November 11, 2015

Drunkard's Path QAL; The Free Motion Quilting Begins

For those of you who know me or read my posts regularly, you know free motion quilting is not my favorite thing. I'd rather start a whole new project than quilt the most recent top. But with my drunkard's path quilt I am determined to get it finished by the end of November so I can use it this Christmas. I have 20 19 days!  For anyone just stopping by for the first time, you can find all the previous Drunkard's Path QAL posts here or see the tab at the top of my blog.

Making a block a month worked nicely. Adding borders last month worked well. Now there's nothing left but quilting. I managed to pin baste last week after finding numerous other things that had to be done. Translation . . . PROcrastination. The only good thing is that I get lots of other things done when I'm procrastinating.

The biggest question is how to quilt it?  For this, I looked through a few books for some ideas. Another form of procrastination perhaps?

Next I sketched ideas on paper at full size.

For my Kaffe mini quilt made with the same block design, I used a petal motif in the flowers (purple) and a vein in the leaves (green). Then I echo quilted the background areas.

I decided a variation of this would be good for the Christmas quilt but the petals would need to be more poinsettia like. I used tissue paper over the printout of the quit to see how it might look.

Once I had the basic idea, I turned to the dry erase board to practice a few times and get the general flow down. I find a dry erase board quite handy for practicing at full size. After a few times drawing it on the dry erase, I moved on to actually sewing it a few times on a practice quilt sandwich.

Another option for full size practicing is to place a piece of clear plastic over the quilt and use a dry erase marker to draw your design in the spaces. I highly recommend putting tape all around the edge of the plastic first though so you don't accidentally draw off the edge onto your quilt.

I've created a Free Motion Quilting Guide that includes the outline of the petal shape on one page and the sketch of my quilting motif on the second page for you to play with. Download it here.

Yesterday I quilted all the red petals. Next will be the green leaves. I may do the same leafy vein used for the mini or perhaps I'll just stick with the petal design like I used in the red. Poinsettia flowers and the leaves have the same shape so this seems somewhat appropriate. With such busy fabric it hardly shows anyway but I still want the motif to make sense for the design.

The biggest question will be what to do in the little background areas and along the border.
Any ideas? I wasn't thrilled with the echo look. I think something simple that flattens the areas a bit but is not too dense. There are so many little spots and a lot of stopping and starting without any easy connection from one area to the next. Originally I was going to stitch in the ditch between the blocks to anchor the diamond areas down. Then I realized this wasn't the best choice since I pressed those seams open. So I skipped that part and moved right into quilting the petals figuring something would become more obvious when the time came.

Now that I have finally started, it's not nearly as bad as I usually think it will be and the finish is in sight. So far my machine is cooperating. I have an old Bernina with a very small arm space so even a quilt this size isn't easy to push and shove through. Sometimes I roll the excess. Sometimes I bunch it up. Either way, there's not a lot of room to maneuver.

How about you, do you have Christmas projects waiting completion?
Do you procrastinate when it comes to free motion quilting? If so, why?
Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.