Saturday, May 24, 2014

Learning to Machine Quilt, as Always

Here is what I have done so far this weekend: I made a doll blanket out of some very skinny strips. My sister saves all her scraps, no matter how skinny. Then she gives them to me. I put some of them into a pooch bag (it will be a bed for a dog or cat in a shelter), and some I decided to use in a small quilt. This will be donated to a child at Christmas time, along with a small doll.

Now I am going to focus on one quilt and will provide details of how it came together. First, I was given some free fabric that was purchased in Nigeria! (The buyer gave the fabric to Wrap-a-Smile for use in quilts for kids.) That is the fabric with the orange and green circles on it. I am afraid I did not succeed in my quest to use and show off this fabric at its best. Happily, it's not a failure, either. It was a learning experience, however.

The inner part, made from HSTs, came from the scrap bag from my sister. I got those put together and then decided I wanted to make curved pieces around it. That was a fun challenge (I used the "how-to's" from Debbie Bowles' book, Cutting Curves From Straight Pieces.) The mistake I made here was not enough contrast between the two sides of the curved piece. Shucks!

In my attempt to emphasize the curves so that they are actually visible, I zig-zagged on them with white thread and then did that again during the quilting process. It worked out OK, but starting out with better contrast would have been better.

Next I made the nine-patches. They looked so nice set around the corners, but then I put more circle fabric in the middles, and the whole design got lost.

See? Before...


I decided it wasn't that serious. Sad, but not enough to undo and re-do the borders. No, thanks.

Today I quilted the top. I'm proud of myself, because I'm trying to force myself to quilt some of my own tops instead of sending them on to others to do my work for me. In recent weeks I have quilted three Wrap-a-Smile tops so far, plus a couple guild projects. It's a bit of a chore for me, but once I get it done, I'm usually happy I did it. So.. maybe I'll get comfortable with machine quilting one of these years. Sure would be nice!

Right now my machine is on the old side, and has a few problems: it has a short, and it sometimes hiccups during sewing, which can be a challenge when trying to free-motion smoothly. Also my darning foot is held on by a screw, which I lost, so it just sits there loosely and can fall off if I don't watch it carefully. And my machine tends to skip while free motion quilting, so I have to watch that, too. All that plus the regular challenge of trying to machine quilt beautifully... it's a lot to ask!

So I quilted this today and mostly did stitch-in-the-ditch. I also, as I said, zig-zagged along the curves, attempting to emphasize the curves. Then I did a small amount of free-motion on some of the circles:

and then decided to do some circles in the center, to pull it all together. Can you see them?

Then I decided I was done! And thrilled to have completed another quilting job by myself! This goes into the box to be sent to Wrap-a-Smile. I think there is room for one more quilt. And I still have some of that fabric from Nigeria and will make another quilt with it!

Now I have run out of batting and run out of basting spray, so a trip to Hancocks is in order. What do you use for basting quilts? Pins? Basting spray? Some day I'll show you pictures of my new (to me) technique.


Tubaville said...

Wow! The colors on this quilt are so bold! It is so gorgeous! Nice work!

Exuberant Color said...

I have to disagree with you. I like your subtle contrast in fabrics in the curved piecing, and I love the border. You have made a wonderful original design quilt and I think the circle fabric is showcased well.

diane said...

Carol your quilt is wonderful. Love the colors especially and the design worked out well. Take a bow and embrace your talent!

Anne Simonot said...

I only quilt small things myself (baby quilts & smaller) and have actually gotten pretty good. No free-motion though, I stick to straight lines. Basting spray is awesome! It truly works well for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the subtle contrast looks good. Great design for a great fabric. And I like the circle quilting in the center.

P. said...

Oh, I really like this!!