Greetings and opinions

luvtosharedivsJanuary 13, 2012

Hi all, and greetings from Wisconsin.

I think it's time I join in on all your fun & friendliness around here.

I've been sewing for decades, since I was 12, but only started quilting just over a year ago. I've made several table runners, a couple wall hangings, a few lap quilts, and two twin size quilts. (My goal is to make a quilt for each of my Grandkids, but only one each year...two have been given as last year's and this year's Christmas presents.)

I just finished piecing a top for our bed, the biggest project I've ever worked on. It's from a pattern called "Got The Blues", made to look scrappy, but very planned, with log cabin blocks in between split star blocks. I will not add a border, since it's already very large, but will add a binding after it's quilted.

I haven't decided yet on how to quilt it, and would like your opinions, please. I DO know that I will first stabilize it by quilting around the 12" blocks with perhaps a Serpentine stitch. But after that???... well, that's why I'm sharing a photo here for suggestions from all you experienced quilters:

(Clickable thumbs)

And a closeup:

I have had a little experience with free motion quilting, but I don't think I'd like to try it on a quilt this size, unless someone has tips on how to handle all that bulk!!!

Please share any suggestions you may have.



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Welcome Julie,
As I am not an expert in quilting & I will leave that to others but I did want to tell you how much I like your quilt. It is a very interesting combination of patterns and use of color. You are a real achiever with you quilting if you have only been doing it for a year!! Congratulations. Looking forward to more input and pictures. Jayne

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Julie, that is a wonderful top! I love everything about it.

If you're quilting on a small home machine, I'd recommend stitch in the ditch for the star blocks, and some sort of free motion through the log cabin blocks.

Personally, I'm a pantograph queen, because my free motion quilting isn't up to my standards. Your quilt would also look great with an all-over pattern, which might unify the blocks.

Either way, that's an impressive top, and I can't wait to see the final result.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 9:17PM
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Hi, Julie, from a fellow hosta lover and midwesterner. I'm from Minneapolis. I think your quilt is lovely. I wish I could offer some suggestions, but I haven't been quilting long enough to have much to say. I'll be anxious to hear what the others say about quilting patterns. I think you do beautiful work. Lois

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Welcome, Julie! Thanks for joining in with our wonderful group!! You'll love it here!

I too love your quilt! The color selection and placement is very appealing to me!

My recommendation on quilting is to follow your plan to stitch in the ditch around each block. Then you could do a diagonal stitching line thru the diagonal of each star block and then through the diagonals of the log cabins, also.

With most battings these days, that should be enough to keep everything stable through washings.

Thanks so much for sharing...and welcome!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 10:10PM
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Love the quilt!

Welcome to the group! I'm originally a midwesterner, and lived in Madison WI for several years, but am firmly attached to central florida now.

There are so many quilting options for your quilt. It doesn't need anything too elaborate because it's so detailed and beautiful by itself. If you wanted to FM, a big wide looping meander would work. Log cabins are traditionally tied so that would work too. If you are going with straight line quilting I would do a diagonal instead of quilting around each block, but that's mostly because I'm not terribly good at SITD!


    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 10:25PM
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I agree that the dynamics of each of these blocks can stand alone without elaborate or complicated quilting. (Great quilt, by the way!) I agree that simple diagonal lines through each block would work, but since it has the log-cabin blocks I see it tied. (I just like that look on log cabins.) I have seen log cabins with concentric circles quilted in them and it looks great, but not sure about the star blocks. And if you aren't confident about FM quilting, that might be a little bit too much of a task. I have been touting the serpentine stitch lately, but I wouldn't use it on this quilt, I think it would take away from your block designs. I'm using it on the one I'm doing because it's a very simple linear design and needs some movement, but at the same time it's quick and I want to sail through this project quickly. When you do decide, let us know!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 5:48AM
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Welcome Julie.
I like your quilt top.
I am no expert when it comes to actual quilting so I can't help you there.
I look forward to seeing more pics of your work.
Thanks for sharing.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Thanks, all, for your comments!

Jayne, I've made many mistakes along the way, but we all learn from our mistakes. Getting those points matched up is still a challenge for me.

