Oct 1, 2013

whole cloth 'echino' - the odyssey ends here

I've written several posts over the past month or so about my whole cloth odyssey. Well, I finished it and I'm thrilled with the result! 

Even though I've been quilting for 16 years, this little piece has turned out to be one of my favorites.

Here's the story of why I called this an odyssey and why it is a favorite.  

Last year at the Houston International Quilt Festival, I bought this cool piece of echino fabric... wasn't sure what I would do with it at the time, but the colors and the simple imagery really appealed to me.  

I took it off the shelf many times with the idea of cutting it up to use parts of it in other designs, but I couldn't do it. That old saying --- the whole is stronger than the parts --- in this case it rang true!

So, I decided to turn it into a whole cloth quilt... and the "plan" for how to do that, well I made it up as I went along. 

Hey, if everything was all planned out nicely in advance, I'd be an engineer instead of a quilter. And I am definitely NOT an engineer.

Anyway, back to the point. 

I put tons of effort into the thread work and I added some really cool elements - but the reason I like this so much is because even though there is a ton of stitching, I stayed true to the original design and color palette... a lesson in restrained embellishment, so to speak.

Here's a run down of the cool stuff - a mash-up of thread work.   
1. hand embroidery
2. thread painting on the machine 
3. trapunto 
4. ribbon border
5. machine quilted original designs
6. 'serged' binding

By focusing on the middle section of this fabric, I ended up with with a long, narrow piece... so the finished look resembled the size of an old tapestry. That's why the ribbon border seemed to fit to me. 

I added four matching purple tabs across the top to hang it from a rod, much the way old tapestries are hung.  

This ribbon is from Amy Butler and I think the design and colors are just stunning! Adding this much ribbon was a first for me and I think it really helped frame this piece and was something new, instead of the same ol' fabric border.

To bind the quilt, I used my Bernina overlock 'fake serger' thingy foot (Foot 2A for those who know what I'm talking about). I've done this a couple times on my modern quilts and I love the look. 

Basically, you cover the edges with a solid thread, about 1/4 inch deep (much the way a real serger would work). This eliminates the need for binding and I think it is a very cool edge... to me, up against this ribbon, the serged edge looks cleaner, almost has that infinity look.

These flowers were hand embroidered using the cast-on stitch. For more info, go to Mary Corbert's website - needle 'n thread. She has tons of very good, free video tutorials and some e-books available. 

I covered the vines with the Romanian chain stitch (hand embroidery). This stitch is a bit thicker than the plain chain stitch and really added texture to the whole cloth.  Lessons for this stitch can also be found on Mary Corbert's site. 

The birds were done using a version of trapunto. Here's the technique I used. Place batting and stabilizer underneath the image, then put those layers in an embroidery hoop. Very carefully free-motion stitch all the way around the outside lines of the image. You can also stitch a few inside lines too, just don't do too many or you will loose the raised effect. Turn it over and then cut away the excess batting and stabilizer (very carefully and as close as possible to the stitched line!) When quilting, stitch close to that original line and then that image is raised up - very cool!

Here's a close up of the thread painting. This is done on the quilt top. Again, use a hoop and a good stabilizer and with the free motion tool, fill in the areas you want to cover with thread. Once you get the hang of it... this fun technique feels like a painter filling in parts of a canvas with paint... really lives up to its name! 

I free-motion quilted the purple section with original designs.

My odyssey has taught me one thing... next time I see an amazing print like this, I'll think more about the strength of the whole over the parts. A whole new way to see prints. 

If I can point you to any resources, or answer questions, leave me a comment or send me an email.

teresa at third floor quilts dot com

I'm also linking up with the Wednesday WIP on Freshly Pieced. So you'll see me there. 

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


  1. oh my goodness, how amazing!!! you did the right thing keeping it whole and I love the decide-as-you go philosophy you approached it with. it's splendid. what a scrapbook of your skills all in one place!

  2. hydee ann: thanks for your comment. You're very kind - this was a fun project - and amazingly turned out better than most. Thanks again!

  3. Just stunning! I love Echino and I think you've done a beautiful job on adding to this!

  4. Kristy: echino is so cool, isn't it. Just can't go wrong there! Thanks for your kind words!