It was just two years ago that I started machine quilting, when I made my first jelly roll race quilt for Chantal’s 25th Birthday. It was time again to get back into the swing of trying to make a beautiful heirloom style quilt that would commemorate the latest event. Another February birthday inspired me to use purples and reds which were sort of an odd colour combination. I had a hand quilted appliquéd block which I wanted to use in the quilt and thought I would build on my colour combinations from that piece. So out came the stash and started pulling fabric together that matched as close as possible the colours in the pre quilted block. I decided not to use all the fabric I first selected concentrating on using solid fabrics only to accentuate the centre of the quilt.
I thought large blocks would work the best and to place the appliquéd block in the centre. I cut 8-1/2″ blocks from the fabric cutting more than what I actually needed. I selected a mauve fabric for the backing. I spent a bit of time trying to figure out a suitable block arrangement laying them out on my bed. Once I was satisfied with the arrangement I started the piecing. From the top, I sewed using 1/4″ seam allowance, the bottom of the second block of the forth row to the top of the second block of the fifth row. I then sewed these blocks to the centre appliquéd block. I did the same on the other side of the appliquéd block. I then sewed the bottom of the first block of the forth row to the top of the first block of the fifth row. After pressing, I sewed that row to the already pieced block two and three of row four and five. I did the same for the other side. Once I had these two middle rows completed, I pieced each of the remaining six rows. Once the rows were complete, then each were sewn into their place on he quilt top. To make sure each block was squared, I pinned the corners. If the blocks are pressed so that one fold is one way and the other fold is the other way, they sort of lock together.
This is a good opportunity to write on the proper way to press quilting pieces. First press the piece as sewn to set the stitches. Then open and either press from the underneath to the dark side, or press from the top to flatten. I like to first set the stitches and press the fabric from the wrong or back side and flip it over to see if it looks good and flat. If not, I press it again from the front (right or pretty) side. I press almost everything more than once. With small pieces you can get away with finger pressing but once all sewn together, it should be pressed with the iron. My iron and ironing board is set up on a different floor. I have on occasion brought up the iron and used it on a table top ironing board. But since sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your body, I take the trip to the other floor to do the pressing more frequently than not. I have the ironing board set level next to a bed. This gives me extra space for spreading out to iron large items.
Once I finished piecing the top, I laid it out to cut the batting and the backing as I did in my previous quilt. Spraying with fabric adhesive and pinning with safety pins. See details from Rainbow’s Quilt.
Once sprayed with adhesive and pinned, I started quilting it on the machine. Starting near the centre and mentally dividing the quilt in quarters to work my way through the piece. I make sure I have loads of bobbins ready, new needle, speed on medium and always using the drop down needle function. This quilt was the largest one I made so far and I had to loosely roll it up at times rather than bunching it, because I couldn’t quite keep it flat enough to quilt smoothly
It is important to leave an unfinished quilted area at the edges so that you can move the quilt around to get from one area to the other without having to start and stop and breaking the threads. Equally as important is to spread the quilt out as much as you can use tables to distribute the weight.
Once the machine quilting was finished, I could have folded down the backing over to the front and finished the binding my usual way. Instead, I thought the quilt needed some extra punch, so sat on it for a day and finally decided to use all the left over extra blocks to make a “piano key” border. I cut strips of 2.5″ x 3.5″ placing them on the table behind the machine and sewed them in order according to the placement. If I ran out of a colour, I just continued the process until I had enough for the border. I then sewed the border on the quilt by placing the “pretty” sides together and using 1/4″ seam allowance along the top side of the quilt and through all four layers. Once finished I pressed it open and flat. It was just enough to cover the remaining batting. I then cut the backing just enough to be able to fold it to the front and cover the border by approximately 1/4″.
I selected my favourite decorative stitch for the “binding” edge and added my “Three Hearts” into the quilt.
Several shots showing off the quilting.