river quilt

i put this quilt top together roughly 6 years ago… and over a year ago, my sweet mom helped me iron and pin this top to the batting and backing, so that i can make my first attempt at machine quilting… and there it has remained………

well, i’ve pulled it out. i’ve been contemplating what design to use. i’ve been messing around with some free motion quilting… i’ve got a few new potholders and my cat has a new sleeping mat to show for it.

it’s tricky. if you look closely, you can see how my stitch length varies wildly from one stitch to the next. free motion quilting works because i ease the presser foot pressure, and “turn off” the feed dogs, so my machine isn’t automatically moving the quilt through at a steady pace. instead i am in control of the length and direction of each stitch by moving the quilt around with my hands. it makes many things possible- including lots of unintended blobs! which is fine for a potholder….

incidentally, many older and unfancy newer sewing machines do not offer you the option of lowering feed dogs. or changing pressure foot pressure. in my “diaper loft” (“studio” is a bit too “together” sounding for what it looks like) i have 3 sewing machines (plus a serger) and only one has the presser foot pressure adjustment, and i had to have my sewing machine repair person show it to me. it’s here, on my old 60’s-era kenmore:

…photos provided on the off chance there is actually one other human with this model, and that human happens to read my blog… 😉 as for the feed dogs, a bit of creativity with packing tape over the needle plate removes their influence- though they still move underneath, they don’t grab the fabric.

anyway, back to my project. this is known as a bargello quilt. i made it by sewing a bunch of 2.5-inch wide rotary-cut strips of fabric together side by side, then slicing them again with the rotary cutter at varying widths, and then shifting the rows up or down one notch before sewing them back together. if that makes any sense whatsoever. (disclaimer: this is not a tutorial! lol. feel free to take whatever info you can glean from this, but i am in no way attempting to give a step by step- i am not qualified or even interested, really.)

when it was all done, i looked at the deep greens and blues and the way they seemed to flow and named it river quilt. as in natalie merchant’s wonderful song:

“well i will go to the river to soothe my mind, ponder over the crazy days of my life, just sit and watch the river flow…”

i’ve been getting re-inspired to pursue the finishing of this quilt… this morning on a quick google search i ran across this amazing blog full of free motion patterns. i want the motif i choose to really bring out the watery, flowy feel, so i’m afraid i’m being very very picky, and having a hard time settling on a design. i am pretty sure the added inspiration of designs like this and this is going to help me narrow it down, though! i am thinking of curvy spirally watery designs over the patchwork, and then something fern-like around the mostly-green border, like the verdant greenery drinking from the edges of rivers here in the northwest.

and now here it’ll be out in public, with a date stamp on it, to hold me accountable! i will finish this thing yet!!! (did i mention it’s king sized?

… so go easy on me…) do you have any projects you’ve been “meaning to” finish for the last several years? 🙂

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