Mary, I'm not familiar with pantograph quilting, but I assume it's done on a long arm machine. My machine is a Viking Sapphire with a 10" throat, just purchased last summer. I LOVE the extra room that can accommodate large projects, but I've never tried quilting anything larger than a twin sized quilt.

Stitching in the ditch certainly crossed my mind, but I tense up, trying so hard not to steer out of the ditch, so it's not relaxing for me. Free motion gives me more freedom...I just don't know if I can handle the bulk, but I like your idea of "unifying" the blocks with an all-over pattern.

Hi neighbor!...and fellow Hosta lover!
I'll be anxious to hear what the others say about quilting patterns.
Me too! Obviously there are "seasoned" quilters here, and I'm open to all suggestions.

Jennifer, the color selection and placement is what was recommended in the pattern. The only thing I changed was the center red square in the log cabin block. The pattern showed a navy square, but I wanted a few red splashes to pop out among all the blues and lights.

Actually, I didn't plan to stitch in the ditch around each block, but rather to use a curvy Serpentine stitch, which doesn't require intense concentration, because the stitch is very forgiving. But after reading other comments from posters, I'm not sure the Serpentine stitch would be good, since it may take away from the patterns of the blocks. I DO like your suggestion of stitching diagonals through the blocks, though...thanks!

If you wanted to FM, a big wide looping meander would work.
After you posted that suggestion, I took a closer look at the picture on my pattern, and saw what looked like EXACTLY THAT!!! But I couldn't see what color thread was used. Perhaps a monofilament clear?

Log cabins are traditionally tied so that would work too.
Hmmmmm...that reminds me, I read in one of my quilting books or magazines where a type of bar tack could be used as a "machine" tying.

Again, I like the idea of diagonal stitching through each block, but don't know if I want it going through each read square...maybe skip over the square...Oh, so many things to think about!

...and a third vote for diagonal stitching:)
Thanks for the suggestion not to use the serpentine stitch...I didn't realize that it might be too fancy and that it might take away from the block designs. See, I needed other quilters to point out this stuff to me!!

Thanks for your welcome, and thanks for looking:)

One last thought, everyone...
Have any of you worked with monofilament thread, and if so, did you have any problems with breakage?

Thanks again for all your input!


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 3:40PM
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What a striking quilt! I can't offer any advice, because I'm weak on quilting, but I just wanted to comment on how lovely your quilt looks.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 4:40PM
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I will shy away from giving advice on how to quilt it, but what a beautiful quilt! You have done a tremendous job making it.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 5:12PM
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I've used monofilament thread quite a few times. Always on my standard machine while quilting, never on my quilt frame.

It has never caused me any problems...but I think that depends a lot on the brand, and on your machine. I'd suggest making a quilt sandwich using scraps from your quilt and trying it out. You may find you need tweek your tension a bit, and better to find that out on a practice rather than your quilt (also easier to pick out!)

A pantograph is a long pattern that runs from one edge to another, generally used on a frame for quilting. However, there are many pattern books that show how you can use a design like this on paper (like Golden Threads). You print it out, and pin it to your quilt to follow as you quilt.

You could do an all over or meandering design like this on your quilt and 'follow' the light/dark diagonal spaces formed by your blocks. A meandering could avoid the red center squares. It wouldn't run side to side, but diagonally. (Hope that makes sense)

Just another idea...Sometimes when you ask for suggestions you get so many that you can't choose ;)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Hi Julie,
Just wanted to say I love your quilt top! Beautiful colors and the placement makes the design just pop. It's going to look beautiful on your bed!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Beautiful quilt! Excellent decision to change the block to red. Be mindful of the following in choosing your quilting~
The areas you do not quilt is what is going to standout especially after you wash the quilt.
You do not have to do the same thing all over the quilt.
I would tackle each block and quilt separately, keeping the same design consistent - star block quilted all one way & the log cabin block quilted all another way. Not only will it add some style & interest, but it will give you a break, and you will be better able to manage the bulk. I would keep it simple - probably straight stitching 1/4" away from the seams- not every seam-make a design. You will definitely get to know your machine's tie on tie off feature, stitch length,needle down and what foot works the best. If you make a really glaring, horrible mistake, you won't have much stitching to rip out.
Make a few test blocks - and practice - or if you can, copy one of each block - and draw on it to see where you want to stitch. Also make a test block and practice to get the stitch length perfect. You'll have a matching potholder:)
I have used monofilament thread, without any problem, but it does require extra tension adjustments, and I recommend that you not use it - and quilt with a thread you like and your machine likes. Eliminate that possible frustration.

