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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Evolution...and it's relation to quilting

By: Marjorie Rich

      Normally when I make a quilt, I know exactly how I will quilt it at the same time that I'm deciding on the design.  This hand applique is a variation of Ester Aliu's Heart's Desire.  It was a mystery, free block of the month quilt along.  If you are not already familiar with the design, I would encourage you to go take a peek.  Go ahead, I'll wait.
      As you can see, mine looks very little like the original.  I made the center (now the heart/flower in the lower left) month one.  Month 2 was the circle of vines with the bird, and 3 more like the top center circle vine with the 3 flowers.  As evidenced from the lack of 2 circle-vines, I lost momentum.  And enthusiasm.  But I had really been drawn in to the whole project by those yummy flowers that you now see on the bottom and left.  While I was figuring out how to use lots of them without spending time on things I wasn't in the mood to applique....I thought that including more blank space for quilting made a lot of sense.
        Months later, I am now confronted with what, exactly, that quilting might be.  I had originally planned on some variation of flowers and leaves.  Maybe even trapunto.  And my plan also includes using hand quilting as I love the texture that results from hand quilting with a cotton batting.  But here is my conundrum which I have chosen to move from the battle in my head to a forum of hand quilters....
1) The only trapunto I have done was a machine quilting technique (extra layer of batting basted with wash-away thread on top, trimmed, sandwiched then topstitched using FMQ).  a) Would that work if I went through the same steps and then hand quilted over the basting stitches rather than FMQ?  b) Will it be worth the extra time of all hand quilting vs a mixed method approach of machine outlined trapunto and hand quilted fill? c) If I use cotton batting to get the 5% shrink that I like for the added texture, should I use cotton for the trapunto layer, or consider using a lofty poly batting?  ( *Gasp* did she really just use the words "machine quilting" and "poly batting" in the same paragraph on THIS blog?)
2) In a weak moment I bought a silk batting (Tuscany Collection 90% silk, 10% poly) which I have been saving for something amazing that I want to quilt by hand.  Having never used it before, I'm not sure what to expect in the way of outcome.  One of the reasons that I love an all cotton batting is that I LOVE the texture created by the slight shrinkage and the hand quilting (as demonstrated by viewing the back of my hand quilted Joseph's Coat above).  I was encouraged because the  on-line sources indicate a similar 5% shrinkage with the silk.  But on the other hand, I normally wash in hot and dry on high to make sure that nothing sad or surprising will ever happen to the quilt once it finished. The sources say, wash warm, air dry.  Will it shrink some /none /same?

I apologize for the long wordy post, but promise lots of photo heavy posts over the next few months... provided of course your share your trapunto & silk batting experiences with me now.


  1. Like you, I have a silk batting stashed for something special too. I thought I'd take a square off the longest side when I come to use it so that I can do a practice piece, wash it and see how it performs in regards to shrinkage. I hope somebody can enlighten us.
    As for the trapunto, I can see your logic. I would just make sure to baste inside the shapes enough so that when you come to hand quilt, the batting won't get in the way. Do you use a water soluble thread for that part? Polyester batting is fine to use, it will give a better loft than cotton but you can use either.

    1. Thanks for the insight. I was planning on the water soluble thread and you've made a good point to aim inside the shape so the handstitching is outside the trimmed batting. Unfortunately, I was very stingy when I bought the silk batting and it is only a few inches bigger than my 75x86 top. Most I could sneak off is a 6" strip. In homage to an old Seinfeld episode... can anybody "spare a square"?

  2. I forgot to congratulate you on your top, it looks beautiful.


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