Let’s Talk Machine Quilting (and a Giveaway!)

I treated myself today, and spent a little while machine quilting on a small quilt. Many of my projects these days are small-ish, and I’m really enjoying the machine quilting breaks that come along every few days. (If you’ve been following along, you’ll probably be able to figure out why most of my projects these days are on the small side… 🙂 ) I’ve spent years making these huge, long and involved show quilts, where they take forever to piece, then forever to mark for quilting, and then when I finally get to the quilting part, it’s just so huge that it’s daunting. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable (mostly), but making smaller projects, where I can piece a little, mark a little, and then quilt the thing is just a really nice change.

And I do mean “treat myself” when I talk about machine quilting. It’s my favorite part of quilting, hands down. It’s just so cool to see a flat piece of fabric take on texture and dimension and life when it’s quilted. I love playing with all the cool threads I’ve collected over the years, like this variegated one:

Rainbows thread from Superior Threads

Which looks like this when quilted:

Quilted with Superior Threads Rainbows Thread

How fun is this? For the curious, the thread is Superior Threads Rainbows, which is a Trilobal Polyester, 40wt., color #801, with 50 wt. Mettler Silk Finish in a blue that matches the fabric in the bobbin; the fabric is an old Nancy Crow design that looks like crushed suede, with a scene from a Laurel Burch Fanciful Felines panel; batting is Quilter’s Dream Poly Request Loft; the quilting stencil is the continuous line 4″ Dancing Flowers by Judy Allen.

Quilted with Superior Threads Rainbows Thread

Another thing I like about small quilts is that I can quickly pin-baste on the cutting table with flower head pins and they don’t get caught up in the free motion foot since the heads are flat against the quilt. With large quilts, I spend hours crawling around on the floor basting with the basting gun, and then I’m just wiped out for the rest of the day when it’s done. You can pin-baste just about anything up to a certain size, as long as it’s not so big that you become a human pincushion while trying to push it through the machine. Heck, if you’ve been sewing all your life and a few pinpricks don’t even faze you anymore, you could pin-baste even larger quilts this way. 😉

I realize that not everyone feels this way about machine quilting, and some folks don’t find free motion quilting to be relaxing at all. So let’s have a chat about that, shall we? What don’t you like about machine quilting? What’s the part that you feel like you just can’t get right? If you do like machine quilting, and you have wisdom or a fabulous tip to share, let’s hear about that too!

I’m going to send a copy of the Machine Quilting—Master the Basics Workshop on CD to one lucky reader. To enter the drawing leave a comment on this post and share some of your machine quilting wisdom and great tips, or if you need help with machine quilting, leave a question that you’d like me to discuss in a future post. A winner will be chosen by random drawing this Saturday. Luck to all!

Gaudynski Workshop, Days Two and Three – Newsworthy Quilting

We worked on more freehand feathers in the morning on day two of the workshop, and I discovered that it wasn’t just me having trouble with the feathers on the inside curves looking deformed, it was a common problem. I can make great feathers on the outside curve of a spine, but the inside ones look like awkward thumbs or something! It’s just a practice thing, but Diane did say that the inside curve is a trouble spot for many, so I felt a bit better about it. Diane talked about adding tendrils and extra flourishes to feather designs, and briefly touched on a couple of other freehand, non-marked designs.

It was tempting to just follow her around…just to hear every word she said!

We also learned more background and filler patterns, like Dianeshiko (a sort of curved pattern built on a grid that looks like overlapping circles), Tsunami (wonderful filler with wavy lines, a brand new technique not in any of her books!), Bouncing Bananas, Headbands, Clamshells, Ripple Stipple (another new background filler), Spirals, Mosaic Meandering, etc., etc., etc.! I think there’s never a reason to use plain old boring stippling again! Throughout the workshop while we worked on designs, Diane would come around and talk with everyone personally, helping with machine issues, or giving advice or feedback. It was tempting to just follow her around to everyone else, just to hear every word she said!

Silk Dupioni

Some of the students were at Hancock’s Fabrics at 8:00 a.m. on day two of the workshop, begging their way in the door before they were open to shop. We were in class during opening hours, but Hancock’s was happy to let them in early evidently! Some of these ladies bought assortments of silk dupion fat quarters that were half price, so Dawn and I made the mad dash to Hancock’s ourselves on the lunch hour to get some. What a steal! Continue reading “Gaudynski Workshop, Days Two and Three – Newsworthy Quilting”

Quilting workshop success stories

Day one of the Gaudynski workshop started out quietly, since we mostly just talked our way through to lunch. Diane has so much quilting knowledge in her head, and she started the workshop with a bit of lecture, and introductions. Every time a student would introduce herself, Diane would talk about something the student said and more quilting knowledge gems would just spill out of her. By lunchtime, my notepad was filled and my own head was stuffed full of new tips to make machine quilting easier and better.