I dislike Stitch in the ditch, unless you can stitch perfectly. I think the misses look sloppy.
I am also not a fan of long diagonal stitching on a beautiful quilt like yours. It is fine for quick, charity, or kids quilts, but your quilt deserves a nicer look.
These are just my personal opinions ~ your quilt is so lovely- don't rush into deciding the quilting, or take the easy way out.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Susan and Sandlapper,
Thanks for looking and thanks for your comments!

Re: the monofilament thread, and your suggestion to make a quilt sandwich from scraps of the quilt fabric:
I actually made 12 extra squares, (six of each block pattern,) since I had so much left over material! I plan to make a lap quilt with them, and I guess I could use it as a "practice" session before I tackle my bed-sized quilt.
I could try some monofilament on some squares and colored thread on others. My mind is alread dizzy thinking of the possibilities. I'd better get my ideas on paper first!

Thanks so much for your input!

The areas you do not quilt is what is going to standout especially after you wash the quilt.
Great idea! I think I'd like to avoid quilting over the red squares, as I would like them to "pop".
I dislike Stitch in the ditch, unless you can stitch perfectly.
Perfectly...Ha! No, not for me with a straight stitch. I'm all over the place, especially when my eyes start to blur due to eyestrain! Another reason I try to avoid stitch in the ditch with a straight stitch, is because I press most of my seams open. When I DO stitch in the ditch I use a bridging stitch, which will hold the block edges together securely, and if I wander just a tad, it's not terribly noticeable.

I like your idea of quilting each block separately. If you read my response to Jennifer you know that I plan to make a smaller lap quilt with 12 blocks of the same design as the big quilt. That will be a practice-sample-quilt-stitch project. I don't think the quilt police will bother me with that one:)

I will try monofilament on my practice quilt, and decide then, if it's frustrating or not, but thanks for your warning that it could produce tension problems. I'll also try colored thread, maybe some neutral light thread, and maybe some blue variegated.

Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions, especially to take my time and not rush to take the easy way out!

Off to sew my practice lap quilt...and I'll share my experiences and photos later:)


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 2:56PM
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I forgot to thank you, Clara!
Glad you like the quilt.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 2:58PM
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Hi and welcome Julie!!! I love your quilt and I agree the red center is a great addition.
I looked at the original quilt pattern and it looks like they quilted an all over stipple.
Looking at your picture I can see a diaganol line through the center of the split star blocks that you can SITD in a straight line to stabilize the quilt and it will make it easier to quilt. I also find a lot of starch helps. Your top lays flat and that is a huge plus, it dpesn't look like MY beginner tops lol!!!!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 6:21PM
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Another thing to consider - is the batting you choose. A less 'lofty' batting will take up less space. I normally use Warm & White or Warm & Natural 100% cotton. I like the crinkly look after washing, but was concerned about how much it was shrinking, so I tried the Warm Blend - a 50/50 cotton poly. I just finished the quilt this evening. I think I like the batting. It is definitely a bit thinner than the 100% cotton. I really noticed the difference when I was applying the binding. Sewing was silky smooth - like butter and the quilt was lighter. I recommend those quilting on a regular table sewing machine, give Warm Blend a try.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 8:47PM
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Thanks for your nice comments and warm welcome!
And you're another poster that recommends the diagonal stitching. If I did that, I'd use my bridging stitch, since it has an angular direction left and right, alternating with a straight stitch, (did that make sense?) and it would go with the triangle pieces of the quilt. But I don't know if I'd use a light neutral or a blue thread. Hmmmmmm...more ideas to consider.

