Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How to quilt a quilt!

OK - that is not really true - but I get asked from time to time - how does that long arm work??   So here is a walk through of how I quilt those quilts.  The thing to remember is that the process is identical for ALL SIZES of quilts. Just because the quilt is small - you cannot miss a step. That is why many people (myself included) charge a minimum fee for any size quilt.

OK - sit back - there are a lot of pictures...........

We start with the THREE components of the quilt - the top, the batting and the backing - they MUST be separate. No basting required and you'll see why in a moment.

Measure the top and backing - both directions and I will sometimes measure the center AND the outside edges to see how wonky the quilt is.  I try to quilt the quilt to the measurement of the CENTER of the quilt and sometimes that means those borders are VERY RUFFLY. Not fun to work with - so make sure you are measuring those borders. 

At this point - I determine whether the quilt will be loaded horizontally or vertically. Depends on the size, depends on the backing (how it was pieced), depends on the pattern on the front.
And I learned from this quilt - one must verify the size of the batting as well!!!!

Here is the machine - empty and waiting. Notice that there are TWO rollers on the left (see the big round knobs) and there are TWO rollers on the right. 

Pin the backing to the bottom roller on the left side of the machine (as per that picture above)

The backing gets laid over the machine (I am forever SWIFFERING because of all the dust accummulation)

Then rolled completely onto that roller (This picture was taken from the OTHER end of the machine)

Then the backing gets pinned to the roller on the other side of the machine. So now the backing is pinned to two pieces of canvas that are attached to TWO rollers. If the backing is a bit off, I can roll it back and forth to work out the fullness. 

Next pin the top to a different roller (see the backing roller is underneath the top roller)

Then the quilt top gets rolled up on its own roller

Then the batting gets squished in between the quilt top and the backing

And hangs down onto the floor

Then I take a few minutes to get the machine ready -
Clean the dust from the bobbin area - this is pretty clean - it gets very dusty in there and causes problem with the functioning of the bobbin

Oil the bobbin case and other areas as needed

Change the needle

Clean the rails and the wheels

Choose the thread colour

Wind a bobbin - I don't prewind bobbins as I have no idea how many I will need so I just wind when I need it - doesn't take long and is a bit of a break from the quilting

Thread the machine
Choose the pattern (if doing edge to edge - i.e. NOT custom) and load the pattern onto the back of the machine. You can see the quilt in the top of this picture on the other side of the machine

Stitch through all three layers - the top, the batting and the backing. This allows the quilt to be advanced as ONE UNIT

 STILL haven't started to quilt yet.............

So you can see where the tension is provided by the backing stretched between two rollers. However the SIDES between the rollers needs some stability as well. And so.............

Here you can see the clamps (under the batting) are holding the quilt backing taut. There are THREE pins securing the quilt top to the backing

Then clamp the other side of the quilt and this time instead of pinning the top - we are going to stitch this side.  When the quilt gets quilted - you quilt from the STITCHED edge to the pinned edge. Then any fullness has a place to work itself out and not create a bubble at the end of the quilt

Line the edge of the pattern with the edge of the quilt. Hard to see and my arrows in Photoshop were not working properly. Anyway - it gets lined up!!!!

Then make sure the quilt is loaded straight - check the edge of the pattern with the edge of the quilt

Mark the END of the pattern so you know where to stop since you are NOT looking at the quilt when you stitch the edge to edge patterns

Pull up the bobbin thread

AND AT LAST - you are ready to quilt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is a short video of me quilting (a different quilt) but you get the idea of how it works.

Once you have completed the quilting for that spacing   (hard to see the design here - but it has been quilted)

The quilt gets advanced onto that back roller, then you have to line up the pattern with the stitching you just completed

Those steps get repeated until you get to the end. Here you can see the quilt is rolled around that back roller. 

Always a good sign to see the batting get less and less

Almost the end of the quilt - let's hope there is ENOUGH BATTING and BACKING. But if you have measured, it won't be a problem. HOWEVER I have got to the end and ran out of backing and batting. Mostly with my quilts!!!!!   Of course!!!!

Here is the end of the quilt - remember we pinned it to the canvas leader

The quilt gets stitched to the backing and the batting. The excess batting is cut off.   Usually requires a partial row to finish off the pattern!!!!

Then unpin the edge of the quilt and unroll it onto the table (where the paper pattern is)

Then you assistant helps you hold up the quilt for the picture

Detail of the quilting design
The backing - the customer had FUN with this one

Do you see what it spells?????   (It is for her daughter and her husband)

Then I trim the quilt so it is ready for the binding to be applied.

And there you have it - that is all the steps involved in quilting anything. A table runner, a huge quilt - all require the same steps. Some people do it a bit differently, but that is how I learned and this process makes me comfortable!!!    Not as easy as you thought!!!!   So even if someone has a computer to run the machine - it still takes knowledge to load that quilt.

Look at these gorgeous pieces of flannel that I got from The Quilt Patch. This was a little thank-you gift in my order. Perfect for the next flannel applique project!!!!

People are always on the lookout for orange things or bike related things and look what Daphne found at the thrift store.

FOUR ORANGE BASKETS!!!!!!!!!!!    Thanks Daphne - I LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now here is a very SAD situation. I was putting out a recently received Christmas card and OH MY GOD - I found a stack of cards on the shelf. Oh boy - this is a collection of cards from the PREVIOUS Christmas - still on the shelf. Even worse - one of them was still UP!!!!!!!!!!!!    Hadn't noticed all year, but then I don't often sit in the family room and certainly never to watch TV. This cabinet houses the TV. That is my excuse and I'm sticking to it!!!!!!!

Christmas card from 2012. 

Maybe I should have just put the cards up and then it would look like I got TONS of cards!!!!!

On that note - it's a FUN day - well still have that sampler deadline, but the pressure is off, but lets not forget that basket of stuff that I want to get done for Christmas and Christmas is ONE WEEK FROM TODAY.

Tried on three more pair of pants - these ones I kept. Haven't worn them for years, but they fit now  so they went into the closet. Yippeeee - just THREE MORE PAIR to go!!!!    I am liking this!!!!   Got to pick the next category. Hmmm - better sort the stuff first. Didn't have time yesterday as M and I went shopping and I had to teach a class.

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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