Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Project 8 - Asian Nights Quilting

Some more progress has been made, but not a lot so far.  Last week I had the top all marked out using stencils and pounce powder - nice and bright, quick and easy.  Remember what it looked like...........?

Marked out with ponce

So this week I went ahead with the ditch stitching and finished the grid.  Here is what it looks like after sewing ...........

Where are the markings?

A closer look - some very, very faint marks remain on the border - but too faint to follow

There is not a single marking left on the top!  Gone, disappeared, nothing!  This seems to be an ongoing problem for me.  Whether I use ponce, pencil, or chalk, the markings disappear after making the sandwich and ditch stitching.  Admittedly, the grid quilting required a lot of handling, and perhaps I should have done the FM first (although grid first is the order Harriet recommends), but I am really getting frustrated with this. 

The only marking tool which seems to stay on and stay bright are the blue washable pencils.  Having made a sample using the clover one which didn't wash out, and hearing lots of horror stories about the blue markings re-appearing after washing, I am reluctant to use them.

Having used stencils and not the lightbox to trace the designs, it wasn't difficult to re-mark the top.  The centre design caused me grief as I managed to confuse the lines and mess it up.  After unpicking I re-marked the design in different coloured chalks - orange chalk for the inner design and green chalk for the outer.  This worked a treat and I had no problems following the correct sewing order.

Sadly, I messed the sewing up completely - I suffered 2 bobbin tangles while doing the free motion, and my technique was pathetic, going off the lines, jerking and very un-even stitching.  I think this is what happens when I try to FM under stress.  The stitching was too small to unpick so I have to live with it.  No, I'm not even going to show a pic of the mess, as it's too embarrassing!

Finding that doing free motion quilting on top of a grid, particularly a grid which is rather puffy from the wool batting, rather than the flat cotton I'm used to, I decided not to sew the rest of the planned designs on the top and went straight to the borders.

I like this border design!
The pattern needs to be FM'ed four times, once for each line in the design, and as you can see from the picture, the markings had become quite faint by the time I'd finished.  I'm getting so much better at staying on the lines now, but need to work on my stitch length, which are still erratic and too small. 

I've had my first beginner quilting lesson with Stephanie, most of which was working on ditch stitching and gridwork.  The next lesson will concentrate on co-ordinating hands and speed in free-motion, which is exactly what I need!  I've also booked in for lessons on free-motion feathers and another set of lessons on trapunto, which I'm looking forward to.

I'm off to Melbourne for the quilt show and won't be back until next week, but I'm hoping I can finish off the Asian Nights first (unlikely).  There will be lots of traders and as well as sourcing stencils, battings and threads, I'm going to look at marking pencils.  Sounds like an excuse for a shopping trip rather than looking at quilts, but I'm sure I can manage to do both!

I'm moving house!  We bought a house on the weekend and have only a month to move.  That's not a lot of time to sort, pack and hold a garage sale, so sewing has to take a backseat for a bit.  Actually my sewing room was the first to be packed up.  My current sewing space is a disused shop attached to the house, and it's brilliant, with lots of space and even in-built shelving.  But the room is also used for storage and now is needed to store packed boxes and the bits and pieces for the garage sale.  I've left out the bare essentials for quilting, so can continue working on and off over the next month.  I think I'd go crazy if I couldn't sew for over a month!

My current sewing space is not pretty, but it's functional.  This is only one corner of it, there is an ironing station, sink and washing machine behind me (and more shelving used for storing other stuff).  No windows!

The new house does have a space for a sewing room (it was part of my house-hunting criteria) but it's a lot smaller and it's going to take quite a bit of creative organising to make it work.  The room has windows on 3 sides and double doors on the other, so there is very little wall space for shelving etc.  On the upside, it's very light and bright and has great views!

This is going to be my new sewing space!

Till next time.............


  1. You must have had some very frustrating times marking out the quilting lines. Your quilt is really looking fantastic and you should be very, very proud of your efforts.

    I love your new sewing area. I hope we get a pic ones it is all set up.

  2. I can't see anything wrong with your work , I think it's beautiful !Love your new sewing area .

  3. Clare - I didn't show the bits that went wrong! But I really do like this quilt and can't wait to get it finished.

    I'm looking forward to setting up my new sewing space - it's going to be fantastic!

  4. Your quilt is beautiful ... I think you are making excellent progress with quilting especially as you are having lessons! I am still making small things, though realise that to learn one must practice.
    What a well lit room your new sewing room is.

  5. Ditto to all the above comments! I think you are being way to hard on yourself. I find that this is the problem with quilting - we forget that it is a skill that takes LOTS of time and practice to master. As a beginner, I think you are doing great.Asian Nights is a large piece, and your skill level is being challenged by the size and bulk. I recommend to my students that you start small, and gradually go to larger and larger sizes. That way you can assimilate the bulk as you increase your skills. This might have been a bit of a jump for you to deal with at this stage - but that being said, you have done a lovely job and the quilt looks great from where I am sitting.

    As for marking pens - there has always been horror stories about the Wash Away and Mark Begone blue liquid pens, but they are from misuse of the markers. If you read the pages one marking tools in HMQ, we discuss the blue markers and to test them if you are concerned, and how to use them. Always soak the quilt in cold water before washing to remove the blue ink, then launder the remove the chemical. The quilters that have reported the marks reappearing usually have just sprayed the lines out with water, not laundering and flushing the lines out. I use these pens almost exclusively and have NEVER had a problem with them reappearing or causing a problem with the fabric - and that is from 1980 to present. Good track record. When you are at the quilt show, look for white chalk pencils - not dressmaking pencils, as they have wax in them and are hard to remove. There is the Nonce marker that is really good and General Pastel Chalk pencils. Get the list out the the book and go on a hunt. You might not find exactly the same products, but they are worth looking for. Also, Sew Line and Bohin have 9mm mechanical pencils that are either chalk Bohin) or ceramic (Sew Line)leads that come in several colors that we really have been successful with. Be careful of yellow, as they contain sulfur and doesn't come out of cotton fabrics.

    Have fun at the show. Will miss your postings for a week.

  6. Hi Harriet - thank you for your advice and comments, always helpful and always appreciated!

    I don't mean to sound hard on myself, it just comes across that way. I'm only annoyed with myself when I mess up something I know I can do - it's simple frustration.

    What I'm trying to get across is not that I'm unhappy with my progress, but pointing out what I need to work on next. For example, with the free motion, now that I'm better at staying on the lines, I can concentrate less on that part, and focus more on getting even stitches. Re-reading it does sound like I'm being harsh about my stitching, but honestly, that's not the case. Simply staying on the lines is a major achievement!

    I am amazed at how far I've come in such a short time and am very very happy with my progress which all comes back to practice and a brilliant teacher.

    I don't expect to become an overnight expert and will come across many frustrations along the way, which I will vent about. It's all part of the learning process!

    Thanks to everyone for their kind comments, they really help to spur me along.

  7. I just finished reading your entire blog! I wanted to say how incredibly happy I am that you decided to document your quilting journey. It has been a real joy for me, a complete and utter novice, to see all of the amazing progress you have made. If I had to sum up how I feel about quilting it would be INTIMIDATED, and your blog has really shown me some hope in my own endeavor.

  8. Hi Beth

    You read the whole thing? Wow, thank you. Spending 3 days surrounded by stunning & amazing work at a quilt show, rather than being intimidated, I've been inspired. I hope you will be inspired by my progress - with the right help, guidence and encouragement, anyone can do this!