Posts Tagged ‘Experiment’


35.7 Dancing Ribbons corner quilting not turning out

June 24, 2014

Okay I have been living with some darker fabrics next to my dancing ribbons quilt, trying to make the fabric decisions on what will work best for the corner blocks.

dancing ribbon fabric choices 2

And then on a whim this past weekend, I decided to start cutting up and using an even lighter fabric for the corner fabric, making my lightest color fabric on the left in my picture above now become the darker of the 2 blue fabrics.

Then I have everything cut out, and all my sets of pieces cut out, sewn together & trimmed.

dancing ribbons corner blocks trimmed up ready to piece.

This means all the paper pieces are trimmed and all the fabric is sewn together in groups of 2 trimmed.

But you know the old saying “Measure twice, cut once”? Yeah, I don’t think I did that.

dancing ribbons first too small corner

See how much smaller my completed corner is from the size of the quilt? I forgot to double check my measurement of my quilt block before printing out the EQ7 paper piecing.

I had put in the center block to being 20 inches instead of the 23 inch finished size. I was hoping to go large and then cut back, not the other way around. ūüė¶

Sad trombone.

Also, seeing exactly how bright I went with the brighter fabric now this “way lighter” corner thing looks really out of place.

If I manipulate the one corner I have done in photoshop to see the quilt as it may appear (with the too small corners) it will look kinda like this.

dancing ribbons first too small corner copy

I don’t mind lighter corners, but this seems too light. I think I may rethink this redesign. I may go with the original darker fabric to tie it better to the original colors. I was “this close” to using the darker fabrics Saturday, but then “on a whim” (which sometimes works) I said that I liked this lighter fabric too much and I wanted to use it.

Since I have to redo the corners anyway for being too small, I will switch back to the darker fabric & purchase more of the ‘medium’ I have in this piece.

The dark from the corners of this piece will become the light in the next part of the fabric. The time I spent working on this quilt, there were limited hours for in-person fabric shopping. So this quilt will sit another week during the thinking stage.

The yellow bright corners may be too bright for this quilt, I have a duller version of the yellow. Possibly, I am going to rethink the actual corner colors.

I did have a thought about adding borders to the corners to make them fit better, but I don’t really want to try to mess with that.

I don’t mind too much about this setback. I DO really like the four corner colors that I have created.

So much that I decided to complete the four corners as a small quilt of its own. With a minor change with the inner star which I will highlight with the quilting stage.

blue faded star four corners

This is a cute little happy blue quilt. I will have a quilt plus the reverse of the same thing in the corners of the Dancing Ribbons quilt. With different colors.

Just not destined for this quilt at this time. Very pretty!


21.2 Practicing quilting with paper

December 4, 2011

Sometimes you just have to make your own mistakes and make your own experiments before you believe a result that someone else has already warned you about.

I have been neglecting the FMQ on my giveaway quilt, probably since I haven’t FMQ’d since June. (That’s Free Motion Quilting, for the uninformed)

That and I really just want to piece my (other) quilts in my own room, around my own things, which leads me to procrastinate on this current project.

This quilt was supposed to be a quick quilt to get me to practice the FMQ, and that is starting to serve it’s purpose this early morning.

My experiment & hypothesis: I can FMQ through a freezer paper quilting template and still like the quilting results on the quilt when the freezer paper is removed.

First I took a paper copy of my design (Just ran the freezer paper copy through my printer) and pinned it down to the top of a practice quilt sandwich.

I quilted through that.¬† First, I locked up & realized how much lint is gathering under my metal plate, so spent a half hour ‘delinting’ my machine.

After all is lint free, I try again with the regular paper. I suppose this was my ‘control’ of my experiment.¬† To see if freezer paper would be easier than the regular paper.

Regular paper quilts through mostly fine, although at this point, I haven’t removed the regular paper yet, so this data is only halfway done.

Then decided I needed more time getting the rhythm for the design down, so I cut a smaller sandwich for the middle design & quilted it down.

So I took freezer paper and put it on my practice quilt sandwich and FMQ’d away.

I have only removed the paper from one of the flowers and leaves at this point, and although this technique I think would work, I am having reservations at how much this is pulling up the stitches.

