Follow the progress of a beginner quilter working her way through Harriet Hargrave's series of Quilter's Academy Books
Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year
Vol 3 - Junior Year
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Project 3 - Fence Post & Panel - QUILTING
I'm back into the swing of my course, and have been working on finishing the first quilt I made from the book. Now, strictly speaking, this quilt isn't in the book, cause I changed it. I changed it because I had no idea what I was doing and the thing grew into something completely different - but for the purpose of this blog, it's my version of Carrie's Cowboy Corral Panel Quilt.
I'm using Harriet Hargrave's Heirloom Machine Quilting for all the lessons on thread, needles, batting, making a quilt sandwich, pin basting, quilt packaging, ditch stitching and of course free motion quilting.
I decided, after all, not to add a border, after taking advice from experts and because there is already enough going on with this quilt.
Making the sandwich took all of one day - and I managed to run out of pins after inserting 300 of them, only to find I'd 'missed' part of the backing at one end. I waited a day or two till I calmed down and my thumb had a chance to recover (man, was it sore), then removed all the pins and tried a basting spray. I like it! I still used pins but not nearly so many.
I used Warm 'n Natural 100% cotton batting and a tie-dyed dark blue backing, which I hope will do a decent job of hiding my quilting stitches effectively within the pattern. The top thread is smoke coloured .004 nylon, in the bobbin is blue quilters machine cotton and I'm using a size 70 Microtex needle (I started with a size 60, but after breaking 2 of them, went larger and had no further problems).
STITCH IN THE DITCH
First up was to ditch stitch it and I got to try out my brand new Stitch-In-The-Ditch foot. It took a bit of practice (you will be able to see the early dodgy bits in some of the pics) but by the 3rd day of stitd, I got the hang of how it worked, and it's brilliant!
Pull the seam apart, let the guide drop into the ditch and the needle follows dead on.
It took me three days to do all the ditch stitching, starting off with the centre seam down the length, then across the width. After that I stitched around all the blocks, the panels and the rail strips. By the 3rd day I was over it!
FREE MOTION QUILTING
Time for some FMQ! I had chosen the quilting design for this top some time ago and practised it on and off. The pattern is a simple feathered wreath from Harriet's book and I thought it perfect as it matched my beginner quilting skills and reflected the pattern shape from the panel print.
Take a look
I took heart from Harriet's advice, when she says that once the guide markings are washed out, no-one can see where you've missed quilting on the lines. I tried washing out the lines on a feather and she's right! I'm happy to work with this design some more, as I think with more practice, I will eventually end up with a really nice quilt feather.
Oh dear - my stippling is not what it ought to be! I thought I would enjoy doing this, as its a very popular technique - everyone seems to stipple! I can't say I love the process. I find it difficult to get a good rhythm happening, - the quilt gets hung up somewhere, I run into the edges of the hoop, the fabric won't slide fast enough or my machine speed gets erratic. HELP!
I have tried doing this with just my hands, which is fine, but the hoop is better when working near the edge or when the fabric hard to hold. I must be using this thing wrong, cause it manages to get in the way all the time. True, the fabric is held nice and firmly and it's easier to slide around, but just as I get into a nice rhythm, I'll run into it or hit it with the needlebar.
Also, no matter how I package the quilt, it constantly gets hung up and stops moving. I've tried bundling it on my lap or throwing it across my shoulder (which makes me ache) or simply unrolling it and making a 'puddle' where I'm quilting, nevertheless, as soon as I get a good rhythm happening, the quilt gets caught up somehow and everything comes to a sudden halt. As a result, my stippling is a mixture of round and angular, really long and really short stitches and basically a real mess. I didn't have so much of a problem when using the old Singer - I think the cabinet is better designed as it's much smoother.
I also found out something interesting too - if I am relaxed my stippling is even and curvy, but the second I tense up it gets all angular and jerky. I have to make a conscious decision to relax, even when things are not going well. Just a tip for other newbies and blockheads - deep breaths really do work!
You can see from the pics how uneven, jerky and angular my stippling is.
I had planned to stipple all the panels, but now am having second thoughts. I should be binding this quilt by now, instead I'm avoiding finishing the stippling and busying myself with other things. Maybe every second panel? I sure could do with the practice.