ST&D 31: let the quilting commence!

It’s been a whole lot too long since I worked on this quilt.

Remember this? Yup, Signed, Tealed & Delivered, the Ovarian Cancer auction quilt that’s due in 2 months. Eeek!

I’ve swapped things around a little since this photo, but you get the idea…

Since my last post about this quilt, when I showed the final blocks from Margaret, I’ve neglected Signed, Tealed & Delivered dreadfully. Porch curtains, holidays, hand quilting Bonnard and the Hatbox quilt, needle-point, weather and holiday reports, you name it and I used it as an excuse. Time to buckle down and get on with it.

Behind the scenes, I did cut enough batting squares for the first (top) row. I also cut squares from what I had left of the airmail sticker fabric and the striped airmail-edging fabric I’m using for the binding. There was never going to be enough of these to do the whole back, so I also got some nice dark cream fabric with Xs and Os on it (representing hugs and kisses, of course!), as I thought this was a good ‘sign off’ for a quilt with a postal theme. I cut the remaining squares from this.

Then came the first dilemma. How was I going to combine these fabrics for the backing? When you use all one fabric, it’s just not an issue. I tried probably half a dozen layouts, and when you’re climbing up and down stepladders with a mouthful of pins and a handful of squares, that particular exercise gets old quickly. Finally, I made a central squared ‘O’, with airmail stickers at each corner and airmail stripe for the rest of the shape. Filling the centre and round the outside were squares of the XO cream. Enough already! It’s the back of the quilt, after all… It all took far too long, and next time I won’t torture myself with fabric choices, the back will be all the same 🙂

Then the quilting dilemma: I’d originally intended to quilt each block with an individual design, but looking at each block and assessing what that would entail in terms of designing, marking and quilting each one made me think again.

I realised that the postal theme was all about straight edges and angles: paper, envelopes, stamps and labels were all straight-edged, with angled envelope flaps. The postcard blocks were also angular. I wanted something texturally soft, to contrast with this.

So I’ve gone with parallel wavy line quilting, an all over design which softens the visual effect and gives a nice rippled hand feel. I’m alternating the direction in which it flows on each block. It has the extra benefit of being nice and quick to do, and requires no marking up, hallelujah!

I’d originally though of cross-hatching, but I didn’t like the way the lines would fight with the lines of some of the block designs. Plus, you know, lots of marking up…?

Recently I saw a Craftsy video called ‘Next Steps with your Walking Foot’ by Jaquie Gering on the subject of walking foot quilting. Most of it is stuff I already know and do, but I was interested in what she had to say about preparing your quilt or block before quilting. Historically, she hasn’t been a fan of spray basting, having some chemical sensitivities, but now she wears a respirator to do the spraying and likes the results. She said that starching as well as pressing the quilt top and backing and pressing her batting made all the difference in reducing wrinkles and puckers in the quilting process. Gasp! I thought that was total anathema, as it would crush the batting pile, but I gave her process a go. Well you know, she’s right. So long as you don’t bang the iron down heavily in one place, but glide it lightly and use extra steam, the batting’s fine. And the starching makes a huge difference – it’s a game changer. Doing the extra steps is a bit more of a faff, but you get an almost inhumanly perfect and flat quilt sandwich. I mean, look at this:

Smooth, flat and taut, with not a pin or stitch in sight.

So anyway, I’ve made a decent start, and got a production line going. As always with my QAYG quilts, I’m going to wait till they’re all quilted, and then measure them all to find the smallest one, which will determine the trimmed out size for all the blocks. Some blocks came in at exactly 12.5 inches and some with extra, so I’ll see what the quilting does to the smallest and work from there.

Oh, and I need more spray baste, cream thread and a cream fabric for sashing the back, but how much of the latter I don’t know. I seem to have lost my piece of paper with all the size calculations, drat it. Quilt math, my least favourite part of the exercise.

I feel better now that I’ve actually got some quilting done. The job has been cut down to a manageable size 🙂

49 thoughts on “ST&D 31: let the quilting commence!

  1. JJ Crafts says:

    I love the wavy lines you’re quilting. Definitely agree it softens it and is an excellent choice 🙂

  2. nettyg says:

    I always like a wavy line for quilting, easy, quick but looks a million. I read about pressing the batting a while back, and like you, thought ‘oh oh, quilt police alert’, but have found it works really well. You’ll have this done in no time now you’ve made a start 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you! I think these quilts we make for Ovarian Cancer to auction always turn out so well because all the contributors add so much love into the blocks they contribute.

  3. Kate Kate I LOVE this quilt❤️❤️❤️. It is even prettier than I imagined it would be. Thank you so much for uniting us all together. You are an angel!!

