I did it. And I love it. My second ever quilt is finished. My first one was just a jelly roll strips quilt, but this one was following a proper (beginner) quilting pattern, and I made proper blocks and sashing and I suppose you could say it's my first ‘real' quilt. When I made the first one, I said I probably wouldn't do it again, but I actually really enjoyed the whole process (well almost all) this time around so I know I'll certainly do it again.
Having the ready designed quilting kit made life so much easier. I used this Cherie Jubilee from Fort Worth Fabric Studio – it's a kit they put together themselves and includes the pattern and all the fabrics you need to make the quilt top and the binding. Makes it nice and easy when starting out and I had LOTS of fabric left over for other projects.
Layering the quilt
In my first quilt I had just laid everything out on the patio and spray basted it to death, and it still ended up a little wonky on the back. This time I had a quilting mentor to help me. Lucy is one of my husbands scuba diving customers and visits the Cayman's regularly so this time she helped me out making a proper quilt. She even brought me the right supplies to get the best finish. She is an expert quilter, with hundreds of finished quilts and even has her own long-arm quilting business. So I knew I was in good hands.
Tools for layering the quilt:
Steps to making a quilt sandwich
Lie out the backing, make it smooth but not taught and use the large binder clips to clip it to the edges of the table. A table with straight edges obviously works best so working on my oval dining table was a bit more of a challenge.
Repeat with the batting on the top, smooth and clip to the table at the edges. Try to avoid cats between your layers where possible as these can leave large lumps in the quilt later on 🙂
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Lastly add the quilt top over the other layers. Make sure there is some space around the outside for a little shifting during the quilting process, then smooth and clip the quilt top in place too. Again, watch out for those cat-shaped lumps! I gave up trying to get a picture without a cat. As I've said before – a person can quilt or have cats, but doing both is very difficult.
Now everything is layered and cliped, its time to pin the layers together. Lucy brought me a big tub of these curved quilting safety pins. The curves make it easy to slide them through all the layers and then they pop out the other side.
Then the magic comes in with this Kwik Klip tool – it makes the whole pinning process so much quicker, easier and safer. This funny looking tool stops you sticking yourself with the pin and lets you do it all with the one hand. I had the whole thing pinned in no time without getting blood on the quilt top or sore hands!
The quilting process
Now to my least favorite part of the process – the actual quilting. I think in part its a problem with the heat here. Sitting for hours draped in a quilt while I sew is hot work. And again I have cat hazards to work around. But Lucy came to the rescue again with her bicycle clips – yes honestly – bicycle clips for quilters!
It helps when you have a small machine to be able to roll up the quilt on either side of the area you are working on, so its easier to handle and fit through the harp of the machine. I tried without the clips and it was hot, heavy, and I was constantly moving fabric around. Not so much fun. But with everything neatly rolled and clipped, it was easier to run it through the machine and keep all the extra fabric in order.
I used a large serpentine stitch for the quilting. It comes as standard on my machine so I set it to the maximum stitch length and maximum width and quilted the whole thing on the diagonal with my walking foot.
Thanks to the tips I had from Lucy, it all quilted up beautifully and I was very happy with it. It still took me a long time though and I wish she lived much closer and I could avail myself of her awesome long-arm quilting service by mail in future. I really like piecing the quilt top, quite enjoy the finishing with the binding, but the quilting on a small machine – well, I could happily pay someone to do that part for me!
I do love how it looks through once all the quilting is finished. It suddenly comes to life, feels soft and snuggly.
Finishing the quilt
The home stretch and its a quick finish. I enjoy the trimming and binding part. Off come all those rough and messy edges, all the threads get trimmed away and the binding completes the pretty picture.
I've done quite a lot of edge binding on various projects now, but I still get nervous about it and often will hand stitch the second side to make sure everything is neatly caught. I hate it when I set up everything and pin and then when I stitch from the front, I turn over and a little bit of the binding has been missed in one of two places. Arrrghhh.
I didn't want that to happen here so I ‘cheated'. I sewed on the front in the regular way, then I pressed the binding and folded it over to the back, held it in place with pins in the ditch from the front to make sure the stitching line was covered on the back and then used my serpentine stitch again from the front to make sure it was all caught. Phew – easy and no missed binding. I don't think it looks too out of place as it follows the same quilting pattern I used.
What do you think? Have I carried out a quilting sin? Will I never be allowed to quilt again, or hold my head up high in a fabric store? Bah – who cares!
A delicate wash and the quilt is ready. I'm so happy with it – love the colors, the fabrics and the feel and it really has the part vintage / part modern look I wanted. So soft, so snuggly and destined to be always covered in cats, where ever I put it. This one is going to stay with me, live on my bed and make me very happy 🙂
If you would like to give a beginner quilting project a try, check out the Cherie Jubilee quilt kit from Forth Worth Fabric Studio, or indeed any of their other amazing quilting kits and fabrics they have on offer.