Quilting Elizabeth – Day 3

May 7, 2013

So, I started quilting the test piece for Elizabeth.  I laid the test piece into its position in the quilt last night so I could start getting a sense of how it will look.


So far, it’s definitely gold silk thread (Superior Kimono Silk #304) for the outlines of the vines. What has me more perplexed is the fill.  My original idea was to continue the overlapping circles pattern from the border into the background of the quilting. I still think this looks great.

Elizabeth fill test 1

(I also tested some of Lisa Sipes’ trademark triple-stitched grid — see it on the bottom right in the photo above? — but I don’t think it’s the thing for this quilt.)

So, going with the interlocking circles, I have several issues to work out:

1-What color thread to use for the interlocking circles?  I tried the same gold, but it seems too va-va-VOOM! and distracts from the vines. I tried several other colors — blues, golds, even silver — still too bold.  Then I tried a dark khaki green — see it in the space around the vine on the left in the photo below?  This might be the one.  Why?  For two reasons: First, something that I learned on the Peacock quilt a while back — quilt in a color just slight lighter than your background if you want the quilting to be seen, but be subtle.  Second, since blue and yellow make green, the green seems to be the perfect compromise between the blue background and the gold thread.  Anyone have any thoughts about this?

BTW, the strands of thread that you see there are snips from my Superior Threads Kimono Silk color cards.  The cards have actual thread on them, so when I need to test a color I carefully snip out a single strand of thread and lay it on the quilt.  These colors are, left to right, #362 Coues Deer, #361 Seaweed, #360 Garden Green, #359 Mori, #358 Saguaro.  I think I’ll order spools of Seaweed and Garden Green and use the one I like best.  Opinions anyone?  (For those of you who don’t know, you can order color cards like this from most thread companies for just a couple of dollars.)

Elizabeth fill test 2

2-How to get the circles really regular and accurate, since I’m doing them in a rather visible thread?

3-How much of the background to do the circles in?  I’m thinking the area between border and vines, but not in areas filling in and around the vines. I tested one area inside the big vine loop (see the photo below), but I think it might be too busy there.  Also, interlocking circles will be too big for the space inside the twists. I tried my string-of-pearls inside one vine, but I think it looks too modern for this quilt.

Elizabeth fill test 1

4-Where I don’t do interlocking circles, what to do there? I tried some 1/16″ shadow stitching with a bit of bubble work at the center.  I think this has potential.  Definitely don’t try this with strongly contrasting thread tho!  And along with that, how do I transition elegantly from bubbles to shadow (or whatever other fill I use) where there isn’t a line to separate them?


5-To double-stitch or not to double stitch around the vines?  Compare this photo with the one above.

Elizabeth fill test 3

So that’s where I’m at right now.  Every time I try something to get an answer to a question, I get a partial answer, and more questions. They’re multiplying!!  But I also know from past experience that soon there will come a tipping point where the answers start reducing the number of questions.  And when the questions are answered I’ll be ready to start doing work on the actual quilt.  So for now I’m being patient: there’s no deadline on this quilt.  It has waited 4 years to be quilted, so another few days of testing won’t hurt.

Okay, off to do the rest of my day.  Lots to do to prepare for the South America trip coming up!


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