One solution: faster foot pedal, slower hands.

This produces smaller stitches that would make it easier to tear away the paper and would prevent large loops coming undone

Another solution: tighten the tension on the top (?)

I am not sure but maybe a tighter tension would produce tighter stitches on the top.

Another solution: get the freezer paper wet with water to help remove the paper.

enough said.

Another solution: get a light weight quilting paper specially designed to dissolve away.

This would help with keeping the stitches close to the actual fabric underneath, perhaps also providing more tension all on it’s own. I don’t own any of this.

Another solution: trace the design from paper to the fabric using dressmaker’s carbon.

This way I don’t have to deal with the paper itself. Of course I don’t OWN any dressmaker’s carbon.

Another solution: trace the design onto tissue paper.

Same as the carbon, and I may actually have some. somewhere. Somewhere.Tissue paper’s thin.¬† May come with its own set of problems too though.

Another option: leave it – it’s working out ok enough.

I think this may work overall, if I decided to leave the freezer paper & tear it out by hand, I think this could be “good enough” and know that over time, I’ll get better. And hopefully the recipient would understand.

I realized that I never have come to this place before in my stages of quilting.

Which solution / option do you usually chose?  Reasons why?


13.0 Better execution

February 28, 2011

Listening back to yesterday’s podcast today, made me think of two things:

1) Top Chef

2) The machine quilting I had just done on the hand pieced table runner

In Top Chef, many times, very talented cheftestants have the ability to make amazing dishes, the ingredients are fantastic, the equipment is present to make an amazing and spectacular dish, the knowledge to pull all the different parts into one incredible, mouthwatering, insightful plate of food is just there under the surface, but …

the dish falls flat, is uninspired … just doesn’t impress anyone.

The whole idea of the dish is there, and a great dish is just waiting, but the judges say “It just fell flat on the execution” (actually not a word for word phrase from Top Chef, but the general idea)


As far as the machine quilting:

Here was my practice piece.  The yellow was the lines that I gotten such great compliments on the day before, and the blue (box was to represent the diamond on the table runner) is what I intended to do with the blue thread on the piece in terms of quilting design.

I had decided to use four simple loops for each of the 27 diamonds in the table runner.  And I toyed with putting a second design inside that, but in the end, made a clear decision on the four loops.

I marked where I anticipated all the loop crosses to occur on the quilt, I did not give myself a clear pathway to follow, but a ‘rough idea’.

I mean, it worked so well the day before on the feathers, why couldn’t it work well on the loops?

This little quilt had 27 blocks, and you would also think that by the end of the 27th block, I would be better at quilting the loops than the end of the first block.

I know you can’t see it well, but my free motion would be better left to a strict ‘follow the pattern’ here as evidenced by this quilting shown on the light color of my quilt.

Hmm … well … it’s maybe not all that evident with this particular picture, but not only is the tension slightly screwed up (showing some of the stitches from the bobbin slightly poking through), but the pattern … ends up not being all that consistent, and the last block is about as wobbly as the first block.

I wonder if I felt ‘overconfident’ as I did when I completed my feathers the day before and thought that I was “too good” for an actual guide?

I feel bad that you really cannot see well in pictures what an imperfection of a mess that the loops really are.

When I have such a clear vision for this quilt with the quilting design.

… and if this is on the table, will I see it day in and day out and will it bother me?


will I see the ‘charm’ in all the design, and overlook the problems?

Part of me wants to rip out all the quilting on the 27 triangles, and do it over … with a stencil … and perhaps do this over by hand

Since I pieced the piecing design by hand.

But maybe I’ll wait and see.

The idea for the quilt is there, and has the potential to be a great quilt, but the execution is poor.

Will the best thing for this quilt to learn more about perfection, and how to achieve your goals, not only to your perceived ability, but beyond it – by ripping out the stitches and starting over?

Or will the best thing for this quilt to learn humility, the value of not being perfect, and how to spot charm in a poorly executed design – by leaving the stitches in?



… How does this relate to the podcast?

Well the ideas are there, very solid ideas, somewhat organized (well sorta), but after listening to myself, I could have presented the same ideas in a much more engaging way.

