I am really motivated to get this quilt done. The blue marker that I used to mark the flower motifs is making me nervous. I used a cold-water soluble marker designed specifically for marking quilt motifs, but I don't want to let the quilt sit forever before soaking it in cold water to remove the ink. I made the binding last night from a leftover piece of one of the fabrics and started pinning it on to make sure I had enough (can you see the blue ink?):
I'll get it attached today and then I can spend the next couple of nights sitting downstairs with the husband watching car repair videos on YouTube while I sew it down. He is a big fan of the South Main Auto videos. They are pretty entertaining.
I learned some things with this project:
- Quilting those flower motifs in the small boxes, while attractive, results in a whole lot of thread ends that need to be buried. I spent about three hours doing that yesterday afternoon. It reminds me a lot of darning in ends on a sweater project. Normally, I have a pretty high tolerance for that kind of stuff, but not this week. I should have buried them as I went.
- In hindsight, I should have skipped the motifs altogether. I need to remember to keep it simple. Straight line quilting on the entire quilt would have been a better choice. Oh well, live and learn. It's part of the process. Now I have worked with motifs and stencils and they have been added to the toolbox.
- I am sooooo much better at free motion curvy stuff than anything else. I would say that the majority of the flowers look really nice. There are a couple that look like I was drunk when I quilted them, but not many. The outlines of the small squares, on the other hand, are not up to my standards. Straight lines with a free motion foot are harder than you think.
I also need to experiment more with some of the variables on my sewing machine:
- I used a 90/14 quilting needle on this quilt. It worked fine with the 40wt Signature thread. However, I think I am going to try a topstitching needle next time. I am pretty impressed with those Schmetz Chrome needles. I ordered a package of the 80/12 chrome Microtex needles for piecing. I put one in Vittorio a couple of weeks ago and I have yet to change it. Normally, I can tell when a needle needs to be changed because it starts making a thunking noise as it enters the fabric, as one would expect a dull needle to do. I am way past the time when I would normally have to change a needle and that Chrome needle is still going strong. I have some more on order. So far, I have not seen them in any stores so I am ordering them from Amazon. I will try both the Chrome quilting and Chrome topstitching needles and see which I like better for quilting. There is no consensus in the quilting community on which needle to use for quilting. Some people swear by the toptitching needles. Some people will only use the quilting needles. And some people, like Leah Day—bless her—use the same 80/12 universal needle for piecing and quilting.
- I hate plastic bobbins. I am so used to sewing on vintage machines with high-quality metal bobbins that the plastic ones are driving me nuts. There is some conventional wisdom out there that says one should only use plastic bobbins in plastic bobbin cases and metal bobbins in metal bobbin cases. Vittorio tolerates plastic bobbins (sometimes I use them when I am trying to use up thread already wound) but they make a funny noise. I had a few places on this quilt where I was having a lot of trouble with thread breaking and skipped stitches, and I finally narrowed it down to the bobbin. As it got down to the last bit of thread, it would start bouncing around in the bobbin case and jerking the bobbin thread. A Bobbin Genie helped with that some. I suspect I may have to get Janome-specific plastic bobbins and keep them separate from my other plastic class 15 bobbins. I don't know. I have used metal bobbins before in this machine even though I know they are not recommended. The machine did not seem to mind.
- I bought the convertible free motion quilting foot for that machine and it works pretty well, but I am going to try the stock embroidery/quilting foot that came with the machine. I want to see exactly what the difference is between the two.
Also, I finally found some quilt clips that are flexible enough to hold the rolled-up quilt while I am quilting it. I tried some plastic ones that were so hard and inflexible that I could not get them around the rolled-up quilt. The quilt store in town had these Dritz longarm quilt clips—a packed of 6 metal ones—and they work perfectly. Having the extra table space to hold the quilt helps, but I don't like to have the quilt flopping around. I even used these when I was burying all those thread ends yesterday so that I could keep the completed sections out of the way.
In any case, this project is almost done. This quilt will get used despite its flaws. I am glad I did it and I still like the rather bizarre color combination.