Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let the quilting begin on Cherry Blossom!

I'm moving along with Cherry Blossom! I've anchored all the major seams as well as either of the 1/2" pink border. I do this with my free motion foot, not my walking foot and I used Superior's Monopoly on top and Superior's Bottom Line in the bobbin. I like the free motion foot better because the fabric doesn't get pushed by the foot and I find I get a nicer line of stitch in the ditch.

Now that everything is stabilized and secure my next step is to quilt the border and bind the quilt. I decided to use the stylized vine and leaf design that I showed you yesterday for the border.

This is a design I can draw with a pencil on paper and it doesn't take any thinking on my part. Plus it is forgiving; each leaf can be different! I frequently practice doodling on paper to find patterns that are comfortable for me and to figure out the quilting direction that I know will work for my hand speed. If I can draw in on paper I can usually do it on the machine. It doesn't look the same but the feel is the same.

My first step was to mark the spine for the vine. The cream border is 8" wide and the leaves alternate on either side of the vine. I drew a gentle curve all around the quilt with a blue water soluble fabric marker. I pinned well on either side of the vine.

With my free motion foot and Monopoly on top and The Bottom Line in the bobbin I quilted the vine. This will stabilize the border when I quilt the leaves and it won't show when I use my coloured thread to quilt the vine and leaves. After the vine was quilted I used my blue water soluble fabric marker I drew a line 1" in from the edge of the quilt all the way around (you can just barely see it in the photo below). I didn't want the leaves to extend past this point as I need a little room for echo quilting, maybe some stippling and 1/4" for the binding.

I went through my thread drawer looking for a soft pink thread and I came across a spool of Wonderfil Tutti. It is soft multit-tonal with soft pinks, golds, rusts and rose. Perfect! It is soft and subtle, matched the colours in the nine patches and it will stand out on the cream border but in a pretty way. So with that I began quilting the border. I started in the middle of a side and worked my way all around the quilt.

I like it! It isn't perfect and there are some wobbles and bobbles here and there but I'm not pointing them out since I don't think they are that much of a problem. I've said it before - if something bothers me I fix it and if I can live with it then I live with it!

Here is a close-up of the corner resolution. I had no idea what I was going to do until I got to the corner! Sometimes it works to just go with the flow and not have a plan - just work on impulse. I wasn't sure I liked it when I rounded the first corner but once it was done I was quite pleased.

My last step today was to thread baste the edge of the quilt just shy of 1/4" away from the edge. This will hold the fabric flat and smooth so I won't need pins for the echo quilting or the stippling. I hope to be able to work on that tomorrow. Once that step is completed I'll be able to bind the quilt and then I'll work on quilting all the nine patch blocks!

One final note - lest you think I am a really good machine quilter let me set you straight. My work is okay - it gets better with every quilt. The machine quilting on my first quilts is embarrassing but the quilting has improved with practice. Practice to learn hand, eye, speed co-ordination and practice to learn to move the quilt smoothly. If you are just starting out be kind to yourself and be patient. Two years ago I would have told you that I could NEVER quilt a border like this, especially with no markings other than a spine! Boy, was I wrong! The secret was practice. If something turns out really badly, you don't have to show it to anyone but I guarantee you this: your next quilt will be a little bit better and the third one better yet again. That is practice for you!

I hope the border quilting method I described today will be helpful! I've done several quilt borders this way and it works for me just fine!

And how about a few shots from the garden today?

Yellow stuff from Manitoulin and ironweed

Something blooming but don't know what!

Something else going to bloom but don't know what!

Buds on the trumpet vine

Forest Gumby

Until I post again, happy sewing!


  1. Hi there your quilting is lovely. Do you always start on the borders I have always started in the center of the quilt and worked outward. I am curious. Bunny

    1. I don’t quilt the border until I’ve stabilized the quilt. What I do is stitch in the ditch on all of the major seams vertical and horizontal - I use my free motion foot to do this. I was skeptical about using that foot until I tried it. The quilt and all of the seams are perfect with the free motion foot which is not always the case with the walking foot as it tends to push the fabric ahead of the foot and that doesn`t happen with the free motion foot. The next step is to stabilize the border as was the case with Cherry Blossom. I stitched in the ditch on both sides of the thin pink border. At that point all of the blocks inside the border are stabilized and nothing will shift however I do leave the pins in my quilt. So this means I can now quilt the border and bind the quilt. Once that is done I go back and quilt the blocks inside the border. You can read about my method here.

      The reason I do it this way is that I want to get rid of the excess fabric and batting to reduce the bulk. It makes quilting the centre so much easier. As long as I've stabilized all of the major seams this method will work. When I stitch in the ditch I use invisible thread (e.g. Superior`s Monopoloy) OR a very fine thread such as Superior's The Bottom Line and I use a colour that will blend with the quilt.