Friday, March 27, 2020

Staying Busy at Home

It's been five days since the governor of Ohio decided it would be best if as many of us as possible just stayed home.  Monday was unsettling as we reviewed what we had and what we might need so my daughter could make a supply run but as each day passes since then, I've felt a bit calmer mostly because I've stayed busy.  I have the advantage of being retired for the past year and a half so I've adjusted to "not working" other than to do my own stuff.  

I've seen a number of quilters talking about losing their creative drive during this challenging health crisis.  Folks, we don't need to be "creative" - we need to be "calm" and the best way I know to do that is keep those hands busy.  I'd bet that most of us have enough UFO's to keep us moving along in spite of not feeling creative, so my advice is to get something off the shelf and push into it!

This past week, this quilt has been my focus.
Isn't it gorgeous?!?
When I finished the piecing (more than 5 years but less than 10 years ago), I set it up to be machine quilted in sections.  This is not a new approach for me and it has enabled me to finish several large quilts myself.  The thing I always notice right away is how much better my machine quilting is working this way -- not having a large piece to struggle through the machine makes a huge difference.
I took this picture a few days ago -- all four sections are quilted up to 2" from the edges that will be joined.  Notice that the "joins" of the top half and the lower half will not be centered to each other.  This is one of my "bulk management" strategies and it works very well.
Join me for a quick tour of the process from this point.

With the right sides of the sections matching and the batting and backing pieces of both pulled out of the way, I pin and stitch two sections together.
Once stitched, I spread it out on the ironing board and press the seam to one side.  Since I use 100% cotton batting, I don't need to worry about a hot iron damaging my batting, but if it had any synthetic fiber, I would make sure to have a pressing shield/cloth handy for the tight spaces. 
Now I need to join the batting and the backing.  I find spreading it over a narrow table as below works best as the weight of the quilt hanging down on both sides keeps the quilt smooth. 
The batting is overlapping at this point.
I need to be sure both pieces are flat and smooth. . . . . . 
. . . . . because now I'm going to cut up through the middle of the area, cutting both layers of batting as I go.  Steady does it!  I lift the batting slightly to keep my scissors away from the quilt top. 
There will be excess batting to pull away and the trimmed pieces will butt up to each other nearly perfectly. 
The batting edges can to basted together with a "catch stitch" or use a fusible tape like this one from Marti Michell.  It's 2" wide and fuses to cotton batting beautifully.
Once the batting edges have been basted together, they will lay flat and it's time to seam the backing pieces.  
I overlap one side over the other, trimming off any excess and stitch it by hand -- like applique.   
One of the delightful parts of this finish for me is getting to use these three charming prints that I have been hoarding in my stash for quite some time -- one had 2002 on the selvedge?!?
I stagger the three seams -- the seam of the quilt top is centered in the open space, the seam of the batting pieces is about 1" to the left of the quilt top seam, and the seam of the backing pieces is about 1" to the right of the quilt top seam.
This staggering both helps reduce bulk and seems to make the join more secure.
In the photo below, you can see the unquilted area -- notice how far the backing seam is from the center of that area. 
Here's a view of the same area from the front -- notice the unquilted area along the top half of the photo.  Except for the fact that it isn't quilted yet, you can't even tell that I'm working in sections.
My reference book for this process is Machine Quilting In Sections by Marti Michell.  
When I was working as an educator for Marti, quilters often said to me "oh, I have that book" and my response was always, read it four times and try it!!

Click HERE to read another post I wrote about this process and THIS ONE shows some of the other quilts I've finished using this approach.

So on we go through this huge world event -- it's going to be bigger than Y2K in my memory!  I hope you can keep yourself motivated through the calming solace of stitching a bit every day because when we look back, we want to be able to point to the blessings of this time not the fears.

God bless you abundantly!

Linking up today over at TGIFF even though I'm not quite finished!?!


  1. I love your closing line. God bless you abundantly, as well!

  2. It is gorgeous! Love your choice of fabrics and colors. What is the pattern? Thanks for sharing your process.

  3. It is a beautiful quilt. I have seen the process of quilting in sections, but confess I've no desire to try it. I guess I'm just a lazy quilter. Anyway, I have taken up your April challenge and will probably start sandwiching my quilt today. It is hard to stay focused even though I normally find "mindless sewing" quite soothing. Maybe I should tackle some string quilts - they are pretty mindless. I'm finishing up another round of masks and will move on to sandwiching the quilt. Then we will see. BTW, I've been isolated since March 16th. It seems much longer than that.