Hi all -
I'm starting to get my mojo back now that I've made a reservation for some time on a longarm to baste my sister's wedding quilt. My appointment isn't until Tuesday of next week, so I have some time to work on some other stuff. There's a place that rents time that's only 45 minutes from my house, but I called them and they wanted me to take a $120 class before being able to use their longarm. Well, that seemed a bit excessive to me so I called the place that is a couple of hours away and they just charge $15/hr and that includes support and instruction, if needed. Much better deal! So I asked for a couple of hours and I'll take a day off of work to head up there and baste as many quilts as I can before I run out of time, water-soluable thread or quilts. I have 4 quilts all prepared, just in case.
So, to pass the time until then, I decided to pull out my "Let the Sun Shine" wallhanging and start the quilting. I pieced this wallhanging a year or two ago along with some other TQSers from a pattern by Jacqueline de Jonge. I can't seem to find the pattern right now so I don't know the name, but we all did the piecing when TQS had her video available for us. Here is a picture of my quilt top:
I really love how the top sparkles with the scrappy fabrics! I had started a plan for the quilting a while ago and have really been itching to quilt this one. For smaller quilts, it's really nice to just trace the quilt components on paper to give myself a platform for testing out design ideas. I just do a quick tracking of the quilt in pen, then add ideas in pencil so I can erase what I don't like:
I don't have all of the quilting planned out, but I needed enough done so I would know what marking I would need to do before layering and basting the quilt. The small areas I can do without marking, but I really needed to mark the brackets before beginning. I was hoping that I could just use a lightbox to mark the lines, but the fabrics were just too dark to see the lines well enough, even after going over them with a thin sharpie. A thick sharpie would have worked better, but I wanted more precision in the lines so I had to come up with something else. My solution was to mark the lines on some cardstock and cut the edges to create a stencil. This worked really well. The cardstock was thin enough that I could see the lines well using the lightbox, so tracing was easy. Then I just cut along the edges. Here are the stencils for the small bracket to give you a better idea of what I did:
I made marks at the points where the stencil would line up with the piecing so I could get everything as consistent as possible. Here are the stencils stacked to give you an idea of how they go together:
And here are the small brackets marked on the quilt:
I used Clover's white marker since the lines are visible on the dark fabric and I've never had trouble getting these lines out. The brackets in the background were larger so I had to make the stencils just for one side of the bracket:
In this case, the marks indicated where the stencil lines up with the piecing and with a diagonal line marked on the quilt. I had to flip the stencils to mark the two sides of the bracket. Again, this is how the stencils would line up:
And the markings on the quilt:
Even though I haven't chosen all of the designs, I'm sure everything else will be able to be quilted free-hand or with registration marks that will be easy to put on the basted quilt. I'll still use the quilting plan from above to try out the designs as I make my decisions.
So I got the quilt basted and finished the initial SID quilting. I'm using two layers of batting: a cotton batting on the bottom for stability and a wool batting on top for definition. It's a little harder to quilt with all that puff, but it's worth it in the end. I used invisible thread on top and SoFine in the bobbin for the SID. I used to have trouble using the invisible thread, until I figured out this set-up which makes it work perfectly for me now:
What you see is a spool of Superior's Monopoly thread with a thread net around it. The thread is then run through a packing peanut, up through the hole in the thread stand, then through another packing peanut before going through the guide at the top of the stand and then normal threading through the machine. For some reason, Superior puts their thread on a really heavy spool, so if you put it on the top of your machine the thread will stretch as it tries to turn the spool, so you really have to keep it off the back of the machine. The thread net keeps the thread from unwinding from the spool and tangling. The packing peanuts keep the thread from kinking up on itself. I also loosen the top tension a little bit (I was using 3.5 on my machine) and then the thread runs like butter through the machine.
Because the curves in the top are fairly flat, I was able to do all of the SID quilting using my walking foot. It was still tedious, as SID always is, but it really is important to highlight the piecing in the quilt. Here is the top with the SID finished:
And here is the back where you can see the quilting better:
I sewed around the outside edge and trimmed the batting a bit to try to reduce all of the fluff that I get all over my gloves and the quilt while quilting with the wool batting. Once I figure out how I want to quilt the outer border, I'll get that done and get the binding on so the fluff will go away completely. But until then, I'll keep plugging away at the quilting that I've decided on already.