I did pretty well by my New Years Resolution. I quilted almost everyday in the month of January and I was down to the last row on the frame when I went on vacation. The vacation was great but when I got back my hand quilting was at a complete stand still. It has taken me a while to get back into the swing of things, but; the week before last it rained almost all week and rainy days are just perfect for siting inside all snug and warm and sewing! With the help of the wet weather not only did I jump start my hand quilting but….I finished, I finished, I finished!!!!!!!!!!!! (to be sung not spoken)
Here’s the quilt fresh off the frame.
Here it is on the design wall, where you can really see the great impact of this old quilt.
This detail shows the batting.
I used a wool blend naturally gray bat from Matilda Bat Co. out of Australia. It needled really well and had enough loft to help conceal some of the wonky parts of the quilt. Suffice it to say I am very pleased with the end product and glad that at long last it is finished. Cheers, CW
I’ve been trying to finish hand quilting this quilt for ohhhh maybe three years?!#*@!!! So I decided to make one of my New Years resolutions to work a little bit on it every day until it is done. As you can see I have a pretty sweet set up for hand quilting. I have a really nice view of my patio and the indirect Eastern light is great for actually seeing where I’m quilting.
I use painter's tape as a guide for my straight lines
The top I’m working on is a great old vintage top made from a variety of indigoes and Mourning fabrics arranged in a very striking snail trail display. Some vintage collectors might say finishing such tops is a mistake. But I think old tops without any documentation might as well be finished and enjoyed. I take lots of pictures of the front and back before I start so details of construction are recorded.
When I look at old quilts or tops to buy I am often attracted to the ‘odd ducks’. Wonky blocks, off colors or patterns etc. despite the fantastic visual impact of this quilt top it had structural problems, which may be the reason that it was never finished.
Snail’s trail blocks have a lot of bias edges in their construction and that can lead to some pretty wonky blocks. In the case of this quilt: while the blocks were all hand pieced the seams between the blocks were machine sewn. All that hand pieced bias fabric trapped in tight machine stitching made for some blocks being pretty ‘poochy’ in the middle.
detail of the pucker before quilting
No amount of stretching would ever get that completely flat. My remedy was to choose a fairly fluffy , mostly wool blend batting. Also I think quilting on a big frame helps keep fairly even tension over the whole surface of the quilt thus spreading or easing the puckers in as you quilt.
- same block after quilting
It’s not perfect by any means but it lays more less flat. When the quilt is relaxed off the frame the fluffy wool batting helps to camouflage a multitude if sins!
I have hand quilted a few tops of my own construction but I find finishing these orphan tops is much more gratifying. I find machine piecing my own tops is much more efficient (and appropriate). I am not a great hand quilter so I try to match my quilting with the construction level of the top.
As to my New Years resolution… I’ve done pretty well. I have quilted a little everyday since the new year and I have already quilted almost an entire row of blocks. Just one more roll of the frame and I will be on my last row!!! Yahooooo! Happy New Year! CW