Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Quilting a "Letters from home" quilt

A couple of months ago, I had the awesome opportunity to quilt one of my customer's "Letters from Home" quilt (pattern by Heather Givens/Crimson Tate).  Now, I have to preface this post by saying that I'm barely wetting my toes in the waters of custom quilting.  But I am super-duper proud of the quilting on this quilt.  I'm going to take you through the process.

I like Glide's thread for a little pop of sheen on a quilt.  Plus, it quilts like a DREAM.  I selected a few different thread colors for the quilting on this quilt.  Mainly, I changed thread colors to help them blend with the fabrics they were quilting on for a more subtle pop.  I used Quilter's Dream batting for this quilt, as I do with most of my client quilts.

Glide Threads selected
 Some people might have you believe that once the quilt was loaded and the threads picked out that the quilting just magically happened with a wave of their wand.  Here's my dirty little secret:  This quilt sat on my frame for a week.  An entire WEEK.  I had sketched out at least a dozen ideas for quilting, and each morning I would go out to my studio, ready to attack.  But then I would end up standing there, staring at the quilt top.  I changed my mind so many times, and then decided on the most difficult (or most time consuming) design I had drawn up.

Beginning to mark and quilt the borders
So I broke out my water soluble marking pen and trusty ruler and started marking some guidelines for the quilting.  I did some straight line quilting on the borders after marking them, and then marked the rest of the quilt as I went.  Each pass on the longarm took me about an hour to mark with the ruler and pen.

More markings, filled in with some quilting
The thing about the design being quilted, is that it isn't complicated.  It's just a bunch of straight lines and loops, but the way they are put together really leaves you with a huge impact.  

I have a black light on my longarm and seriously think it is SO cool.  This shows the texture a little better.


I really wanted to focus on the texture on this quilt, and so I chose to stitch in the ditch around the envelopes and the focal fabrics so they would pop out more.  My client selected Japanese import fabrics from Bunny Designs (out of Austin, TX), with a backing out of an adorable cupcake pattern (see the first photo in the post).  The attention to detail and her impeccable piecing made this quilt one of my all time favorites to quilt.  The quilt pattern by Crimson Tate is SO cute, and an ingenious way to showcase focal fabrics.

So, aside from me just talking about how much I loved this quilt, my other point is that sometimes it isn't second nature to just come up with quilting designs out of thin air.  And it's okay if the quilt has to sit on your frame for a week while you change your mind a hundred times about the quilting design (as long as your client has allowed you to do so!).  And while it is my favorite thing ever for a client to say--I want custom quilting, and the design is up to you--it can also be the most challenging (and rewarding) part of my job.  I think this is a great way to grow your skill set and think about how many different ways there are to quilt a quilt.  (Quilt construction and fabric selection by Debra Barnes)

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