(Do you have a first name?)
Thanks for your batting advice! Yes, I use Warm & Natural very often. I've not seen the Warm Blend but will look for it. I see that Joann Fabrics has it online only. I will look for it in our local quilt shop.

I decided to try Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton batting. I used it in a lap quilt that I gave away for a Christmas present, and I liked the ease of the needle gliding easily through the sandwich layer. It's thinner than Warm & Natural, and drapes well. I know it won't be as warm as a quilt made with Warm & Natural, but I wanted something thin to work with, since the quilt is so large.

Thanks again for your excellent input!


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 11:38PM
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I finished my experimental lap quilt, with a whole bunch of various stitching. I decided NOT to try the monofilament thread on this quilt, but on a pillow top instead, which I'll show later in the post.

I used my favorite bridging stitch around all blocks, and in the log cabin blocks. I love the way stitching in the ditch with the bridging makes the logs "pop". I might use some extra fancy red stitching around the red squares.

All clickable thumbs:

Haven't completely made up my mind about the split star blocks yet, but in this quilt stitched through the intersections of all the quarter square triangles. Not sure how I like that look yet.

I had lots of extra fabric, so made a pillow top and back, and experimented with free motion and monofiliament.

I discovered I did NOT like the look of meandering over the log cabin block. The fabric poofed in all the wrong places...the edges of the "logs" looked wavy...see what I mean?...

YUK!!! I prefer stitching around the logs, to make them "pop".

But here's the pillow back:

Can't see any stitching, can you? :)))

My conclusion after free motioning with monofilament is as follows:
Don't use it on log cabin blocks.
DO use it over busy prints, where the meandering will blend in.
Don't use on lap or bed quilts, since the thread has an unpleasant "sharp" feel ...not for cuddley quilts.
DO use it on small projects such as table toppers or wall quilts.

And finally, do more experimenting, since I'm still in the beginner stages.

My bed size quilt is hanging on a banister, waiting for sandwiching and quilting. It may become a labor-intensive project, but I want it to look nice in the end.

Julie, on a lengthy learning curve!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Thanks for the update! It's great to hear how a project is progressing!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:24PM
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This quilt isn't really the same as yours at all. It's much, much simpler, but it has a bit of the same look with the furrowed rows pattern. This one is from the late 1800's, probably upper midwest and possibly even Wisconsin! It's from my husband's side of the family and no one is quite sure who made it.

Thought you might be interested.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 8:27PM
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I love your quilt Julie. Soooo pretty. I think the bridging stitch you did on the block looks great!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Thanks Bee and Kate.

Wow, Kate! It's amazing that you have a quilt that has lasted well over a hundred years! I can see some of the hand stitching. It looks like the quilt is split down the center, and there is no border or binding. Are you planning to restore it?

I have a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt (presently at my Mom's house,) that was started by my Great-Grandmother, and finished by my Grandmother. It's still being used by my Mom. I'll see if I can snap a pic and share it here some time soon.

Thanks for sharing that photo!


    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 1:59PM
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Sadly the quilt isn't restorable; it's just too damaged. But I found out lots about it through an appraisal. If you are interested, I wrote about it here: Turn of the Century Quilt

By the way, you're right about it being split down the center!


    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Welcome to the family. Love your quilt!


    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 9:01PM
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Thanks, grammy!

Kate, I so enjoyed reading about the history behind your "heirloom" quilt! What an interesting custom, splitting a quilt in two in order to hand down to two descendants.
I appreciated the history behind the different fabrics used in the North and South, and how the Easterners were fussy cutters:)

You have a great bit of history to hand down through your younger generations. Thanks for sharing that link.

I took my camera to my Mom's this aft, and shot a pic of the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. It's a bit faded, but all fabric is intact, and no tearing or holes. The quilt was made for me, and I can remember cuddling under it as a small child. I estimate it as being approximately 60 years old. Funny thing is, it has no batting, so makes a nice Summer quilt.

I am amazed at all the teensy stitching.
I would have absolutely NO patience to sew something like that, since I expect projects to be finished quickly with my machine stitching.

