Showing posts with label Machine quilting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Machine quilting. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2019

Finishing a quilt is such an accomplishment

My Garden Charms Quilt
I am always excited when I finish a quilt, especially this one. It had lots of firsts for me.

Looking back through the posts on this blog, it is evident how long it was in the making. I actually started it in September 2017. That really IS a long time.

It was a Craftsy class project, designed and taught by Lynette Jennings, a quilter I have admired for years. I was honored to do one of her quilts, despite this one being way outside my comfort zone. Even though I felt it was too busy, I was drawn to it.

I liked that this was a medallion quilt, which was new to me. Even though I’ve been quilting for more than 20 years, I still consider myself a novice. There are so many things I’ve never done. I’m a perpetual learner. I want to try everything out there. You might call me an adventurous quilter. The result is that I’ve never stuck with one thing long enough to become proficient. I guess I’m still searching for the best techniques for me. Trouble is, I love them all, from intricate piecing to paper piecing, applique, and everywhere in-between. This had a little of everything.

My first and perhaps biggest challenge was the color pallet. I wanted to make it my own. After all, isn’t that why I collect fabrics, to have my own stash? Since there are a lot of colors, this task was a little daunting, but I persevered. I began my quilting life making monochromatic quilts. I was drawn to one basic color and all its variations. But, I’m growing. I’m beginning to love all colors. In fact, the more the merrier. Named the Garden Charms Quilt by its creator, I recognized that gardens, which I love, contain all colors. And so should my quilt.

I enjoyed the construction phase. I love cutting, piecing, and sewing. While I don’t ever achieve perfection, I always strive for it. I often have to settle for the best I could. I did a few motifs more than once, ripping out more than a few seams. I wanted points to match and seams to line up—again—not perfect but acceptable. I even made a table runner to practice one of the parts I was struggling with.

Once the quilt top was finished, I labored over the most daunting part about this quilt, machine quilting it on my little Janome. I never machine quilted a huge quilt before. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but I was encouraged by those in the quilting community that have already accomplished this. I figured I could to. I do have a stubborn streak when I make up my mind to do something.

While I pondered and questioned my own skills, and sought computer guidance, my poor quilt top just sat around. It was quite some time before I finally got around to working on it again. Life gets in the way. While I am busy taking care of my disabled husband, the house, our six cats, and all the other things that must be done around here, admittedly, I was also terrified of how difficult it would be to quilt this humongous quilt in my teensy-tiny quilting space. I don’t have a nice sewing room with tons of space. I quilt at a breakfast nook just off the kitchen. But, as it turns out, this was not a problem, at all.

A couple of months ago, I was ready. I had talked myself into jumping in with both feet. So last December, I got busy. The eight yards of fabric I was to use for the quilt backing, was still in a bag. I took it out, measured, cut, and pieced it. I dragged out a roll of batting, and lay it all on my small, round dining room table. I put my ironing board at one side, and pressed the backing, quilt top, and sandwiched it all together. I then pin basted it with curved safety pins. Pin basting is not fun, but when it was finished, I got a sense of what this might look like as a quilt. That was an exciting step.

A little more than a week later, I started quilting. I had no idea how I was going to quilt it, but this would be the fun part. I started in the middle and worked my way out. I did just a little at a time so as to now overwhelm myself.

I am still a little surprised that quilting a huge quilt in a breakfast nook would be possible. But, it turned out that was a perfect place. There is a wall behind my machine, so the quilt can’t fall off the back of a table. I keep an ironing board under the counter, and could pull it out when I worked, so it could hold the quilt on the side of me. When I was finished quilting, I just put it back in its place. Between the kitchen and laundry room, my sewing area is out of the way so I could leave the quilt piled up next to my machine still under the needle. I could pick up right where I left off whenever I wanted to. It was perfect.

I finished it a couple of months later.

As it turns out, this is my favorite quilt. The latest one always is. I’ve been watching TV on the couch with it draped over me, usually with a cat or two on top. It is cozy; I love to feel the stitches. It reminds me of when my kids had their favorite blankets—their Neenees. Well this is my Neenee. The quilting is diverse with stipples and squiggles, grid work and feathers, giving it lots of different textures.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Quilting is simply magic!

I have been sewing Christmas table runners to give away as gifts for the last several weeks. This one will go to my daughter, Jenny.

I made two that were identical, using Christmas candy fabrics I had collected. I thought it might be easier to 'double my recipe.' It turned out that it probably wasn't any easier. In fact it was a bit more confusing to do two projects all at one time, since each table runner consisted of three identical blocks plus sashing. That meant cutting and sewing 6 blocks at a time, which translated into 6, 12, or 24 of each piece. I figured that with two projects, I could illustrate and share my thoughts about what I refer to as 'quilting magic.'

Consider this my version of a study in magic.

chquilts: quilting magic 1
This first photo, is what the item looks like when it is merely pieced and pressed, and pin basted. It is waiting to be quilted.

chquilts: quilting magic 2At this stage it is hard to imagine the finished item. The piecing and joining of each block is the dominant feature here, which really accentuates the precision of the cutting and sewing of each piece. 

Imperfect points are obvious. If there are any puckers or less-than-perfect seams, this is where they are most evident.  

It is almost finished. The quilting is done and the piece is quilted, and the binding is meticulously added to finish the edges. 

chquilts: quilting magic 3Now, the quilting is the dominant feature. Any imperfections in piecing are far less obvious. It is the quilting that stands out. This happens to be machine quilting, but hand-quilting offers the same magic. 

So, even if the stitching isn't perfect, and it rarely is, the eye seems to take in the overall look of the project. 

But, it isn't finished yet.

I never consider a piece finished until after it takes its first bath, both washer in warm water and dryer at the regular setting. To me, this is where the real magic takes place.

I tend to stress out at this phase, because I've heard horror stories. Thankfully I've never experienced one. But because after all the work that has been put into a piece, the last thing you want to see is a color that bleeds into another or seams letting go, or whatever other calamity might be possible. 

Whenever I wash a newly-completed quilt, I always use a Shout color-catcher. This product has never failed me. I highly recommend it. I've never been disappointed, even when washing browns, reds, blues, and black fabrics. The color-catcher has always done its job.  

Each time I take a piece out of the dryer, I marvel at how it looks. The quilting causes some shrinkage in the fabric that makes it look like it has relaxed and nestled in around the stitches. I liken it to putting your head onto a soft pillow at night. Your head sinks down into the pillow resulting in the kind of absolute comfort that allows you to fall asleep. 

I think washing a quilt enhances the beautiful texture that quilting creates. 

Gone are any imperfections. There is no more thought about imperfect cutting, sewing, or less-than perfect points. Even slightly wobbly seams just no longer matter. What results from all the processes that make up quiltmaking--each one that I love--is to me, just simply magic.