Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 3 - Metro Main Street - Quilting

Harriet has quilting suggestions for each of the quilts in the book and I always take a look at these.  Mostly I adapt the suggested design, either because I have something else in mind, or I don't have the stencils Harriet used.  This time I lucked out, and have quilted this top almost exactly as suggested.  The only change I made was to the side triangle design, which was extended to cover the first border.  The inner border on Harriet's quilt was smaller and quilted with a single line of stitching.

Twisted Petal in the nine patch blocks and triangles, a simple grid for the triple rail blocks and Pumpkin Seed Bar for the border.  I've used Matilda's Own cotton batting, a mottled yellow backing, Gutterman cotton variegated yellow thread for the blocks and in the bobbin, and Coats & Clark Star cotton thread for the border.  Harriet suggests in her book to give yourself a challenge and try quilting on solid fabrics - looking at the results I don't think I'm ready for this yet!

The Twisted Petal stencil is a perfect fit for the block

Wonky Quilting

Borders - the side triangle design has been extended over the inner border

Quilting is done!

I must admit to getting very frustrated with quilting.  I've been doing free motion for around nine months now and am unhappy with my slow progress.  I should be doing these simple designs perfectly by now, but my quilting is still very wonky.

Uneven stitches, wiggly lines, messy stops and starts are basics I can't seem to overcome.  My excuse is that I'm using an unfamiliar machine but to be honest these are issues I've had all the way through .  After a day of frustration, I pulled out my quilting books and re-read the basics.  Ho-oh! it seems I've been getting sloppy.  My posture was poor, my hands flat and my seat too low for a start.  How fast we develop bad habits - it's no wonder I'm having problems.  Simply changing the way I was holding the quilt under the needle made a big difference.

 A little lump on the back every time I stop or pause

Uneven stitching, sloppy starts, crooked lines

Just the binding to do on this one and the quilting is up to date, so it's back to piecing for me.


  1. Hi Lesley,
    I'm really glad you are back! I missed checking on you, and was really worried that the frustrations with Cabin in the Cotton was affecting you. I read this blog and felt a need to comment of your concerns about the quilting. Let me share with you my thoughts. First of all, it is admirable that you have quilted almost every top you have made. That alone puts most of todays quilters to shame. No stack of unfinished tops and quilt on your back!! Give yourself a huge amount of credit for that. You have embarked on an amazing amount of learning and skill achievement all at one time. When I am teaching a machine quilting class, I challenge my students to take 6 months and not do anything but quilt - no new projects. what this does is allow you to quilt to enough time without distractions to really learn the muscle control and brain work that goes into this skill. Every time someone starts a new project, the brain shifts gears and you loose quite a bit of memory of the quilting experience. It never becomes second nature because of the back and forth process. Once it all settles in to your brain, it does become more like second nature. Because you have taken on getting through all of the projects in each book, you are going about it differently, so it will take longer to perfect your skills. My comment is so what? You have so much to show for your time and effort that when you look back, I would hope you are amazed at your progress in the past year!!

    Just a few tips that you might try - before you start to work on a project, take at least 20 minutes to warm up. Get the sound of the machine in your head, your arm muscles warmed up, and all distractions out of your thoughts. Once you are warmed up, the quilting will go much smoother on the project. Work on two pieces of muslin and a piece of batting about the size of a crib quilt so that you work with the bulk. Practice the designs you are going to quilt on the project, don't just scribble. Repetitive movement helps with muscle memory and makes it easier to be accurate. Also, memorize the design and keep it in the front of your mind. As you quilt, just let go and visualize the shape and let your hands and mind take over. This sound weird, but if you can visualize the shape in your mind, your hands will follow what you are seeing. The jerkyness you are experiencing might be that you are trying to figure out where to go next and your hands are reacting to that hesitation. Your hands need to know what to do next, they can't react fast enough if you are figuring it out as you go.

    Hope some of this might help. Quilting is a skill, piecing is an activity. I'm really glad you went back and reread the book. All the details are important and if you overlook any of them it can affect your results. Just hang in there - and go back a compare what you just did with where you started and you are likely to be amazed at your progress.


  2. Beautiful quilt!

    I am also taking note of Harriet's wonderful advice for when I reach the quilting stage with my projects.

    Cheers, K