Positively Floating – a Finish

Earlier this summer I made a plus quilt using the Art Gallery Dare fabric line, designed by Pat Bravo. I set it aside for a while, as most of us tend to do. After taking the long arm class, I decided to quilt this one for my second round of practice. Thursday last week found me at the Sew-So Shop ready to load the project on the machine.

When I arrived, I was told that the owners would be running a bit late due to a family emergency. There was another woman, a very experienced long arm quilter (Diane), who was there to pick something up and she offered to help me get everything set up. I felt so fortunate to have run into her because she taught me a great deal in the 15 minutes that we worked together. It was so helpful!  We got the backing, batting and quilt top loaded and straight.

I talked with Diane about my plan to quilt this. I wanted to do simple spirals in the negative space and something linear within the pluses so they would be differentiated from the background. She and I scribbled on paper for a bit and decided on a flow of linear lines that look like water flowing. This would allow me to leave the machine free (as opposed to setting the channel locks for straight lines) and would give me a relaxed pattern to stitch. It worked perfectly (well, nothing is perfect but overall, it was very successful!)

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I love the flow of these soft linear curves. At first I tried to treat each plus as a separate entity but it didn’t seem to make a difference so I relaxed on that and let the lines flow over the edge of one fabric and on to the next.

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I love this motif – I don’t think I have used it prior to this but I will definitely use it again. It was really relaxing to stitch.

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For the negative space, or the background, I did large, loose spirals and loops. My goal was to work on my speed control and precision so I picked a simple motif. Looking back, I wish I would have selected a darker gray thread because the quilting hardly shows up.  I was not feeling very confident about my abilities so I picked a light thread, in case the stitching wasn’t the best.

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The stitching shows up better on the back.  For the first time, I bought a wide back cotton for the backing. This was so convenient! I had begun to piece a backing using the leftover Dare fabrics but when I decided to do this on the long arm, I nixed a pieced backing. I have enough going on loading the long arm without having to worry about a potentially wavy or ‘un-square’ backing (is that a word?).  Using a wide back fabric eliminated all of those possible issues.

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Since I had already pieced strips of the scraps, I decided to use that as the binding. I sliced the strips into 2 1/4″ strips for the binding. You know how much I love a scrappy binding.

As with each long arm experience before, I do have a question. The finished quilt has a bit of a wave to the center of it. (Look at the photo at the top and you’ll see it.) I feel it was flat and square when I started to quilt it. My question is, do you think this is because I quilted the Plus section more tightly than the negative space? It definitely has a stiffness to the Plus area. When I did the surrounding area, I kept it loose so the whole quilt wouldn’t be stiff but maybe I should have been consistent all the way through? Looking for some advice here. Yvonne….. Help please! 🙂

Oh how I have enjoyed learning about and using the long arm. I have one more finished quilt top to do so I will set up some time for that project soon! It has really helped me to get some projects finished up that were languishing a bit.

Couple of reminders –

  1. The voting begins for the Quilt Bloggers Festival on Sunday! Go take a look and choose your favorites — so many gorgeous projects have been entered.
  2. Handmade Halloween is coming soon! I hope you are checking your blog history for fun posts to link up that will inspire readers to make something for Halloween! If you don’t want to link an older post, you are welcome to write a new one. Lots of fun prizes have been provided by Craftsy, C&T Publishing, as well as Lorna from Sew Fresh Quilts. Come back and join the party October 4th!! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions!
  3. Craftsy has a sale going on this weekend. All classes are less than $20 (except for those in the Great Courses line.) Take advantage and learn something new!! There is always something new to learn.  (Note, I am a Craftsy affiliate.)

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Linking up to my favorites. See the tab at the top of the page, Link Ups, for more info.

24 thoughts on “Positively Floating – a Finish

  1. Kaholly

    Looks wonderful to me! What a great opportunity to be able to rent time on the machine. Curious to know the quilt size and how long you spent on the long arm making it so pretty! XO

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      The quilt is 60×65″ and it too me about 2.5 hours from loading it to unloading. I used two full bobbins plus a partial. That is another benefit to the Sew So shop. They keep a rainbow of threads so there is always the right color. I don’t supply it. This will be nice for a quilt where I want to change out colors because I have access to so many (tho I cannot remember what brand it was?)

