Back in 1999 Arnie helped me finish October Morning. Now he is a creaky 17+ (who really knows?) years old and this quilt has been in the National Quilt Museum for 9 years, but it seems like this was only a year ago, tops. Time does funny things as you get older.
Today my guest blog appears at www.subversivestitch.blogspot.com Hope you enjoy it.
While I was quilting and trying out some new ideas in small piece yesterday I decided to post a few tips for you this December when our lives are so hectic and busy. Hope they help a bit, and you can all relax and take some time for yourself and for your quilting.
- Always try and warm up a little before quilting on the actual quilt each day. Just a few stitches, wake up your muscle memory, get the feel of it, try out a design. Get with the flow.
- The "thread pathway" is often the cause of so many troubles. If thread winds around the spindle, gets caught on the thread spool's top or bottom or little notch, falls out of a guide or tensioning device, disaster happens. Broken threads and/or needles, skipped stitches, snarls, bad tension--all can be results of problems threading the machine. Re-thread carefully, consult your owner's manual if you are unsure of where that thread should go. Then, with the presser foot UP, gently pull on the thread to make sure it goes through smoothly, no catches or stops, and that the needle doesn't bend. Then you can proceed to try out some stitching.
- Magnifiers are fabulous for close work, but can be a bit of a hindrance for larger designs. You need to see the "field" when quilting a larger size design and especially a freehand design. You need to see the "big picture" and not focus on individual stitches. Don't focus on the area right around the needle, but look ahead and aim for that point, keeping hands and machine speed coordinated, not moving hands too fast. The quilting will flow beautifully, be smooth and beautiful.
- If you like a quilting design you have done so frequently you could now do it in your sleep, try modifying it somehow to get something in the same style but with a different look. Recently I did this with my basic echo feathers and came up with something that is fresh, easy, and a nice alternative for areas where I would have quilted feathers before.
- Always keep an eye out for new ideas in textures. Look around you, sketch, doodle, draw, take photos of interesting textures that could easily be tweaked and turned into machine quilting designs.
- Clean and oil your machine (if oil-able) regularly, and take it in for its scheduled check-ups. I always think nope, doesn't need a thing, just fine thank you, and when I get it home again I am amazed at how fabulous it has become in the hands of my trusty technician.
- Try a new color, fabric, or thread, or both. Add some spicy orange to your fabric selection, or deep teal or purple, or a pastel to soften your brighter hues, something pink maybe. Yellow! Put colors together you never before considered. A new year is coming; time for some changes.
- I like to take a short break between techniques that are totally different. If I am quilting marked lines and then want to do some freehand work, I take a break before beginning. They are such different techniques it gives my concentration and focus a "refresh" before beginning the next one.
- Start a trend, don't follow them in quilting. Be your own leader.
Keep quilting, stay warm, your work gets better every day!