Monday, June 11, 2012

surprising myself

I am hand quilting my king-sized Bear Paw quilt...and no one is more surprised than I am!

I started by hand quilting around the centre 2.5" square in each of the 30 blocks.  That seemed reasonable and something more readily done by hand than on the machine.  But once that was done I felt pretty exactly was I going to quilt this thing?  While at Sew Sisters the other day, buying the backing fabric, I picked up two spools of "Bottom Line" -- one taupe and one pale yellow -- figuring that they would be safe choices for machine quilting this project without losing a lot of the detail of the fabric (as can happen when doing all-over FMQ with a highly visible thread).  I love the texture in the Painters Canvas so much and didn't want it to be overwhelmed by quilting.

Anyway, it struck me that it would be nice to simply outline the "bear paws" themselves, but on the machine this would involve either a TON of manoeuvring and directional changes (if using the walking foot) OR a TON of precision free motion quilting, and both options sounded less like fun (this should be fun, right?!), more like wrestling a bear.

So this morning I decided to just see exactly how long it really took to outline quilt a block by hand.

the block that started it all

Well, it wasn't exactly quick, but then again I didn't have to take over the dining room, set up the machine, wind new bobbins, do a test swatch -- nor tear out any stitches.

And I love how hand quilting looks, even my slightly irregular stitches.  It's very relaxing to do and fun to look at.

hand quilting with variegated lemony Aurifil 12 wt

It probably wouldn't take so long if I didn't stop frequently to pet each little area of hand quilting, front and back.

hand quilting of Bear Paw, in progress

hand quilting, back view

I'm using a variegated Aurifil 12 wt from my favourite online thread supplier, Tristan Italian Threads. I don't know if my thread has an official name other than "4658," but I like to think of her as Lemon Meringue.

hand quilting with variegated Aurifil 12 wt

the hand quilting continues

The hand stitching I'm doing here is obviously pretty minimal and I'm still planning to machine quilt the outer border (probably straight lines using the spools of Bottom Line I bought for the project). Nevertheless, I have to admit that I have quite a bit of hand quilting ahead of me...but whose idea was this anyway???

 I'd love to hear about any crazy big projects you have taken on, without quite thinking it through...especially if your story has a happy ending! Best to all.


Anonymous said...


Tong said...

I love it! It looks so great! I can't wait to start hand quilting my Smitten quilt. Do you have a good tutorial that you'd like to recommend?

Prof. S (the enchanted bobbin) said...

Thank you! I love working with Aurifil 12 fits in a regular little handquilting needle but is a nice hefty thread.

Prof. S (the enchanted bobbin) said...

I'll write to you about this, Tong, but honestly I didn't "get" hand quilting until Carolanne showed me the technique in person. I'm not great at it (my stitches aren't as even nor as tiny as they could be), but I love doing it.

Ariane said...

Oh this looks great!!! I have never used Aurifil thread. Your lemon meringue thread looks wonderful! I love hand quilting. It makes the quilt so soft!!

Jo @ life in lists said...

It looks lovely! I hand quilted a kingsize hand pieced hexagon quilt last year, purely because I really couldn't figure out how the heck I was ever going to get it through my machine. It ended up looking fabulous (if a little more sparsely quilted than I might have done on the machine!). Your stitches look great, and really even, from where I'm sitting :)

Nic said...

I love that you're hand quilting this. It already looks great and the variegated thread is perfect for it.