I finished, just in the nick of time! I submitted yesterday afternoon, with a wee bit of trauma, but it. is. done!
I named her “Much in Common”: “The linen tablecloth and I are about the same age. We both have some worn parts and stains, and not everything is symmetrical. It was a pleasure to quilt her and retain her imperfect charm.” She is 55″ x 57″. And she is heavy – quilt + linen tablecloth + buttons + lots of thread = heavy
A couple of detail shots:
She was a little fussy to quilt. Her print was a little “abstract” in places and I had to create flowers where there were splotches. The quilting did resolve these areas but it was challenging! There were a LOT of buried threads in this piece. I used 12 wt Aurifil on top for all but the stippling, so starts and stops had to be buried, not finished with tiny stitches.
Tension was challenging also, with that big fat thread on top. I had to use a beefy top thread as anything skinny would settle into the valleys between the coarse linen threads and disappear. I had to experiment to find the right bobbin thread to match the pull of a heavy thread. You don’t want a fat thread in the bobbin generally.
I settled on 60 wt Quilters Select Perfect Cotton Plus for the bobbin. It performed beautifully and I don’t think any other thread would have behaved that well. It has a poly core with a bonded cotton wrap, way better than the old stuff with a poly core/cotton wrap. That makes for a super strong thread and uber smooth cuticle. It took on that big fat top thread yet kept its own tension on the bobbin side. Loved it!
A little bit about my decisions and how this all came together:
I decided early on that she needed Prairie Points. I have only used them very sparingly in the past, so PP were fairly new to me. It was fun to play with the colors and get them all pressed up:
There was a lot of pressing involved in creating hundreds of PP. I made waaaaay too many! I started with a dry iron but steam helped a bunch. I would press each one, then immediately plop a ruler over it to set the creases. I removed it when the PP was cool; this created a crisp PP. No, I do not keep my ironing board cover pristine…
It was immensely satisfying to have all those PP pressed, crisp and waiting to be used. See how all of these are pressed to a fold in the middle? Yeah, decided I didn’t like that and redid them all.
My first pass. The bluey-purple and the salmon just did not work. They were shouting so I removed them.
Okay, now this looks a little sleepy by comparison, but I knew I was going to add buttons, so that was okay.
I can’t live without the Clover Curved Awl. I use it in a zillion ways and this is a good example. I wanted the PP to be well aligned, flat, and properly placed. The curved awl did the trick, better than a straight awl and more comfortable for the wrist.
I see my quilt beginning to awaken! Love those PP, definitely a good choice!
I used Susan Cleveland’s Piping Hot Binding Tool to give precision to the piping. Oh what a difference it makes! It has a groove that fits right over the piping so that the ruler is flat against the quilt, the straight edge at exactly the right spot for accurate and easy trimming. That was scary, to do that cut. And oops, notice that there are two edges for trimming the seam on her tool, 1/4″ and 1/2″? I made the first cut and used the wrong edge. That would have made the binding 1/4″ for this 55″ x 57″ quilt, NOT what I wanted. Yikes, now what? I wanted that to be 1/2″.
After posting to FaceBook and receiving some wise replies, I chose this fix:
On a scrap piece, I sloppy woppy free motion quilted a swath, then cut a 1/4″ piece off. This was to be my insert into the seam to stuff the binding out to 1/2″.
I added it to the oopsy 1/4″ seam, attaching the two with a strip of fusible. This is my practice piece.
\This is how it looked on the quilt. I desperately need a manicure.
That made it a rigged 1/2″ binding, just like the other 3 sides. It worked well and you cannot tell that I added the strip, can’t even tell by feel.
Now, how to add the binding and perfectly align it atop the piping and PP? Before stitching each seam, I nestled the Hera Marker into the groove of the piping and marked the line, then stitched atop that line. It worked perfectly and left a precise and thin line to stitch upon. The Hera works well on dark fabrics that just won’t show most marking well.
Funny thing, of all the zillion feet I have for my BERNINA, the 35, Invisible Zipper Foot, worked the best for the size of piping I made. Who knew? The left groove rode perfectly over the piping. That foot is kick butt for doing an invisible zipper by the way, it makes it foolproof.
Next up – Rick Rack:
This was tricky. The little stitched faux French Knots had a lot of dimension and it was going to be hard to stitch the RR on, so I decided to glue it. Past experience has taught me that Aleen’s Jewel-It will hold stuff on fabric through a nuclear holocaust. I used little dots at each bump. The join was going to be tricky also – it had to be invisible. I experimented offline with several methods and decided to carefully burn the ends to keep from fraying, then carefully tuck one end under. That was nerve-wracking, to hold a flame to my RR, right above my quilt!
The tester RR strips are to the left, to help me figure where to cut the RR. It was my cheat sheet of sorts.
Well lookie dat! Purfect, virtually invisible. Huahhhh!
And finally, buttons:
I just love those stinkin’ buttons! They are mismatched and some a little worn. I sewed them on by machine, used the BERNINA 8 foot, the Jeans Foot. I needed something that would sit atop the buttons and hold them in place and this was the best fit. I have a proper button foot, #18, but it is made to give the button some slack so that you can button a garment. I did not want that slack, I wanted the button to hold the PP in place, hence the #8 foot. I lowered my feed dogs and zig-zagged them on. Carefully. Of course I broke um, a few needles!
It just so happened that I was sewing on buttons the first day of the Virtual Quilt Market, perfect viewing for this repetitive task.
I was nearing the end, still working against the deadline when I began having a lot of trouble. I pulled everything out, cleaned up, reassembled, sewed a bit, trouble again. This kept happening. Finally this tiny bead appeared, probably worked its way out of some nook. Whew, problem solved! I did not want to have to haul out one of my other machines with a smaller harp.
And lastly, squaring up. I bit the bullet and purchased 2 more 72″ steel carpenter’s rulers, and it was worth every penny (they are only about $14). I used my 22.5″ Omnigrid square to set my first corner at a perfect 90 degree and built it out from there. This quilt was pretty square to start with, a rarity for me since I quilt the dickens out of a quilt. I carefully measured each side to assure a square quilt.
One other thing that was a huge help was my friend Nancy. I don’t have a photo, wish I did. She is in serious lockdown mode and was a great help via email. It’s so good to have quilty friends with a good eye and solid counsel! My most requested Lecture is “Quilting is a Contact Sport” and by that I mean contact with each other, quilters helping quilters and others. This was a perfect example of quilting as a contact sport. We need each other! I think every major quilt I have has a story of a friend who was a great help to me.
I’ll link up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday!