Friday, December 14, 2007

Quilting Coming Along

I spent some lovely time hand quilting this afternoon. As near as I can tell, the 505 Spray Baste used to hold the layers together is doing just that and is not causing any drag on the needle. The untested batting is behaving as well. I may need to buy some of this and make up a real sample, one I can test both hand and machine quilting on, then wash to see how it reacts. It appears to have good stability while maintaining a lightness and needles easily.

The book showed two ideas for quilting: crosshatching (hand quilted) and meandering (machine quilted). One of the reasons I chose handquilting was because of the difficulty of manuevering around the embroidery by machine. I wanted to outline various parts of the cross with stitching comparable to stitching in the ditch - something I felt much easier to do by hand as in the picture above

My first stitches, however, were taken in the ditch between the panel and first border. Everything I read when I first started quilting recommended quilting from the middle and working to the edges. I started to question the necessity of this once I purchased a full-size quilting frame. It was made by Grace and rolled the quilt from one end to the other. I just knew my quilt would be skewed in some way because I wasn't quilting from the middle out, but it was not. I questioned more when I read of women like Suzanne Marshall quilting full size quilts without benefit of any hoop or frame. I had to agree with the logic that, if I quilt were properly and thoroughly basted, shifting or bunching would not be a problem so it shouldn't matter where you started quilting. This theory was reinforced once I got into machine quilting. I was taught by Harriet Hargrave and Diane Gaudynski that my first machine stitches should be ones to stabilize the main vertical and horizontal seams of the quilt. Once done, then I could start quilting any section in any order.

And so you see, with a bit of confidence, I stitched around the border seam first, then stitched around the ouside of the cross, then went back to complete the border. It has the most "fragile" marking, and I wanted to get those areas quilted before any of the markings rubbed off - easy to do when rolling and turning the piece to get to the middle section. Having the border quilted first will also help me know how much quilting to put into the body of the cross. I could stitch along each embroidered line but I don't think that will be necessary or even desirable.

As far as what I quilt with, I am using Coats & Clark 100% cotton hand quilting thread with a Roxanne #11 between needle (very short and fairly thin). I also use a Roxanne Thimble. I'd tried several different thimbles and brands of needles, but after watching Roxanne's daughter demonstrate the thimble and her method of hand quilting, then trying the thimble myself, I was sold on the advantages. My stitch length immediately shortened and the strain on my hands and fingers nearly disappeared. Yes, I'm a convert, but unless you do a lot of hand quilting, you may not want to make the investment as those thimbles do not come cheap. And as long as I was sold on the thimble and her basting glue as well, I decided to give the needles a try. Here is the website where you can see all the products and learn more about "that perfect stitch."

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