enjoy every single day of the year and it wasn’t scratchy! I was in love!

Making quilts

When I started to make my own quilts, my greatest goal was to make a wholecloth. I started hand quilting my tops, I quilted two. However, that was taking way too long, so I tried machine quilting on my domestic machine. That was hard, and uncomfortable, and not very much fun. Then I discovered longarm machines. And when I bought my first Handi Quilter I knew my goal might be in reach, someday, after lots and lots of practice.

And that’s my story about how I ended up here, writing to you about quilting. Texture drew me in and never let go.

Here’s some quilt texture eye candy for you. Next week I’ll write more about how to achieve great texture on your quilts.

texture quilt

Kim Sandberg

 

Mary Beth Krapil

 

Debby Brown

 

Mary Beth Krapil

 

Telene Jeffrey

 

Mary Beth Krapil

 

Kelly Ashton

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Quilts of Melissa Sobotka at the Handi Quilter Gallery

We are so lucky at Handi Quilter to have a gallery that features collections from exceptional quilters from all around the world. And right now, our gallery is filled with the lovely quilts of Melissa Sobotka. Melissa achieves a photo-realistic style of quilting by appliqueing raw edge pieces of batik fabrics. Then she enhances with inks to give greater depth.

Our gallery is open to the public. If you live nearby and would like to visit our gallery, you are welcome. Covid precautions are in force to keep our employees (and you) safe.  But I will share photos with you here if you are not able to see them in person. Enjoy!

Chihuly’s Gondola

quilts of Melissa Sobatka

detail Chihuly’s Gondola The Quilts of Melissa Sobotka

detail Chihuly’s Gondola

 

End of the Spin

 

 

 

Ode to Inspiration

 

Darshan of the Deities

 

 

The Calm

 

Archangel Haniel

 

Angel Watching Over Me

 

The quilts of Melissa Sobotka are usually quite realistic. Some of Melissa’s quilts are less photo-like and more painterly.

Gorgeous

quilts of Melissa Sobatka

detail of Gorgeous

 

Natalia’s Russia

 

Santorini Sunset

 

Last but not least, a commentary on the times we are living in.

 

A Modern Pandemic

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

2020-12-14T13:25:43-07:00December 12th, 2020|Categories: Gallery, Inspiration, quilt show, quilts|Tags: , , |0 Comments

More Adventures in Longarm Quilting

Last week we checked in on Diane Harris to see how she was coming along. Seems she is having more adventures in longarm quilting and learning a lot while having fun. We looked at her recent blog post, Hugs and Kisses: What I Learned. If you didn’t read it, do it now. If you missed the post on the Handi Quilter blog last week, you can read it here, to get caught up. This week we will talk about Diane’s other lessons and I’ll share my thoughts and a tip or two.

Diane says, “The next one is a problem and question that came up but I don’t yet know the answer. I’m counting on Mary Beth Krapil, my machine quilting coach and a Handi Quilter National Educator, to help me.”

4. Should the motifs in different parts of the quilt be related in some way?

Wow, Diane! That’s a huge question.

Here’s what she was thinking:

I had this thought when I started the loops above in the first border, and again when I started the straight lines in the outer border.

I like the loops and the lines a lot because they’re easy and forgiving. But they don’t seem related in any way to the motifs (fingers and leaves) I quilted in the blocks.

The answer to that question is a big matter of opinion.  I like to try to use some principles of design when choosing quilting motifs.

Rhythm and Repetition

Rhythm is created by repetition of line, form, and texture to create a visual link that the eye follows. It invites viewer’s eye to move from one part of the quilt to another.  And what does this mean to a quilter? When you choose a motif, like a leaf, you should repeat that shape in different parts of the quilt and Diane did that expertly by repeating the leaf form in all the dark squares of her X blocks and in each of her X blocks.

Contrast

I like to introduce contrast with the quilting. For lots of straight lines in the piecing, I use curved quilting lines. If there are curved lines in the piecing (or definitely for applique quilts) straight line quilting is the way I lean,  Diane’s “fingers” have a nice element of curve to an essentially straight design that creates that contrast to the straight-line piecing. She also created contrast with the scale of the fingers v.s. the leaf shapes. The fingers are tighter quilting that pushes down the batting in the background of the X and lets the X come forward with the looser leaf motifs. Contrast can also be achieved with thread color. You have to be brave or confident in your quilting abilities, because your quilting will really show with contrasting thread.

Balance

First and foremost the placement and scale of your motifs have to be balanced so that you end up with a nice flat square quilt. Diane used the straight lines in her border. Piano key-like designs are always a good choice for the border. Because of it’s back and forth quilting path, a piano-key design can tame a bit of fullness if needed. And as long as it’s quilted with fairly even spacing it really helps a quilt lie flat.

