Monday, December 14, 2009

Quilt It Myself, or Pay Someone Else to Do It?

I really love the process of piecing the top of the quilt together. One has to measure and cut accurately, then sew the pieces together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Any points or intersections should be precise, and one has to be careful not to cut off points by taking too large a seam. Little details like these can make the difference between a 'nice' quilt or a 'great' quilt.

When the top is complete, then the quilt sandwich (top, batting & backing) has to be quilted together. I have done a couple of quilts by hand with needle and thread. This is a slow, laborious process which I really don't care for. Another option is using my regular sewing machine to do the quilting with some sort of design or pattern. I do this occasionally on small pieces which will fit under the arm of my sewing machine without too many manipulations. Straight lines or grids aren't too complicated here.

The third option is to have someone else do the quilting on their long-arm quilting machine. Some people have computer-aided machines and can do a very nice allover design over the entire top. This is a not-too-expensive option, especially down here in the Ozarks where there are numerous long-arm quilters. I have used this type of quilting on a number of my smaller, less complicated quilts.

The final type of quilting is "custom quilting" done by a professional on a long-arm machine. When I have a top which I feel is show quality due to the fabric choices, pattern, and time & effort involved in the piecing, then this is the choice I make for my quilt. The extra cost for this is worth it to me.

Here are pictures of one such quilt with a detail of the custom quilting done on it by Bill Fullerton, Branson, MO. This quilt is called "Stained Glass French Braid". Bill did some beautiful feathers down the 'braid' sections of the quilt, and he emphasized the green bands running the length of the braids with a flower design done with purple thread. If you look closely you will notice that each flower is just a little bit different. This indicates custom work versus computerized.


I have decided that my wealth of quilting projects merit their own place in cyberspace to be viewed by more than immediate family and friends. I will be posting pictures of finished quilts and also projects in progress (or UFO's as the quilting world refers to them!). My fervent hope is that people will be inclined to purchase finished items from me, or to commission quilts to be made.

Although I began sewing around 12 years old, I only started quilting in the fall of 2002. I signed up for an adult-ed class offered through the local school district in Northport, NY. Joan Papa was the instructor and she emphasized accuracy in cutting and matching seams. From the start my color selections elicited comments and excitement in our class. Soon my classmates began referring to "Becky Colors" when someone would add some especially bright or bold fabrics to their quilts. My friend, Debbie Cuneo, helped me immensely in learning about color value and hue.

My first quilt was a small crib-size nine-patch done in Halloween colors of black and light orange. The hand quilting design featured a cobweb done from a stencil. My second quilt was a much larger one done in bright colors for my older daughter, Rachel, to take with her to college.