Thursday, December 3, 2015


Pretending it hasn't been a month since my last blog post, I'll just casually pick up where I left off.  :)

After finishing The Overlook, my last landscape quilt, I went back to the donation quilt begun a few weeks before. It's a quilt-as-you-go and sort of a crazy quilt, in that the blocks are pieced in a wonky way.

However, the idea with this particular QAYG was to use no joining strips. Instead, you baste each row of the quilt top to an oversize strip of batting, then quilt each batted row one at a time to a whole-cloth backing. A good friend of mine has been doing this for years to cut down on bulk and weight on her small sewing machine. You start with the middle row and quilt it to within an inch away from the edges. Then you seam that row to the next row of blocks, trimming the batting to meet up with the previous row of batting and connecting the batting with either hand-basting or iron-on batting tape. Commence quilting, including the inch you avoided quilting in the previous row. As in the traditional QAYG method, you're keeping the bulk of your work to your left while quilting on the right.

The upside to this method is, again, that there are no joining strips to deal with, since you've already joined your blocks (sashing optional), and the back is whole-cloth (or pieced, like mine, into one big backing). 

The downside(s) to this method did not become apparent until I was quilting the third row. Using a free-motion stipple, I noticed it was getting more and more difficult to move the quilt. By the end of that third row, with two rows to go, I was so stiff and sore that I halted the project to figure out what my problem was.

And finally it hit me. There were actually two problems. First of all, my friend, who as mentioned uses this method all the time, never uses commercial batting. She always uses an old flannel sheet...warm but lightweight and very supple. I, on the other hand, was using a fairly heavy cotton batting.

The other problem was the difference in my quilting and hers. She uses a dual-feed foot and a straight stitch for the entire quilt, either in a grid pattern or stitch-in-the-ditch. I was free-motion quilting with the feed dogs down. Huge difference!

Knowing I didn't have the physical prowess to continue stippling, I attached the dual-feed foot, returned the feed dogs to the 'up' position, and marked some lines on the remaining two rows. Because of the weight, though, I still couldn't maneuver the quilt the way my friend does, so with every line of quilting, instead of turning, I had to break thread and start the next line fresh. What I should have done to save some of this hassle was quilt the last two rows at once, instead of continuing quilting one at a time. Hindsight is great, isn't it? So all told, there are now dozens of knots buried behind those last two rows.

Here you can see the transition from free-motion stipple to feed-dog-driven serpentine stitch.
A couple of other problems ensued along the way, but I'll spare you those. Suffice to say that the upshot of it all is, I don't trust this quilt enough to donate it. It will stay right here in my house where it can be observed throughout several launderings to see how well it holds up. Lesson(s) learned!

Extra-long twin bed.

The pieced back

I had no suitable fabric to make binding, so leftover strips from the back edges were pieced together instead...which is why you see white areas on the binding.

Here's my favorite block, but only because of the center motif:

So, done and done. And never to be done again. Back to the usual QAYG method for me--joining strips and all!

Have a wonderful weekend~~



  1. Lesson learned! And thank you for sharing so I won't be tempted to try this method. Although using the flannel for a summer weight quilt might work as your friend does.

    1. Carol, I think that's the only way I'll ever try it again. She's a lot better at finding those flannel sheets than I am, though, because she checks the thrift shops a lot more often than I do. I rarely want to go shopping anywhere.

  2. I've done several this way, Linda, and not had a problem and one was very large. Here's how I make it happen (and you may have done some of these steps so this is just a repeat): I make sure none of the quilt overhangs the edge of the table around my machine to drag. I also make sure the quilt is bunched up around the machine to make the part I am working on easy to move. I quilt the row in the middle first(as you did) and then the next row to the right, and then the next row to the right of that til at edge. I then reverse the quilt and do the other half. I've also been known to cut off one side of the batting. Stitch the side with batting and then add the other side once the one side is done. It helps to have 1/3 of the batting weight off the quilt. The best explanation of this method is in Marti Michel's book Machine Quilting in Sections. Best price for this book is Walmart online. The neat thing is you can buy it online and have it sent to your nearest Walmart to pick up there and not pay any shipping. Hope you try it again. It's a beautiful quilt!

    1. Thank you, Angie! I have that book and need to go back and actually *read* it as opposed to skimming it. When it first came, I was only considering doing this method and hence didn't read it thoroughly. But I've got to find a better way to handle the weight. My batting was only added row by row (that was no fun, either, splicing every row of batting to the previous one), which I thought would cut down enough on the weight to make this a comfortable process. But boy oh boy, by the time I got to the last two rows, the neck and shoulder issues I'd had while quilting The Visit kicked right back in (pretty sure this is being exacerbated by repeatedly lifting my granddaughter), so I backed off at that point. I'm determined to find a comfortable way to do this, though, and my first thought was exactly what you suggested--go back to Marti Michel's book and read it THOROUGHLY. No skimming, this time! Thanks so much for taking the time to help me trouble-shoot this problem. In fact I think it might have been you who first told me about Marti Michel's book, so thank you for that, too! I can't wait to get back to it.


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