Friday, March 15, 2013

Dresden Plate Quilting is COMPLETE! Now, To Bling or Not to Bling?

Well, here we are, 5 days after the birthday, and finally the quilting on the Dresden Plate project is finished.  I just quilted in the ditch along the sashing, border, outside of plates, around the red flower applique, and in between the plate wedges, using Aurifil Mako 50 weight cotton thread in the bobbin and invisible nylon monofilament thread in the needle, and I like how the "invisible" quilting gives each plate so much dimension.  Trimming out the backing fabric behind each plate was a good call; even with my batting and minky backing, this quilt is still very "smooshy" and flexible, not stiff at all. 

I did experiment with spray basting, using 505 temporary adhesive spray.  I sprayed my batting rather than the quilt top or backing fabric, and found that the spray adhesive worked VERY well to adhere the cotton quilt top to the cotton batting, but was less effective adhering the slippery backside of the polyester Minky fabric to the cotton batting.  Next time I do this, I think I'll lay the batting down, then spray and attach the Minky on top of the batting so I can make sure I got every little ripple smoothed away, and I'll spray both the batting AND the Minky.  Then I'll flip the Minky/batting over and adhere the quilt top.  I did pin baste as well, and although I had a little bit of slippage with the Minky it was nothing major. 

This was the first time I used the new Stitch-in-the-Ditch sole plate for my walking foot.  I like it -- see how that blade rides along right in the seam?  I was able to quilt these long, boring lines between blocks much faster, without having to watch as closely to align my stitches right next to the seam allowance.  However, when I got to the posts between sashing strips where the seam allowance was pressed the other direction, I found that the blade on this sole obstructed my view of the needle and that it did NOT "automatically" switch from one side to another well.  You can see what I mean in the next picture, the first post I quilted with this foot:

On subsequent posts, I just slowed down as I approached the yellow square and stuck my face down there by the foot so I could carefully maneuvre around the post square, and then I increased my speed and went back to "cruise control" afterwards.  That worked fine.  Overall, the new walking foot sole did improve my ditch quilting considerably:

Quilting "In the Ditch," Stitches Disappearing Right Next to the Seam
I quilted all of the plates free-motion, with my BSR foot.  Again, loving the invisible nylon thread for this.  I used a 75/11 Quilting needle and reduced my upper thread tension considerably, and also reduced my presser foot pressure.  I put the invisible thread on a separate cone thread stand behind and to the right of my machine to allow plenty of room for the thread to unwind and unkink itself.  I still had the thread loop up and knot a couple of times -- the sound of stitching immediately changes and the stitches become instantly more visible because the top thread is so taut that it lies flat on top of the quilt instead of meeting the bobbin thread inside the quilt.  So when that happened, I just stopped, found the place where the nylon was caught, fixed it, and continued.  Maybe putting a thread net on the nylon thread would have helped -- it was an older spool, getting toward the end, so the thread was very "curly" from having been wound around the spool.

I love how the quilting stitches "carve" the plate design into the Minky backing, even though you can't see the actual quilting stitches due to the pile:

Quilting around Plates, Backing Side

But once all the plates had been quilted, I had to contend with that plateless center block.  What to do there?  I couldn't skip quilting it because it was a 13" block and my batting recommended quilting no more than 8" apart.  Yet I didn't want the center block to be too obviously quilted when all of the other blocks were quilted invisibly along the plate seams.  After mulling my options for a few hours, I finally decided that I had to just make a decision and go for it -- I no longer had the luxury of time to test out a bunch of different options.  I switched to a red thread, since there were no seams for ditch quilting and I would only be quilting against the red background fabric, and I ended up tracing around a Dresden plate on template plastic to make myself a pattern. Then I drew that shape onto my center block with a white marking pen.

Marking a Dresden Plate Around the Embroidered Block
I tried to echo quilt around the embroidery, adding some loops and swirls, and then quilted a ghost of a Dresden plate around the outer edge.  I'm not sure I 100% love it, but I didn't have any better ideas and this gift is already late!

Center Block Quilted

I wanted to do about the same amount of quilting on that center block as I did on the others, but the single line of quilting around the outside of the "plate" looks very puny all by itself like that.  In retrospect, I wish I had appliqued a big circle onto this block for the monogram, maybe even a plate with tiny 1-2" wedges around the outside and a huge center circle for the embroidery.  Then I could have quilted it in the ditch with the invisible thread just like the other blocks.  Or maybe I should have used a contrasting thread to quilt this block, so it would stand out more?  Anyway, it's done, and I'm really pleased with how the quilt as a whole is turning out.  It's VERY soft and cuddly, with no stiffness whatsoever, and it will only get softer after I wash it -- I starched the quilt top before I layered and basted the quilt, so I'm definitely going to wash the quilt before I wrap it up and ship it.

Soft, Smooshy and Cuddly! 
Today I need to trim away the excess batting and backing fabric along the quilt edges, which I'll do by serging along the border edge.  Then I'll encase the edges of the quilt with dark pink 2" satin binding...  and then, will it be finished, finally?  Well...

I ordered a whole bunch of Jet Black Swarovski hot fix rhinestone crystals for this quilt, intending to put sequin-sized rhinestones at the outer point of each plate, and sprinke a few smaller black rhinestones across the yellow centers of each appliqued flower.  My darling husband thinks I should not do this.  Wise, sensible people have warned me that rhinestones can fall off in the wash, and that they are not snuggly -- but with this quilt, you're going to snuggle the Minky side against your skin, not the front of the quilt, and honestly, the crystals are so small and smooth that I can't imagine they would be a scratchy nuisance.  They would be so FUN...  Little girls love bling, right?  Well, we'll see how I feel about it after the quilt is bound and washed.  It's my quilt, and I'll bedazzle it if I feel like it!  I'm a totalitarian quilter at heart.  Just think of me as the Quilting Stalin, or the Quilting Mussolini.  Those who object can face the firing squad, or learn to make their own quilts!  ;-)


V and Co. said...

first off thanks for you comments on my blog!
second: on hand turn appliqué, i like to use the freezer paper technique, google freezer paper needle turn applique. i took a class when i was first learning and it is my favorite way to do needle turn. also i use a hoop. nothing worse then limp fabric and having puckers in all the wrong places! i like a big hoop and work in the area in the hoop. and moving the hoop as i go. best wishes!!!!

Kris Jacobson said...

Love this quilt. Makes me want to do a dresden plate soon. I would never have thought of the red background. Will have to keep that in mind.

Vivian said...

Beautiful and fun Dresden quilt! Brilliant how you resolved the quilting of the embroidery block. I've always though about getting one of those guide feet, very helpful to see it in action.

Val's Quilting Studio said...

I agree minky is wonderful! Okay....use s guide foot! Duh! Lol! Thanks for rejuvenating a good, informative post today at Tuesday archives.