It begins here. I printed off a picture of my quilt, then took a fine-point sharpie to “quilt” in the designs I thought I would do.
Then this happens. Over and over, on each row. For every hour quilting, I spent half an hour unpicking. Wrong color thread. Wrong pattern. Wrong shape. Wrong style.
Finally, things start working.
I admit it. The last row got stippled, as I was pretty tired and my shoulders hurt from quilting.
I put it up on the pin wall, but something’s not working.
I pin up different centers–hard to see on this small picture, but I know it’s the center. I call in my resident quilt expert. ”Looks nice,” he says, in the same tone of voice as when he answers the question “Does this make me look fat?” I know now what is wrong, but I am loathe to admit it. I turn out the light and go to bed.
In the morning, I pick up my seam ripper. Unpicking dense quilting gives you a chance to think. A lot. Here comes the sticky question, but first the set-up. I own a good-quality Viking/Husqvarna sewing machine, but it was purchased before we all started quilting so much on our quilts, even though it is called the Quilt Designer. After three tries, I finally found the foot that works for me, the tension, the everything to allow me to quilt on my machine. But my quilting doesn’t look like Judi Madsen’s on The Green Fairy, or on other blogs that I haunt. And I know why: my domestic sewing machine, without a stitch regulator, cannot compare to what a long-arm can do. Or even a baby long-arm. It’s just me and the thread, me and the pedal, my hands moving supposedly in sync with the speed of the machine.
But it’s not enough anymore, is it?
What was wrong with the middle was my quilting. The shape of the fern, the stitches that hover near even, but occasionally veer into very small or a bit-too-big, the whatever–it was just wrong. Free-Motion Quilting — the REAL free-motion quilting, has its warts, showing the artisan behind the tool. But that’s not what we are after anymore, is it? We want perfection: no bobbles, no wobbles.
So after three hours of unpicking, I am back here. And the reality of where our industry is heading today is that if I want a quilt that I feel I can enter in a show, or display wherever, I’ll have to step up on the quilting front, because no matter how you look at it, the ones with the bigger, more extensive machines with stitch regulators will always have it over me on my little domestic machine. Because of the limitations of my tools, I don’t know if I can make it right.
But I’ll try.
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