Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tree of Life-An Anita Good Design Quilt Project

My last post I shared pictures and commentary from my parent's 50th anniversary.  The gift that my
siblings and I gave them was the "Tree of LIfe" machine embroidered quilt by Anita Good Design.
Leaves can be added after completion that have been embroidered with names of the members in the family making a very personalized quilt.
This was my first attempt at a quilt done on the embroidery machine.  I fell in love with the process so I thought I'd share it with you.  
Of course proper prepping is key to success although it can be quite boring.  I use my rotary cutter to cut muslin to a size that will fit into my embroidery hoop then cut Floriani's No Show Mesh to a size that is 1" larger than my planned block size. (The program comes with 4 sizes and your machine will dictate which size you can use)  My Brother PR600II will only support the 7x7 block using the largest hoop.

Next I cut my background fabric for the quilt into 8x8 squares. (this is 1" larger than the proposed block size to provide seam allowances)  Then I cut stabilizer for these blocks.  I first used Dream Weave but ran out before finishing all 70 blocks.  I found a pellon stabilizer at a local craft store that was much cheaper and gave the body I needed for all the stitching plus it was much cheaper!!  I also cut batting to an 8x8 square. stitch ALL those blocks! 

 Some required more time than others depending on the stitch count.  I numbered my template (provided in the tutorial) and wrote the corresponding number on a piece of painter's tape with a sharpie and stuck that on the edge of the hoop until embroidery was completed.  This helped me keep from turning the hoop upside down after trimming the applique.  Once the embroidery was completed, I moved the tape to the center of the block and trimmed it to the required 1/2" seam allowance.

As you can see from the picture, this process puts all the quilt layers together with the applique.  A muslin and stabilizer layer(here I used the stabilizer in a larger piece but learned that it was wasteful and could make it an inch larger than the proposed block), batting, background fabric with stabilizer and then the actual applique and stitching.  After getting all 70 blocks done, I laid them in the floor in their proper positions. (This is where the taped numbers are really handy-you know the position in the quilt as well as which direction it goes).
Next I stitch each block into rows by following the stitching lines done while in the hoop.  (Do you see the block I goofed on by actually cutting on the stitching line rather than giving a seam allowance?  Mistakes happen but things still come together...I'm not perfect)
Then I stitch the rows together!
Now to add the backing!  I chose to use yardage that matched my appliqued flowers.  Since it was only 45 " wide, I had to piece it to be wide enough to cover the quilt.  I also planned on using it as a foldover binding so made sure there was enough fabric around the edges to do this technique.  I laid the backing fabric WRONG SIDE UP on the floor and taped it down.  I used adhesive spray lightly and I added an extra layer of batting here to give more body to the quilt since I knew it was going to be a wall hanging.  Slowly roll the batting over the area you just sprayed.  Spray the batting layer and repeat with the rolled up quilt.  I also pinned my quilt (didn't want any slipping) on each block.

The hardest part was handling the quilt while "stitching in the ditch".  It was REALLY heavy!!  I think I want a legit sewing table that allows my machine throat plate to be level with the table or purchase a plexiglass table to fit around it.  I used a monofilament thread to do the stitch in the ditch.  Starting on one end of the quilt, with the ends rolled (as in the pic) I did all the vertical stitches.  Rerolled and then did all the horizontal.  Start in the center of the quilt and work your way to the right then from the center to the left to help keep the backing fabric smooth.  Your left shoulder can be a great prop as the quilt moves forward!!!!
After finishing the stitch-in-the-ditch, trim the backing to the required width for a double foldover, and trim the batting flush with the quilt blocks.  I also added a label to the back as well as loops for hanging.

The quilt was a hit!  Even got a few tears of joy and appreciation!
Looking great in my parent's house!
Happy stitching!

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