I still get excited thinking about the "next" quilt - even as I am in the middle of working on my last "next" quilt. It's an addiction - this constant need to gather several fabrics, cut it up into hundreds of pieces, arrange and re-arrange them and then sew them back together again!
I know many quilters who feel quite the same. And once we have enough fabric cut for one block - many of us hurry to the sewing machine to assemble "just one" one block - to gt a sneak preview of what it may look like! That of course is the easy part. And so exciting - imagining how all the blocks will look when sewn together. And that's when the quilt begins to speak to us. The colours may evoke emotions and memories and we may even be thinking of the person we are gifting it to. For many this is their "happy place"!
The hardest part of quilting though, comes next. Seemingly unending assembly. Depending on the size of the quilt top that could mean up to 40 hours of mind numbing straight stitching - interrupted intermittently with a little stitch ripping to reduce the monotony. (Or at least that's what I tell myself.)
Assembling the rest of the quilt squares - sometimes hundreds and hundreds of them - needs a fair bit of concentration especially with complicated blocks. It's not uncommon to get a little stumped twisting and turning half square triangles 45 degrees one way or the other trying to match a picture that does not seem to make sense until all the blocks come together. Points that don't meet - and colours that might not look just right might frustrate us - but as more and more squares sit side by side - the small "misses' dissappear into a much larger more beautiful collage.
Once a quilt top is completed, it of course needs to be quilted together with a batting and backing. But before I load a quilt on the longarm frame - I hang it up or lay it on the floor or a bed and take a photo of the quilt top - so that I can see the "story" it tells. Looking too closely at a quilt is like not seeing the forest for the trees. A photo really does give you the big picture. A quilt will reveal to you about how it should be quilted if you take a bit of time to look at it as a whole.
As I start to think about the best way to highlight the pattern of the quilt, I load it on the frame and look a little closer at the blocks. And then I just start. I do not use a computer program but instead do what is called "free motion quilting". Quilt blocks speak with colour and pattern design. Some call for contemporary lines or geometric patterns while others call for swirls or feathers or a whimsical collection of many small patterns. Stitching sometimes may cover the entire block - or there may be several small patterns in parts of blocks to make a more integrated design. And I cannot count the number of times that once a quilt is done and I look at the back of the quilt where its easier to see the quilting I have done - there are happy coincidences - patterns that are now all together - that look absolutely stunning.
But the happiest moment in quilting for me - is when I finish the quilting and start to remove it from the frame. Once the tension is released on the quilt - the quilting and the pattern comes together in a happy surprise. I know that this quilt will have a long life and be loved by someone. But for me - this is my happy place!