      Reply
  2. Wendy

    What a pretty quilt, Bernie! I really like the quilting you did, as well. I’ve never worked on a long arm, but it sounds like you are enjoying it!

    Reply
  3. Paige

    Quilters are the best, that’s great Diane helped you get started and offered suggestions. Your quilting is beautifully done! More density in the center could very well be the culprit of the slight waviness. What if you blocked it by spritzing it or dunking in the washer, spinning and smoothing it out to dry.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Paige. So if I wet and block it, will it hold a better shape once it dries? What about the next time it is washed? I haven’t blocked anything so I am unsure? I appreciate the info.

      Reply
  4. JanineMarie

    This looks so good, Bernie! I love how your swirls look on the back, and in the right light, they do show up well on the front, too. I think washing (and maybe blocking) the quilt will take care of any concerns you have about waviness. Three cheers for Diane for helping you load the quilt. Quilters are the best!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      At this point in time I feel like I have the best of both worlds- access to a long arm but I don’t have to figure out where to put it at home or spend the money to buy one- if I quilted as a business it might make sense- do you think you might make the investment?

      Reply
  5. Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl

    Quilting density differences can be especially noticeable on a longarm, but to my eye, I don’t think the difference here is too dramatic. I think Paige’s suggestion about blocking can help, but it might require attention the first few washings as well. Something else that can cause that is the batting. Did you use a roll of batting? Was it a folded roll? Was one of the folds of the batting in that location? It might just have more batting and / or a wave from the batting and a wash might help a lot. And one other thought – did you quilt all the background and then go fill in the plus signs? It might have pushed material to the middle that didn’t cause puckers, but again a ripple effect.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Oops! I hit send too fast! Anyway, I bought the batting off of a roll- this is the first time I’ve done that. When I quilted, I went from side to side and switched between the background and the pluses -so I don’t think that was the culprit. I will give it a wash and see how it is after that. I’m not hugely concerned – mostly trying to learn from it. Thanks for the suggestions. I appreciate it.

      Reply
  6. Kate Heads

    Lovely quilting on your plus quilt Bernie, I especially like the water flowing effect, it would be great for an all over design too. I love seeing how your quilting is developing, you go from strength to strength. I am impressed at how quickly you can finish a quilt using a long-arm, I don’t suppose I will ever have the opportunity to try it but it’s fun watching you. Love your posh rolled up quit pic, it shows the scrappy binding off to great effect.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks Kate- I had a lot of fun working on this one. It has been a good experience overall.
      Hoping that life is calmer for you these days. ?

      Reply
  7. Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow

    It looks wonderful, Bernie, and how nice that lady was to help you. I think when the quilt is washed and all nice and crinkly that you might not notice your wave very much. I had to go look for it when you mentioned it ….would have never seen it at all 🙂

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks Dev. I am not terribly concerned but I do like learning how these things happen… Otherwise how do I avoid it the next time? I am going to give it a wash and see how it looks from there.

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Isn’t it great how helpful others are, chiming in with their hints and experiences. I love that. Hope all is well with you and your family Diana.

      Reply
  8. Mary at Fleur de Lis Quilts

    Well, for someone who writes as though she doesn’t have much long-arm experience, you absolutely did a great job! I like the motifs very much and use them myself quite often. The little wave in the center is quite likely from one motif being a little tighter than the other or some of the suggestions above, but in the long run it’s an opportunity to learn more. If the quilt is places on a bed, that wave will lie flat with a little patting. (Patting, not pushing or tugging or pulling. Just pat the quilt beginning in the wave and pat, pat, pat it to the edge of the bed.) The fabrics you chose, the beauty of your blocks and your quilt motifs all stand out much more than a little wave ever could. This quilt is really beautiful!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks so much Mary. I appreciate the info and your kind compliment. This has been such a fun thing to learn and practice! So glad you stopped by. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Linda

    Love plus quilts and this is so beautiful! The backing is great! Glad you had some “expert” help at the long-arm – how I would love to be knowledgeable and give advice such as Diane did!
    I can’t figure out how to vote on the quilt festival – any tips?

    Reply

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