23 Jan

Beat the Blues…

Fresh Start January (in which I finish up stuff so that I can start rest of the year with new projects) is moving right along at a clipping pace. I crossed off my 12×12 Chocolate quilt. I’m not posting it until the grand unveiling of all our quilts on 1 February (I think that’s our date). I made two blocks for a group project (I’ll post those later), and the Mariner’s Compass quilt is finally making progress.

I had basted the quilt in November, I think, and then set it aside for more pressing deadlines like the Sliced Quilt section and Christmas presents. Somewhere along the way I saw something with Ricky Tims demonstrating how he does trapunto with the sewing machine and uses fancy threads in the bobbin. I decided that this was a great technique for my quilt. You see, I was talking to my every-other-Friday, hand-sewing friends about what I should put in the corners of the quilt. Normally, one would do some fancy appliqué, or quilt feathered wreaths or something. I didn’t want to do appliqué or fussy feathers but I was having a hard time imagining how I would quilt it. We decided that since it’s a scrappy, naïve sort of quilt, it should have a folksy pattern in the corners, and folksy to me meant penny rugs. Back to Ricky, after seeing his video or Simply Quilts episode or whatever it was, I decided that I should do the penny rug-inspired pattern in trapunto with perle cotton in the bobbin. And un-basted the quilt to do so.
Ricky often prints his designs with the computer, onto water soluble stabilizer. I had a ton of tear-away stabilizer, so I used that instead and with a simple design, it works just fine. Here’s my traced design on stabilizer pinned with fluffy batting to the back of my quilt top:

Design on stabilizer

The next step is to stitch your design, following the lines on the stabilizer. Since the bobbin thread is going to be the one showing on the front of the quilt, you can take the opportunity to use something fun. (You can also use water soluble thread and stitch over it from the front once all the layers are sandwiched together, but I was stuck on this fancy bobbin thread thing.)

So, here it is from the front. Even after adjusting tension, my perle cotton insisted on bunching up unattractively:

#8 Perle cotton in the bobbin

Fine, I decided that I could couch the perle cotton on later, and soldiered ahead sewing my design in a nice variegated quilting thread that I wanted to use for the leaves anyways.  It’s got some wobbles, but hey, I planned on covering it up anyways.

Plain old 50 weight quilting thread in the bobbin

But then, my thin thread didn’t really match the perle cotton so well, and with my foot for couching on curves didn’t like the thin cotton and wasn’t catching it reliably and the foot that allows zig-zagging wasn’t handling the curves well. I didn’t like the unevenness of the zig-zags, so this came out too:

Couched perle cotton

Oh well, I guess the variegated thread will have to suffice. Plan A was gonna be good. So good that Plan B was worth a try. But Plan C is OK too. There may be a Plan D here, but I’m not sure yet.

Moving on (because I want to have this finished, nearly) by the second Wednesday in February which is the next Guild meeting where we unveil our challenge quilts, of which this is one. The challenge was to use the blue fabric above in our interpretation of “Traditional.” Yes, moving on, I tore away the stabilizer and cut the batting away from the negative spaces — and cut a few threads in the process — argghhh.

Cutting away excess batting

I reminded myself that this is a bed quilt, not a show quilt (I couldn’t compete with the intense craftsmanship of traditional quilts even if I wanted to), and just stitched over the offending areas. This morning I re-basted the quilt and started quilting it. Right now I’m just doing in-the-ditch and 1/4″ -from-the-seam quilting with the walking foot, but I’ve made terrific progress securing the center of the starburst and finishing two large diamonds! I can’t wait to get to the stippling around the trapunto and a few details inside the shapes.

We don't need no stinkin' bicycle clips

I think I’m going to call this “Beat the Blues…” because one of the designs I tried out the first time Plan A didn’t work was based on “Beat the Whites with a Red Wedge,” and even though things haven’t been going exactly as planned, this quilt is not going to get me down. I’m going to keep working on it, and when it’s done it will look great on our bed.

4 thoughts on “Beat the Blues…

  1. It will look great on your bed! And I’d have given up after Plan A — foreget about even thinking about Plan D. I can’t wait to see this when it is done, because it is going to be fantastic!

  2. Wow– I’m impressed that the detours (ahem) you took along the way haven’t daunted you. I like the idea of couching over the stitched lines — I don’t think I’d have thought to do that. Good for you for persevering! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

  3. You are very tenacious and ambitious. It also made me feel a little better that you too run into snags in the traditional quilting department!! 🙂

Comments are closed.