September 11, 2010

Quilting Shelter

I've been working on quilting "Shelter" for about a week now. (Click on the image for a closer-up view.) I want to highlight the complexity of the piecing/applique as it is, rather than add more complexity through the stitching, so I am quilting entirely with in-the-ditch quilting. For the non-quilters reading my blog, this means very careful stitching directly in the seam line. If done precisely, the stitching is almost invisible, as it sinks into the "ditch" of the seam. It's a kind of quilting easier done by hand than by machine, but hand-quilting is not an option for me right now because of the pain and numbness I've had in my hand. (I've gotten a good deal of relief from several weeks of occupational therapy, but I still need to be careful.) So, I'm doing the quilting by machine, which means very slow, careful following of lines. It needs every ounce of my attention--I found that I couldn't even have quiet piano music on at the same time. It feels like a kind of prayer. Given that the inspiration for the quilt was itself a prayer, this is a welcome experience. (Here's a post that describes the origin of the quilt.) This method of quilting is also giving me an extended stretch of time to spend very close up to the texture of the quilt, which I'm happy for. It will be hard to let it go.

I was worried that I would have difficulty where each tier met--that the quilt might pucker up at those three large seams as I sewed the seams interior in each tier. But I pin-basted very carefully and closely, and have sewn the large seams first, then doing the interior seams throughout each tier (about 3" apart). No puckering! My thanks to master quilter Jean Lohmar, who helped me think through the quilting.