Updated: Apr 26, 2020
My friend Corinne gave me a scrappy Double Wedding Ring pattern top to longarm for her. She found it online about twenty years ago and bought it off of Ebay. She believes it came from Pennsylvania originally, but did not have any other information about the maker. When she brought it to me it was in pretty good shape! It is both hand and machine pieced and had a lot of variability in the piecing and was neither very square or flat. You can see in the photo that there is a wide variety of scrappy pieces used to make the arcs and the four patch in this top. The white background fabric was cut from a jacquard woven tablecloth - my guess. It was not your typical Kona cotton!
I believe this quilt top might have been pieced in the 1960's or earlier. The maker used whatever was on hand. She definitely incorporated some fabrics from the 1930's and 1940's through what I think are 1960's materials. There were some synthetics, some gauzy fabrics, lots of cottons of different weights and weaves. Even some of the small pieces in the arcs were pieced! The rings and four patches were sewn with hand stitches about four to an inch. The melons and inner shape were sewn in by machine but also had some hand sewing. There was some staining and the solid red patches in the arcs had bled into the white background in places. Overall, the top was in good, intact condition but I could see why the maker may not have decided to quilt it, as it was pretty puffy in many places and would have taken a century to get the quilting done. My customer wanted to make the quilt usable and bring it to life. She is a hand quilter and did not want to take the time to finish this quilt so longarm quilting seemed to be the best solution. She originally wanted me to use a pantograph, however this proved impossible due the variations in the top. I needed to have total control over my needle and supervise every inch of the way, so a new plan was devised.
Here is the quilt on my longarm frame with a couple of the first rows done. I have an Innova longarm, 26" on a twelve foot frame. Corinne provided a high quality muslin for the backing and I used a Hobbs 80/20 bleached white batting for the middle of the quilt sandwich. The quilt basted on pretty easily and that made me happy.
My free-motion quilting design needed to be efficient but dense enough to stabilize every piece in the top. I did not want to stitch in the ditch as the piecing would have not permitted a good result. It was too uneven and there was no way I could use a ruler to steady the longarm in the ditches. I chose to do a ribbon candy pattern in the arcs and cover a lot of territory quickly. I thought a swirl in the small melons would be lovely, and in the center shape my first idea was a bracket design that formed a four leafed flower, but then I changed my mind and decided to feather the inner area. I love to feather and its a great way to get the job done with beautiful results. And it's fast!
Making the path continuous was the next challenge. I dislike unnecessary stops and starts. My mind game with my quilting style is to try to do the row with as few stops and starts as possible.
Two of my favorite quilters, Deborah Poole https://thesassysistersquiltedcottage.blogspot.com and Dorie Hruska https://www.forever-quilting.com, teach continuous line quilting and connecting elements of longarm quilting to avoid stops and starts. I have studied their work and used my skills to plan a path that completed these rows in two passes.
In my next blog post, I will outline the quilting path for you to show you how I did it! I am working on a video but may have to resort to pictures of the path instead.
I am new at blogging and until I work out the bugs you can find me online at www.karynquilts.com, on Facebook @karynquilts and on Instagram @karynquilts. Email is info@karynquilts. com. Please contact me if you have questions and if you need longarm quilting done I am happy to help you - we have appropriate social distancing ways to accept your quilt top.
Thanks for reading - Karyn!