|Keryn Emmerson design, enlarged to max hoop width, still too small for my quilt|
|Keryn Emmerson design from OESD #788|
|My 11" Diameter Circles|
|Bernina Artista 730E, photo courtesy Bernina USA|
|Bernina 830LE, photo courtesy Bernina USA|
So instead, I'm consoling myself with the inevitability of Technology Trickle-Down. Whatever blistering hot, bleeding edge technology is only available on the priciest models today will eventually be seen on midpriced models as well. Over the next few years we'll even start to see this snazzy red 830LE sewbaby showing up used on eBay for a fraction of the price of a new one, so that by the time my current sewbaby is ready for retirement I should be able to step up to a sewbaby with a big, wide embroidery hoop for much less than it would cost me to make that jump today.
Now that we've finished our pity party, what are my options for finishing this quilt using equipment that I already own? Well, I could hand quilt the whole thing, with designs as elaborate as my heart desires, but I'm not going to do that. For one thing, I'd like to finish this before my eleven-year-old son is ready to head off to college. Another reason not to hand quilt it is that the variety of fabrics I used are not all suitable for hand quilting. The batiks are a bit too stiff, and some of the other fabrics have a slightly more open weave and are not perfectly balanced thread count on the warp and weft. As I learned from Dierdre McElroy in a hand quilting class I was fortunate to take with her a few years ago, that means it would be impossible to get consistent, even, hand quilting stitches throughout this particular quilt -- I would have evaluated each fabric for hand quilting before I used it if I was planning to finish the quilt that way. So, no hand quilting.
I have a couple of options for machine quilting. If I had been machine quilting for years, and was really good at it, I could just mark the design I like directly on my quilt top, drop the feed dogs, and quilt it free-hand. I don't have the skill level to pull that off. Another option would be to find a quarter circle design and use my Hoop-It-All Double Wide Quilter's Square to quilt each circle in four stages. This is an expensive 3rd party hoop contraption that "tricks" my machine so that I can embroider larger designs without rehooping, with a 14 1/2" square hoop that is divided into four quadrants that slide into position and lock in place. I'm ashamed to admit that I have never even taken this gizmo out of the box, and it must have been at least four years ago that I purchased it at a seminar. See why I can't bring myself to fork over the ten grand for that uff da machine, no matter how wild and wonderful it may be? I haven't had time to learn how to use half of the sewing toys that I already own! The downsides to the Hoop-It-All solution are that I would need to spend some time figuring out how it works, for one thing, but more importantly, I would need to find a completely different design that could be stitched out in four quadrants. My blazing sun motif has continuous lines of stitching going all the way around the circle, so that wouldn't work.
Another idea, the one I'm leaning toward at the moment, is to select a digitized embroidery quilting design that I could stitch in-the-hoop at the center of each circle, about 5 1/2" diameter with my machine's Oval Hoop, and then I would embellish and enlarge the design to fill the rest of the 11" diameter circles using free motion quilting aided by my BSR function. I could add wavy zigzag "rays" around my blazing suns, for instance. That way, I'm getting the speed advantage and good-looking results of the computerized quilting, but also having a chance to practice some FMQ. After all, I'm never going to get good at it if I don't ever roll up my sleeves and just do it, right? So, while the completed quilt top continues to languish in my studio, my next order of business is going to be threading up my sewbaby with invisible nylon monofilament thread, making up some practice quilt sandwiches, and stitching out some of these motifs to see what kind of Frankenstein hybrid quilt design I can come up with for these gigantic circles. I'll post the results, be they good, bad, or ugly. Wish me luck!