Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rescued - Quilt-as-you-go, strip-by-strip

So, now I have four strips of rescued blocks with their sashing, and four strips of backing. I cut the backing and batting strips an inch wider and two inches longer than needed, just for fudge factor, in case fudging is necessary. It makes me feel safer. The last thing I want to do is making a patch mid-process just because I didn't cut a straight strip.

The closet doors are useful.
Here's my first strip pinned to its batting and backing, both batting and backing cut slightly larger. I use straight pins, sparsely spaced, to make free-motion quilting easier. I used to use a lot of basting spray, but it's hard on my lungs, and this works fine.

Sewing very close to the edge of the quilt sandwich.
You can see I made a little rotary cutter booboo while cutting this strip. I'm ignoring it. I was listening to This American Life while quilting this Rescue quilt. My little round blue-tooth speaker is so handy!

Quilt, then trim the edge that will be sewn onto next.
Notice that I did not take the quilting design all the way to the edge. This is so that the quilting on the next strip will overlap into this one and blend in.

Now about this free-motion quilting I did. The loop-in-a-loop design was a complete experiment, and I'm very much a beginner. I would have done something different if I hadn't noticed too late that all my loop-in-a-loop designs looked like a bunch of pimiento olives. Jane said the design might drive her to drink!

Now for adding the next strip. As you know, quilting pulls up the fabric so that it seems shorter than when you started. I had to allow for this and make sure my next pieces, particularly the backing, were the same length as the first strip before it was quilted.

I pinned the new top strip to the top, and the new backing strip to the back.

The pinned layers.
 I used my walking foot for stitching the strips together, pulling all looseness out as I sewed. It went together easily.

This is the backing after it's been stitched and pressed.
The next step is to insert the batting. I've pressed both the front and back seams flat, above, but need to fold both back in order to add the batting. I learned, through sad experience, that it's a good idea to pin back the layers. It is all too easy to accidentally catch a fold of fabric in this next step. Note, in the photo below, the pin next to the needle, holding back both front and back layers. I butted the raw edge of the seam to the raw edge of the batting and used a wide "walking" zig-zag (is that a good name for this stitch?) to sew the edge of the batting and the seam allowance. If the batting slightly overlaps the seam allowance, no problem.

IMPORTANT: Your machine WILL stretch the batting. You can't let this happen. Or, let's say you can, but if you do, you will be unstitching and doing it over. I've forgotten this more times than I want to admit, but fortunately for me, ripping out these stitches is easy, and the extra threads handing around don't have to be removed. PREVENT the stretching by pushing the batting toward the needle as you stitch. Be very stubborn about this. Make it look like it's almost going to be gathering the batting. When you're done, everything will lie flat. This is a lot easier to do than I make it sound, and is actually one of my favorite things to do.

The finished "walking" zig zag.

After the batting is attached, I folded the top and backing back over the batting and smoothed it down, pinning the backing near the seam. I turned it over and smoothed the top, pinning it near the raw edge. I turned it over again, and smoothed from the back, repinning as needed. It always amazes me how much smoothing needs to be done, but I make sure my last smoothing is done on the top side. I always think there will be loose fabric that might cause little tucks, but I've never had it happen.

Backing smoothed and pinned near seam.

Top smoothed and pinned near raw edge.
Smoothing the backing again, moving front pins as needed.

When I was satisfied, I quilted the second strip, as before. You can see, below, how the quilting lines blend across the seam into the areas I had not quilted on the first strip.

The quilting blends across the seam line, which runs from top to bottom in this photo.
I continued following the same steps to add all the strips. I also added the top and bottom sashing/border, using the same method. I have done several quilts using this QAYGSBS technique, and I like it a lot. No more struggling with huge quilts in my domestic sewing machine! My quilting has improved since this quilt, too. You are not as relieved as I am. I gave the quilt back to Jane, who'd gotten the unfinished top at a garage sale, and encouraged her to use it for picnics.

The finished Rescue quilt

The finished back.

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