Do you remember that song from Sunday school that goes like “Oh be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down in love” and so forth? Then it goes on to what the ears hear and what the mouth says, etc. I’ve been busy quilting for our guild’s charity quilts and in my last post I wrote something to the effect of I think I have these E2E’s down (edge-to-edge, all-over, pantograph, etc.) and that if someone asked me, I think I could quilt one for them. Fast forward to Friday late afternoon. Yep, there it was – an email asking if I was available to quilt a pantograph on a lap sized quilt. How did they even know I quilted, or that I had a long arm? I have no idea and I forgot to ask. This seemed like something I could do and besides, I’d just said I was confident enough to quilt for someone else so did I mean it? I called her back and said no problem!
It was a lap sized quilt sure enough, and nearly a whole cloth quilt, with just 2 ends sewn on. No uneven sides or bias to work around! It did have its challenges though. The fabric is a very loose weave, not typical quilting fabric. Oh, and the top and the bottom were exactly the same size, with leaders sewn on the bottom. We talked about the design and thread choice and away I went. I left a voicemail for my local expert if she had any words of advice but it turns out she was at a retreat. I posted on a quilting group, asking for any pointers before I started but instead what I got was a whole bunch of people saying “don’t even attempt it; insist on more fabric for the bottom; tell the client you’ll do your best; no way would I touch that!” and on and on. I seriously had to go back and read my post again – had I asked “if” it could be done? No. I really had asked for suggestions “how” it could be done. Gotta love the internet! So I was on my own.
I thought about what the potential pitfalls were with the fabric being the same size. The main one is that the top fabric tends to draw up as it’s quilted. The denser the quilting, the smaller the finished quilt will be. So the way to get around that is first of all – don’t quilt it densely! Well that was easy enough. She had picked out a pattern she liked and I made sure it wasn’t a 6″ repeating pattern. Then, I also reduced the stitch count per inch from 12 to 10 which I thought would also help it from shrinking. The final thing I did, which took some time but was worth it, was after I basted the batting to the backing at the top, I pin basted down the sides of the quilt and along the bottom row. With each row, I sat on the ground and poked straight pins up through the bottom and batting around the edges so that I knew exactly where to pin the top to line it up. That way I could ease in the fullness of the quilt as I worked my way down. While it’s possible to quilt an E2E using the Pro Stitcher and walk away, I watched every stitch go in, with my hands nearby in case it looked like there might be some bunching up. Fortunately that never happened.
And in the end, I did it! I actually finished a quilt that had the top and the bottom the same size. I think if I had it to do over again, I would have given her the batting back and bought black batting to use instead. The design is so busy though that I don’t think that had a big impact on it. I handed it off to her today so she can bind it. I checked back in with my long arm mentor and she called me fearless. That was pretty cool!