October 11, 2017

Quilt 15: Wiliam Morris Layer Cake - DONE!

Quilt 15...?  How can I just be finishing quilt 15 when I posted about quilt 94 only a week ago?!?

Well..  I pieced the top back in early 2013 - but after the top was done I realized some of the blocks weren't aligned perfectly.  I thought about pulling it apart and redoing the blocks, but, well...  ...the amount of work involved in that was way, WAY more than I wanted to get into.  That, plus the fact is that when the top is laying on a bed, you just don't easily see the error (I didn't spot it until I started sandwiching it).  So I went ahead pinned the "sandwich" - but just couldn't bring myself to spend the time required to hand-quilt something that large, knowing the flaw was there.  So it sat in a huge basket in the lounge room gathering dust.

But now....!  I have a longarm capable of mounting a king-size spread on - and as much as I'm loving "Bernie" - learning to work with her is fairly challenging (translation: I'm making a lot of mistakes...), so having a large project that could be a "throw away" if it turns out badly worked out well.  Fortunately, my backing and batting were a good 5" wider than the top, so it was suitable for mounting on the longarm.  So I did just that and off I went.

And here it is:
Queen size bedspread - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - polyester batting.
Although this was my second project quilted on Bernie, there were some firsts, issues to work through and lessons learned:
  1. First queen-size quilt. 
    Lesson learned here was that, with a quilt this large, I don't want to use pieced backing.  The backing on this quilt was in 3 panels - and it wasn't perfectly flat when I rolled it on the frame!  Instead I found that one of the panels bowed slighting- EEEK!  You'd never notice that if you're hand-quilting, but on the longarm it took a good bit of fiddling to get the bowing worked out (I rolled it back and forth on the bars, finding that worked out most of the bowing).  From here out, I plan to purchase extra wide fabric for backing larger quilts from now on so piecing isn't needed.
  2. First time using groovy boards on Bernie. 
    There were a several things to work out here. 

    First of all, when I bought my groovy boards, I got 3 of each pattern so I can quilt up to 6 feet across without having to stop and move the boards.  The king-sized spread is 8 feed wide, so I had to pick up one board and move it from one end to the other.  That was more than a bit of a pain, and I'm thinking about getting a 4th board for the patterns I have. 

    Second, the edge of the surface where you lay your pantographs or groovy boards on the Bernina dips slightly downward on the left side of the frame.  That causes the groovy boards to slide under the edge of the frame instead of resting snug against it.  The result is that the boards on that end tend to slide a little easier, and get out of alignment with the ones on the right.  I use painter's tape to hold the board in position, but even so, it's too easy for them to shift. 

    Third - with the Handi Quilter, the stylus mechanism is adjustable.  Once you advance the quilt, you can move the stylus into position for the next row.  The Bernina's stylus mechanism is anchored on the machine and can't be moved.  That means you have to manipulate the quilt to get it positioned with the stylus.  That's a LOT harder to do - and I actually got it wrong on a couple of rows and I'm not sure what I did wrong.  On this quilt I used "Simply Stippling" and so the places where the rows aren't correctly spaced really isn't visible - but it would be a disaster to have alignments wrong on a pattern like "Baptist Fan".

    Fourth (and finally something I'm happy about), the Bernina stylus is more stable than the Handi Quilter's and has tips on both the top and bottom.  It's the tip that drops into the board grooves.  The tips on each end of the stylus are different sizes.  I used the larger one and found that it fits the Handi Quilter board grooves better than the Handi Quilter stylus does!  The overall result is that it's easier to control the Bernina stylus and there's a lot less "wobbling" - which has always been a problem with Handi Quilter.

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