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Sew, the problem is gone!

Hi there Quilters

"Creativity needs a problem and the creative person needs a purpose". Pearl Zhu

Ever woke up at five in the morning with the sun blazing in your face? No...I am not referring to your last beach party where you accidentally had too much to drink. I'm talking about a well intended, but badly executed plan with the window in our bedroom. From outside it looks stunning and really friendly with the half circle at the top, but is very difficult to cover against the glare of the sun...and the moon and the lights of the airplanes that cross the air at night. At first we tried to put up with starting our days very early; besides, the window sits high and there is a blind at the lower part of it, we do not plan to live here for very long, spend a lot of money on a make fit blind, the early bird catches the worm and so on and so forth, but slowly, as the season changed, it began to irritate us to a stage where my husband did the one thing I feared that was going to happen sooner or later:

Yes...he covered it up with a piece of board from Staples. Interior fashion faux pas at the highest level! Did not help though; the sun searched for that one little gap it could find to carry on with its torture! So, a better plan has to be made. I wanted a not-so-expensive, but nice looking solution to the problem. Being a quilter, I know that many a problem can be solved with needle and thread and off I went with the idea of making a trapunto piece to fit into the window. What is trapunto, you ask?

Trapunto is a decorated quilted design in high relief worked through at least two layers of cloth by outlining the design in running stitch and padding it from the underside. ( Merriam Webster) In other words: a process where you add extra batting to certain parts of your design to create a more 3D look to it.

All I needed was a piece of fabric, a design, my light box and a pen to draw with, wash-away thread, my pelican applique scissors and extra batting - all of which I already had in my sewing room.

I used the board for a pattern and started with drawing a design out on a piece of fabric larger than the pattern with my Frixion pen (made by Pilot), which will disappear when I apply heat to it. I decided on a design from Karen McTavish's book,"The Secrets of Elemental Quilting" and used my light box to transfer the design to the cloth. Karen is the Queen of trapunto and I am a keen follower of her work.

The next steps followed:

  • I glued a piece of Loomtex batting to the back of my drawing to cover the pieces I want to highlight, using temporary fabric spray glue.

  • With wash-away thread as top thread and a matching colour (to the cloth) cotton thread in the bobbin of my machine, I then carefully sew freehand through the two layers with my no 9 (darning) foot around the 3D parts. You'd want to put the feed dogs of your machine (the teeth) down in this process, so that you can feed the fabric easily. Remember not to lick the wash-away when you thread the machine - it will simply disappear before your eyes!

  • Using my applique sciccors, I carefully cut the excess batting away at the back, not too close to the stitching, leaving batting only behind the 3D pieces. Note that the wide part of the scissors go underneath; this way it is hardly possible to nip the fabric by accident.

When done, the back of your project will look like this:

  • Like with any other quilt, you then add batting and backing to the project and get it ready to quilt.

  • On my longarm, I first quilted around the 3D parts to secure the extra batting, using Aurifill thread, then did the line work and feathers and lastly filled in the meandering (the curly wiggle stitching) in the background to press the background away and create a much more 3D look.

  • With all the quilting done, a binding is done around the raw edges to finish it off neatly.

  • To clean the markings and temporary wash-away stitches, a steamer is a great help, or slightly move your steam iron over the piece, not pressing it down. The pen and thread will disappear when heat is applied to it. If you can see little dots of the bobbin thread from your very first stitching coming up at the top, you can easily pick it up and pull the thread out through the top.

Voila! Finally the piece was done and ready to go to the window frame. I've merely sewn pieces of valcro to the back of the "blind" (in the ditch with the binding) and used the glue-type of valcro on the window pane to hold the blind in place. The final product looked like this:

Goodbye sun and moon in my face! Now my only problem is that I have to set the alarm again to wake up at a reasonable time to face the day. What I learnt from the whole experience? Man, I love sewing...! Apart from solving problems like the window one, it keeps me sane, happy and useful.

Go well and sew your problems away! If you have done any successful trapunto projects yourself, please feel free to share it on this blog.

Yours in Quilting


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