Monday, June 3, 2019

Mission Impossible: COMPLETED, With Five Days to Spare!

Ta-DONE: Mission Impossible, 68 x 90
Hello, Lovelies!  Happy Monday and Happy June to all of you!  I am happy to report that I DID complete the quilting on Lars's graduation quilt, Mission Impossible, in time for the church staff meeting last Tuesday!

Off the Frame!  Mission Impossible Quilting Completed, Ready to Trim
Memorial Day was my birthday, and I "celebrated" by spending 7 1/2 hours at the longarm machine in order to finish all of the SID (Stitch in the Ditch) around the flying geese so I could take the quilt off the frame before I went to bed.  

I had considered all sorts of options for jazzing up the flying geese triangles with additional quilting, but ultimately the calendar and looming deadline won out.  With all of the ruler work quilting that I did in the purple background plus just stitching in the ditches of the flying geese, the total quilting time for Mission Impossible clocked in at just over 45 hours -- plus the 8 or 9 hours that I spent marking the background design before loading the quilt on the frame.  Realistically, there just was not time to attempt embellishing the flying geese with additional quilting.

Boring But Time-Consuming Stitch In the Ditch Quilting
I used Superior's Monopoly invisible monofilament thread in Smoke for the SID (with a gray MagnaGlide prewound in the bobbin), and it was a wise choice.  Although the clear monofilament thread stood out and looked super shiny and obvious against my fabrics, the Smoke thread just melted into each fabric as if I'd changed threads to match each and every fabric.  SID is much more challenging on a longarm machine than it is on a domestic machine, in my experience, and I can assure you that I had plenty of wobbles and oopses along the way.  With the monofilament thread, those growing pains or whatever you want to call them really are invisible enough that I did not have to stop and rip out ANY of my SID quilting.  Also, if you look carefully in the photo above, you can see that my stitch regulator is performing erratically, making the 12-15 SPI (stitches per inch) that I've set it to in some directions and then making TINY little stitches when I move the machine in a different direction.  That's an issue I need to trouble-shoot with the awesome folks at APQS Tech Support, but I didn't want to go off on that tangent until I got Lars's quilt finished and off my frame.  That discrepancy in stitch length would have been really obvious if I'd attempted additional decorative quilting in a contrasting thread color.

So I picked the quilt up from church after the Tuesday morning staff meeting concluded and brought it home to work on the label and the binding.

Machine Embroidered Quilt Label for Mission Impossible
The label took me a day and a half; it's not "instantaneous" just because it's machine embroidered.  I designed the label in my Bernina v8 Designer Plus embroidery software on my iMac computer, which lets me lay out the lettering and position the text exactly the way I want it and preview it in an endless variety of fonts...  I went through a lot of options before settling on the two fonts you see in the photo above.  Then I spend time deciding which fabric and thread colors to use for the label, which stabilizers, sew out a sample, and then go back to my software to make adjustments before sewing out the design "for real."  To save myself some of that time and trouble for next time, here are the most common things that usually need to get tweaked after the first sample is stitched:

Rebecca's Best Practices for Machine Embroidered Quilt Labels:

  • Increase the spacing between the letters.  When the fonts are shrunk down to the size of a quilt label, the letters are almost always too close together and difficult to read.
  • Set the fabric type to "Lightweight Woven" in the design settings.  This lets the software automatically adjust pull compensation for my lightweight quilting cotton fabric.
  • At the sewing machine, lower the upper thread tension to 1.5.  Otherwise the bobbin thread gets pulled to the top side with these skinny little satin stitched letters
  • Reduce the embroidery speed at the machine 
  • Use a water-soluble topping, one layer of tearaway in the hoop (I'm currently loving Floriani Stitch 'N' Wash for quilt labels because a lot of what doesn't tear away will soften and dissolve in the wash), and another layer of tearaway floated beneath the hoop
  • Engage the hoop basting feature in my Bernina machine to secure all layers of fabric and stabilizers around the perimeter of the hoop before stitching out the design

Label is On, and Now For the Binding!
I put the final hand stitches in the binding around midnight on the evening of June 1st.  I'm counting that as "finished by the end of May" for last month's One Monthly Goal.  However, against my better judgement, I decided to run the finished quilt through the wash before going to bed so it would be REALLY finished...  

