I had one of those weekends … you know the kind … where you welcome Monday because it means the weekend is over.
It’s a Pieced Back
This is where I am with my project this morning but it was extremely frustrating to get to this point.
I’ve been sewing like crazy for the last several weeks. I had two projects that needed to be done by this coming Thursday, when we will be filming for Quilters Newsletter TV: the Quilters’ Community. One of the projects has been done since last weekend but the other is a bed-size quilt that still needed to be quilted. When I was at work on Friday, I told everyone my weekend plans were to quilt it.
I can’t show you the front of the quilt right now but I will show it to you later. For today, I’m going to talk about the back of the quilt. I love to make pieced backs.
There are several reasons.
- They look more interesting than a plain back.
- They use up scraps – and goodness knows I have plenty of those.
- They are a fun place to experiment with improvisational piecing. The fronts of my quilts tend to be traditional; the backs are more “whatever happens is okay with me.”
I like the back of my quilts to be from the same color family as the front is. This quilt top is blue, green and purple.
My first step is to go though my PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) to see if there is anything I can incorporate with the pieced back. This time I found what was going to be a tablecloth with fused floral applique (blue, green and purple) on a white background. I used that with some navy blue batik and a black-and-white floral print to make the back of my quilt.
When I got home on Friday the quilt was pin basted and ready to quilt. I started with a quilting design that was embroidered. I stitched two of the designs successfully and then on the third, my machine started skipping stitches. I did all the troubleshooting things I usually do. I rethreaded the top thread. That didn’t help. I took the bobbin out and put it in again. No, that wasn’t it either. I changed the needle (twice) and it was still skipping stitches. I gave up at that point, decided my machine needed to go to the shop and went to bed.
See the pretty applique I wanted to use.
Saturday morning, bright and early, I got out another machine, wound a few bobbins, threaded the machine and started stitching. I have not sewn on this machine since I got it back from my service tech for its semi-annual clean-and-check. My tech is a magician (thank you, Morgan) so when I started quilting and the machine was skipping stitches; I knew it wasn’t the machine. I rethreaded, took the bobbin out and put it back in, I changed the needle. It was still skipping stitches. I have to have this quilt done this week so throwing my hands up in frustration and pitching the quilt in the corner of the sewing room was not an option. I looked and most of the time, the places the stitches weren’t forming correctly were where the machine was trying to stitch over a part of the applique on the back.
I decided my only choice was to put a new back on the quilt. Yes, a new back. That meant I had to unstitch the two good embroidered designs and the circular quilting that I’d begun. I had to unbaste the quilt. I was basically beginning again from the place where I had a completed quilt top. There was a fair amount lot of grumbling, whining and complaining during this part of the process.
I got the stitching out and the quilt unpinned by 1:00, then I took the afternoon off to visit with one of our sons and our youngest granddaughter.
When they left, I spent the rest of Saturday evening redoing the pieced back. I cut the original back right down the middle and removed the section with applique. I pieced together a few more pieces of the navy blue batik and the black-and-white floral print and put it in the center of the back where I’d removed the applique. It wasn’t nearly as pretty as it had been but it will work for a back.
Sunday morning found me out in the garage basting my quilt again. Hubby is a gem. He swept the garage, put out the tables and helped me get the layers smooth and straight, taped in place and ready to pin. At 8:30, I was ready to begin quilting again.
The center section in this photo with the wide piece of navy blue batik at the bottom is the section that I replaced. You can see the plain white of the unadorned tablecloth fabric on both sides of it. I added the 3” wide band of black-and-white floral print fabric on the right hand side to break up the large amount of plain white fabric.
The Back of the Quilt with Pin Basting Done
Back in the house, I started quilting again. Guess what? My machine was still skipping stitches!!! I changed thread from a 30-weight cotton to a 40-weight polyester and just like that, it was all better. I never have trouble with that particular brand of thread and I use 30-weight cotton all the time so I’m not sure what the deal was. I wonder if there was something funky about the humidity or something that was causing my difficulty. But anyway, I spent the day quilting and I am nearly done.
The quilting design I used is not at all what I intended but it is one that goes fairly quickly. It is a feed-dog-driven stitch and one continuous spiral so there aren’t a lot of thread tails to bury. I start with a pattern drawn on the quilt or on a piece of paper for the first three or four inches of stitching so I can get a nicely rounded beginning for my spiral. I stitch going clockwise so that each round there gets to be less bulk to the right of the needle. I use the width of the presser foot as a guide for spacing and I set my needle position to the far right.
The first part of the design is not easy, I stitch an inch or two and then stop and turn the quilt and stitch another inch or two. But as you get farther and farther from the center and the curve is less pronounced, it gets easier and easier. If you haven’t tried quilting one of these fun spirals, go for it. They are very forgiving. If you go a little crooked, it’s not objectionable in the end result.
I’ll go home tonight and finish the last little bit of quilting and put on the label and the binding and it will be done, in plenty of time for my filming on Thursday. Whew!
I do my binding by machine, and if you’d like to learn more about machine binding, we offer a web seminar by Jenny Kae Quilts called Machine Quilt Binding Made Easy. It gives great instructions and hints if you are new to machine binding your quilt. The cost is $19.99 and it’s available when you are, at your convenience.
Now I’m off to clear the Monday morning accumulation of paperwork off of my desk. Happy quilting to you!
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