Monday, November 8, 2010

How to enter the quilting world via Harriet Hargrave and daughter Carrie

Purchase the books Quilter's Academy Freshman Year and Sophomore Year.  Start at the beginning and don't cheat.  Do every project - they build upon each other.

Set up your work area correctly.  This is 75% of the battle.  You can justify spending $35 here and there on fabrics, but if you put that away for what will make you a successful quilter, you can get a carpenter to build you an awesome formica-topped six foot quilting table with drop-down for your machine and a chair from an office supply company that fits you perfectly.  You can leave your money in your wallet when it comes to machines, though.  Drag out that 25 year old machine, get it oiled and maintained and get it busy.  The feed dogs on embroidery machines are .9 mm instead of .7 mm and you can never get a perfectly acurate 1/4" seam on one!

Harriet talks about her half-priced $700 Herman Miller Aeron chair.  She about had a heart attack when she spent that much money on it, but how many times has it paid for itself?  She can quilt for eight hours in one day in that chair!

At Staples, you can buy two adjustable leg tables so you can create yourself a 6x6' work area that can be folded up and put away.

A Sew Easy Table from Austrailia is on pg. 38 of "Freshman Year".

Don't buy an expensive table from Horn, Koala, Terry, Roberts, etc. until you sit down at them to see how they fit your body.  They will all be at the Spring MPLS Quilt Show 2011.

Consider a custom-made cabinet.  Give your husband a project, but give him your specifications.  Get out the measuring tape and figure it out.

Lighting is crucial so your eyes don't wear out quickly.  Since eye fatigue is a problem, sit ABOVE your work and LOOK DOWN at it.  No chicken wing arms allowed!  :-)  "Daylights" are highly recommended because they give off natural light.  Intense lighting causes fatigue.  Use one in front of your machine and one behind.  Ott-Lights cause glare.  Those little flex-lights, though convenient, cause glare, too.

Pg. 33 of the "Heirloom Machine Quilting" book talks about tension.  You're going to be using finer threads and needles than when you SEW, so you are going to have to set your tension properly.  If you don't trust yourself to do it, then take the threads in with your machine and ask the technician to set the tension to embroidery threads instead of cotton or poly-blends.

1/4" seam allowances do not allow for the dip into the fabric with the thread.  For more accuracy, use a bright yellow ruler that shows a SCANT 1/4".  Then all your piece work will fit perfectly and your quilting will be much more accurate.

Harriet begged us to work on quilting technique ONLY for SIX MONTHS STRAIGHT!  No piecing or projects.  Purchase yards of muslin and as many of the 36 various battings (offered at Harriet's store in Colorado) you can manage. Cut out 14" squares of muslin and batting, create a sandwich and mark it with stencils as recommended in Harriet's "Heirloom Machine Quilting" book.  You should create a "library" of 14" squares of quilted muslin sandwiches, put the date on them, the type of batting and the name of the stencil you used, the size needle, tension, the upper and bobbin thread choices and keep them all on file so that you can refer to them six months down the road when you begin to quilt!

This challenge from Harriet was huge to me.  She told us all to go home and repeat the entire class from the beginning.  All we need to do is get the supplies we need, get our space at home set up properly and get busy practicing how to quilt!  (This is not sewing, ladies.)

Free-motion Quilting involves obtaining the following:
Q-foot (for my Babylock)
Nylon thread (Sew Easy is #1, YLI if you must but it will leave a shiny undesirable surface!)
DMC embroidery thread 50/2 in the bobbin
(Three-ply threads are for piecing ONLY)
Universal 70/11 needle
The smaller the quilting foot, the better the visibility.
The throat plate can cause your quilting to look "wanky" or out of whack, so you can do something about this:
Buy a "Slider" to cover your throat plate or spray "Quilt Glide" onto a paper towel and then smear onto your throat plate and all over your quilting area so there's NO drag on the material.
Be aware, once you put "Quilt Glide" on your machine, a "Slider" will never stick again!

You can go naked!  Your fingers can find happiness in quilting with Lickety Grip like bank tellers use, use a drop of Neutrogena on your fingertips (this does NOT cause greasy fabric!), you can put talcum powder in French "Bowen" "Finger Cots"  They're $8.95 for two and you'll need to cover all but your pinkies, but apparently, they're worth it.  I couldn't stand them when I tried them on, though....  you'll have to try them out and see.  You could also use "Machingers".  I bought a pair for $8 and LOVE THEM!!!

I'll write more about machine free-motion quilting technique next.  Over and out!

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