Thursday, September 24, 2015

Too Much Quilting?

My version of the Charley Harper Quilt
I finished quilting almost every inch of my version of the Charley Harper quilt, designed by Melissa Lunden. The original was on the cover the the International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine (2013\2014). I originally wanted this to be the front of a quilt with a pieced back, but I just couldn't do it. I'd rather have two quilts to FMQ than one!

This is the first quilt larger than a wall hanging that I quilted so densely. I had an absolute ball quilting it. Free motion quilting (FMQ) is sooooo addictive. I was going to practice all kinds of FMQ designs in the rectangles but it only took one block to figure out that they wouldn't show up since the printed fabric was so busy. Really, I should have known that. Oh well, that's what experience is for. After this quilt, I may actually remember this!

Letting the fabric dictate the quilting
So except for two of the fabrics, I did what I usually do with busy fabric; I let the design dictate the quilting. I followed the fabric design and quilted around flowers and leaves, and lines and scrolls. For the maroon fabric, to add contrast, I didn't FMQ it at all. As for the fabric with tiny hexagons, that's the fabric I started practicing my FMQ designs and quilted 3 larger hexagons within it. I quilted them all like this for consistency, but they're practically invisible!

For the circles at one end of the quilt, I FMQ the first one by going around the design and then quilting from the edge of the circle to the inside, following the fabric pattern. I wasn’t really pleased with it, so all of the other circles were quilted using one of Angela Walter’s FMQ patterns from her Shape by Shape book. The FMQ doesn’t show much from the front, but can be seen better from the back.
The back of the quilt - FMQ the circles

I did all of the stitch-in-the-ditch and FMQ in the rectangles and bottom circles using the taupe Superior Thread’s Bottom Line.

To quilt the feathers on the brown background, I bought some WonderFil – Invisifil, which is a 100 wt. soft poly. After my second feather, I knew I had a problem. Even after playing around with the tension, there was no way I could get my machine to play nice with the thread, which kept breaking. I decided to change thread but was in a panic about finding thread that would match. I bought some thread but they weren’t the right colour. Finally in desperation I looked in my miscellaneous thread drawer and found the perfect thread. It was an Omni Thread, poly-wrapped Poly Core, size 30 by Superior Threads. I had gotten it from Superior Threads’ Try Me Specials where you choose the type of thread (at very good prices) and they choose the colour. The Omni Thread was the perfect colour and quilted like a charm.
Close-up of the background feathers

I drew the outline of my first feather, but after that, I was able to just keep going. I love making big feathers and then making smaller ones to fit particular spaces.

The only problem I had while I was quilting the feathers occurred when I was about ¾ finished. I ran out of taupe Bottom Line thread. Thank goodness I have a supplier who came through for me. Crisis averted!

If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you will know that I’m not a great planner. That’s why I’m very proud of the fact that I put together my binding before I started quilting.

This week I got to work early and had a wonderful photo shoot with the quilt! I felt like an artist draping my quilt over benches, walls and fences to take photos. It was a great way to start a work day!
The quilt's photo shoot

What I learned:
  • A year ago I would have laughed if someone had said that I would care a lot about thread! I’ve really come to appreciate the effect that thread has on a quilt.
  • I didn’t FMQ the maroon rectangle at all. I’m still not sure if I like it – but if I ever decide that I don’t, I’ll just lightly quilt it. 
  • Have you noticed in the picture of the quilt on a fence, that I used a few inches of the background fabric in my binding (on the left side)? Not good. It looks like there’s no binding there. I think I won’t forget this lesson!
  • I love FMQ but I don’t think that I’ll be quilting other quilts as heavily as this. I’m not sure what the perfect amount of FMQ is for me, but I do find this quilt too stiff. That is definitely a drawback of quilting so densely.
  • In October 2013. I posted a blog called "Too Much of a Good Thing", where I wondered if a quilt so densely quilted would be stiff. It turns out I was right. 
  • This quilt was done as a learning project – from choosing the fabrics to the quilting. I’ve learned so much from this quilt. It was totally worth the effort!

I've linked my post to the following Linky Parties. Check out the fun!


  1. Enjoyed your post. It is endlessly fascinating to me to hear how other people process their work. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your successes. It's a lovely quilt and I do believe that we all learn from each quilt we make.

    1. Hi, I really do learn a lot from other quilters. It's great to see everyone's projects and I like finding out what other quilters' process is. I love the open and sharing community of quilters!

  2. Hello Andree,

    Great quilt! I love the way you decided what was best as you went along - some quilts have to evolve rather than be made according to a plan, and in the end you can end up pleasantly surprised! After all the ups and downs with thread and working out FMQ patterns, I can see why you enjoyed doing the photo shoot so much.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv

    1. Thanks Muv. It was a great project to learn from. I then to be more intuitive in all of my quilting process. It's always good, but sometimes planning would have been a good thing :-) Thanks for having me at Free Motion Mavericks.

  3. This quilt is gorgeous! I love its colors, and your FMQ is so pleasing. Yeah, more quilting means stiffer. But also, have you already washed it? Depending on the batting, it's really surprising how much they soften up with a wash!

    1. Hi Lynette, yup, it's pretty stiff, even after the washing. I actually have it folded on a chair so that the dog can sit on it. It's perfect for that. I've been thinking about the difference between my hand quilted projects and my FMQ projects. I miss the hand quilting but it's so nice to get a quilt done in a few weeks instead of months! I think I'll just have to have a few different projects going, with at least one that includes hand quilting.

  4. If you want to quilt densly and still have a soft snuggly quilt, i suggest you try wool batting! I quilt the crap outta my quilts and they are super soft still, and after washing get even softer! Really. And buying by the roll, wool only costs $$16/queen size cut. I never use cotton anymore,


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