Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exciting news for Janome quilters!

Exciting news for Janome owners!

From Diane Guadynski's blogspot:

"Recently in my Paducah classes I saw the new Janome foot, below, photo by Ann Fahl and used with her permission.

(See Diane Guadynski's blogspot for the photo.)

This foot comes with three options for the base, an open toe, a closed toe, and a large circular plastic foot with rings in it used as guides for spacing free motion quilting such as echo quilting.

What attracted my eye immediately to it was the built-in way to adjust it in the spring itself, on the foot itself. Instead of adjusting how tight the foot sits on the quilt, you can easily change the foot itself to float more easily, to eliminate the hopping action, and glide instead, whatever you like. It worked very well for those who had it on their Janomes.

Sometimes we don't realize the right tool will do the job better and make quilting so much easier and more relaxing."

Thank you so much for sharing, Diane!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wise advice for quilters from Harriet

Quilting Technique from Harriet Hargrave

Here are more notes I took during my two day class with Harriet:


open toe darning foot is best

put nylon thread in the top and embroidery thread in the bottom - check Harriet's book for all the details

Sit up high; look down on your quilting; use a special spray to make your sewing plate smooth or other slick surface (see Harriet's book for more details)

Tips for accurate, beautiful quilting...

1. Retrace the design over and over and over again with your fingers before you quilt

2. Wherever your eyes go, your hands will automatically follow

3. Look at what you want to hit (even if it's just a dot) and you will hit it! Do not watch the line or you will hesitate, fluctuate and have sloppy-looking quilting

4. Pause for two stitches (very briefly) to "pause" and then your corners will look sharp. Stop at the corner and make 2 stitches then stop immediately.

5. Curves and points: do one unit, stop, breathe; do another unit


Marking quilting lines tips:

1. Store five blue markers for quilting in a Ziploc bag; when tracing patterns onto fabric, every five minutes switch to a new one

Recommended reading:
"Quilting Savvy" by Diane Guandynski

Pain-free sewing and quilting!

Today was my first day back after injuring my thumb two weeks ago. A brace from Target helped, along with ice and rest.

I was able to make a miniature wall hanging, 7"x7", but I believe it is really a potholder. Oh, well...

I was able to post the foto to my fb page, but didn't have any luck posting here on my blog. If you know how to post fotos here on blogspot, feel free to enlighten me! lol

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Batting PS

Harriet warned to avoid "scrim" in battings. See this:

So, the question is: To scrim or not to scrim?

Batting choices

Did you know there are seventy-nine different types of batting that you can put in the middle of your quilt? Back in the 1800s, people usually put old clothes or previous quilts inside, but now we can scratch our heads and wonder what to put in there! During Harriet's class, she absolutely refused to name one batting, but named several that are good for different reasons. Here's what I have in my notes from class:

Harriet's challenge is to find as many batts as possible, then cut a 14" square and put muslin on front and back, quilt a feather and then save them, making notes about how they performed so that you can make the very best final choice for yourself.

SILK with 5 or 10% other fibers
Wow! Expensive, about $65 for a Queen size batt, but extremely lightweight and very durable. Quilts like a dream! Doesn't shift while quilting hardly at all.

Harriet recommends NOT using Warm & Natural because it was first and still is a product for Roman shades that hang on windows.

80/20 Hobb's batting is heavier and warm (Harriet works with this company to create batting)

Hobb's wool adds dimension to your work nicely

Do NOT use bamboo because it is saturated heavily with chemicals during processing and is essentially rayon after processing.

For Heritage Quilts, Mountain Mist Natural (1840's look) 8% shrinkage once washed, so a Queen sized quilt won't be a Queen anymore!

Fairfield Natural is a good choice for wall hangings because it won't stretch much over time.

Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon is the one that Harriet finds as a good all-round batting, but won't specifically say that outright! After listening to her talk for over an hour, that is what I gathered. 3% shrinkage once washed, so a Queen sized quilt will still be a Queen once washed!

Harriet says, "If a batting feels soft to the touch, it will quilt STIFF!"

Polyester does NOT breathe. This is not a good choice for a baby because they'll overheat and get fussy tucked into this type of batting/fabric.

If all this is a little much, fear not! Harriet has sixteen various kinds of batts already cut to 14" squares, ready for you to try! Order here:


What kind of batting have you used? Why a particular one? Do you use different batts for different projects?

Friday, November 12, 2010

A small problem...

