Trunkful of Quilting

Yesterday was an egg pick-up and grocery shopping day. Mike went with me. It was nice to have company, but mostly, I loved that he unloaded the cart at the checkout, unloaded the car when we got home, and helped me put stuff away. It's been a long, long time since I've had help at the grocery store. Sort of takes the sting out of a most hated task.

We were home shortly after noon, which gave me plenty of time in the day to get to work on the Mommy & Me quilt. I didn't really expect to finish it, but the quilting is all done now. All it needs is the binding, and OMG for May will be finished. Yahoo!

When I left off yesterday, I wasn't at all sure what I was going to quilt in the background behind the elephant applique. The design I used for The Emperor's pawtrait was on my mind, and I liked how it would echo the balloons. I was held back by the idea of cutting thread every time I came to the edge of an applique. Then, I got the bright idea to simply raise the needle and pull the thread across the applique, and then lower the needle again.

By doing it that way, I could quilt the whole background without cutting thread. When I was finished quilting, I went back and cut the top and bobbin threads in the middle of that big long stitch, and then proceeded to bury the threads. It still meant a lot of threads to bury, but it was less of a pain interrupting the flow of sewing. There was one place, where there wasn't enough distance to leave long enough thread tails, and so I did cut thread there. Later, I figured out that I could simply pull out enough top and bobbin thread to leave length for tails, and continue as before. I know. Clear as mud, right?

So, here's the design I ended up quilting in the background.

When I had the whole background quilted, I took a little break. Here's how it was looking:

Here's how it looks from the back. 

I love how the appliques stand out on the quilt back.

When I came back, I had in mind a design seen on Pinterest for quilting the 5-inch squares.

Look how pretty that is when it's all done.

In preparation for this, I made myself a pretty good-sized practice piece from scraps of batting and an inexpensive muslin. Then I followed the stitching diagram. Here's where I started. The top "dip" was the first, and I didn't make it dippy enough, which meant I didn't really fill the whole square.

That was pretty easy to fix. I realized right away that some of the squares required five back-and-forths, while others required six to get back to where I wanted to be.

And that was very pretty and everything, but I suddenly realized it wouldn't work on my quilt. You need four grid squares to make a whole design, and my quilt had one section with two rows (that would work). But the top section had three rows, and that was going to mean I'd only have half the design on one of the rows. Bummer. But then I got an idea to divide each square into four and do a smaller design, thus:

And that was very pretty, but it was too dense for my quilt. I wanted to keep it soft. It seemed as if that was going to be too much stitching. In the end, I went with my fall-back design of a diagonal grid, and I think that was the right choice. I love using a diagonal grid whenever I can. Here's how it looks on the quilt. 

I'll save the other design for another time. Also, I followed the waves of the rickrack to quilt some wavy lines both above and below, and then I continued on up to the top edge of the quilt. That meant the quilting was done from the elephants and up to the top. Here's how it looks from the back:

And I took another break there, but went back and finished the sections below the elephants.

I like how the curvy lines echo the trunks of the elephants on the quilt back.

And then, the quilting was finished. These pictures were taken in the light of our living room windows, and so they aren't very good insofar as color goes.

Here's the quilt back.

My kitty inspectors were on the job. Smitty was giving it the snuggleability test, but Sadie was more interested in looking out the window.

Mooooooommmmmmm! Sadie's slacking. She's not purrforming her quilt inspector duties!

Sheesh, Smitty. Shut your meowth! What a tattle tail! Hmph.  

Today we're back to thinking we'll go pick up a wine shipment and visit the tulip festival. The sun isn't up as I write this, but we're promised an 80°F. day. That would sure be nice. If I have time, I'll get the binding sewn on this quilt by machine, and then I'll move along to some of the other challenges I have going for the month of May. Also, another Solstice block will be released today. I haven't seen it yet, but I'll be making a block to celebrate Mike's retirement.

Our upcoming trip is sort of bearing down on us, and I need to be thinking about what projects I want to take along. With Mike spending three days in a class, I'll have some time on my hands, and I want to take along plenty to keep me busy. Hopefully, I'll have some time today to start making a list and drawing out some embroidery blocks. Speaking of embroidery, I got a start on Hildegard yesterday morning.

Her face and hair are finished now, and I'll just start making my way from top to bottom.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

Janet said...

Thanks for taking us through the thought process on the quilting. I am still working on how to work out what to quilt where and it helps to see someone else's thoughts. The quilt looks great too!

allthingzsewn said...

I'm pretty sure when you show the finished binding I will have been persuaded to make a similar baby quilt to this. I love everything about it. I'm also going to doodle those whirly gigs you shared. You are going to keep me inspired and busy. But that's a good thing.

As far as Don going to the grocery with me that's not an option. He throws too many weird items in the cart and they all seem to be expensive. I have found though if I send him with a list and a cash amount amount he doesn't do that. But then I have to be very explicit about everything. Simpler just to go myself.

gpc said...

I like company when I shop, too. Mike is likely to find out that retirement is more work than working if his experience is anything like mine, but I still prefer it to the job that I had long outgrown. :) The baby quilt is adorable and my goodness, your quilting has gotten so amazing . . . you just impress the heck out of me.

Brown Family said...

I like the diagonal quilting better than the swirls. They are pretty, but not right for this quilt. The background quilting is great. To me, it pulls the circles from the other fabric into the rest of the quilt.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

The swirls would have been over-kill; I like the cross hatch better. Can't wait to see how Mike enjoys his class and your trip.

Dana Gaffney said...

Love the elephant quilt and I like that free motion you were trying out, "not dippy enough" is probably going to make it's way into my conversations today :)

Wendy Tuma said...

I like the quilting you've done on the elephant quilt, and I always enjoy the process you take us through. Someday, maybe, I'll master the quilting once I have a machine that makes it a bit easier. Wine and tulips sounds like a wonderful combination; I hope the weather cooperates so that you have sunshine and warmth as well! Enjoy your day!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I used to plan it, so that I'd get home from the grocery store about the same time that my sons got off the school bus, so that they could help me unload and put everything up. Now they are grown and I have to do it by myself. I miss the help.

Ioleen said...

Love the quilt and the quilting. That onion flower design in awesome and leaves an amazing overall pattern.

quiltzyx said...

Mike the Grocery Sherpa! And since that makes your grocery shopping less tedious & perhaps less likely for you to run someone over, won't that mean you'll deserve more M&Ms?

Mom & Me has turned out just swell - like I would expect anything less from you. Love the colors & the motifs you picked too.

Kate said...

Sounds like Mike is adjusting to the non-working life. My Guy does all our grocery shopping, so I guess when we retire I'll have to go with him. Actually more immediate, I guess I'll have to start helping with the put away duties. Drama Teen does that now, but she'll be gone this fall.

The elephants are so cute. Your quilting is perfect.