Aqueduct Quilt: machine quilting

Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - quilt sandwich

My Aqueduct Quilt has reached that critical, insanity-inducing stage: the quilting.  Cue the foreboding music and evil cackling!  Thankfully, due to its diminutive size, machine quilting this beast hasn’t been nearly as bad as quilting my Tulip Quilt, which was pretty much a nightmare.  Truth be told, I’ve actually been enjoying it.  More accurately, I enjoyED it, meaning that I quilted the whole damn thing last weekend!  Hooray!!!

Due to my ongoing work-related stress and general grumpiness during the week, I’ve been a sewing MACHINE over the weekends lately.  I just sew and sew and drown myself in my own little world of fabric, needle, and thread, and only reluctantly emerge on Sunday evenings.  I don’t know how many hours I’ve sunk into this small quilt, but it’s been A LOT.  Also, quilting uses up a ton of thread.  Way more than garment sewing.  I’ve been burning through spools of thread like crazy.  I often think of thread as basically free, but the cost can add up when you’re blowing through so much of it!

Anyway, let’s take a look at all my glorious quilting, shall we?

First up: channels.

Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - channels

Pretty simple.  I used my walking foot (an absolute must for machine quilting, in my opinion), and all the layers stayed put pretty nicely.  The Bernina walking foot (#50) even comes with a little attachment that lets you accurately sew channels of equal width, whatever width you choose.  Pretty awesome.

Even more awesome: my new free-motion machine quilting foot!

Bernina freehand embroidery foot 24

This is the Bernina freehand embroidery foot (#24), which I recently picked up especially for this project.  Note that this is NOT the free-motion quilting foot (#29), but it was much more affordable and seems to do a perfectly good job of quilting.

I used it to do some stippling in the “sky” portion of the quilt:
Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - stippling and channels

And I’m pretty pleased with the results!  My free-motion machine quilting still leaves a lot to be desired, as I’m still brand new at it, but it doesn’t look too bad as long as you don’t look too closely.  🙂  Yes, there are some jagged edges, but people, it’s just a quilt.  Not gonna let it keep me up at night… I have plenty of work deadlines doing a great job of that already!
Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - stippling back

I love how the stippling looks from the back – very textural.  It kind of reminds me of the surface of the brain.  (Couldn’t resist a science tie-in.)

Next up: free-motion hearts:Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - free motion hearts

Again, my stitching is definitely not perfect if you look closely, but it’s passable for my first attempt.  I actually found it really difficult to get smooth lines when outlining this print.  I sewed down one side of the hearts and up the other side, and I can definitely tell the difference.  Stitching upward was much more difficult since I couldn’t really see where I was going!  I’m excited to practice this technique more though.

As with the stippling, I love how the hearts look from the back:
Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - hearts back 2 Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - hearts back 1

The heart shapes really jump out!

All right, now onto something a bit more “artistic:” a few little birds flying underneath the arches:Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - birds under arches

What do you think?  I decided on a very basic shape to keep the quilting as streamlined as possible and simply suggest the idea of birds without all the complicated anatomy.  I just drew the shapes on copy paper, cut them out, and traced around them using a fabric safe pen.

I decided to scrap my original plan to quilt a few spectators because the shapes would have been too intricate.  I thought the anatomical details would have gotten lost in the loft of the quilt, and the people would have just wound up looking like crinkly blobs.

Finally, I decided to continue the theme of “perspective” in the quilt by quilting straight lines under the arches that radiate out from the focal point on the left.
Quilting the Aqueduct Quilt - sun rays under arches

I’m quite pleased with how this came out!  The lines also echo the idea of a sunburst, which is another overall theme of the quilt.

Now that the quilting is complete, all that’s left is to square up the quilt and apply the binding.  I haven’t yet decided on what color/print to use for the binding – any ideas?

As I’ve mentioned throughout this post, my (no longer particularly) new job is still kicking my ass big time, and I’m starting to wonder if this is just my new normal.  I’m a stress ball all week and then retreat into hermit mode over the weekends.  Granted, I’m learning A LOT and am being challenged in a lot of really good ways, and of course I still love science and teaching and thinking about fungi all day, so I guess it’s all good.  I’m just thankful that I have a hobby about which I feel so passionate that it can sufficiently distract me from my worries for a while.

Ah sewing, what would we do without it?  🙂

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6 thoughts on “Aqueduct Quilt: machine quilting

  1. The quilting looks awesome!! Love all the designs you used. Hope you continue to adjust to the job, and that it eventually becomes less stressing!

  2. This is insanely cool! I love how you quilted based on sections. I’ve definitely been in the mindset of work all week and hermit sew the rest of the time, and I kind of miss it. My job has been stressful and I think about sewing a lot, but I just can’t seem to get into the same sewing groove. Enjoy the sewing, and I do hope things ease up at work!

    • Thanks Morgan, and I hope you find some relief from your job stress too. If only we didn’t have to work and could just sew all the time… 🙂

    • Thanks Gail! I’m definitely still a beginner at free-motion quilting, but it’s really fun and a good challenge. I hear there are rough-tipped gloves that are supposed to help grip the quilt, and I think they would make a big difference. Maybe a few investments in good tools are in order!

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