Wednesday, February 20, 2013

No More Stalling: Ready to Quilt!

I spent a lot of time over the weekend stalling, working on any & every small project I could think of. Not because I was in the mood to sew, but because I was scared out of my mind to start quilting The Comic Strip Quilt.

For one thing, it's the biggest project I've ever done. Until now, I've only quilted a baby quilt and a Christmas tree skirt. And now I'm trying a queen sized bed quilt. On my little home machine, with bare-bones features. And I thought I'd have to use my tiny table, which you can see in the photo, but luckily my husband is a generous and understanding guy and has agreed to let me use the big dining table (seen in the earlier denim place mats post) and we'll eat on the small table until the quilt is done. Whew!

Small projects finished, table arranged, quilt plan figured out --- it's time. No more stalling. Time to start quilting.

So, over the weekend I laid it all out, pieced the backing fabric together, pieced the batting together, shoved all the furniture out of the way and spread out the top. I got things as smooth as I could, probably still not smooth enough, and pinned and pinned and pinned until I ran out of pins. I hope it holds together long enough to get the stabilizing stitches in. I seriously need to invest in more pins, and the right kind for this job. Or spray basting stuff. Or something.

all laid out, ready to go

I had a slight moment of almost panic, seeing it all laid out like that. It is huge. Seriously gigantic. I didn't measure it after I put the last borders on, but it winds up around 82" x 92" or so. Wow. Still, I'm finally to a point where I'm excited to get going and finish it, rather than overwhelmed by the idea. It's something amazing, seeing a quilt I designed getting so near to completion. Wow.

The plan is this:

  1. Stitch in the ditch along all the vertical seams, then all the horizontal seams, to stabilize the quilt. By "all" I mean the ones between sections, not necessarily each individual seam in the rail fence blocks.
  2. Using my FMQ (Free Motion Quilting) foot and feed dogs down, outline the comic strips. This is just straight lines, but with feed dogs down I can move the quilt instead of having to pivot and wrestle the thing through the neck of the sewing machine. 
  3. Still using FMQ, and a switch to red thread in the top, echo quilt inside the red frame pieces. Again, straight lines, but using FMQ so that I can move the quilt without pivoting. 
  4. Turn the quilt horizontal and go back to the walking foot to straight line quilt it, edge to edge. In the black section I will use one stitch type and in the white section a different stitch type, to emphasize the interlocking aspect of the design. When I say edge to edge, I am excluding the borders. 
  5. Border quilting. I am not 100% sure what I'll do here. In the pieced portion of the border, I'll just do straight lines that echo the edge of the quilt, but in the narrow "solid" borders on either side of the pieced border, I'm not sure if I'll do that or something more interesting. I'll figure that part out when I get there, unless someone has suggestions. Ideas? Anyone? 
  6. If needed, I will then do any fill-in work around the comics. I'm not sure if it will need it or not, and won't know until I see how densely the rest of the quilt gets quilted, etc. We'll see. 
Whew. Sounds like a lot, but breaking it down into steps really helps me feel less overwhelmed. One step at a time, and it will be done. I can't wait to come back and show you pictures of the finished product! I hope you'll come back to see it when it's done. 

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