Friday, February 3, 2023

Big Stitch Quilting on Off the Wall Friday

WoW!  What a busy week.  When I haven't been working at my day job, I've been working in my studio.  I decided once and for all to get "Rain, Rain" onto my quilting frame.  It all seemed a bit daunting because I haven't taken my frame out since the mid-2000's.  Then out of every task in quilting, basting a quilt is the one that I hate the most! Plus I finally wanted to try out big stitch quilting. So needless to say, I've been putting this off.  

I started with the basting.  I watched a handy video by Erica Arndt on how she to spray baste a large quilt.  I've been using spray basting on my smaller art quilts for years but never did a large one.  So, once I sewn together the backing and ironed it, I taped it to my floor.  (My studio has the original victorian floors from 150 years ago so a little tape is NOT going to harm it),  I layered my batting

(which had relaxed out all of the big wrinkles) and sprayed down the layer like Erica described.  Even with knee pads on it was exhausting. (How did I get to be so old!)  Paul took pity on me and did the top layer.  All in all, it took about 3 hours but it was MUCH faster than pin basting.  I used about 3/4 of a can of basting spray and it was not at all smelly so ventilation wasn't a problem.  Also, there wasn't much overspray.  

We put it on my quilting frame, which is a Hinterberg QX-2000.  Ya know, I had no idea how extinct
quilting frames have become over the last 30 years. Just as a lark, I started looking to see what is out there any!!   Paul bought this for me early in the 90's as a surprise Christmas gift and I love it.  Because it has only two rails, you still have to baste the quilt, BUT it's super adjustable so you can flatten it out to quilt with friends or keep it at an angle to quilt by yourself.  Plus even after all these years, it's as good as new.  It also came with two sizes, 60" and 96" rails so that is handy.  I love to hand quilt so I'm hoping a resurgence in popularity is looming!

Every evening since I've sat down at my frame to do an hour or two of quilting.  It's been an adjustment.  First of all, I haven't quite figured out what needles I like the best for big stitch quilting.  The ones from Cory Pepper's big stitch quilting pack
seem to be working okay.  Then I have to remember to take a 1/4" stitch and to only load my needle up with 1 or 2 stitches.  After perfecting a 10-per-inch stitch on tiny needles, this seems so strange.  I'm constantly telling myself to take bigger stitches.  And it seems a lot tougher to get the needle through.  I'm not sure if it's the pearl cotton, the batting, the spray basting, the needle, or a little bit of it all.  

I do know that Valdani Pearl Cotton is amazing.  Not only are the colors gorgeous but it quilts up so nicely.  The funny thing is that I bought my two boxes of colors when Craftsy's shop went out of
business for about $27/box thinking I would find a use for them someday.  Little did I know that the big stitch quilting rage was around the corner and the boxes are now going for about $80.  (yes, EIGHTY DOLLARS!)  But after comparing it to 8-size DMC and Presencia, I definitely can see the difference. The hand-dyed colors are seamless and the thread is so smooth.   I still want to try Wonderfil's version but for now, I'm happy to use my fancy Valdani.  

After a week of quilting, my finger has a callus, my knees were sore and I'm still trying to get the hand of getting a big thread into a little hole.  I'm always shocked when people think quilting is an old lady's pastime when it is such hard work!  I'm sure it will get easier!!

Got any pointers for big stitch quilting?

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