Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two Trees & a Shrub Away from the Finish Line

This week The Overlook was squared, trimmed, bound and blocked. I usually block first, but the quilting was fairly even and was spaced far enough apart that the quilt really wasn't much out of square.

After squaring it with rulers and a marking pen, I stitched a line all around, just inside my marked line. That's to secure any quilting stitches at the edges before the final cut is made on the marked lines.

After blocking. You can see the T-pins between the binding and the quilt.

(also after blocking)
The quilt just barely fit on my 'blocking box' --the bottom section of a large but shallow shipping box, which I perched on top of a card table. It was nice to not have to work on the floor.

The box has a squared line drawn in permanent marker around the edges. It also has a lovely dent from being squashed in the attic door (thanks, son), so I propped up that section of the quilt with a partly folded fat-quarter to keep it level.

Two layers of an old cotton sheet were laid over the quilt, misted with water until damp (not wet), then well-steamed a couple of inches above the surface with my iron.

The quilt was left untouched overnight and most of the next day. By then all layers were completely dry. Even though it was fairly square to begin with, blocking gave it a more 'finished' look, shrinking out any flabby sections and smoothing the whole quilt without taking away any of the texture or puffiness. It's hard to describe, but there's definitely a difference.

Both trees passed the final audition and were attached this afternoon by free moton machine stitching. This weekend one (or maybe two) of the three shrubs will be re-auditioned. If all goes as planned, the quilt should be finished early next week.

While the quilt was being blocked, the vinyl overlay used in designing and piecing the quilt top was spread out for cleaning---the idea being to wipe the 'permanent' marker off with rubbing alcohol, since any errant lines during the initial drawing had been successfully removed by those little alcohol pads that come in individual wrappers.

Well, so much for that plan. Apparently, if you leave permanent marker on vinyl long enough, it does become permanent. It did fade from black to blue (notice the upper half), but that's as far as the cleaning went. Then again, maybe it's the alcohol. As mentioned, I used the little individually wrapped pads when correcting my lines during drawing. But when attempting to clean the entire piece of vinyl, I used paper towels and isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) from a bottle--which didn't seem to smell nearly as strong. Might there be a difference? I wonder now. If anyone knows, please share. Didn't think to test it at the time. Maybe later.

Anyway, now the vinyl (and the paper it came with to keep it from sticking to itself) are rolled up on a mailing tube and labeled 'used vinyl.' I'll use it to paint fabric on, or for some other messy job. Very little goes to waste around here.

Time to sign off. Loving this fall weather and being upstairs with the studio windows open, but I do wish our fall color was better this year. Overall it's just been too dry. Here's a shot from one of the windows.

Before I go, though, I'm linking up with Whoop Whoop Fridays and Free Motion Mavericks. Check them out and get ready for lots of inspiration!

Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are this fall (or spring, depending on your hemisphere).



  1. I had never thought of marking before cutting to square off with stitching before. Genius! Of course! I usually just cut but this makes so much more sense. And your blocking method as well. I have to try this. Thank you for sharing. I always learn so much from you. Outlook is beautiful.

    1. Thanks so much, Carol. I am so happy when the blog turns out to be helpful.

  2. Blocking definitely brings a quilt up a level in refinement. I love the effect. I've never steamed them like this, so I'm glad to see how you do it for when I want a different approach than my usual pin-it-out-on-the-carpet-and-spray-it-wet. This works well here in Colorado, but it was not a good idea in Florida. Too humid there for it to dry before getting musty! Can't wait to see the final landscape. Your work always enchants me.

    1. Thanks so much. I can certainly understand how you might need to spray it wet in Colorado. It's pretty humid here in KY, not like FL, but still.... I did used to wet them more and then had one go musty on me. That was all it took! lol

  3. Thank you, Linda, for sharing your finishing techniques. It seems there is always more to learn and you are an excellent teacher. I can certainly tell why you opted to steam and not press the quilt. You've achieved so much depth with your quilting.

    1. Thank you, Gwyned. I live in fear of dropping that iron on the quilt while steaming. Arm and shoulder aches sometimes ensue, but the result is worth it.

  4. Thanks for sharing how you blocked your quilt. I don't usually do that, and am even lax about squaring things up. I know it makes a big difference in how it looks in the end. I think your landscape is lovely, and I'm looking forward to the finish. I've used permanent marker on vinyl and got better results when removing it with alcohol, but there was a bit of a shadow left. I wonder, too, if time is a factor.

    1. Turns out those little alcohol pads that did such a good removal job on the day I was drawing are not even as strong as what I tried to clean with from the bottle--and they are also isopropyl. I did try an ethyl alcohol today but got the same result--the lines just went from black to blue. I think it's a lost cause, as the blue appears to be a permanent 'stain' even after that layer of caked-on black ink is removed.

  5. It's looking good already, Linda. Those eagles mean business. I've been turning my head upside down to try and work out where the trees are going to go, and now I've cheated and looked ahead to your latest post. Fabulous!

    Does it matter that you can't clean the vinyl? In five years' time you might want to make a second version, and it will take you half the time. I can't help you with the cleaning. I tend to steer clear of alcohol in the sewing room.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv


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