Thursday, June 26, 2014

Extras for "Columbine"

I tried some new (to me) techniques on my Columbine quilt.  The first of these was machine trapunto.  Trapunto means "stuffed" and it used to be done by stuffing wee bits of fluff between the fibers of the fabric into a defined area.  I did mine the modern way by pinning pieces of wool batting behind the petals of the flowers (no backing) and temporarily quilting around the petals with water soluble thread.  You must use the water soluble thread in the top spool, but can use soluble or regular thread in the bobbin.  I prefer soluble in both top and bottom.  I left the leaves flat because I wanted them to stay in the background.

TIP:  Do not iron water soluble thread.  It melts, solidifies and breaks apart in teenie, stiff pieces that all have to be picked out because they are visible.  Ask me how I know!

When all the petals are quilted, turn the quilt over and very carefully cut away the excess batting close to the stitching around the petals.  I use sharp embroidery scissors.  You can use sharp, blunt-tip scissors, but I find I can't get into tight corners with them.  Relax and work slowly to avoid cutting the quilt top.

TIP:  You have been so careful, but you accidentally cut your quilt top.  Grrrr!  I have done it, but it can be repaired if it is not too bad.  You can place some fusible web or Bo Nash Bonding Powder over the back side of the slit, cover it with a small piece of fabric to match the cut place, and fuse it closed.  Steer clear of the soluble thread with the iron or unstitch a few of those soluble stitches if necessary.  Then mark the area with a safety pin so that when you do the background quilting you can find the spot in order to quilt over it enough to hide the goof and stitch it down securely.

My next venture into the unknown was to paint the blue areas at the center of the white petals.  I don't remember what kind of paint I used, but it didn't do a thing for my columbine.  It didn't hurt them either, thank goodness.  Then I decided to try thread painting based on a meager bit of knowledge I had picked up from a U-tube tutorial.  That worked and I was so pleased with the results that I did the yellow centers with thread as well, right over the trapunto batting.  The unexpected result was that it flattened the centers of the flowers and made the bulk of the petals really poof out.  Awesome dimension!  The photo doesn't show the depth very well so you will have to use a little imagination.

Detail of trapunto, thread painting, quilting and binding.
TIP:  Some quilters like to starch their fabric before quilting, but don't bother if you have used water soluble thread.  Guess what:  it dissolves in starch too!  Those soluble stitches are your guidelines for the final quilting.  Three guesses where I learned that!

When all the excess batting has been trimmed away it is time put the usual quilting sandwich together and quilt the quilt.  You will have two layers of batting where the trapunto is and that makes those flower petals really stand out.  Nice!  Stitch around all the appliqué first, then fill in the rest.  I used stacked pancakes as filler in the center around the bouquet.  In the outer border I used small feathers and some columbine-like flowers.  Lastly I soaked the quilt to clean it and get rid of the soluble thread before binding.

For the binding I used Ricky Tims' method of applying it with piping and entirely by machine.  The only place to learn how to do this is on his "Grand Finale" DVD, but it is well worth the $22 as he covers all aspects of finishing a quilt including the binding.  I was pleased with the results although I used the same color piping as in the outer border so it is not design.

TIP:  Explore, experiment, stretch your mind and build your arsenal of techniques.  You get better with every quilt.

Here is the finished quilt. It won a "Meritorious" award at the Quilt Colorado Show.

Finished "Columbine"
(Caveat:  the color looks dull on the website, but it is really quite vibrant and true blue.)


  1. Lovely piece and thanks for sharing all your experiences!! What is the size of the piece?

    1. It is 18" x 22". Perfect for a small spot on my wall.

  2. Very interesting and helpful post. I'm bookmarking it, Mardi.

    1. Thank you. I'm glad you found it helpful.

  3. Your instructions are really clear and the finished piece is lovely.