Thursday, 4 April 2013

Back to Quilting at Last... and a Crazy Idea

For the last few months, since I ran out of batting, I haven't had any progress to share for Free Motion Friday. I've been compensating by sewing twice as many blocks for my colour quilt, but it's not the same! I got tired of working on a long term project, and decided over the Easter long weekend to put together something small and self contained. I joined all of my batting scraps together into one large piece of frankenbatting, which determined the size of project I could make.

On Thursday I drew the design I wanted, and figured out the cutting and piecing instructions. Friday I picked out the fabric and cut out all of my pieces. Saturday I pieced the block. It's a robot!

(pattern will be made available for download eventually)

His heart is appliquéed by hand.

Sunday I added borders, basted the quilt using my scrappy batting, and started looking around the Free Motion Quilting Project for some robotic quilting designs. And wouldn't you know it, Leah had exactly the thing I was looking for! It's an echoing design called cogs. This is my sample block:

On Monday, I got to work filling the body of my robot with cogs. It took longer than I expected, but it's fun and whimsical. Here's what I've got so far:

The purple background will be filled with less visible circuit board stitching in black to emphasize the robot. I'm looking forward to working on that next weekend.

In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about the Groove Quilt top I put together last summer. It's not like me to leave a project unfinished, and I had specifically planned to complete it over the winter so that we could use it this summer. The sheer size of this one has been overwhelming though.

Biggest thing I've ever sewn!

I haven't found a practical way to go about basting something of this size, and even if I did, I'm not all that confident that I would be able to quilt it on my small sewing machine. The largest quilt I've put through my little Kenmore was only a third this size, and it was a nightmare of thread breaks. If I started quilting something this big and realized the machine couldn't take it, I'd be stuck putting it aside indefinitely, or taking out all of the quilting in order to bring it to a long-arm quilter. (Which could potentially take longer than putting it together did in the first place, and would cost a lot.)

So here is my idea... I could cut it into six pieces, quilt the pieces individually, and then reassemble it. The joins would be visible, and probably wouldn't compliment the design, but at least it would be a usable blanket! I can't decide if it's a good idea, or a crazy thing to do to a project I care about...

Before I do anything drastic, I'm going to investigate whether it's possible to sew quilted pieces together with an invisible join (and not requiring any extra seam allowance, since this top has already been put together without any extra fabric). Wish me luck!


  1. Your robot is so great and you are right, the cogs quilting design is absolutely perfect. It looks awesome. What a dilemma with your groove quilt. It would be such a shame to cut it up but it would be more of a shame not to use it so I hope you find a solution that works.

  2. Love the cogs in your robot, just perfect. I like your idea of splitting your quilt up to quilt it. I think you could do it if you're careful. You will lose a little of the quilt top in the seams or you could do it with a binding strip method and match them to the top. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Good luck!

  3. So good to catch up with you, MC. You always put a smile on my face. That robot with visible cogs is priceless.

  4. Heh, the robot makes me smile. I hope you figure how how to handle your big quilt. It is quite striking and it would be really unfortunate to not finish it!

  5. Love the robot and the quilting is so cool! I really like that quilt top so I hope you find a solution for it.

  6. I love the robot and the quilting is perfect!

  7. Love the robot. Maybe you could find someone close by who has a long arm they rent time on. Ask at your local,quilt shop.

  8. • • • You do NOT have to cut the quilt. Instead do the batting in sections. That way you have less bulk without cutting your quilt. Start in the middle and work your way out. Depending on how dense you quilt it will determine if you butt the batting or serpentine it. Personally, I would just butt straight seams and zigzag them, then quilt across the seam so it doesn't separate. Just be sure to leave an inch or two unquilted on the edges before you add the next section of batting.

    Good luck, it's a really cool quilt.

  9. ADORE THE ROBOT! And love the cog design... it would be great for a steampunk quilt, too.

    I've done a couple Queen size quilts on my Kenmore (I love this little machine!) but that was just on the diagonal or in-the-ditch. Nothing so elaborate as your free motion quilting. And even sewing just straight lines, it is a pain in the butt maneuvering the fabric (rolling it up tight to pass under the arm). And turning it for another pass/different angle... hoo-boy! (I didn't have thread break issues, though). I do the cheater basting for these with about a hundred safety pins. Hope you figure it out, it's a gorgeous quilt top!

  10. fun quilting on the robot quilt. I like Jayardi's suggestion for quilt as you go without cutting up the top. It would be a shame to cut it up, imho.

  11. Love thte robot! The quilting is perfect!
    It would be a shame to cut up your groove quilt. Not sure if this info is useful or not but a long arm quilter could baste the quilt for you. At least then you wouldn't have to worry about the basting part but only trying to quilt it. Have you ever used bicycle clips to roll the edges of your quilt? Then it fits in the throat better and won't pull as much. Hope you find a solution cuz it is gorgeous! Good luck!

  12. The robot is great--and a perfect choice of FMQ designs! I'd so hate to see you cut the quilt if you don't want to....I have NOT taken this class, but I know there exists a Craftsy class that gives several ways to FMQ a large quilt on a home machine. If nothing else, read the description and maybe it will give you some ideas.

    One idea seems to be insert the batting in parts. I don't know how it works, and it seems like it could be difficult to accomplish (I just had to re-baste half of a quilt in progress, and it was tricky--last update it on my blog), but maybe it is a way to finish this quilt yourself without drastic measures.

  13. Gah! I love your robot and the cog quilting -- you did a fantastic job! :)

  14. I wound suggest that you DON'T but the quilt top. By itself, it's probably not that bulky. Cut the batting and backing into strips - maybe 1/5th the total quilt. Roll the quilt top from the sides - like a scroll - and leave just the center portion exposed. Position that over the first piece of batting and backing. Baste it, quilt it - stopping your quilting 1" from the edge of the backing fabric. Flip the quilt, lay the next section of backing right side down on the existing backing, fold the quilt top out of the way and sew the two backing pieces together. Unfold everything, put in the next section of batting, roll your sides up again, and quilt the next section - making sure to really secure where the two pieces of batting come together. Keep working your way out from the middle, one side then the other.

  15. I love the cog quilting, especially on the solid colour background.

    That quilt top is fantastic. Please don't cut it. Have you thought of hand quilting?