It is sunny but miserably cold here in Wisconsin today, so it's time for some January quilting tips. Above, a Pfaff foot probably designed for embroidery but modified for free motion quilting. The front of the foot has been cut out (use a tool like a Dremel) and filed smooth so the quilter can have better visibility to the needle for more precise aiming, and more relaxed muscles due to the simple fact it's easier to see while quilting.
Plastic feet can be modified easily, or ask your sewing machine technician to do this for you. If you do it yourself be careful not to continue through and cut out the back of the foot as well. Ah yes, I have been told this happens.
In one of my classes an intrepid totally prepared nurse had a scalpel and was so frustrated trying to see the intersections while quilting Diane-shiko that she stopped, got out her scalpel, cut out the front of her plastic sewing machine foot, and continued successfully with her quilting. A foot is an inexpensive thing to replace should this not go well, but the advantages here far outweigh the risks.
- Be sure and check the thread on the spindle or cone holder. If it winds around the spindle or gets caught on something your tension will be too tight, needles will bend and break. The moment you feel something is wrong, stop the machine and check thread pathway.
- Take a few moments and warm up "off quilt" before beginning your quilting session. It pays off bigtime in keeping your work at a higher level and keeping it consistent. Try to begin each session with something you are comfortable with; don't dive into the hardest thing first thing.
- Get out and check out some real quilts! Books, online photos, magazines are wonderful, but the real deal is the best. I have a tendency to hibernate in the winter and if you don't see glorious color and stitching, fabrics, thread, you miss out on getting new inspiration and ideas. Get thee to a quilt shop, quilt meeting, quilt show. I went to an art quilt exhibit opening at the Anderson Art Center in Kenosha, WI (http://www.andersonartscenter.com/ ) last weekend that was energizing, fun, beautiful. I am so glad I had the chance to be around quilters and quilt art after several months of cave dwelling, horrid weather, dark days. Soon I'll be going to our Wisconsin Quilters meeting (http://www.wisconsinquilters.com/ ) for more inspiration.
- If you are intrigued by specialty or sparkly threads, add just a touch of them to your work and see what you think. I recently quilted a simple feather on muslin and added one echo of Sparkle thread (YLI) around the outer edge and then went back to silk thread and that touch really is quite lovely. Will I do this in a quilt? Don't know, but it was fun to play with some bling.
- Before making a decision about what goes where or what design to choose, quilt some samples on the actual quilt fabric and see what looks best, what you enjoy quilting, what gives the most payoff for the quilt itself. Sometimes it's the faster design, sometimes you have to grit your teeth and go for the one that looks fabulous but takes a bit longer.
- Don't overquilt. Leave some puff for interest. We don't want to be seeing all thread - there should be dimension in a quilt.
Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day.