Spool Blocks Quilt Top and Machine Piecing Adventures

The little top is finished. Finished size 27.5″ x 35″. A better picture will be taken out on the roof garden in the next day or two. This shot was taken late last night.

The big news for me? That other than the first two blocks, which I did by hand, the entire top was machine pieced. I realized when I finished piecing the second block by hand that I really wanted to see how I’d do piecing it by machine. After I got the first two blocks done by machine I knew I would finish it that way and finish it quickly. And I did. I did find, as I pieced more of the blocks, that the number of pins I was using did decrease. Instead of a full porcupine finger pincushion while machine piecing, I had a baby porcupine finger pincushion. It’s made of 12 of the 7.5″ blocks with a 2.5″ border.

I am a self-taught quilter, picked up everything I’ve learned through books and magazines and blogs and other online sources. None of them ever gave me a lot of confidence about machine piecing. Hand piecing I took to like a duck to water, couldn’t resist it. But machine piecing? No! I was running the other way as fast as I possibly could. Part of that was caused, no doubt, by the fact when I began I was using a very inexpensive entry-level sewing machine and really had no idea what on earth I was doing. Then I got a used Pfaff with the integrated dual feed. Still didn’t feel comfortable using it. Yes, I’ve machine pieced the odd quilt over the  years, but never felt particularly confident doing so.

Now? Now that I have the best of both worlds, being the stitching lines and matching points and a sewing machine I am finally starting to feel comfortable with, I know that I will make some quilts by machine – ones like this one, ones that I don’t find as much fun to hand piece as the Pickled Ladies or the batik sunflowers. Inklingo should be, I think, marketed as a method to learn how to machine piece. The matching points and stitching lines made it so easy to stitch this little quilt top that I can’t quite believe it.

I’m happy with this little quilt and can’t quite believe how fast it went together. I finished piecing the blocks late last week. Then I put the blocks together into rows on the weekend and finished it yesterday by sewing the rows together and then adding the borders. Now to think of a name for it.

This will be the binding fabric. I think I have the label figured out. I’m still deciding whether to hand or machine quilt it, although I am leaning towards hand quilting it. I’d like to work on something small before I work my way up to the red and white quilt. I have a small piece of a silk batt that will be just right for this little quilt.

So if you’re like me and are hesitant about machine piecing, all I can say is get an Inklingo collection like the Japanese X/Spool collection and give it  a try. It’s the machine piecing equivalent of paint by numbers, having the stitching lines and matching points there. No guessing, hoping that the markings on your machine are accurate. No worries about whether your rotary cutting was absolutely perfect. The cutting lines printed on fabric using Inklingo take care of that issue too. I was always sold on Inklingo, as anyone who has read my blog knows, but now? Now I know I can machine piece the easier blocks like this and save my hand piecing for the designs that I gravitate to like the New York Beauty, Pickled Ladies, sunflowers, anything with curved piecing and sharp points.

And now I’m getting back to the batik sunflowers and the border for the Pickled Ladies. Then I’ve got to tackle the ever-growing stack of tops waiting to be quilted. I realized last night that there are altogether too many waiting. At least 10. One for sure I’m going to machine quilt. But the others I’d rather hand quilt. Guess I know what I’m doing this fall and winter.

It’s a sure sign summer is coming to a close when the Canadian National Exhibition opens. It opened last week. In today’s Baxtertoon, he’s at the midway enjoying some cotton candy. Good thing we brush his teeth!

Again last night Baxter was atop his perch on the kitty tree, watching to see what it was we were doing.

9 thoughts on “Spool Blocks Quilt Top and Machine Piecing Adventures

  1. Oh that turned out beautifully, Cathi! I also am an entirely self-taught quilter (no family nor local friends quilt), and started out handpiecing since I was afraid of my sewing machine. 😮 Not so anymore, and I enjoy the flexibility of sewing either way.

    I’ve been to Toronto a bunch since childhood, and in the mid-80s, my parents took my best friend and me up for the CNE. (I think we girls even had our own hotel room LOL!) So much fun! And that is probably the last time I had cotton candy, come to think…


  2. What a sweet little quilt – so soft and pretty! I’m pretty much self-taught as a quilter but have been making my own clothes since I was about 18, so machine work is fine by me. Baxter – it’s night time, you should be asleep!


  3. Oh Cathi this turned out so beautiful! So delicate and gorgeous!! I too am a self taught quilter. Books, magazines, blogs and YouTube. However, the book that helped me with machine sewing back in the very beginning was by Nancy Johnson-Srebro’s book Rotary Magic. It took many years before I found out how to hand piece properly and that was thanks to none other than our very own Linda Franz 🙂 So things are the other way around with me. LOL..
    Love the Baxtertoon! How I love candy floss. Thankfully, there’s never much chance to get any here.


  4. Very nice quilt! I know your pile of “quilts to quilt” will continue to grow, but that’s the fun of it!
    Baxter looks happy with the cotton candy! Did he go on any of the rides???


  5. I’m glad you’re feeling more comfortable with the machine as that is how I do almost everything. My hands hurt too badly if I sew much by hand. Do you know the name of the pansy material you are using for the pickle dish quilt?? I would love to find some of that material for mine – I just love the way you’ve used it. Thanks.


  6. Your newest project – like all your work – is really pretty. Glad you are giving machine piecing a try. I think there is room for doing both in this world and like you, I think Inklingo makes these choices more available to everyone.


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