Sunday, June 30, 2013

I thought I would take a little breaking from quilting Sunny in Philadelphia to let you know that the hand-basting technique from Purple Daisies, LLC is great! Mind you quilting a quilt is still my second least favorite part of the process (least favorite being cutting) but since I cannot afford to send them out to be quilted this method has made vast improvements. Here are some things I found:

1. Do not be afraid to cut the basting threads to quilt an area. When you pull out the thread from one area, everything that was not meant to come undone stays intact.
2. It is so much easier to pull out the thread than it is to undo safety pins. Although it is difficult to grab the threads with my quilting gloves, I use my Purple Thang to pull out the threads (love that tool!).
3. I am getting a smooth result. I am less frustrated and am moving along.

It took me a week to sit down and start the quilting on this one. I am often paralyzed by fear in my creative life and my past quilting experiences had me frozen. The prettier the top the less I want to mess it up with inferior quilting. Although my quilting is far less than perfect because I still have not gotten the gist of handling the weight of the quilt which causes uneven stitch length, I have improved. The video at Shiny Happy World was a big help on how to maneuver the quilt in a standard domestic sewing machine. I was basically doing the same thing, but it was good to see I was on the right path and gave me the confidence to move forward. Even Mr. R. came over while I was quilting and noted that it would be much easier with a long-arm (he learns fast).

How did Mr. R know about a long-arm you ask? No, I am not sending him subliminal messages in his sleep; he has started to sew. He is making his own bow-ties! I took him with me to pick up my feather weight so he could buy some tie fabric and showed him the long-arm and the Sweet Sixteen and how much easier my life would be if we turned the dining room into a second studio and spent $4000.00 on a long-arm! No I did not convince him--honestly I do not quilt enough for all of that, but at least he acknowledges my plight.

Next, knitting. Have I ever told you how wonderful my knitting world would be if I could learn Continental Knitting? I hate to rib American style, but cannot get the tension right with the yarn in my left hand. I found this great set of videos on Pintrest from KnitFreedom. The download is only $12.95 (Liat will email you a code for your first purchase if you sign up for her newsletter) and they are really well-done. She speaks well and clearly without the nonsensical commentary that I find in other videos. The audio is perfect and the background is blank as a professional how-to video should be. She also offers other videos for purchase as well as for free. I am hoping to use my IPad in Italy to practice and learn this once and for all.

Back to the quilting!

Baci e abbracci.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Testing a Method

Last post I referred you to a video by Purple Daisies, LLC on hand basting your quilt. I purchased a 12’ baseboard (I asked Lowes to cut it in half, which they did for no charge), and the tatting thread. I followed the instructions, started on Sunday morning, and eventually finished basting last night. It took me about 4 hours total because I am not an experienced hand sewer and my fingers got sore--even though I used my favorite leather thimble (by Clover). (I got peeved that I kept pricking my fingers because the first time I did not realize I drew blood and got it on the quilt.)

I think this is a great method, so far. I have not yet started to machine quilt, but it is easy to do the herringbone stitch, and it is better for my back than pin basting on the floor. If you decide to try this method, I hope you like threading needles because only using arm length cuts of thread had me thread the needle at least 25-30 times for a 45 x 45 inch quilt. This method also takes a lot of thread. I think Sharon said that the spool would last a lifetime so I either did something wrong, or did not hear her correctly (the video has poor audio quality). In the future I will use my hand sewing thread that I don’t use for quilting because it was cheap. Purchasing the tatting thread at $3.29 per quilt does not seem worth it to me even though it was easy to thread and work with.

The process was great. The baseboards are a great method of basting on a table top that is not big enough to accommodate the size of the quilt. I think you could successfully use this method for pin basting as well. The nice thing about hand basting is you can fold the quilt and scrunch it up under the sewing machine without pins getting all caught on each other or if using straight pins (I have tried everything) without sticking yourself. And, yes, I tried those pricey little Pinmoors and do not like them.

I am going to try the Halo that I purchased from Purple Daisies and let you know how I like that. I already have the slider and bobbin washer thingies. Wish me luck!

Baci e abbracci

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It Has Been A While

The last few weeks have been very busy at home and at work. At home I am almost finished another quilt top, and I have finished the Almondine socks, striped socks, and another pair of self-striping socks with silver. I am letting the yarn do the designing as I am coming close to the deadline of needing these items to give as gifts. I have also been studying the work of Gwen Marston, and hope to begin a long series of works using liberated quilting, but getting a little more serious about experimenting in small quilts that she refers to as "sketches." I also would like to have a couple of tops completed to hand quilt over vacation. Still so much to do!

Work has been busy with the normal things that my job includes: scheduling, outgoing and incoming calls, minutes, etc. all of the usual secretarial duties that keep me busy. But this past week and a half was particularly difficult and depressing. The June 5 building collapse in Philadelphia that killed 6, and ultimately contributed to the death of a 7th person has created a sadness like no other disaster I have heard about.

It could be because this disaster was so close, physically. The collapse occurred 2.5 blocks south and 8 blocks west of where my office is. I was shopping across the street and almost went into the Salvation Army for clothes to quilt with the previous day and noticed the demolition next door, but thought "at least the Salvation Army will still be there for my occasional shopping trip at lunch time." Having just been to an area within 24 hours of a disaster can make you think, wow, that could have been me. I am trying to shake this feeling of doom and worry that something will happen to me or Mr. R. I also feel lousy physically all of the time. If it is not my back, it is a tooth that I am having work done to. If not that headaches and body aches. Old age just is not fair. When you are young you think you have all of the time in the world, and then you turn around and the clock is just ticking away.

So back to the stuff of craft blogs. I thought I would pass on a tip that I may have seen somewhere, but honestly don't remember. I've talked about how I am NOT about precision, but I am about design--and colors and patterns looking good next to each other is an important part of that. So while I am all about improvisational quilting, it is not willy nilly and there is decision-making in the process. After I arrange everything on the design wall and am happy with it, the time comes to sew it together. My design wall is in another room so I needed a way to carry the blocks from one room to the other without mixing up the direction in which to sew them together. (I get easily distracted with just my own thoughts let alone if Mr. R. talks to me.)

I have seen many ways to organize your pieces for sewing and they all involve little notes, boxes, or cards. I am "The Lazy Quilter," so that was too much work for me. My method is easy-peasy. Flower Head pins, or any pins where you can easily differentiate the head from the point. I like flower head pins because they are long, they are color-coded and the cheap ones have so many bent pins in the box that I do not want to use them for sewing.

So I place a pin with the flower going top to bottom in the right side of block 1. I place another pin in the left side of block 2 going in the same direction. On the right side of block 2 I place a pin with the flower going bottom to top. In block 3 on the left side I place the pin going in the same direction, and on and on for all of the blocks in row 1. Once the row is complete I put it back on the design wall with a pin with the flower on the right in the bottom of the middle block. I will put a pin in the top of the row 2 middle block with the flower going in the same direction to sewing the rows together without doing it upside down. Not rocket surgery.

And since I like nothing that reminds me of factory work, I do the first row and then I pin the second row and so on. Here is a photo from my cutting table. I remove the pins that are going in the same direction, sew the seam, press, and get the next block with the matching pin to sew.

I hope to make a back for Sunny in Philadelphia. I found a different method of basting by hand on Purple Daisies, LLC that I would like to try. I have purchased the baseboard and the tatting thread and am just hoping it is as easy as it looks with  a 45" quilt.

I found a great tip on the Free Motion Quilting Project blog using self-threading needles. Check it out! Of course I purchased those too.

Baci e abbracci...