Should I be writing about the fun I am having with fabric and thread during these sombre and scary times? This went through my mind as I began to think about writing this week’s blog. The alternative is to write nothing at all about my fabrications and that, somehow, seems to be the worst option. Perhaps the reason for becoming a busy bee (at this solitary quilting bee) is to distract myself from thinking too deeply about the effects of the Corona virus on the world. But I must also admit to taking advantage of the lack of usual day-to-day distractions in order to finish some WIPs (works in progress) and to practise my newly found pleasure in machine quilting.
Full and folded views of a newly finished quilt called Duo (169 x 120 cm). Hand and machine quilted. The design for this impov wedding ring is by Diana Vandeyer
I again take back the rude things I have said about machine quilting in the past. I have been having fun with my walking foot. Other quilters as well as quilt teachers had told me that the secret to successful machine quilting is to slow down. I have finally understood and learnt that lesson and suspect that part of my reason for quilting by hand is that it forces me to take it slowly. When I am behind the sewing machine my foot pushes down heavily on the pedal of its own accord and I end up sewing at the fastest speed possible. (At a class with Sue Cameron last year I noticed that she always slipped her shoe off before she sat down at her sewing machine to demonstrate a technique. I now know why — it gives one more control over the pressure exerted on the foot pedal and makes it easier to adjust the speed of the machine.)
Emboldened by how quickly Duo was quilted under the machine, I decided to practise some more on this quilt.
It is not as obvious on this quilt, but I hand quilted around the curves (as with Duo) before I machine quilted shadow lines around the circles. I am so pleased with my new found trick of using spaced-out hand quilting instead of tacking or close pinning to stabilise the quilt before putting it under the machine. I am now working on a monster sized black and white piece, using the same method. This is going to be a big challenge as it about three metres square.
As we were going into lockdown on 27 March I experimented with making diamond shapes using Jan Mullen’s stack, slash and switch method. I used two fat quarters and worked with square of 3.5 inches. The experiment did not work and I ended up with odd shaped diamonds. As I need a dense mat for underneath my sewing machine, I decided to practise machine quilting on this small piece, using table mat (very dense) batting, which was hard to manipulate under the machine, even though it is a small piece. I am not particularly proud of my effort, but am glad that I pushed through as I learnt something along the way and now I have a useful item.
And now I am going to go to the TextileArtist.org Community Stitch Challenge page and watch the question and answer session with Cas Holmes. She did an online class for this week’s challenge, which is to make a collage and add a favourite object. It was most inspiring. Next week I will perhaps post a photograph of the piece I am working on — a vase of flowers.
Trust you are all hale and keeping busy.