And this was the chance that I decided to take when I hadn’t exactly spent the same amount of time on that podcast as I had the others before this one.

If this delivery of my podcast had come out of my mouth this way 3 weeks ago, I would have stopped, rerecorded the entire thing, and had way more energy and enthusiasm for my quilty retreat ideas.

But it would have taken about 6 more hours … as did the prior podcast I recorded before this one.

It bugs me that I did spend a bit of time editing (but not in full to get the full effect of my voice and my lack of inflections), but I didn’t feel I spent any more time than any other podcaster on the editing.

It bugs me that it takes me what feels like 3-4 times as long as everyone else, and when things come out of their mouths,

they don’t put people to sleep!

Just when I decide I know what I’m doing … whoosh … and actually … I don’t.

But just as Top Chef contestants do ….

We’re moving on anyway.¬† I mean, a girl’s still gotta eat, right?

Please don’t send me packing my knifes for this last dish!¬† I can prepare better than this.

… you can still eat it? right?


12.2 Velocity Results … Finally!

February 12, 2011

Thanks for all 5 of you that participated in

I learned a few things about myself when hosting this type of event, which I will share on the next podcast.

Here’s my bullet list of what I learned:

  • get a great giveaway item
  • show the item for the giveaway first to help with participation
  • don’t make a giveaway so complicated!
  • don’t make a giveaway a really long time frame
  • giveaways that seem complicated just get put off until later … and later …
  • give a hard and fast deadline to when the results will be given – no excuses
  • set a timer to help you get past the fact that figuring out the results may seem hard (even though it’s not)
  • once you get past the initial inertia of figuring out results, it is NEVER as hard as you think
  • you forgot how much joy you have in creating the giveaway to begin with if you never work on it!
  • dimensional analysis will get you through times when you haven’t done the math right

… You want actual results?

How fast do we sew?  Really?

Here’s a copy of the pdf of the google document that I created.


Here’s the picture (for those who don’t have pdf readers handy):

This is not meant to be a display on who can sew fastest when, so I blurred the names here, except mine.

The highlighted column ends up being the speed in yards / minute as I have calculated.  I hope I got all the kinks worked out on the yards / minute calculation.

(note: there are 3 feet in a yard, 12 inches in a foot, and 60 seconds in a minute, and forgetting one or all of these facts can cause you to go crazy for about a half hour)

Actual conclusions (to the data, not to how I mishandled the giveaway and experimental results).

  • Two quilters sewed faster when sewing full length strips rather than sewing blocks.
  • One quilter sewed faster when chain piecing blocks than sewing full length strips
  • MY speed was the slowest of them all when it came to sewing blocks.¬† And right now I can’t remember if I actually sewed two pieces of 2 and a half width blocks instead of one piece.¬† If I sewed a length of 5 inches instead of 2.5 then my speed would be much closer to the speed of sewing everything else.
  • Sometimes cats, ironing, threadies under the fabric get in the way and slow us down.
  • The width of the strips DOES matter on speed.¬† The narrow 1.5 inch strips are slower on all quilters who attempted them, and the fastest speed is on 8.5 inch blocks.
  • Some people get in a rush when trying to time themselves and cause themselves more trouble than they would otherwise.
  • The average speed of all the results is 1.36 yards / minute.¬† We can sew just about 1 and 1 third yards of fabric in a minute’s time.¬† And do it accurately.
  • Some people don’t like timing themselves, but everyone who did, I am truly grateful
  • I have a timer on my iPod Nano that I didn’t know I had

Feel free to continue to participate and now that I have the database set up better, I can hopefully reply much faster (get it – faster?) with the velocity.


For the giveaway, I assigned each trial that people timed a separate # and then used the random number generator to determine the winner of the giveaway.

And the winner is:


Sending you an e-mail Janet, hope to get in contact with you soon!


9.2 SQ Episode 019 – The Velocity of Quilting – Part 2

December 5, 2010

Podcast Feed

The velocity of quilting is how we think of quilting using velocity terms and concepts. The concepts are defined in Part 1 of this episode.



The direction you travel mentally and physically correspond to your quilting goals. Finding out what you want to accomplish.

