Quilting Minuet

Quilting my mystery quilt, Scrap Dance Minuet, was the most difficult and time consuming project I have ever attempted.  I really wanted to do a custom job on this one, with emphasis on the on-point tesselation between the blocks.  So, last time I had finished taking out the ditch stitching and began drawing out patterns for the quilting.  If you missed the Minuet Disaster, you can read about the mess, my huge mistake and the delay in getting going. It was disheartening to have to take out so much and start over.  Originally, the quilt was loaded on the longarm on June 27th, and it took five weeks to finish quilting it.  So, here is where I left off, with only the top section stitched in the ditch and the top row of pieced border done.

On this pure white background, I just didn’t want to do any marking with pens or chalks that might not come out completely.  Heat erasable pens and chalks leave a residue (Lets Talk About Marking) that never comes out, and can reappear if the quilt gets too cold.  While I don’t expect to freeze the quilt, I still don’t want that residue on this white.  But, I needed to do something to delineate the area for the medallions.  I decided that painter’s tape would do the job without leaving sticky residue.  So, I marked off the on-point squares with long pieces of tape, very lightly applied, just barely in place so the sticky part wouldn’t leave residue on the fabric.  I actually put the tape on my clothes and pulled it off several times to reduce the sticky stuff before applying to the quilt top.

I’ve not had a lot of experience doing ruler work, aside from doing beadboard borders.  This time I was using a curved ruler for the first time, and I spent quite some time just lining up the ruler and moving the machine without actually sewing to get the feel of it.  When I felt like I could move the machine smoothly, I began doing the large petal shapes.  The first row would have some partial petals as the tesselated block was cut off at the border.

Four petals make the main medallion, centered in the 4-inch squares and pointing into the flying geese.

Each and every start and stop was painstakingly tied off and buried as I went.  I wanted those to be as invisible as possible.  The Easy Threading Needles helped.

Tied off and buried, the start point isn’t noticeable.  I did this after the first side of the first petal of the medallion as I would come back to this point at the end.

So, I did four points with the ruler, then four inner petals free hand with rounded tips.

Eight petals done, tied off and thread tails buried, the stop point is almost invisible.

Working across the quilt, I did all the partial medallions around the edge as the quilt was advanced.

I worked my way down the entire quilt, re-taping as I went, doing the side ditching and scrappy border SID.

When I got to the last row, I marked the bottom border so I wouldn’t sew into it..

When all the petal medallions were done, I began to look at what space was left.

I lay out Golden Threads paper again, figured out the space and drew some ideas.

Ultimately, I decided to use the same shapes in the spaces, using the patches again as the points for reference.  This time I taped off the parts I’d already quilted to keep the quilting lines where they should be.

Once again, I tied off and buried all the starting and stopping threads as I went.

The petals once again converge in a solid 4-inch block, but on the alternate quilting areas, the petals go at an angle to echo the on-point angle.

I used the same curved diamond shape, using the point between the white squares as the reference point.

I worked from top to bottom, filling in the custom quilting.

Just this part took more than two weeks.  Some of that time was me just staring at the quilt, being afraid to start, not wanted to mess it up again.  Each quilting day, I did 15-20 minutes of just practice moving the machine on the ruler without sewing, just to get comfortable with the movement and the muscle memory.  Next week, I’ll show you the finish of the quilting.

Have you done any custom quilting like this?  What do you think of mine?

Find the Clover Easy Threading Needles and Golden Threads Quilting Paper that I use on Amazon.
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26 thoughts on “Quilting Minuet

  1. lynn bourgeois

    I applaud both your finish, and your patience and courage. I find these challenges intimidating, and am so happy for you that you didn’t let any fears get totally in your way. I’ll be back for the next episode.

    1. Elaine Thomas

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am looking forward to quilting my own custom quilts in the near future. This was my first time reading your blog and I am looking forward to reading more. It was very encouraging to me.

  2. Sylvia anderson

    Carole, I would never have had the patience, nor the perseverance to do everything it took to finish this beautiful quilt. Patience has never been one of my strong points, and I admire people like you, who work through a problem, no matter what. Thankfully, I have a husband who has those qualities, and is able to figure out most things. Looking forward to the next chapter.

  3. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    You did a beautiful job, Carole! I know you are pleased even though it did take a huge chunk of your time. I haven’t used painter’s tape but this is a great idea. I do a lot of custom quilting and ruler work (LOVE it – it is addictive!!) but usually use a purple air/water erase marker and try to do more light dot to dot instead of drawing out the entire design. Then I have a water pen and I use water with baking soda in it to remove any markings. That way I don’t have to spritz the entire quilt. I think I learned this from Lisa Calle?? I understand you not wanting to use a marker on that solid white fabric though! Looking forward to seeing the entire quilt!

  4. Patricia Evans

    I admire your perseverance and assume after all this work, you will be keeping this beauty. I do all my free motion quilting on a 30 year-old mechanical Bernina. I’d love to venture into ruler work, but there isn’t a ruler foot for these older machines. I’m sewing my Minuet blocks together right now and haven’t even gotten to thinking about how it will be quilted.

  5. Thank you for sharing your quilting design, its going to be an inspiration for my quilt. I’m just getting the borders on my Minuet, I think it needs one more to finish it.

  6. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, Your quilting is just beautiful! I can not wait to see this completely finished. You are always such an inspiration to me and to so many other quilters! Thank you so much for sharing this post with us. Have a great day!

  7. Sharon S

    zowie, makes us all appreciate even more when we see the custom free motion quilting done on the quilts entered in shows. Still hoping to get a long arm soon….

  8. farmquilter

    I adore custom quilting!! I actually have a difficult time visualizing E2E for any quilt, I can always visualize custom!! Your saga kinda reminds me of when I was quilting my daughter’s wedding quilt. I spend 12 hours a day for 8 days straight working with a friend’s LA that has IQ doing a bunch of custom quilting, then took the quilt home and spent another 150 hours on my own LA doing ruler work. The quilt turned out amazing. After taking a year to design and piece the top, I had no problem putting the time into the quilting. I even had to quickly remove it from my quilting frame because a wild fire came within a mile of the house and I wasn’t going to let that quilt get burned!! Hmmm…the back of my truck was quilt filled with quilts and quilt tops and photo albums!! I know my priorities!!!

  9. bonniecoleman

    That quilting is beautiful!  It is going to show up so good and I love the puffiness where the arcs go!  You are definitely very skilled at this….and it shows.  Your patience is amazing!  I really have to work on my patience…..trying not to rush and get ahead of myself.  Quilting a large quilt can be overwhelming if you look too far ahead and try to hurry it up.  And I love the fact that I’m not the only one who spends time just staring at the quilt…..trying to figure out what quilting would look best. I am currently hand quilting a queen size quilt for granddaughter #2, as a graduation gift….about 3/4 finished.  She graduated 4 years ago!   Hahaha…..and I asked her if her taste had changed but she said no, she still likes it!  I have “STARED” at this quilt a lot, regretted some of my decisions on quilting designs and now think I may have over-quilted it.  Using wool batting, I love how it quilts but there are a lot of diamonds, HST and Points…..dang thick points!  Oh well….it will be a quilt when I finish!

  10. Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts

    I think your quilting looks fantastic! You did so good with the rulers. Even though it’s a pain, burying those threads was necessary to keep the quilting clean and looking effortless. Does that make sense? I’m sorry this quilt has given you so much grief. But from what I see, all the time has definitely been worth it!

  11. Rebecca

    What a gorgeous quilt! Wow! I know it was frustrating for you, but girlfriend… it was worth it because it turned out spectacular! LOVE IT! Thanks for sharing it with us!

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