Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quilt Basting Tutorial and Comedy of Errors

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Hello!  No quilty pictures unfortunately (too busy basting to get involved with photography, which is why I will likely never be a rich and famous blogger because they have to be excellent photographers too).

I made my quilt sandwich twice.  Once following a dunce-torial of my own devising, the second time following Elizabeth Hartman's tutorial here.

The dunce-torial goes something like this.  Decide that you will "cheat" and use basting spray, but do it outside where the vapours won't kill you and your loved ones.  (Dire warnings on the label advise a well-ventilated area.)  Be busy with other things until just before dusk then sweep off the deck and lay out a sheet to protect the quilt. Get it mostly flat.  Then lay out the quilt backing, spray it so it's sticky, then try to get it mostly flat.  Curse the sticky stuff and the sheet that won't stop wiggling underneath.  Then, carefully, lay out the batting.  Lose your mind when it's the wrong size.  Futilely blame a misfiled package on the shelf at the quilt store, but realize that either way, it doesn't matter.  Don't think about what you will do with the batting at home sized 12" x 104" - presumably when you are a much better, more experienced quilter, legions of possibilities will present themselves.  (It can't be returned due to some regrettable trimming and bits of leaf sticking to it.)  Dash off to a sewing store and hope that they have something suitable.  Buy it, and relish the small victory that it is on sale.  Dash home and rue the fact that it is now dark and a chilly November wind has whistled up.  Turn on the outside light and wish that it cast a better light on the sorry situation.  Lay out the batting, and try to aim the the flaps and flings of the quilt top to catch the wind so that it helps rather than hinders the laying out process.  Carefully smooth it out (see - I learned not to spray it first!).  Now spray it and carefully lay out the top, smoothing and patting as you go.  This is harder than it sounds, wearing a bulky coat and trying to do it in the dark.  Wonder why it seemed easier at your mother's house and assume that it was because she did it and it was summer and vacation time.  Not pitch dark and November.  Get the whole sorry mess (minus the various bits of leaf and pine needle) inside, and inspect it.  Try not to mind when your vision of a perfectly sandwiched quilt poised to be quilted turns out to be a Festival of Wrinkles.  What could have gone wrong?  

Well, I have conducted a quilt sandwich post mortem to find out what went wrong:  everything, but mainly that I began without revisiting some instructions and assuming I could remember the important steps.

Today, I reviewed the excellent tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman here, when I could finally face the sandwich again.  I realized that the key problem was not securing the base layer.  Also, another key problem was deciding that inside wasn't well ventilated enough.  I have decided that it is sufficiently ventilated to do limited spray basting on a very occasional basis.  I followed Elizabeth's method, on the basement floor, adding in some judicious spray basting with supplemental pins to hold the whole thing together.  I am now about to embark on the next step of quilting it together.  I am forcing myself to do a practice sandwich.  I am normally inclined to plunge right in and expect perfection (please hold back your gasps of amazement), so I am forcing myself to be more strategic and learn from the wisdom of others, rather (I hope) than from my own mistakes.  Wish me luck!

PS  In the course of the preparations to begin quilting, I rootled out the manual for the sewing machine, handed down to me by my mother a few years ago when she got her sewing equivalent of the Starship Enterprise.  My hand-me-down is a Janome Memory 7, purchased November 14, 1981.  Inside the front cover it begins by saying, "Dear Customer, You are now the owner of the most advanced sewing machine ever built and we welcome you to a new world of sewing pleasure."   I would also add that this machine weighs approximately 75 lbs and caused my local sewing machine tuner-upper to boggle at its vintage.  We'll see how she fares as we embark together on our voyage to a new world of sewing pleasure.

PPS  I have decided that this blog post needs some pictures, so I have included a couple of nice shots from our visit last night to Upper Canada Village for the Alight the Night festival.  Upper Canada Village is an interactive pioneer museum nearby, down on the St. Lawrence River.  There was a nice sing-along of Christmas carols in the church and we all had a good time with that, as well as the horse drawn wagon ride, and playing in the big field of fresh snow.  All three generations (my family, my parents and my brother's family) all had a wonderful time.