Ask yourself the questions and you’ll find your quilting velocity direction:

  1. What type of project do I want to do?
  2. How much work am I willing to do towards the project? 
  3. Do I know how to start the project or are there learning steps to handle before I get to that point?
  4. How much do I still have to purchase in supplies to finish the project?
  5. Am I creating the project for someone else?
  6. What is the project intended for? Is it for a wallhanging, a treasured bed quilt, a new baby, a tired kiddo, a memory of someone long gone?

Or you could actually think about the physical directions to obtain your quilting supplies:

  1. What direction to the nearest quilt shop?
  2. How many quilt shops can I steer away from on my long trip to somewhere else?
  3. What part of the store do you like the most, the back where all the quilt samples are, the front where all the fat quarters are located?

Another direction consideration is in free motion quilting:

  1. When free motion quilting what direction do you keep your quilt?
  2. Can you move the quilt vs move the machine? 
  3. What direction do you push your quilt to stuff it into the harp/throat areas?
  4. What advantage is a quilt rack/stand that moves the machine compared to moving the quilt?
  5. What direction are your legs in, are you sitting or standing?
  6. What direction do your shoulders go if you scrunch them up all the time quilting?

Other times to consider direction of quilting (not mentioned in the podcast):

  1. What direction do you cut the fabric (lengthwise or crosswise grain)?
  2. What direction are you moving your rotary cutter when you cut the grain?
  3. What direction are your applique pieces that are stuck on the wrong side of your fabric?
  4. What direction do you press the seams?


Instantaneous Velocity vs Average Velocity

Image from flickr,  By Allie_Caulfield

Instantaneous Velocity

  • Instantaneous velocity and the hare
  • Stopping projects midstream to work on something else (or take a nap)
  • Working on quick projects that take minimal effort, learning time, materials
  • Being satisfied for making a project quickly
  • An instantaneous velocity of zero is still a velocity.
  • Define the amount of time you want to define as “an instant”
  • Are you okay with leaving in mistakes?
  • Set up your equipment, tools, surroundings, sewing space to help maximize sewing time and minimize downtime
  • Product based quilting – more projects = more things put on etsy = more chance to feed yourself


Image from flickr, by iregretjumping

Average Velocity

  • In reality, for many projects, you may be facing time frames of years or months
  • Slow and steady wins the race, just ask the tortoise
  • Slowing down gives you more time to reflect, make changes, define the best techniques¬†for your quilt
  • The time it takes to gather the fabric, materials,¬†learn the techniques,¬†cut, sew, quilt & bind the quilt all adds in to the total quilting time for one project
  • Pick up a new technique and try it.¬† Adds to your total quilting time and lowers your velocity, but can help you in the long run.


Frame of Reference

Referencing others

Wait a minute, everyone is finishing projects faster than me….

  • Wow!¬† This is cool!¬† I should try to do more projects, sewing, etc.


  • Oh no!¬† I don’t know how to work that fast!¬† How can I ever keep up?

Pick your attitude to help suit you best.¬† Keep in mind all the life distractions that you don’t want to / aren’t able to miss.¬†

Give yourself permission to be slower/faster than others depending on your unique situation and pressures.

You also may actually have a higher velocity of projects than other people.  If so, encourage or help others to finish up!

You can also reference yourself.

  • Some people as they learn new techniques, can speed up¬†over time¬†because they aren’t referencing the source material as much.
  • Some people find it more valuable to slow down as they gain more knowledge to be able to produce quilts with better quality.¬†
  • Doing it right by spending a little more time on it may be¬†more satisfying and save the headache of unsewing (negative project velocity)


Image from flickr, by garryknight 

Thanks for the comments.  We need to think of how much we want to sew, how quickly we need to sew, and what that will do to the final project. 

  • Will we burn up our machine by literally going pedal to the metal?¬†
  • Will we drag our feet to complete a project we don’t want to complete?¬†
  • Will we put less value on our projects for ourselves than on the projects for others and put the effort into finishing things for others over finishing our own stuff?
  • Will we regret sewing too fast and trying to get a project done in time?
  • Will we sew fast enough to complete a project for a fellow swapper?

I had a blast at my very first quilting retreat lately.  I have been tearing it up getting a lot of quilting projects nearer to completion!

