Friday, December 22, 2006


I may have put in 6 hours on Wednesday, but I was not a happy camper at the end of it. I did a little more staring at the two projects, indecisive about each, and came to the conclusion that I'd intended the couching on Grid 2 to be done as part of the quilting, and that I didn't want to use batting in the leaf print sheer. Suddenly I found myself in need of finding backing and batting and my Decor Bond.

I'll be the first to admit that I spend way too much time picking out backing for my quilts, but I've never been able to put just anything on the back. Since I started machine quilting, this has gotten worse as I search for a print that will make the bobbin thread least noticeable. Even though I repeatedly told myself these were experimental pieces, I kept digging through my piles for just the right thing. I was delighted to find this moose fabric for the leaf print. I fussed more over Grid 2, wishing I had a less white blue, a lighter pink or a slightly off-white. I was greatly resisting plain muslin, but that's what I ended up with. Since I want the piece to be fairly flat, I layered it with Hobbs Thermore using 505 Spray Baste and set it aside.

I've used Decor Bond as a stiffener in my mounting technique (see towards end of this post for information on this.). Now I wanted to try it as part and parcel of the quilt itself. Oh, the freedom when one embraces the term "textile art" rather than "art quilt." I suppose some would say that the Decor Bond qualifies as a layer, but I don't buy that since it's fused to the top and in my opinion becomes part of that layer. Semantics again, perhaps, but it's a big step forward for me to eliminate that inner layer that softens and adds dimension to a quilt. I cut the Decor Bond at the finished size of the quilt, centered it on the wrong side of the top and fused it in place, followed by spray basting the top and backing. Not quite ready to tackle the stitching and the thread choices I'd have to make, I started pulling candidates for binding. Picking binding is almost as bad as backing - at least 6 choices surfaced, and I started thinking about adding piping as well.

That took care of my minimum 3 hours for the day, but I'd intended to get that stitching and couching done, so was motivated to get back to work after lunch. That's when things started going down hill. I stitched some samples and settled on two Sulky rayon threads for the "quilting" - a yellow/green twist to outline the leaves and a dark green to quilt in grass. To show you how tentative I was about all this, I stitched around the leaves with the feeddogs up, but I knew I'd have to free-motion the grass. The dark green thread didn't show up like I thought, so out came the first lines of stitching. I changed to a dark brown Oliver Twist cotton which not only didn't look right, but shredded and broke on the second pass. Went back to the Sulky, but this time burnt orange/black color and it was perfect. I was relieved that this stitching (unmarked) went well - almost like I knew what I was doing!

It was another story when I got to the couching. The decorative thread is thick & thin with long "eyelashes" springing out of it here and there. The thickest parts were too thick to run through my braiding foot and it was hard to keep it centered over the edge of the sheer using an embroidery foot. My zigzag stitch wasn't just holding the thread in place, but securing that center in place so had to sufficiently bite into it. I made it around, pulled it out of the machine and was so let down. The thread didn't give the same effect it had when loosely arranged on the top. It struck me as creating too thin of a line. Sigh...maybe another round would help, maybe when the binding is on it will be ok...but my overall sense was I'd done it again, wasted a lot of time creating a mediocre piece that even I wouldn't want around.

I was also questioning my decision to ditch the batting. The center was already stiff from the fusible, but by fusing the Decor bond over the entire backside of the top, the rest of it became stable enough to stitch and couch without any additional stabilizer. That was quite nice. It should also gave a crisp firm edge to turn the binding over. But is it going to look funny when it is hung? I also had the sense that I needed a little more stitching in the center section. But it was late, I was out of steam with my confidence severely shaken and all I wanted to do was get away from it.

To be continued...

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