Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Quilting is taking forever

Why does it always take longer than I expect to quilt a quilt?  Honestly, I think even if I doubled my estimate, the actual time would expand to double that number.  It's just how things are.

I basted Starlit Picnic on Friday, and was sure I'd have it quilted by Sunday night.  Despite spending a large part of the weekend and most of yesterday quilting it, I don't foresee a finish until tomorrow evening at the earliest. 

I suppose it's taking so long because I'm quilting more densely than I usually do.  I had planned light quilting, as that's my preference.  First I stitched straight lines up and down and across in the ditch of the squares.  That looked a little underdressed, so I added more lines in the sashing, 1/4" from the squares.

That dressed up the background/sashing quite nicely, but look at the puffiness in those squares.  That's what happens when some areas are quilted more densely than others.  Sometimes that's a fine design element, but in this case it just looked messy and unfinished.

While we're on that topic, why is it that uneven quilting density makes less densely quilted areas puff in the top, but everything is perfectly flat on the back?  I'm stumped.  Please share your theory!

Moving right along...  Adding additional lines marching through the squares helped reduce the puffiness.  The size of these squares doesn't lend itself to neatly dividing into three equal parts, so I didn't try.  I focused on symmetry instead.  I think this turned out pretty well.  Overall, the effect of all the lines intersecting in the sashing and in the squares reminds me of a plaid pattern.  

The star needed dense quilting to match so I stitched in the ditch around it and filled in with crosshatching.  I thought that echoed the gridwork in the rest of the quilt, but I put it on the diagonal to add a little contrast and interest.  I'm still on the fence about the background of the star.  I considered outline quilting 1/4" outside the shape, but now I'm leaning towards just leaving it.  

I have 10 more stars to quilt, then I'll need to figure out the border quilting.  

This will be the cover quilt for my new Starlit Picnic pattern.  I had planned to release it this week, but I need a cover photo first, which means it's all on hold until I finish quilting and have a finished quilt to photograph. I need to step away from the computer and towards the sewing machine now!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Quilt Top or Quilt Back?

I've hit a small snag.  That quilt backing I was making in my previous post?  I think it wants to be a quilt top.

This is actually a little bit funny, because by Friday evening I hated what I had so far and I wasn't convinced I should keep going, even if I hid it on the back of the quilt.  It was just too busy for me.  If I didn't even like it as a back, I certainly wasn't considering it as a top!

I think I started coming around when I discovered I had enough scraps of that blue swirly fabric to go around the jumbled center.  I think that visually calmed the center.  Finding enough darker scraps to piece into a border to frame everything pulled it all together.  I really like it!

Now, I need to make a decision.  Do I abandon my challenge to not buy anything to make the original quilt, or do I head to the quilt shop and buy backing for not one, but two quilts?

What would you do?


Friday, August 5, 2022

Scraps and stash

I have a new pattern coming out in September (at least, that's the plan).  I challenged myself to make the cover quilt entirely from my stash.

I don't have a lot of yardage in my stash.  I mostly have leftovers from previous projects, usually no more than half a yard of any one fabric, so my options for the background/sashing were limited.  It turned out the blue you see above, and the white I ended up using for the stars, were the only fabrics I had enough of to make the sashing and borders.  I liked the pop of white stars on blue, so I was good to go for the stars and background.

My original thought was to delve into all the colour bins for the squares, but it was just too loud.  I think all the colours would have been fine against white or black, but with the blue it just was an assault on my eyes.  My daughter helped me narrow down the colour palette.  It's still bright and scrappy but a little bit more controlled.

I finished the quilt top over the weekend and turned my thoughts to the backing.  I turned to the overflowing blue bin for that.  To add more interest I also sorted through my bin of orphan blocks and pulled out any blocks and assorted spare parts in blue, green and yellow to match the front of the quilt.  Some of these bits and pieces have been in the bin for years "just in case" I could use them someday.  Someday has arrived!

I cut up some leftover strips sets and mashed them up with some HST to make new blocks from small parts.

Some small parts were strung together into new elements, and some were sewn to blocks to make larger sections.

Next, I'll start adding blue scraps to one or more sides of blocks and sections.  My strategy is to build up parts to one or two common widths, then sew them in rows or columns.

I'm starting to get an idea what this frankenback is going to look like.  It would be easier with a design wall.  I had one of those, just batting tacked to the wall, but something started growing on it. I'm not sure what it was or why it appeared after the batting had been on the wall and doing fine for years, but that piece of batting headed to the trash.  I haven't replaced it yet and was using the floor.  However, while my son is between apartments for a couple of weeks, all his worldly belongings are stacked in half of my studio.  He has more stuff than I thought, and it's taking up my design floor!

I'm going to spend the rest of the day happily stitching and laying things out in a smaller patch of floor.  I'll report back when I have a completed backing to share.

How do you feel about pieced backings?  Love them or not?  Too time consuming? Intimidating? A fun creative challenge?  Let me know in the comments, and please feel free to share any backing tips!

Happy quilting,