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Friday, June 28, 2013

Grandma's Quilt - Basting, Prep and a Long Story

When I made my first quilt 10-ish years ago I was dealing with delicate, antique materials that had been un-gently stored for decades. I was so careful and meticulous about the whole process I nearly scared myself out of ever trying again. Luckily, most of the work had been done by my great-grandmother so the classes I took and the last bit of finishing work, carefully supervised by my mother, left little room for disaster.

Since then I've made a few more quilts, nearly all of them plain patchwork squares either 5x5 or 6x6 with some sort of border. Four were made from denim and polar fleece so my machine did most of the hard work and there was little room for embellishment.  The last two were for my boys and were made from recycled/upcycled baby blankets.

I was happy with all of them and enjoyed the learned process very much. The last two left me with a desire to learn more. When I took my course and worked on my great-grandmother's quilt most of the basting had been done by hand. The ladies at the quilt store introduced me to 505 spray adhesive and it worked perfectly in keeping the last bits in place so I could finish the quilt.

With the denim quilts I did all my basting with 505 and the only quilting I did was some basic stitch-in-the-ditch to keep everything together. There was a bit of puckering but not so much that you'd notice. My quilting never really got close enough for you to really notice. When I did the baby blanket quilts I tried some diagonal lines and closer stitching and I have a few more puckers and even a few folds I sewed right in. Again, not so bad that the quilts were ruined, and certainly noting that would bother my boys, but I knew it could be better.

Around that time I started reading Amy Smart's Diary of a Quilter and not only was I massively impressed and inspired, I also heard about Craftsy  for the first time (now it seems to be everywhere on my radar so I'm not sure how I missed it!)

They had a sale for Mother's Day:

and I think I signed up for four classes. I was so excited by the idea that I could take a class without needing a babysitter or gas money I may have gotten a little carried away. The nearest quilt store for me is an hour away so classes and even shopping are a bit ...complicated.

The class I was most excited about was Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting a Sampler:
I have always wanted to learn more about free motion. It's been my first experience with Craftsy so I have no point of reference, but this class was amazing! I learned way more about prepping and basting a quilt than I had figured out on my own and I was eager to try what I had learned.  The quilt top for Grandma's quilt was all ready to go so I took my notes and my ipad and got started!
Being the sort of student who always followed the syllubus, bought, begged or borrowed all supplies and extra materials and who followed every direction to the letter, craftsy may be a little dangerous for my wallet. Leah had many suggestions for supplies that would make your life easier. Luckily, quilting supplies are a little far to come by so I had to restrain myself. However, as soon as I heard about Pinmoors I knew I wanted to try them. I had watched dozens of videos  and read many tutorials on basting and already knew that 505 wasn't the perfect solution I hoped it would be. But the idea of using safety pins when I wanted to free motion quilt sounded too complicated. Then I found out how expensive pinmoors are :( No matter how much I am crushing on Leah and all her marvelous skills I couldn't quite bring myself to spend $40.00 plus shipping on 100 little rubber bits. There had to be a DIY version out there!
Of course there were many and this is the one that I decided to try:

There was something about buying $5.00 of quilting supplies at Home Depot that hugely entertained me. Especially when I couldn't FIND the backer rod in the caulking aisle and watched the sales guy squirm as he finally tracked them down in the painting aisle (11 rows away!)
 The logic of Home Depot is fascinating. 

The boys had a BLAST cutting these up for me and look how many they got! So satisfying. 

Then I got to work laying out the fabric....
My little helper :)
"so pretty Mommy, I make it pretty"

I refuse to count these but this took me two hours. And I think the is the largest quilt I can make. There is almost no more dining room floor left. Though it is very clean :) I do love that about basting a quilt!

Isn't this cool? I was immensely pleased with how proper and professional and Leah-like it looked. I was SO psyched to start free motion quilting. 

I managed one line of stitching in the the ditch and my machine got hungry. It started to eat my quilt. I panicked and took it out. I checked everything. Re-read the manual. Tried again and made an even bigger mess. 

Two weeks til Grandma's birthday and I had a problem. 

And the rest is a story (also long) for another day .... ;) 

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