Friday, September 25, 2020

Planning Custom Quilting: Christmas Wall Hanging

Christmas Wall Hanging

Around here a wall hanging might be referred to as a "wall hanger". The first time I heard it I had one of those eyebrow raising moments, but it's a common way of saying it for many local people. I accept it now. When I first typed out the title, my fingers magically typed "wall hanger". Obviously my brain has accepted it, too. 

This is a client made piece by Connie Karlowicz, and I think it's just the prettiest thing! I found myself singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" more than once working on it yesterday. Thankfully, I was alone. 

Connie requested custom quilting, and I agreed. It may hang somewhere that people will see it both up close and from afar, and that gives me a lot of information on how to work. I thought I would give you an idea of the steps I take in preparation to quilting.

First, I always speak with the client whether it's an edge-to-edge project or custom. We discuss how the piece will be used, if it will be a gift or added to their own home, etc. These things help me determine batting, thread, and the amount of quilting, which equates to overall cost.

If it's a custom project, I will usually do a mock up in Prostitcher software, and send it to the client for approval. Connie asked for designs to be added to the individual frames so I obliged.

This quilt and backing both needed resized. Then batting cut, threads pulled from racks, bobbins wound, designs located, all pieces loaded smoothly, and I was finally ready to start. 

I used Superior's monofilament in all the ditch stitching and cross hatching, with So Fine in the bobbin. Ditching can be pleasant work or mind numbing after 4-5 hours. Breaking it up with the result of these post card blocks come out so pretty was fun!

Resizing Problems: Substituting Designs

My initial plan was to add a ready-made frame design around the blocks. It worked on my laptop, but in the real application it would not. It would overlap the cross hatching, and that was not acceptable.

Resizing is a funny thing. Individual designs in a single row can be resized by width or length or both. Imagine a square elongated into a rectangle. It works.

A frame design either grows larger or smaller, but the width of the frame itself cannot be sized. For instance, if you wanted a 1" border all around your quilt, you would cut it 1"x the length, but it would be a 1" border. Working with a frame design means adding length would also grow the width. Your 1" may wind up 2.5", and that didn't work here. 

The holly corners above are slightly less difficult, and keeping with the Christmas design I think they may work. I'll add everything else first, and then check the scale before stitching. Better safe than sorry.

The Summary: Custom design work is all about planning before executing. I enjoy it immensely, but it's also hard work physically as well as mentally. Standing at the machine for long hours is tiring. 

I enjoy hand-guided custom work as well, but there is something so pristine about exact cross hatching or knowing a design will fit perfectly. And, the look on a client's face when they get just what they dreamed of is wonderful! I'm so blessed I can do what I love.

Back to work now.
Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


Linda Swanekamp said...

I don't think people think about all the thought and planning that goes into quilting. Even though mine is not computer guided, I do lots of sketching and moving around before it gels. And my quilting is pretty darn basic. Your results look professional because they are. They don't just happen when you press a button.

Rebecca Grace said...

You have done a great job of explaining some of the challenges of computer assisted quilting, Julie. I especially appreciated the bit about trying to fit a border to a certain size and shape without unacceptable distortion. I've been working my way through IntelliQuilter training videos (not expecting my system to ship until October 20th) and your post lights up the "aha!" bulb about some of the tools and features in my training videos. They show you how to stretch or clip or skew or whatever tool on the screen in the video, but real world examples of needing to fit THIS design around THIS postcard and wanting the holly to still look like holly and not overlap crosshatching -- THAT's what really helps me to grasp why all of these different manipulation options are helpful and why there isn't just a one-size-fits-all solution. This wall hanger/hanging is lovely and I'm sure your client will be thrilled with it. I really like how the straight line grid of the crosshatching contrasts with the curving lines of the other quilting patterns; that will be so striking even from across the room. If I was working on that quilt right now, I'd be singing "We Need a Little Christmas" from Mame: "Haul out the holly..." :-)

Barb N said...

Big job! Did you SID by computer or by hand? I find it's so much easier to do by hand, and faster. With this quilt, it's almost like you repieced the quilt. Most customers don't realize that. Well done!