Rachel at Stitched in Color has a great post about practicing quilting skills, particularly FMQ'ing. Many of the techniques in quilting require some practice to perfect and the question she raises is whether to practice on practice sandwiches OR jump right in and learn while you do on the real thing. There are many different learning styles out there but for me, I am a learn-as-you go person. To wit, I have two finishes that epitomize that approach.
Let's discuss the new things I tried on these quilts.
1. Prewashing Fabrics
When I began my quilting adventure last year, I did some research on the need to prewash. I concluded that so many of my most admired quilters were creating magnificent quilts without the extra step of prewashing. Being a good follower, I have not pre-washed any fabric up to now. In view of the saturated colors, the abundance of red, using fleece and, frankly, this was not the most expensive quilting cotton I have ever purchased, I decided to pre-wash all the fabric. All the character prints, all the sashing cotton, the backing and the bindings.
Conclusion: I will pre-wash in the future only under extreme situations. Not only does pre-washing delay the process (particularly when one makes a calculation error and has to cut more red sashing and wait to wash, dry and iron it!) but different water conditions can effect the result. Note the two different shades of white that resulted from washing Kona white at different times (again...my bad).
Having said all that, I feel very good about the lack of shrinking and color running risk for these quilts.
2. Working with Fleece
This is inexpensive character fleece that I purchased at Joann Fabric (mother of three boys...what can I say, it was calling out for me!) and not the minky fabric I see on so many lovely quilts. As forewarned, this stuff is stretchy and a bit difficult to work with. For Spidey's quilt I used my usual method of taping the backing to the dining room floor and tons of pins for basting. For Star Wars, I used spray basting (thank you Deb for that suggestion).
Conclusion: The spray basting method was MUCH easier to smooth out and control the movement of the fleece while quilting. Surprisingly, sewing the fleece was easy both for the domestic machine and the quilting machine. I will try this again! I used a layer of cotton batting (my usual Warm and Natural) and with the fleece, these are SOFT and fluffy quilts!
3. No-Binding Envelope
Given the bulk of the fleece, I thought I would try the envelope method instead of a binding for the Spiderman quilt.
4. Sewn on Binding
After the experience above with Spiderman, I decided to try yet another binding method and that is a sewn-on binding. There are many tutorials out there, but I thought this tutorial from Amanda Jean of crazy mom quilts was the most relevant to my project. As you can see, the machine stitching is visible on the backside in places, particularly where I slipped.
5. Stitch in the Ditch with FMQ
I decided to keep the quilting light on both quilts. For Star Wars I decided just to stitch in the ditch (with a few FMQ stars here and there). Typically I use my walking foot on my sewing machine to stitch in the ditch. Oh heck, why not try it out on the quilting machine?
6. FMQ Spider Webs
My Sweet 16 and I are getting to know each other more and more.
Conclusion: Not perfect but so much fun!
I selected patterns that would showcase the character prints:
Spiderman is based on Picnic in the Park by Cathy Slattery (found in the summer edition of Modern Quilts)
Star Wars is adapted from Going Bananas by Sandi Irish (found in the June/July 2013 McCall's Quick Quilts).
In summary, these are quilts that are going to two little buddies of mine who I am sure will appreciate soft, snuggly quilts and will not really care about my quilting imperfections! And look at all I learned! A win-win!!
Linking up with the one and the same Amanda Jean's finish it up Friday!
UPDATE: I am also linking this post to a linky party at Pretty Bobbins that focuses on the quilting process.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend,