Hand quilting and a little fabric shopping

Working on a project design to share later in the year as part of the Dimensional Flowers BOM, I felt inspired to start working on a larger project for myself. I know, I should be working on the quilt I started a couple of weeks ago (here), but I’m still not happy with it and have lost some of my motivation. (I’m promising I will finish it next weekend!)

With all the wonderful sewing machines on the market, I don’t know what percentage of quilt makers these days actually hand quilt any more. That’s how I started, and admittedly now do more and more machine quilting because it allows me to finish a project faster.

Working with dimensional projects requires quilting the base of the quilt before the dimensional elements are added. Now, it certainly would have been faster to do machine quilt this, but this week I really felt a need to do some hand quilting. And I have been reminded of why this is often the most enjoyable part of the process for me. When I hand quilt, it’s like I force myself to slow down, breathe, and center myself. I find it to be such a relaxing, spiritual exercise – in a way, I could even say my form of prayer.

On this particular piece, I decided on a simple grid for the center, and a floral/leaf motif for the borders. Before making my quilt sandwich and placing it in the hoop, I marked my top with placement guides for the dimensional flowers that will be added later. For my grid, I prefer using masking tape, instead of marking the top.

I quilt along the edge of the masking tape, then add another strip of tape and continue to quilt down that edge. I like this method because it is quick and I do not have to worry about marking (or about erasing lines later).

Unlike most hand quilters, I don’t use a quilting thimble. Among many other things, my brother is an occupational therapist – he once caught me quilting with a quilting thimble and exclaimed in horror, telling me it puts a terrible strain on the tendons, with a lot of potential for doing serious harm to one’s hand and wrist. He said if this is the way we quilt, it’s no wonder quilters suffer from carpel tunnel syndrome. So I adjusted the position of my hand and now quilt with a regular metal thimble.

Since I use small betweens (11 or 12), I started cutting off the tips of rubber gloves for my two fingers, to help pull the needle through. Works like a charm!

Last year I purchased an Aunt Becky finger protector, but had hardly used it. So I figured this was the chance to really try and get used to it. As with everything new, there is a learning curve, but now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I must say I am really happy with it. I have a small enough quilting stitch, but have found this protector really does help to ensure uniformity. And no more pricking of my finger under the project. I dare say this might very well become a favorite tool.

It’s nice taking this time on the weekend for a nice slow pace and some enjoyable sewing.

Jono (son #1) surprised me last night by coming home – this time of year involves a lot of traveling for him, and I hadn’t expected him for another week. He showed up just as I was deciding if I should rummage for some dinner in the freezer or settle for a boiled egg. He took me out for Italian instead. Just wonderful. And this morning he decided to take me fabric shopping! Not too much… just a few meters for some new sheets (the purple, for him), some backing fabric and some background fabric for the new quilt I hope to (finally) make myself soon. The one I sleep on is sadly starting to fall apart.

Also for me, and so much more fun, some more lovely organza. I’ve got some ideas and want to play a little with transparency… now aren’t these colors just lovely?

After a leisurely lunch out, I returned to my quilting project and some more quiet time. Which was interrupted briefly for my “Jamie fix” when she tuned in with her latest news about school and her new classes.

So far this weekend is turning out really nice. Have I already mentioned how much I like having adult children? (-:

This entry was posted in Machines, Supplies, & Notions, Sewing/Quilting, Yummy fabrics. |Comments closed