Are you a slow poke quilter too? Sign up and show off your slow quilting velocity!


Velocity Giveaway

Giveaway Details for the Great Velocity Experiment

We’re going to close on January 6th, 2011¬†to be considered eligible for the velocity experiment giveaway.¬†

If you find this site after that date, please feel free to participate by going to my Quilting Velocity Experiment page anyway!

At the current time, it will be easy to be eligible as we have very few entries!

Additional Music


        By SirmXe 
            Twisted Feeling РKeys 140 BPM.mp3

From Mevio’s Music Alley

A Golden Day by Axel Schneider

Inner Focus by Absent Machine

Sands of Egypt by John Gillat

The Marionette by Two Star Symphony

Novellette in D Major by Mario Ajero


4.1 SQ Podcast 9 – Keep Experimenting Everyone!

February 5, 2010

Podcast Feed

Cookie-Cutter Experiments vs Design your own

Already designed items are appealing due to overcoming obstacles in time, money, experience, fear, energy, motivation, or static friction.  Some examples of pre-designed experiments are:

  • cross stitch & embroidery patterns
  • knitting & crochet patterns
  • quilting kits
  • BOM’s
  • free motion stencils

The other choice is to design it yourself.  There is much fun in coming up with

  • quilt block¬†patterns (see Tuxedo Designs blog)
  • quilt pattern placement or size (on point, baby sized, with sashing …)
  • hand drafting quilting patterns (see Leah Day Free motion quilting designs blog)
  • color choices
  • fabric types
  • thread choices
  • color values
  • rick rack choices
  • applique patterns

(see my Machine experiment number 1 post for more details of my personal design experiment inspired by Leah Day’s blog)

(also see Tuxedo Park¬†Designs’ personal blog¬†where he takes common blocks and experiments with color and placement and scale – good insight into the experimental design process)

As much fun as it is designing your own stuff, it is also fun to decide what materials and tools to use for your project.  For me, sometimes that takes the form of scientific experimentation. (or just experimenting Рor just playing)

(A small number of) Ideas for quilt-related experiments in this fashion:

  • brand of quilting gloves
  • type of needle (sharps vs milners vs betweens ..)
  • thimbles (like in Quilter’s Home mag)
  • Machine quilting surfaces
  • types of material to quilt with¬†(cotton, flannel, knits ….)
  • thread brands

Experimental Design

Going through an example, we can discuss the finer points of setting up good quilty experiments

Get your question figured out and focused

  • Lets say I want to know about thread – specifically thread durability while machine quilting

Come up with a hypothesis something I want to know

  • I think that different brands of thread affect quilt durability during machine quilted applications (this should probably be more specific still)

Figure out how do you measure if your hypothesis is true (finding out your manipulated variables)

  • Amount of time, stress, and washing affect quilt durability.
  • Any one of these three measurements can be used as their own separate experiment – remember to focus

How do you show that changes in your variables will result in changes to your quilts?

  • Mini Experiment 1:¬† Hang weights on a quilt that is machine quilted¬†for 30 days.¬† Take observations daily of the quilt and compare results from day 1 to day 30 – extend this longer if necessary
  • Mini Experiment 2:¬† Hanging a quilt with a sleeve using different amounts of weight (different stresses on the quilts).¬† Take observations of how much weight is on the quilt when the quilt thread breaks or stretches.¬†
  • Mini Experiment 3:¬† Washing a quilt for 30 washes (decide if you want to use detergent or if you want to machine dry your quilt or you want to wash with rocks in your washing machine to help enhance the wear on it).¬† Take observations of your quilt after each wash (or 5) and compare results from no washes to 30 washes – extend to more washes if necessary

Notice that in:

  • Experiment 1 we are changing the number of days.¬† Days or time is our manipulated variable in this experiment.
  • Experiment 2 we are changing the stress on the quilt. (using weights)
  • Experiment 3 we are changing the amount of washing time.

All these experiments may tell you about the ‘durability’ of the thread types.¬†

You may find after this point that you want to only focus on one part of the experiment or you may want to be more specific still on your hypothesis. 

