So I started the draft post of this on Thursday… two Thursdays ago. Apparently I haven’t been very talky lately! Anyway, I hardly had anything written in that original draft (and it referenced Friday Finish, which I’ve now missed twice because I keep on not finishing this entry).
This pattern requires just 20 strips of fabric from a jelly roll for the top. I used 15 strips from a Kona cotton design roll – I think it was either the Rainbow palette or the New Colours (but the old new colours, not the current new colours, I’ve had that design roll sitting around for a while) – and added 5 strips of assorted prints. Three of the prints are polka dots, I think from Riley Blake, one is a Denyse Schmidt plaid (the orange one), and the navy chain link one… I don’t really know who that is. But I liked it enough to use it for the binding! I don’t have too much of it left now and no selvedge, so I don’t guess I’m going to figure it out! I forgot to photograph the back, but it’s backed in a navy blue flannel with while polka dots. Just a bit of random fabric I had in my stash. Actually, everything in this quilt came out of the stash – I didn’t have to buy thread or batting or anything for it! Go me! (It’s rare I don’t take the excuse to buy new things…)
This was the first project I sewed – beginning to end (minus hand-sewing the binding) – on my new-to-me Juki TL98E when it came back to me from the repair shop.
By and large it’s been really wonderful to sew on. It sews really smoothly and has really beautiful stitches and it goes SO FAST. I keep saying that switching to this from my old Kenmore machine is like going from a moped to a Ferrari and it really kind of is – just basically no comparison between the machines, except that they both eventually get you where you were going. I love the needle down function (so love it!) and it’s smoother sounding and it makes nicer stitches. (Though I did take my old machine in to get serviced too … first time ever and it’s ten years old! Maybe it’ll make nicer stitches again now too.)
But I ran into problems almost immediately with the 1/4″ foot, which actually makes a slightly larger than 1/4″ seam, leaving me with an entire quilt worth of too small units! The thing is, I actually measured that first seam to see if it was the right size and it really did seem to be, but I think they were all just one or two threads too big and with five seams across a block, it was enough to eat up some width.
Because of the way the quilt is constructed (the blocks are not squares but rectangles), it didn’t actually matter so I just made the quilt slightly smaller in the width than it was meant to be. I didn’t want to pick out all those seams and start over again! So those strips are all supposed to be 2″ finished width, but are slightly closer to 1.75″ when they’re placed vertically. The horizontal strips are actually 2″ because I hadn’t sewn them yet when I discovered the error and I was able to stitch them up properly.
I did a lot (a lot!) of practise stitching with some different ideas for quilting, but I wound up defaulting to a basic all-over stipple. This was the first time I ever did stippling on a non-practise piece. On the old machine I’d always wind up with super tight and tiny little stipples because there was no room for my hands – I had to hold the quilt underneath in the harp space because there wasn’t room for my hand to sit flat atop the quilt and on the left because otherwise it would hang off the edge of the machine – but this Juki has a table and a lot more harp space, so there’s room for two flat hands, which meant I was able to get nice big curves without much difficulty.
Not that it was perfect. I’m having a lot of difficulty keeping a steady speed on this machine. It’s just go so much power and then I wind up going too fast, start to panic, pull my foot off the peddle and then drop down to no speed. Which means there’s a whole lot of variation in my stitch length. But even the largest stitches here are less than a quarter inch in length, so I didn’t pick out any of my stitching. I decided to just let it go because eventually I will sort out the speed issue and as long as my quilts are usable, there’s no point in wasting time and getting really frustrated picking out things that aren’t perfect, but also aren’t that bad.
My other issue was the occasional bit of jerking around and making corners where there should have been curves (or little jumped stitches, where I suddenly veered an eighth of an inch to the left or right before continuing the original line – I do have photos of that, but I’m NOT going to fill this entire post with pictures of my little mistakes…). I did the quilt in kind of two passes – half of it on a Thursday and half of it on a Friday – and in the middle of that, I fell down a (short) flight of stairs and strained my back pretty badly in a couple places. Which I tell you because my second half of quilting was a fair bit worse than the first! I was so stiff that I would try to make a motion for a curve, twinge something in my back and wind up jerking around in pain and leaving evidence of it on the quilt top. So there are quite a few of those, and that’s maybe even what happened here. Sometimes, though, it was because I’d forget to stop before moving my hands or I’d try to keep quilting even though I was running out of hand space at all.
In any case, I really enjoyed working on this. I’ve always defaulted to straight line quilting in the past because I’ve been so intimidated by free motion quilting (I did do rows of loopy lines on one previous quilt), but getting this one thing under my belt makes the rest of it seem a little more possible. I just need to keep practising (and get that whole speed control issue figured out).