Friday, January 28, 2022

First but not fast finish

 Drumroll, please!  I have my first quilted, bound, finished quilt of 2022!

It does not qualify as a fast finish, however, since the top has been languishing for just over 2 years.  It could have been a fast finish, because the top was really quite quick to piece.  I wouldn't hesitate to call Cascade a weekend quilt top.  I just didn't get around to quilting it quickly.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven't found a lot of time to quilt my quilts myself in the last year or two.  Though I sent a lot of other quilt tops to the longarmer to clear a backlog, I held on to this one. I really didn't want dark thread across the greens, or light thread across the black background, so it needed custom quilting. Custom quilting by someone else is not in my budget.  It just had to wait until I found time to do it myself on my domestic machine.

When a shop contacted me about borrowing the quilt for February to help sell the pattern, it gave me an incentive to make time to quilt it.  Two weeks ago, we hunkered down for a snowstorm, and it seemed like the perfect time to get to work on this.  Out came the basting pins and the handy-dandy Kwik Klip tool.  

I love this tool now, but I confess that it sat unused for years before I realized how useful it is.  Mine came with a package of curved safety pins, and I had no idea what it was.  I clearly lacked curiosity at the time.  Now that I know how to use it, I don't baste a quilt without it.  Someone in a Facebook group asked me about the tool so I shot a quick video with my phone to show how it works.

As you can see, it holds the pin steady as I push the clasp down over the pointy business end, but holds the pointy bit up enough to easily get the clasp around the point. The quilt stays flatter than when I grab the pin side with my fingers to close the pin.  This method is also easier on the fingers.

I pondered a quilting plan while I basted, then drew parts of the plan in full scale on a large piece of paper.  I still wasn't sure, but having a deadline motivated me to start anyway.  I knew I wanted to stitch in the ditch, then outline stitch in the green parts, so I went ahead and started that using my walking foot, hoping the act of stitching would wake up my creativity. 

I finished the walking foot quilting by the end of the evening.  On Saturday I started filling in the green areas, following the quilting plan I'd drawn out.  The plan was to quilt a different motif in each shade of green.  I quilted these bits with a ruler foot and a straight quilting ruler.  It would have been possible to quilt these designs with the walking foot, but that would have involved twisting and turning the quilt quite a bit.  The rulers were easier, with no turning required.

By the time I had these two green strips quilted, I decided that two additional designs would make the quilt too busy for my tastes.  I started repeating these two motifs in the other two greens before my machine started skipping stitches.  The tension also suddenly became loose and nothing I did seemed to fix the problems. I quit in frustration.  

Perhaps the machine was just telling me to take a break.  I left the quilt for most of the week, and when I came back to it, the machine was working perfectly.  I quickly finished one strip of green and the grey, then ran out of the dark green thread for the last green strip.  Of course, I ran out after the local quilt shop closed for its Sunday-Monday weekend.

I spent Sunday mulling over how to quilt the background.  I had a freemotion filler in mind, but when I quilted a small practice piece, I decided it looked too messy beside the clean, sharp green lines.  In the end, I opted to put the walking foot back on the machine and do some echo quilting around the whole green shape.  That worked out pretty well, but I was still unsure about how to quilt the black background between the strips.

Quilting ground to a halt as I pondered that and waited for Tuesday to arrive so I could replenish my green thread supply.  Still, I was a little worried about getting the quilt quilted in time to deliver it to Off the Rails Quilt Shop in Bondurant.   Would it be too weird to bind the quilt while I waited?  Nope.  Well maybe, but I did it anyway!  Most of the quilt, and certainly all the parts near the edges of the quilt, was quilted, so I made good use of Sunday, binding the quilt then so I wouldn't be racing the clock to do it after finishing the quilting on Tuesday.  Don't you just love the way that green binding pops?  I'm a little bit in love with that backing, as well.

On Tuesday morning I made a quick run to the quilt shop for thread.  Well, not so quick, as I figured if I was making a trip I might as well pick out fabric for the next three pattern tests.  Still, I was back home in plenty of time to finish quilting the quilt in the afternoon.

I am so happy with how this version of Cascade turned out.  I'm even happier about finishing it myself.  I realized when I looked back at last year's finishes, so many of which were sent out for quilting, that I missed quilting quilts myself.  Quilting the quilt flexes different creative muscles than designing or piecing.  I know I will be sending some quilts out for quilting again this year, but hopefully Cascade is only the first, not the last, that I will finish myself in 2022.

I'd love to know if quilting the quilt makes you happy.  Does doing it all make you happy, or do you get more joy from piecing and letting someone else do the quilting? Or are you one of the people who happily finishes quilts for the people who prefer the piecing?

Happy quilting,


Get your PDF copy of the Cascade pattern in my Etsy shop, or ask your favourite quilt shop about a print version.


  1. Great quilting job! And a great sense of satisfaction with a job well done I'm sure. I always quilt my own quilts because I can't afford to send them out. There're not perfect, but I give them to my family for gifts to keep them warm. Maybe you should consider getting a longarm for yourself? They are fun to learn on ! The table models are less expensive and more comfortable too.

  2. Oh be still my heart, I love the greens! When I don't have a quilting plan I just start ditch stitching and the quilts lets me know what it wants. Your quilting is perfect for this quilt! I am one of those people who have never sent a quilt out to be quilted.

  3. I am one of those who has to do the whole thing! Love your quilt and the quilting.

  4. I love the greens and modern feel of this quilt! And quilting definitely flexes different muscles than designing and piecing - mentally and physically! It always seems the quilt shop is closed when I have a "crisis" too - why is that?

  5. Love your quilt! I made this a while back and had a terrible time deciding on the quilting. It was fun to see your motifs - of course mine is totally different. I might have to make another with simpler quilting - it's a great pattern. ~Jeanne

  6. Nothing like a deadline to motivate. lol. I love this quilt. I've been practicing fmq so much, but straight lines are magnificent, too. Initially I liked piecing better than quilting (and couldn't understand what the fuss was about). And now? I like the piecing for the math and the precision, and the quilting (usually) for just seeing what happens.

  7. I absolutely love this quilt, and your quilting really makes the colors pop. When you quilt the short lines and angles do you have to bury the threads every time, or can you backstitch? That is something that stops me from being able to quilt patterns that I like.

  8. It makes me giddy to do everything from start to the very last stitch in the binding all by myself! Great finish Joanne:)

  9. Well done on meeting the deadline and getting the quilt finished! It looks great and I'm sure it will help sell patterns at the shop. I have a big pile of tops waiting to be quilted but the thought of sending them out doesn't appeal - yes, I like the feeling of actually completing the whole quilt myself! Maybe I need a few deadlines to get them done!


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