Experimenting…..quilting in the hoop
The art of quilting has been around for ever. Whether it is a blanket or a wearable, quilting remains a favorite throughout the world. One of my pursuits in the machine embroidery world is to create designs for quilting in the hoop. The quest has been to complete the block, front and back, in the hoop, and then join together with other blocks via the sewing machine. I’ve tried a variety of ways which have been very successful so far….but there was always something in the back of my mind urging me to try even better.
One of the most easiest blocks to create is the Drunkard’s Path. This was one of the first curved piecing blocks that I learned in my earlier days of quilt learning. Thanks to a dear friend, Carolyn, for her suggestion, the block has a new name: Feathered Trails. Feathered Trails collection has taken a long time to be released. As the collection goes, it has been completed for a very long while, but the light bulb to achieve my quest didn’t materialize until just a month ago. The Island Sampler was my first attempt at trying to create quilt blocks completed in the hoop and joined together using the strip method on the sewing machine. It is a great way to quickly make quilts, but I had a “nag” in my head urging me to do even better. So, needless to say….I believe the quest is completed.
The method is so simple and easy that I was kicking myself in not thinking of it earlier. As quilts go, they are a combination of three components…top, batting and backing. The top and the batting can be easily joined together in the hoop while stitching out the design…it was the backing which always eluded me. If the backing is joined in the hoop, then the question is how to join two blocks together with the raw edges. To show what I mean, the completed block on the left looks complete with the piecing and the quilting. The block top is created directly on the embroidery machine, coupled with the batting and the backing is slipped underneath the hoop, right before the final quilting. The quarter inch seam all around allows for the block to be joined with others…and this is where the question comes in…how does one hide the raw 1/4″ seams? The block has stippling and a feathered quilt motif, which is directly in the center. It is this feathered quilt motif which becomes the key in joining the front and back side of the block together. On the right is the picture of the back side of the block…which is minus the stippling.
Aha! Did the light bulb go on? If you look carefully at the picture of the front of the block, you will see that the feathered quilt motif is approximately 1/2″ away from the seam line. That is the answer to my quest! Okay, I see this puzzled look. Not to worry, I will explain. The quilt backing fabric for the block is slipped in after the stippling is completed, and the machine then stitches out the feathered quilt motif, leaving a 1/2″ space to the seam line. This 1/2″ is helpful in stitching two blocks together without showing the raw edges. The front sides of the blocks are joined leaving the backing free, which is folded onto itself and a stitch in the ditch, or a fancy stitch then joins the top and the back together!
It is really a very simple technique and I wish that I had thought of it earlier when creating the Island Sampler. Nevertheless, it can still be utilized for the Sampler collection by friends. The Feathered Trails is complete and I’m re-writing the instructions at the moment. Hopefully, Labor day weekend may see this up on my website…fingers crossed. Meanwhile, wishing everyone a safe and great Labor Day!