Today, I tackled the quilting of the Special Olympics piece. I decided to create concentric circles of stitching to emphasize the athlete’s repetitive thoughts and to contrast with the grid of the pieced quilt. A computer mock-up of the concept is shown at the right.
The first step was a test of walking foot versus free motion. While the free motion foot would mean the ability to sew in all directions, staying exactly on the chalk line can be difficult. The walking foot meant pulling the entire quilt through the machine for each circle, but it gave more control and helped to keep the layers of the quilt in place as I worked. So the walking foot won the preliminary tests.
Next, I had to figure out how to draw perfect circles. What I really wanted was one of those big chalkboard compasses I remember teachers using in junior high school, but since I don’t have access to fun toys like that I had to go to Plan B. I cut a piece of string, put a slip knot on one end, and placed it around a pin that stayed in the center of the circles on my design wall. I thought I could then create a similar loop for the chalk liner, but getting the string to be exactly the right length proved more difficult that I had hoped. So Plan C was to simply hold one finger at the right length and use the chalk liner with the other hand. This worked pretty well. I then followed the lines using a smoke thread so the line wouldn’t disturb the images too much.
Once one circle was done, it was time for another one towards the bottom right, another at the top right.
And then a couple with centers off the piece to fill in the empty parts of the quilt and make the eye flow off the edges.
Now all that’s left is to add a hanging sleeve and label … and on to the next piece!