Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WIP: Monkey Quilt Home Stretch

This was the home stretch in more ways that one. I did a lot of standing up and stretching during and after 16 hours of picking out the brown quilting in the dotted centers of the corner blocks. (To see why, go to my previous WIP post dated May 14, 2014.) I have quilted the brown, orange, and white dots now, though, and it was worth the effort. Here is the quilt folded to show the four re-quilted corners. There  are no more scraggly dark brown squiggles amongst the dots.

I stitched an eighth inch away from the seam line on the inner edge of the brown frames. I decided I liked the way it looked, so I decided to repeat it on two sides of the outer edges of the brown frame. This meant taking out the orange scallops first. But I was now an expert at picking so it took me only about an hour to do two edges on four corner blocks. I left in the scallops that are on the outer edges of the quilt so that they would remain continuous adjacent to the binding.

In other parts of the quilt I just straight stitched an eighth inch away from the seam line for the framing bands of orange and yellow. This photo also shows my scallops in the border and my outlining of the leaves.

All that is left for the Monkey Quilt is to attach the binding and do the hand stitching on it. It will be ready for my son's birthday on Monday (fingers crossed). I will post a finished photo in the next WIP, perhaps with my son in it, if time and lighting permit.

For those of you who follow my blog posts, I have often expressed a fair amount of fear with my FMQ. This quilt was a breakthrough of sorts for me. It had a variety of FMQ techniques – outlining in the center panel, free hand arcs in the border, free hand circles for the dots in the corner blocks, and straight stitching with feed dogs engaged. I changed thread colors many times – orange, yellow, brown, turquoise, beige and did not resort to the more forgiving clear thread for the top. The border scallops are even in an orange color, different from the top fabric (such bravery). And, yes, I did pick out a lot. Thank goodness it was a contrasting thread so I could see what I was picking. (I suppose you could argue that had it not been contrasting thread, it may not have been so compelling for me to remove it, but let's not go there.)

In retrospect the picking out was a positive experience in many ways. I developed several methods to remove the stitching even when my stitches were exceedingly tiny. I did not rip the quilt fabric itself, not even once. I would get up first thing in the morning and have quiet time with my own thoughts while I was picking. But most important of all, it gave me the sense that FMQ is not final, it could be undone even if tedious, and I would not ruin an entire quilt. I also learned the hard way that continuing to FMQ a section in a way I think I do not like is not a good way to confirm that, yes, indeed, I do not like it!

I did deviate from my work on the Monkey Quilt this week in order to take up the shoulder seams on a dress I wanted to wear to a dance last Friday night. It was quite ironic that I had to do more picking to open up each shoulder seam before I could take it up. To add insult to injury, I sewed the first shoulder seam with the strap twisted and had to take it apart to do again. Overall I picked out three shoulder seams for one dress. Fortunately I had the dubious good fortune to have gotten more skilled at picking out from this week's marathon de-quilting. My other improvement is that the hemming of the outer chiffon-like fabric and the inner slippery lining of the dress went fairly quickly and easily. It looks like making those eight napkins (post for April 8, 2014) paid off in my getting better at using my hemmer foot than I was for the last dress I hemmed (post for May 20, 2013).

Other than the dress alterations I have been working the monkey quilt and ignored all other projects. Here are my statistics, which seem pretty static. But my early morning musings have told me that there has been growth in my quilting skills on a longer time scale and I can look back on older posts and confirm it is true.

Completed projects:
  1. Took up shoulders and hemmed dress
Ongoing projects:
  1. Monkey on a bike quilt - quilting completed, just needs binding and signing
  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
New projects:
  1. Alter and hem dress
It's time to visit Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday and check out what has been keeping other folks busy this week and to see all the great photos from Spring Quilt Market. 


  1. I like your monkey quilt. The quilted leaf outline looks great & they're great fabrics too! Shannon from ModernTraditionQuilts

  2. I do love that scalloped FMQ... and I'm so glad you had that breakthrough! I have picked out plenty of FMQ in myself - usually because I sewed the edge of the quit to the center - and there is a theraputic effect. I love the way you traced the leaves, though, and can't wait to see the finished product in person!