Thursday, October 11, 2018

October OMG Charity Quilts Finished, Pineapples Progressing, and New Outreach Quilt Headed to My Frame

First, I have to show my friend Colleen that YES, I am still working on my pineapple log cabin quilt:

S.L.O.W.L.Y., Joining These Blocks Into Rows
I timed myself, and it takes me a solid ten minutes just to get two blocks pinned together and ready to sew, due to all of the seam allowances stacking rather than nesting.  Once they're pinned, I'm sewing them together at a fairly slow machine speed, watching out so my needle doesn't hit any of the pins, using my stiletto to swipe beneath the work to ensure seam allowances aren't flipping underneath, and correcting for the tendency of the diagonally place pins to create wobbles in the seam.  But it's worth it when I open the seam and see that all of my seams are matching up just the way I want them to.  Today's big accomplishment is that all 36 blocks have been joined into rows.  Woo hoo!  There is LIGHT at the end of this tunnel!!

Of course, at this pace, it's going to take me a full HOUR just to pin two complete rows together before I can stitch them.  That means I have five hours of pinning to look forward to...  That is Downstairs On the Sofa Watching Evening Television work for sure.  But it feels good to walk into the studio in the morning and have things all pinned together and ready to sew.

Diagonal Pins Fight With Feed Dogs
But my pineapple quilt isn't the big news for today.  Oh my gosh, you guys -- I finished a goal!  And I finished it ON TIME for being last week's Tuesday To-Do goal (even though I neglected to post about it on Tuesday), and EARLY for being my October One Monthly Goal!!!  Pinch me!

I have been sitting on these two charity quilt tops that I offered to quilt for my church for months now.  Well, to be more precise, I've been alternating between procrastinating, panicking, and fighting with them.  These quilt tops were challenging for me because:

  • The piecing and pressing weren't as accurate as what I'm used to with tops I've pieced myself.
  • Both quilt tops and one of the backings were made of bed sheets and other tightly wove, non-traditional quilting fabrics that contributed to excessive needle flex/directional tension issues.
  • I'm still such a beginner with my longarm machine, fumbling along and learning as I go.
  • I opted to load both of these 60" 80" bed quilts sideways so I could quilt the edge-to-edge pantographs in fewer passes, with fewer stops to advance the quilt, baste the sides, and reposition the laser -- but that meant I had LONG rows to quilt in a single pass.  As a newbie, those long passes of quilting were tiring, so I might have been better off loading the quilts along the short sides instead.

Church Charity Quilt No. 1 of 2, With Bed Sheet Backing
Anyway, I finished quilting the first of the two tops a couple of weeks ago and I finished quilting the second top a few days ago.  On Wednesday morning, I returned them to the church quilting group so they can bind them and deliver them to the YWCA Women In Transition program.  

Church Charity Quilt No. 2 of 2 Completed!
I definitely had an easier time with the stitch quality on this one, using Glide trilobal polyester thread top and bobbin and a 100% cotton quilt fabric backing rather than a bed sheet.  I used the Scribble pantograph pattern from Anne Bright Designs.  It's a less dense design than the Floral Meander panto I used on the first quilt, and more forgiving for a newbie -- however, without any points in the design, there wasn't really a good stopping point where I could sink the needle, stretch my neck and shoulders, and adjust my feet as I was working.  

60 x 80.  My Quilting Looks So Much Better From a Distance...
The other nice thing about choosing my own backing fabric (in addition to knowing it wasn't going to fight my needle with every stitch) is that I was able to pick a nice, busy print and a color that could match the quilting thread.  Even though my stitches on this one look a lot better front and back than they did on the first quilt, it's still nice that those occasional wobbles here and there are camouflaged by the paisley backing print:

Much Better Stitch Quality on the Backing Side on Quilt No. 2
Wobbly Quilting Camouflaged By Busy Print
Well, I've certainly learned a lot from these two charity quilts!  Like, no more bed sheets.  Never, Ever, Ever!  I am still not enjoying following these pantograph designs from the back of the frame, where I can't see the fabric as I'm quilting it.  Also, I am totally spoiled by the ginormous bobbin on my domestic Bernina 750QE sewing machine, and it's really annoying me how quickly the APQS size L "Smart Bobbins" are running out on the longarm machine, especially with these edge-to-edge pantographs.  With the custom quilting I did on my last personal quilt, I was changing thread colors so much that the smaller bobbins didn't make a difference anyway.  I mounted this 60 x 80" quilt top sideways to minimize how many times I'd have to stop, advance the quilt, baste the edges, reposition the needle to align the pattern, etc.  

Following Pantograph Pattern From Back of My Machine
So I quilted the first pass of this very open, 14" pantograph pattern, advanced the quilt, quilted the second row...  Only to walk around to the other side of the machine and realize that my bobbin had run out in the middle of that second row, and I'd just been wasting my time and poking needle holes all over the place without actually making any stitches for 15 minutes!  Boo, hiss!

Supposedly the smaller APQS size L "Smart Bobbin" (the size for which my machine is currently configured -- it's the same size as the bobbins for my Singer Featherweight machines) enables me to use a greater variety of specialty threads without any issues.  Because Physics and Inertia, Blah Blah Blah.  However, reviews from APQS owners who have the larger M style bobbin configuration are not reporting any regrets or remorse, and their bobbins hold twice as much thread as mine do.  I believe I can order a kit from APQS for my 2013 Millenium that would allow me (and by "me," I mean my husband) to switch out the hook system to the larger M bobbins, fairly inexpensively -- and if I didn't like the larger bobbin/hook system, we could just change it back again.  Seriously considering that.  

But MEANWHILE, my quilting frame is not remaining empty for long, because another (much more manageable!) quilt is getting loaded today!  

