Hi all -
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I was thankful for the time off to work on Christmas presents. So much to do; so little time! Isn't that always the case?? As you probably guessed, I stayed home for Thanksgiving with Lance and the kitties. I enjoy doing this every year because it gives me time alone to just sew away, without the stress of getting out on the roads which are often bad this time of year. Like last year, I did pick up a turkey breast to roast. We do love turkey in this house! As soon as I took it out of the refrigerator, I had three sets of beady eyes watching my every move. Boy, was I loved! We all very much enjoyed our bits of the turkey! But on to the quilting.....
I've been working hard on Lake House Romance since Christmas is just around the corner. I've now finished all 24 of the feathered hearts. It took a LONG time to get that done. I started by tracing the design on some water-soluable stabilizer:
I decided to use the stabilizer instead of the deli paper because time was tight and I didn't want to have to worry about getting all of the paper out. I used almost the entire 9 yard roll for this quilt, but it was worth it to get rid of that worry. And I found some more of the same stuff on clearance at createforless.com for $7/roll so I have some more coming that should arrive any day now.
To do the tracing, I taped my tracing paper pattern to a light box. The white background of the light box made it easy to trace and I could use the light if necessary when tracing at night. It turned out that the white background was enough for me to trace any time of day.
The light box had the added advantage of allowing me to easily move my tracing station off the table when I was doing other things. I traced the design using the pictured Frixion pen. I'm generally careful about using these pens on quilts because the lines can come back when the quilt gets cold, but very little of the ink should get through the stabilizer and I'm going to wash this quilt in the end to get rid of any lingering stabilizer and water-soluable thread (used for the basting), so that should also get out any lingering gel from the pen. I had to do so much tracing that I started to run out of ink in my pen:
After tracing, I lightly sprayed the back of the stabilier with 505 basting spray and pinned it in place on the quilt:
I had to be careful about the amount of 505 spray I used on the back. Too much and the stabilizer got gummy and hard to remove; too little and the design slipped around. I could have also just used more pins, but with this configuration I didn't have to remove any pins while quilting so that was much easier. I trimmed the edges of the stabilizer because I found that it was too slick to hold on to while doing the quilting. In fact, I also had to use different quilting gloves because the gardening gloves I normally use would just slide on the stabilizer. Luckily I had a pair of Grabaroos that gripped the stabilizer nicely. It's good to have extra tools around the house because you never know when you'll need them!
After finishing the quilting, I had to remove the pins and then pull up as much of the stabilizer as possible:
When I started, I was just pulling up the big pieces inside the heart and round the outside of the design. But then I realized that I really needed to pull up everything I could to make sure that I didn't get any gunky blobs when washing. This took the majority of the time, but I did find that my little thread pick was very helpful in getting out bit in the corners. With the tracing, quilting and removing the stabilizer, it took about 1.5-2 hours for each heart. But I think they're looking beautiful! Here's the back of one of the hearts:
Here's the full quilt. I hope you can see the hearts in the bad lighting!
And the back of the quilt:
I have to say that even though the hearts took a long time to finish, they really weren't difficult to do with my new sewing machine. That extra harp space is incredible!! Even when working on the hearts in the center of the quilt, I had plenty of space for my hand in the harp and I never really felt like I was having to wrangle the quilt. I did have a problem with the thread, though. I was using Glide in the top and the bottom and the tension was great. But the thread seemed to be untwisting on the top so that the plies would separate and then I would get some shredding and the thread would break. I tried everything: rethreading top and bobbin, cleaning and oiling (which I also did after every bobbin anyway), reducing the top tension, and increasing the needle size. But nothing made a difference and I generally had one thread break per heart (some had two, but some didn't have any). I even tried turning the cone upside down since I had seem this on one other thread that was cross-wound on a spool and I just had to turn the spool around so the thread was coming off the other end and that fixed the problem. But it turns out that it's a bad idea to set a cone upside down and you just get a tangled mess. So I just powered through and dealt with the thread problems as they occurred.
Now I'm starting on the outer border quilting. Since not much will show on that fabric, I've decided to do simple piano key quilting using a ruler. This is my first try at using a ruler on a large quilt. And it's going well so far (I have maybe 10 lines finished).
I'm using the ruler that I picked up in Houston this year. It has good markings for this type of quilting. But I realized as I was going along that, even with the markings, the quilt moves around so much that I really needed to have registration lines along the border to keep the quilting straight:
I think this is going to be a big help in keeping things lined up.
After finishing the outer border, I'll go ahead and put on the binding and see how much time I have before deciding what other quilting to add. My original plan was for curved cross-hatching inside each heart, a water fill around the outside of each heart, a couple more lines in the chains to make a diamond in each square and some swirly quilting in the inner border. What I actually do will depend on how much time everything takes.
I've also been working on other Christmas gifts. I've made two more of the Lacey Keyhole Scarves:
(I might be able to keep the brown one for myself.) And I've been working on a beaded embroidery for my sister:
When this is finished, it'll be sewn up into a little draw-string pouch. If time permits, I also have some hats on my list and wouldn't mind making some potholders. Do you think I can finish all of this in just three weeks? And still keep my full-time job?? Wish me luck!