Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Missed Goal

I mentioned earlier that one goal for September was to finish the sweater I was knitting.  Well, I missed that goal by a mile.  At that time the back and two fronts were finished and I was starting on the first sleeve.  That sleeve is only about three inches long today.  It seemed I was too preoccupied while I was getting the violin program and group going again to do much knitting.  Instead, I read several books and did lots of crossword puzzles.  Those are good activities for "smoothing out the brain" before going to bed!

But I also resolved that I am going to finish several quilting projects before beginning any new ones.  And yesterday I took the last stitches in this beauty.

This quilt was a block of the month our local club did two years ago.  I bought all new material for this, and keyed it all to the background.  The background is quite yellow, which is not at all my usual choice, but it's good to do something outside your regular boundaries once in a while.

Most of the other women put the star blocks into sashing, making it a very "blocked off" quilt.  I had decided I wanted the stars to "float" on the background, so I made the sashing the same fabric as the backgrounds in each block.

Because this is a quilt for the Dear One, I planned to hand quilt it.  After hand basting the whole quilt in about 6" squares I found the background fabric was too dense to hand quilt.  I could get only one or at the most, two stitches on the needles at once.  Usually you aim for at least four, possibly five or even six stitches on the needle before you pull it through.  I had to give up the idea of hand quilting.

Since the quilt was quit carefully basted in small sections, I thought to go ahead and machine quilt it without further preparation.  I stitched by machine around the outline of each of the 12 stars.  Then I turned it over and was dismayed to see the back wrinkled badly.  UNACCEPTABLE!!!

I laboriously picked out all the machine and hand stitching.  That took several hours.  Then came a period of neglect.

Recently I took it out of the "pending" file and spray basted the three layers together.  Once a quilt is spray basted (it's a glue spray) the layers will not shift; it's very secure.  So I took it to the machine and quilted, following (without thinking!) the seam lines of all the sashing.  When that was finished I laid it on the dining room table and had a look.   DISASTER!!!  Also unacceptable!!!

Why?  Because machine quilting it along those lines made the blocks stand out again.  The stars no longer "floated" on the background.  What to do?

Well, if you're really anal about how your quilts turn out, and I was determined that this was going to be special because it's for a special person, you simply start the process of removing all the stitches you just sewed on.  And, yes, it took many hours of peering through a magnifying glass with an Ott light illuminating the field of stitching.  But in the end, the stitches are all removed, including all the little stray bits of thread.

Now it was ready a fourth time for the quilting process (as distinct from the sewing blocks process).  This time I outline stitched around each star, checking once in a while for wrinkles.  There were none.  When all the stars were outlined, I took a deep breath and started meander quilting between the stars.  That process went surprisingly well, and in two sessions of a few hours each, the quilt was completely quilted.

The last step is sewing on the binding, pressing it over to the back side, and hand stitching it down with invisible stitches on the back.

It's FINISHED!!!!   I'm so glad!  Now to get busy on the next project from the stack in the sewing room closet.

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