Gwen’s quilt

29 06 2014

This was a BIG quilt (68 x 83 inches), and HEAVY (the batting, I suspect — see my notes on the batting below the main pictures). It was a bit of an effort to quilt it as the drag and weight of the quilt did their best to usurp my attempts! I had it attached to my bungee cord system, and while that helped, it only mitigated against the weight of this quilt, not eliminating it completely.

Gwen had made the quilt for a ‘traditional’ friend, and wanted me to do cathedral windows in the 9-patch on-point squares and just outside them, which I did, but only after I’d stitched in the ditch around all the blocks and along the strips — this was a puffy quilt. She had suggested an infinity rope design for the long dividing strips. I had an old stencil for that pattern, but I couldn’t find a single marker in my extensive collection that held the markings enough to quilt with, or that didn’t fade into the fabrics, or that I could quilt along with the puffiness without going off the markings. I attempted some markings and quilted them in small sections, but to be honest it would’ve taken about 20 hours just to do it that way — that’s just not cost-effective! So I unpicked the small section I’d done that way and went with more ‘traditional’ feathers in the striped sections — the feathers go up one strip and down the next strip, alternating across the quilt.

As Gwen didn’t want this quilt too heavily quilted, I didn’t do anymore quilting in the main top, and for the border I only did a large semi-circle motif, using a 4″ clam shell ruler.

Gwen had initially started quilting this beast on her domestic sewing machine — I’m surprised and impressed that she got as far as she did. But she had trouble not only with the sheer bulk and weight of the quilt, but also choosing a colour that blended well and didn’t stand out. I auditioned several threads, settling on a light tan 80 wt thread that would hardly show (the colour blended well, and 80 wt thread almost disappears into the fabric), thus letting the fabrics and the quilt top design take centre stage.

It took more than 10 hours to quilt this quilt.








Now, about that batting…

The batting used in this quilt seemed to be a high-loft polyester batting. It was very heavy, and as a result caused a lot of drag. It was also very puffy and the fabric slipped on it, so I had to stitch in the ditch around almost everything to stabilise the quilt and stop any potential pleats and puckers before they could occur. Gwen had already pin basted the quilt for me, so that at least was done. She’d also stitched in the ditch down some of the strip seams, so that helped too.

With flatter battings (e.g. cotton, bamboo, wool), the fabric will often stick to the batting easily, thus requiring fewer basting pins and possibly not even requiring stitch in the ditch (though for a quilt this size, I would have stitched in the ditch around the major areas anyway).

Until I quilted this quilt, I hadn’t realised how much difference the batting makes to the quilting… now I know — a lot.


Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (80 wt, colour DB 414)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (60 wt, white)



4 responses

29 06 2014

Good job – that must have been a challenge.

29 06 2014

Beautiful results. Thick battings are so hard to quilt. Machine, hand–it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I think that high loft batting is much better suited to tied quilts.

30 06 2014

You did an awesome job of overcoming all the hurdles in this one. Very good idea on the feathers. Ditch stitching is a must so much of the time and is tedious but the results are so worth it. You are a wonder!!!!!

1 07 2014
Phyllis Grover

Lovely quilting. I am so glad to see this quilted and near completion. I actually enjoyed many hours of unpicking Gwen’s quilting while I was visiting this winter/summer from Canada. From your comments I see now why she had so many problems. All a learning curve in our hobby of quilting.

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