The longest day ever . . .

Two days ago, I safety pin-basted Norma’s quilt top to batting and backing. I got most of it to lay flat, though some of the blocks were skewed out of square in the process.

Very early yesterday, I marked, pinned, and stitched a diagonal line across the quilt.

I hated it (or at least I didn’t relish the idea of covering the entire quilt with diagonal cross-hatching). I was pretty sure the distorted blocks were gonna be a problem.

My friend Tom commented on my earlier post. Like several others, he felt I should hand-quilt the hand-pieced and hand-embroidered quilt. I told him I was sure to “piss off the purists” by machine-quilting the top.

In the course of several exchanges, Tom mentioned “quilting in the ditch.”

Eureka!! That was the answer!!

I took another look at the quilt top. This is what I have (in theory, at least):

Quilt schematic
Quilt schematic

In reality, only the three vertical columns of sashing were contiguous from top to bottom, made up of multiple pieces. The twelve horizontal sashings did not form a straight line across the quilt.

I ripped out my diagonal line of stitching and took a different approach. I stitched along these two seam lines:

Center vertical sashing stitched
Center vertical sashing stitched

But what about the embroidery?

As I stitched, the toes of my presser foot would occasionally snag the embroidery. I folded an index card in half, and held it just in front of the presser foot to cover the embroidery stitches so the presser foot toes wouldn’t snag them. This reduced my visibility, and I sometimes lost track of the seam line (or maybe the seam line lost me).

ALL seam lines in the quilt top are embroidered. I considered different decorative stitches on my machine to stitch on top of the embroidery to complement and anchor it in place.

But what about the ripples and waves?

I certainly didn’t want to stitch any pleats in the areas where the blocks were distorted and “wonky.”

I thought about it and came up with a plan:

  1. Stitch down the vertical sashing columns;
  2. Stitch across the horizontal sashing rows;
  3. Block-by-block, stitch the Log Cabins from the outer logs toward the center;
  4. Sew gathering stitches along “loose” seams, when necessary, to avoid pleated folds;
  5. Let the accumulated fullness fall to the center of the blocks.

I unpinned the quilt to one side of the vertical sashing I’d sewn down, and flapped it up and down, and let it settle as it would. I pin-basted the vertical sashing where it lay, I pin-basted around the border and across the horizontal sashing.

I’m ready to stitch.

Having an Epiphany . . .

Late last night, a thought came to me:

This is not my quilt . . . I neither pieced nor embroidered it. A friend of mine has paid me to quilt it to the best of my ability in an appropriate manner (which excludes hand-quilting, since that’s not my thing). This is not my quilt . . . My “footprint” should be as small as possible. It is not my place to “fix” or “preserve” it.

At once, I felt much better. I felt more relaxed and at ease. I wasn’t stressed out any more. I felt free to “do the work” needed to bring someone else’s creation to fruition.

I decided to NOT use a decorative stitch on top of the embroidery. If I stitch a bit of it down while quilting in the ditch, then so be it . . . if not, then so be it. I DID find a wide acrylic presser foot with turned-up toes that shouldn’t snag the embroidery.

Please leave a comment below and stay tuned . . . there’s more to come.


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