Now, there was never any question about whether this quilt would ever get washed.  It's a bed quilt for an eighteen-year-old boy's college dorm, for Pete's sake.  And I went through 3 or 4 cans of spray starch throughout its construction and made liberal use of Roxanne's Glue Baste-It washable glue to streamline the curved piecing, AND I marked the entire quilting design onto the quilt top with 3 or 4 different kinds of marking pen...  This quilt was always intended to be washable, and it would not have been 100% "finished" until I washed out all of the starch, glue, and pen marks.  

I tested each and every one of the Kona Solid fabrics used in the quilt top to ensure their dyes wouldn't bleed before I started the quilt, and I tested a swatch of the Spoonflower backing fabric as well.  Every one of those fabrics passed with flying colors.  I didn't notice anything when I pulled the wet quilt out of the washer at 1 AM and transferred it to the dryer.  But in the light of morning, I could see that my yellows were all dingy and there were dark blue streaks on some of them.   I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture of it; it was just too disheartening.  I had to just deal with it, RIGHT AWAY.

SO...  I looked up Vicki Welsh's Save My Bleeding Quilt tutorial, since her instructions saved me when I had bleeding red dye on my Jingle quilt blocks.  With Vicki's method, you don't need any expensive, difficult to obtain or toxic chemicals; just a big bathtub full of water and ordinary Dawn dishwashing liquid.

This Is What the Water Looked Like After Soaking My Quilt for Four Hours
Check out how much additional loose dye was released from this quilt AFTER that first run through the washing machine.  I emptied the tub and filled it with hot, soapy dishwater twice more after this photo was taken, until I could scoop out a glass of the water and confirm that it was clear.  Then the quilt went through several rinse cycles in my laundry machine to remove the Dawn detergent and I dried it again.

Fabrics Faded After Loose Dye Removed
The results?  Well, I'm pretty sure the culprit was the Spoonflower custom printed fabric that I used for the backing, which was printed with black and blue water based inks onto white Kona solid cotton base fabric.  Now that all of the loose dye is gone, the backing is considerably faded, but the fabrics in the quilt top itself have lost some of their vibrancy as well.  I love having the Bible verse printed all over the backing fabric so it's worth it to me in the end, but if I had this to do over again I would have soaked the backing fabric in my tub with the Dawn dish water until all of the extra dye was used BEFORE I loaded it onto my frame and quilted it to my quilt top.  I don't mind the fading of the backing fabric at all -- in fact, removing the excess dye made the backing softer and gave it kind of an appealing denim/chambray vibe.  The folks at Spoonflower did advise me in their care instructions to prewash their fabric before using it in a project, in their defense.  I thought that, if the swatch I dunked in boiling water didn't bleed, I'd be fine -- but perhaps their inks aren't colorfast only start bleeding once a mild laundry detergent is added to the mix?  Could a dye fixative like Synthrapol have helped, if I used it on the Spoonflower fabric before I put that fabric in my quilt?  Who knows -- these are questions for another day.  Because on THIS day, I'm just glad that my quilt is done a whole FIVE DAYS before the Quillow Service at church.  I even get to bring it to Show and Tell at my quilt guild on Wednesday night, to prove that I really am a quilter and not just a government spy infiltrating their meetings...  ;-)

Mission Impossible, 68" x 90"
So this quilt top was 72" x 96" before quilting, and after longarm quilting, machine washing, multiple hot water soaks, and machine washing again, the finished quilt ended up measuring approximately 68" x 90".  That was 6% shrinkage in the width and 7% shrinkage in length, using all unwashed 100% cotton fabrics and Hobbs 80/20 black batting.  Still generously sized to fit one of those 39" x 80" Extra-Long Twin dormitory mattresses, with a 16" drop on all three sides of the bed.

