Today’s post is all about the quilting that I did for this quilt. I think it provides a lot of lessons about handling large quilts with wide open spaces!
I got this quilt loaded on the frame, and then quickly realized that I would need to take it off the frame. Why?
Well, first of all, I hadn’t quite decided exactly what I was going to do before loading the quilt, and once I realized what had to be done, I had no choice but to take it off the frame soon after it was loaded.
If you’re doing a wholecloth quilt (or something very close to one like this is), you really need to mark the quilt unless you’re just going to do an allover pattern from edge to edge and top to bottom. I can’t do this because of the rings in the center.
Second, since I appliqued the DWRs to the quilt, and I couldn’t quilt right over them (because of the color change from dark, to light, to medium, and the embroidery) I needed to define them better in the quilt. The best way to do this is with stitch in the ditch. On the long arm this can be accomplished with rulers, which I initially tried, but this was extremely painstaking work when you don’t have a ruler with a curve that matches what you are doing.
So what I decided to do was take the quilt off the frame and do the stitch in the ditch at my tabletop machine.
I prefer basting with a serpentine stitch rather than a straight line because you get more coverage with fewer stops and starts. I also realized that these machines really do only like quilting from left to right – lots of thread breakage when I tried to go the other direction really fast & really long. The thread I’m using by the way, is So Fine #402 in the top and bottom. The quilt is an ivory color, and this seemed to blend in the best.
Once the quilt was basted, I took it to my Viking to do the SID work. I took an extra bobbin that I had wound for Darcy, took a bit of it to wind a bobbin for the Viking, and then used Darcy’s bobbin as the top thread:
This just insured I had a perfect thread match. This exercise made me realize two things: that I hate working with large quilts on a table top machine, and that it’s a good thing I have Darcy or this quilt would never have gotten finished.
I decided to do a pantograph design for this quilt instead of custom free motion. I mentioned this earlier about keeping the customer’s budget in mind when you work on these quilts. I quoted this project to be a certain amount, and I have to make it work within that budget. Needless to say, pantographs are not necessarily a bad thing – they have their applications and uses and I am glad to have a nice selection to pull from. This design is actually one that I was saving for my French Liberty quilt, but it works out well on this quilt too:
Now because of the rings in the center, I actually quilted this in a different order than I would normally. I marked about 2″ away from the rings along the top and bottom, and then I quilted the top half (from the rings to the top) and the bottom half (from the rings to the bottom.) To do the first row, I needed to identify where the rings fell on the pantograph, and mark that on the pattern:
Where the rings fell in the pattern, I then modified the path of the design so that it was still continuous and blended into the design. To mark the rings, I used the hopping foot of the machine and my needle up/down to mark points along the curve, and drew dots on the grid where the laser light fell. Then I connected the dots to mark the curve. I gave myself plenty of room when drawing the new path so there was no chance of running over the rings. Here’s what it looked like stitched out:
As I went, I removed the basting stitches, which is a pain in the neck (literally) but a necessary evil. You don’t want to stitch over the basting because that just makes it doubly hard to get out later. Also, I didn’t want the basting to stay in longer than it needed to, because I didn’t want the holes left by the basting stitches to be more difficult to close.
For this, I again identified the edge of the rings and centered a row of the pantograph on the quilt. Then, because there was a gap at the top and bottom, I just did a couple of curly loops to blend in the sections. So tell me, if I hadn’t pointed it out, do you think you would have noticed that filler stitch?
After that, it was time to address the rings themselves. The two outer rings didn’t have any design at all, so I wanted to put something in the center. I have a matching block that goes with this pantograph, so initially I tried to use the design as a pantograph. This didn’t work out so well:
It ended up being extremely off-center, so I needed to work this from the front of the machine. I ripped out the original stitches, traced the block pattern onto Golden Threads paper, and pinned it to the quilt. This way I could watch the stitches as I went and make any corrections that were needed:
Now you’re probably thinking I would leave the embroidered center alone, but I did not. The quilt needs to be just as beautiful & well thought-out on the back as it is on the front, so the embroidered block needed to have a design too. To get the right effect, I swapped out the top thread with MonoPoly, which is Superior’s monofilament thread. I had to make a tension adjustment, but the MonoPoly just blends into the front, while giving a consistent design on the back. Here’s a close up of the rings from the front:
In another post, I’ll talk about the finishing process for this quilt and some other goodies!