  • Maybe you only want to test the amount of wear on the quilt due to washing, and then decide to use different types of washing settings (hot water/cold water), detergents, dryer settings, amount of stress and other clothes in the washer at the same time¬†…

Playing with Variables

DON’T make ALL the changes to your quilt simultaneously if you want to find out the real cause of your manipulated variable.

  • If you change the stress, washing, and days, you could have results, but what were the results actually from??

Keep everything else the same.¬†¬†¬†You don’t want to change anything that may throw off your results

  • Use the same fabrics/batting machine/ stitch length for each type of thread you’re testing¬†…

This is the controlling variable idea of your experiment.¬† You can have a “control” with which to measure everything against.¬†

  • Your control in each of the experiments we have set up is the completed quilt on the first day with no weights or washes.¬† Find a way to make good observations of your control (take pictures, notes, feel for puckers)¬†before you start.¬†

Always start with a ZERO result.  Sometimes you can make 2 duplicate copies and leave one alone and test the other to help with comparisons. 

  • Like they do on the washing detergent commercials, only have one quilt with zero washes and the other quilt with 20 washes or 30 washes

Set up a rubric so you can tell “what is better”.¬† This can be done mentally or you can give it a point value

  • Best score for the washing quilt experiment is that after repeated washes there are no frays, puckers, raveled edges.¬† Or you can do a pull test on the two fabrics and just pull them apart and see if they will pull apart easily.

Be prepared to make changes.  Successful experiments can, and should, be changed and restarted with different techniques once you have some experience under your belt.

  • Increase your amount of time, figure out a clever way to add stress without using weights.¬†
  • Then go back to the start and retake your data


Go small scale to figure out if you’re even in the ball park.¬† Mythbusters does this well.

Be prepared for a hypothesis to be disproven.¬†¬† Try to get your data in an objective way without putting your “wishes into it”.¬†

For example maybe my friend sells these really awesome quilting gloves, and I wanted to prove they were better than other brands of gloves.¬† And it turns out that the friend’s brand stinks.¬†

As long as you don’t tell your friend that they stink – try to keep the emotion away from the testing.¬† Put your emotion into something more useful.¬† Like designing that award-winning quilt!

Some fun websites related to web 2.0

Searching Marion’s blog I found her useful sites and I would like to also borrow one of her useful sites off of this post:

Why didn’t I mention this in the podcast?¬† This is another Great site!

Make Blog led me to Indestructables DIY site for step by step tutorials

More fun

Just look at my wonderful acorn PRIZE from Mirkwood Designs for doing a podcast-inspired project!  So soft and look at the detail and quality of the card as well!

Her podcast number 4 details the soft block carving.  Here look at my stamp project


Here is my signature block with some (useless) walmart tools and the (useful) exacto knife.  Cost: $1 for eraser, $4 for walmart tools (not necessary), and $5 (I think) exacto knife Рhas lots of blade types

I drew with pencil onto paper, then rubbed the pencil eraser onto the soft block eraser

Carving the image is not hard at all, but you have to be VERY careful – sharps – and VERY patient.¬† Did this while watching ‘radio TV’.

The completed stamp and bits.

Additional Resources about the topic:

Thanks to my commenters:

Check out the posts from LabMom on

Space inspired quilt idea sites from Peggi

I am seeing a little bit of traffic from specific sites that put me on their blogroll.  Specifically the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild   Thanks!

Thanks guys and Keep experimenting!


4.1 Podcast Preview 9 Experimentation Station

February 1, 2010

Next podcast will be about designing good experiments Рdifferent experimental techniques to use for quilting.  Stay tuned!


4.0 Machine Quilting Experiment Number 1

January 26, 2010

In my attempts to constantly say what an inspiration Leah Day is, I do have to say that this past weekend I started the beginning of what could be a very long year-long experiment in the scientific quilter household. Which is a good thing.

I started up my own 6 inch squares with dark fabric, light thread, batting, paper, a list of beginner designs by Leah that I printed off on my black-and-white printer, and my own variations of those designs. I do have to say that:

  • I don’t own her DVD of designs – yet!
  • I don’t own her worksheets
  • I don’t get paid to say this
  • I haven’t been asked to do this experiment
  • I have not discussed this particular adventure in any way (yet) with Leah Day.

