Updated: Jul 13, 2020
I have used echo before, but always as a background around an applique. And always when I could reach the whole block, like in this instance -
But this time was different. A large Storm At Sea quilt, beautiful batiks in blues and greens, and then deeper purple to indicate two large hearts when you stand back far enough. Customers just want a pantograph behind the hearts and some linear definition in the hearts to balance the quilting out. Also a simple change of thread for those hearts, so they are definitely being done last.
So what was the big deal, right? I had already decided to rotate the quilt to do the borders - a feathered cable and a rope design in those to continue the theme of the chosen pattern. So, after the top borders, I quilted the pantograph background, using clipping blocks and no-sew zones and multiple copies of the patterned rows to set up the sewing in the right areas, including the center areas of the hearts. I used smooth pattern a great deal as well, to change the way that the pattern 'ran into' the hearts. I worked hard at slowing down, trying to not hurry the process, worried that something little would escape my notice and 'ruin' the outcome for me. It actually made the whole process much more enjoyable! But I was happy when I got to the complete rows near the bottom of the quilt, too. The smoothing process can be tedious, but worth the effort!
So, bottom borders and rotate, side borders to finish the first thread color.
These hearts are BIG - I can barely get half to fit in the body of the longarm, so that is all I can do at a time. Change of thread, and begin by tracing the areas out while I stitch in the ditch - have you done that trick? Use IQ to Add/Edit Block, Add Block, Trace Block and get your needle where you want to start, pull up the thread, even change to stitch regulated if you want to, and press Start on the screen when you are ready to stitch. Stitch in the ditch around the area, and when you stop, hit Stop on the screen. IQ has followed you obediently around your block! Remember to take the stitch regulation back off before you have IQ stitch again. In my case, I traced and stitched in the ditch twice - the outside of the heart and the inside of the heart. That is where I saw the problem with echos - the two shapes have very little in common, so how to echo between them? The lines of the pattern are also very rigid, and the customers wanted minimal smoothing of the lines.
- I could have brought in a heart design and used shape shift and distort to fit it to the center block area, and echoed it some to get a more true heart shape......
I did not do that. I actually made copies of the ditched line and scaled, moved, and tweaked them with distort and shape shift. They are about 3/4 of an inch apart, and I stitched half of the heart lines at a time, stopping and burying the thread tails at the ends to hopefully hide the starts and stops more fully. The lines are not straight or exact, but very organic, with movement that I think compliments the quilt in this case. I think that works for this quilt, but may never do it this way again. How would you have approached this quilt differently?