Sunday, March 18, 2012

Making a Group Quilt, Part 6 - Marking, Layering and Basting

Once the quilt top is totally assembled, we are getting closer to the fun part. At least the part that makes a group quilt the most fun for me, that is. But before we get to the actual quilting, we have to do this last step. (Yes, I know it looks like three steps but we try to do it all at one time and get it over with.) Often this is the first time a group of us actually gets together to do some work. (We did do block layout on two of the quilts, but most of the time this is it.)

The first quilt we did needed no marking. We even followed some of the floral motifs in the batik border rather than mark. (We were under a time constraint that year!) However, all of the other years, we did mark something on the quilt.

Marking tools: I like chalk. A lot. You know it will always wash out. We have also used a regular #2 pencil and a special graphite marker guaranteed to wash out. We have also used a soapstone pencil, which I also really like. Note that I have tried to keep to things that probably won't have chemicals that damage the fabric somewhere down the road. I just don't trust them.

We used a lightbox on the Double Irish Chain quilt, but I admit to being lightbox challenged. I can't tell where I've already marked with the light shining through it. It is probably a vision thing, but I strongly prefer stencils. Especially stencils that work well with my pounce pad! That is just so much faster! In the future, I will probably try using netting or a similar fabric to draw a quilting motif on and then lay it over the fabric and trace over the motif. But I haven't had a chance to try that yet.

One of the advantages of many people getting together to mark the quilt (other than the obvious that it goes faster) is that more creativity is involved. My favorite example is this border:

The curves are so pretty, but Superb Sabrina's corner solution is the coolest part!

We have also been known to mark things in progress! Yes, I know that it is easier to mark before you layer, but on this same quilt we had some blocks we just couldn't decide what motif to use. So I ordered some more and Careful Carolyn crawled under the quilt when it was on the frame and held a book under each block so that I could mark them like this:

We usually do the marking and layering at church where we can put many tables together to fit the size of the quilt. We also usually have enough people that when we are smoothing out the layers and taping them down, we can station a person at each corner and that goes pretty smoothly. 

Then it comes to the pinning and basting. Since we usually do queen sized quilts, the center can be hard to reach so we have to choose someone to crawl up on the tables to handle the center parts. 

We thread baste our quilts, partly because it is what was done previously and partly because I worry about the marks pins would leave if left in the quilt for several months in the basement. (I do, however, use flower head pins to pin the quilt to the frame's leaders and enders.) One year I tried one of those basting guns, but it died on me when I'd done less than half the quilt. Sigh. I also didn't feel like it held tightly enough - but that could be Influenced by the negative feelings caused by the fact that the gun quit on me so soon.