I haven't written recently because my right thumb has been out of commission. Apparently, I have an overstretched tendon after spending six straight hours quilting and then several hours of correcting papers in school, plus two full hours of dusting while on duty at my part-time evening job, so I have had to completely rest the past couple of days! The dr. says no sewing, quilting, cooking or cleaning for a week!! I can leave the cleaning, but now sewing or quilting during our four-day weekend...waaaahhhhh!!!! So, I did the next best thing and checked out a bunch of quilting books from the library to study. I should really go up to the Heritage Center here in Bismarck and look at some actual quilts, too... I have lots to write about batting (batts), but it'll have to wait. Dr's orders to keep it short and to the point tonight.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Free-Motion Quilting Technique

Listen to the motor of your machine. Never have an iPod, music, books, or other noises. You should focus on the "music" of your machine. Repeat exercises on pg. 122 and 123 of "Heirloom Machine Quilting" three times successively in order.

1. Listen to the machine
2. Focus on hand rythmn
3. Direct traffic by what you're seeing
4. Think of the stitch length you like
5. Duplicate what you see in your mind
6. Concentrate, focus, relax, enjoy, but maintain a disciplined focus

You should enter a meditative-like state. Almost identical to the one where I would practice piano for four hours straight and not even notice my aching back, strained shoulders or anything around me. Breathe, relax, enjoy, focus on only this.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Free-Motion Quilting Technique

Listen to the motor of your machine. Never have an iPod, music, books, or other noises. You should focus on the "music" of your machine. Repeat exercises on pg. 122 and 123 of "Heirloom Machine Quilting" three times successively in order.

1. Listen to the machine
2. Focus on hand rythmn
3. Direct traffic by what you're seeing
4. Think of the stitch length you like
5. Duplicate what you see in your mind
6. Concentrate, focus, relax, enjoy, but maintain a disciplined focus

You should enter a meditative-like state. Almost identical to the one where I would practice piano for four hours straight and not even notice my aching back, strained shoulders or anything around me. Breathe, relax, enjoy, focus on only this.

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!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Quilting World

Well, this past weekend was it.  The beginning of a new life skill called quilting.  Please don't confuse this with sewing.  Spending the past two days with master teacher Harriet Hargrave and her daughter Carrie has taught me at least that much, but oh, so much MORE!  If you ever have the chance to visit Harriet in her store near Denver, Colorado or to purchase her books and read and re-read them thoroughly,  you are one fortunate person!  As a college graduate and someone who has taken countless Master's classes, I have to tell you that I have never learned more useful information in such a short time as I learned from taking Harriet's class.  

Harriet began the class Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 with a short introduction and then moved right on to asking who each of us 25 people were doing taking a class "Heirloom Machine Quilting".  She wanted to know WHY we were taking the class.  When it came to my turn, I explained that I had grown up around quilts women donated from local church to raise money at a quilt auction each spring to keep the church kid's camp going, I also mentioned my hometown, which was where her daughter Carrie first attended college.  She loved attending NDSU-Bottineau!  Cool connection, I thought.  Isn't it a small world after all?

Harriet and her daughter have started a new series of teaching books, much like a college course, and I would like to share the following blog with you to check out:  A lady named Leslie Davis from Tasmania, Austrailia retired and decided to take up quilting.  She got her hands on Harriet and Carrie's freshman and sophomore books and went to town tackling the projects which they designed as educational tools to teach from the ground up. 

I can see that I have a LOT to learn, but after taking Harriet's class this past weekend, I now know that this is a skill I can obtain - heck, anybody can learn to quilt!  If you've been wanting to learn, pick up this "bible" on quilting and get started, no fancy $10K sewing machine required.  Harriet will set you straight on that right from the start!  :-)  Who doesn't appreciate a frugal person in today's economy?  I know I do!

Harriet has asked us to start researching traditional quilts from 1760 through 1989 (prior to longarm quilting). I've got to see if our local library has "Civil War Women", "From Fiber to Fabric", books by quilt artist Diane Gaudynski , the Japanese magazine "tshushin" , and for quilting stencils refer to the vast designs available from , , , and which offers paper packets of stencils which you are then able to easily enlarge or reduce at will on a copier.

After researching all that interesting information, then take a virtual tour of the vast array of historical quilts from the Lincoln Quilt Study Center on the University Campus in their Home Economics Department. 

Harriet's whole deal is to have well-educated quilters out there.  For a total beginner like myself, I can see that research is a step in the right direction.

If you are interested, I hope you will join me in my quest for information about quilts.  Please share great links you happen upon - I'd love to know more about thread choice, needle choice, the right quilting foot and darning foot for Babylock machines,etc.

More tomorrow....


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