Before I introduce today's stitch-out I want to address some comments that have been made recently. Elena asked about why I suggest starting a stitch-out in a particular place on the block. If the design is an all over pattern, I usually suggest beginning in the middle of the block. This is so that you have time to find your rhythm before you have to deal with the corners of the block which can be more difficult if, like me, you're trying not to waste fabric and batting and are cutting all three layers the same size therefore leaving no excess in the corners to hold on to as you stitch. I stitch from the middle out to one corner then circle around and fill in the next corner then circle around toward the third corner and so on.
On the blocks with border designs or designs that are sewn in a row fashion I usually suggest you starting in an upper or lower left hand corner. Like Elena, I like to stitch backwards a lot, pulling the quilt toward me as I stitch. This gives me a better view of what I've all ready stitched and where I'm going to stitch next.
Of course all of this is a moot point when it comes to quilting an actual quilt. When quilting for real, I almost always begin in the middle; the middle row or area. Because I tend to quilt very heavily; every 1/4" - 1/2", I need to start in the middle so that the quilt is "sucking up" (for lack of a better word) evenly on all sides. It is the easiest way for me to handle the distortion that starts to build up as I quilt.
If I am quilting a rather large quilt; anything with a side longer than 48", I sometimes do light quilting throughout the whole quilt then go back and add the tighter quilting. However, when I do this I find that when I go back to do the heavier quilting I need to pin (I use straight silk pins with tiny metal heads) baste more heavily than usual.
If the quilt I'm quilting has rows of blocks then I begin quilting in the center most row and quilt it entirely then move to the rows on either side of it and so on.
If I am quilting using several different threads in different areas then I quilt the smallest area first and the largest area last. This way, if there is any fullness in the quilt top, I have lots of space in which to work it out.
An example of this would be, if I'm quilting a row of stars that have small star tips, a medium sized center and a large background area, I would stitch the star tips of all of the stars in the center row. Then I'd switch threads and stitch all of the star centers in that same row. Next I would change threads again and stitch all of the background areas in that row. Once that row was complete I would use the same stitch order on the rows flanking the center row and continue on in that manner.
Of course, this is just my way of doing things. If your way is different and it works for you then keep on with it. However if your methodology is getting in your way then maybe it's time to look for new ways of doing things.
So thanks Elena for opening up a new topic, I'm sure there were lots of other people who where wondering the same thing. Now, on to today's stitch-out.
I call this design Dancing Hearts and it's the perfect stitch-out for little girl or baby quilts; fun yet delicate. It is a meandering pattern that works great as an all over design, in large blocks or in borders. In my sample, the hearts are about 1 1/2" tall and 1" wide. You can make it in any size, just make sure that the loop d'loops that join the hearts together are much smaller than the hearts otherwise it will look sloppy. If you've never stitched this one before, I would definitely doodle it out first - it's a little harder than it looks.
Begin by stitching a heart somewhere near the center of the block, stitch a second, smaller heart inside the first one. Once the second heart is complete stitch out of the heart at the tip and loop d'loop around the heart then make another heart. Keep making hearts and loop d'loop around them to navigate to new areas to stitch more hearts. Try to keep the hearts the same size as well as the loop d'loops. Also try to sew the hearts so that they move every which way.
I hope you enjoy today's new design. Keep the questions and comments coming!