Dear Jane, did it hurt?

This week, I feel like I have been exercising, something I usually carefully avoid. Okay, I walk the dog once or twice a day, but I am used to walking distances and I never do anything that might require lycra, or cause pain or injuries. Yet, here I am feeling a little stiff and creaky. Why? Because I basted my Dear Jane quilt on the weekend.

Dear Jane quilt basted before quilting

Here is what I thought was going to happen:

  1. Push furniture to one side and roll up carpet.
  2. Clean and mop wooden floor.
  3. Tape quilt layers onto clean floor and stitch them together.

Dear Jane quilt basted before quilting
Here is what actually happened.

Step 1

On Friday morning, while my husband was at golf, I started shifting furniture. No problem! All the furniture in our upstairs living room has felt under its feet so it slides well and can be moved by one smallish person. This room is perfect for basting as it has wooden floors, like the rest of the house, but it also has a door to keep away helpful pets.

Step 2

Here is where I started to come unstuck. I thought that while I had the vacuum and mop out, I might as well clean the house. I dusted, cleaned the bathrooms and swept – all the usual stuff. Then I thought that maybe I ought to check the air-conditioning filters and clean those too. Oh, look! The ceiling fans and venetian blinds need a good wipe. I had better do that. What is that hiding in the back of the laundry cupboard? Time to clean the cupboard!

And so it spiralled out of control. A simple plan to clean the floor became an almost full-day cleaning (and then cooking) frenzy.

I needed a good sit down, a glass of wine and an early night after all that cleaning, and I decided to wait until Saturday to start step 3.

Step 3

On Saturday morning, I started to think that while I had a good area of floor clean and cleared, perhaps I ought to baste the shirt quilt top I recently made too. It could be practice for the real thing. To do that, I first needed to measure, cut and assemble the backing. This went together smoothly. I was able to machine sew the join with the large floral pattern matching perfectly! Oh, happy day!

So, I taped down the backing, wadding and quilt top and started basting. I had a cushion to protect my knees, but I spent a lot of time hunched over and doing squats to work on the quilt on the floor. I had the television on, and, as I sewed, I listened and learned stuff from documentaries about witchdoctors, Cuba, Siberian Sakha horse people and Eveny reindeer herders, and some Canadian guys hiking and freezing in remote Greenland.

It took a while. That is a lot of documentaries, and I still had not started on my Dear Jane. Already I could feel my lower back starting to stiffen from bending and my thighs starting to complain from all those squats. Every now and then, I would come downstairs and stretch by walking around the house and garden. My fingertips were already starting to feel a little raw from pulling a needle up through all the layers at an awkward angle. A thimble helps with pushing but not with pulling!

By the end of Saturday, I had finished basting the shirt quilt and had started laying out Dear Jane. I just had to finish the Dear Jane backing by adding a third strip (two fabric widths were just a fraction, the tiniest whisper, too short) and give the quilt top a good press.

On Sunday morning, I could already feel my lower back complaining, even before I started basting. After many, many more hours of basting, during which Griff Rhys Jones told me about African art and Myf Warhurst explored the kitsch art she loved as a child, I finally finished sewing the last line of stitching. It now has so many rows of basting thread that I feel like I have already quilted the dratted thing.

Dear Jane quilt basted before quilting
On Monday morning, I woke up feeling stiff-legged and sore. Thankfully, my fingertips were already feeling better thanks to the cream I coated them in before bed on Sunday night, but I felt like I needed another weekend to recover from my weekend!

I am feeling much less stiff now, but my husband is still laughing at me as he has been doing sport – golf and cycling – all weekend, and yet I am the one with the injuries.

Have you ever given yourself a quilting injury?

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78 thoughts on “Dear Jane, did it hurt?

  1. This is such a stunning quilt. What an achievement !! I have worked myself into a migraine several times : )
    I do hope you show this off somewhere once it’s done

  2. Your Dear Jane quilt is incredible. The colors are so modern and classic. The patterns look charming and not smarmy, as they can in the wrong color-way. Wow. And I might have sympathy pains just reading about your burst of hard work! Can’t wait to see the finish. And, yes, I have injured myself quilting more times than I can say… most recently a rotary cutter slice to my non-dominant hand when I was trying to hurry. Lesson learned, easy does it. Hope some ice and a glass of wine soothed your weary back. Happy quilting.

