Friday, January 25, 2013

Ditching is so boring!

Last night I worked on the baby quilt with the nature scenes that I mentioned a few days ago. All was going well until... Let's just say, I can tell you what I WON'T do again! I tend to be a "quilt and wash later" quilter as I love that antique look of the shrinkage after quilting. I've heard pros and cons for both pre-wash and don't pre-wash from many people for years, whether in regards to sewing or quilting. In this particular case I taught myself a valuable lesson in why I should pre-wash my fabrics, at least when I'm going to include machine embroidery in any project.
My lessons learned are: IF I plan to use machine embroidery in a quilt top,
  • pre-wash all fabrics
  • starch or Best Press the piece(s) to be embroidered before marking to help keep it from shrinking up from the embroidery process, good stabilization or not
  • make appropriate markings on the fabric with water-soluble pens 
  • complete the embroidery
  • wet down with water to remove the markings. 
Because I didn't do these things--or at least not in this order, when I got up this morning and went to my sewing room to see how the sky strip looked dry, the piece had shrunk up nearly an inch! Yikes! Add a few other colorful words here!!! And it all looked so good on the design board as I got the strips cut and sewn together.

The machine embroidery part, itself, took hours of meticulous marking and hooping. I first worked in CustomWorks, part of the Designer's Gallery embroidery software suite, to lay out the lettering and split the long lines into double hoopings and saved all of the files onto my flash drive to plug into my Brother Quattro 6000D. I had all three lines marked across with cross-hatch vertical lines marked where each piece would center to assure proper placement and alignment.

I think I started about 6pm on the whole project and didn't complete the embroidery part until about 1:30 am. It looked great once it was done and put up on the design board with the other pieces. Because I had pressing to do for seams and I didn't want the heat to make those guides permanent, I had to remove the lines before proceeding to add the strip to the others. After checking it on the design board, I took it down to spritz it to remove the guides I'd drawn on. They all came off okay, but the end result of the strip was too narrow now. Well crud!

To rectify the situation, today I decided to remedy things by washing all of the remaining fabric (borders & backing) and the pieces already assembled so that everything would be preshrunk. Wrong! Well crud again! This time the gold abstract pheasant wing fabric I had used as narrow borders between the nature strips shrank significantly more than the other pieces. And they were all from the same line and purchased together. So now I'm rethinking the whole thing. Rather than rip out all those lines of stitching and recut the pieces down to match the smallest piece, I decided to play and like the dark fabric I was going to border it with better between the blocks. So, I'm just going to cut the strips apart and save those gold strips for some future project and insert the brown instead. That's tomorrow's project.  

Today I set the baby quilt aside while the fabric got washed and instead took on doing all of the ditch work on a friend's quilt. She brought it to me before Christmas knowing I wouldn't get to it until after the first of the year. Well, it's past time to dive in. It's queen size and quite beautiful; however, not being as meticulous as I am about her piecing, what direction seams are pressed and whether they're consistent across the quilt, it gave me a few headaches, but I just rolled with it. I put the walking foot on my little Brother Runway Innovis 80 with a nice cream Aurifil 50 in the bottom and YLI nylon Wonder Invisible Thread in the top, I kept stitching for what felt like forever!
So, 6 hours later (about 5 actual stitching with an hour of regular stretch breaks while switching laundry) all of the sashings are stabilized edge-to-edge and it is now ready for the fun part--the free motion quilting! I've selected an 11" stencil that will nicely fill the 12" blocks without overflowing into the sashings, while securing all of the piecing without having to ditch every seam in the individual blocks. I'll be using the creamy Aurifil 50 on top as well for the FMQ when I get started. I spread the quilt out on my bed to see how it looks and it's good to go to the next stage. This is the first quilt I've done for someone else, so I'm a little nervous.

For tonight I'm calling it a great day! Helped my daughter this morning (still recovering from her wisdom teeth extractions), played with my grandson, and still got in a bunch of quilting! Tomorrow a couple of quilting buddies are coming over for the day to have another mini sew-in. We'll see what I can accomplish after some good sleep tonight.

More snippets from the sewing room soon...



  1. I'm sure the baby quilt will turn out fine but I hate days like you've had. It's hard to stay motivated to finish a project when so many things don't work out. Good luck getting it done! ~Jeanne

    1. Thanks Jeanne. You know, I think it was one of those "God thing" that I love so much. Surprisingly it was irritating, but not infuriating, if you know what I mean. And once I put the brown strips up on the design board and they really set off those primary elements, I knew that's what it needed to make it pop. I just had to wait to get the message in a round-about way.

      It's a new day and the project is waiting for me!