    • katechiconi says:

      We are a choir of angels together, making beautiful music with our work 🙂 I just need to keep going with the quilting and I should get it done in good time…

  4. kathyreeves says:

    The quilting looks like a postmark cancellation! It’s going quickly too, several blocks already done! You are a boss, Kate!

  5. Okay, I sort-of tried-to follow all that. Going to be amazing.

  6. tialys says:

    Love the wavy line quilting, quick and effective! I’m not so keen on the starching but I’ll definitely try the batting pressing trick next time. The creases never seems to drop out completely even when you open it way in advance and leave it flat.
    I know what you mean with time spent faffing about with the backing. I try to only do it if I’m short of backing fabric or if the back is to be a special feature. We live and (sometimes) we learn.

    • katechiconi says:

      The starching was just a quick squirt of the spray stuff, and it keeps things super-flat long enough to make a beautifully smooth and wrinkle free quilt sandwich. I’ve tried tumble-drying batting, which helps but doesn’t get rid of all the creases. What would be best of all is using one of those garment steamers, I reckon, with the batting hung up on a line. Now, if only I had a huge quilting studio with acres of extra space…!

  7. All those wavy lines look like your quilt has been franked – a perfect pattern!

  8. claire93 says:

    I’d forgotten how gorgeous this quilt was!

  9. nanacathy2 says:

    It is simply stunning.

  10. I hope this quilt fetches a huge sum for the Ovarian Cancer charity. It’s a stunner! Did you just eyeball your first wavy line and then follow with a rod in your foot? Super effective!!

    • katechiconi says:

      I freehand a wavy line down or across the centre of the block. I then eyeball all the subsequent lines, keeping approximately the same distance between the sewn line and the edge of the foot all the way across. If I think the line’s getting too flat or curvy, I deepen or flatten the curves as I go. No rod in the walking foot, as the slot in the plastic that takes it is damaged and it won’t hold still any more!

  11. Lynda says:

    I like Jaquie Gering. She’s so common sense in her design and her instruction. Using your walking foot does make the quilting easier to accomplish and it goes faster. You will be caught up in no time! 🙂
    On pressing batting. When I started quilting I pressed it because I imagined that everyone did it; all those wrinkles had to go! It isn’t really pressing is it? More like lots of steam and then gently smoothing it out with your hand? I have since met a lady that squashes her quilt sandwich absolutely flat… that’s a bit of overkill don’t you think? 😯

    • katechiconi says:

      I like her too, she has this great trick of giggling during her presentation. I do absolutely all my quilting with a walking foot, so I watched her tutorial to make sure I wasn’t missing any tricks. You’re right about pressing batting; it’s a glide over the surface, lots of extra steam and not actually putting the weight of the iron down on the batting. I’d never squash it flat, it’d make the batting stiff, I think, because you’d be mashing all the fluffiness out of it.

  12. Oh my goodness what a task Kate – I am in awe!
    I love the wavy lines and was thinking the same as Mrs Snail – perfect choice. Exciting! So looking forward to seeing the finished quilt – you are definitely an angel!!! 😉

  13. anne54 says:

    Oh yes, it looks wonderful, Kate. Well done to everyone ~ may it make a lot of money for ovarian cancer research. I agree that the wavy lines are perfect, and if they are easy for you to do, well……even more perfect!

    • katechiconi says:

      I hate the idea that I’m the sticking point because I can’t come up with a good idea. In a situation like that, break the blockage and go for simple!

  14. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    this one is sooooooooo beautifull !!!!LOVE it !!

  15. I love every square of this quilt! It’s already stunning and your quilting will enhance it so much more. Thanks for the info on the craftsy video. I’ll check it out.

  16. rutigt says:

    Oh boy (girl)!!!!! You are doing such a great work on that quilt! I love the way you decided to quilt every block. it´s looking so good!!!

  17. I think the wavy lines are perfect. They remind me of the postmarks with wavy lines.
    I iron my cotton batting, but I never use steam on the wool batting because it crushes the loft out of it. Thankfully, I learned that the hard way on a little bit of trapunto appliqué, which was easier to fix than a whole quilt.

    • katechiconi says:

      I don’t like putting the full weight of the iron down on the batting. I let it touch, and blast with steam and smooth with my hand, but I want to keep it fluffy. I must be honest, I’ve never used wool batting, probably because it would be insanely hot to work with here…

  18. […] designs teal quilts with a clever, tongue-in-cheek theme. My current favorite is Signed, Tealed and Delivered, a quilt featuring postage stamps, envelopes, letters, and notes, all cleverly sewn into quilting […]

  19. […] And here it is amongst the other blocks. […]

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