I simply LOVE the idea of learning how to machine quilt and I love how there is structure to the ‘unstructured’.¬† The post where she set everything up is really what got me started thinking that I could do this too.¬† Along with several other posts of hers as well.

Here’s my process:

  1. Cut out 6 inch squares of dark fabric and batting
  2. Search Leah Day’s Free Motion Filler Designs blog for the Beginner designs.
  3. Copy each image to my computer for reference ONLY (sorry if the next few steps break copyright)
  4. Save them in a folder on my computer with nothing else in it. 
  5. View the folder as thumbnails.
  6. Take a screenshot of the thumbnails on my computer.
  7. Save the screenshot in photo editing software.
  8. Print the tiny thumbnails onto a hard-to-read black and white paper to give me some starting points on ideas (boy do I need the actual designs to do this better).
  9. Take pieces of scratch paper. 
  10. Draw 9 boxes on the scratch paper.
  11. Try to “recreate” or “reinterpret” the designs (that I could see well) on the scratch paper, drawing in one continuous line as with her designs.
  12. Start to draw a couple of my own that I would like to try.
  13. Give up on any squiggly line type designs Like Oil Slick because I can’t do the curves right on the paper yet to my satisfaction.
  14. Draw a 4 inch line on each fabric top with marking pencil.
  15. Spray baste batting, backing and top together.
  16. Change the foot on my machine to darning foot.
  17. Thread machine with light thread etc.
  18. Put on my new machine quilting gloves bought from Leah’s site.
  19. Draw a box with the darning foot.
  20. Slowly and steadily worked around two designs.
  21. Realize I should have also bought cheater needles to hide the threads.
  22. Realize I should also have broken my foot as she suggested, but was not going to cut through plastic that easily without a replacement foot.
  23. Now I need to cut the designs down and put them in my clear plastic sleeves into my folder.


This was my sketching the designs to my liking and practice with one long pen stroke.

Loading my “quality machine” with the darning foot – see gloves on the side!

This was the first design and I listened to her video suggestion on this one and just did a grid and then the flying geese pattern.  I like them up and then down without the bars in between.

I have a love affair with daisies and instead of making them in rows like her Dresden daisies, I thought I’d rather see them in random patches.¬† Not my best work, but these are interpretations of daisies.¬† It’s a process.

So far practiced curves and straight lines.  Boy was this fun and getting me excited to try more!


2.8 Podcast 6 Preview – Chemistry Ornaments

December 18, 2009

Yeah I think I’m addicted to this podcasting thing.¬† This should be a nice (maybe short?)¬†crafty podcast where I talk about chemistry ornaments.¬† I never got to doing much physics ornaments because usually we were completing our catapults this time of year.¬† Projectile ornaments! ¬†Wouldn’t that be fun?

For this ornament that you will probably have time to complete for next year (or this coming week if you hurry, but you have to wait for an overnight step). 

Not so much for quilting though.  Although I did revisit a wreath idea that I remember helping with that had fabric patchwork pieces, which may almost count for quilting.


2.2 SQ Podcast Episode 4 – Quilting the Spectrum

December 6, 2009

Podcast Feed

Many days in science class I stared at the emission spectra posters on the wall.  Which may explain why I am drawn to the black, white and rainbow colored pattern I bought from a local quilt artist, Linda Everhart at Quilting Among Friends and the quilt on the wall at the local quilt show this past summer.

It was no surprise that when I saw the Science Craftster Swap from March that I immediately¬†stopped to look at the spectra scarf made by echo_brook to give to pocketwatch.¬† Sending¬†a message to Echo_brook, she plans to knit a¬†blanket of the same design. Here is pocketwatch’s scarf found on page 10 (not 15) on her cool art¬†couch.

And here is pocketwatch¬†showing off the purple portion of the knitted scarf.¬† Why is the design that way with “random” purple and black (and other colors)?¬† It’s not¬†random, it’s an emission spectra of Argon.¬† Perfect for the length of a scarf!

The emission spectra is something explored in physics and astronomy.

