Sunday, 7 October 2012

Quilting the Third Compass - Ju's

Well the quilting of the 3rd compass is completed.   It's been finished for a while now but a busy work week and a lovely weekend last week stopped me from posting.   I had a 6 hour Skype session with Wales as we had the handover of our 2 year border round robin.   12 women, 12 quilts with a 2 month rotation.   The quilts are amazing and I hope to start a second blog about the round robin and the process in November when I've finished Mariner's Compass and get the quilt into my hands.

Anyway the quilting of this started off lovely.   I decided to continue stippling the compass points but this time used a combination of large and micro stippling in the side by side points to see if that would give a subtle shading and help the points to stand out.   I'm not sure it did but it was great practise for micro stippling so will continue with that design for the 4th compass and possibly the large.

The pebbling continued well and I feel like I'm really getting the hang of that.

Leah suggested Channel Weave for the rumba's and it worked beautifully I think.   The combination of the curves in the darker points and the straight lines in the lighter ones has really made the compass pop.   I'd love to do it for the 4th compass but have promised myself a different design on each one.   So am looking for suggestions for the last in the rumba's while I finish off the stippling and pebbling.

However the sewing of the Channel Weave was a, how do I put it?, well frankly a bitch.   My tension was completely off and suddenly I had major skipping of stitches.   I did everything all my books suggest, checked both tensions, re-threaded the machine, changed the needle and NOTHING worked.   I had taken receipt of my Ultimate Free Motion Sewing Kit and was so anxious to try it.   I put in the washer and the glider and it made no difference.   Well actually the glider was a joy so I felt the difference in moving the quilt but the stitching was a pain.

When we started quilting years ago (the Friendship Quilting Group) we did a number of block round robins and the rule was to use unbleached calico in each block with a colour.   The problem with calico is that it comes in many different weights and I noticed that Ju used an almost upholstery weight of calico in the white rumbas and also the curves where I did the pebbling.    I didn't have a problem with the pebbling, it just started with the rumbas.   

I went back to my test sandwich but the problem is that it is standard quilting weight calico on both sides, not a mixture of flannel beneath and the heavy calico on top which is what I was working on.

I'm going to take my machine in for a service but that will have to wait until next week so what should I do NOW?   I had a couple of choices, leave that part of the quilt and move on, stop quilting until the machine is serviced or just battle on.   I decided to battle on.   I think I felt that if I stopped then some sort of fear would just grow and magnify and there would be a real danger that I would just simply put the Mariner's Compass aside for months.

I had a strong desire to stop quilting and start piecing a new quilt.

Normally I would say just stop and do something else that is more pleasant, leave the battle for another day but I'm working through a last UFO here and I just felt it was important to continue on.   That having a problem with a particular area of a quilt was part of the reason I let so many pile up in the first place and I know that having an unfinished quilt and then starting on another makes me feel a bit anxious and rushed with the new quilt and vaguely guilty.   Starting something with enthusiasm and then stopping when it gets a bit hard or I hit a problem or begin to feel a bit bored is a pattern for me in a lot of things and it felt critical that I didn't do this again. 

So the choice was made to just push through.   Where stitches skipped I used that as a chance to practise travelling.   I told myself that with everything, even the fun things, there are bad days and it is better to push through if you can rather then stop.   This is not a show quilt and I'm happy to have that area of the quilt to remind me that I didn't give up and life, like the Olympics, is sometimes a matter of taking part but not winning.

What I did notice with the quilting was how important the position of the quilt is.   I don't have much option with Mariner's Compass, at 90 inches by 90 inches I cannot change the positioning of the fabric, I had to adjust the angle I sew at.   I started working from the point towards me and back up to the curve and it was great.   I had no problems with the pattern, Channel Weave needs changes in direction so you have to think a bit especially in the beginning.    In all I felt it was easy and loved working on it.   When I had to work with the point to the left and the curve to the right, it was more difficult and I lost my way many times.   When I finally worked with the point at the top and down to the curve it was super difficult especially as the fabric began to bunch up into the curve.   

So sometimes it is not that a pattern is difficult but that the positioning of the fabric isn't ideal.   If I had started trying Channel Weave with the points to the top and the curve at the bottom I might have given up.   So another lesson is to relax and just wait and see how things progress, don't immediately think "I hate this pattern" or "I'm so bad at quilting".

So Compass 3 gave me a lot of challenges but also a lot of learning.     I didn't have to push through, and wisdom would say stop doing what frustrates you and move to something more pleasant.   That is my pattern in UFOs and this time I decided not to.   I think when the quilt is finished I'll look at this compass fondly and it will remind me to put on my shoes and go for that run, get the books out and study even for 30 minutes, pay those bills, take out the trash or whatever it is that I'm itching to avoid.

And I finally moved my study desk into the sewing room and put it at the back of the sewing trestle so I can spread the quilt out and not have it bunched at the back of the machine.   I think that this will make a difference for the better.    I'm going to experiment with the feed dogs in the up position for the next compass.

I'm linking up with:

UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project


  1. I find your quilt amazing and inspiring!

  2. Even though you had problems with channel weave, I love the texture it gives!

  3. Thanks ladies. I am now finding that I'm using quilting this quilt to avoid other projects. Oooppps.

    The channel weave is great and easy if you can manipulate the block around which I couldn't do. Would definitely use that one again.

  4. This looks stunning love the vibrancy of it can't wait to see it all done x

    1. I hope to have it finished by the end of October but will take it one week at a time. It's great to have the Sunday post pushing to achieve someone on the quilt.

  5. How brave of you to piece and quilt a compass star - your points are amazing! What tenacity to keep on quilting when you had a problem and figure out how to make the problem work for you. You decided what caused the problem and decided to work through it! You should be very proud of yourself!

    1. Wow, thanks. I thought I was just being a stubborn ass. My points are perfect because I used a fusible foundation pattern from Quiltsmart which I can totally recommend. Fast and easy and perfect.

  6. I really like the combination of quilting patterns here. The curves in the darker points really makes them radiate, and the channel weave and pebbling looks great. I also DO see the difference in the larger-scale and smaller-scale stippling, too. Great job!

  7. You DO? Thanks, will push cheerfully on. Half way through the last small compass and then onto the big one.