Monday, December 07, 2009

Machine quilting: the maiden voyage

The quilt that I made with the Girl Scouts has been sitting on my work table for several weeks now while I tried to figure out how to quilt it because of the big, painted center. I realized that machine quilting the painting would be bad for the surface, so I carefully hand quilted enough of the (painted) edges to connect all three layers. The girls are coming to our next guild meeting this Thursday and we are going to show the quilt to the rest of the guild, so that meant some form of machine quilting was going to be necessary on the pink ribbon blocks to get it finished by then. I've done several workshops on machine quilting, but this was the maiden voyage in terms of doing an entire quilt.

My old Bernina has a darning foot and when I dropped the feed dogs, it worked really well. The photo above it a close-up of the foot. It takes a little time to get a rhythm and control the flow so that you don't end up with really long stitches. A large stippling pattern seemed to look the best. The thread is an ecru machine quilting thread.

The biggest issue was manipulating the quilt and keeping my feet under the table. A chair on casters isn't the best idea for machine quilting. After about an hour, I felt like I'd been wrestling a bear!

The stippling worked really well to tack the edges of the fused ribbon blocks. The surface turned out fairly well, but my poor Bernina would not run after I cleaned and oiled it, so it is going to the sewing machine doctor tomorrow. The bias binding is all made and I will sew that on tonight.

I don't know if I will ever do this again, but it's nice to have the experience. The surface texture that hand quilting creates is tough to beat and I love the process much more than that of machine quilting.

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