Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Custom Quilting Goose Tales

Original Quilt Design by Stephanie Metz
Goose Tales Fabric Line by 
J. Wecker Frisch
Produced by Riley Blake

I will admit to being a little biased about quilt panels. They're not the first thing I run to when I visit a quilt shop, and I'm not sure I've ever bought one myself. But when this quilt turned up a few weeks ago, I was gobsmacked. I understand that Halloween themed fabric isn't everyone's love, and this runs on the cusp of Halloween and horror, but it's technically a fairy tale-themed fabric with utterly fantastic graphics. Awful and lovely faces that make you look at them.

Those graphic faces hit a memory deep inside me of a Brother Grimm's Fairy Tale book illustrated by Arthur Rackham I once owned. I was frequently an early riser as a young child, and perhaps an insomniac then as well as now. (It's 2:15 a.m., I've slept nearly a night's worth of sleep, and my mind is ready to be up and playing, so here am I.) While the rest of the house slept so many years ago, I would curl up on the floor quietly reading through my book. The gnarled, wizened faces stuck with me as well as the stories and rhymes. Fairy tales that taught and entertained children from the 1600's on had captured me, too.

Stephanie Metz designed this quilt ensemble, and she had definite ideas about how to finish it. We sat down to discuss how she envisioned the quilting, we collaborated.

First I developed a stitch design layout using ProStitcher software. Some of the designs above were purchased, and others came from the Art and Stitch pattern bank.

Then it was thread. Her first words were, "I don't like variegated thread," but we tested thread, and that's what this quilt required in the end. Do notice the middle thread. It appears so dark on the spool yet that was the thread used in the background around Mother Goose. You must unspool and test thread on the quilt top to find the right color! Threads are all Fantastico by Superior Threads.

I loaded this quilt in the waterfall style to see more of it as I quilted. Organic bamboo/cotton batting by Fairfield gave this quilt both beautiful loft and drape, and will make it warm, too.

I worked from top left to right quilting blocks as I encountered them. I did ditch stitch some areas to anchor and stabilize them, but not all. 

This is a great border design of spider webs. Some of them stop midair, but if you really observe webs outside this seems true of them. It's only when light hits them that you see them.

Mother Goose was worked in stripes as I rolled the quilt, and the blocks and sashings beside her as I moved. Everything that could be done horizontally was completed on the first pass.

Vertical Sashings

The whole quilt would need to be turned before doing the long, vertical borders so these vertical sashings were left until then.


One of the shortcomings of computer generated stitching is very slight inaccuracies. Working in a small space such as a 12" block is dependable that you will be on the mark or very near it.  Creating and stitching an area such as the Mother Goose inside this quilt is less so because of the size. 1/16"-1/8" off can be expected depending on how accurately you measured, the pinpoint accuracy of your laser, and the tension of the quilt top. Fabric is fluid, and it moves slightly. Tightening down the quilt top is compensated poorly at times in the quality of your stitch, and not something I like to do. So in the picture above you can see this slight overstitching. 

Remedies for Overstitching

I. Besides cringing, which I do, there a few tricks. You can try shortening the distance when initially measuring with your laser. Just fall slightly short of your end mark at about the same amount you are overstitching. 

II. Don't connect your edges. The "Edges" button gives you a straight line of stitching connecting stopping points. By not choosing Edges, your machine will stop at the outside edge, and tie off. You'll snip the thread, and continue with the stitch design. This is a much longer process, but those individual lines protruding beyond the block are more tolerable. As I was also ditch stitching the Mother Goose block, I chose to connect the edges here.

III. Use thread that is very blendable. Variegated thread is visually forgiving. It is slightly harder controlling tension, but the mottled appearance becomes expected. Light here, dark here, etc. A little overstitching disappears more easily.

The line of books was the only place we chose to use the darker thread. There were webs upon webs here.

Changing Threads: I will say this only for the newer sewer/quilter, but instead of rethreading your machine from scratch when changing thread colors, use this easy trick. Cut your thread above your cone, and tie your next thread on. Remove thread from your tension disc, pull all the way through, and thread the needle. Lickety-split thread change! Yes, you can do this with sergers, and hard to thread sewing machines, too. It's a real time saver!

Flipping the quilt: Flipping means removing the quilt from the frame entirely, rotating 90 degrees, and reinstalling. If you are pinning in quilts, this is not welcome work. If you do it often as I do, look for an easier method. There are many gadgets on the market, but I use a dowel rod and rope light holder system that is inexpensive, and can be customized. Dowel rods slip into the leader casing, and rope light holders clamp fabric down over it. Both items can be cut down with a hack saw to fit if necessary. If you have a quilt that must be pinned for some reason, you just slip out the dowel rods.

Goodness, it's 4 a.m., and I think I'm ready to snooze. The Doxie girls have snored their way through my typing. They're getting grey these days, but still active girls. Just like the rest of us.

One request, if you like what you see and read here at Julie Stocker Quilts at Pink Doxies, would you please hit the Follow button in the sidebar above right? Bloglovin' is an easy way to see all the blogs you love, and Quilter Blogs is amazing at finding new blogs as well. I appreciate it!

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

Linking up with~


Linda Swanekamp said...

Wow, my head is spinning. Tons of info. Even though I don't have a computerized longarm, lots to learn here. Love your choices of motifs and designs so that the quilt doesn't look mattress quilted. Thanks for sharing. Great photos.

Rebecca Grace said...

Well, this was certainly interesting! There is definitely a lot more that goes into computerized long arm quilting than most people imagine. I love the effect of the variegated thread for the spider webs, especially over the books where it creates a 3-D effect with the printed cobwebs and draws you in. Oh my gosh, YES to the memories of reading those fairy tales! And then when my kids were little, we got a book of Raold Dahl's "Fairly Stupid Tales," which were even more gruesome versions of tales like Cinderella, but very funny... I'll bet this quilt was fun to quilt. Thank you so much for walking us through how you use your computerized long arm machine for custom quilting, which I don't think I've ever seen anyone post about before (besides vendors, who make it all look so effortless!). And thank you for linking up with Long Arm Learning! Oh, I do have an idea for those overstitched areas where you have light thread against dark background. Do you have a set of Pigma Micron extra fine tip permanent markers? They are acid free and have come to my rescue many times, both with machine embroidery and free motion quilting. If you color the stray stitches black to match the background, they will "disappear" instead of drawing attention to themselves.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Awesome quilting! I love the threads you used, too! Do you have a photo of your loading system?

Pamela Arbour said...

I love the quilt and I'm not a real big fan of Halloween! The fabrics and quilting really finished it well. Thanks for sharing notes and pics.

TerryKnott.blogspot.com said...

Great photos and such interesting information about how you cope or don't with overstitching. I LOVED all the spider webs and your thread discussion. You're so right about pooling the thread across the quilt top. . .it is surprising sometimes at what looks the best! Thanks for linking up!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Amazing work!! I can't imagine having such good results from a computerized system. Computers and I don't get along quite SEW well!