Two weekends ago, I pieced the quilt backing for my 2018 Aurifil Designer of the Month quilt top using a little over 4 1/4 yards of the light purple Timeless Treasures solid I recently acquired. Then I put off basting the quilt sandwich. Even the thought of basting the 72″ square quilt made my back hurt!
Last Tuesday I finally caved and basted the quilt. Because my plan is to spiral quilt this one, I used up all the pins I had on hand as I knew it was going to get manipulated a LOT as I worked on it. In all, it took about an hour and a half to layout and baste, and then I needed a few days to recover before I was even ready to consider starting the quilting.
I really hurt my lower back as a teenager wakeboarding on a lake. I fell wrong and messed myself up pretty badly; my spine was shifted by almost a half inch between my lowest vertebrae and my sacrum. Ouch. I had physical therapy to get me back up on my feet at the time, and since then, I have relied on keeping my abdominal muscles as strong a possible and chiropractors to keep myself going. Needless to say, it’s been a while since my last chiropractic appointment and I am really starting to be able to tell. Thankfully I know a lot of tricks to help get my back to release, but I do look forward to getting an adjustment again. Sometime.
Over the weekend I was finally ready to tackle the beginning of the spiral quilting. The worst of the bulk of the quilt will be manipulated now, at the beginning of the spiral. Some things I have learned to help myself over the years are:
- I like to turn the quilt in a counter-clockwise rotation so that the center of the spiral slowly moves to the left as I add to the spiral. This means that with each revolution, less of the quilt needs to pass through the throat of my machine.
- As a result, I set up my walking foot guide on the left of the needle. This keeps the bulk of the quilt from getting tangled in the guide. Having the guide on the right hand side often means the quilt bulk bumps and moves the guide width, resulting in frustration on my part, so that’s another plus for having it to the left.
I am quilting with approximately a 1″ spacing. To start the spiral quilting, I mark out the first two full revolutions with my Hera marker. I start by measuring out 1/4″ from the center along one seam. I measure 1/2″ on the second seam, 3/4″ on the third, and 1″ on the fourth and final seam. Starting back at the first seam, I measure 1 1/4″, then 1 1/2″, then 1 3/4″, and finally 2″. Then I do my best with my Hera marker to gracefully arc and curve between the marked points to create the center spiral. From there, I set my sewing machine speed to the lowest setting and even then I only quilt a few stitches at a time as the center requires a lot of moving and manipulating of the quilt.
It’s my goal to have this quilt finished this week… we’ll see if I can get it done. What are you working on this week?
15 thoughts on “Quilting the 2018 Aurifil Designer of the Month Quilt”
Thanks for these useful tips Yvonne. I like quilting spirals but always find making a smooth curve at the start tricky. I shall use your Hera marker method next time.
I’ve just purchased a Juki 2200 Mini machine – now every blog I read seems to feature a similar machine! So good to see these machines coping with big quilts! I am enjoying getting to know my ‘Julie the Juki’ 🙂
Interesting, I have quilted spirals three times, but I used the side of my walking foot to distance, however, a one inch spiral will give a softer quilt, and I like your logical way of marking it. I hope your back eases off, sitting at the machine for long periods won’t help you, but I’m sure you will factor in regular breaks, unless you’re like me and get carried away, and wish you hadn’t. I’m back to finishing the wedding quilt after a week’s break, I still haven’t decided on what shade of grey to quilt it in yet, but as it won’t be for a couple of weeks I still have thinking time. Good luck with your spiral and look after that back!
Wrestling the bulk at the beginning can be back straining as well. There is comfort in the fact that with each completed turn, the bulk gets easier to handle. Looking forward to its finish.
Yvonne, thanks for those tips. A spiral has been on my wish list for a long time. Hope to try it soon with your tips!
I hear ya needing a chiro appt. My neck and mid back are killing me. Sometimes my lower back needs help. Curious as to what tricks you are doing to release yours. Looking forward to seeing this quilts finish.
I have lower back issues too, but haven’t been as diligent as you in keeping my core muscles sound. I haven’t been to the chiro since last November(!) and I’m definitely going to have to go soon. It does help to have those little tricks to loosen things up though! I think part of the reason I avoid large quilts is the basting. I’ve only done spiral quilting once and it was harder than I thought it would be! I appreciate the tips, thanks, Yvonne!
I have back, knee, hand issues…add to that age and it’s a bad combination for basting and quilting large quilts!! Slow and steady is the only way to go with spiral quilting along with a plan. You have both! Before long it’ll be done and you’ll be very happy about that!
I haven’t done a spiral quilt before so I will try to remember your hints when I finally bite the bullet and give it a try. It definitely won’t be a large quilt. I take the route of paying someone to do the large quilts because I spend about as much at the chiropractor afterwards as I pay for someone with a longarm to do the quilting. Well, that’;s my excuse anyway. Look forward to seeing the results.
Ah HaaaAAA! Thank you so much for this epiphany. I made a postage stamp quilt top (3 – 4 thousand 2″ squares, Queen size) last year. I’ve got it in 2 sections, top half and bottom half. It’s been sitting in a basket for nearly a year, quietly waiting for quilting inspiration. Well not as quietly as one might think, as we all know, an unfinished quilt is always sneaking around in our brains until we give it it’s final send off. This is exactly the quilting design we have both been waiting for (the quilt and I). Air high five
Ouch! I feel for you Yvonne. That had to have been very painful. About 30 years ago, I made an unintentional partial split on some ice that twisted my pelvic bones way out of line. It was agonizing until an amazing physical therapist “untwisted” me. To this day, I still use the stretching exercises he gave me to keep everything in place. I’ll always be very grateful for his help. But bending over at a certain angle or kneeling on the floor for any length of time is painful. (Although some of that can be chalked up to my almost-70 years!)
As of today, I’m working on a baby quilt for a friend. It has a beige background with large, red letters of the alphabet on it, all decorated with cute, tiny teddy bears. I’m doing the letters in Trapunto (spelling?) and am about 75% finished. It has a touch of lime green, bright yellow and blue so I decided to pick up those colors in the binding. It will be a stripe with all of those colors plus some red and I think it will be adorable. It’s been slow but rewarding and I hope she’ll love it.
I am sorry to hear about your back. NOT funny. I’m just old and worn out but have been dealing with back pain a long time. I think there are a whole lot of folks in the same boat. We each do what we can and must to keep ourselves going. I’m not working on anything yet this week, but have the top strips cut and ready to sew for an old fashioned strip quilt. Last week I finished the quilt I have been working on ….FOREVER…..for one of my grandsons. Forever because of health challenges and other things. I intended to add a picture of it but can’t see how to do that. I’ll send it later. Stay in and stay safe. Stay well and be happy. 🙂
You are amazing! I don’t think I could do this on a larger quilt, but starting small on learning something like this is a help. I also don’t know how I would approach this on my longarm (if at all). It will be stunning and worth all the hard work, but do take continue to care of your back.
Good luck…with quilting and the back. I love spiral quilting…just don’t like the work/process involved in actually doing it. LOL
Yay. You’re finally underway! The center is the hardest of course, then once you’re out a few inches, it’s alot of fun to just keep going round and round. Looking forward to seeing it finished!
I’d also like to try spiral quilting, but I’m thinking of trying it on a mini quilt. With some back and shoulder problems of my own, I just can’t quilt large projects. I appreciate all the tips you shared. Take care, Mary.