Monday, January 18, 2016

Slow Progress is still Progress

The title is what I feel about my Phoenix quilt.  I finished the quilt base.  The finished bird had been cut from the original quilt when I saw I would have to do it over so it has thread painting on top, white batting in the middle and black backing on the back.  The problem is that the white batting won't be completely hidden when I sew the bird down to the quilt base.  Completely unacceptable!  I pondered the problem for three months as I was quilting the base, aka background, and decided that I would color the edges with Inktense pencils.

Awful white batting shows at the edges

TIP:  Got a problem?  Ponder, think, lay awake at night, talk to others.  Give it time and you will figure out what to do.  Try out some ideas.  Sometimes you may decide to throw it out, but I find that happens very rarely in my sewing room.  I did cut the bird out of the first quilt, but I saved the background pieces and used them as testers along the way.

Oh, major tedium to paint all those edges.  I figured it would take the rest of my life...not literally.  I put up a card table and got out all the equipment, started an audio book, and set to work.  I took a reasonably sharp pencil of the appropriate color, dipped it into fabric medium and painted over the edges where the batting shows with the dampened pencil.  Fantastic!  It looks wonderful and I am soooooo happy.  There are some cut threads, which was unavoidable, and the black backing shows a bit of fraying, but all that will be covered as I thread paint the bird to the background.  As I went along I used a hair dryer to heat-set the pencil paint to make it permanent, and to prevent my rubbing color onto the top of the piece as I worked.  It took about 4.5 hours, which is a pretty short lifetime.  Next, I put the bird between two silicone sheets and ironed it from the front and from the back for more heat setting.

Edges painted

TIP:  Anything you do in life has its times of tedium.  What can I say?  Suck it up and dive in.  Pretty soon it will be done and you will wonder why you dreaded it.

I noticed some water soluble thread that I had used for basting months ago so I sprayed water on it to get rid of it.  Three days now I have done the water treatment, but bits of the thread still show.  It is getting better, but I know now that the bird does not bleed color so I will be able to give the finished quilt a good soak when it is all done and ready to block.  The wash-away thread should disappear, but if not a Micron pen will hide it.

I was not able to work on the quilt while the bird was wet, so I started drawing out some ideas for a whole cloth quilt.  This was very relaxing, and though I am not yet completely happy with it, I can let it sit and come back to it later with new eyes.

TIP:  I find that letting ideas percolate for awhile leads to a better finished product.  I rarely rush into a new project, and it is fun to know that something is ready when the current project is complete.

Now I have three projects ready to start and many more in my brain.

Sew a happy seam this week.


  1. This will be gorgeous! Thanks for sharing at Sew Cute Tuesday!

  2. Beautiful! Painting the edges made such a difference and was well worth the time!

  3. Fantastic! You've definitely made the right decision with painting the edges. I love how this is coming together!

  4. It is beautiful...and I love the insight behind its creation almost more than the lovely piece itself! I agree with everything you wrote about letting things percolate when the solutions just don't feel right, and learning to step back so that new thoughts can rise to the forefront. A great post, really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing...

  5. Oh! Thank you for sharing this. I've thought of quilting with batting then cutting out but never have, not knowing what to do with the batting edges. But it seems to work fine the way you solved the problem. I'll have to try this :-)