Friday, March 13, 2020

Spin Drift: 11 Custom Quilting

It's All About the Numbers
Custom Quilting Takes Forever
The World Feels Very Crazy at the Moment, 
and This Project Will Never End

Nearly every quilt I look back on has some weird tangle of emotions and events. "Oh, that's the one I hand quilted through the winter when the power kept kicking off," or "I bought the fabric for that when so-and-so was with me." The whole quilt is a mixture of memories of fiber and thread, of people, and life events. I think it's glorious when they are happy memories, but it can ruin a quilt when it's something else. I don't want this quilt to become The Corona Quilt (even though they are very spatially similar). Therefore, I'm taking measures to keep my head and heart above water, and not bring the anxiety to my work space. And, I'm hurrying to get it done now. The clock ticks between things escalating on the world front, and how quilting much my darned tennis elbow will allow in a day.

Numbers and Tricks

This quilt has 9 main blocks, 12 cornerstones, and 28 sashings--12 horizontal and 16 vertical. Within the sashing strips there are 112 little 2" squares, and 336 tiny HST. Working about 6-8 hours a day, I'm pushing a week now. Each corner of each of those pieces needs to be marked then stitched, and even using a computerized system that is tedious. 

The delight of a computer means I can do the set up in stages, and it will do the actual stitching. The pink lines above indicate areas I've marked using the foot of the machine. I move it over an area like the point of the triangle, and touch a button on my handlebar. Because it uses a laser for accuracy, my job is much easier. There may be 20-25 points in something like this that I measure to create the area. Then each of the quilting motifs is individually brought into the areas, and lined up just so they are the correct size, and touch all the correct spots. When the line is entirely in place, I let the machine stitch. 

56 times to do this process to get these triangles quilted--if they fit, that is. One glitch is when a whole line is too long to fit in the depth of the frame, and I need to break it up. As the quilt advances, and rolls up on one of the bars, my throat spaces tightens. When it's done in stages, we call it "chunking."

These little triangles are a little over 1" high, and the loops fill in the space nicely, I think. My stitch length is around 14 SPI when I use Glide. If I do have to pick something out, the shinier threads tend to be far easier.

I wasn't ready to do all the background motifs for the main blocks, but I really wanted to see if they would work. The first one here was my test.

They filled in the space around the large Dresden well leaving only a small bit of space open in the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock areas, and the stitching is only visible close up. I haven't decided if I'll fill the small spaces yet.

Crap Happens

I saw this seam pull, and wanted to share it. This happens rarely, but it does, and there's no reason to panic. It's one of the downfalls of pressing seams open, but it can be fixed after the quilt is off the frame. Either the seam itself was weak or broken when I started, or I had the tension too tight on the quilt in the frame. Or both. But when the quilting is done and the quilt is off and relaxed, I'll do some tiny stitch repair with fine, invisible thread, and you'll be hard pressed to tell where it was. Except I already showed you. Everyone relax.

My bobbin thread arrived. Wow, that's orange! The Bottom Line is a fine, 60# thread. You want a finer thread in the bottom than you use in the top stitching. So 40# up, and 60# down.

So Fine is also 60#, and that was on my shelf.

And this thread is also The Bottom Line, but not a perfect match. Close is okay, though. All the background is officially done, and I should start on the main blocks and cornerstones today. Wish me luck because, honestly, I'm a bit nervous!

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


Linda Swanekamp said...

Well, I love the gorgeous colors you picked. I finished a child's quilt and I did not change colors and I wish I had. Your quilting is gorgeous. Mine is hand guided imperfect but I am sticking with it. I love this pattern and your fabric choices. I wish I could squeeze it and enjoy it in person. Thanks for the wonderful photos.

Angie in SoCal said...

I'm wishing you luck, Julie, but know you are creating a beauty there. I, too, love the gorgeous colors! I really like Bottom Line. I use it on the top as well as the bottom. I'll have to get some #60 So Fine. Blessings!