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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Jenny K. Lyon said...

That is such a cool quilt, I can't wait to see it done with that yummy Valdani! I don't think your site will allow a link, but Patsy Thompson has a fabulous You Tube on spray basting your quilt ON THE WALL, no knees involved. You will love it.

Gretchen Weaver said...

Your quilt is lovely and hand quilting is relaxing. I am also a hand quilter. I keep a small needle nosed pliers on the quilt to pull the needle through when needed. Don't use a jewelry pliers though, it's too small. It is possible it's the basting spray that is causing problems pulling you needle through. It is definitely a challenge to long stitch after making small stitches. Your threads are so pretty and perfect for quilting, happy stitching!

Kathy said...

Spray basting has been my go-to for years, but I do it on my cutting table, a section at a time. Can't crawl around on the floor! I second Jenny's suggestion of Patsy Thompson's video, if you have a large wall space. But spray lightly--one can usually can do several quilts! For needles, same as embroidery. The needle should make a big enough hole for the thread to follow relatively easily. I always hesitate to use a bigger needle but that is often the solution! Can't wait to see this finished!

Norma Schlager said...

I also hate basting and could never do it on the floor. I have been spray bating for years. My biggest was queen size and I had a friend help me on her ping pong table. Now I do it on my bed with an old sheet on top. I never had trouble with the needle going thru but then I do not hand quilt anymore. Bad shoulder! I was good at it and had those tiny stitches down to 10 per inch. I can see why it's hard to make them big.
I love your Vivaldi thread and the colors are yummy. I have not tried that brand, but I have sooooo many DMC perle cotton, I don'y think I'm going to get ore. Can't wait to see the finished quilt.

Melva said...

I have only used DMC floss when I have done big-stitch quilting. I have some small hearts and some pearl cotton thread that I will try for hand quilting while on our trip. I may be converted! Blessings...

Margaret said...

I used to spray baste larger quilts but have no room to do it inside -- and prefer to be outside because of the fumes. In Alberta, "outside" happens between mid-April and early October, if you're lucky. After that, cold and snow prevent that! So...for up to "comfort quilt" size (max 60" square), I pin baste. I either do it on the floor of my bedroom (that size takes up *all* the available floor space) or over my ironing board -- a bit awkward but easier on my back and my knees (I'm 70 and in good shape but still...!!) Anything larger, I save up and take to a nearby long-arm quilter.

I've done big-stitch quilting in hand for a few comfort quilts and enjoy it, but don't do it often. When I do, I use DMC #12 perle cotton and generally a short sharp or embroidery needle, for the larger eye. I'm not good at the 'rocking' stitch. I took lessons, but never really mastered it. One of my teacher's watched me trying and said, "You're an embroiderer, aren't you?" When I said yes I was -- had been for decades -- she explained that it was how I held my needle. Not so conducive to rocking -- and I can't seem to get comfy doing that, so I "rock/embroider" my big stitches instead! I make mine about 1/8" most of the time -- sometimes a big bigger, but never smaller. Your quilt is coming along beautifully! Enjoy!

Kris said...

Your quilt is super and it is going to be even better with your handquilting.

Nina Marie said...

So I spent hours today quilting and I've decided to keep my stitch somewhere between a big and a little stitch. So far the best needle has been the #9 Embroidery needle by Colonial needles. I'm having a ball using the #8 pearl cotton because it's varigated and really seems to work out well with the scrappiness of the quilt. So weird to spend hours at the frame again!

Laceflower said...

When I started quilting in the late 70s I was in my late 20s and I was crawling around on the floor cutting fabric and thought, "how do old ladies do this?" Now I'm an old lady and we have come such a long way with tools and notions. My long arm is my saviour!