I don’t know if I told this before, but I tend to be a traditional quilter. Maybe there is a natural progression of quilting–starting with traditional blocks and layouts, mastering those, and then moving on to more improvisational design. Pablo Picasso said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child.” In any event, when I started quilting I became thrilled with learning the names of traditional blocks and decided I wanted to make a Double Wedding Ring (DWR) quilt, a Dresden Plate, a Grandmother’s Fan, and a Baltimore Album. I still want to make all of the traditional quilts, but I also spend more time designing my own quilts and designing quilts for others. I’m just well-rounded like that.
In early 2016, I saw a Judi Niemeyer pattern called “Flowers for My Wedding Ring.” I found it with a purple/lavender background and I knew that my daughter-in-law would love it, so I set out to make one. It was intended to be a Christmas present for 2016. Well, of course it took me longer to make than I expected. I finally finished it in February of 2017, just in time to take it to Houston and deliver it in person to my son and daughter-in-law.
I learned a number of things along the way. I did learn how to use Judi Niemeyer’s paper piecing instructions, and I have to say that the curved piecing went quite well. Next, I had to figure out how to lay out the appliquè flowers in a pleasing way. I did not have a surface in my house that was big enough to lay out the whole quilt. So, my husband came to my rescue and bought six folding banquet tables that we set up in the garage. I laid out all of the appliquè flowers and vines, and then went around the tables with my iron and my Steady Betty (ironing surface) to get the appliquè fused to the quilt top.
And here is where things really bogged down. Appliquè on a whole quilt top is not easy. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is quilting a king-sized quilt on a Singer 9960 (done that), sewing down appliquè was about a 6. I could never have imagined the time it would take to do all of that appliquè, even by machine. Not to mention that my poor Singer went kaput, and I had to (had to, I tell you) buy a new sewing machine with a nice automatic pivot feature for the presser foot. I bought a Baby Lock Soprano. Then, my poor arms and shoulders began to hurt because, although I have a beautiful custom modified table for my Juki straight stitch machine, the Baby Lock did not fit, so I was using an old student desk. The leg space was cramped, and the desk was too high. So I got tired and moved on to other projects. But I did set a goal of buying a table for my Baby Lock, which will be the subject of a later post.
Another thing I learned along the way is to pre-soak teal batik fabric. Fortunately, I learned this lesson NOT the hard way. I learned it in a class, before I started quilting the DWR, and I must have soaked that quilt back for a month. But finally, it quit bleeding.
For the quilting, I decided on a feather pattern that I would do as free motion with a bit of marking. As I came to the borders, I remembered reading a number of blog posts by longarm quilters along the lines of “what to do if your client gives you a quilt with wonky borders.” The answers range from (1) charge your client to fix it; (2) offer your client the option to fix it and bring it back to you for quilting; (3) tell your client that the border is wonky and if you quilt it there will be tucks.
Okay, none of these blogs talked about what to do if the client is YOU! Seriously people, if I knew how to make the borders better I would have done it that way. This was the first mitered border I ever did. Also, here’s a clue about doing appliquè on a whole quilt: it might be a good idea to stay stitch the edge of the quilt because you are going to be tugging and pulling that baby for several months. I did not do that, but next time I will.
So I said to myself, I said “Listen Miss Smarty Pants Longarm Quilter, if I knew how to make the borders better I would have done it that way the first time. So you’re just going to have to deal with this quilt the way that it is.” And so I did. And I tried the starch but I didn’t think it worked wonders. And I quilted some tucks into the border. And all in all, I think it looks okay. And my daughter-in-law and son liked it. And if they don’t’ read this blog they might never know there is a mistake in their quilt.