Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sweet Dreams

It had been over a year since the last time I quilted on a long arm machine. That was the Far Above Rubies quilt, for which I had chosen a more detailed pantograph. It took me 5 hours to finish the quilting and, at $30/hour, that was $150! For a 60" x 60" quilt! I was very frustrated. It should not cost more to finish a quilt myself than it does to pay someone else to do it. But I also didn't want to limit myself to just using very basic pantographs so that I could complete the quilts more quickly and keep the expense down. The time it took to load the quilt, if I needed help or stopped for lunch or to chat with another quilter, I was still "on the clock" and paying for my machine rental during that time. Yes, they did provide the thread and the pantographs, but I wasn't always happy with their selection and ended up buying my own, thus adding to the expense of the quilt. I decided to do a little shopping around. There was a sewing machine retailer that also rented their long arm machines - for half the hourly rate of the studio at which I had been renting! Unfortunately, they only had certain days when the machines were available for rent, which didn't necessarily coincide with my days off work. And when their prices went up to the same, or nearly the same, as the other studio, it definitely wasn't worth paying $150 to take the training required to use their machines. I'd already paid that to take the training at the first studio. On kijiji, I found an ad from a woman who was willing to rent her machine for $75/day, and I was seriously considering that. She lived out in the country, likely over an hour's drive away, so it definitely wasn't convenient, but the price was certainly more attainable. Then recently, one of my work colleagues, who had also gotten into quilting, informed me that our local quilt shop was willing to rent their machines out for $35 per quilt! Hurray! $35 including thread, and no need to take a training course as the store owner is willing to help as needed! And that's for any size of quilt. The only drawback is that only her smallest machine, an HQ Sweet 16 (I think), has a laser stylus to use pantographs, which are my preferred method of long arm quilting. Plus the fact that the longarm machines are in the basement of the store: concrete floors, not the most pleasing aesthetics, and it's cold down there. But these I am willing to endure for the sake of finishing my quilts. At least until a better option occurs, like buying my own long arm machine. I've already decided that if I ever marry again, I want a long arm quilting machine rather than a diamond ring.  Seriously! But since that is not likely to ever happen, I'll have to save up and buy my own.
I took Sweet Dreams and Unbroken (more about that one in a future post) to the quilt shop, with the intention of using pantographs on both of them. That never happened. I ended up deciding to try computerized quilting on the Pfaff Powerquilter 3 for Unbroken. And somehow, Geri, the proprietor, managed to convince me to try freemotion on the Tin Lizzie for Sweet Dreams. She demonstrated the first row, and then had me trace the design with my finger before finishing the quilt myself. I'm certainly not as proficient as her by any means, and there are lots of mistakes in my quilting, but it really doesn't look horrid. And as my mother used to say, "A blind man will never see it." 
Here's the finished product:

Now for Sweet Dream's story: Keepsake Quilting has some awesome deals in their clearance section, and, when our dollar was on par with the US dollar, I have made several purchases there. And likely will again, when the exchange rate becomes more favourable. Or maybe even if it doesn't... That's where I purchased the Sweet Expressions layer cake, which is all desserts - baking - candy fabric, and they provided a free pattern for the Uneven Nine Patch, which I chose to use for this quilt. It actually called for 25 - 10" squares while this layer cake only came with 20, so I had to add some other fabrics to complete the total. I decided to use this for a neutral baby quilt. I still have the Scrappy Shine that I made with pink binding for a little girl's adoption that never happened. And there haven't been any little girls born in the family since. So I have resolved to henceforth make neutral baby quilts (with the exception of a boy's quilt that I already have the fabric for). And I knew that I had two great nephews expected this year. One, Patrick, is already born, and he will be the recipient of the Sweet Dreams quilt. Here's the backing:
And a close-up:

When this fabric, and others like it, was on sale at Fabricland, I bought several metres of it to use as backings for children's quilts. I like to make my baby quilts less baby-ish, and more child-like. That way the child can use it throughout childhood, without being embarrassed by all of the diaper pins and storks on it. 
Now to finish the binding on Unbroken, which has been languishing for over a year while I got the basement renovations done and searched out a more economical alternative for longarm quilting. I did attempt to quilt it on my domestic machine, but that only resulted in a lot of stitch-ripping.