Now that I've gotten the quilt top stabilized to the batting and backing; it's time to start stitching a design on the top. First, let me explain the difference between quilting a top with a friendly border (waves a lot) and quilting a top that has a friendly center area (D cup).
When you stitch an area of a quilt, it draws up. This creates fullness around the area of the stitching. If you have a top that has a friendly border, and quilt the center of the quilt first, it draws up the center which compounds the waviness of the border. The opposite is true if you have an extra full center area, and quilt the borders first, it draws up the border which compounds the extra fullness in the center. Understand so far?
The main reason for stabilizing a quilt is to be sure it comes out even at the ending edge before I stitch any designs. But, there is also another reason. It allows me to roll back and forth to quilt the areas with the most fullness first. Quilting the areas with the most fullness keeps the other quilting areas from compounding the problem. Once an area is quilted then the other areas around it won't cause it to get more fullness. Still with me here?
Ok, I hope you understand what I've explained so far. Now it's time for me to "quilt out" the issues of this top. I know the borders will be quilted last because they don't have any extra fullness to deal with. The same with the setting triangles. There is only a little extra fullness in them. The blocks of the center area should be quilted first because that's where all the fullness is. As I said before, this is opposite of doing a friendly border quilt.
I look at the pieced blocks and the solid blocks. The pieced blocks have the most fullness but I don't want to compound the issue of the solid blocks next to them either.
What I decide to do is just a little quilting on the solid blocks first. The idea is to stabilize the solid blocks with just enough quilting so the fullness is not compounded by quilting the pieced blocks. With my hand I spread the fullness as evenly as I can within the block. Yes, there's lots of fullness.
Next, I quilt a design in the center of the solid blocks. See how it's kind of tamed the fullness so far? That's all I will do on these blocks for now. I roll back and forth to put the same design on all the solid blocks. I'll deal with the rest of the fullness in these blocks later. I also used a darker thread for the design. This will distract the eye from seeing the extra fullness when it's "quilted out."
Now it's time to move to the pieced blocks. This is the area of the quilt top with the most extra fullness. For demonstration I've used photos of two different blocks to show the technique. That's because these photos show the best detail of what I did.
Do you see that the block has only stitch in the ditch around the block but no stitching within the block so far? With my hand I spread out the extra fullness as best I can.
Here is the design I chose to use on these blocks. I test my design ideas on wax paper using a marker before stitching. I'm very careful to not get any marker on the quilt top because it won't wash out. I may test several different ideas before deciding on the one I like best. When quilting out fullness it's best to use a stitching design that does not cross over itself. Lines may touch them self but not cross over. Crossing over creates a tuck and we don't want that.
I like this design because I can complete the whole block without stopping and starting. The lines are not going to be straight but sort of wavy. Why? A couple of reasons. One is that when using a ruler I may accidentally put a fold in the fabric underneath the ruler and stitch it down. I need to see what the fabric is doing as I stitch. Another reason is that slightly wavy lines will draw in the extra fabric better.
Here I've completed the first half of the block in one continuous stitching. Can you see how the extra fabric has been "drawn up" so it appears tighter? Where did the extra fabric go?
Ok, here is another view. Can you see how the extra fabric has been worked into the space between the stitching lines? It may not look so pretty to a perfectionist (or in a close up photo) but for the owner of this top it will simply appear quilted and square. When the quilt is washed the first time all that extra fabric will flatten out and behave. Fabric wants to behave itself when it gets wet.
Now to finish the other half of the block.
All done. Just look at how straight the block appears now. Nice, flat, and square. Look at the seam line of the blocks. It's still straight. That's were stabilizing the top before quilting has helped.
Another view of a pieced block. See, the fullness is there but the block is straight.
Ok, now that all the pieced blocks are quilted, the next area with the most fullness is the solid blocks. Tomorrow I'll show you how I deal with those.