This is the story of a two-year battle to stitched digitized quilting designs successfully on my Flower of the Month quilt from 2017.
It is long-winded and boring, except to a tiny minority of deranged proselytes in the cult of machine embroidery. (You know who you are.) There are very few pretty pictures. They are stern admonitions as well as high-flying experimentation that may result in addictive behavior. Finally, you may enter an altered state of creative heights that may incur decisions damaging to your embroidery machine as well as quilts that you have spent an age on.
You have been warned.
So I teased my pictures of the perfect sashing stitchout on Facebook, and as visual artists, many of you didn't read and thought I finally got my magnahoop to work. Not so.
It was back to my trusty hoop. But before I get into that, I just want to say that the magnahoop really excelled, more so than my final method, under certain conditions. Many of you seemed more interested to learn about that-- so I'll briefly describe it.
The MagnaHoop is sold by Designs in Machine Embroidery's Eileen Roche. (It's a magazine, and she has done a lot for this craft, so this purchase is worth the price of admission.)
This is the Magnahoop base--
you can start by just attaching it to your machine.
Then just lay your piece over it--
like, exactly where you want, even.
like, exactly where you want, even.
You can see I put my needle down right on a mark I made, and was able to perfectly line the edge of my quilt up with hoop for straightness.
Then, just slide that magnetic top down under the needle-- these are SUPER strong magnets, and the set came with warnings, but at no time did I actually feel like I was going to lose a finger.
Then just stitch!
So if you don't like hooping-- boy, is this ever for you!
The problem is, when I tried to do it more in the center of the quilt, it slipped very badly. You can see above, the magna hoop at least has that one edge to hold on tight-- I can also successfully kind of hold the quilt on the other side to take the weight off of it while it stitches. In the middle, it is just too thick for the hoop to grab tightly. And I would have to kind of hold all four sides at once, with a mere two hands, to "help it."
I had to rip out at least three stitchings-- never again.
I'm not ready to throw it out-- I did three side hoopings in ten minutes-- my new method take about a half hour each. And this week, I'm going to try stitching my "World Tour of Embroidery" design on it, just to give it a chance at a more normal embroidery situation, and I will let you know how that goes.
So now that the little flower "cornerstones" are done, it's time to move on to the larger sashings. They have to be more precisely aligned and have MORE tiny stitches to pick out if unsuccessful, so I needed a new way.
The design is 1-1/2" x 6." The first one I did (top) was "crazy talk." It has way too much detail and you can see the spine of the feathers is stitching too many times. Thank goodness I realized it need to be cleaned up before I might be in a situation of picking it out. (I'm either too lazy, or way too overconfident, to test it.)
Now to describe my "hoopless" technique-- that is what they call it. It sounds great, like magic, doesn't it?
But you do have to use a hoop-- just not hoop your piece.
I hooped two pieces of stabilizer.
My first color change is a guideline that is just stitched on the stabilizer.
(Obviously I have a big advantage to be able to digitize this-- but most embroidery machines have a basting feature--so you would use it. You would then just draw an X in the middle of the resulting rectangle to find the center of your stabilizer. The directions for your OWN design will be in italic in parantheses from here on.)
Next, I marked the design on my quilt. I just had to mark the short ends because the long sides occur where my stitched line are. You can see the lines below-- my favorite marker is the purple air erasable one, but I do also use the blue ones if I need the markings to last longer.
(So if you have your own design and have stitched a basting line with the features of your machine, you would measure your design, and then draw the rectangle for it on your stabilizer, using the X you drew as the center of that new rectangle.)
Now use pins to secure your quilt to the guidelines on the stabilizer. This takes time and patience. One of those we have in plentiful supply right now-- the other is up to you!
Pin through a corner of the marked design on your quilt-- then insert the pin through the corresponding corner on the stabilizer. Don't secure the pins. Just leave them sticking through. Yes, I pricked myself a thousand times. Remind yourself, it is all for the beauty of the art. Do all four corners. Gradually, you will be able to get the quilt flat on the stabilizer, your pins will be sticking through straight, not angled, in all four corners, and you will be confident that the quilt is completely aligned with the guideline below it. I got better as I went along-- you will, too.
Once you are at this point, you will now put securing pins through your quilt and stabilizer while leaving those corner pins sticking in. These need to by AWAY from the stitched guideline-- so that is, in the very center of your quilted area, or very far away from the outside of it. I did three pins in the middle and two outside-- it was VERY secure. (See below.) You can now remove the corner pins.
(For your own design, you would move to a regular sewing machine, and baste your quilt to your stabilizer. Yes, this is in the hoop and the hoop needs to be carefully manuevered under the presser foot- you can do this. The basting doesn't have to be prefectly square or 1/8" away, it can be anywhere outside of your quilted area-- it is just holding your quilt to the hoop-- it is not a guideline of any kind.)
At this point, we need a disclaimer-- you can see there is potential to sew over pins here! You need to know exactly where your embroidery machine is going on this second color change to avoid them. And once my color change finishes, my machine automatically moves to the next start point-- so I make sure I STOP it before the very end of my digitized guidelines to catch it before that happens. You could rip your quilt or damage your machine if the presser foot hits a pin.
Don't try this at home if you are not confident!
I carefully reattached the hoop to my machine and ran the second guideline--it stitches 1/8" outside of the other guideline-- you can see it in pink below. It's helpful to do it in a little bit different color because you'll be picking it out.
Remove the hoop from the machine and take out all of the pins. The quilt is now secure with the stabilizer.
So now we can go ahead and run the quilting, right?
Only if you want your quilt secured to 2 layers of stabilizer with 1,000 microstitches!
So this is the innovation, I credit myself with-- I did think it up myself, but that's not saying that no one else ever did.
Flip the hoop over and carefully cut out the stabilizer between the first stitched guideline, and the second basting line. Remember-- the pink one is holding your quilt to the stabilizer and thus, the hoop, so leave it intact.
Load the quilting thread in your bobbin and again attach the hoop. Now you can run your quilting color change and here are the final results, front and back:
All that is left to do is unhoop and remove the basting.
The results are impeccable, and to me, well worth the patience and 1/2 hour required for each. I have 36 of these to do in all, and just by doing a couple of them a day, the journey of 1,000 miles will be complete in less than a month.
So I'd love to hear your comments below. Even if this is something you'd never want to do, maybe I've inspired you to pick up an older project, try something new, become more confident in your skills, or think of creative ways to use designs you already have. Maybe you even have an idea for me to do this better.
The sky is the limit. It's in your grasp.
And finally, a pretty picture to thank you for sticking with it-- because the back of this is as truly beautiful as the front.
I won't have to be just imagining
those pretty quilted sashings after all.