Monday, March 7, 2016

Sew - Stop - Reverse - Repeat

Story of two days

The plan -- no, the commitment -- was to finish this baby quilt to enter in the youth group auction Sunday.

Baby Blocks - design by Marci Baker
Simple straight-line ditch stitching was the plan.  The problem with stitch-in-the-ditch (SITD) is it's butt-ugly when you miss the ditch.

Reverse sew and go to Plan B -- quarter-inch away from the ditch. However, my Pfaff with integrated dual feed doesn't have a very large throat and I was wearing myself out (not to mention the quilt) wrangling the direction changes every 12 or so stitches.

But wait! I have a BabyLock with a larger throat! First, I had to remember how to thread it. Then I discovered it has a walking foot!

Oh, Salvation, I thought (even though I had never used one). I finished stitching all the tumbling blocks with the walking foot, then noticed the back.

Baby Blocks Back
Hmmm, I could maybe live with that so I proceeded to start on the borders.  Unfortunately all the shrinkage in the center was exaggerated in the expanding borders and no way was I going to put my name on that product.

It just got worse and worse
On to Plan C - a different baby quilt. Once again I attempted SITD -- NOT! Reverse and begin again.  This time I thought I'd go down the center of the 4-patch columns, pinning and re-smoothing one column at a time. 

After two columns I could see there was still a lot of "creep" between the top and the back. Reverse and begin again. I changed presser foot pressure. I changed bobbin tension.  (What I didn't think of till much later was adjusting the feed dog height, not sure that it would have made a difference ...)

I finally said "to heck with the walking foot!" It couldn't be much worse with a normal foot. And I was right! Though I really didn't like the stitching down the center of the 4-patch columns because I had chosen to use a variegated thread and the dark stretches just looked like dirty thread.

The quilt at this point was at least stabilized by the vertical stitching so I decided to attempt diagonal stitching -- some in the ditch and some across open spaces.  Not too bad. I removed the vertical stitching.

After washing
Bound, washed, and it was ready with 4 hours to spare!

Yellow Baby Quilt
Happy to report it went for $125!

What I've learned from this experience:
  • Don't wait till the last minute just because you don't enjoy the task ahead of you
  • Don't use a new device or technique on a last-minute project
  • Don't use variegated thread on straight stitching, whether in the ditch or across the surface
  • It's finally time to learn how to use the Grace frame that has occupied my bridge for the last five years.
With that done, now maybe I can put some time in on my One Monthly Goal and dig through my purple scraps for RSC.


  1. I've never used a walking foot, so I would have assumed it was salvation, as well.
    Glad you triumphed over all the tribulation. What a challenge!

  2. I was ripping out a strip that I had sewn to the wrong side of a block while I was reading your post. Congratulations for sticking with it and not giving up. My philosophy is that every quilt has something to teach us even if it is "don't do that again".

  3. Your finished quilt is beautiful. I am impressed with your perseverance....mine might have ended up in the scrap bin!

  4. Sorry to hear you had such a miserable experience with your SITD. I hope your next attempt at it goes much better. Your finished quilt is lovely and I'm glad it worked out for you.

  5. I appreciate your words of advice. Glad you were able to rescue the quilt.

  6. I hope your quilting woes are over with these 2 cute quilts! It was fun to read about your retreat experiences as well. I hope to have more time for such things going forward!

  7. You get marks for perseverance, and congratulations on your finished quilt, which is very pretty.

  8. Congratulations on your finish! I do not SITD because it is a major pain, and I invariably have stitches that refuse to stay there. Sharon B in Franklin


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