05 December 2019

Citrus Whip

I had no idea when I took photos of citrus slices 11 years ago the photos would one day become fabric and then one day much further down the road become a finished quilt.

I also had no idea when I began quilting Citrus Whip, a top I finished a little more than two years ago, lemon would be the predominant flavor of the project beneath the needle of my now five-month-old HQ Simply Sixteen. But I guess that's what happens when work keeps you away from a new piece of technology you are trying so hard to master.

This is my second quilt on Ringo the Longarm. I'm getting better at guiding the machine, but I need to work with it more than an hour or so every three or four weeks to gain proficiency. I had to watch the online tension videos all over again to learn how to adjust things after my second rats' nest. Oh, how I hate rats' nests!!! But learning opportunity, right? And a half-hour session with Hack the Seam Ripper counts as a workout, right? (Just realized I called them birds' nests the first time around. Funny how the more often it happens, the worse the analogy becomes.)

While finishing my first longarm quilt, Welcome to the Jungle, last quarter, I discovered not only the tension struggles, but the far edges of the quilt kept getting caught underneath the body of the quilt, and I literally spent more time picking out stitches than quilting.

So Lizard bought a big fat dowel I could wrap the far edge of quilts in progress around to prevent them from sliding under the quilt as I work. We looked up the attachment and nixed buying it for now because we're still paying for Ringo, we ran up the credit card to attend an out-of-state funeral last month, and Lizard will be getting a new knee next week. The dowel is a bit bulky and awkward because it expresses free motion of its own, but it's keeping the edges of quilts in progress from doubling up and saving me from unwanted sessions with Hack the Seam Ripper.

While working on Welcome to the Jungle, I also realized I can't do the outer six to eight inches of any quilt unless I specifically cut bigger edges on quilt sandwiches, providing space to clamp down and secure the quilt. I've never been a fan of the fabric and batting borders required for longarming because of the waste (even though I use up any squaring-up clippings as amigurumi stuffing). I've heard I can sew strips on two edges to give me something to clamp down, and I may cut up some heavy duty denim for that specific purpose one day, but for now, I'm finishing up the edges on my domestic sewing machine. I'm kind of enjoying keeping my free-motion skills from getting too rusty, and I do enjoy sewing, so it's not a hardship to me.

The center of Citrus Whip is made of four fat quarters I had printed at Spoonflower. The quilt wasn't quite big enough for a lap, so I added the solid Kona Cream on the top and bottom, then used some solid Kona scraps to formulate the triangle wedges on the top and bottom to add just a few more inches in length.

Those triangles were just enough for me to clamp so I could draw freehand citrus slices in the plain Cream section near the top and bottom borders. I'm tickled grapefruit pink with how great they turned out, even though they are not perfect. This was a design I'd had in my head ever since I finished the four fat quarter panels in the center of the quilt. I am really happy I was able to pull off a design I saw in my head two years ago!

I quilted the bottom half of the citrus slices in about two hours one night after work early in November, and I didn't get a chance to finish the top fruit slices until the four-day weekend. I had so many skipped stitches and broken threads I almost gave up. I ran out of bobbin thread right before reaching the border slices, and after watching the instructional videos again and properly adjusting the tension for the first time ever, I experienced my first perfect stitching on Ringo. I wanted to celebrate! It works!!! It works!!!

When the machine was delivered back in July, it was skipping stitches, so the salesman/trainer took it back to the shop, which sent it back to the factory for adjustments, and we didn't have it back at home until about August. I was really worried we were going to have to send it back for another month or so, and I didn't want to lose Ringo for that long again! I really wanted to be able to use it during the Thanksgiving break.

The border slices took about an hour to finish on Sunday night, and in another hour, I'd finished free-motion quilting the edges and a couple of citrus corners I hadn't been able to do on Ringo due to size limitations. I cut out and prepared the binding from the only Kona solid of the four colors I used for the top and the backing from my stash that was big enough for a quilt binding.

On Monday night, I found several scraps of all four of the solids I'd intended to use in the binding but had forgotten about. I decided to add a couple of inches of each to what I'd already prepared, and in about two more hours, the binding was done. Tuesday night I buried all the hundreds of thread ends from all the breakage, took a few photos and threw the finished quilt in the wash.

Citrus Whip is destined for one of my new but not infant grands - three more of the kiddos came into my life this year (six more I hope to add to the collection one day), and that means they get quilts. I'm also trying to finish up two more quilts for a new nephew and a new niece due early next year. So four more quilts to finish before Christmas, if I can squeeze in enough sewing and quilting time!

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. Hmmm let's see, didn't go through the first time I don't think.

    You are sure getting more and more kiddos to your life. Fun indeed. Great when you can get out what is pictured in your head, even if 2 years later haha

    1. I really love using the machine, Pat. I just wish I could use it more often so I didn't have to keep relearning it! But yes, 25 grands in all I'm hoping one day to have in my life! Just six more to go!

  2. What a wonderful journey you and this art work have been on! Keep up on your long arm, I've had mine 11 or 12 years and I still need to reference back to my manual for tension adjustments!

    1. Thank you, Pat! That's very comforting to know! Sometimes I feel like a real dummy while trying to figure this baby out!

  3. I hope you and Ringo bond soon! I know how frustrating it is to have a longarm quilting machine that tests your patience. Congrats on a fabulous finish in spite of the challenges that you endured!

    1. Thank you, Joy! I'm hoping to finish one or two more while Lizard is recuperating! And perhaps get me a little more familiarity with Ringo...

  4. it is so bright and happy!!!! and I love the quilting you are doing on it!! Its so perfect for this quilt!

    1. Thank you, Alycia! I hope my work one day can be as beautiful as yours!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

All spam is promptly and cheerfully deleted without ever appearing in print.

If you are unable to leave a comment and need to contact me, please use the email address in the sidebar. Thank you!

Related Posts with Thumbnails