Monday, 9 June 2014

Detailed quilting or bordering on insanity

Oh, it is so easy to imagine all the white space on a quilt with different stitching.  How difficult is the mostly straight stitching?  Stitch in the ditch.  Easy!  NOT on  a machine.  It looks wonderful but.............

I have been working on a Christmas quilt from a McCalls Quilting Magazine designed by Gerri Robinson.  Since I have been thinking about it for a year and made it over a period of a couple of months this winter I have probably mentioned it.  It was a fabulous way to use up all the leftover Christmas fabrics that seem to reproduce in my sewing room.  It has lots of white space.  And of course the contrast between the white/offwhite background fabrics great enhances the coloured Christmas Fabrics.

So I decided to quilt in an off white thread by Aurifil.  Aurifil quilting thread is a very clean thread and does not generate an inordinate amount of fluff around the needle, the bobbin casing and the tension disks.  But off white thread means that you take a chance that a tiny wiggle or 1/64th of an inch from the ditch and it shows. Of course when the quilt is off the frame such a thing will not show. My mantra - will not show, will not show. But I have done a bit of alternating between patting myself on the back figuratively when the ditch is stitched and a lot of calling myself names when that little wiggle or a few stitches show on particularly the blues in the quilt. Should I have used two colours of thread.  There is no avoiding either the off white showing on colour if you wiggle or coloured if you wiggle on the off white so stuck with the off white.

Another problem in using off white on off white is seeing the stitches.  Most frustrating but discovered that lighting makes it worse.  When either overhead lights or the machine lights are shining on the reflective white it is almost impossible to see the stitches and when you are cross hatching squares in 1/4 in intervals it is.......... Well imagine for yourself.  So I just used the light from the window and could see very well.  Light from above NO.  Light from the side YES.

I am 3 rows from the bottom of the quilt and love the way it looks warts and all.  Perfection, absolute perfection, is overrated.  The border has been a challenge as well as it has a dark green background with lovely elegant paisley designs.  How to disguise the off white threa?.  Well it really does not show on gold backgrounds so the challenge has been to find the gold in all the elegant paisley shapes and to stitch inside some very, very narrow areas.  It works but requires a short stitch to keep the flow in what are some very small spaces.   Here is the partially finished quilt which I photographed to show a friend in Australia.  She provides sanity testing through e-mail and on Skype.

It is getting more difficult to tell myself that I love this challenge I have set.  But then again, if it was not a challenge would I be learning?  Challenges stir the blood and make the mind sharp.  The concentration required for this is not easy to maintain so it is done in chunks of time with my focus switching to what is truly perfect.  We can imitate, copy but we cannot create as perfectly as nature.  So when I think I am about to be taken away by men in white coats I go out to the garden.  

Not only is this beautiful but it survived winter wrapped tightly in a cocoon.  So I should stop whinging and get on with the not so perfect quilt.

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