Sea Glass #14: Time for a new needle

… and new fingers and a new template.

It’s done. The hand quilting on Sea Glass is complete. I’m actually quite shocked at how quickly it went, but I suppose each time I do hand quilt a large project I’ve learned from the previous ones, and I instinctively know how to make a quilter’s knot and bury the end of the thread, and how much thread to load on the needle and what length it’ll cover, and so on. It helps also to have a large space to lay the quilt out on and be able to leave it undisturbed (hello again, dining table!).

I’ve used a nice thick cotton batting so there’s a good puffy loft to the quilt. One thing I’ve learned and will pass on to you to save you grief: do not use a white-on-white print for your backing. Sure, it looks lovely, but the over-printing is thicker than average to make it visible, and the thickness of the ink is hard to push the needle through. I worked that one out about 10 minutes into the quilting process…

The paper template was easy to make once I’d worked out that making the slots by poking through with the blade of small sharp scissors instead of laboriously cutting them with a scalpel was infinitely quicker. It was easy to use; I just marked through the holes with a white ceramic mechanical pencil designed for quilters, and literally joined the dots. The marker rubs off with an eraser or washes out, as does the thin lead pencil marks I used on the lighter fabrics. The template’s completely stuffed now, as is my needle. It’s a big old heavy quilt, there’s a lot of fine weave batiks, for which I like a fine quilting needle, so a bit of bending was almost inevitable.

Finally, I’ve bought my binding fabric. Strictly between us, I’ve bought a bit more than I really need, because I like the fabric so much… It’s another batik, very pretty shades of amethyst, and I think it’ll look lovely edging that greeny-tealy-bluey border fabric. So, tomorrow’s trim out day, followed by cutting and joining the binding strip, and depending on my time and energy, perhaps even machine stitching the binding on the front face. Hand stitching down the binding on the back will definitely have to wait till my hands have had a rest.

Now, time for a little glass of something to celebrate.

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Sea Glass #10: central square complete

This is more fun than I thought it would be!

Hand quilting can be physically demanding. It can make wreckage of your fingers, give you a backache from hunching over your work, and a slight sense of “will this never end?” if you’re working on a really big quilt.

But somehow, I’m managing to avoid most of those problems. Not the finger wreckage of course, that’s an occupational hazard (although my calluses are developing nicely), but I find to my slight amazement that I’m really enjoying hand quilting this rather large piece of work. All 6,400 square inches of it….

So, anyway, I’ve got the central flower basket medallion and Border 1 done. Now I have to address Border 2, which consists of large 16 inch pieced squares with a windmill at the centre of each.  I’m thinking of maybe something that’ll create a swirl effect around the windmills, with gentle curves, to create a contrast to the formal geometric woven design used for Border 1. Or it could be something completely different. I need to spend some more time squinting at it before I decide.

Something I need to consider with whatever design I come up with is that I don’t want to keep turning the quilt to stitch the design fully; it needs to be something that can be stitched in just a couple of directions so I don’t need to do gymnastics across the table top. It’s not a question of compromising the design, just being a bit clever about how it’s executed. Unless it turns into a freehand design, I’ll probably make another paper template to make marking up the quilt top easier.

It’s a good job the days are getting longer and summer is coming. I need all the good daylight I can get 🙂