It was that kind of day…but there was quilting

I’ve been away from quilting for over a week because of traveling, so I was excited to have a day off to do some quilting and try out some new tools.  When I was in Japan at the beginning of the year, I managed to make to a craft shop and a fabric shop, and picked up several new tools, some fabric, and enough batting for 4-5 quilts.  My new tools are probably all quite commonplace to you, but for me they are exciting.  You may know I was experiencing a batting shortage. I had (and still have if truth be told) two completed tops, and I was eager to start on them.  The only batting I have found near where I live is that puffy polyester you might use for stuffing a pillow.  I called the only store I knew that sold batting (an hour by boat and 2 trips through Customs and Immigration away), to find that they were out and did not expect quilt batting to be in for about 3 months!  While I do have batting scraps, they are almost all those leftover edges of the batting that you cut off when you square up your quilt before binding.  The thought of piecing together all those narrow strips to make one batting was not motivating….I can’t help but think of the Igors in Tarry Pratchett’s Discworld.

Enter new tool #1, Miracle tapePatchwork tape. Or miracle tape as I think it should probably be called.  You know, that tape you just put over the edges of your two pieces of your batting, iron, and miraculously, you have a new piece of batting?  I may still find myself needing to make Frankenstein (Igorian!) batting at some point, but at least it will be faster to make, and it will look prettier.  It would be nice if the tape strip were wider, but it will do.  I also should probably admit in my first use of this wonderful new tool, i managed to iron part of my batting to the ironing board…It was that kind of a day, as you will see.  Luckily, the tape can be pulled off easily, and if you haven’t managed to get it all folded in on yourself, *cough*, repositioned.

The second tool I got to play with today was basting spray.  Basting is on my list of less than favorite quilting activities, and Basting Spraymy reading about spray basting led me to pick up this can of basting spray, which gives little instruction on use but which the shop salesperson, a young man who looked like he had never touched a sewing needle, claimed could be used for basting a largish quilt.  The older, female salesperson, admitted she didn’t quilt and wasn’t really sure.

I decided to try it out on the small wallhanging I am making for the Inbox Jaunt Mystery Free-Motion Along.  I used it to baste one 20″x22″ piece and a smaller practice square.  I have no idea if I used too much spray or too little, but the layers definitely stuck together.  Though everything looked very smooth after I finished basting, later I noticed a few parts that looked bit..wobbly.  I think it is possible that I used too much spray, or sprayed unevenly, causing some places to get a bit damp and dry slightly oddly.   I am glad that I tried this first on a smaller piece.  My lessons for the day:

1.  You still need to tape down your backing letter, even if the project is small!  This is especially true if you need to reposition something! lol

2.  Double check under your top layer for lumps of stray batting clips that have magically appeared when you sprayed the batting.  Getting those out when you have your batting sprayed with adhesive is much harder!

3. Rather than spraying the backing layer and then trying to evenly lay down the entire batting (or top), put down the two

Use the ruler to smoothly roll the top onto the sprayed batting.
Use the ruler to smoothly roll the top onto the sprayed batting.

layers you want to baste together, fold the top one back, spray only 20 cm or so, fold that section back down, then spray the next section and fold the next section down.  I found it easiest to fold the top layer over a ruler and then use the ruler to gradually roll down the top later, the same way you would smooth out a protective film on your phone. Or rather, the way the guy at the shop would do it.  When I do it, I end up with bubbles.

4.  You might just want to put newspaper down on your surface before you start spraying.

5. Basting spray that has been sprayed on your kitchen counter can substitute for tape when securing your backing to the table.  It also makes an excellent thread catcher.

6.  Basting spray on the rulers that were sitting next to the backing you sprayed with basting spray will stick to the fabric you are trying to cut very effectively.  This is not a good thing.

So having ironed some backing to the ironing board with my magic tape and covered a significant portion of my kitchen in basting spray, it was time to quilt!  Today’s task was to use free motion zigzags to make the grid for the free motion mystery project over at Inbox Jaunt.  I fired up my sewing machine, did some test runs on my practice sandwich, changed threads, and started on my main piece.  Maked with my new hera + seam opening tool, started zigzaging away…and then…

The needle wasn’t picking up the bobbin thread.  Grrr.  I played with the tension.  I re-threaded the machine.  I switched needles.  All would be fine and then I would get those skipped stitches.  I filled a new bobbin, switched to that bobbin, and that seemed to fix it.  I was able to quilt almost to the end of the project and then I got another skipped stitch or two.  I don’t know if it is something to do with the bobbin thread or if the basting spray caused some issues for my machine…I did some more quilting with my walking foot later in the day with no issues, so I am hoping my machine is fine…

Back to today’s project.  Lori Kennedy’s zigzags are so evenly spaced that they look like they were made with the programmed zigzag stitch.  Mine are…creative!  I tried to use the free motion foot on my sewing machine as a rough guide to how wide to make the zigzag, but as you can see, it was not always enough!  The bigger challenge was getting the length of the zigzag even.  Some are long, some are short, sometimes the zigzag is sharp, other times it is curvy…I kept imagining Zeus as a child throwing down lightning bolts and getting told, “Zeus! If you don’t get those lightning bolts even, how do you ever expect to be respected by the other gods!”

All in all, I suspect free motion zigzags might be like free motion feathers.  Put enough of them in and small variations will have their own charm.

Here’s my outline as it ended up.  Now I am waiting for the next task in the quilt along.

IMG_4535The quilt looks quite puffy in the picture…it really was quite flat after basting and it looks better in person.  To be honest, my quilts basted with pins may look similar…I think most of the puffiness will quit out.  I hope!

Linking this up to Work in Progress Wednesday

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2 Comments

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  1. One thought about using the basting spray – actually, more than one. After you’ve gotten your layers sprayed, carefully iron your sandwich on the top and backing sides. This will help smooth everything and promote further stickiness. Some folks are concerned about the chemicals in the spray and recommend you spray outside. Lay down an old sheet first on the ground. There are lots of different recommendations as to the order in which layers are sprayed. Just do an internet search if you want to get thoroughly confused. I used fusible batting because I can’t seem to spray evenly.

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