I recently had the opportunity to quilt a stunning and carefully hand appliqued Baltimore Album Style Quilt for a customer in PA. I needed to purchase backing to use on the quilt and also used 100% cotton Warm and Natural batting as the filler. I had the perfect color of threads to use on the top and backing, both in the green blue category. I chose Superior's So Fine #50 thread to quilt it. I cleaned and oiled my machine, put in a new needle and set out to quilt this beauty.
I had spoken briefly with the customer both in person and over the phone. She told me she liked cross hatching but that I was free to quilt it as I saw appropriate. It was a dream come true!
Custom quilting is something that this quilter really enjoys. I find that looking at the quilt and allowing it to speak to me and helps me to decide how it should be quilted. There are an unlimited number of possible ways to quilt a quilt, but not all are appropriate for each different style of quilt. This particular Baltimore Album Style quilt had large wide open borders enhanced with a small curvy line and many green leaves with big beautiful ruched flowers in the four corners. The vine and leaves were a very dark green and the flowers were a printed fabric.
In addition, each border contain two sets of raspberry colored prairie points on the outside and inside of the borders. I decided to perform stitch in the ditch (SITD) quilting around the prarie points and then stitch another row of quilting inside the border away from the SITD (stitch in the ditch) thread. This gave those prairie points a dimensional quality to them. Next I employed the use of my favorite 6" ruler to sew small straight lines on the outermost section of the of the border. I call it matchstick quilting. Inside the vine and second set of decided that a nice random but curvy filler, also known as McTavishing would look perfect. I added the stitching, randomly sneaking in some hearts to echo those found in the appliqué blocks. I also stitched closely around the stems and leaves on both sides.
The center of the quilt consisted of 9 large, appliqued blocks, each one different from the others. The center block had two smaller sections of background fabric. I had to figure out how to quilt them and blend in the extra background. I had studied BAQ quilts online and saw one intricate example where the blocks were without sashing. It had been quilted with a feathery border in between the blocks. I loved how it looked and decided to use that around the inner border edges and between the blocks themselves. I sewed these feathers free hand.
I decided to cross hatch 5 of the blocks, the four corner blocks and the basket block in the center. This ended up being the most labor intensive part of the job. I had done cross hatching before, but on Wholecloth quilts not ones with tiny appliqued stems and leaves and berries. Cross hatching involves measuring the center and corners of the quilt and sewing those lines first. You set the stitches at the start and end of each line. When your line intersects an applique piece, I had to stop stitching, set the stitches, clip the threads and move the needle to the next section of the line. I figured out it took me about 1.5 hours to quilt each block with cross hatching. This also means there was going to be a lot of snipping and clean up on the back of the quilt once I was done quilting, to trim to threads that skipped over the appliqued pieces. It turned out that the clean up and snipping went very quickly in the end.
While it took many days to complete the quilt, I think it turned out stunning and the customer, her sister and the end recipient (her great niece) loved the quilt. I hope they enjoy it for many generations. It truly was a work of art.
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