We finally had some sunshine yesterday, so in between cooking and eating Thanksgiving dinner, we managed to take a few photos of the tie quilt for my in-laws.
Construction could not have been simpler: four panels, 15 x 62 inches, with 3-inch sashing and borders.
For the back, I used fabric I found on the sale table (score!) and a couple of strips pieced from the leftovers on the front.
For the binding, I found a subtle black/brown houndstooth in the Mizzou fabric endcap display–perfect, especially since my father-in-law graduated from Mizzou (school colors: gold and black). I like how it fits the menswear theme, picks up the black in the tie fabric and creates the sense of a frame.
By far, the greatest challenge with this quilt was the free-motion quilting (FMQ): finding the optimal machine set-up, choosing the right FMQ designs and executing them. I had never FMQ’d a quilt this size before, so wrestling with it under the machine took some effort.
Fortunately I came across some timely posts, which bolstered my confidence and offered some great tips. As part of her virtual quilting bee, Amy Smart provided links to a quilt basting tutorial and a FMQ quilting tutorial, both by Kati Spencer of From A Blue Chair. The best suggestion was to move the sewing machine to the kitchen table. My sewing machine usually sits on an old, generously sized drafting table of my husband’s. The problem with this set-up is that the table is pushed against a window, which means a large quilt runs into the window as I quilt! Here at the dining table, the quilt had support and plenty of room to move.
I also found that gloves are a necessity when working with a quilt this size. They allow a greater sense of control. I looked at quilting gloves at Joann’s: $20-$30! Forget it. I stopped at Lowe’s and bought an inexpensive pair of rubber-coated gardening gloves (they will now be dedicated to the sewing room)–they worked well.
As for the actual FMQing . . . well, let’s just say I need lots more practice! I don’t think I’ll ever reach the 10,000-Hour Rule (which Malcolm Gladwell espouses in his book, Outliers) when it comes to FMQing–20 hours a week for 10 years?!–but I do recognize that with practice come experience, knowledge and improvement.
In addition to the tutorials mentioned above, two books were great references: Free-Motion Quilting by Angela Walters and The Modern Quilt Workshop by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. I used Walters’ wavy line design for the horizontal panels and a wonky box design for the vertical borders–I figured that with these designs my “mistakes” would be less noticeable.
As for the horizontal sashing, I took my cue from Lori at the Inbox Jaunt: I drew on “rails” with my chalk pencil and
FMQ’d rows of simple wonky ties!
While I consider the Ringle/Weeks book a valuable resource for great modern quilt designs, what I found most helpful was their encouragement to the novice quilter:
Slow down, take your time, be willing to try a new technique, and reap the rewards of good craftsmanship. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun. . . . Remember also that, in the end, it’s your quilt, and all that matters is that you like it and that you had fun making it.
Details: 68″ x 75″