    • I wish I could say I planned the colour scheme carefully, but I bought a fat-eighth bundle from those in the shop on the day (and then a second) and winged it. I wanted fabrics not too new but not too old either, and with red.
      Rotary cutter?! Ouch! I hope your hand made a full recovery!
      My back was the quickest to heal (I credit the wine), the squats were the toughest part.

  3. Feel free to come by and perform Step 2 at my place anytime while you have your vacuum and mop out!

    Your story makes me glad I do table basting now. It’s a bit of a pain to get top and backing lined up and I tend to still plop it all over the floor to get the layers together in the right direction but once that part is over with I just clamp it to my cutting table (an old dining table). I can even stop part way through and not worry about the cats dancing on it!

    • I am still seeing spots I forgot to clean! I need to snap out of this ideal housewife mindset and get back to my normal happy obliviousness.
      I am not a confident enough baster to feel I can unclamp it from the table, move it and then reattach everything free from puckers and perfectly smooth. I have toyed with the idea of buying a cheap and cheerful folding table, but in spite of the nuisance, I like the floor. The lessons I learned were one quilt at a time and do not start already tired and sore from cleaning!

  4. Sounds like quite a lot of displacement activity to put off the dreaded moment of basting…. I’ve had similar post-basting back and finger issues, which is why I no longer baste on the floor. Like you, I have ideal wooden floors, but Arthritis Hip won’t let me get down there for protracted grovelling around any longer. So now I baste on my 3 metre dining table, securing the top edge of the backing with wide masking tape and layering and pinning the width of the table before unsticking and pulling the next width onto the table top. Minor bending, no kneeling, easy to see, good light. What’s not to like? Jane is looking fabulous, by the way!

    • You have identified the source of the problem: I was putting off something I was not confident about!
      Even if I were confident enough about table basting (moving it and not creating puckers) I couldn’t use our dining table. It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, and my husband would have my head if I scratched it.

      • I agree, best not to stir up husbands. I put a double thickness oilcloth tablecloth on mine, which is enough to protect it from pins, but shiny enough for the pins to slide over while I’m pin pasting. It’s held taut with clips so it doesn’t shift. But I don’t really have an option anyway. It’s use the table, or simply don’t baste, which is not an acceptable choice!

  5. Sounds like a real work out and a great story! I still have at least a year’s worth of blocks to sew before I get my Dear Jane to basting stage. Congratulations!

  6. Oh my goodness. What a beautiful quilt. Dear Jane is on my list to start this year but I still have to baste my Farmer’s Wife Sampler top. No wonder I keep putting it off. I look forward to seeing it quilted. No hurry.

    • And I am toying with the idea of another complicated sampler, like your Farmer’s Wife, as I have had such fun with this one. The quilting frightens me more than the basting, but I am so glad to have another step done!

  7. Congratulations on finishing the basting! Aches and pains are the worst part of basting on the floor – my thighs are always sore afterward!

  8. I have! I am always sore after a long day of machine quilting. This is often enough motivation to get me to quilt by hand most of the time–it takes longer, but at least I’m comfortable! I also find that basting makes me go on an all day cleaning frenzy.

  9. Wait, you clean your house? And the blinds too? 😀 The Dear Jane quilt will be totally worth all the aches and pains! I’ve never majorly injured myself, but I do have a bad knee (torn meniscus) and if I’m not careful it can swell up to a very painful size. I actually baste quilts at my LQS now. They have a giant table upstairs for making draperies and let me use it in the off hours for basting….I’m a very lucky lady. 😀

  10. Oh goodness! I have definitely been there, done that! Bigger quilts are especially difficult on the lower back when basting. That’s why I don’t thread baste anymore… I pin baste. It goes a lot faster and although your fingers still get pricks on them, it has helped keep my lower back happier.

    • Pin basting was not going to work for this. I do not want any pesky pins making holes or leaving nasty marks on my quilt over the next year or more as I hand quilt it. I have no idea how long it will take me. I have not yet hand quilted anything bigger than a cushion!

  11. Beautiful Beautiful quilt….and I have cause my self slight injuries getting a quilt top basted:) crawling around on the living room floor. I think every muscle hurt and both knees were in terrible shape. And you got your house cleaned .. I’m not that ambitious LOL happy stitching
    Izz

  12. Yay thread baste! You are probably the only one I know that does such thing. I hate basting and I rather do many other things before actually doing it.

  13. You definitely deserve another weekend after all that hard work! Sounds very familiar… The putting off business, that is something I’m very good at!

