September 19, 2012

It's The Cat's Fault!

It's the cat's fault . . . I swear it is. You know how last week on WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced I said I was going to finish my sunflower quilt? The one that I've been hanging up for years every fall even though it's never been finished. Well do you ever have those quilting days (or weeks) when you're sure the quilting Gods are against you? Either the cat or the quilting Gods apparently liked the quilt the way it was . . . just a top. But I was determined to turn it into a finished top. And I wanted it done by last Friday.

Had I known what was about to transpire, I might have thought to photo document the steps so as to save you all the same frustration, but alas this was going to be a quick finish and then on to more tops just waiting to be born from my sketchbook.

First off came the quilting design and whether to mark or not. I'll admit right now that quilting is not my favorite thing. I LOVE to design. I pretty much love to piece. I do not like to quilt. And I tell myself it's just because I don't do it enough. If I do it more often it will get easier right? Every time I get my quilting mojo up and actually get a top quilted it's not as bad I think as long as the machine cooperates. Which it does half the time. The other half, I fiddle with the tension, the thread, the cat . . .

Anyway, I found an all-over leafy design that would be just fine but this quilt has no blocks to guide me and I just wasn't that confident in keeping the leaves the same scale and position so I decided to mark. But what method? I tried a stencil and pouncing with chalk. The lines were hard to see and once I pinned and did a little anchor stitching in the ditch the chalk lines were barely visible. So how about drawing over the chalk with another white marking pencil? Seemed like it was going to be ok . . . but the fabric has lights and darks. Still too hard to see.

Can you see those chalk marks?
Finally, I fell back on the golden tissue paper method. Now this works for me somewhat but it is more work to draw the design and pin in place and then tear away etc etc etc. But at least I know the design will be somewhat consistent.

Just some of the tissue paper mess on the floor afterwards.

One of these days I'm going to freely free-motion. I've done it before. I know I can do it again. It's just that quilting mojo thingy you know? Some days you have it . . . others not so much.

Next came the thread in the perfect shade of green that my machine did not like. No problem, I had an older spool that was "close enough". Until I ran out. Still no problem, the local sewing shop sells that brand so hop in the car and rush out to get it before they close. Next day I'm quilting away and getting a little frustrated that it still isn't done when I just happen to notice that I'm almost out of thread again. And it's almost closing time for the store again. At this point I really didn't want to buy another spool for the little I had left so found another green that was "close enough". No one will even know.

Did I mention that I was planning to get this quilted in a day and be done with it by Friday?

So it's Monday afternoon, but the quilting is done . . . finally.  There are a few tension problems in one area but it's done. Wahoo!!!



All that's left is to cut the binding and sew it on. No biggie, no problem right? I'd already decided to stitch the binding down by machine instead of by hand which is my norm so the end was in sight.

This is where the cat took over. She insisted on taking a bath and nap on top of the quilt while I was attaching the binding. Every corner meant taking her on a little spin as I rotated the quilt around to sew down the next side. She didn't seem to mind at all as long as I left her alone. But at this point it was dinner time, the fam's hungry and well, since I'm stitching the binding down by machine the last part will go fast. I'll just do it tomorrow. . .

She's cute but a serious impediment to quilting.
Leave me alone, I'm trying to nap here!

So now it's Tuesday afternoon and the binding is attached. Just need to fold the binding to the back and machine stitch down. No biggie, no problem right? I'm just a few days past my personal goal. It's almost finished. Take it to my big table to fold the binding to the back and notice something strange. The binding is stitched to the back instead of the front. I can't fold it to the back when it's already on the back. How did I not notice that I was sewing the binding to the wrong side? This is where I really blame the cat. If she had been bathing on the front of the quilt I'm sure I would have noticed and taken more offense and shooed her away. But she was on the back so it didn't bug me so much and it obviously didn't occur to me that I was attaching the binding to the wrong side.

Now thankfully, just last week I had done a little binding research and read about the method where you actually sew your binding to the back, fold it to the front and then stitch down with an edge stitch (most of you probably already know about this). I gave this and another method a try but didn't love the results. I guess that's why hand stitching is my norm. Kind of like machine quilting. I need to practice more and be less perfectionist about it all.

But it's Tuesday late afternoon and I'm going to finish this d___ quilt one way or another so edge stitching from the front will have to do.

And you know what? It worked! And it looked just fine. The binding fabric really helped hide the stitches and while it took longer than I thought, it was way way less time than hand stitching. I just might try it again.

So what did I learn?

  • I need to loosen up on my perfectionist tendencies.
  • my free-motion skills aren't so bad after all and if I just keep quilting it will most certainly get better and better.  I'll still have to work up my free-motion mojo every time though.
  • the type of thread does matter when doing free-motion with my machine.
  • the color of thread doesn't matter quite as much on busy prints. I can't even find the place where the thread color changes now that it's done.
  • check my tension on the quilt back more often.
  • machine binding can look good. I think I'll try it again.
  • And most importantly, it is possible to sew while the cat naps on top of your quilt.

It's finally done and ready to hang for this fall. I'll post about it and my other sunflower quilts next week when I put them up with my fall dish collection.

One less UFO . . . not telling how many more I have to go
. . . just keep finishing, just keep finishing.

Now if only my family would notice it's finally finished instead of just a top.   : )