The Sexy Lawn Shot
Fading or no fading, I'm still pretty pleased with how this quilt turned out.  It looks just like my EQ8 design, it's going to fit the college dorm bed, it's done in time for this Sunday's Quillow Service, and it's a soft, snuggly quilt that will keep my son warm in his dorm room this Fall!  I learned a lot making this quilt, got lots of practice with the ruler work quilting, and am happy to report that those needle holes on the backing fabric closed up nicely, the quilt ended up perfectly straight and square, the lettering on the backing fabric was still straight after quilting, and there are NO pleats or tucks in the backing fabric.  Those are enough victories for me to consider this a win.

The Rear View

PSST!!  I'd Love to Quilt for YOU!

By the way, if you or any of your quilty friends has a quilt top or two that needs quilting, I'd be delighted to quilt for you!  My turnaround for edge-to-edge quilting is currently running about 2 weeks, and you can click here to find out how to book your quilt with me.

I'm linking up today's post with:


·      Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 
·      Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·      Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt


·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at


·      Midweek Makers at
·      WOW WIP on Wednesday at


·      Needle and Thread Thursday at  


·      Whoop Whoop Fridays at
·      Finished Or Not Friday at
·      TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, hosted this week by Lynette at  


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

I'm so glad to hear that you got the quilting done - amazed at the dye problem thought - I'm sure it wasn't the Kona that you used I have never had a problem with them and so so glad you got all the excess dye out of it and that it was done on time - great job Rebecca I bet your young man will love it.

Nann said...

What a wonderful quilt -- such a super design! And you saved it from disaster. Did you wash the Spoonflower fabric before you created the backing? I hadn't thought about the printing process that Spoonflower uses. Congratulations to your son (and to you and your husband) on his graduation!

Linda said...

I just stopped by to read your story after seeing the GORGEOUS quilt on FB!! Wonderful and educational, and I thank you for sharing.
PS - I also cruised over to read the info about the Bleeding Quilt rescue... that is a definite save.


SJSM said...

Congratulations! What a nail biter! You did it! With the disappointing dye bleed at the end your heart must have fallen. What an awful surprise to occur just as you were ready to start the final preparations for presenting the quilt. Lars will be more than pleased receiving this gift from the heart and soul of his mother. You did a beautiful job bring the spirit of your faith and love of your son together in this epic moment in his life. Feel blessed and satisfied for bringing this all together.

Lakegaldonna said...

You did it, you did it!!! Congrats on finishing Lars's quilt with days to spare.
The quilt is gorgeous indeed.
I have been thinking about you and the quilt, wondering how you were doing with it. Chained to the longarm....
What a wonderful accomplishment for you.

Tracie @ Riceford Streams said...

Rebecca, what an awesome quilt for your son! I showed it to my mom because she and her friends at church make quilts for the high school graduates in their little country church. You also modeled perseverance and love—so this gift is extra special.

Chris said...

Congratulations!!!! You must be walking on air.

Ramona said...

Oh WOW!! I absolutely love this quilt! Hooray!! to you for getting it finished. :) Have you considered writing a pattern for this stunner? You'd have one sale here. Congrats! on such a wonderful finish, Rebecca Grace.

Marty Stanchi said...

Just WOW!!!!!

Carol R. said...

I LOVE it! The quilt is wonderful and I really appreciate you sharing all the 'things' you experienced in the making of this gift for your son. I have a spoonflower print that I haven't used yet - and, although it is for a skill builder online class with Natalia Bonner and probably won't become a quilt, I'm wondering now if I should wash/treat it before I load it on to my machine. Definitely something to think about. I also LOVE the way you quilted it... not something that I would have thought of if it was my job to quilt it and it would have been my loss because what you did just really sets it off beautifully.

chrisknits said...

