Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Finishing Well with Free Motion Quilting
When it comes to quilting, there seems to be an idea that "finished is good enough." Some quilters enjoy making the quilt top so much that when that is over, they don't really want to put more time and effort into the actual quilting. They are ready to make their next top. That's where people like me come into play!
My business relies on my ability to "finish well." I believe that each quilt deserves to be unique, or at least have thought and time put into making it special. Now, some quilts are made from such busy fabric that custom quilting just doesn't make any sense. You would never see it, and it would be a waste of money to pay for it. Even so, those quilts should have a free motion edge to edge designs that takes a cue from the fabric, a thread color that enhances the top, and quilting that takes pains to bring out the best in the piecing (and camouflage the worst),
Take the two quilts above for example. The bright BOM quilt is a perfect example of a quilt that is "too busy" to bother with custom quilting. I named it "Taking Flight" because it includes Laurel Burch fabrics with dragonflies, butterflies, and hummingbirds. In my choice for machine quilting, I wanted to expand on that theme, so I used an all over pattern of flowers and dragonflies. The rainbow variegated thread goes with the bright fabrics and lends a sense of fun to the quilting. I made an effort to place my flowers in blocks where they would be seen (a feat that cannot be accomplished by standing at the back of a quilting machine and using a panto-graph pattern) and if I had points that weren't as perfect as they should have been, I deliberately ran a line of quilting over the points to cover that little imperfection. I love the end result, and I believe it is "finished well."
Now, the "Wonky Log Cabin" quilt...I have had that quilt top finished for several months. I didn't put it on the frame because I knew that it would take some extra time for custom quilting. Granted, I could have thrown it on the frame and ran an edge to edge pattern on this quilt. It would have been quick and easy. It would have been finished. However, I believed this quilt deserved to be more special than that. I created a design to enhance the secondary stars pattern between the blocks. I used a swirling feather in those blocks. The thread blends and shows up on both the dark sections and the light sections of the block. In the borders, I quilted a flower and vine that mirrors the tiny burgundy flowers in the fabric itself. These are design choices. Someone else would make different choices. That is what makes free motion quilting so special. Each quilt speaks to the person quilting it and, therefore, becomes unique.
I have dozens of quilts, and I can honestly say that no two are quilted in exactly the same way. They may have similar elements. They may use the same thread color. But, each is a little bit different simply because I quilted it from the front of the machine as the mood struck me. I could never achieve that type of result from simply quilting a panto from the back of my machine. For me, the thrill of quilting is in the design, the choices, and the actual guidance of the machine over the quilt top. "Finished" is just not good enough for my quilts...they must be "finished well."