Hello, Stitchers! It is a good day!
I will first like to get my complaining out of the way: I hate hate hate this weather, my god I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in ages and I would like for it to stop raining and storming and in general being gross. Ugh.
Phew. Okay, now that that’s off my chest, I have presents for you!
Last Friday, I gave you a little sneak peak of one of the quilts I’ve been working on. Today, I’m going to take you through the whole kitten caboodle from pretty much start to finish. Hooray!
We’ll start with the fabric I picked out, and my trusty quilting tools. I use a self-healing mat and a rotary cutter, plus some cheapie clear rules to keep my edges straight while I’m cutting:
Here are a couple of shots of the fabric once it’s all been cut out. So deliciously pretty!
For those who aren’t familiar with the process of quilting, each piece of the quilt is sewn (or “pieced”) together, and then each seam is pressed flat with an iron. I’m using my industrial strength steam iron (though I’ve recently discovered that there are mini-irons specifically meant for sewing and pressing open – or over – your seams. I may look into getting one, though the big iron works just fine); once you piece and iron things together you start attaching everything in a very specific order so that it gives the quilt top a sort of three-dimensional quality, if that makes sense. In this particular quilt, the purple and pink borders sort of frame the middle squares in such a way as to make the center look like it’s “lower” than the rest of the quilt top.
Here’s what the quilt top looked like when I’d finished piecing it together:
Once the quilt top is finished, the next step is to lay down the backing fabric (wrong side up) and then lay the batting on top of that. Quick pause here for a note on batting: I’ve always used the fluffy polyester stuff, thinking that it would (a) be cheaper and (b) make the quilt fluffy, and darn it, aren’t quilts supposed to be fluffy? But it turns out that polyester batting, while having its uses in crafts, I think is actually awful for quilting things that will be used as blankets. It’s too bulky, it gets in the way, and it makes sewing through three layers particularly difficult and unwieldy. I had the presence of mind to go to City Quilter yesterday and pick up some Dream Cotton 100% cotton batting and it is the most amazing thing ever. It’s super soft (only really important for the quilter since you have to touch it a bunch) and thin, but so warm and, most importantly, so much easier to sew. I am in L.O.V.E.
Anyhow, after you lay the batting over the backing, you lay the quilt top down and then pin through all three layers, being careful not to let the fabric bunch anywhere. You’re supposed to use quilter’s safety pins, but I don’t have any, so I used straight pins. To my dismay, I now realize that I must invest in quilter’s safety pins, because I have quite a few cuts and pokes from the straight pins. Alas.
And now, it’s on to the sewing! My friend’s mom told me a few months ago about this magical device called a walking foot (also called an even-feed foot). I told her the sorry tale of my attempting to get feet for my sewing machine in the past, which involves a lot of tears as it’s difficult to find feet to fit my now out-of-manufacture Singer Stylist. Well, long story short, I got in touch with Singer and had a walking foot delivered (from China, it would seem. sigh), and used it for the first time this morning.
Since I’d never even seen a walking foot until a few weeks ago, I decided that I should probably test it out first on some scrap fabric and batting, just to get the hang of it. Amazingly, this thing was way easy to use, and my test drive was successful!
Emboldened by this success, I promptly threw the quilt under the foot and got to work. It took about an hour to machine quilt this piece, because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to grip the fabric, drive it through the machine, and avoid the hell out of my straight pins (this last bit didn’t work out so well…). In the end, though, I have to say I’m super satisfied with how the quilt looks:
I did drive a little crazy on this quilt; again, since this was my first time machine quilting (every other quilt I’ve made has been pieced on the machine but quilted by hand) it’s a bit messy, but not so much so that I feel like I need to pull stitches and start all over. In fact I’m quite pleased with the haphazardness of some of it; it definitely lends to the hand-made feel, which is what I’m going for here!
Finally, after you’ve quilted through the layers, the final step is the binding. You sew the binding to the front on the quilt on the machine and then slip stitch it to the back by hand. I’m at this stage now, and have taken a break because I hate hand-stitching a little right now. ^.^;
All told, this project took about 8 hours (that’s including all my prep work – ironing, cutting, etc.), which is not terrible. I assume that once I’ve done a few of them it will take less time. The finished quilt is about 26″ x 26″ and can be used as a table-topper or a wall hanging.
This piece will go to one of my Kickstarter backers (I have someone in mind, but if you are particularly in love with this quilt, please message me privately at whichstitchery @ gmail and we’ll talk. ^_^), but if it were something I was making for sale in the Etsy store, I’m thinking that it would cost about $100-$120, given the amount of time it took. Does that seem unreasonable? I genuinely want to know; I’m always terrible at pricing things.
A few things learned this morning whilst working on this quilt:
- If you’re going to quilt on the machine, get a walking foot. It seriously made something I thought was impossible as easy as sewing a seam.
- Grip is important. When machine quilting, make sure that you can get a sold grip on the fabric to guide it through the feed dogs with some semblance of control (and without causing fabric to bunch left and right).
- Cotton batting is the way to go. It’s warm, and it’s easier to use than the polyester batting. And, it’s not that much more expensive, so it’s totally worth it. I’d much rather spend a few extra bucks on quality materials than end up working with something that might affect the final results in a piece.
In the future, keep an eye out for a tip of the day/week. There are a lot of things that I’m realizing, not only about the way that I work personally, but also about the way that sewing works that, for whatever reason, I never noticed before (or noticed, but didn’t have anyone to share it with when I did, so it went on the back-burner). I want to share these things with the community, especially the beginner community, since in many ways that’s where I am, too, and I know how valuable it is to be able to garner as much information from as many sources as you can when you’re starting out.
Anyhow, that’s all for today, Stitchers! I’ve got a lot more stuff to work on, and a meal to eat, since I’ve not eaten all day today (I get a little preoccupied when I’m really into a project). I’ll be updating later this week with some more goodies!
Until then, happy sewing!