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Showing posts with label quilt making. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quilt making. Show all posts

Saturday, August 26, 2017

I spray-basted a quilt for the first time

chquilts: ready to quilt
Ready to quilt my purple Dresden Plate quilt

I tried spray basting a quilt for the first time. Whoa, there has to be a better way. Or, I’m just not doing it right.

This exercise reminds me that when I said I loved every aspect of quilting, I lied. It isn’t a lie really, I’m just in denial about this part of the quilt making process. I have never been fond of this fundamental step-- putting a quilt top together with its batting and backing fabric—before the real fun begins. It is a very important step however.

I’ve tried several different ways and haven’t found one that doesn’t make me grit my teeth. I’ve used the traditional safety pin method, where I generally get aggravated or impatient or both, causing me to start skimping on the number of pins I use. I’ve tried Sharon Shamber’s method of rolling the quilt onto boards and then basting the three parts together a little at a time. She makes it look so easy. This is probably one of the best methods I’ve seen, but it remains timely and cumbersome with a large quilt in a small space, which is what I have to work with. This is why I wanted to try the spray basting method. I used 505 adhesive spray.

The only positive thing I can say about this step in the quilt making process, is that it is necessary. Without it, there is no process; There is no quilt. For me, that is just not an option. So, I will continue to grit my teeth.

While I recognize that perfecting this technique would be well worth it, this was just my first time spray basting. I do see the benefits. Admittedly, I struggled with getting all the layers smooth. I disliked all the on-the-floor, off-the-floor, on-the-floor that was necessary. I think hanging the quilt would make it much easier than rearranging all the living room furniture, shooing the cats away, and hoping I didn’t glue all my belongings together, not to mention the bending, stooping, and walking in circles. My only hope is to try Patsy Thompson’s method, which involves hanging the quilt and letting gravity help keep things straight. I will try that next time.

Spray basting was only part of my problem

This is also the first time I used an oversized backing fabric. I had picked out a fabric that I already had, but didn’t really like it. I decided to purchase a nice piece of lavender print that was 104” wide. I bought four yards of it.

I have been looking at this quilt for some time, actually. It was started ages ago. As outlined in a prior blog post, initially I wasn’t happy with it. It was square, so I enlarged it, adding an entire row with four brand new blocks, all the sashing and cornerstones. I was amazed how well that worked. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. Then I decided I wanted to add the final border. I love how that turned out. It makes the quilt about the right size and in my mind, sets off the pattern nicely. But working with all that fabric was a headache.

First I got out my iron and ironing board. Yikes! By the time I pressed the last of it, the first part was already wrinkled. I just looked at it for a few days, wondering what to do next. I laid out the back, unrolled the queen sized batting on top, then added the quilt top. There was lots leftover. I trimmed away some of it, which helped a little. The table I was working on was always adequate in the past. I’m not sure why it was such a struggle this time, but it certainly was. Finally, I folded the would-be quilt, with all three pieces and left them for a while. I had to figure out what, where, and how to get this thing basted.

Finally I decided Friday night was it. Tired of looking at this pile of pretty purple fabric, I want to start quilting again. I decided the living room was it. I vacuumed. I moved all the furniture. I used painter’s tape to secure the corners and the middle of the backing fabric. Of course the tape didn’t stick to my vinyl flooring. I did the best I could though and spray basted one half at a time, first the top to the batting, then the batting to the backing. Then the other half. I did the best I could. Finally, I was able to slide a quilting hoop into the middle and secured it into place. Just the look of a quilt ready to be quilted is comforting to me. I placed the quilt hoop onto a wooden snack tray. The quilt drapes onto the floor, but should stay in relatively good form. Ryan, my cat loves new quilts, so I placed a towel on it to protect it from cat hair. Ryan is now its guardian.

I’ve decided to hand-quilt this quilt. I think the traditional pattern deserves traditional quilting. I’ve already taken a few stitches. Oh my, this is not comfortable. I am very rusty. I will need lots of practice, but that will come. I started by drawing a spiral into the middle of one of the Dresden plates. Wow, this is harder than I remembered. So much for quilting being a relaxing activity. Right now, I’m tense, the lighting is terrible where I’m working, my stitches are not uniform, and I definitely need to find my rhythm. That will come. Now, I’m ready for those cold, winter nights. Bring it on!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I'm happy now


I like how this quilt is going to turn out. It should be named for Goldilocks, as it will end up being ‘just the right size.’

There is still another border I want to put on it, just to finish it off. I am thinking a darker border; my husband thinks a lighter one. Then again, I may just leave it as is. I like it, so I will just have to audition a few fabrics to determine if I like it better with another border, or not. There are no time constraints on this project, so I will have to simply ponder my options.

Pondering my options is, for me, the most challenging part of quilt making. It is also my favorite. I am definitely a pro-choice quilter.

I’m already so glad I decided to fix this quilt top. It would have been too small, at only four squares wide and four long.

I defy anyone to pick out which row I just added to this quilt top, which has been sitting around unfinished since 2015.
While it was only one row, it turned out to be a bit more than I bargained for.

I had to do a little unsewing. There were some decisions I had made early on that I no longer recalled, like making the center circle of the Dresden an alternate color. I had to review how to applique a perfect circle, since I forgot how to do it.

I initially made the sashing and sewed it on without the cornerstones. I had to rip it out. Then I made the cornerstones, five in all, wrong. I reversed the colors, so I had to rip those out too. Fortunately, much of the fabric from my blunders was reusable. It was just a matter of getting it right.

Once I make the decision on the final border or no border, I will add backing and batting and it will be time to quilt.

Finishing this will probably take at least a year, if I decide to quilt it by hand. I’m starting to rethink that decision, at least partially. There are lots of seams in this quilt, which makes hand-quilting a challenge. Not only that, but I haven’t quilted in years. It will take some time to get regulate my stitches and be comfortable with the tiny needle that I’m no longer used to. The light lavender in the sashing and cornerstones has a silver fleck to it, making it heavier than the other fabrics. That might make for some tricky quilting by hand as well. The solution may be to combine both hand and machine quilting. The time frame will likely remain unchanged because I want to hand-quilt. There is nothing more satisfying than a cold winter’s day with a quilt hoop draped on my lap, a cat or two, or more hanging around, as I work my needle back and forth through the layers of a quilt. It doesn’t hurt that I like this quilt and will enjoy working on it.