Friday, June 26, 2015

Never Too Old

Finally I found the binding I had made for my Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice months ago.  Admittedly I was distracted and was never going to attach it until after the recent show.  Now it's on.

I'm not lovin' it but I'm also not removing it. 

I have always cut my binding 2.5" wide but just recently I have started cutting them 2.75" wide. 

The reason is that I have always struggled when turning the binding to the back of the quilt to sew down.  I found that the binding had to be pulled and coaxed to cover the stitches used to attach it to the front of the quilt.  Not much fun, especially when we are talking about the usual 360" of a largish sized quilt.

So now, when I attach the slightly wider binding, I also move the needle to the right about 25mm.  

 Excuse me for changing units from imperial to decimal, but I am using a Bernina 440 and I think everything on it is decimal.

  I always use a walking foot to attach the binding and I can line the edge of the quilt up with the edge of the walking foot to achieve a nice binding width.

Another long standing method I have recently changed in attaching the binding relates to the corners of the quilt.  I always stopped 1/4" (or however far from the edge I was sewing) from the corner. Made a little reverse stitch and cut the thread.  Then I turned the quilt, folded the binding up and down again to make the mitre. 

It's so much easier and more likely to be successful if I stop the sewing at 1/4" (or however far from the edge I am sewing) pivot the quilt 45 degrees and sew right to the corner.  Then I cut the thread, turn the quilt and flip the binding round as before.  It always works out nice and neat, front and back.  Not like before when it was a dicey proposition.

Seems like you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Litany of Errors

Are you still there?
Yes, it has been a long, long time since I last posted.
I've been busy.  It seems that's not a popular statement...but it's true.
My time has been spent hand quilting this:

I call it Delilah's Stare.  My contribution to the recent special Red &White exhibition at the Sydney Quilt Show.  You may have seen it earlier.  I started it in February 2012 and you can see its progress by clicking on the labels on the right of this blog under "red and white quilt".

Progress is the wrong word.  Quilting came to a halt as I was distracted by other quilts.   That happens.  When the NSW quilters guild announced a special red and white exhibition I thought I ought to pull the quilt out and continue my hand quilting.  About forty 5" blocks had already been quilted.   How hard could it be to quilt the other 75 blocks and 4 borders.  So, in the wee hours of February, 2015 I confidently entered my 90 sq" quilt into the exhibition and forgot about it.

At the time, I thought the cut off date for the  exhibition  was July 10th, but I was wrong. In March I learned that it was actually June 10th.  In a matter of seconds, I lost a month's quilting time!  Now my attention was focused on finishing the quilt and avoiding serious embarrassment.

There was a small problem but I thought I could overcome it.  Dear Coco, our incontinent poodle, quite likes keeping me company in my sewing corner.  She often curls up prepared to stay with me for many hours.  Well, you probably know what is coming.  She had laid down on my red and white quilt and there were 2 nasty yellow stains that had been left who knows how long ago.

Being the lazy quilter that I am, I use safety pin basting if possible.  Washing the quilt with safety pins in situ didn't seem like something real quilters would do.  So I removed the safety pins and thread basted my quilt.

Are you still there?  The story behind the quilt is long, but may be salutary for you.  Keep reading...

Then I submerged the quilt in cold water and watched as the red colour ran through the quilt.  Yes, I had pre-washed the red fabric.  But it still ran.  A few colour catchers and a few hours later, the red was safely contained in its correct place.  I couldn't tell if the yellow stains were gone but I just crossed my fingers.

I threw the quilt over the line to dry.  Don't do that.  Now I know better.  The wet weight tends to drag the quilt down and distort it.  Anyway.  Once dry I started back on the quilting.  Every 5" square took about 90 minutes.  The same for both the plain and the churn dash blocks.  I couldn't quilt more than 3 a day before my fingers and eyes gave out.

Then I noticed that I was running very low on needles.  I use Piecemaker size 12 quilting needles.  Only those will do.  And I didn't know where to buy them.  Dear Janet from quiltsalott came to the rescue and sent me a packet she had lying around while I waited for a new supply to travel from California to Sydney.

Are you still there?  I know I am being long winded, but finishing "Delilah's Stare" was a long process.

As I got closer to the border I noticed that on 2 sides the wadding didn't quite reach to the edge.  I honestly don't understand how that happened;  of course I had to patch some wadding before I could quilt there.  Each border took a week to quilt.  After washing and binding the quilt I put the label on at 3pm on Wednesday 10th June.  Just made the deadline.

The show was last week.  It was certainly an achievement to get that quilt hung and I have to thank my family for going without my usual attention while I quilted my fingers to the bone.  I have learned a lot, most importantly: do not enter a quilt into an exhibition unless it is close to finish or finished.

You can view quilts in the exhibition here.