Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Watching the paint stitch at a time...

People often make fun of home improvement shows and call the networks that carry them the "Paint Drying Channel," or some such insulting label.  They use their remote to find something more amazing and remarkable to watch to get their "buzz" or "high." 

It is not very sexy TV for the uninterested - the changes just don't happen fast enough for most viewers.  Although, I think the fact that the improvement took place before our eyes in 30 - 60 minutes is remarkable...I've DONE home improvements.  I really appreciate seeing every little detail because let's face it, THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS...

The same jaded thinking happens in the quilting and DIY blog world...unless you are interested in the topic being detailed and expanded upon, it can be a snore-fest for some.  BRING ON THE SEEMINGLY INSTANTANEOUS FINISH OF THE QUILT/PROJECT IN QUESTION!

I say, "NOT FAIR!!"  Some things just take time.  Hand quilting is one of those things.

The thing I like most about reading blogs is seeing the details...good and bad.  While I like the lure of "Ta da!  Look at this fabulously complicated thing I just finished," I don't think it is very helpful to miss out on the pain and personal growth that it took getting from step one to step done.  

I like to hear that there were some problems that were overcome, because there are things about quilting that ARE difficult.   It is always helpful for me to see how people workout the tough stuff.

I have been frustrated with finishing the hand quilting of the music quilt.  Mostly, because there is a lot of quilting!  But also because there are many things that seem to constantly need my attention.  

A lot of the quilting is outline quilting which, let's just say it, is not very exciting.  I did it to myself...I appliqued all these tiny, little things that really need to be outline quilted to make them "pop."

What possessed me to design border swags with holes in them...holes that all need to be outline quilted?  I love how they look when they are quilted, so I am going to stop questioning my use of TWENTY-EIGHT of them...

Sometimes the edges of the motifs are straight so that I can fill the needle with stitches before pulling the thread through.

But most of the time, I can only take one stitch at a time due to the tightness of a curve...that "quilt pecking" takes more time.  I was literally flying on the cross-hatch quilting behind the blocks because I could load up the needle with lots of stitches before pulling the thread through.

And then, there is all the "traveling" between little motifs...times I am worming my way through the batting trying to get the needle to its next destination without knotting off.

Oh, don't get me wrong...I still love hand quilting.  It just takes longer to make what most people would call "progress."  When outline quilting the actual music blocks, it is hard for the untrained eye (my husband...LOL!) to figure out which blocks have been outlined and which ones have not.

I spent Monday and Tuesday finishing all the piano key and outline quilting on the border motifs (minus the corners).  When my family came home and looked, nothing looked all that different to their eyes.

Oh well...Teresa knows that she is getting closer to her goal.

I have been so thankful for a good thimble and a little pile of rubber finger cots.  The finger cots really help me get a grip on the tiny quilting needle, especially when I get a chance to really load it up with stitches before pulling the thread through...

I have a bad habit of thinking that when the center of the the quilt is quilted, I'm almost through.  Well, I calculated last night that the center part is 5184 square inches.  The outer borders on this quilt are almost just as much "real estate" - 4224 square inches.  No wonder I have been so hard on myself!  

It sounds like I need to be a little more patient with the paint drying MYSELF...

...while working on the details, the devil has definitely been working on me!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. LOL - been there and done that! yes I know what you mean to outline stitch around all the applique and at times I too think why did I do that! and the grids - why did I do 3/4 inch instead of an inch I would get done faster! BUT it is all worth it in the end isn't it - you will love it finished as you did making it.

  2. I hear you! I just finished the center of a quilt and wow, there is a lot to go!
    your stitches are beautiful!

  3. Is that a Roxanne thimble? I have wanted one forever but just not wanted to pay for one. Do you love it? Your quilt is beautiful! I love watching your stitches.

  4. Oh goodness, I hear you. It always shocks me when I start a border and discover it takes as long as the middle! It is looking wonderful!

  5. Thank you for putting this into words! I am struggling to finish hand quilting a large applique quilt and whilst I love the effect of outlining each little shape and then doing something in the background, it seems never ending! And there's another applique quilt waiting!! Your quilt looks amazing and I'm sure the end result will be worth the wait. Celia in England

  6. Ah, but beauty and the softness of a hand quilted quilt is worth the work and patience. I enjoy seeing and doing machine quilting, but hand quilting gives me the most pleasure.

  7. Give me a paint-drying show anytime over a reality show - I'd much rather see the detail than get caught up in the frenzied competition. To learn something through another's process rather than feel left in the dust by someone else's prolific output. Keep it up - I love being allowed to follow your journey through this quilt, from your thoughtful design decisions through each painstaking step to completion.

  8. Rushing and handquilting are two words that don't really go together :0) It is going to look amazing! I smiled to see you had calculated the square inches of border vs center. I've thought about doing that many times

  9. It looks like you are quilting without a hoop. Is it just because you are on the border? It looks almost effortless. Your hand quilting is wonderful.

  10. You are amazing! :) Keep up the good work.

  11. Oh! like childbirth the pain will be so worth it!!

  12. My husband says all good things take time. I get bored to easy and don't get things done. Chris

  13. I loved reading this post! And enjoyed all the detail photos! Clearly I gotta get me some finger cots... where do you get those? I've never seen them at the quilt store.
    All these quilting details remind me of "mother's work" in general - no one has any idea of all the time we spend on the small details of the family/home to make things run smoothly and look beautiful!

  14. Your quilting is beautiful and oh so worth the effort -- even if most people don't like to watch drying paint. If my paint job looked as good as yours, I'd do more of the hand stuff!! Thanks for sharing.

  15. In this hurry up and get it done world, I'm glad to see you take your time and hand-quilt your beautiful applique quilts. "Good things come to those who wait." I don't know who said it, but it's so true. Take your time, Teresa, enjoy the process. We all appreciate the beautiful results.

  16. Well said! Your post came at a good time, as I am also working on borders - and loving every stitch. Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  17. in the last picture on your blog today, when you showing the rubber finger cots, were you using a hoop? do you always use a hoop? where do you get the cots? what are they called? i admire hand quilting and your blog a lot. i am trying to learn how to hand quilt and love it. i'm one of those who makes lots of quilts, machine quilting them all. thanks if you can answer!

  18. You are reaching your goal inch by inch. Outline quilting the pretty appliques is worth the extra time. At least you have good quilting weather for the tedious stitches. You are doing a great job.

  19. So well said. I am finished with all but the outer two rows (all the way around) of an 80x100 quilt ... I thought sure I was in the home stretch ... that it wouldn't be long at all before it was done ... until I counted the number of blocks in those outer two rows and compared it to the number of blocks in the part I've already quilted (I'm not putting a border on this quilt). Sigh ... but then I just remind myself that for me, this is the fun part. Cutting, piecing and layering is, for me, simply a means to an end: hand quilting.

  20. I'm not always successful but I try to remind myself that its the journey and what I'm learning from it that's important. Enjoy your stitching, its looking beautiful!

  21. Hi there Teresa hon, I understand completely what you're talking about, I experience the same thing when I'm on a big hand quilting deadline. What can I blog about other than endless 'in progress' shots which must not seem that interesting. Not much can be done about it really. Having said that, I love seeing your quilting and everything you share with us, and the close ups of your work are a delight to see.
    Chatter soon


Thanks for stopping by the quilt cave...I love your feedback!

I am sorry, but you need a Google account/Profile to pose a question or leave a comment. That is very easy to get (FOR FREE) at

Of course, you can click on my email and contact me there any time!

I am no longer able to accept comments from Anonymous readers...too much weird spam!