100 Quilts · Creating

Family Tree

I really shouldn’t let this quilt show its face in the quilt world.  Really, it has that many problems.  But sometimes these quilts are fun to look and to remind myself of how far I’ve come as a quilter.

So the idea was, since we were headed to a family reunion, to make a banner for my husband and I, like I’d made for my mother.  Hers was more successful, and it’s all on account of the quilting.  I hadn’t yet taken a fusible class, so I was working with my old stand-by which unfortunately leaves the fabric like a slab of wallboard.

I cut out the tree, and then traced everyone’s hand for the leaves.  I slabbed on them on to a tone-on-tone background fabric (which, thankfully we don’t have around much as the fabric can change colors turning more yellow–I think the newer ones are better).

I then wrote our name using a Pigma pen, copying the style of my sister-in-law’s handwriting.

Then, for some strange reason, I decided to put it under my machine and quilt it.  Maybe I did that because this idea of quilting the quilt yourself was an idea that was percolating around; back in the Olden Days (when we wore skins and cooked over an open fire and used cardboard templates and cut everything out by scissors) there was no machine quilting on your own machine.  Either you hand-quilted it or you tied your quilt.  That was it.  Then the longarms started showing up, and then the idea came that you of course could do your own quilting.  This quilt is a testament as to why sometimes you shouldn’t.  Or you should take a class and get better.  (Which I’ve tried to do.)

Okay, here comes the prelude to the scary part.  Can you believe I switched out the color in the bobbin?  I did it again this year.  I’d better write this one down on the Things Not To Do list, and tack it up by my machine.

ACK!!! ACK!!! ACK!!!
Don’t you just love all the loose bobbin stitches, the globs of thread that burped out on the back, the horrendously balanced thread tension?  I give myself a little break because I WAS sewing through bunches of wallboard-glued-on-fused fabrics and that’s just about impossible.

But I have to say I learned a lot, and still am continuing to learn about the Big Three Elements of Free-Motion Quilting.  They are:

  • Speed of the machine (how heavy your foot is in on the pedal)
  • Speed of your hands moving the quilt around
  • Tension/Thread/Needle Size.

I now sew with a size 14 Topstitching needle most of the time when I’m machine quilting.  Sometimes I bump up to a 16.  I ALWAYS test drive the thread tension — it can change with the thread you use —  on a small quilt sandwich that I keep by the machine.  And I really hope I never use a different color of thread in the bobbin again. (Cue: sound of head banging.)

Here’s a photo of my parents’ grandchildren all lined up by age.  Not all of them are shown here, but overall there are 27 of them.  And now we’re working on the next generation with nearly 20 great-grandchildren (an adoption or two are in process).  We’ve been at our bi-annual Reunion this past week, where I got to see all those new cute little great-grands, and they got to meet their auntie–me!

2 thoughts on “Family Tree

  1. Very enjoyable blog Elizabeth. Now if we can only remember to learn from our mistakes. (read that if only I can remember). One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the quilting masters I’ve taken classes from is to G O S L O W.

    I think we were all first taught to whip that piece around under the needle and it would all go fine. Not true. The slower you go, the more control you have over your piece.

    Also the way you wind your bobbin is very important. Make sure that it is wound evenly. Most times when I’m having difficulty with my quilting not acting the way it should, I take out the bobbin and it has little hills and valleys instead of being evenly wound.

    I love your family reunions, thanks for sharing. Smiles, Bert

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