Good morning, my lovelies! Before I share my custom quilting progress
on my Spirit Song project, I'd love it if you'd take a second to give me
feedback on an idea I've been kicking around for a new linky party.
When I tried to link up my last quilting post with Karin's Ruler Work linky at The Quilt Yarn, I was disappointed to read that she has decided to
discontinue hosting her link-up due to low participation levels.
Like many of you, I already participate in quite a few linky parties (One Monthly Goal, Design Wall Monday, To Do Tuesday, to name a few). I love that these parties attract a wide variety of participants, from hand quilters to
longarm quilters, modern to traditional, appliqué, paper piecing, and
everything in between. I have discovered lots of creative quilt bloggers and inspiration through these link-ups.
However, right now I'm making a concerted effort to develop my long arm quilting skills, and it would be really helpful to connect with a
community of other machine quilters who are working through similar challenges.
I'm always so excited when I stumble across another long arm
quilter's blog, whether it's a seasoned professional quilter, a teacher, or a hobby
quilter like me. I want to see and
read about the different rulers, notions, and gadgets other quilters are
experimenting with and finding useful for machine quilting, which threads
and battings they are using and how they like them, and the challenges
they are encountering and overcoming as they become more proficient with
their machines, where they are finding the best online or in-person
classes and workshops, etc. Also, although I'm quilting with a long arm machine mounted to a frame, I realize that there is a lot of crossover between machine quilting on a frame, sit down long arm machines like the Sweet 16 or the Q20, and quilting with a domestic sewing machine. This would be an all-inclusive linky party, open to anyone who wants to share their machine quilting, regardless of what kind of machine they're using.
I understand that hosting a linky party is a big ongoing commitment, with even more time required in the beginning to get the word out to other quilters. I am willing to take this on, as long as there is interest out there from other quilters -- so please answer my poll (above) to let me know how YOU feel about it. Feel free to share any other suggestions about the linky party in the comments section, like if there's a particular day of the week you prefer, how long you think the link party should be open, etc. Thank you!
...And Now, Back to the Quilt On My Frame:
Meanwhile, custom quilting on Spirit Song is progressing, slowly but surely.
I've been pretty consistent about getting in an hour or two of
quilting time most days. I finished the first long border a few days
ago (my quilt is loaded on my frame sideways, so the "top" is really one of the long sides of the quilt).
I know it's hard to see my quilting design against the large-scale floral
print, so youmight think of all this time I'm spending quilting the borders
with rulers as a wasted effort. But it's really good practice, and
it's nice to know that if I DO get a minor bobble or "whoopsie!" here or
there, it's not going to jump out at anyone because it's camouflaged by the
Chalk Stencil Marking for String of Pearls Border
Since I opted to use blue quilting thread in my wide outer border, I moved
right into the skinny blue inner border after that. And I'm being
BRAVE -- I'm trying to quilt a "String of Pearls" in this border -- half
inch circles! In order to bolster my courage, I am marking the circles
with a Full Line stencil and Quilt Pounce Stencil Chalk as a guide to help me quilt
pearls that are somewhat round, consistent in size, evenly spaced, and to
ensure that I end with a full circle when I come to the corner.
Interestingly (and thankfully!), the pounce chalk powder markings are
lasting longer with this border design than the exact same chalk powder did for the swirly free motion designs that I was marking in the interior of the
quilt. Several possiblilities for why that might be:
For whatever reason, I'm very much relieved that I was able to mark the
entire length of this pearl border first and then quilt it in one pass, from
corner to corner, and still have clear, distinct circle marks to follow when
I reached the end.
I'm using a commercially made Full Line stencil for my String of Pearls
border rather than a DIY vellum paper stencil perforated with a sewing
machine needle. This stencil has a very fine mesh with very tiny
holes that allow the chalk through the stencil in more controlled
The pieced blocks in the interior of my quilt got a shot of starch
after each and every seam was pieced and pressed open, and again as the
blocks were joined together into a quilt top, whereas the blue border
was only starched once after the border was attached to the quilt.
The interior of the quilt, where the starch was applied in many
layers, may have filled in the nooks and crannies of the fabric weave
and created a Teflon-like nonstick finish that the chalk can't settle
into as well as it does with the only slightly starched border
I am quilting my pearl circles pretty slowly in an attempt to keep them
round, and I feel like my quilting machine creates less vibration and
bounce to the quilt top at this slower speed, and that may be
contributing to the longevity of the chalked markings as well.
Experimenting With a Smaller Needle
One more thing I changed last night: I put in a new needle -- again! -- and
this time, I went with a size 3.5 Groz Beckert industrial needle rather than the 4.0 needle I had been
using previously with my So Fine #50 in the needle and Bottom Line #60 in
the bobbin combination. Superior Threads has a handy reference chart
on their web site that suggests optimal needle sizes for each of their
threads, and size 4.0 is what they recommend for So Fine #50, but size 3.0 is recommended for the 60 weight Bottom Line thread that I'm using in the bottom, so I wanted to see what would happen if I split the difference and went down to a 3.5 needle. It's a
subtle difference, but especially when I'm checking stitch quality on the
back of my quilt, the stitches do look better to me when that tiny little
Bottom Line bobbin thread isn't swimming in a gigantic hole from a size 4.0
needle. And I'm not seeing any shredding or thread breaks to my So Fine top thread, so the 3.5 needle eye seems to be plenty big enough for the So Fine thread diameter.
