Friday, July 31, 2015

"Quilt As Desired" is NOT learner friendly

I remember that line used at the end of Quilter's Academy Freshman Yr.  I had just finished my 11th pieced project and now what?? This series is aimed at making quilters, not just top piecers. However, the book really does leave you at the end without the quilting instruction!  She refers you to another book she wrote, "Heirloom Quilting".  I have that book. Actually I have 2 of them. The older edition, and the latest edition.  I really wanted to like this method.  It took me a year to move forward just with the samples she suggests as the first step.
Beginners..... start EARLY to figure out the quilting process!  Don't wait until you are finished with all your projects! There are a lot of precursor things to learn and practice before you start on your quilt tops.

My weakness in creativity definitely holds me back when it comes to this process.  How do you know what to do? What will look good if you have no prior experience? Seeing something on one quilt does not transfer over to any quilt because they are not exactly the same.  What if I don't like the quilting suggestions at the back of the QA book? And, there is more than one way to do this and I think there are so many personal choices and preferences in the mechanics that it is hard to say there is one way, which this one book gives.

For instance, she recommends rolling the large quilt into a log and fitting it under the arm of the Domestic Sewing Machine (DSM).  Leah Day would say that is ridiculous. Yes, you can use a DSM, but how do you move a log around? Logs are stiff. Of course, I can't get anything to move around under my Pfaff because there is a plastic lever that sticks out into that space for raising and lowering my presser foot, . A log absolutely doesn't fit and I'm afraid that if I try the "squish and push" method it will break off.  And, 5" does not give me enough room to move anything anyway.  So , my DSM for quilting is not even on my list of possibilities. Harriet also didn't like the Quilt Tac method of basting, which I personally really like and have better results with than pins.  I tried it both ways in my "Quilt Samples" blog post.

So, I ended up at the local quilt studio and renting the long arm machines.  Woo Hoo, I finished all the Year One projects!

But, I felt like I was cheating my process of learning and now I feel like I'm ready to understand more of the quilting. The rental of a long arm machine isn't the direction I want to go. There is nothing wrong with using a DSM if yours works.  There is nothing wrong with a long arm machine on a frame, especially if it is yours at home!  They are options, but not mine. I don't have the room or budget for the long arm.

My realistic options are
1. Hand Quilting
2. A simple non computerized, non stitch regulated Mid Arm sit down machine

I hope to incorporate both, but until I someday obtain a mid arm machine I am pursuing the hand quilting.

For both methods I need to learn to baste and mark quilts!
Because I've been using the long arm, I've not been doing either!
Basting wasn't necessary because I roll the top and bottom on rollers.
Marking hasn't been necessary because I've been using pantographs that I trace with a laser light.

Yeah, it felt like total cheating. I was getting away with not having to do any of the "fun stuff". LOL
Truthfully, I'll never be a good quilter if I can't figure out how to do more than pantographs on a long arm.
So, I'm working this out as a newbie :)  I know, right??  I've got a whole year of quilt making under my belt ( 11 quilt projects), and I feel like I'm starting over!

How can I do this without using the floor? Or going to the LQS and borrowing their tables, (which I have noted they do not have set up high or together anyway)?  The long arm has been a great way to be sure it is nice and straight.  I want to be sure I keep the top and backing straight.  And, after my Google searching, I found this method by Sharon Schamber that I think will be easy enough, and can be done on my dining room table with my basting gun or needle and thread and will give me the accuracy I'm looking for.  Hubby has already bought me the two pieces of trim board (3"x75") needed at Lowe's which were very inexpensive and easy to get. I may even try the thread method rather than my gun since it doesn't seem too difficult. I am anxious to try this out on my next quilt because I think it suits me. Simple :)

Quilt marking:
By simply going to Amazon and searching quilt marking it comes up with all kinds of tools.  But when checking the reviews: What someone says is great and comes off easy, another says ruined the quilt they spent hours and hours on to give as a gift.  Oh My. Who to believe? The one that got lucky? or the one that found out the hard way under certain conditions this isn't great?

I'd like to know how to alter patterns for sizes. I don't want a whole bunch of stencils. I have a light box that I can use to trace :)
How do you pick the right pattern? How much do you need to fill the space?
Can I use bigger stitches rather than tiny 12/inch?
Will a lot of quilting make a card board quilt?  I've not really been impressed with the very dense trend of quilting.

I started shopping for books that would give me the ability to have references at my fingertips. The internet is a terrific resource, but sometimes a book suits me, especially after reading Amazon reviews so I know what I am getting :)  All of the following were available as used books and cost between $2-$4! (plus shipping).

Descriptions from Amazon:

Mastering Quilt Marking covers the entire process in detail, including finding a design for the quilt top, choosing the right marking tools, obtaining stencils, marking the top, and matching borders and corners. 

This book arrived this week, and yes, it has options and choices to make! It looks like a great book to use for all my questions and reference. I will have to spend some time reading this one!

This creative 512-page illustrated resource delivers just the right pattern for their next quilting project. 1000 GREAT QUILTING DESIGNS contains templates, stencils, and step-by-step instructions -for hand or machine stitching-making it easy to create unique quilting patterns.
This is a reference book for me, not a reading book :)
It arrived in the mail just as described, a perfectly clean library edition. But, it is typical size of a Reader's Digest, small and chunky.  It will be interesting when I go to enlarge these designs on my printer. But, it IS FULL of very interesting and useful choices in quilting designs.

The ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DESIGNS FOR QUILTING by Phyllis D. Miller is the first comprehensive reference of traditional quilting designs. Quiltmakers, quilt documentors, and historians/researchers will find this book a valuable tool. Phyllis documented 375 traditional quilting designs from texts and quilt collections. For quiltmakers, the front section of the book is a how-to guide with over 500 illustrations for drawing and transferring traditional designs onto quilt tops. Some of the diagrams are: straight lines, geometrics and triangles; squares and circles; diagonals and diamonds; ovals, crescents, and curves; ropes and cables; hearts and feathers; and representational, naturalistic, designs taken from a quilt pattern, and combination designs. In the back section, the Numerical Index has numbers assigned 
to the designs for easy documentation and reference.

I ordered this book, and it has not yet arrived.  

Elsie M. Campbell's quilts have won first-place and best-of-show ribbons at many prestigious quilt shows. She teaches hand quilting across the U.S. and is a former editor of QuiltWorks Today and Miniature Quilts magazines.

So, the description didn't tell me much. But, it is all about hand stitching and the customer reviews are fantastic.  I'm still awaiting arrival of this one too. It is coming in paperback, no ebook format.

 This book I bought years ago, so I went back to it hoping for info on Hand Quilting.  I was really disappointed to find that again, the book was dedicated to learning to quilt a.k.a. piece by hand and only a small amount of info on the quilting part. Beautiful pictures. 

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