The Adventures with Prostitcher Continue
Let me show you the pretty finish at the start. But like everything, there's a story behind this project. There's always more than meets the eye! Follow with me as I explain the process, and for some more eye candy to follow.
This beauty, a Costa Maya, has been sitting in my quilting cupboard for a year--and it's not mine. (Yes, I'm ashamed--a little.) It belongs to a friend, and her second Costa Maya. I quilted the first, and didn't want to repeat the same quilting for her. Honestly, I was a little stumped on how I would do that. My long used excuse was I was waiting for inspiration. Then I upgraded my longarm with an added Prostitcher. Enter the steep learning curve and classes on how to run the software, yada yada, you know. Debbie has been patiently waiting for me to get my act together. She's a trooper!
Check out the post for pictures of my early ruler work on her first Costa Maya that hangs in a local shop.
This same friend and I worked together one day last winter to make this pattern. I cut. She sewed. It was fast and furious. We had it together in a few hours, and it's been in the deep pile of charity quilt tops since. While trying to figure out how I would be doing her second Costa Maya, this quilt crept in to my mind. It had some similarities for sure with all the triangles, and I was looking for something with good, negative space to experiment with my Prostitcher software.
Use Your Phone to Digitally Mark Up Designs
Some quick mark ups from my photo editing on my phone, and I had a plan of which blocks would be similar. It doesn't have to be beautiful, you know. It's just the rough plan.
Before You Quilt
'Before you quilt' encompasses many things. In the picture above you can I've started quilting individual blocks. Before that step, however, the quilt was stabilized. You can choose to stitch in the ditch, pin through blocks, etc., to keep the quilt from shifting as you do more intensive quilting to each block. This is especially important if you plan to do say the middle block followed by the same motif in the corners, for example.
Options: Some quilters will start by stabilizing the entire quilt at the beginning. Moving across each row they will ditch stitch each block, roll to the next row, ditch stitch, etc. I chose to ditch stitch each row, add some quilting at the same time, roll, ditch stitch, quilt, etc. This are the same methods you would use at a domestic machine for block intensive work FMQ.
What a Prostitcher Helps with and Doesn't
There are misconceptions with software assisted quilting. Some people think you can push a button, and it just does its job. That's far from the truth, but it does do what you tell it to. Designs are stored within a data bank, and you can pick these to resize, crop, or change in many ways just as you would a paint program for instance. Making that happen the way you intend is the challenge for the user.
The basic elements of quilting are all still there with making sure all the layers coordinate correctly, the tension is perfect, and so on. Longarm quilting is like making an awesome souffle.
Here's where you can see I'm still learning the software. The left design is closer to the block edge than the one on the right. Working to get these even is a challenge for me.
When I saw this on the back, I was pretty giggly. I had picked several different designs from different collections, and yet they still seemed to go together well enough. Pretty cool beans!
The Mark Feature
Another amazing feature of Prostitcher is the ability to click on a set of connected points across the quilt, and set the machine to sew. So 4 clicks around a block will give you the ditch stitching. You can see above how I was not quite as careful as I could have been with the bottom two points, and it sewed evenly 1/8" away from the seam. If the piecing in a quilt top was inaccurate, it would also show up the same.
How long did it take?
This was a 60" square, and many hours spread over a day and a half. For the first attempt at custom quilting, I was tickled. Having to do this type of work without Prostitcher would take me a week I imagine.
It's always good to share our stories.
Debbie's quilt is next. I promise.
Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.
Confessions of a Fabric Addict