Friday, November 3, 2017

Lessons Learned from Long Arm Quilting the Cheater Cloth

Happy Friday!  This post comes to you from the cardiology floor of the hospital, where I'm hanging out with my sweetie this weekend.  It's like a romantic bed and breakfast, except the breakfast is only for Bernie and the housekeeping staff keeps barging in at all hours of the night to draw blood and check his vitals.  He had an ICD (Implanted Cardiac Defibrillator) put in yesterday but it's not working yet, so they're holding him hostage (monitoring him) until they can try some other stuff on Monday.    

Finished Cheater Cloth Sample, After Washing
I thought this was as good a time as any to wrap up my Cheater Cloth practice project and record some final thoughts.  The photo above was taken after washing, and it doesn't look half bad, does it?  I might even be tempted to bind it and find a home for it, except that the design was printed off-center on the fabric I don't have four complete rings around the Dresden plates and I'd have to cut off too much to center that one Dresden plate in the middle.

So when I took this project off the frame and flipped it over, I saw two problems that would have been a big bummer if this was a "real" quilt.


YUUUUUCK!!  Eyelashes!
Somewhere in the middle of quilting this project, I decided to switch from Glide thread with those little magnet bobbins to a different thread with cardboard prewounds, and apparently the bobbin was too tight or top tension was too loose, because I had this ugliness on the backing.  Tension looked good on the top of the quilt and when I poked my head under.  Lesson learned: From now on I need a sample quilt sandwich off to the side of my frame for checking tension, especially when changing thread types mid-project.

Yucky Number Two: Pleats From Too Much Backtracking 

See That Horizontal Tuck?
Because quilting straight lines with my ruler was one of my primary objectives with this practice piece, I backtracked a lot to get from one section to another, traveling along "seamlines" that I'd already quilted.  So I got a couple of tucks like this one.  It wasn't nearly as noticeable after washing the quilt, though.

So I trimmed the excess fabric and batting away...

...And I serged the edges with a 3-thread overlock.  I wanted to be able to assess the quilting after washing the piece, but wasn't going to bother with binding it.  Serging the edges was faster and easier.

3 Thread Overlock In Lieu of Binding
(How do I love thee, Sergei, my Bernina 1300 MDC serger?  Oh, let me count the ways...)

After a tumble through my washer and dryer, the practice quilt has a nice, snuggly, bumpy texture.  Despite fairly dense quilting throughout, it still has a nice drape to it, too.  It almost looks like a real quilt, doesn't it?!  I feel like I'm almost ready to put a REAL pieced quilt top on my frame next.

I've got a handful of free motion patterns that I feel comfortable with now, and I got much better at quilting straight lines with my ruler by the time I got to the bottom of the practice piece.  I just have to go REALLY SLOWLY and concentrate on what I'm doing and I should be fine with stitching in the ditch on a real quilt.  I might even get brave enough to use monofilament thread in the ditches and then my oopses will be even less obvious.

My math quilt is next in line to be loaded onto my longarm frame, and I haven't decided how I'm quilting it yet.  Do I stitch in the ditches with my ruler and then add free motion fills, or do I attempt a simple edge to edge pantograph?  I'm leaning towards the pantograph, because I know I'll want to do something more custom on my bear paw quilt.

Here are a few parting shots of the cheater cloth quilt:

My Favorite Star
This was my favorite star block, with loopies on the blue triangle points.  I think that on a real quilt I need to think more about contrasting dense quilted areas with less densely quilted patches for contrast.  Nothing is popping out when I quilt the snot out of EVERYTHING.

Way Too Much Quilting On This Star!
This star was my least favorite.  Way too much quilting overall, and the white thread for the pebbling on the blue triangle fabric makes them blend into the adjacent blue and white print.  If I'd used blue thread for the pebbling that wouldn't have happened, and my pebbles wouldn't be so obviously lumpy, either.  But see how the blue and yellow square that was left unquilted puffs up?  I need to plan for more "pop-up" patches in my real quilts.

Freaky Feathers
On this star, I was experimenting with feathers in the blue star points.  They're crooked and uneven, but they look a lot better after washing than they did fresh off the frame.  I think that I'm going to need to do some marking when I try to put feathers on a real quilt.

This cheater cloth project was definitely not a waste of time (or thread), but I think it's time to try a real quilt now, don't you?  I just won't get to it until sometime next week, though.  Meanwhile I've got some hand sewing here with me at the hospital.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

I'm linking up with Esther's WIPs on Wednesday.


Ramona said...

You have made GREAT progress with quilting on your long arm. The cheater cloth does look like an actual quilt with your quilting. I'm sending up thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for your husband.

Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts said...

I'm sorry you and hubby are still dealing with his health issues. Sending good thoughts for both of you your way! I think your quilt looks great. Using the cheater cloth was really good practice. Your comment about having a place to check tension is right on - that was a lesson I learned pretty quickly. Tension will change mid-stream even when using the same threads. I think you are definitely ready for a 'real' quilt, and I hope you have fun when you load one. It can be a bit intimidating when first deciding how to quilt on a real one, but so satisfying when it is finished. Like you say, once a quilt is washed so many of the oopsies are really unnoticeable. Have fun with your next one!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

so sorry to hear Bernie is back in the hospital I have heard of these ICD implants and sure hope it works right for him. Your quilt was great practice wasn't it - sorry the tension messed up on the back through - I guess the only way to know is to keep looking under the quilt! what a pain that would be.

Diane in TX said...

Speedy healing to your hubbie! Your cheater looks good, definitely time for a real quilt.

colleen said...

Your quilting is lovely and best wishes for your husband.
My husband had similar but different heart issues and is still doing fine 20 plus years later
I am sure Bernie and his doctors will get his heart issues figured out and you'll have many more
memories to share

Chris said...

Been praying for you and Bernie and hope things are going well by now.

Home Sewn By Us said...

Thank you for sharing this post! I have often heard just do it for practicing FMQ but I don't make the time to just sit down and try it on a scrap sandwich of fabrics. I prefer the jump-right-in method, if you will. So, I need to purchase a panel or two with different sections and then just go to town. I honestly cannot see the tuck in the picture, but I recognize the tension issue right away. Ugg. I found that just happened to me recently when I loaded a new bobbin. Fortunately, I checked on the back shortly after the switch and corrected it. One nice thing is that it is VERY easy to pull out! I hope everything is going much better for your DH. Prayers and {{hugs}} for both of you. ~smile~ Roseanne