Thursday, July 2, 2009

How Did I Quilt Thee? Let me Count the Ways

I just took an introduction to machine quilting class. The idea is that now I can get some quilt tops turned into actual quilts. I don't have a single bed-size quilt in my house because I have trouble saying, "I made it!" when I didn't do all of it. I would feel obligated to say, "I made the top, but so-an-so did the quilting." And then it wouldn't feel entirely like my quilt. So, instead I have held on to the (few) tops I've finished and have no quilts at all in my house. I've quilted a few things, like table runners and a small wall quilt, but nothing big and nothing too fancy.

A quick explanation may be necessary here: quilting is defined as the stitches that keep the top (the pretty part), the batting, and the back of a quilt together. So, with a few exceptions, the "quilting" I have done so far, is really "piecing" which is just sewing together the pieces of a quilt top. But, oh man, is that about to change!

The first class was about straight stitching with a walking foot. Pretty straight-forward (literally), and I'd done it before. The class was really informative though. I learned new words, why quilting is done a certain way, and some helpful advice on making the most of your walking foot. The next class was all about the free-motion foot. I was a little intimidated by it before the class, because the first time I used one it was a total mess.

In free motion quilting you control the speed of the needle and the speed of the fabric. So, if you gun the pedal the needle starts going up and down at light speed and if you don't move the fabric quick enough you end up with either microscopic stitches or a knot. Either way, not so good, and then you debate if it wouldn't just be better to use your seam ripper on your eyes instead of trying to pull out that mess. On the other hand if you're slow and cautious with the speed of the needle but exuberantly fast with the fabric you end up with really long stitches ready to catch on anything, pull out, and obscure the shapes you're making. Finding that balance was hard the first time. Maybe I just needed more time with my machine, because while it is far from perfect (or even ideal in some places) it went a lot better last night.

I was so excited that I didn't even use the second sandwich I had brought. I just started stitching right over other stuff I had done. I have to say; it was really freeing to not worry about whether it was perfect or not. But it does make the photos a bit more difficult.

First we practiced going back and forth. I ended up trying to do a tree bark kind of design. It kind of worked.

Then we went sideways. One of the cool parts of free motion quilting is that because you're controlling the direction of the fabric you can literally sew in any direction you want to. It does, though, take a while to get used to sewing sideways or at an angle. Afterwards, I looked around and realized we were supposed to be doing straight lines. Oops.

Then we did some loops. We started big and then went to smaller ones. Most of my big ones ended up covered by other stuff later.

Then we learned about traveling between our loops and shapes, and I tried out spirals.

She showed us how to add in little designs and I'm already planning on using this one on a quilt top I have finished for Bobby. Little stars and loops!

Then we did hearts. That's what they're supposed to be, though, they look more like a mix of strawberries and jalapenos to me.

She showed us leaves, which are cool, but I certainly need to practice more.

We learned flowers. I need to work on those, too.
Then, just like that three hours had passed and the class was over. It was super fun, and I am also really glad that I have an extra sandwich all ready to go the next time I get to practice! Then I am excited to get some quilting going and a whole quilt finished.

1 comment:

Northern Lights Fiber Co. said...

WOW! That is so cool! I love what you accomplished - it just looks amazing!!! Sounds like you had a fantastic time! - sorry for all the !!!! - but you know me.... lol