Monday 12 December 2011

Christmas Table Runner

We have put up our Christmas decorations and my daughter decided to change things around this year. For the past few years we have been decorating the lounge room only and had just one heavily decorated room. This year my daughter decided that we will put some decorations in the family room as well because that is where we spend most of our time.

She put Santa and his sleigh in the middle of the table and it looked too bare. I decided that he needed a table runner underneath him. I wanted something quick and easy, although it took longer than I expected. At first I thought I would piece some stars to go in the middle but realised that it would be too busy and I was supposed to be showing off the sleigh and not the table runner.

I found some white fabric with some gold stars printed on it to resemble snow and found a Christmas border print that I had bought years ago when on holidays.

I quilted the white centre with a large free form feather pattern. It was a good excuse to have some feather practice and to try out the YLI silk thread with the metallic gold added to it. I quilted around the leaves and pine cones on the border.

I have been looking more carefully at my decorations this year because I want to use them as my inspiration for CQJP 2012. That is the Crazy Quilt Journal Project for next year and there is still time to sign up for it, if anyone is still thinking about it.

I will definitely have a Nutcracker in my quilt somewhere, I'll have to pick which one I'll use as the model.

I'll have to take a lot of photos of the different ornaments because by the time I put everything up again next year, I will have finished all the blocks! How exciting. I hope that it works out.

Bye for now,

Friday 2 December 2011

Batting Test

I teach a lot of machine quilting and often get asked about the best batting or wadding to use in a quilt. I always use Matilda's Own 60% wool and 40% poly, except when I make a baby quilt then I use 100% cotton.
I had a look at my different battings that I owned and found that I had 5 different types. I made up 9" square samples to sew and test them equally to see how they measured up.

The battings that I used were
Matilda's Own 60% Wool and 40% Poly
Matilda's Own 100% Cotton
Hobbs Tuscany Collection 100% Wool
Sew Easy Bamboo
Silk 100% ( I don't know the brand name of the silk, it was a sample piece given to me in a Silk class at Houston last year)

I changed the fabric colours so I could easily recognise the different battings but the fabrics were all Ricky Tims hand dyed fabric.

Test Results

The silk and cotton battings had a lovely strong grip on the backing fabric and the wool had a quite a good grip as well.

The wool batting came out on top for loft, the heart that I quilted looks as if I have trapuntoed it. The 60/40 Wool/ Poly had a good body and the cotton was surprisingly good as well. The bamboo and silk felt too thin with no body at all. They show no dimension in the quilting. I have seen that they are advertising a bamboo batting with a poly mix so that might fare better than the 100% bamboo.
Although the loft with the wool was wonderful, I had to be very careful that I didn't quilt in a tuck because of the thickness, the wool/poly mix was the easiest to quilt.

 Fold Test
I folded the the finished samples in half with the right sides together and left them for a couple of days. They all showed fold marks. When I washed and dryed them the fold marks disappeared on all of them.
I folded them again but this time I folded them with the wrong sides together and the fold marks were minor compared to when the right sides were together. I must remember to fold my quilts with the right side facing out.

The wool, wool/poly did not shrink at all. The silk and the cotton both shrunk by an 1/8' and the bamboo shrunk by 1/4".  I was surprised at the amount of shrinkage on a 9" square. This would be more pronounced on a large quilt.

This is where I had the most unexpected result. I used a different colour in the top and the bobbin so I could see that the tension was correct.
I sewed the heart in the centre with cotton thread and the tension was good on all the samples, but I had to adjust it slightly for each sample.
I used a YLI 100% silk for the stippling around the heart. If you are going to have tension issues, the silk thread will show them up.
I quilted the wool/poly first and had no trouble.
I had a lot of trouble getting the tension right on the bamboo, in the end I changed the bobbin thread to match the top thread to mask the problem.
I had a lot of trouble with the silk thread shredding in the cotton and silk battings.
I was having so many tension and shredding issues that I started to think that it was the sewing machine but the last little sample I quilted was the 100% wool and I had no tension or shredding troubles at all.

Whenever people are having tension and thread problems it has never occured to me that it might be the batting that they have used that is causing the problem.
Because the silk and cotton batting had such a good grip with the backing fabric, I wonder if it was gripping the thread while I was quilting it.


This was my final test. I had put a black fabric on the back of each sample to help show up the thread and tension problems and show any bearding that might occur. Bearding is when the little fibres of batting come through the fabric, no matter how many times you wash or brush it.It is only a problem with dark fabrics, but it is heartbreaking when it happens after all that work of quilting the quilt.

The only batting that didn't beard was the Hobbs Tuscany Collection 100% wool. Matilda's Own make their 60/40 Wool/Poly in a charcoal colour and I have used it many times on a dark coloured quilt and had no problems.
The bearding with the bamboo batting is particulary bad.

I will continue to use the Matilda's Own wool/poly mix but I am also going to quilt my next quilt with the Hobbs Tuscany Collection 100% wool. Matilda's Own is an Australian company and they also make a 100% wool batt but I haven't tried it yet.

Bye for now,