Yippee! It's done! And for all its ails, it's a great quilt that will love on your son through college. Now, go rest Momma!

Jill said...

Congrats on a swell finish with time to spare. It looks wonderful. You all should be proud!

KaHolly said...

This quilt really makes a statement, especially considering what it put you through! He’s going to love it!

MissPat said...

Love it, love it, love it! But then I've loved it (it's purple) since you first showed the design. I've had to rescue two baby quilts in which red fabrics bled into white areas, but never anything this big. Thank goodness for Vicki's directions. They have been a godsend. Congratulations to Lars (and his parents). Now what's next on the agenda?

Patsy said...

Congrats for making your deadline with time to spare, but super congrats on making such a fabulous quilt for your son! What a lucky guy he is to have you for his mom. Your love for him really shined through in all your posts about this nail-biting project!

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! Oh this post - highs, lows, and in between moments. I hated to read further when you mentioned saving your quilt. OH NO. What a beautiful quilt. HOLY MOLY - look at all the die in that bathtub. Even though that backing fabric was a challenge, is it not just the perfect thing for your son to sleep under?! Not only all of mom's love sewn into it but then covered in prayer from head to toe?!! Perfect. He's going to make all the other kids jealous when they see his bed covering. That's assuming there are a few girls who will see it, because usually boys miss the really cool stuff. {{Hugs}} Congrats for making the deadline. ~smile~ Roseanne

Bonnie said...

Congratulations on finishing Mission Impossible. Despite all the challenges and problems the quilt is fabulous. Your son will love it no doubt. I'm amazed at the amount of shrinkage but as you say, it's still plenty big. I hope you have some fun sewing or maybe even a little break from sewing for a minute or two. And, then back to a new fun project. Well done, Mom!

Loraine said...

Rebecca, that quilt is wonderful! Well done, and well done also for finishing on time! Your son will be very proud to have it on his bed. I made quilts for both my son and daughter when they went off to university, and it made me happy to think of them snuggled in their quilt if they needed a hug from mum !!

Preeti said...

Congratulations to you and to Lars. We have been rooting for you all along. It was a nail-biting, stressful journey but totally worth it. Kudos to you!!! It is a knockout and a showstopper of a quilt, Rebecca. I am so in awe of you. Now, will you adopt me?

Lisa J. said...

Happy Birthday! This quilt is an absolute stunner! I am sorry you had to go through the ordeal with the dye and I hope it is not one I will have to do ever but I know from you and others that it is possible to fix.

laughing gas quilts said...

What a fabulous quilt! It's a fabulous design with great colour choices and terrific quilting. I think it was a good thing you ran out of time and didn't do more with the geese. Now, they pop. Had you quilted them, they'd recede. Part of me cringes to think what kind of a life this quilt will have, and the other part is so happy that it will be loved to death. Congratulations!

Julie in GA said...

It has been so much fun following along with your progress on this quilt. The final result is absolutely gorgeous! So sorry about the bleeding problems, but I'm glad you were able to fix it. Congratulations on a beautiful finish!

Leanne Parsons said...

So, so gorgeous! The colours are amazing, the design is stunning and your quilting is fantastic. Oh, and I love the Bible verse on the back. I'm so glad you were able to fix the bleeding dye problem and save the quilt. It's a great gift for your son :) Thanks for linking with TGIFF this week.

PaintedThread said...

What an awesome quilt! I love how it came out!

Nikki said...

Love your quilt. Particularly love your discussion about the bleeding. I ice dyed fabric last year for a guild demo using rit. Wonderful orange colors, but I can't stop it from bleeding after multiple washes and fixatives. Will try your Dawn method!

Christina said...

Wow!!! A beautiful finish indeed! I love everything about this quilt. I am so glad you were able to fix the bleeding issues. The color gradation on the flying geese is gorgeous. I love the small details you included. Congrats on finishing before your deadline!

dq said...

Deadlines can be stressful but they sure help us get things done. Mission impossible is stunning!