But my favorite is really the quilting - the actual act of sewing together the top and the back with some kind of batting in between. I love the way quilting can change the look of the entire project. And I especially love the fact that it's a nice quiet process. Perfect for keeping my hands busy while I watch TV.
The quilting part is also TIME CONSUMING!!!
I'm sure the time commitment part is why lots of people turn to machine quilting instead of doing the quilting by hand. I've dabbled in machine quilting, but I'm not very good at it. I need LOTS more practice before I would consider attempting machine quilting on a quilt top as awesome as this Celestial Star top.
So I decided to hand quilt - even if it means I'll (very likely) miss the deadline to finish as part of this Quilt-a-long. I love this quilt and I don't want a deadline to change my plans for it.
Here's my finished quilt top all pieced together. Somehow I didn't get a picture of the back, so that will have to be a surprise. :)
At this point I still wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt this, but I knew that I needed to get it all basted together before I could do anything. I really don't love the basting process. I have messed up a few little mini quilts recently because my back has shifted during the basting process. So I turned to the internet and found a new technique that I decided to try in an attempt to try to get everything lined up and straight during the basting process.
This new technique started with taping some skewers to my table. They are just simple/cheap skewers from the kitchen.
The idea here is to mark the center and then line up the center of each layer using these skewer bumps as a guide. I really meant to take a picture of each step, but I got too into it and forgot.
Here's a picture of the back and the batting ready to go. (Note the super duper heavy duty clamps... yeah - overkill!!! I bought them online and they are way bigger than I thought they were going to be, but I did get a GREAT deal!) Sorry that this is such a bad picture... it's a phone pic...
Next I got the top laid out and started pinning. I pinned a LOT more than I normally do because I have become paranoid about the layers slipping around. This is actually the first time I've ever used pins on a quilt that I was going to hand quilt. Honestly, not sure I'll do it again... the pins have gotten in the way a good bit as I've worked on this quilt. But they were faster than thread basting... I think.
Here's the top in the middle of the pinning process.
Somewhere along the line I decided (maybe by default) that I wanted to do echo lines around each of the stars to fill up the background. In hindsight, I could have chosen a WAY faster design.
I love the fact that I managed to get this ready for quilting at the same time football season started. I love football and I know I will spend many games watching and sewing with this on my lap over the coming weeks! Here's the start of the quilting.
I use a wooden hoop that is attached to a base. I love that hoop! It allows the quilt to sit up off my lap without me having to hold it the whole time. I'm not sure I could hand quilt without a hoop like this. It's one of my most highly prized (craft-related) possessions.
Here's picture of some progress and another that shows a whole area finished. I currently have 2 of the 6 "middle spots" quilted and a few of the edge sections. I'd say I'm probably about a 1/3 of the way done with the background quilting.
I love the texture I'm getting with this design. Nothing better than running your hand across a nice bubbly quilt top!!
I think the quilting of the actual stars will go much faster. I'm not going to do anything to take away from the designs, so I'll probably just add some in the ditch quilting or maybe a few highlights. I'm planning on finishing the background before I settle on the star designs. Stay tuned...