Quilting a Cutwork Tablecloth
I’ve got a new project on the frame, it’s a vintage cutwork tablecloth. I actually went at this a little backwards because I saw a fabulous design by Telene Jeffrey, AKA Lady Jane Quilting. Telene is a phenomenal quilter and designer and has just published a few of her designs that can be purchased in PDF form. I knew I had to have one immediately when I saw her post these on her Facebook page. This is the one I chose. When you purchase them, they come to you in a PDF file (these are not digitized designs) and you have the freedom to enlarge or reduce as you wish. Telene gives very specific directions, once purchased, on how to do this.
I didn’t want to spend time changing the size of the design, so in my lazy way I picked a tablecloth that would fit the print out! Yup, that’s how I roll!! If I wasn’t so anxious to start quilting, I might have taken that time, but I didn’t. I printed out the quadrant that she provides and decided my best light box would be my glass kitchen table. If you don’t have a glass table, tape your design to a window or door, it works great too! I put a lamp, without the shade, under my table and voila, a very large light box!
I spent the afternoon tracing the design, a quadrant at a time. Once I had half of the design traced, I flipped the entire half over and then traced the other half. I used a blue water soluble pen for the marking. Any brand will do. To remove when finished, I use a mix of 1 heaping teaspoon of baking soda, dissolved in 1 cup of ice cold water. I’ve been told that this mix changes the PH of the pen and it’s always worked for me. Do NOT let an iron or heat touch this until you have removed the markings. Heat will permanently set the markings, yikes!!
I printed out one detailed section and one with just the base lines, this way I could get an idea of the spacial relationships AND I wouldn’t need to refer back to her drawings when I started quilting. Telene said feel free to change fills, etc., but I really want it just like she designed.
This may be the biggest ‘chore’ for me. I’m always so anxious to get started that planning and drawing are not my strong suits. Many times I will load right on the frame and start stitching a drawing there and then while I work, letting the design come as it may. This time, it’s all about the planning!
I put the tablecloth (roughly 36″ square) on top of a piece of Antique Gold, Dupioni silk. I buy my silk on Etsy from Fabric Supplier. They have great colors and it’s $15 a yard with free shipping. You can’t beat that! They usually ship within a day or two of ordering.
The first thing I do on the longarm is use my channel locks to square the tablecloth. This gives me a great frame to work within and I know it’s square. Linen fabric has a loose weave, so I can manipulate the fabric to make it square. Sometimes, I spritz some water to make it more manageable, but since that would remove my blue line work, I couldn’t do that. I was able to square it up very easily without the water.
At this point, I use my Notched Ruler to help stabilize areas of the linen. It nests nicely in my hopping foot for precision stitching around all the cutwork. You can see how this ruler works here in a YouTube video.
This gives you an idea of the kind of exacting work I can do with that ruler. I love the way the Dupioni silk shows through the cutwork!
I’m using one of my smallest rulers that I call the 1/2 Slim (1 1/2″ x 5″) to do most of the line work. It fits in my hand easily and I can move it quickly. Yes, my stitches are tiny too, 16 SPI (stitches per inch). When doing these tiny feathers and curves, small is best. I’m filling the areas with a scribble stitch to make the open areas really pop!
I couldn’t wait to see how this looked without the blue line, so I use a Q-tip dipped in my removal mix, to take away just a bit of the design. LOVE how this looks! My thread colors, you ask? Glide 40 weight thread, in colors Coffee and Cleopatra. I love the gold because it looks like metallic, but I don’t need to fight with that. Admittedly, I have struggled with using metallic threads, therefore, I don’t! 😉
This is what I have so far. I’ll post again at some point, but wanted to get the beginnings put to words so I could inspire you all to do this as well. Honestly, it’s not difficult, it’s just a process. As I tell folks, it just takes practice, as does riding a bicycle, learning cursive, playing an instrument, or anything we do well. It’s a habit that takes time and you can’t expect it overnight. If you want to be good at something, practice. Quilting is just that for me, something I love and want to do well!
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