Friday, March 29, 2019

My Favorite Blankie

This is a quilt I made about 30 years ago. The pattern is Shoofly Star, and is from Marsha McClosky's book, A Dozen Variables. This book (and Marsha's style in general) are what got me hooked on quilting all that time ago.

I wanted this quilt to be thick and warm, and sort of puffy, so I used a double thickness of Mountain Mist 100% polyester batting. Which of course needed to be hand quilted. Well... apparently I didn't baste it good enough, as the top wanted to slip around and bunch up on itself as I quilted. To get it to lay flat I ended up adding more and more quilting, and eventually the bunching "all quilted out" as we like to say.

You can see the quilt is well worn. I love it so much though, because it drapes so beautifully and is nice and warm! But its clearly wearing out, and I really need to make myself a new "Favorite Blankie" and give this poor little Star quilt a break.

Enter my current Flying Geese project.

My intent was to hand quilt this, after machine stitching in-the-ditch down the vertical rows.

The hand quilting was really tough going.  And because I wanted this quilt to be thick, maybe a little puffy, and drape nice like the Star quilt, I used a double thick batting, this time 100% bamboo. Well, the needle doesn't float through bamboo the same as that fluffy Mountain Mist! And, I wanted a "big stitch" look, so used a #12 perle cotton with a #24 Bodin chenille needle. Aaak.. my poor hand! I managed to do one row plus the "squares" where the geese change direction before calling it quits on that method.

On to Plan B, which was the "Hand Quilting" stitch on my Janome. This went well and I got about ten rows done. I really love the look of the (fake) "hand quilting" but I wasn't happy with the overall look of the quilt. I kept telling myself I want that puffy look, but it just was looking ... sloppy. I had to take a break and figure out what I needed to do.

Meanwhile, with the "hand quilt" stitch still set up on my machine, I went ahead and finished the quilting on these two small quilts, which have been languishing in my hand quilting basket for far too long.

That done, I set up my machine for regular, plain, machine quilting.

Starting from the other end of the quilt, I started quilting across the middle of the geese just using a plain stitch, which did give it a nice flat result. But I thought it looked rather boring. I really wanted the "hand quilt" look! Before commencing to rip out the previous rows though, I decided to sleep on it.

Sometime during the night I came up with another idea. I decided to go ahead and quilt all the "geese" seams in-the-ditch. Yep its a lot more work, but it nails everything down a little flatter, and looks much better. I've done several rows now, and I'm liking the result. In the end I think I'm gonna love it. 

Now I should mention, I recently discovered a new (to me, anyway) quilting thread by Superior Threads, called Micro Quilter. Its two-ply, 100 wt. poly, and literally disappears into the seams, making ITD quilting nearly invisible, and less stressful to do. It also blends right into the fabric when quilting over the top of multiple light and dark fabrics.

Now I know many of you are dyed in the wool 100% cotton purists, and I abided by this for years, but I no longer feel that is necessary. Heck, my old quilts (such as the star one above) were pieced with Dual Duty poly/cotton thread, and I've never had an issue with the thread cutting through the fabric or whatever its supposed to do. I believe my quilts will wear out with time anyway, as the intent is that they will be used. Anyway, you might want to try out that thread sometime.

OK, enough for now... time to get back to quilting!



cspoonquilt said...

I'm going to try that thread, Sandy. Have you tried the wool / poly batting they sell at Harts by the yard. It has a wonderful loft and it's real easy to needle?! cheer!

Cathy said...

So many beautiful projects. Hugs

Janet O. said...

Great stories about the quilting of these two quilt. We live and learn, don't we?
I took a machine quilting class once from Karen McTavish and I recall that she was a firm advocate of ditch stitching. She taught to always start with that step. She listened to the complaining we did about how hard it was and then said, "Ladies, do the hard thing." :)

moosecraft said...

Perfect quilting! I love that it enhances the geese and it really just tidies it all up! Thank you for sharing what your batting and threads are. I'm quickly becoming a fan of Superior threads over the more "popular" brand. Less breaks while sewing and very little lint....tho I'm still on the "cotton thread train" and haven't been brave enough to try poly thread with a quilt....maybe I'll try it with a tote first? Some day.... :-)

Robin said...

Great post! I'm glad you figured out a way to stitch your new quilt that satisfied you. It looks great. I know what you mean about an older quilt draping around you. I put a new quilt on my bed recently and it just doesn't form around me like the older one did. It has interrupted my sleep because the cool air gets in easier. I have a quilt my Mother-in-law made that I love for it's form fitting qualities. I'm glad you stuck with because the quilt looks lovely.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

Thanks for the thread tip. I am always looking for new satisfying threads. I can't believe you made it this far with bamboo. I tried to hand quilt it and gave up. Yours is so beautiful you would never know you struggled with it!

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Wow!! Handquilting is quite an art itself. I like how you did the geese - it gives them definition too! Beautiful!

QuiltGranma said...

For a fluffy quilt try 100% wool batting. It hand quilts beautifully and stays fluffy. I'm loving it!

Lori said...

I love your new blanky!! My husband and I have our favorites too!!

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

I use polester alot too and the more quilting I add the happier I am with the finished project. Love your quilt!