  14. Oh, I can relate! I always think “While I’m at it , I’ll just do this or that it will only take a few minutes”. Next thing you know, hours have passed and all the energy is long gone and I still haven’t basted the quilt! Your Dear Jane is beautiful – looking forward to more photos.

  15. Yep, I know that feeling well. You’re so close to finishing that you keep going, even though your back is telling you it needs to rest. Then you spend the next 2 days hobbling round and trying not to let anyone see that you’ve hurt your back from too much quilting. I’m not so familiar with the quilting time turning into a giant house work session though. That never happens around here. My dodgy back prevents me from overdoing the house work!

  16. I had to laugh reading this, not at your pain but that I can relate so well! While I’ve never thread basted I do all my pin basting on the floor. Initially it gives my back a good stretch but after a few hours (large quilt usually takes me the time it takes to watch Thor, life of pi etc!) my glutes are aching and I end up with a pain in the backside! At least your house is sparkling though! Lots accomplished I think!

    • I usually pin baste too, but I do not have enough pins for anything this large. I have heaps of thread of mysterious origins and unattractive colours – perfect for thread basting.

      The telly makes the boring task bearable!

  17. Well you have done it again Carla. Another stunning quilt made to perfection. Can’t wait to see the real thing, and if you ever want a cleaning job call me first. DEBXX

  18. just beautiful, I had to come and take a look when I saw your comment on my blog this morning! I do the same thing when moving furniture or something, I start to clean and do a lot more then I intend to do. I am so glad I have a 3 roller quilting frame though so I don’t have to crawl all over the floor for basting although I do my small quilts that way.

  19. oh man that quilt is gorgeous! Are you planning to machine or hand quilt it? I’ve never thread basted, but pin basting a big quilt is a similar experience.

  20. This is why I love you – so much real life right there! Why does cleaning always seem to take over my quilting time? Why can’t we all have long arms to baste and/or quilt our projects?

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our new apartment will be less carpeted than our current house. I’m sick of basting in the kitchen!

    • You should be pretty safe, Rachel, as wall-to-wall carpeting is uncommon in Japan. We always had flooring or (sometimes) tatami. Outside of a big city, you should have a bit more space in your apartment.

      I do not know about you, but I have nowhere to put a long-arm machine, and I do not think I make enough quilts to justify one.

      The worse thing about cleaning is that it so quickly gets back to messy. Already, I cannot see where I put all that effort last week!

  21. These are the finest Dear Jean colors I’ve seen on the Internet really beautiful
    takes my breath away.
    I would like to ask some questions. I hope you have time to answer them.
    How many different colors you used for the front.
    How many yards in total per color (for te front)
    How many yard for sashing
    How much for the back yard
    Everyone told different sizes
    Hopefully you can bring some insight.

    Lucy from Holland

    sorry for my English

  22. What a great post! Your sense of humor has me subscribing to your blog at first read. 🙂 I’d encourage you to try spray basting. It’s saved me from marathon TV watching while basting and is easy to sew through. Your story reminds me of the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” Do you know that one? One thing leads to another and soon you’re cleaning the whole house. http://www.quiltartbymegan.com

    • Maybe one day I will try spray basting, but I needed to go down the old-fashion route here as this thing may need to be basted for a while (like, years) as I figure how what to do next. Have you ever hand quilted a whole quilt? I haven’t! What have I signed myself up for!?
      I don’t know that book, but it sounds like something I could relate to! They would have to rename it here: ‘If you give a mouse a biscuit’ (or bikkie).

  23. Thank goodness the basting is done. These things cannot be rushed! I almost permanently have a sore left pointer from hand quilting, it eases off a bit during the hot weather. Your DJ looks amazing.

  24. This is my first glimpse of your Dear Jane, and it looks like you have done an amazing job of it! You may have inspired me to have a go at my whole house too, sometime soon, maybe, if I get around to it 😉 I feel like I have missed so much…I had best be following your blog or I will miss even more, lol! As ever, I clicked through from over at Oh Sew Tempting 🙂

  25. Your Jane is beautiful and I really love your colors, it is a different red quilt than you normally see. I was wondering about your quilting progress, how far along has your quilting come?
    I just finished sewing the borders on my Jane yesterday. she is going to rest until September before I start hand quilting her.

    • I confess that I haven’t even started quilting. I had the wedding present to knit for last month’s wedding, and that has taken most of my time. I hope I can start soon. The longer I leave it, the more nervous I get. You might start ahead of me!

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