So, did you all spot my not-so-deliberate mistake yesterday? All corrected now, thankfully! Okay, let's get straight to the good stuff - the quilting. As I think I may have mentioned before(!), I love hand stitching so I really enjoy this part - nice, quiet, relaxing stuff. First of all though, you need to have a little looky and a think about your design. The general advice is always to start quilting from the centre of your quilt and work your way outwards, but with this one, that will obviously depend somewhat on the placement of your circles.
I think the beauty of this idea is that there is no right or wrong way to do it - it's not a pattern but just a guideline so no two quilts will ever look the same.
Anyway, once you have decided where you want to start, thread your needle (I'm using 3 strands of embroidery floss again) and tie a knot in the end. I have recently started using embroidery hoops to hold these little quilts, as I find it makes them easier to handle and also keeps the quilt sandwich nice and taut:-
See how nice and smooth that is? It's not essential though, so don't worry if you don't have a hoop. I'm going to start quilting around the centre circle, so I inserted my needle into the backing fabric, close to where I wanted the quilting to start, but pushed it in at a very shallow angle, guiding it through the centre of the quilt a little way and bringing it out of the top at the point where I wanted to start my stitching. You then need to give the thread a sharp tug, to "pop" the knot through the backing fabric, and it will then be burried in the batting in the middle of the quilt. If you put your needle in straight, so that it came straight out the other side, you may well find that you knot comes straight out too!
Start stitching around your first circle, using the edge as a guideline. (I should perhaps mention here that I did all my stitching by eye - no marking of circles first but, of course, if you want to do that then please do, just make sure you test your marking pen on the fabric first to make sure that your marks will disappear when you want them to!) I'm just sewing a simple running stitch, each one is perhaps 3 or 4mm long, and trying to keep them as uniform in size and spacing as possible.
When I got to the end of the first circle, I slid the needle into the backing at that shallow angle again and guided it across to come out at the front in the right position for the second row of stitching.
If the gap between rows is more than about a centimetre however, I probably wouldn't do this, and would fasten off the thread and start again for the next row. To fasten off, I just took one extra little stitch through the backing, then tied a knot close to the fabric and took the needle back through the backing and popped the knot through again.
Once I had sewn around the inner rings I then continued to make two rows of stitching around the outer circle, again by just following the line of the fabric circle and then the previous stitching line.
Now you can see that, after sewing two rows of my main circle, I'm starting to get quite close to the next set of rings (let's call them circle 2), so I moved my hoop to circle 2 and started again, stitching in exactly the same way.
Here you can see that both sets of circles have 2 complete rows of stitching around them, and I've started back on the main circle again with another row, but I stop stitching where it meets a previous row of stitching. Does that make sense? I just continued to add rows around the circles, moving on to the other, smaller circles when I got close. It's a bit chop-and-changey, you have to keep moving back and forth between the various circles but I found that was the best way to make sure that all they all got their fair share of the quilting around them. I'm probably not explaining that very well, so here's some more pics which I hope will illustrate what on earth I'm waffling on about!
At some point you will start getting shapes like this (above) appearing where your stitching lines for 3 (or possibly more) circles converge. It's up to you (I've been saying that a lot during this stitch along, haven't I?!) how you finish it off - you can leave the gaps as they are, continue stitching rows for all 3 circles until they all meet, or maybe do more rows for one circle and less for another. I have to confess, I haven't actually finished stitching mine - this is as far as I got! - but I'm going to try and keep it fairly even. I think you just have to play it by ear a little, and see how it looks as you go on.
Once you've done as much quilting as you want to do, give your quilt a good press, and we'll then be ready to move on to the finishing off step!
Please do let me know if this makes sense (or not!) or if you have any questions and I'd really love to see how you're doing if you are stitching along with me! Just leave me a link or email me a pic or two. I'll try and get the final step posted by the end of the week.