Quilt for Rose

commissioned quilting

quilted August 2013

My neighbor, Sara, has a sister in San Diego. Several years ago, the sister took a beginner's quilting class and constructed a top for her then 2 year old daughter, Rose. The sister had no quilting skills and the top languished. Rose is now turning 5 years old. Sara, knowing that I quilt, mentioned me to her sister and it was agreed that Sara should take the top and have me quilt it.

Sara didn't have any ideas on what or how she wanted it quilted so I pulled out some of my quilts and started talking about various options. One quilt that I showed her, Royal Mendhi Crystals, had the same basic layout has Rose's quilt ... they both had a center medallion with borders. Sara liked that idea and I inwardly groaned. That happened to be a pantograph. Quilting with a pantograph from the back of the machine and have it fit in between distinct borders isn't a walk in the park. But, since I had done it once before, I knew I could do it again.

Sara wanted to have the quilting design coordinate with Rose's name and although the panto that she chose, Luau by Hermoine Agee, wasn't a rose, it *was* a flower ... and she liked it. Furthermore, we agreed that a single line of the panto would be quilted in the outer borders. The inner borders would get a stitch in the ditch ... no quilting at all.

So, I started. After stitching the top of the quilt to the backing and as far down the sides as I could get, doing the stitch in the ditch along both sides of the narrow inner border was the first order of business.

Then came the first challenge ... quilting one line of the pantograph in the top outer border. It occurred to me that IF ONLY I could stitch the pantograph from the *front*, it would make my life a bit easier. To that end, I devised a rather Rube Goldbergesque way of doing just that.

First, I repositioned the handles into a horizontal position. Using bulldog clamps, I secured a small "platform" onto the handles and then attached my laser light to the platform. After working out where the pantograph needed to be placed, I pinned it onto the front of the quilt below the border. At a horizontal position, the handles were a little awkward to use ... BUT it worked! I was pleased.

I read, someplace, a tip that seemed to be a reasonable approach to quilting outer borders. Typically, I (and probably most other quilters) will quilt a top and bottom border from edge to edge. When the quilt is ultimately turned to do the side borders, the outer corners have already been quilted. It was suggested, in this article, that this could result in fabric bubbles being created towards the corners when those side borders are quilted.

An easy solution is, when you are quilting the top/bottom borders, DO NOT quilt the corner areas. Leave them unquilted. When the quilt is turned, those corners will now be part of the side borders that have been repositioned to the top/bottom. At that point, you can quilt the border design edge to edge without concern that a fabric bubble might happen.

I did try that approach with this quilt and will say, it worked out wonderfully. I don't know if I would have created a fabric bubble at the corners but I do know that I don't have any at all using that technique. :-)

The next thing I did was to continue with the stitch in the ditch all the way down the inner border and across the bottom. I wanted to have that stitch in the ditch done before I started the panto in the center area. ALTHOUGH, in retrospect, it might have been better to actually quilt the center medallion panto BEFORE the stitch in the ditch, precisely because of that fabric bubbling problem. Hmmm .. I'll need to remember that.

In any case, once I finished all the stitch in the ditch, all the way around, it was time to do the center medallion pantograph. But, as I was rolling the quilt back to the top, I was seeing wrinkles in the center area, precisely because it was a large, loose area. I knew that if I just started with the panto and worked my way down the quilt, those wrinkles would develop .... that would disastrous. So, what I did was to hand-baste a stitch in the ditch on every horizontal seamline to stabilize it. It really didn't take very long and it worked out well. When I got to the end of the center medallion, there were no wrinkles at all.

Then, I turned the quilt, did the panto in the remaining two borders .. and ... voila! It was done!

Getting a bit ahead of myself here, when the quilting was all done, off the frame and hanging on my design wall, I was pleased to see that the pantograph was vertically lined up. Even though I always square up the backing and square up the top and am sure to attach the top & backing squarely to the leaders, SOMETIMES the panto just seems to "creep".

Not so this time! In this picture, I had put dots on the same place of the pantograph design, all the way down the quilt. When I drew a line through all the dots ... by golly ... that was a straight line! Woo hoo! :-)

The next step was make the bias binding and get it applied. I had stressed to my neighbor that labels are REALLY IMPORTANT. Since I knew Sara was going to visit her sister, I brought over supplies to make a hand-written label and explained what her sister should write on it. To me, it doesn't matter if your hand writing is chicken scratch ... the mere fact that it IS *your* hand writing is what is important ... and will BE important in future years, when the recipient (in this case, Rose, the daughter) looks at it and can see her Mom's hand writing permanently preserved.

When I was doing some family genealogy research and came across the US Naturalization documents for my paternal grandmother *with her signature*, I got a chill right down my spine. My grandmother, who I never really knew as she died when I was very young, actually signed that card!

And so it is with labels. That hand writing is proof positive that the quilt's creator existed and made the quilt *just for the recipient*. It's important. [end of soap box!] :-)

Although I did supply Sara with some fabric to make the label, it was only muslin.

I explained why the freezer paper was ironed onto the back of the fabric and supplied the archival pen to write with.

When Sara came back from her sister's house, they had found some fabric that had been used in the top (which I didn't have) and they used that. It was absolutely perfect. The sister even left me enough space at the side so that I could make the label into a heart shape instead of the rectangle I usually use.

I love the way you can clearly see the quilting from the back. By the way, the most wonderfully, soft, butter-yellow flannel was supplied for the backing.

The quilting on this quilt was very simple. A pantograph for the center and a single line of the same pantograph in the borders. It couldn't be much simpler. But, how effective it is! I just love the overall effect and so did Sara. I hope her sister and daughter, Rose, like it also.

A final comment regarding the piecing .... Sara's sister did the piecing. I must say, it was absolutely awesome. The squares were consistent, the seam allowances were consistent, the intersections of the squares were, while not absolutely 100% perfect (c'mon, whose piecing IS 100% perfect??), was exceptional. The seam intersections were pressed *flat*. And most important of all .. and I was VERY impressed with this ... the borders FIT the center medallion! They weren't too big and they did NOT have any excess fabric in them. This top was truly a joy to quilt, as there simply no problems with the construction.

I don't know if this top was a one-and-only for Sarah's sister, but if she enjoyed the process, I hope she continues, as her workmanship is wonderful.