Judy Neimeyer quilts are iconic within the quilt world as complicated rights of passage into the upper tiers of experienced piecers. But like every new pattern we attempt, our first shot might not go as well as we wish. Learning is not always linear. That doesn't mean the quilt top is terrible, but that we would have a leg up the next time. So what happens when we finish, and there is a little puffiness here and there, or a slightly wonky, wavy border, or the many other construction swamps we get bogged down in? It happens to me. It happens to you. But what can you do about it when it comes to quilting?
First, be honest with your long arm quilter, and have faith that, yes, some of it can be concealed with quilting.
Quilters love the saying, "That can be hidden with quilting." Long arm quilters will tell you, "You can't quilt everything away." The truth lies somewhere in between.
This fabulous quilt was pieced by Sheryl Hardesty, and is a Judy Neimeyer pattern called Prismatic Star. The digital quilting pattern is by Clothworx.
When Sheryl brought me the quilt top a few weeks ago, we talked honestly about the it. This was a quilt made over a long time period--years, and we all know how much we learn by repeating piecing of the same block. We learn to be more critical of construction methods, the pattern, and how we might do it next time. But with that said, we were still dealing with the top on the table. It visibly had some puffiness, Sheryl had concerns, and I had faith I could take care of it.
I asked if she had used spray starch in construction. I didn't want any fabrics to bleed at this point! She had, and so I went to work with starching and flattening. I left it overnight to dry before moving it. Starching improved the condition dramatically!
Two batts would help a lot at hiding any irregularities, and would make the quilting pop. Hobbs 80/20 is on the bottom, and a layer of Quilter's Dream Wool on top. Dream Wool is a more rigid wool that some others, and I like it to add stability. This will be a wall hanging so it fit in perfectly with that in mind.
Fantastico 40# variegated thread by Superior Threads is on top with their So Fine in the bottom. With the first corner in, I was all giggly. The feathers were gorgeous! She chose this pattern wisely.
There were 4 digitized patterns that made up the entire quilt. Each is manipulated with software to nest correctly in the space.
I started quilting at the top left, and simply moved across whatever fit within my quilting space. You can see some of the puffiness play in the quilt here. I knew it would be fine, though, at this point. *For you, Rebecca, no I did not ditch stitch anything before quilting the entire quilt.
Getting those first star points in were terribly exciting!
It can be a little tedious sizing and resizing, and working with the software to make sure things fit well without going outside the area. Star points are especially difficult as there is no magic wand to make things fit. If you haven't found out already, resizing odd shapes is easier by turning them back to a horizontal or vertical position, resizing, then rotating to the oblique again. It's all trial and error.
The black bars, or armature, were starting to pop as I continued to quilt. It was a little unnerving.
I kept this quilt top fairly loose as there was really no way to tighten it. The horizontal and vertical bars dictated the finished size, and yet there was bias in play. I starched as needed as I rolled.
In the end, there was 1 tiny tuck in the quilting. I challenge anyone to find it.
When everything was quilted within the blocks, I switched to Superior's monofilament thread in black, and started to ditch or edge stitch in the armature. It made a huge difference as I watched in real anticipation. It all laid down so beautifully!
What's next? I suggest all quilts that are intended to be wall hangings should be blocked before binding. It involves dampening, and carefully working the quilt so it dries square. You can google it, or we can leave that for a post another day.
How about all the starch on the quilt? Absolutely make sure you remove as much as possible. Starch is a food. Moths love it. A careful soak in a tub with a tiny bit of Dawn Blue Dishwashing Liquid will do the trick. Rinse well. Support while drying. Continue on to the blocking at this point.
The Final Wrap
So, honestly, how much can be fixed with quilting? A lot is a possible answer, but maybe not everything. Find an experienced long arm quilter who is not afraid to tackle a slightly imperfect project if you have one. Be honest, and adjust your expectations if things are really off kilter. Know it may cost extra if your quilter charges by the hour or inch as it involves more work on that end.
As my friend Jan says, I think I've found my thing. I really do love quilting for other people. It brings me such happiness to help people fulfill a vision they see for their work. There is such incredible depth and breadth to this kind of work. One project may be wholly digitized, and the next freehand. I like to feel that little twinge of butterflies when something is new again or I haven't done it in a while. It throws me back to the days of #bravequilter. Remember that?
It was just 5 years ago I bought my first long arm. The picture popped up on my Face Book memories yesterday. Little did I know it was just the start of a wonderful story.
The Doxie girls are still hanging with me, and spending more of their time snoozing in the studio. Life is good.
Wishing a happy weekend to you all!
Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.