Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WIP: Nautical Quilt Finish

This week I quilted and finished the nautical baby quilt. I quilted the central section diagonally with white thread as planned with my feed dogs engaged. I set the diagonal spacing and direction to match that of the wave blocks of half-square triangles. Turning was difficult at times as I changed the direction of the diagonals. But I wanted a zig-zag pattern like the sailboats make when they tack into the wind.

It was a bit trickier than I anticipated because on the diagonal there was more fabric to squeeze through the throat of my Pfaff.  I just eyeballed the lines and did not mark anything. I was lazy and leery – lazy about drawing all those lines and leery about getting the marking pen out of the white speckled background. I used safety pins along the striped inner border where there were no wave seams to act as a series of focus points. I aimed for where the designated stripe met the speckled background.

Having no markings on the fabric, I kept focused on an end point before turning. If I'd tried to keep on a drawn line I would have had a bunch of localized squiggles along the way as I corrected. With this long-range focus method, I just had a few bumps in places where I stalled because I had trouble cramming the quilt through. I was glad I did not try to free motion quilt the lines since the stitches would have been very uneven as I tried to stuff the quilt through the throat. The motion would not have been "free" at all!

The outer border I quilted with concentric rectangles with pale blue thread to match the background color of the sailboat print, again with feed dogs engaged. I spaced the quilting lines to create channels along the border that minimally crossed the sailboats.  I decided the channel spacing based on the side borders and kept the same spacing on the top and bottom borders. For straight lines in the borders I used one of my rulers as guidance. I just held it in place as I sewed. It actually worked well since I could have been tempted to follow the pattern of the sailboats which were not necessarily in non-drifting rows.

I sewed lines parallel to the stripes back and forth in the candy-striped inner border. I used white thread and stayed on the white pin-stripes. The quilting is not very visible, but I suspect it will puff up more once the quilt is washed. I did drop the feed dogs and free motion quilt this section. It was close enough to the edge and there were enough directional changes that I felt it was easier to propel the fabric myself than rely on the feed dogs.

Once I finished the last stitch in the binding I asked my husband to hold it up for me outside for a photo. Seeing it completed I am pleased that I went with a same fabric and not contrasting fabric for the binding. The quilted diagonal "tacking" lines are more visible in the sunlight, which is good. Not so good is that the sunshine also casts shadows that highlight horizontal wrinkles between the tacking lines, possibly due to sewing up diagonally on the bias one way and down on the bias back the other way. When I look more closely the fabric does not appear to be twisted or distorted within each channel though, and so I think a washing with soften these bumps. As the saying goes, "If you can't see it from a galloping horse, don't fret about it." I may just have to gallop very fast!

The channel stitching shows up nicely on the back. It is very odd how it is only alternate channels that display the horizontal ridges. And this was with feed dogs engaged - not FMQ - so I was going forward at all times. Perhaps one direction was the tight-squeeze- through-the-throat-of-the-machine direction and the other was the clear-sailing direction. Puzzling... In the lower left is my label, the last item I added.

Here is a close-up of the label showing my name and the year completed. All that is left is to pre-wash this quilt before gifting it. The front and back full quilt photos above appear to have a spot at the lower center on both sides. I was concerned that some liquid has seeped through since it was on both sides. I examined the quilt though, it is spot free, and the blur is an illusion. The brown smudge is an artifact from the camera lens. No need to worry if that will wash out. After laundering to set the dyes and soften the quilt,  I will snap a few more photos. Maybe I will even try some of those artsy shots where a quilt is draped over a bench or picket fence.

This week I also made a cloth book for my older granddaughter. You can see it in my August 26, 2014 post. At just over 21 months old she is slightly beyond the cloth book age but she is learning to count so I better give it to her now. I have a second one in the works for her cousin who is almost 5 months old now. Here are my stats for the week.

Completed projects (1):
  1. Nautical themed baby quilt (July 9, 2014 post, July 16, 2014 post, August 13, 2014 post, August 20, 2014)
Ongoing projects (4):
  1. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - after being hidden away for years awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons, I got it out this week, laid some hexagons out on the bed, and ... contemplated them. (Hey, it's a start!)
  2. Chicken quilt - spray basted, awaiting embellishment (April 24, 2014 post)
  3. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ, I picked thread this week
  4. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
New projects (1):
  1. Counting Monkey cloth book (August 26, 2014 post)
I am hooking up to today's Freshly Pieced post for WIP Wednesday.


  1. I like how this is quilted - and no, I am not galloping by on a horse!!! I looked at it!!!

  2. I love it! I can only see the horizontal lines on the back, not on the front, and I think the tacking zig zag for quilting was an inspired idea. It looks great on the front, makes a really neat pattern on the back, and i do bet that those lines will wash right out. I also just realized that you used the same 3 colors on all 9 boats, and I like the way you arranged them, it really looks like a they're just a happy color-coordinated coincidence of ships out to sea. I love the way you pieced your backing, and I still love that little sailboat border. Nicely done!

  3. I love how much thought you put into the quilting pattern. The tacking lines are a great idea. Your quilting looks great - I don't see the flaws you're talking about. It's a beautiful quilt and some baby is going to be lucky to receive it.