Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Machine Quilting with Leah Day - Week 8

Am I the only quilter without a stash of UFO's to draw upon? When I was a novice quilter I collected UFOs almost as quickly as I piled up completed projects, maybe even faster. Why? For two reasons. Either I reached a point in the quilt where I became stuck because I didn't have the design skills or technical know how to proceed or something new distracted me and I was off working in a new direction. Two years ago we moved from Massachusetts to Wisconsin and it became the perfect time to elminate several decades worth of UFOs. The result was that only a few tops needing quilting made the move with me and I have subsequently quilted them as practice pieces to master my George.

Stippling a Pieced Quilt

Week 8 required practicing on a full quilt with seams. Once again I found myself starting from scratch. Without a UFO quilt I had to make one. I did. I purposefully designed a quilt with a variety of values, solids, patterns and colors just for the challenge of selecting a thread that could work in all areas. I am partial to Superior's King Tut series when it comes threads. This particular variegated one features primary colors. I thought about using a yellow thread, but didn't have a vibrant enough yellow to blend with the bright yellow squares and of course it would stand out in the blue border.

It took me a full day of quilting to stipple this 43" x 54" quilt. I didn't time myself, but a good guess would be six hours at the machine, including a bobbin change. I always clean and oil my George between bobbins. It is a good practice and a good excuse to get up and move around the machine for 10 minutes. Leah took three hours, but I used 1/2" stipple which is mid sized versus large. I really liked Leah's tip to go around seam junctures. It helped avoid hopping when you hit a seam at full speed.

Navigating Around Seam Junctures

Now that I remember before I begin, that it is best start in the middle of an over all project and that I can stipple in quadrants and rows within each quadrant I no longer quilt myself into corners. With each passing week I find myself gaining confidence and problem solving skills on planning out my continouous line quilting. Although it took 6 hours quilt this, it is the fastest I have ever breezed through something of this magnitude.


  1. WOW, you pieced and quilted it this week! Impressive.

    I didn't have a UFO either! So I just did potholders. :/

  2. NIce to know I am not alone. What can I say? I am an overachiever. I need to take a leave of absence next week. Thank goodness or might be tempted to piece and FMQ another one.

  3. I've got lots of UFOS, but not necessarily ready to quilt. A friend recently gave me several sets of blocks, so I need to get them sewn into tops to use for Quilt Along. Your quilt is very pretty, and I do so agree about the seam junctions - perhaps the most useful thing I learned last week.

  4. This quilt looks great, I love the fabric and thread choices. I can't believe you got this done in just a week. It's encouraging to know that you've been able to reduce your FMQ time with practice, because so far I've been surprised at how long things are taking and hoping I'll be able to cut down the quilting time eventually.

  5. Anne, most UFO's aren't ready to quilt. Blocks need to be sewn together, borders added, backing selected and cut (often pieced) and the list goes on and on. Even my finished quilt isn't finished. I would like to square it up and bind it so that it can be passed on to a charity.

    MC, once again I need to confess that I have been at this for game for 25 years or so. I started a non profit called The Power of the Quilt Project and ran 3 Quilt-a-thons a year. I put together the kits that were sewn. Selecting fabric is a breeze for me. All those animal prints on black were in my stash from a commissioned quilt made over a decade ago. What fun to play with them again.

    Quilting does take time. I plug myself into a good book on tape and enjoy. The key to faster FMQ is understanding where you are going so that there is less hesitation and need to end a thread and start somewhere else. Also, good thread and a good thread feeding system so you aren't dealing with broken thread and poor tension issues.

  6. Gwyned - what a lovely quilt. The variegated thread really added a nice touch. Great colors on the animal prints, too.

    I am almost finished quilting my 78x86, but I have about 14 hours with only borders left.

    Although new to quilting (not to sewing), I concur with your good thread and feeding system thoughts. I'd also add good fabric.

    Beautiful job on the quilt.

  7. Thank you, Kingman for your positive comments about my quilt. You certainly took on a massive project by tackling a 78 x 86 inch quilt. Yes, good fabric helps. Although this particular quilt was made from a mix of good and not so good fabrics. The blue border is a poly blend and the yellow has pretty minimum thread count. I just used what I had on hand.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing your experience along with your quilting for Leah's challenge. I always enjoy visiting your site...

  9. I don't have UFO's either. When I start a project, I have a hard time starting another one(unless I really really have to), because all I can think of is " I can't wait to get this finished so I can see what it looks like!"

  10. Funny how easy it is to believe we are alone in how we approach things or habits. Clearly not ALL quilters have UFOs.

    I really appreciate the comments to my postings. They double the joy I derive from tackling what can often feel like a daunting project.