I'm so fortunate to own an heirloom quilt, and I would hope that my children and grandchildren will hold dear the quilts I make for them.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:18PM
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It's beautiful and it's great that it's in the hands of someone who will cherish and protect it!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Welcome Julie. I like your quilt. I have only used monofilament in one quilt and ironically, I used it to meander on a log cabin block! I agree with your thoughts, it is better for a wall hanging or table topper, as it is not very cozy.

On my quilt, which was simpler and much smaller, I liked the fact that it blended the logs. As you can see, I meandered on the light areas and stitched in the ditch (or tried to hit the ditch...LOL) on the dark logs.

Disclaimer: this was the 2nd top that I pieced and the first quilt that I quilted, so please excuse the obvious errors!

I thought I would post these pictures to show quilting that was done to emphasize the light/dark areas of a log cabin, rather than emphasizing each block.

Have fun with your options.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Thanks Kate!

And thanks, Lola, and I like your name!
(My Mom's name is Lola.)
Thanks for sharing photos of your log cabin wall hanging. I think you chose wisely, to meander on the light strips and outline (SID) the dark strips, making them "pop".

... please excuse the obvious errors!
WHAT errors? It looks great to me!

I have started to quilt my huge bed quilt, and just finished SID with my bridge stitch around all the blocks. After handeling all that bulk, I don't think I want to try and stitch around each log, as I did in the lap quilt. Too much stitching will take away from the cuddleyness (is that a word?) of the quilt. I need to figure how to quilt a less labor intensive stitching in each block.

Will update later...


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:46PM
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I loved the SID bridge stitch on the log cabin blocks. But I can see that would be a lot of work. What about just doing that stitch around the red? I would make it really stand out, but I'm not sure it would be enough?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 8:47PM
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Thanks for looking:)
Yes, I've used the bridging stitch on many quilts, and I never get tired of it. I have finished quilting around the red squares with a fancier stitch. You can see it on the closeup of the log cabin I posted on Jan. 20th.

I'm almost finished quilting the split star blocks with a simple three step zig zag. It is a very utilitarian stitch, but looks nice in light blue...very simple, echoing the triangle patterns in the block, and is somewhat neutral in color, so it doesn't draw attention from the block pattern. I'll try and post pictures soon.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 10:16PM
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It's done!!!
Only took 94 hours. (I keep records of all my projects.)
That doesn't include shopping for the ooodles of fat quarters and other fabric, washing/drying/ironing them all.

Fits nicely on our bed, with matching pillow:

Here's the detail of stitching around the red squares:

I used a very utilitarian three step zig-zag stitch (two rows vertically and two rows horizontally) on the split star blocks. The triangular pattern echoes the triangles in the block. You can't see the stitching unless you get about two feet away from the quilt. The blue thread "reads" as a neutral from a distance.

Here's the backing fabric with just the top of my label (didn't want to show my full name,) which was ironed on with fusible webbing. My Viking does programable (sp?) stitching.

I am a bit of a renegade when it comes to attaching binding. I put it on backwards of most instructions...sewing to the back first, then turning to the front and machine stitching. I just don't want to take the time for all that hand slip-stitching:

I won't post a pic of the stitching in the log cabin blocks since I posted that one way back on Jan. 23 (bridging stitch.) I didn't want to turn corners while quilting, so I stitched all in one direction from one side of the quilt to the other, using my thread cut button and "fix" (stitching in place to secure) button on my machine. The down side of that is having to cut all the threads on the back, when I was finished quilting. Even though the thread cutting feature is a blessing, it still leaves 3/4" threads on the back.

Good feeling to get it done:)))
On to something else.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Very, very nice job! Looks wonderful on your bed. You should be feeling very proud!
I am a Renegade Binder as well ~lol. I started with the Blanket stitch and have now perfected my technique using a bi-level topstitch foot to a straight stitch that is very, very near perfect. Unless it is a quilt to be judged in a show - not- a very nice, full, even machine stitched binding is the way to go.
I love your Log cabin! Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:56PM
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Thanks Marsha!

I've not seen a bi-level topstitch foot, and will have to look into that one.

Thanks again, for looking.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 5:05PM
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