This Week's Goal: Charlotte Quilter's Guild Outreach Quilt
Yes, another charity quilt is going on the frame this week!  This one is a baby/crib size for the Charlotte Quilters' Guild's Outreach program.  It's much smaller and more manageable than the last two charity quilts -- a 33" x 41" baby quilt destined for the children's cancer unit at either of the two main Charlotte hospitals.  Someone else has already pieced the top, cut the backing fabric and batting to size, and even provided binding strips all ready to go for me, all labeled and packaged neatly into a nice little kit.  Since this one is all made from quilter's cotton fabrics, with 1/4" seam allowances, and the batting is more like what I'm used to, this one should quilt up more smoothly -- and I'm jazzed about the bright colors and cute little novelty prints, too.  

33 x 41 CQG Outreach Quilt is Next On the Frame 
Meanwhile, our schools are closed AGAIN due to Hurricane Michael, even though we're just seeing steady rain and occasional strong winds here.  There have been power outages reported in Charlotte already but thankfully we've still got power at our house -- Son the Elder, also known as He Who Is Responsible for My Gray Hairs and Wrinkles, is working on his college application essay, and he does NOT need any more excuses from the power company...

I'm linking up with:


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

practice, practice -- don't you wish a little alarm would go of when the bobbin has like a foot of thread left so you are warned! it is like you have to time one bobbin and keep checking constantly to see how much thread is left so you know for the next time.
Hope the storms do not get worse!

Anonymous said...

Congrats ! on reaching your goal. Your quilting looks great. The baby quilt is bright and happy. I’m looking forward to seeing how you quilt it. I’m super excited to see your progress on your pineapple quilt! It’s a beauty!

Frog Quilter said...

Your quilting looks fabulous. No one sees the creative stitching like you do. Keep practicing on the charity quilts for experience. When you are ready, advance to different quilting patterns. Almost everyone LOVES a quilt.

SJSM said...

Either I’ve gotten busy or you are posting more often. It seems you are moving along on multiple projects more quickly. It is good to see your progress on all fronts. Your long arm quilting is definitely getting a rhythm in your life. The pineapple quilt is absolutely stunning. I cannot wait to see it all together. That is a labor of love long in the making. Stay safe and dry while Michael moves on by. We are still in our late summer weather pattern. Last week we had .02". That was the first rain since mid April. I do hope we get at least an average rain here and deep snow in the mountains this winter. It would be nice not to worry about our water supply next year.

Now if we could figure out a way to take that excess water from east of the Rocky's to the west side both problems could be resolved.

Looking forward to your next post.

Ann said...

Your quilts are looking great, and I'm enjoying learning vicariously through your experiences. Thanks for your advice on the last post. I slowed down and shortened the stitch length and that made all the difference.
I feel your pain on bobbins. I've switched to using pre-wound bobbins for almost everything. I get them from superior threads, but other people carry them too. Because of the way they are wound they have almost twice as much thread on them as one you wind yourself. They carry long-arm and domestic sizes. My domestic machine has a bobbin alert when the bobbin thread gets low. On one I wound, when the light blinks, I know I've got about 12" then I'm out. On a pre-wound, (if i take the cardboard off so the alert works), I can stitch two sides of the queen size quilt binding. I have found that I can't free motion stitch on my domestic with them, but they work great for piecing. They do work well in my long-arm.

Brooke said...

oh my goodness sakes!

you are a machine! such a good user of time!
love your different projects and all the learning that took place!
thanks so much for sharing and for linking up!

Gretchen Weaver said...

Hey, you got those charity quilts quilted, good for you!!! It's feels great to reach a goal. The crib quilt looks quilt and hopefully will quilt up fast. Pineapple quilt is a beauty. It takes time to do the pinning but I'm always glad I do when my seams match and I don't need to redo. Happy stitching and have a lovely weekend. Oh, by the way, the cause of the white hair and stress will someday leave home. He will realize how good he had it and will someday thank you for being such a terrific mom. Been there, done that!

LA Paylor said...

I like those pineapples!

KaHolly said...

Look at all you’ve learned from struggling through those church quilts! And now they are finished. Good job! If I ever get a longarm machine, I’ll remember everything you share, esp. bobbin size. Wouldn’t otherwise think of that. My goodness, those pineapple blocks look fantabulous! Truly a labor of love. Will you be keeping this one?

Becca // Pretty Piney Quilts said...

Oh, those pineapple blocks! All the heart-eyes for you!

Great job finishing up your OMG early, too. You've got a lot going on!

Thanks for linking up to TGIFF

colleen said...

I am in heaven so cool to see my name in your blog. I guess I have been kind of pesty about the pineapple quilt yes I admit I have made it my mission to "poke" at you to continue to move forward with it.
It seems every thing with the pineapple quilt takes longer than a person thinks it will
The seams not nesting is like a cruel joke
Of course it makes sense that they would not as each block is pieced the same

Any way good for you to continue to more that pineapple along

I am bogged down in my life too much is going on all good nice things but is taking too much of my limited time

Oh the singing dress issue I hope you will make another singing dress/costume
I love the one you have and I think you need another that is easier to wear and has a different style or era

And I honestly love to read your sometimes long blog posts always a good read

Thank you

Lynette said...

The pineapple quilt!!!! I love-love-love that one, and it looks even more amazing sewn block-to-block. :) I know it's a labor-intensive quilt, but it will be worth every moment when you have it finished. The M bobbins - I may someday try to refit to that, as well, but right now I'm happy without it. My friend in the area with an M says that, yes, she does definitely have to keep an eye on the tension and adjust that, and sometimes the orientation of the needle, between the beginning and lower-levels of bobbin as she works. I'm not ready to add that factor to what is already demanding my attention. I'm doing good keeping a nice tension as it is. lol!!