Monday, March 19, 2007

New Tricks for Old Dogs

This last weekend I lived dangerously and went outside my comfort zone. I'm a hand quilter. I love the satisfaction of seeing all those tiny little stitches lined up so nice and neatly giving character to my quilt. Puffy where needed and comphy to wrap up in.
Machine quilting has never been at the top of my priority list as a new trick to learn. I've tried it a couple times and always went back to doing it the old fashioned hand.
With tops piling up faster than you can say UFO something had to be done. I couldn't just run out to the money tree in the backyard and pick a few greenbacks to have them done, so it's a DIY or have them continue to pile up.
Saturday morning I oiled up my machine, dug out a quilting needle, grabbed up the quilt and off I went. What a ride I had. My feet and hands couldn't get together. When my hands stopped the machine kept going. The stitches weren't uniform, the backside had pokies (JT, I love this saying). My sewing machine didn't like the thread I was using. The tension wouldn't co-operate and an hours worth of stitching took 3 hours to pick out. By Sunday afternoon I was ready to holler "never again" but kept on going. When the last stitch was in, sat back with a feeling of accomplishment and a "well, ya did it".
Will I do it again. Why of course, I already have my Leaf Seasons samiched, pinned and in the wings waiting for the end of the week when I have time to sit down and try it again. My comfort zone has expanded. I only wish Singer would develop a stitch control like Berninia.
Don't take me wrong, I'm not knocking machine quilting. I've have my favorite LAer I take my quilts to. She does such a fantastic job that I give her free reign to do what she wants. I pick out what I want for a backing, the thread and tell her to surprize me, just don't break the bank. If she's backlogged I'll waite until she can do mine. I wouldn't go anywhere else. She does with a machine what I will never be able to....give my quilts that something extra special that makes them shine. I do what she isn't interested in...hand quilt. We all have our special talents, her's is with a machine, mine is with a thread and needle.
What I've learned ......
Wind a batch of bobbins before you start
Wear those garden gloves with the rubber dots for less slippage
Warm up doing a bit on a practice square
Start in the middle
Do a quarter of the quilt at a time as it's easier to shove through the throat
Relax your shoulders or they tense up
Sit up straight not humped over the machine with your nose almost touching the quilt or your back starts screaming
Put the puter chair up as high as it will go so you are a bit above the level of the machine deck
When you start sweating it's time for a break
Do some stretch exercises while on break
Last but not least .....put some beer one ice, you'll need it


Happy Valley Quilter said...

Nice quilt, Dona. Such fun fabrics. Very eye pleasing!

Great job on the quilting...and great tips!

gwen said...

For a first try, it is very nice.
Your description meets exactly what I felt when I started machine quilting! But I tried and tried again and even if my quilting is not perfect, it is getting much better. So keep on trying. I found that for some threads like rayon, a top stitch needle works better than a quilting needle. Take care.

Rose Marie said...

Many thanks for the tips! I just bought a free-form foot a few weeks ago and soon it'll be my turn to try something machine quilting other than SID! Like you, I'm a hand quilter but it is nice to step out-of-the box.

paula, the quilter said...

LOL! I love your quilt lessons learned! Another thing is to try a Slider ( This will help 'move' the quilt under the needle

Joanne said...

Can you say I'm a little behind in my blog reading? Glad you've taken the plunge and have branched out into machine quilting -- that's exactly why I started too --way too many ufo's piling up! And yes, I still love to hand quilt! And now with the longarm, maybe, just maybe, I'll get caught up on the ufo's so I can take the time to handquilt once in a while!