A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
I had started working on a very special quilt for a terminally ill person. I really don’t like doing these type quilts! They are always bad, bad ju ju for me. Yet, I get them quite often. It’s so hard to say no to a long time customer even though I say over and over and over again….. please NO deadline quilts. Quilts with deadlines should be taken somewhere else. Yes, I know, I need to practice saying NO. When I forget, I get into trouble.
It took a few days to get the batting. Right off there are many issues to be dealt with. Not bad piecing issues. Bad piecing would be easy to work with. No, this quilt is perfectly pieced and perfectly pressed yet it has several issues to give me pause. Here is the description:
It’s actually two quilts. One is for the back, seen here. The picture part is printed on very tightly woven fabric made for clearer printed photos. Makes great photos but is extremely difficult to quilt.
Here is the 3D raised area around the blocks. Looks nice but will be hard to quilt around. This makes it especially difficult to stabilize the quilt because I usually SID around blocks to stabilize. No way to SID those seams. The trim is sewn into the seam.
She wants two layers of batting to create loft to certain areas of the quilt. She wants a wool batting and a low loft. The pictures should stay flat. She wants the applique to be raised and possibly a raised feather along the border to meet up with the applique.
I know the pictures are to remain flat so those areas need only one batting. The easiest way for me to achieve this is to individually cut pieces of wool and spray baste it to hold in the right areas. In this photo I have completed all except the borders. I cut the wool just slightly smaller than the area so it is not in the seam lines.
The low loft batting will be kept whole and attached as if there were no wool batting. Before I actually put it on the machine I find the center of the backing and center of the front. She wants the panel on the back to be centered.
In order to stabilize I use my fingers to pull back the raised trim and do the best I can to stitch so it will be hidden. I use monofiliment thread to make it less visible but with very tight woven fabric that’s near impossible to hide. Tightly woven fabric causes tension issues too so I check that carefully.
It’s difficult to keep it squared on the machine. A fat area next to a thin area does not want to roll evenly. Eventually I get it all stabilized and square. Can you see the loft of the wool next to the flat of the bamboo? Ok, it’s not so easy to photograph. The pictures are flat and the flower blocks raised.
I’ve been careful that no fabric warts land on top of each other by constantly checking the back as I go. I use my hands to feel for them. I would feel and then put a pin on the top marking where one from the back is located.
Finally the hardest part of the quilting process is done. Stabilizing and squaring done right means the rest of the quilting is easier. By my estimation I should have the rest of the quilting done in no more than a couple of days then it can be on it’s way.
I got far enough along on the quilt that felt I could take a half day with my Ladybug. I had promised my Ladybug I would take her to a quilt show. She really loves quilts and wants to spend time with me. We had a nice afternoon at the Quilter’s Day Out. Saturday March 15. Ladybug signed up for a children’s block challenge for the fall. She also won a fat quarter by tossing it through a hole in a board. Which naturally meant that would be the basic of her challenge block. We spent about 3 hours walking around, seeing quilts, voting for our favorites, learning to make Kleenex holders, and seeing lots of my past customers. All of them asking if I’m back to quilting full time yet? It was a very pleasant afternoon with my six year old Ladybug.
The next day I get started on the quilt again. I got all the applique stitched in the ditch and started doing around the edges of the hexie flowers. I’m still using mono thread. After a few hours of stitching my throat starts to hurt and I get a headache. I decided take a coricidin tablet (heart friendly medication) and take a nap. Only that nap lasts a whole week!
From the time I lay down a week ago to this morning, March 22, I’ve been unable to do more than get up to go to the bathroom, drink some water, and make my way back to the bed. I have not eaten for a week. Eww, I had not showered either and I knew it. On the first morning after getting sick I did manage to get up and call my customer to explain. I would get to the quilt again as soon as I could. A neighbor called to ask if I needed anything. She bought me a 16 oz ginger ale and put it into the mailbox for me. I got it later when I was able to make it that far from my bed. I took a sip each time I went to the bathroom. It did help settle my stomach a little. That’s the only food I had the whole time. I didn’t have congestion or coughing or sneezing. Just pain, fever, nausea, weakness, and feeling of complete exhaustion.
My fever broke sometime in the wee hours of this morning. Oie! That was a dozy of an illness. I did sleep until early afternoon today. This time there was no pain in my sleep. While sick I had terrible pains in my muscles. Like they were rebelling against me. Pain like when you hit something and it bruises and hurts. Only this was all over my body. It was especially painful around my lower back and sides. Anyway this morning it finally stops hurting.
First thing I want to do is shower. Wow, much better. Wash the sheets too. I’m still not hungry but I fix a boiled egg and eat it slowly. My stomach gets only a little queezy. I look at the quilt, turn on the machine, and take a few stitches to get myself going again. I only work a few minutes. I don’t want a set back. The phone rings. It’s the owner of the quilt. She sounds upset. She says not to worry about being in a hurry to finish the quilt. The person getting the quilt passed away a few hours ago. All I can do is say how sorry I am that I didn’t get it done in time.
Like I said before, quilts for the terminally ill are bad, bad ju ju for me. I’m setting here typing a post because when I go near the quilt I start crying. All I can do is apologize for getting sick and not finishing the quilt. I’ll get started on it again tomorrow. I’m seriously thinking it’s time to quit quilting for others completely. It really hurts when this happens. Hurts so much that I’d rather go without the income as retired than ever go through it again. I’ll give it more thought but at this point I think it’s time to call it quits.
I’ll post more about the quilt as I finish it. I don’t know what’s up with ATT and Google lately but it’s like working through molasses. Extremely slow! Must be one of those “fixing what ain’t broke just so seniors can’t keep up anymore” things. Thank goodness I can use Firefox instead. I typed, edited, typed, inserted photos, edited, and proofread several times while Google is still trying to connect to WordPress. Nobody likes to play nicely with anyone else.