Tips-as-we-go quilting (2)

Yesterday I began quilting ‘In the Cool of the Evening’ and shared some quilting tips and techniques in a blog post. Essentially the piecing depicts the plan of a formal garden with beds of flowers surrounded by box hedging and a network of paths. I found some fabric printed with reeds and grey herons to use for the four small ponds found in the corners of the ‘garden’ and for the larger central pool.

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One of the flower beds surrounded by a box hedge and brick paving.

After spending the day stitching in the ditch using the walking foot I prepared to be brave and begin free motion quilting. I re-set my sewing machine – feed dogs down, stitch length to zero, attached my modified* free motion quilting foot/darning foot and found some odds and ends bobbins to do a bit of practicing. I also spent a bit of time doing some muscle memory exercises; drawing out my quilting designs on paper trying to get the shapes and scale regular.

*Modified free motion quilting foot – like Leah Day I find the rapid up and down motion of this foot really distracting,  making it difficult for me to see where the needle and thread are on the fabric. I use Leah’s method to subdue the up down movement – all that’s needed is a rubber band and a pair of pliers – see here.

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My first practice piece – sort of vine leaves around the edge and flowers in the centre. I drew lines on the fabric to represent the pieced ‘hedges’ on the quilt
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I drew these pointed leaves after stitching the rounded ones (see photo above). I prefer the pointed ones and they will be easier to quilt as the point gives a natural place to stop and restart stitching.

I arrived in the sewing room this morning and began to feel all indecisive (maybe I was dithering or maybe I was decision making?). Anyway after a while I hatched a revised quilting plan, reverting my machine back to walking foot mode (I did practice fmq for ten minutes first 🙂 ) and preparing to work on the ponds and paths before free motion stitching over the hedges and flowers.

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I used one of my machines quilting stitches around the edges of the four small ponds – to secure down the seams and to blur the stark edges.
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I used a fancier stitch to surround the central pool – trying to give the impression of an ornamental stone edge.

Two hours on it has dawned on me that I am using garden planning strategies to create this quilt! First the hard landscaping (or piecing) – paths, water features and boundaries – followed by the planting (or quilting) that will soften the stark lines of the hard landscape features. In the case of this quilt the ‘planting’ will involve stitching a continuous vine pattern over the green ‘hedges’ that edge the flower borders and paths. I’m intending for the leaf outlines to overlap the edges, hopefully giving that softening effect. The same with the areas of flowers, I’ve selected an off-white thread (Aurifil 2311) to stitch an informal daisy chain of blooms over all the different floral fabrics – hopefully that will make them seem more cohesive and fit with my original inspiration of the planting in the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle 🙂

Oh! My goodness! That doesn’t half sound ambitious now that I’ve actually written down the ideas that have been forming in my head!

But first, I’m going to tackle quilting the paths – more straight lines with the walking foot! My choice of thread colour is a bit  limited. I’ve gone for a dark gold (Aurifil 2975) that reminds me of the warm, glowing light created by the late afternoon sunshine we enjoyed whilst walking around the gardens at Sissinghurst.

Can you tell, I’m falling back in love with this quilt? I really did become most critical of my design decisions when I was piecing it all together.

Quilting tips and techniques:

  • Adapt a generic free motion quilting foot if you find the bouncing action distracting.
  • Slip off your shoes or slippers to get a better touch on the foot pedal.
  • Practice free motion patterns with pencil and paper.
  • Practice free motion quilting – time spent practicing really does pay dividends and will show up any issues with the thread tension before working on your quilt.
  • Keep threads ends on the top of the quilt where you can see them and if you need a break from machining why not sit in a comfy armchair and sew the ends in – saves a big job at the end!

Linking with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

Allison

6 thoughts on “Tips-as-we-go quilting (2)

  1. Something I have just learnt that may help your Freeform machine embroidery. If your machine foot only has one setting, place or tape a piece of foam to the back of it. This gives you much more control of the foot and therefore the speed, as it stops the foot/treadle from going all the way down. Xx

  2. You may have stumbled into your strategy, but it looks like it’s working well for you! Two things to remember: 1) don’t be more critical of your own work than you would be of a good friend, and 2) practice really does make a huge difference! Your practice piece above looks pretty good to me, a great spot to build on!

  3. I agree with Melanie’s comments! She says it well.
    I have sewn without shoes forever! I simply cannot get a good ‘feel’ for speed control with shoes on.

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