I don’t know what it was that Diane said or did exactly, but it all finally clicked into place.

After lunch, the serious quilting started. Now, I’ve bought and read and re-read her books, and I’ve had success with some of her techniques, but I’ve never been happy with echo quilting. Actually, to be honest, I’ve hated it the few times I’ve tried it, partly because I just couldn’t get it to look right. Wouldn’t you know that was the first thing she wanted us to do. But after the way she explained it and demonstrated echo quilting, and had the students practice it, I was able to finally get it right! I was so thrilled! She used it as a warm up to all the rest of her techniques, and it really did help to get that one basic thing right.

You know, I’ve always kind of wondered why quilters need classes so much. Really, I have, and I’ve sometimes felt somewhat superfluous in workshops as an instructor, when I’ve mostly learned from books and I felt like everybody else could do the same if they only tried. So now I finally get it. I’ve never taken a workshop like this Continue reading “Quilting workshop success stories”

Visiting, quilting, shopping

Okay, I’m sure you all thought I fell off the planet, but I really am here, life (and quilting) just got in my way for a bit. I spent ten days in the States last week and the one before for a machine quilting workshop with Diane Gaudynski at the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society. The workshop was absolutely incredible! By the first day at noon, I’d gotten my money’s worth I think, and it only got better from there. I learned so much that I’m still just digesting it all (and hoping I’ll remember it all, as well!).

It’s really hard to shop at Hancock’s in person, I think, since there’s just so much fabric there.

So, let me back up a bit, and start at the beginning, and hopefully tell all in the coming days. I had to fly into Nashville, and my buddy Dawn met me at the airport. We crashed in Nashville for the night (I do mean crashed, since I’d just come off an international flight, and she’d driven in from South Carolina, no small thing in one day). We headed for Paducah and Hancock’s Fabrics the next morning. It’s really hard to shop at Hancock’s in person, I think, since there’s just so much fabric there. It’s all arranged by manufacturer and fabric line, instead of color. Continue reading “Visiting, quilting, shopping”

Eye on the Machine—Quilt of Many Colors

Here’s the view today:

Lots of different colors of thread!

I was looking forward to using many different colors of thread on this quilt, since I wanted to match or coordinate with the appliqué pieces for the quilting. I have been collecting threads for a while (variegated threads are just as hard to resist as fat quarter bundles for me!) and getting to actually use them on something was exciting. So, all that being said, changing the thread color every few minutes is somewhat painful, as is winding a bobbin with every different thread. I’m running out of empty bobbins! I used a white Fairy Frost fabric for the backing, and I wanted to see the quilting on the back in all the different colors. I’m hoping the back will look sort of like a line drawing of the front when it’s done.

I really didn’t even consider using just one color of thread on the back (which would have taken care of the bobbin problem), because I would have had pop-throughs of different colors of thread on the back, as well as bobbin thread on the top, no matter how well the tension was adjusted on the machine. That’s just the way of it when free motion quilting in all directions, you’re always going to have a spot where the tension doesn’t behave just right, and it has nothing to do with how good your machine or your technique is. My standard rule is to always match the threads on the top and backing to avoid this problem.

Favorite Things: Infinite Feathers Quilting Design Book and Template

Infinite Feathers

Infinite Feathers,
by Anita Shackelford

If you’re interested in feather quilting, you won’t want to miss this one! Anita Shackelford takes you on a feather odyssey in Infinite Feathers: Quilt Designs, and introduces you to her indispensable companion tool, the Infinite Feathers Quilting Design Template. Feather quilting seems to be the hallmark of really intricate and detailed heirloom quilts, and it can be rather intimidating to consider quilting feathers whether by hand or machine, not to mention drawing your own feather designs. Anita makes it an easy, step-by-step

Infinite Feathers Quilting Design Template

process with her detailed instructions and creative ideas for using the Feather Template to draw your own designs to fit any space on your quilt. There are also lots of ready to use designs included in the back of the book. I’ve used Anita’s designs, methods and template on many of my large quilts like FeatherGlow and Material Marquetry as well as other smaller projects.