Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Day

It's a snow day here in Wisconsin....and just about everywhere else this winter. We don't have the right to whine about it, as other areas have had it worse, but we stay in today and catch up on that list of things to do. I have a long list.

Getting ready for my class in March at Empty Spools at Asilomar, CA, is on top of my list. Handouts, new samples, ideas to teach that are different from past years. A teacher has to do this or classes become rote and boring, and if they are boring to the teacher, oh my I hate to think how they would be for students. To read about the classes there, go to http://www.emptyspoolsseminars.com/

I don't have props or performing tricks like tap dancing, but I will try and have some exciting machine quilting things for class. Others who are not involved in machine quilting might think that it is about as exciting as watching snow fall, or paint dry, or dust accumulate, but we can get rosy cheeked from finding a new way to create a design that will work in our quilts. Or a new thread to try, or a way to do something that has been too difficult in the past.

I also like to take some time on a day like this and look at other blogs, see what everyone is up to. Ivory Spring did some knockout beautiful Apple Core quilting in the Marabella Sneak peak post at http://www.ivoryspring.wordpress.com/ Love it! I'm going to quilt another sample today, only use it around a central motif as background and figure out how to resolve the dead ends and travel well to the next line. We shall see, but it's a good snow day job.

There are dishes in the sink, but they are at the bottom of my list. Just noticed some great dust globs hanging from the ceiling fan in here too. They look dangerous.

I also have been resting and being careful using my right thumb, as quilting the Alzheimer's quilt just about killed my hands. I'm so used to using pre-washed fabrics that start out soft and lustrous, and soft wool batt, but working on poly batt and stiff coarse donated fabrics was like quilting in cement.

The thudding sound of my poor needle as it went through that sandwich was not music to my ears. The quilt was stiff and difficult to grasp, had a life of its own, and only got worse as I quilted more and more.

Curves that were smooth and lovely were very difficult to achieve with these materials. It seemed the fabric and batt had a life of its own, and definitely made freehand quilting quite difficult. Tension was almost impossible to get right, and isn't right in much of the quilt, but I had to accept getting it as OK as possible, even trying various machines for the best stitch.

The point is sometimes your materials hamper and hinder your skills. If you find your hands get sore and really suffer from grasping and moving the quilt then perhaps it's time to explore some different materials, especially batting.

Backing on this project was a batik and difficult to work with. It barely would slide on the machine using The Slider, and without that aide it was moving in jerks all the time and I was sore all over. I really audition any fabrics for my own quilts not only for the top but especially for the back, before layering the quilt with something that proves to be difficult under the needle.

I pre-wash all my fabrics, and press them with a little of my starch mixture before I cut and piece them. Backing is also prepared this way, and although there is great drama in a very dark backing color, it is really hard to work with dark bobbin thread or contrast color bobbin thread and have it all look wonderful in the end.

A medium shade for the backing is usually my choice, and all my early quilts had high quality muslin on the back and it worked perfectly, no pleats or puckers, and the back looked wholecloth at the end, beautiful.

Many of you think quilting with your group on charity projects with mystery fabrics and batt will improve your machine quilting, but it usually is a test of your skill to do a good job with this situation. Please practice on good stuff to improve your skills. It makes all the difference.

But oh I am so pleased with the quilt, that I persevered and made it through to the end with a few empty spools, and a great sense of accomplishment.

Enjoy your snow day, do a little quilting, or take some time off to rest your muscles.



Anonymous said...

Hi Diane,

Thank you for introducing the apple core! I love it. It gives such a great texture to a busy fabric. :)

Diane Gaudynski said...

I loved it in your quilt, great to see it in a real application, so even and pretty. Thanks for mentioning where you found the idea/instructions for it too.

Joan said...

I love to read your posts Diane, could you tell me what starch mixture you use...I can only find spray starch here in Australia...at least here in Bunbury - near Perth WA.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Joan - I will blog soon about the starch, my recipe, why I like starch. Stay tuned.....

Crissie said...

I'm so excited that I found your Blog. I've had your book Guide to Machine Quilting for many years now and use it often when I get suck. I love Free Hand quilting and have a lot of friends that I quilt for. Your book is so much fun to read, there are times when I forget and it helps refresh my memory or gives me new ideas, it's such a nice book. Quiltingly Yours,