Hello and welcome, if you are here visiting from the Let's Get Aquainted Blog Hop that Beth of Plum and June has organised then I do hope you enjoy my blog and have a look around. My name is Susan, and I am - as the blog name implies - a Canadian living abroad. I live in the UK, right in the middle, as far as you can get from the sea in any direction. I am a SAHM with two girls and my husband. I cook. I sew. I practice sarcasm on the girls. I dither a lot. I eat chocolate whenever life becomes too much. Or if I am bored. Or if the need strikes and the chocolate is available. I have been blogging since February 2011 and it has changed the way I quilt, opened up a whole new world to me and introduced me to some of the best friends I could wish for.
Since the blog hop began there have been some brilliant tutorials and I struggled to think what I should talk about today. So I fell back on my love for quilting with perle cotton.
If you have never done any hand quilting, or used perle cotton, I am going to try and talk you into it today.
I learned to hand quilt in a class, the traditional way. I was fascinated and didn't hate it. But I did hate how long it took me to make any progress, and how you had to look closely to see my stitches and the effect. I knew nothing about perle cotton until I started reading blogs, but when I saw it used I knew it was for me. I loved the impact, the bigger stitches, the bright colours. I loved how much it could transform the look of what you were working on. Take something simple and make it so different.
Though if I reflect on those traditional classes I did, I know that they were of use to me. The best bit of advice that my teacher gave me that day was that it was not the individual stitches that counted but the over all effect. Don't stand there with a ruler, she said, measuring the length of each stitch and ripping out if you feel that they aren't perfect enough. Stand back, look at the piece you are working on. See if the stitches are creating the pattern you are after.
I have applied this advice to my work ever since. Very few of us achieve perfection, but if I can create things that make me smile and make me proud then I have achieved what I set out to do.
Modern quilting lends itself very well to perle cotton, with the bright farbic colours and bold designs. And perle cotton is an embroidery thread and what I use when I do hoops. I prefer it to floss in that it doesn't tangle so much on me, and I don't have to separate strands. Of course if you need finer detail then embroidery floss is necessary, but for the most part I tick along happily with the perle.
Here is how I stitch with my perle cotton. It is my way, not the only way or even maybe the preferred way for some. But it works for me.
When you wish to hand quilt and you know the design you wish to work with you will need to mark it on the quilt, unless you are following seams or applique and the quilting line is very obvious and easy to do by eye. I use one of three methods to mark a line for quilting. Chalk
water soluble pen, air disappearing pen, or hera marker. They each have their attributes. Chalk water soluble is good when you want the mark to be visible for a while and is easily dispersed by washing the quilt when you are done, or - if it is a small mark - dabbing at it with a cotton pad dipped in some water. Air disappearing pens are very handy if you are going to stitch over the marked line soon after marking it. The lines do not last long so this is not a method to use if you are going to be leaving the project. I use this method when I am doing the quilting section by section. Finally, the hera marker which is a tool used to leave a crease in the fabric that you use to follow your quilting line. Below you can see both the air disappearing pen used and the hera marker.
Once you know where you are stitching, you need to knot your thread. Just a simple, single knot. Pull it tight near the end of the thread and then place your needle a little distance from where you wish to begin your first stitch. Run the needle through the quilt layers without poking it out through the top or bottom, bringing the needle up right where you wish to begin your first stitch. Pull the thread through until the knot is stopping it from going any further. Holding the thread close to where it came out give it a short sharp tug (or two) and the knot should pop through into the layers and catch inside the quilt. You can just see in the third photo where the knot left a little hole in the fabric where it went through. That hole disappears very quickly as the fabric is handled.
You may choose to use a hoop when quilting, or not, whichever is your preference. If you do not use a hoop you need a well basted quilt so that the layers do not slip when stitching. To start stitching, point your needle straight down through the layers and feel the point come through on the other side. (I do not use a thimble but that is because I am completely useless with one - it is not because I think it is a better way.) Rock your needle through two or three stitches and then pull the thread through. Repeat until you have completed your stitching line. I have shown a ruler by my stitching below just to give you an idea the size of stitches I sew.
When you come to the end of your stitching or need a new thread, place another simple knot close to the base of the thread. Using the tip of the needle to slide the knot down is very useful. Make your final stitch and rather than going through the layers slide your needle back through the inner layers, pulling it up a little distance away and tug your knot through like you did when starting your thread.
I will show you some photos of my stitching on the back of the quilt so you can see that it is not as even or as well spaced as on the front, but it still gives the desired effect - I think.
I hope that if you have never used perle cotton or done any hand quilting before you have now been tempting. If this was your first visit to my blog, thank you for stopping by and I do hope you return.
I leave you with photos of other hand quilted projects that I hope inspire you to try this method.