Machine Quilting 101

When I started learning to quilt, I looked at blogs and read lots of books. This helped me decide what I did and didn't like. Project #2 and the yet-to-be completed Project #3 were found online. These sources helped me piece together a quilt top. Blogs helped me learn how to properly make a quilt sandwich and finish my quilt. But I knew enough about my sewing skills that I knew I would need help with the actual quilting of my projects. A local quilt shop, Prairie Shop Quilts, held a Machine Quilting class this weekend led by the very capable Elvia Illig.

Elvira had a list of supplies we were to bring to class, including a prepared quilt sandwich of muslin and batting. I purchased my muslin at a different store and unknowingly, or perhaps ignorantly, purchased 2 yards of very w-i-d-e muslin. 92 inches to be specific. Well, I figured it out and made my 1 yard muslin practice quilt and drew the very specific grid Elvira requested for her class. I used the purple marker that says the ink will vanish in about 48 hours. Here is my work:

Assuming the ink was light sensitive, I folded the muslin up and immediately put it away. (I did this Friday morning for a Saturday class.) Did you guess what I'm about to say? Yep, when I got to the class all my markings were gone. 48 hours? I laugh at the 48 hour time frame, ha! No bother, marking it up was easier the second time around.

During class, Elvira gave us some great hints.
  • use thread that matches your fabric
  • use monofilament thread when quilting "in the ditch" It's invisible and won't interfere with the fabric.
  • If you're having problems with your quilting, do some diagnostics: re-thread your machine and your bobbin; change your needle
  • In the middle of your stitching, when it seems like what you're doing is horrible, keep going. There is beauty in abundance.
  • To start and end your thread do the "bobbin trick." Pull the bobbin thread up through the batting. Practice this. A lot!
  • A fast needle and slow hand movements are the key to machine quilting.
These are the stitches that Elvira demonstrated and we "learned":
  • How to use the scary foot (aka walking foot)
  • In the Ditch
  • How to use the free motion foot (feed dog down)
  • How and why to use quilter's gloves. Use them once and you'll know why.
  • Meandering. Stippling (Meandering, Jr.), and microstippling (Meandering III)
  • Loops, Loops and Stars, Pebbles (small circles), and circles
  • Flames, Heartbeat, and Waves (I never did try Waves)
  • in the border: Alphabet (l's and e's) and Continuous Leaves in a border
  • Tear drops (graded) and Baptist Fan
  • and lastly McTavishing
This is my attempt at circles, loops, and pebbles.

Things I learned:
  • I thought I knew how to use my machine. I mean. I do know how to use my machine. But machine quilting? All bets are off! If I threaded that machine, I threaded it 25 times. Truly. As I was getting in the groove, the thread was gone. Get in the groove, snap, the thread broke. I was very frustrated. Elvira did what she could to diagnose the problem... re-threaded the bobbin, changed the needle. Snap. it was frustrating. After I got home, I showed Dave my attempt and told him how frustrated I was at the thread continuously breaking. Nonchalantly he said, "change the thread." Says I, "the instructor said the thread was good." As I was practicing in my sewing room, snap goes the thread. At this point, it wouldn't hurt to change the thread... and if I can actually see the thread wouldn't that be good? It worked. The thicker thread stayed in the machine and I learned a little more about how to machine quilt.
  • I need an extension table for my machine. The small surface is hindering what I'm able to do. I found a project on e-How to make an extension table. If I continue to quilt, I'll need a new machine. Until that happens, a homemade table will work.
  • I need to find the right needle speed for me. And this might change once I get that extension table. A fast needle and slow hand movements are the key. Fast needle and jerky hand movements = jumped stitches. Jumped stitches are bad. Bad. Uniform stitches are good and uniform stitches are formed with slow hands and a fast needle.
  • I need to practice. Rome wasn't built in a day. Quilting may or may not be for me. But I won't know unless I practice.
  • I should take more classes. It's good for technique.


Where I Sew

Five years ago I told my husband I needed a place of my own. It didn't happen and didn't happen ... and ... I blamed him. Then I started sewing. And 2011 became the Year I Try To Quilt. Now, finally, a purpose for my room.

This weekend I tackled it. It wasn't hard but took lots of shredding and organizing. I just finished with it and I'm really pleased. It faces west and I love that room.

The Ikea table holds the sewing machine and lots of room to hold material and projects. A plastic storage unit is underneath as well.

Repurposed shelves holds the start of my stash a filing cabinet has misc stuff.

My work table is another Ikea purchase.  There are shelves down there for books, paper patterns, my sewing box, and my cutting mat is as big as the table top!  It's a good spot!

I'm so happy this room finally has a focus and I finally have A Place of My Very Own.

It's my first.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


130 Mini Quilt Blocks by Susan Briscoe

I found this book at the library this week. It's wonderful.  130 Mini Quilt Blocks : a Collection of Exquisite Patchwork Blocks Using Ready-made Fabric Bundles by Susan Briscoe.  

It's pretty much what the title says it is.  Blocks are organized into sections ( Almost Amish, English Traditions, Thrift Thirties, Retro Revival and others).  Each block has been leveled (from 1 to 3 pins) and indicates if the block is patchwork or appliqued.

Here is the block I'm currently working on: (I wish I could get Blogger to change the direction of these pics.  My file has it the correct way, Blogger switched it up on me.)

You'll note that this block has a skill level of 2 pins. Had I seen this book, I might have looked for an easier project. (Probably not.)

I think this is a wonderful reference book to have on hand. I will be purchasing a copy for myself.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Stash Building

Went to the Fabric Store in Morris IL. They don't have a website -- but they're worth finding. I resisted most things, including looking at new Janome sewing machines. I'll save my pennies.... I did find these fat quarters.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Gathered Table Runner

So, I finally finished the gathered table runner. Here it is. Green and blue have been my favorite color combination for more than 10 years. Our wedding featured these colors.

... and here we have it "staged" on the table. I love it. I think it makes the table. An old farm-style type table my husband's had since his bachelor days. It pretties it up.

This is what I've learned from this project:

  • I can read sewing instructions successfully
  • I can gather
  • I think once I learn how to truly machine quilt I'll do a better job with the quilting of things
  • I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

On to finishing project #2.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone