Monday, May 14, 2018

I Can See Clearly Now, the Quilting's Done: Tabby Mountain Is Off the Frame, Ready for Binding!

Thank you SO MUCH, all of you who reached out to me with kindness and encouragement after my last blog post!  Those "reinforcements" were just what the troops and I needed to power through the Russian Winter of Our Discontented Quilting over the weekend.  See, I'm mixing historical metaphors with literary metaphors -- 'cause I'm feeling FRISKY now that my Tabby Mountain quilt is completely quilted and off my frame at last!  WOO HOO!!

You know my instinct is to point out EVERY LITTLE IMPERFECTION now, with high-resolution photos zooming in to reveal every errant stitch, but I'm resisting those wicked impulses for today.  We all know it's not perfect, but it looks pretty cool from a distance, doesn't it?   
Far From Perfect, But the Best I Can Do Today
After looking at the quilt section-by-section during the quilting process, it's exciting to unroll it from the frame and see the impact of the whole quilt for the first time.  Yes, I have a few little pleats on the back side, primarily in places where I had done SID (stitch in the ditch) up front and then came back to quilt and travel along those stitched seam lines again weeks later.  There is room for improvement for sure.  I'm curious to see how much the crinkling/shrinking that happens with the first wash will camouflage those pleats.  My fabrics are all prewashed, but I am a heavy-handed starch user throughout construction of my quilt tops.  My finished quilts always undergo a significant stiff-to-snuggly transformation in that first wash.  This is my second time using Hobbs Tuscany Wool batting, which has a shrinkage rate of 3-5%, but my quilting was much denser all over when I used this batting in Lars's Drunken Dragons quilt.  This time, I deliberately left more open spaces for the wool batting to "puff up" between heavily quilted areas, to experiment with that dimensional texture.  I'm eager to see how it looks after washing, especially in some of the triangle patches where I tried to accentuate kitty cats by quilting behind them almost like they were applique:

Pebbling Around This Kitty
That's one of my favorite fabrics in this quilt, and one of my favorite ways that I quilted it with a melon colored thread that almost-but-not-quite blends with the background.

"Balls of String" Around This Kitty
I tried to vary the quilting designs in different triangles to make it interesting.  Also because I'm experimenting and learning, though.  What happens if I do it THIS way?  How will I look if I do it THAT way?  As you can see in the triangle above, a lighter thread color really does look much better over the large scale multicolored print, even where it crosses over much darker fabric in the print.  That really surprised me.  I had purchased a variety of hot pink, royal blue, and turquoise quilting threads for this project, thinking those would be the best colors for quilting these vivid Tula Pink prints, but pastel shades ended up looking much better on most of them.  The pale aqua thread you see in the photo above and in the photo below is actually Isacord polyester machine embroidery thread.  I literally have about a thousand cones of Isacord embroidery thread, every shade they offered at the time I purchased it, and Isacord behaves very much like Fil-Tec's Glide trilobal polyester quilting thread that I purchased from my APQS dealer.  Considering how much thread goes into a quilt, the larger cones of longarm quilting thread are definitely the way to go -- I wouldn't go out and deliberately buy machine embroidery thread to use in my longarm machine.  It's just nice to know that, in a pinch, I can make my embroidery thread stash do double-duty for machine quilting if I don't have the right shade of quilting thread on hand.

Pebbling Around Mousie Hiding In Leaves
Yes, my pebbling is sloppy and we can really see that when my thread contrasts with the fabric like this.  I don't care.  With this one, I was just fascinated that while navy quilting thread looked horrendous on top of pale aqua fabric, the reverse is not true -- the pale aqua quilting thread looks kind of cool on top of the dark navy fabric.  Like soap bubbles!

So, today's agenda will include trimming away the excess batting and backing from Tabby Mountain and reviewing the machine binding tutorials I've bookmarked and wanted to try.  That's right -- I want to sew the binding on this quilt completely by machine rather than spending ten hours or so hand stitching it to the back of the quilt.  But just because I want to sew my binding more efficiently does not mean I'm lowering my binding standards.  These are the tutorials that have been recommended to me by other quilters for beautifully finished machine stitched quilt binding:

I'm primarily interested in those top two links, the Bernina tutorial that does NOT require foot #71 (I own pretty much every other Bernina presser foot EXCEPT that one), and Sharon Schamber's method of glue basting the binding so it can't shift away from the seamline when you're sewing "blind" from the other side of the quilt.

There also may be some shopping for me today, because I just went looking through all of my blog posts about the Tabby Mountain quilt to try to remember what fabric I was planning to use for the binding, and it appears that I did not plan any binding at all.  I'll "shop my stash" first in case I have something fabulous lurking up there in the shadows, but I'm not going to settle on something that is "good enough."  Way, WAY too much time has gone into this quilt for settling on mediocre binding.  Also I survived the Russian invasion with very few casualties (just a bit of wounded pride), so I deserve a couple of victory laps around my LQS (Local Quilt Shop), don't you think?  ;-)  

But first, I'm linking up with:


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

great!! glad you carried through and finished and you sound better today!! when you wash and dry it will hide your imperfections - on the last quilt I did I didn't see the little folds or puckers in the back until I got done with it and I didn't want to go back to fix - I washed and dried and then had to search and search for the mistakes - when I finally found them I figured if I had to search that long no one else would find them

Paula said...

This looks great! I cant wait to see the finished quilt!

Annette Mandel said...

Never give up! Never surrender! :) A78mandel at yahoo dot com

chrisknits said...

Here is my go to binding technique for finishing.
Sorry about the link but I am having to use an old PC since my harddrive on my Mac is fried and Mac is at the Dr's. BTW Your quilt is going to be gorgeous!!!

celia ambrose said...

Love the quilting, and using your other thread! It is just lovely. Thanks for these great photos.

Sandra Healy Designs said...

It looks fantastic. It's great that you persevered through the long winter of discontent. I'm looking forward to seeing the bound quilt.

Judy Hansen said...

Have fun on your binding shopping trip. I love to shop for binding, as I can usually find just what the quilt needs. Hope this is the case for you. The quilting is great on this quilt - I love the cats, and how you quilted them. Great job! Thanks for linking with Design Wall Monday, I appreciate you.

Janet M said...

Awesome! Can't wait to see the grand finale :>)