Stack and Whack™ - A Quilting Tutorial - Page 5

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The quilting process

Now I had to figure out how to cut the backing. I'm sure there were other, better ways to do this, but I just pinned up the 6 yards I had bought, and cut a few inches after the edge. Then I pinned the remainder on the left size, stretched across, and cut it to match the first piece, more or less. I worried a lot that I hadn't left enough margin later, but I did okay with just about 4 inches longer than the quilt top. I stitched the two halves together, without pinning, and pressed the seams. I had to find a place to baste the quilt together, without my customary feline helpers. I brought the top up to my step-daughter's room (she doesn't live with us anymore, but it's still her room until we do something else with it.) I spread it out on the bed and it looked pretty good! Another view on the bed. This gives a better idea of the size of the top too!
I smoothed out the backing on the floor. I had a good view of about 4 kitty paws coming in from under the door. They do NOT like being left out! If I had had masking tape I would have taped the backing to the floor as is always recommended. It was 2am and I didn't have any, and I wasn't going to wait till morning to work on it! I forgot to square off the top, so I dragged the top, and the camera, back down to where the cutting board is in my office, and squared it off. Back upstairs, I spread a Warm and Natural cotton batting over the backing.
After smoothing it out, I put the top on the batting, and smoothed, smoothed, smoothed it. Here, after smoothing, I had to find the center - and there it is. I stuck a basting safety pin through that center spot. This was kind of a mistake. I had already decided to quilt in the ditch, so I should have made it slightly OFF center, not on the actual seam where I would be quilting later. No biggie.
Then I smoothed out towards the edge, pinning at regular intervals in an outward fashion. First in the short direction, then the long direction. This view, looked at in the big picture, gives an idea of the spacing I used. I found out later that my spacing wasn't really as tight as it should have been. It's recommended that you space the pins out every 3 or 4 inches, and I was closer to 10-12" in some places. I only had one box of the pins though, so I couldn't have done it differently even if I'd known. I have another box now, so next time I'll probably pin more. It didn't seem to mess anything up though!
Once basted, I trimmed around the edges. Some instructions say to leave about 4" on each side. I didn't realize that until after I cut it down to 2". Again, it worked out fine anyway, but I worried for quite a while! The whole quilting 'sandwich' after trimming! Another view.
I rolled it up to start the machine quilting. I was sure that it was going to be way too bulky to work with my cheapie Brother sewing machine, but it sure rolled up thin! Then rolled the other edge to meet it. That center area has the first 'ditch' for me to 'stitch'!
Here it is, in the machine! I lined the needle up with the starting point. This is a view of how it fit into the sewing machine area. Here's a close-up, I'm holding the top thread, so I can use the fly-wheel to pick up the bobbin thread, and bring it up to the top.
Now I have both top and bottom threads... I did a couple of stitches, backstitched and off I went down that 'ditch'! I used a light blue thread, which matches the backing, and here it is in the front. Not very noticable, which was fine :)
I went to reroll it to get the long center seam in the center of my roll-ups. I had an instant helper! Basting pins looked a lot like toys - she tried to make off with them, and of course was thwarted! Everything is a play ground at 3am to a young kitty!
She isn't really a devil-cat with glowing eyes - although she was certainly a little imp! Last chance to check it out before it goes back to the office. Okay - I guess it's break time for me too. I highly recommend Captain Crunch with Crunchberries if you're hungry at 3:30 am!
I plopped the quilt down while I ate, and it attracted two cats instantly - sheesh! Another pic of me stitching along the seam. You can see here that I had to remove and replace the pin since I placed it too close to the stitching area. I also stitched on the ditches around the border. This made a really neat design on the backing, I think!
Holding the quilt while stitching was kind of unweildy, but not too bad. 5 year old David did a pretty good job taking the picture! Finally, I stitched about 1/4" from the edge of the top. ...all the way around.
Then I trimmed the batting. Again, I realized after cutting that I could have/should have left more. I left about 1/4" and I've since seen instructions that say to leave 1/2". It still worked out fine!
Here's the quilted top, laid out on it's intended final resting place - the family room futon. This is a closer look at the corner flipped over. If you look at the big picture you can see the quilting on the back. Quilt on a couch? Cat magnet!
Double cat magnet! Pumpkin thinks there is a mouse hiding under the quilt, no doubt. The next day David insisted on cuddling up in the quilt. I think he's been as excited as I have!
It covers him quite well!

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