Custom Quilting day by day

This week I’m working on a custom quilt, and with my customer’s permission, I will be blogging this queen sized quilt, step by step.

First thing I noticed about this quilt on intake is that it has an outer border that is pieced with small scrappy pieces.  Really effective visually on the quilt, but that meant I couldn’t pin the quilt top to the quilt roller, it had to be free floated.  Which is what I usually do on custom quilts anyways.

Not pinning it to the quilt roller could potentially leave the quilt dragging on the floor; but since I wouldn’t want that done with my quilts, I don’t do that with customer quilts either!  Instead I loosely fold the quilt bottom up and pin it to the quilt top.  This keeps it off the floor very well:

One of the first things that I do on every quilt, custom or not, is to baste the sides as I go.  That means each time I advance the quilt, I stop and baste the sides.  On pieced borders this usually requires more pins than on plain borders:

What I’m trying to accomplish by doing this is to keep the piecing visually horizontal to the quilt, even if there is a bit of fullness or taughtness in a certain piece.

After that the bones of any custom quilt get done.  For this quilt it’s taken 2 full days to put in those bones.  What are the bones?  That’s the SID (stitch in the ditch) that stabilizes the piecing and creates a sharp crisp finish to the entire quilt.

There are two methods of doing SID, with a ruler or freehand.  For years I have used a ruler (or various assorted rulers) and it looks like this:

And although this is quicker than freehand, I’ve struggled with seeing what I was doing using this method.  Yesterday while using this method the ruler slipped, hitting the needle, jamming the needlebar up into the machine head, requiring the stitch regulator control panel to be removed to reset the needle bar.   Not a BIG job, I’ve done it before, but this time one of the screws in the regulator control had a stripped head.   What SHOULD have been a 5 minute job took 2 hours.  At that point I decided it was time for me to learn to do my SID freehand.

So with white knuckles gripping the steering wheel (oh wait that was driving the other day)….. anyways, I proceeded to slow down and do my SID without the use of a ruler!!!!!   And I like it better!  Of course it’s slower, but I can see easier where I’m going and I have more control if I need to skootch (is that a word) the fabric a bit.  It’s something that has to be done SLOWLY though…..as you can see, your fingers are very close to that needle.

Here’s a closeup of my hand guiding along the seam line:

How do I maintain control, first this is done very, very, very slowly; secondly I use my wrist as a stabilizer between the fabric and the machine.  The micro handles my husband made are just the perfect height for resting my wrist against:

Once the SID is completed, I let the quilt rest, usually overnight as it’s normally the end of the day before I’m done.  This quilt is resting now and tomorrow I’ll start the motifs.

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