This was also sent to me by Julie. She told me that she got this 90" double wedding ring quilt top on ebay. It was made by an elderly woman, who was probably 90, from Texas. It is mostly made by hand, but there are some machined seams too. Please realize that as I describe the top and it's issues, it is not to be critical, but rather to instruct quilters on how to deal with such issues.
And the issues on this one are definitely many...
From the front... There are several different white fabrics used on the tear-drop shapes. Some are heavy enough to cover the shadow-through of the more colorful wedges, but most are not. Given the insecure stitches, trimming away the extra fabric seemed riky. I will discuss how this could have been handled on Julie's end prior to sending me the quilt at the end.
Places/curves like what I show above are hard to make lay smooth, but are fairly common when not enough stitches are taken, and when the curvature of the white patch doesn't quite match that of the ring.
So now that you have seen what I received to work with, let's talk about what was done to save this quilt. We have talked about using muslin liners to even out colorations of thin fabrics, and to cover areas that have gaping holes. And trust me, I considered it here. The reason I ditched the idea is this. I had to quilt this as a full float on account of its curved edges, I knew that because of its issues I would be manipulating it a TON. I really just didn't want to have an additional piece of material to be messing with or potentially be creating pleats/tucks in. If the quilt is in great shape, but just thin, then the liner is an easy addition. This was anything but.
The other thing I tossed around was what batting to use. Initially, before I had the quilt in hand, I told Julie we'd likely use a thicker or even a double batting to help take up excess fullness. The truth is, though, there isn't much excess fullness. The quilt has very localized pouf areas because of cruddy piecing. These are predominantly from tucks and pleats though. I did test the theory though before completely ruling the 2nd batt out. I layed a piece of cotton and wool (similar in puff to the polyester I would have chosen, since I needed a white batting not natural), and compared how the quilt looked to having just the cotton/poly batting. The additional batting caused the weak stitches to all show that much more. It looked worse, and the messiness at every pleat was still evident. So, I ditched the 2nd batt idea.
The quilting...What I new was that this quilt would need every tear-drop and square block outline stitched, but not in the traditional "stitch in the ditch" manner. I had to "top stitch" these areas in a manner that secures each of these seams. This type of quilting goes against every grain of my training and practice. Your brain as a quilter learns where to hold the template to hit the ditch, NOT the top side! The other thing with top stitching is that the thread shows everywhere, and I had patches of every conceivable color!...Oh bother. No problem, though, I chose the Madiera Monolon. Most of these patches were either white or light. This thread only shows a little when the fabric color is dark. Life goes on, I told myself, so what if it shows a little on the dark green, red and purple. So what. There were larger issues to deal with. This would work. This would work (repeated like the Little Train that Could said).
One area that I found to be a nuisance was the white squares. Now, I marked the stencil on the colored patches using my miracle chalk. It is fast, and effective. For the first few rows of these that had white patches, I drew through the stencil with a purple air erasable pen. The stencil is rough on these pens, and I hate to destroy my tools just using them. I learned early on that some of the solid fabrics on this quilt were NOT colorfast, so I couldn't use the blue water erasable pens.
My goal for the quilting on the rings was this. Number 1: do necessary repairs, Number 2: attempt to lay down as many of the offending flaps of fabric as possible, Number 3: leave some relief (aka don't just mash down the rings with quilting). My first thought was just doing two parallel arcs down the center of each ring. I think that this would have been attractive, but I'd have pulled my hair out for the number of times I would have caught the hopping foot under the flaps of extra fabric. Since using templates is already a 2-handed job, I would need a 3rd hand to manage the flaps. I, therefore, resorted to a free-hand design that was simple enough that I could use one hand to assist the fabrics, and one to drive the machine.