Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Forward progress and more lessons from the quilt...

The applique borders are done. The quilt is sandwiched. The vertical seams are sort of ditch stitched.

This quilt will not win prizes for beauty but it is made with love.

To backtrack a few days, Saturday night, I pushed through and outlined the last 12 dolphins on the borders.  I seriously considered peeling all of them off at one point along the way, but I really like how they came out.

Sunday I called Thimble Pleasures when they opened and asked if there was a table I could use to layer the quilt.  There is not space in my house currently that is large enough for this, and my dining room table, even when not covered in laundry, is too low for my back.  As it turns out, so are banquet tables.  I think I need to get some PVC pipes cut to size so that I can raise my scrapbook table at home once I get the sewing room set up.  Thanks to Sharyn & Claudia for letting me use the space and to Eileen for sharing the classroom with me.

As it turns out, the quilt is larger than two of the banquet tables shoved together.  So I used lots of tape to get things taut. Sorry, forgot to toss the camera into my bag, along with snips, painters tape and a lint roller (so Walmart was visited as well en route to Thimble Pleasures).  As it also turns out, one can work up a sweat sandwiching a quilt (or should I say a solid glisten - after all, I am a southerner).  The sandwiching took 2.5 hours. The first half hour was spent removing corgi hair and loose threads. I then starched both the front and the back and taped the back down.

I tested tension and stitch length on a very small sandwich. Really more of a strip, as I can be very frugal (read CHEAP) with supplies, so I was using scraps.  What I learned during the first two seams was that a tiny test area does not provide one with the experience of moving the weight of the quilt around and thus the stitch length dramatically compressed in some areas.

Now - there is a challenge with this quilt that I thought I had worked out, but once again, my math appears to have been faulty.  This is a two sided quilt - K-2 signed the back and 3-5 + faculty/staff signed the front.  I thought I had worked out a way to align the columns - and frankly, had I realized how hard getting things lined up was going to be, I would not have worried about having 5 columns on the back to line up with the five on the front...  I used rulers and more blue painter's tape to mark the seams for the backing before spreading the batting across the back.  I then started pinning from the center along the vertical seams to line things up the way I wanted them.  Now that I've started stitching, I can see that of the 4 vertical sashes on the back, exactly 1 turned out correctly.  Like I said - made with love.  I think to fix the problem, I would need to remove three sets of borders and redo the sashing - so - it will stay as is.

Next issue, also being left as is - when I ran into the problem of the K-2 columns being longer than the 9-patch columns and creatively brought the quilt back to being square with border widths, I didn't stop to think about the seam lines.  If I were brave enough to quilt this with clear thread front and back, it would be less of an issue, but that is one challenge that I am not up to facing yet.  The horizontal seams will just have to fall where they fall.

I'm thinking about crosshatching on the dolphin blocks in the 9-patches on the front side as the batting states stitching up to 4 inches apart - I do feel more comfortable doing that than trying to add too much free-motion quilting to this project.

For the borders, I plan to echo quilt the dolphins, and I'm thinking about cross hatching the rest, instead of trying for a wave pattern - not quite sure I'm up for that just yet.

Oh - and another thing... going back to not fully thinking through the math...  when I put the third border on the back of the quilt, I cut the strips too narrow and ended up with a quilt the perfect sized to match the front...  fortunately the borders on the front ended up about 3 inches wider than they needed to be, so I figured, no problem just go ahead and trim so that centering the quilt on the back won't be a problem.  Well, this effectively negates the third border on the back.  Not a crisis, just a bit annoying.  And really, it would probably turn out the same once I trim everything after quilting.

Tonight I need to go ahead and start preparing the binding strips as well as continue the quilting.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Night Sew In

Tonight is the monthly Friday Night Sew In.  I have so far managed to trade a campout at the Durham Bulls Baseball game (in 100 degree weather) for going to see Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows part 2 - in the air conditioning.  Now Gus is asleep in my room, and I'm fading. Though if I do get a second wind, I'll be working on the borders of the Dolphin signature quilt - half the dolphins are done now - after taking the stitches out of the first three a second time earlier this week - I've found a consistency I like.