Tuesday, 25 March 2014

All quiet now the feed-dogs are down

I mentioned in my last post that I'm busy quilting.  It's not where I feel my real home is (I miss you, dressmaking), but I'm making good on past investments.

Behold the plan I drew on the computer when I was purchasing the fabric way back in 2008/09:

Each of the heart/nine squares is 6" x 6".  I'd seen the design made on an site selling Amish quilts.  Since I <3 arithmetic, there seems no point to purchase a quilt pattern when you can calculate the fabric amounts yourself.  My parents bought the coloured fabric for my birthday that year.

I used a template cut from an ice-cream carton to trace 144 freezer-paper hearts, ironed them to the coloured fabric and laboriously hand-stitched them invisibly to the cream squares.

Past Alice did all the machine patchwork and made the quilt sandwich.  Many hours were spent listening to vinyl and hand-basting it all together on my parents' floor.  Many more hours were spent quilting in-the-ditch between all the large 6" squares, and diagonally over the smaller squares.  Even longer was spent watching television while burying all the cut thread ends into the quilt layers.

When I picked it back up this year (several house-moves later), I have this:

Sorry for the poor flash-photography indoors at night
All that remains to do (ha ha) is the quilting on the heart squares, the border quilting, then finally binding the beast.  I decided to do free-motion "wiggles" over the hearts, but I'm new to machine quilting.  However, I'm in position of a darning foot, not enough quilting needles, and I've dropped my machine feed dogs.  This makes the machine much quieter*.  I've done quite a few squares now, but sadly my free-hand pattern is bigger and sparser at one end of the quilt than the other: gah!  I'm really upset, and it's almost impossible to unpick.  Still, at least this side will be the other side of the bed from the doorway of our room.

So.  Not many blog posts from me, and not much exciting sewing until I've finished my machine quilting.  Ah well.

* My machine needs a service after its first 12 years of faithful stitchery.  However, I'm not forking out £70 at my local shop for this, so I'll be doing it myself on the dining room table when the quilt is finished.  If you're lucky, I'll post some exciting photos of the guts of my Janome.  What's the worst that could happen?!


  1. Hi Alice! Think the quilt looks great and well done with the quilting! Microfibres needles are good for Fmq if you can track them down! Good luck with the service - my repair man used to Hoover the machines when he serviced them so I've always done the same when I clean my machine.

  2. Hi again! Should read microtex needles. ( I blame predictive text!) they're super pointy song go so easily through all the layers.

    1. Thanks for the top tip, Annie! When I run out of my current stash I'll have a look. What size would you normally go for? I'm on 80s at the moment, I think, because the thinner ones just bent and skipped stitches after about 5 minutes of use. (I only have a darning foot.)
      I keep thinking of the amazing star free-motion quilting you did on Lizzie's quilt! I can only aspire to that neatness at the moment...

  3. Hi Alice,

    Go a bit thicker for FMQ - the books always recommend a 90. I sometines use a jeans needle 80 or 90. The extra sharp points help the needle penetrate the layers.

    Lizzie's quilt was my first attempt at FMQ done with a darning foot. I got much better towards the end!

    1. Thanks so much for these tips (pun not intentional...) I tried 80s and 90s and they're much better. However, sadly I've had to put the quilt away for a bit while I calm down: I can't get my machine to stop skipping stitches since I oiled it, even though it's fine when I'm not FMQ. I'm having a dressmaking break and going back to it refreshed (I hope). Boo hoo! I was on a roll... ahh well. Hope the world of quilting is better for you! :-)