This quilt I pieced as soon as I got my new sewing machine (a Janome 6700P). I had picked up this jelly roll at the dealer, when I was scoping out their machines, and the fun bright 70’s style just grabbed me. It sat on the shelf for a week or so before I just decided to stitch all the strips together in a Jelly Roll Race style. The actual piecing took just a couple of hours, not even that, really. BUT it provided an opportunity to get to know my new machine a bit, and to learn a little about how fast I really could go. My main criteria of the new machine was that it was FASTER than my previous machines and yet still have plenty of fun stitches AND the capability to do a wide 9 mm stitch. I don’t even understand WHY I like 9 mm so much, but it was an absolute must.
The pieced top of this quilt leaned heavy on orange, so I knew it would be great as a quilt to cosy up with on the new porch that my husband built during the end of 2020. We did a complete change of color scheme of the house in the summer and the trim is painted to mimic cedar (except real cedar is $$$$$$ here and new paint was $ in comparison!) And then we have these cool picnic tables that he built previously but painted them a bright fun turquoise, and then our trim accents and doors on the house are a bright navy, so the colors of this quilt top, when put together, immediately told me that this was the porch quilt. Most evenings (except for this lately odd snowpocalypse) are mild enough to sit outside together and watch lightening bugs or the fire, and I found myself dragging my own blanket out there back and forth. Since the porch has essentially become our new living room, with the inside taken over by kids’ desks for the distance learning, it’s nice to have a low-tech place to relax.
The quilt top sat complete for at least 4 weeks while I pieced and quilted and finished a pinwheel quilt that was specifically for the backdrop of my video side of the new sewing room (really an extension of the “great porch project”) and then through the busyness of setting that room up, piecing another few blankets, and just waiting for T – I – M – E to do the actual quilting. Enter, the snowpocalypse of the past week.
With no power, we shifted into survival mode, and while I wondered for a bit how in the world Ma Ingalls had any time at all to do any of the sewing of the household’s clothing or blankets or bedding or ANY of it really, when cooking from our freezer took all the time to keep people here fed, the nagging feeling of having half finished blankets that COULD BE ACTUALLY BE HELPFUL TO THE FREEZING SITUATION AT HAND drove me to take a few minutes to get them at least sandwiched with backing and batting so that when we ever got power again I could finish them up really quickly. So, I used a thin poly/cotton batting, and I chose the Shannon Fabrics Cuddle® in Hot Pink for the backing and spray basted them with 505 spray. Normally I do all the spray basting outside, but it was like 7 degrees F outside, and my room is really a decent size, so I just quickly sprayed and got them adhered. I actually made sure that all my lonely pieces got sandwiched, so that they’d all be ready to finish…once there was power!
It took a couple of days for the power to come back, but once it did we did all the things we needed to do with power to take care of the kids, and then I headed to the sewing room. I have been wanting to practice some free motion quilting after spending many hours watching Angela Walters draw pretty little designs so effortlessly on youtube. I thought the jelly roll strips would be a good place to practice different motifs (that was a correct assumption) and that I could just pop on a FMQ foot and take off. NOT the case. In order to get the fabric to glide under the foot, I did have to wrestle it quite a bit. I know that quilting gloves will help this process. I also decided that I did not want to use the extension table of my machine. I don’t think I have my sewing chair at exactly the right setting yet, so the angle of sewing/body/arms/foot pedal was all out of wack, and I felt it in my body as I tried to gleefully glide the stripes under the machine. I remembered that I had heard not to bring the fabric toward you – to work with it going away from you, but I couldn’t see the whole area I was trying to fill with stitching. I needed to see where I was GOING, not where I’d been, so I tried stitching up one strip and then down the other. Pretty soon I felt like I was writing with the non-dominant hand, and at the end of it I don’t know which was the way that felt best. I did different scribbly stitches on each “strip” trying to practice pebbles, figure eights, ribbon candy, and just plain zig zags. Looking at the back, you can’t even tell that is what I was trying to do, because it looks like a toddler trying to learn how to hold a pencil and make a mark. BUT when all the stitching was done, the quilting, which primarily shows up on the back, doesn’t look terrible. And that is what I’m going for here. Not looking terrible.
After trying to find a suitable fabric to bind with (no, I hadn’t decided that earlier, except I knew I needed a solid, not a print from the coordinating fabrics) I decided to use a Luxe Cuddle® Hide in Banana binding instead of a cotton binding. It’s SO much simpler to stitch on, and honestly, I just love the way the edging feels when I need something to fidget with.
I spent a lot of time thinking I was going to do something with turquoise and navy, but when the quilt got to the machine, I just didn’t feel it, so it was pink and yellow and it’s really very happy, and will still work well on the porch!!
Here’s what I did not expect. As I got to the end of the quilting, I found feelings that were strange. Was I sad that there wasn’t more to do right then? Was it fatigue because of the strange way I had to grip the fabric to drive it through or from probably clenching my teeth to will it to happen? Was it anger that I had pooh-poohed the idea of ever wanting a long arm machine to do it with a lot less effort? What was that feeling? I still do not know, but I am eager to try again and get back to that place and explore what it was. There are so many things to keep track of while doing the actual quilting. The rhythm of the push and pull against the speed of the needle and the size of the stitches. The layers of material to take care not to jam, especially at the edges. The clenching of the teeth. And the choosing of the elements to try to create in the fabric. I really loved mashing the fabric together and creating something completely new in the process. The quilt becomes a much different material that the pieced top and the chosen backing are on their own. Sandwiched together and stitched they are mysteriously transformed into the QUILT, and that led me to eagerly experiment on the next blanket, which might become a proper quilt when it got some quilting added to it!