As to Diane’s concern that the straight lines are not related to the other motifs, it’s my opinion that straight lines always work, no matter what else is happening with the quilting.

Her loops are similar enough to the fingers that I think they work just fine too. She quilted them in the narrow pink stop border. I think a simple design like loops or zigzags or arcs are the perfect motif for narrow borders. Now, if she had chosen to quilt fish….that would be a stretch. Keep the quilting in narrow borders simple and you will always come out ahead.

There are many more principles of design and I would recommend researching and learning as much as you can about them. It will really help you to achieve better quilting.

5. Use a similar color in the bobbin as on the top

Yes, that is an excellent rule! It eliminates tension headaches. Starkly contrasting thread in the top and bobbin will show even the tiniest variations in tension. Diane used hot pink and dark blue threads on top, but didn’t think they would look that great on her light blue backing fabric. It’s always a dilemma when choosing threads, but if you stick with the same thread top and bobbin, it is much more forgiving. If you are a beginner and are afraid that your quilting won’t look nice on the back, choose a busy patterned backing fabric to disguise your quilting till you gain more confidence.

Diane’s next lesson was:

6. Your bobbles won’t show to the average viewer.

Amen. The people who will see your quilt will love it, simply because you made it. They don’t know anything about quilting and they don’t care! You made it, and it is beautiful. Even other quilters who DO know a thing or two about quilting will applaud you. You FINISHED a quilt. That is cause for celebration in and of itself. Not to mention the things you learned along the way.

Diane says, “Have you ever noticed that no matter how ugly a quilt might be during show and tell, people still appreciate the maker’s efforts?

And if it’s an early effort, even more so. We all start somewhere, and later we remember how much we appreciated the encouragement of others who understood.”

Wise words my friend! Quilt on!

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

 

 

 

 

Do You See What I See?

New HQ Gallery Collection, Do You See What I See? by Handi Quilter National Educators

Pareidolia – noun – the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features. That’s the definition according to dictionary.com.  The Handi Quilter National Educators were issued a fun pareidolia quilting challenge. We were given a piece of ice-dyed fabric created by the fabulous hand dyer, Debra Linker. Our goal was to bring out what we “saw” in the pattern and colors of the fabric using quilting. That is how the new collection of quilts, Do You See What I See?, hanging in the Handi Quilter Gallery, came to be. Kind of a fiber arts Rorschach inkblot test.

The HQ gallery displays collections of quilts from various quilt artists throughout the year. You are welcome to come view the quilts if you are going to be in the Salt Lake City area. I am going to share them with you here, so you can see from the comfort of your favorite chair.

Ray D Ology by Mary Beth Krapil

Do you see what I see Ray D Ology

As soon as I saw my fabric I saw a ring of skulls. I had so much fun drawing the friendly skeletons and other designs, digitizing my drawings with Pro-Stitcher Designer, and stitching with my HQ Infinity. When stitching the background rays I really got a workout using the Crop feature in Pro-Stitcher, and it performed beautifully!

For the center design I chose to quilt a stylized version of the radiation symbol.

Aliens Around by Waynna Kershner

Waynna from Pennsylvania saw Aliens!  Her quilting is amazing.

Bug Out by Patty Kerns

Patty from Virginia saw bugs.

And she quilted some fabulous background designs.

Hidden Scourge by Adam Rateliff

Adam from Ohio saw fire breathing dragons.

He really made great use of his thread! and did some awesomely detailed quilting.

I The Beeholder by Denise Dowdrick

I think the colors in this fabric informed Denise from Utah as to what she saw.

Her bee is very detailed and the honeycomb background quilting brings it all home.

Laugh Kookaburra Laugh by Gina Siembieda

I can’t help but smile when I see Gina from California’s quilt with the googly eyes. Can you see those bird heads? The center must be filled with the best Kookaburro bird seed.

Monkey See Monkey Do by Judy Hays

Gorgeous quilting by Judy of Colorado and wait til you see her cute monkeys.

 

Night Owls by Julie Elliott

Julie from Colorado saw owls in the night.

Her center quilting design is pretty spectacular!

Pack by Megan Best

Megan from Washington State saw wolves. I had to really concentrate to see them in the fabric but once I saw her quilting, WoW! there they were.

Peacocks Primping their Plumes by Linda Gosselin

Try saying that 5 times fast! Linda from Massachusetts captured those feather plumes perfectly.

Regeneration Station by Lana Russel

Lana from Indiana saw some aliens powering up, hopefully for the long ride home.

Sweet Seraphim by Barb Tatera

Barb from Arizona got a little heavenly inspiration for her amazing quilting.

The Mothman by Martha Higdon

Martha from Indiana picked out some moths eating her fabric.

Hope you enjoyed this gallery tour. Did you see what we saw?

 

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