Did anyone watch the Independent Lens on La Lupe last night? Fascinating and a little heartbreaking (and Oh My Pantsuits!?!). It was on late which worked out fine since I was all itchy for this to come out of the dryer.
I tried to make this in a different colour-- blues, reds, browns, but yellow kept yanking me back. I guess I caught the fever, too. The strip piecing was super straight-forward which didn't stop me from agonizing over the placement and continually swapping patterns for solids. Also, I finally remembered to pick up a piece of cheap, white flannel for the wall. It made all the difference when I was laying it out. The fabric is a mostly solids, a little old and a little new. The back is semi-pieced with a brown Cranston reproduction print, a blue Free Spirit piece, and one of the best ever Superbuzzy prints from the Folklore line. This quilt needed some abstract applique (a la The Chicken) but I was pretty focused on figuring out the quilting, and I only had so much brain power to use for this particular project.
Some Notes on the Quilting aka Stippling:
- Introduce yourself to your darning/embroidery/free-motion foot. A lot of machines (even the least fancy) come with this thing. When you lower your feed dogs and attach this foot, your quilt sandwich has the freedom to move around. I thought this would be a disaster-- making everything bunchy and jumping all over the place, but it's not. It's plastic or metal with a circle or half-circle where the needle punches through. It has a little spring that goes up the shank.
- I set my stitch length to 2 and kept my tension even (Nancy says to loosen it by two, but it didn't make a difference to me-- maybe to yours?).
- Some of my quilt lines were drawn on with a dissapearing marker/my new best friend. Then, I put my pedal to the metal/lino and moved my fabric around slowly.
- Quick stitches and slow movement-- that is the key my friends. If you go slower with the stitches they end up all wonky. I have Amy and Nancy to thank for that advice. The only other tidbit that helped me that some of you might not have on your machines, is the ability to have my needle stop in the down position mid-row. This was super helpful since the fabric wants to jump around a little once you stop, and the foot isn't actually holding it down in place.
- It's a good idea to practice on some scraps. It won't prepare you for wrestling an entire quilt through, but it will give you a feeling for the speed you need to move the fabric through.
Now, I don't have a high-end machine. I went with the "pay as much as you can, for the most amount of used equipment" route, and for the most part it's worked out fine. It's a Janome, with a few fancy stitches (blanket, scallops... I actually use them quite a bit), and a shorter-than-I'd-like free arm. So what I'm saying is that, if you can get your hands on the right foot, I think most machines could handle quilting this way, and frankly, I think it's a lot FASTER than the straight line numbers I've done with my walking foot. Granted, it's not a big quilt (and I wouldn't want to do anything bigger this way) and this method wouldn't work very well for perfectly even stitches and straight lines. But for something like this (scallops overlapping) or for my favourite sort of loopy thing that a lot of quilter's employ, this is about perfect.
"Perfect" in my own way that is so far from it, mind you-- I have a long way to go at getting everything smooth and pretty all the time. In fact, I'm a little embarassed to be giving this away with its sketchy bit in the middle and semi-crooked scallops near the edges. But since I've spent most of my life being embarassed/insecure about one thing or another, this is going to Michigan with our dear friends anyway. It's only about 50 by 54" so the two of them are going to have to sit very close together on their couch to get under it.
*Edited to say: Thanks all! So nice. Stitch length is important-- not totally, but it seemed to matter to me and Melanie makes a good point in the comments. I wouldn't want to do it without the foot though... the quilt sandwhich would ride up your needle some, also the little half-circle part of the foot keeps the fabric smoothed out a little. And you know, if you're doing it properly the needle is going to be moving very fast, and I for one am far too clumsy to keep my fingers out of the way. Thanks to my adept movements, I'm already operating with only three fingers on my left hand this week. I'm a star. FINALLY, this way of quilting uses a lot of thread! It's worth it, I think, but I thought you'd want to know.