Wednesday, May 7, 2014

WIP: Monkey Quilt Border

This week I decided on and started quilting the Monkey on a Bicycle quilt for my son. I auditioned patterns for the stitching lines. After considering several patterns in my post for April 16th, I narrowed down the choices for the border.

I thought about using a diagonal grid. It would be easy because I would keep the feed dogs engaged and straight stitch the lines. However, I felt it detracted from the prints too much. It seemed to showcase seams instead of fabric.

I tried the orange peel type treatment of stitch in the ditch like I did on my Jack-O Lantern Trio and liked it better since the centers of the pieces were more displayed. That corner block still needs a bit more thought. I have not decided its pattern yet.

I modified this curved approach a bit more to capitalize on the squares and rectangles in the borders and wound up with this pattern with fewer and larger arcs. The center panel will be quilted in keeping with the leaves and characters of the print.

I like that the arcs seem to echo the curvature of the bananas and showcase the fabrics. 

Now follows the confession of my goofs. I share my process foibles not to complain, but so you all may feel a bit of camaraderie and perhaps have a few laughs. I do not know how I did it, but on the left I omitted a row of quilting. I will go back and catch that row when I do the outer border by moving across inward on the bottom, then back outward above it, with that little up-and-down detour.  In the right photo I did a square length arc instead of a rectangular length arc and will have to pick out some stitches to recover.

In this next stroke of bad luck, I ran out of bobbin thread just two inches from the final edge! Aargh! I did not have an orange bobbin already wound to go either, so had to stop and wind another bobbin. To add insult to injury, when I went back to do that two inches I did not put the pressure foot at the correct plateau height required to FMQ on my Pfaff. The picture on the right shows the loopy bobbin thread mess I made on the back side that I had to pick out. It is not so much the time to pick out that I mind, it is the fear that I am going to slip and cut a hole in the top or backing. It may look like the photo is a bit blurred. This corresponds to the state of my vision after I did all the stitch picking. I did not make any holes in quilt, though. Whew!

I was originally going to do the quilting in brown since that color was in every fabric. I knew it would show up and was going to commit an act of courage with my budding FMQ skills. Once I did a quarter inch around the outer edge in the brown, however, I felt it was too strong. Orange was in every fabric too, so I used it instead. Next week I plan to work on quilting the corner blocks in orange and the center panel in an assortment of other colors. My free-hand arcs are still a bit crooked and not equally sized but, all in all, I like how it is coming together. It does take time and practice, but I do see my FMQ skills on my domestic machine improving slowly.

I have no completed or new projects this week and my list of ongoing projects is pretty much unchanged. I am gradually reducing that back log of quilt tops, though.

Ongoing projects:
  1. Monkey on a bike quilt - FMQ progressing
  2. Chicken quilt - spray basted, awaiting embellishment (April 24, 2014 post)
  3. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  4. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind
  5. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  6. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
It's time to visit Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday and check out what has been keeping other folks busy this week. 


  1. I love the way you test out your FMQ patterns ahead of time on paper ~ what a great idea! I love that orange peel pattern ~ I'm going to have to try that one. I'm still new at this FMQ business!