Friday, 11 July 2014

Having a ripping time?

This week has been about quilting, or, should I say, un-quilting?  I have been putting off finishing some of my tops in favour of what I love best: cutting up and chain piecing fabric.  But class deadlines and, even more, knowing I am accountable to this blog and those of you who are kind enough to drop by for a look now and then, made me resolve that this week was quilting week.  Fewer family demands - or should that be, fewer demanding family members at home? - meant that I could get to spend more than about half an hour at a stretch at the machine: what could be nicer?

Well, being better at machine quilting would be nicer for a start....  I know it takes practice but I feel like I have been practising forever.  First off, I thought I would warm up with some straightforward straight line walking foot work.  I layered the small chevron bordered star quilt (blogged about here) and got busy.

Ditch stitching all pretty routine till I decided (about half way through) that I didn't like the colour I had chosen for the top thread - too dark, so every tiny imperfection jumped up and hit me in the eye.  No good telling myself it wouldn't show once the quilt was washed and had crinkled up a bit.
Where's my seam ripper?

It takes so much longer to remove stitches than to put them in the quilt in the first place.  My own fault for rushing rather than reflecting a little longer.  The stone coloured thread matched the backing perfectly and I went for a soft cream on top as the better choice;  it does show on the dark stars but melts into the cream background fabrics.  Much better, and I enjoyed the rest of the process.

I know it is only ditch stitching and diagonals, but it does the job and adds a reasonable amount of quilting texture to a simple quilt.  No puckers on the back - hurray.  Binding on and into my LQS to promote the class in the autumn.  That's my finish for this week and I'm linking today to Crazy Mom Quilts.

The quilt is 45" square if anyone needs to know its vital statistics.  It did feel weird working with Christmas colours and holly backing in June/July before the schools have even broken up, but we are past the longest day now.  Don't know quite where the first half of 2014 has gone...

Now feeling I was into my stride I tackled the quilting on the Strips that Sizzle quilt (blogged about here and here). Yes, I know it's a long time ago; the quilt has been layered and looking at me accusingly from the end of the table for a while now.  All because I wanted to try spiral quilting - I just couldn't get up the nerve.  I knew from Amanda Jean's helpful tips on spiral quilting (here) that I would need to FMQ the very centre as the curve would be too tight for the walking foot (and I did my own research to check - first lot of ripping out).

So I practised the initial spiral on a scrap sandwich (that must sound very odd to any non-quilters out there: BLT anyone?).  Not too bad, now for the actual quilt.

Alas, it's a lot harder to manage a smooth spiral with a largish (65" square) layered top under the needle than it is with a 12" square sample.  Suffice to say that I tried, and failed, four times: that's a lot of ripping out of very small stitches.  Even more impressed that Amanda Jean managed it on her monster Scrap Vortex quilt...

My attempt abandoned, for now anyway, I have resorted to straight lines again with the walking foot.

So this one is not finished but it is well on the way at last.  There is quite a bit of quilt wrangling involved in the quilting on the pink - I know I could FMQ that but still not brave enough - but the blue is a doddle and adds a contrasting texture which I think works OK.  I have put the binding on early to reduce the amount of fabric going under the arm, but not yet slipstitched it in place.

One other comment: I put a skinny flange (folded slip of pink fabric) between the quilt centre and the pieced outer border to give visual definition/delineation without complicating the fit of the outer pieces; I do like it but it's a nightmare to avoid when quilting.

Possibly something better suited to hand quilting when it is easier to avoid, or OK if you are happy to quilt right over it which I didn't want to do here.  Oh well, another lesson learned.

Have fun this weekend, whatever you have planned.


  1. Your Christmas quilt is beautiful -- sure to be a hit in the classroom. And kudos to you for making it through to the other side on the quilting. Nobody likes a seam ripper!

  2. I just had a similar experience with my latest finish. It sat in a dark cupboard for a year! It's nice to finally finish it though. It looks like all your backwards sewing was worth it. You have a lovely finish :)

  3. I hate days like that when nothing seems to go as planned! The quilts look great though - I really love the Christmas one!