A tool that breaks up light is a prism, and a tool that has many “microprisms” on a thin sheet is a diffraction grating.¬† Prisms and diffraction gratings break up light by bending the light that travels at different speeds.¬† You may see “rainbow glasses” at your favorite science museum or science gift shop – that’s probably a diffraction grating that you’re buying.¬† Below is a picture of the diffraction grating.

A CD also can serve as a ‘makeshift’ diffraction grating.

For a summer I did research on the hydrogen spectra at Kansas State Physics Education Research Group.  It was the first time I saw a video camera with a diffraction grating taped to the side of it.  We set up our hydrogen gas tube, turned off the lights and took some pictures.  Of spectra.

What is spectra?¬† Spectra is a visible amount of energy due to moving electrons in an atom.¬†¬†We put energy into the hydrogen atom by¬†adding electricity, and then the electron moves away from home for a while.¬† Then the electron gets bored and comes back, but it doesn’t get to keep that fancy energy.¬† So it emits energy, some of which, is in the form of light – visible light.¬† And if we have the right tools¬†to break up the light, we can get a specific pattern of colors, which we call a spectra.¬† Each element has a unique emission spectra due to the number of electrons and where they are located in the atom … and a bunch of other reasons.

If you want to see a periodic table that shows each specific element’s¬†emission spectra in gif form, click here to go to the Penn State Erie¬†site (click on each element to get to the spectra picture).¬†¬† A periodic table with the symbols and element names¬†is necessary to get the correct element here (unless you were forced¬†to memorize the first 4 rows like I was – even several years after teaching I could remember most of them).¬† Feel free to search for “emission spectra” or “emission spectrum” in google for more info.

This one is Argon.  I downloaded it from the website to use for my quilt design.

Scientists will use a device called a spectroscope (dark box with a long thin slit and a “ruler” inside to measure the distance of the colors) to determine the elements that make up various gases.¬† For a tutorial on how to make a CD spectroscope, and a spectroscope with a cereal box and a diffraction grating, click here.

In the meantime …

Placing the diffraction grating in front of my camera lens produces interesting effects.

Using a diffraction grating on my ceiling light fixture shows bulbs of color, which demonstrates that the light source is where the rainbow is coming from.

And this following picture was of a set of 6 LEDs in a row which I liked.

Braving the December evenings I stepped outside to take a picture of the street light with the diffraction grating in front.

Turning to the side slightly about 20 Р30 degrees, you can see the spectra through the diffraction grating.  Notice the lonely cyan light, in addition to the bright green and yellow lights.

The diffraction grating had only about 1000 lines / mm.¬† More lines would give a higher resolution, but are also (slightly) more expensive.¬† Also the diffraction grating was a little¬†dirty and I¬†tried to clean it as best as I could.¬† Sodium has a distinct “double yellow” line(s) that would be easier to see with a more precise diffraction grating.¬† I am still betting this street lamp is sodium rather than mercury due to the brightness of the yellow here.

How can this relate to quilting?

What about a special scientific quilting design that¬†is pleasing to the eye but also has a “hidden scientific code” inside?

I call this “coin quilt” design “Noble Metallic Spectra” (Chlorine isn’t noble gas, nor metallic, but I like¬†the name¬†anyway).¬† The symbol names in red at the bottom could be stitched as embroidery or quilting on the quilt itself.

As mentioned in the podcast you could do this as a coin quilt and consolidate the blacks (and maybe some of the colored bars) together, or you could do bias bars as the colored strips appliqued on top.

Letting my imagination run away from me, I produced a ring quilt using the polar coordinate filter on Photoshop.

This one I call “Medals of Elements” because its Copper, Silver, and Gold and traditionally medals are given as copper, silver, and gold (and they were my favorite crayon colors growing up).

Maybe I should draw up a “pattern” for these and become a scientific pattern designer?¬† Well first I have to create the quilts to know if they will actually work.

Additional resources

Bleach dyes websites from Deb

Websites to check out of other quilting podcasts mentioned in the show

Thanks also to my commenters

  • Janetsnina, IamSusie, Deb, Kelley, Ruthann, Lauretta6, Janet

Feel free to let me know about your scientific adventures in quilting or other crafts!

Keep experimenting!

EDIT:  I created an item with an embroidered spectra Рa Sewing Machine Cover.  Find the link here!