Hi all -
In this post, I wanted to give a shout-out to Jukebox Quilts in Ft Collins and especially to Renelda (sorry if I butchered your name!) who helped me a bunch this week. I've talked about how much I dread pin-basting the large bed quilts. I'm just too old for this! Not to mention that it's hard to clear enough floor space to do this and I haven't had the best luck doing this on a table. So, instead, I decided to try renting one of the longarms at Jukebox Quilts and basting my sister's wedding quilt using water-soluable thread.
Last Tuesday I took the day off from work and made the trek up to Ft Collins, a 2-hour drive for me since I first have to stop in Boulder to drop my dog off at daycare. I had packed up 4 quilts with backings and battings, just in case, since I didn't know how it would all go and I wanted to make the most of my time after the long drive. I also brought several cones of Superior's Vanish Lite and Vanish Extra since I wasn't sure how much thread this would take or if the Vanish Lite would be strong enough to do the basting. When I got to Jukebox Quilts, Renelda was there to help me figure out how to load the quilt and get started. It's hard to believe it, but Jukebox Quilts rents their free-motion (i.e., not computer controlled) longarms for $15/hr and that includes assistance so you don't have to worry about not knowing how to use the machines. They also rent computer-controlled systems, but I don't know how much they charge for those. I started with my sister's wedding quilt since that one has to be finished by Christmas. Renelda helped me get everything prepared and loaded. They use Red Snappers for loading the quilts. This is the first time I've used those and they're great! Then I just "quilted" trying to get the stitching about 4" apart (although I often went looser because I get lazy). I was able to use the Vanish Lite in the bobbin, but had to switch to the Vanish Extra in the top.
I was able to baste 3 over-sized queen quilts in 5 hours at the longarm. She had me use a basting stitch which made a stitch every 1/2" so the machine made me go a lot slower than I would have liked, but we weren't sure if the thread could handle regular quilting. I have an HQ16 at home with a table too small to handle these quilts, but I think I'll experiment with basting smaller quilts on that machine to see what I can do. (And I'll also look into getting Red Snappers for this machine!) What we did, though, I think worked great!
Now that my sister's wedding quilt is basted, I was able to start the quilting. This is my first large quilt to be quilted with my new sewing machine and I'm already appreciating the larger harp space! Here are some pictures of the quilting I finished yesterday. First the top, with a close-up:
And then the back:
Any white threads you see are the water-soluable basting threads. Another advantage of this method of basting is that the quilt is so much lighter without all of those pins. Of course, a downside is that I have to be very careful to make sure the quilts don't get wet before I get around to quilting them, but that's not generally much of a problem around here. I'll definitely be playing more with this method of basting! Oh yeah, for those who haven't seen this quilt before, I'm calling it Lake House Romance because my sister and her new husband spend a lot of time at his lake house.
When working on quilting a large quilt, I need to also have an easy piecing project on the side to work on when I've done too much quilting for my shoulders to handle or when I just need a break. So I got out my Wild Women Don't Get the Blues quilt. I started this quilt in a class with Karen K Stone that my friends and I took several years ago when we went to the Long Beach International Quilt Show for my 50th birthday. At that point, this was a new pattern for Karen that she hadn't published yet, but now I think it's available in one of her books. Here's an idea of what the blocks look like:
These paper-pieced triangles are easy to pick up and work on without any planning or thought, so they are a good fill-in project while quilting. I've got 57 triangles finished so far, but will need at least 100 triangles (depending on the size I want to make the final quilt) so I have a good ways to go.
And since football season has started up again, I've also picked up my hexagons quilt to work on while watching the Broncos games. This is a quilt that I started many years ago that I just keep chipping away at. It will hopefully be a charm quilt, although it gets difficult to be sure that you haven't repeated a fabric when you have so many of them. Here are the blocks I have completed:
There are 21 completed blocks in the box so far. The hexagons are the bigger ones -- 1 1/2" per side. Here are a few of the blocks laid out together:
I'm not sure how many I'll need for the quilt, but I'm sure I still have a ways to go. And if I make too many blocks, I can always make another quilt. I plan to make a queen-sized quilt, completely by hand. My current plan for the quilting is to do big-stitch quilting parallel to the sides (so 3 lines of quilting through each hexagon), maybe with black, white and gray pearl cotton in each direction. That's my current thought, but nothing is set in stone until I get to the point of actually doing the quilting.
Well, that's all I've been doing lately. I'll try to write posts regularly giving you updates on the quilting on Lake House Romance.