Showing posts with label Long arm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Long arm. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's a Warm Finish!

It's Warm Inside is finally a finished quilt!

This poor quilt has really had its ups and downs. I designed it to be Quilt as You Go (QAYG), with the narrow white cotton sashings. But, between the fluffy flannel log cabin blocks and all the loose batting, it was way too dusty for my allergies. So, I pieced it all together and took it to a longarm rental place to quilt it myself.

Wait for the chorus...

That turned out to be a really miserable experience that started with a friend of the owner setting up a quilt on the machine I had reserved, and which went way downhill from there. I should have walked out right then, but alas, I was not as smart as the song. The clincher was when the owner told me that my quilting idea was wrong and looked bad, when I was about half done. Fortunately, there are other fish in the sea!

But, despite all the hardship, in the end I think it's a likeable quilt. The snowmen are jolly, and the simple quilting works fairly well on the flannel logs. I circled around all the snowglobes in the border, which made them quite puffy:

The fat red binding stands out well too. I had a couple of yards of aqua, white and red Christmas fabric that I think I meant for a border at one time. But it matched perfectly, so I used it on the back here, and filled in the remainder with the leftover snowmen fabrics from the front.

I have Mimi Dietrich's book Happy Endings, which includes this idea for piecing the label right into the back:

Since I had to piece the back anyway, it made sense to me.

So, I'm glad to have it done, only two years later than planned! I'm catching up. :D To see all the posts on this quilt, please click here.

The gnome? He kept his thoughts to himself.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Adventures in Quilting

Many of my posts in March included some whining about the machine quilting that I was doing "behind the scenes." I was finally quilting Hen Party. This quilt has 6" snowball blocks made from my collection of chicken-themed fabrics. Many of the blocks were framed around one large chicken. After literally years of creating and dismissing quilting plans for this quilt, I decided to use a bonded batting that only needs quilting every 10", so I wouldn't have to worry about quilting around the chickens inside the blocks. I straight line quilted in the ditch, and free-motioned a little clover motif in each corner:

Some of those first clover motifs were pretty dubious:

That was when I was getting tired at the end of the day, and the weight of the quilt was making things tricky. But, I got better:

I didn't mark anything, first, because I hate marking, and second, because I do like that "freehand doodle" look. So, I'm not going to unpick any of those wobbly ones. And from the back, it looks surprisingly good:

Just ignore the fold lines and loose threads for now!

What I couldn't ignore, though, were the problems with the border. "I'll just straight line quilt a few lines around the border," I thought. "I have mastered straight line quilting," I thought. "Fast and easy," I thought. But strangely, while two sides looked good...

...two sides bunched up terribly:

Whyyyy? I thought I had this figured out when I changed to the pin feed. Somehow the top and bottom layers are feeding through at different speeds, and it must have something to do with the crosswise vs. the lengthwise grain of the backing fabric. But, it is practically ruffled, so it must come out, and that has been taking forever. Once the straight lines are unpicked, I'm going to do a free-motion stipple, which I think will be more forgiving. And at least, after all those clover motifs, I am feeling better about my free motion abilities.

In February, when I was having similar trouble quilting Mod Trips, I said to myself, "this is the last large quilt I am quilting at home." But you know, it turned out well in the end, and everyone liked it, so basking in the glow of success I forgot all the pain! But in March, facing all the same trouble again, I really started to resent the time that quilting was taking from my other projects.

I decided it's finally time to invest in some rental time on a long arm quilting machine. Yesterday I took my Cardinal Stars flimsy to a local long arm dealer that offers rentals.  And after about one hour of class time and three hours of quilting time, it is quilted! By me!

On the back here you can see the pantograph I used, Cloud 9. I am not always the biggest fan of pantos, because they can be a little uninspired, but I have to say they are quite forgiving even when you are never right on the line! It is a good way to build your skill and still have a decent result.

On the front, the panto's flow of curves and arcs blends together the blocks and background:

The polyester thread was my biggest hurdle in deciding to try a long arm. (And the money, of course, but I decided to re-allocate my fabric budget to quilting for a while.) I deliberately took these photos to highlight the thread. It is shiny polyester Glide thread, but not this obvious in every light. I can see why longarmers like it, because it is perfectly smooth and even, with no fluff, even after quilting the whole quilt at high speed. I like it better than I expected, and in future, I will have the option of bringing in my own cotton thread.

Now that it is home I cannot believe how much quilting I did, and that it is reasonably good looking to boot! I am sore, but not any more sore than after a day of quilting on my home machine. And, with one day on the long arm I accomplished more than a month of quilting at home!

So yes, I'll be doing that again. For me, the "aha moment" was when I was basting the edge of the quilt before following the panto across the middle. When I baste the edge of a sandwiched quilt on my home machine, it stretches and puckers and slides around and generally tests my patience to the limit. On the frame of the long arm the edge of the fabric doesn't move at all, and it is easy to sew a scant 1/8" from the edge. Everything stays straight. Amazing!

Now I have a list of new things to try on the long arm, which should use up my stack of flimsies, including Collector, It's Warm Inside, Picnic, and Circa 1998. Although, now that I see how easy it is to quilt a large quilt this way, I am once again considering adding a border to Circa 1998 to bring it up to queen size. We'll see how it goes!

(Hen Party, though, I still have to finish at home...)
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