I love picking out fabric and colors. I love piecing—regular old piecing, applique, foundation piecing, you name it. I love admiring my completed quilt tops, all nice and flat and ready to be joined to the batting and backing. But the quilting itself? I’m starting to think that part of the process is for the birds.
Take my latest quilt. I’m calling it the Birds of My Neighborhood (an appropriate name given my feelings about quilting, n’est-ce pas?). It started as a way to introduce two friends to quilting. As a disappearing nine-patch, its construction was easy, and its versatility meant that the three of us could work in different fabrics and different layouts and come up with something unique to each of us.
I looked to Bonjour Quilts for my inspiration. Kirsty’s take on the disappearing nine-patch trades a predictable block layout for placing chunks of the same fabric next to each other. The result is modern, and paired with her straight-line quilting that follows the grid of the pieced blocks, it’s lovely.
My version was a breeze up until the quilting. I took the standard precautions to get a smooth finish to my quilting: I spray-basted like a pro, ensuring that seams were straight and the quilt top was flat. I started quilting each line in the center of the quilt, meticulously burying the ends (a process—get this, Audrey!—I’m starting to enjoy) and working toward the edges. But soon after starting to quilt, things weren’t looking good.
If I had taken a picture of the quilting—which of course I didn’t because the project was driving me crazy and I hardly wanted photographic evidence of my heartache—you’d see big puckers where the horizontal and vertical quilting lines met. Under it, you’d see a caption that would read, “BAH!”
Instead of pulling the quilt off my machine, setting it aside, and regrouping, I forged ahead. I was 16 or 17 lines into the quilting before I came to my senses. It took many hours to rip out all of that work.
Then I did what everyone does when a quilt project is driving her bonkers, right? I made a bag.
And then I did some reading online. (BTW: there’s a great rundown of straight-line quilting on the Modern Quilt Guild’s website.) I went to a local quilt shop, bought some fabric, and chatted up the owner.
When I got back to my machine, I monkeyed with the presser-foot pressure. (Admittedly, I didn’t know what that knob did before this incident, but in my defense, I wasn’t able to adjust the pressure on my previous machine, which I sewed on for 10-plus years before graduating to my current Janome.) Less pressure seemed to remedy the puckering problem I had experienced. Yay! Too little pressure, however, prevented the walking foot from grabbing the quilt sandwich effectively. I got to a happy medium with the pressure and started quilting all over again. This time, I just went for vertical lines of quilting; I wanted to minimize any chance of having to pick more stitches. I’m pleased with the result.
Thankfully, it didn’t hold me back from achieving my fourth and final third-quarter goal. Birds of My Neighborhood quilt—check!
OK, kids, how did you all do with your Q3 goals? If you have zero idea what I’m talking about, check out the Littlest Thistle because Q4 goals are due this week!
Postscript: Birds of My Neighborhood is the 1998 release from one of my favorite bands, the Innocence Mission. If you like folksy music with chick vocals, give them a listen.: )
Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF at Quilt Matters, and Finish It Up Friday ...