A finished embroidered quilt block is a delight, but a great deal of careful consideration needs to go into both the digitising and the stitch out process. When I created the Jacobean Sample collection I realised that the smaller elements would be perfect for a series of complimentary quilt blocks, but I wanted them to be different. If you are familiar with my work you will know that as I begin each new digitising project, my intention is always to create much more than yet another set of embroidery designs.
As well as taking my digitising to a new level I aim to challenge and teach new skills, styles and techniques to my customers. These are the reasons why the 12 Jacobean Sampler Quilt blocks with their corresponding larger frames have taken a long time to produce. It is safe to say that as I go deeper into digitising challenging, unique and exciting designs, they tend to take longer to produce.
I believe that my very first 20 quilt blocks were the Marianne ones for the 200mm x 200mm hoop, which were released in 2013. They had a candle wicking theme and over the years some beautiful quilts have been created by my customers using them.
20 Celtic Ivy Quilt blocks for the 200mm x 200mm hoop followed a year later, with the option to attach the ivy leaves as appliques. These are easily prepared before hand on sheer fabric and give a new dimension to the finished embroidery. I love the variegated option for the leaves shown here with metallic thread securing them in place.
In 2016 I released another 20 quilt blocks, Pamela’s Joy quilt blocks, again for 200mm x 200mm hoops, with their delicate floral embroidery.
Although the designs in the main collection contain satin ribbons it was not possible to incorporate them into everyone of the quilt blocks, although I used the lacy links in many of them.
You will also find 8 quilt blocks in Almond Silk Paisley 4. When hoops became wider I created a special 260mm x 260mm Almond Silk Paisley frame which will enlarge these blocks if you have this wonderful hoop which is my firm favourite.
More recently another 20 quilt blocks were created for the 200mm x 200m hoop, from the elements of the Beatrice collection which include bees and several delicate orchids.
Due to lots of queries from customers and the need to learn more myself, I released a Quilting in the hoop tutorial in 2016, which described the process which I used to stitch out my blocks along with one method of joining them.
I tested out many types of batting and developed a further 13 new blocks which are included in this tutorial.
I have come to the conclusion that there will always more to learn when it comes to quilting in the hoop and how the finished blocks are best joined to produce a beautiful quilt.
In the beginning I recommended a sandwich of fabric and stabilizer with batting in the middle, held together with a burst of temporary adhesive. You may want to include the backing of your quilt in this sandwich too. I discovered that there are some specialist battings that contain stabiliser which will reduce the layers in your sandwich, like Floriani Embroidery batting, Battilizer and Bosal, but they do not have a high loft, which I confess is my preference as it shows off the embroidery. For this I like to use Sulky soft n sheer with high loft battings. In the past my quilting stitches have often been stitched first with the embroidery on top. I have now changed my mind about this, preferring that all my new quilt blocks should be created in such a way that the embroidery is done first.
I am always keeping an eye on the beautiful professional quilts on Pinterest, and love dreaming about how I can get the same results that are show cased there. They look truly magnificent when the quilting stitches lift the embroidery and I decided I wanted to achieve this look in the hoop. Due to the nature of the designs, unfortunately it is not possible to change my existing quilt blocks.
An attempt to achieve this look can be found in my first single quilt block, which uses elements from the forthcoming Strawberries and Cream collection. Over the last few months I have been working to discover the best process to enable the quilting stitches to lift the embroidery. Obviously the loft of the batting used will effect how prominent the embroidery is when finished. I realise that some quilters will not require a high loft, as it is really down to personal preference.
When aiming for a really high loft, I have successfully used 2 layers of batting in the past and got a remarkable almost trapunto effect, as seen in this close up of one of the Almond Silk Paisley quilt blocks. It will increase the weight of the finished quilt but it may work for a smaller one.
Let me show you some of the results of my more recent experiments so that you know what needs to be considered. In this test stitch out of one of the Jacobean Sampler Quilt blocks, I used two layers of stitch and tear. All the embroidery was completed and the hoop removed from the unit. Then the batting was floated underneath the hoop, held in place by a little temporary adhesive and a new set of basting stitches. It is important after slipping the hoop in place on your embroidery unit, to check all four corners before continuing with the stitch out, making sure that nothing has got caught or has moved. The resulting embroidery was quite flat as the two layers of stitch and tear prevented the batting from rising.
(When first viewing photographs of quilting designs they may look inside out at first – look closely and they will suddenly pop. I wonder if this optical illusion has a name??)
When the embroidery was complete, I removed the hoop from the machine and turned it over. I was amazed to see that the batting was prominent underneath instead!!! Not quite what I was aiming for. Maybe the batting should have been in the sandwich so it would be pushed up between the embroidery.
In this sample I have done the embroidery without any batting, removed some of the stabiliser and then floated batting underneath again, before completing the quilting stitches. This is an alternative, more advanced method of embroidering but it has it draw backs. Firstly it will only work providing the quilting stitches do not pass under or over the embroidery and that they are stitched after the embroidery is completed. It involves some effort and time, and is probably not for beginners but I will share more of my experience in a video. The main draw back is that the embroidery can move slightly, when removing the stabiliser and so the outlines may not be quite so accurate. The embroidery however does rise above the fabric.
I hope that this has whetted your appetite for what is coming next at Graceful Embroidery. Watch out for my video which will explain this alternative process. The photos of the Jacobean Sampler quilt blocks shown in this post are mostly early editions of the designs and colour changes and edits have been made since they were taken. I must also point out that the colours used in these designs are different from the original elements in the whole collection, as I wanted to introduce some uniformity to all the blocks with a few bright colours to make them pop!
Each of the 12 blocks comes as an 200mm x 200mm design, a 260mm x 260mm design with the frame included and 12 individual frames so you can combine them with any quilt block in the set, or other suitable blocks.
PLEASE make sure you are subscribed to my YouTube channel so you are informed when I showcase my NEW Jacobean Sampler Quilt blocks.
Happy embroidering from Hazel