Here's what my inner border of pearls looked like once I'd finished the quilting and wiped away the white chalk markings. Disappointing, right?! I was really nervous about trying to
quilt half inch circles on a real quilt for the first time, and I thought a blending blue thread color would be my safest option. But now that I've quilted it and it didn't come out
nearly as terrible as I thought it would, I'm bummed that I can't SEE the
pearls I quilted! I wish I'd
quilted them in silver metallic instead! Ah, well -- Live and
learn! Perhaps the quilting texture will be more apparent after I wash the finished quilt. Next time, I'll make bolder thread choices where I want my
quilting to be noticed!
I've also started quilting the two
different motifs that I selected for my blue half square triangles throughout the interior of my quilt, since I'm already threaded up with blue. One of the design is a free motion "lollipop flower" with swirly leaves (at least that's what I'm envisioning as I'm quilting it), and the other one is a simple straight line motif that has me reaching for a ruler once again.
When I tried to quilt this little motif totally freehand, the results were not pretty. If I was a seasoned pro, any straight line ruler would have worked fine. I quickly realized that, as a newbie, I needed help gauging where my needle would end up in relation to the angle of my ruler edge, especially since I'm quilting lines that angle away from my seam lines. My HandiQuilter Versa Tool came to the rescue! This ruler has little quarter inch extension notches at either end of the straight edge, etched with a faint marking to indicate where the needle will end up if your hopping foot stitches along the straight edge of the ruler. I've added little pieces of pink OmniGrid Glow Line Tape to the back side of those ruler extensions for even greater visibility. The long strip of wide, clear tape that you see along the straight edge of my ruler is super cheap, but super effective, NexCare Clear First Aid Tape that reduces unwanted slipping and sliding when I'm quilting with rulers. You can find that at your local pharmacy, or order it on Amazon here.
Well, that's all I have for you today. My To-Do for Tuesday goal is to keep plugging away at the borders and blue HSTs on my Spirit Song quilt, and hopefully progress to the final quilting stage of the off-white background fills. I'll wrap this up with a photo of a lovely gardenia in my front yard. I love how, when I take a picture of an all-white blossom and then blow it up BIG on my computer screen, I see so many different colors in the petals, from shades of white, cream, and gray, to ivories and butter yellows. It reminds me of Georgia O'Keefe's flower paintings!
Please remember to vote in my linky party poll if you haven't already done so, and share any other thoughts you have about that in the blog comments. Have a great day, and I hope you get to do some quilting! I'm linking today's post up with my favorite linky parties:
· Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
· Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
· Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre
· Tips and Tutorials on the 22nd at: Kathleen McMusing
· UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland
· Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework
· Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
· Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
· BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts
· Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon
· To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us
· Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
· Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
· Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
· Free Motion Mavericks at Quilting & Learning Combo OR at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing
I'm not a long armer.....yet, but it's coming. Just not sure how many years until it's here! LOL But I would gain a lot of knowledge that I could transfer to my domestic.
You are doing such an incredible job with the custom quilting on this quilt, Rebecca! I am in awe of your progress (and process ), as well as your determination to figure this out.
Lovely quilting Rebecca. Thanks for sharing with Oh Scrap!
You are such a patient longarmer!!! This is absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing so much detail. I would love to participate in a longarm link up!!! Brilliant!
This is coming along so great!! I would participate when I have something to show - but I quilt for clients, and sometimes I can't show their quilts until they are ready.... so it might be hit or miss... I do love seeing what others do tho!
Hi Rebecca! You are really doing fabulous on quilting this piece. I love seeing your progress. Hmm. Interesting about the pounce chalk staying around longer on the string of pearls. I wonder if the starch has any impact. I did vote in your poll although I don't have a long arm. Some of the concepts transfer over although I don't often post too much about my actual quilting - too much of a novice. Thanks for linking up today. ~smile~ Roseanne
Your quilting is Spirit Song is really coming along! Your quilting designs are really highlighting the quilt, too.
Beautiful quilting! Only you will know where all the mistakes are.
Lots of great quilting...I like all the variety. I am always wanting to learn more about
FMQ as I stopped for awhile and now am learning about using rulers and that is totally different than my BSR quilting.
Well, I think wishing that you'd used bolder thread is a great problem to have. Your quilting skills are already streets ahead. I hope you find a sweet spot for your party, quilting tips are always in high demand. Thanks for linking to the Chameleon's Colour & Inspiration party. :)
I wish you nothing but great things with your new linky. I'm not a longarmer though but I sure like to look! Your quilting is wonderful. Thanks so much for linking up to Wednesday Wait Loss.
Hello Rebecca Grace,
That is a gorgeous quilt, and beautiful quilting! It looks huge, or is that because it is on the frame sideways.
Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!
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