The Free Motion Quilting Project: Question Thursday #27

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Question Thursday #27

It's Question Thursday time and it looks like both the new storage method and painting a quilt tutorial have generated lots of questions!  Let's see if we can answer them all so you can have fun trying out these new techniques.

The first question is about quilt painting from Karen Klamczynski in the comments:

When you use these paints, do you always use them "over" quilted thread, or have you ever sewed over areas that have been painted? 

Both Jacquard Lumiere Textile Paints and Shiva Paintstiks can be painted on top of quilting lines and underneath.  The paints will stiffen the fabric and change the way it feels to quilt the quilt, but yes, you can most definitely quilt on top of painted fabric!

The best thing to do when considering using paint is to make small samples:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Above is a picture of a sample of red Lumiere paint with Isacord thread stitched above and below it.

To make this sample, I first painted half the fabric with the paint and allowed it to dry.

Then I quilted over the entire square with Heart Flow.  The most noticeable difference about quilting over paint is the noise and feel of your needle.  It makes more of a "pocking" sound as it pierces the paint.  Also you'll want to avoid making mistakes over painted fabric as it does leave holes when you rip out the stitching.

Once the quilting was complete, I painted over the stitching on the side of fabric that didn't have paint before.

As you can see, creating samples like this allow you to get a good idea of what the paint will do on fabric and what your thread will look like over it or under it.  This changes the effect of both the quilting and the paint, so it's worth experimenting with before going wild on a real quilt.

Yes, it may be a bit time consuming to do a sample like this for every color of paint, but it's honestly the only way to know 100% what will happen.

This leads us perfectly to a question from Pat at Color Me Quilty:

So my question for Leah, do you buy each color you want or is there a way to mix them?

Yep, you're not the only one that's had trouble mixing Jacquard Lumiere paints!  When it comes to this particular paint, I haven't had much luck mixing it either.

The only color I've managed to change was metallic silver.  I mixed this color 50-50 with Gunmetal to create a medium silver color.

My best advice is to first make sure you like the paint, then once you're really in love with it, begin collecting 2-3 colors a month.  Focus on the colors you're needing to use that month and make samples so you know what the fabric looks like with those colors of paint.

Pretty soon you'll have a huge collection of colors, plus samples to know what the paint looks like when dry.

Now let's answer the many questions raised in the comments about the pool noodle storage method detailed in yesterday's post:

Could the pool noodle eventually damage your quilt?

Full Question: I'm wondering if the pool noodle should be completely sealed in archival plastic of some sort to stop any chemical leeching from the foam stuff they use to make it.

Second full question: The only question I have is about the use of pool noodles as the inner core... Are you sure that these are safe to use, over the long run? I'm mostly concerned with off-gassing from the plastics used, and the eventual deterioration of the plastic foam...

Yes, it's definitely possible for the pool noodle to damage your quilt.  The material is polyethylene foam, which while safe to swim with, is probably not the most archival.

So here's the deal: for the storage tubes I build for my most delicate and prized quilts, I cover the pool noodle with several layers of acid free paper, secured in place with acid free tape.

Once completely covered with paper, I still build the fabric cover to add another buffer between the pool noodle and the quilt.

As for testing this storage system, I've had two quilts in storage since 2008.  The Duchess stays in permanent storage, wrapped up all year round.  The other quilts occasionally come out and are hung, but they're all easily in storage for months at a time.

As of right now, none of my quilts are showing adverse effects from this storage method.

Also keep in mind that heat is the biggest cause of issues of leaving, off gassing, and chemical exchanges.  This storage method is really designed for keeping quilts in a well air conditioned, cool place, like a closet or behind the couch.

I would definitely NOT recommend it for quilts stored in the attic, barn, or any place that gets hot.

Also note that you could also look for acid free or archival cardboard tubes designed to hold paintings. This might be a better option if you're really concerned about the pool noodles.

Now a question to clarify the construction and rolling technique from Sharidan:

Do you prewash the fabric for both the noodle and quilt sleeve? Also, do you roll the quilt in with the back on top or visa versa? 

Yes, I prewash all the fabric for this system.  If the fabric has color or a print, I wash it multiple times with a dye catcher to make sure there are no excess dyes running out of the fabric.

 Yes, the quilt will tend to roll a bit on the edge that you start rolling on because it is the most tightly wrapped.  The best place to start is from the top of the quilt and roll down with the front of the quilt to the inside.

This way when you unroll the quilt and hang it on the wall, the most curled section will be right at the top where the hanging sleeve is and the weight of the quilt will pull it down and back into normal, flat alignment.

Finally one last question from Jayardi:

Is this the way you send them to shows? Can you elaborate on your mailing method, please?

Yes, if I sent a quilt to a major quilt show, I would pack and send it this way.  You will need to place a tag on both the inner tube and outer sleeve so they stay with your quilt packaging at the show.

As for boxing the quilt, once in it's storage system, I slip the entire quilt into a long plastic bag to protect it from any water or moisture while shipping.

I then build a box long and wide enough using multiple cardboard boxes.  I have heard of some quilters using the large round cardboard molds for cement footings from the hardware store, but I have never used them myself.

You can also find large tubes and boxes from different cardboard box retailers.  The one issue here is you'll have to buy several in a case and it can get expensive.

Well, that's it for this week! I'm heading down to the studio to make a few new tests of fabric, thread, color, and filler designs for The Duchess Reigns.  As I said above - the only way to know what things are going to look like is to stitch it and see for yourself!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions!

    I hope you do some more painting focused quilt alongs. I didn't have the lumiere paints when you posted (they are on order now...) but had just finished a painted project.

    However, now that I have all the paints- I'm still not really sure what I should do with them!

  2. Thank you for the clarification. Pool noodles are not out in the stores right now (put away til next season) so will wait on this til Spring. I don't really have a great number to store anyhow, as I make most of the quilts for gifts. Happy experimenting!!!!

  3. Leah: My question about rolling quilts for storage is what happens if you live in a humid climate? I live part time near the ocean and have found my quilts starting to smell a bit like mildew, just from hanging on a stair railing, folded in sections. Maybe I should stop using cotton batting in this humid environment? Would that solve the problem? thanks in advance...

  4. Thanks for answering my question! I am going to let my subconscious mull over ideas for paints for a while. I have plenty of other projects in line first....or maybe one of those projects will be enhanced with some painting.


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