Monday, October 27, 2008

Machine Quilting is Hard!

As promised I have been working on my McKenna Ryan quilt, machine quilting it on my sewing machine, not my quilting machine. I foolishly thought that would be easier since the quilt is quite small, but it's not easy at all. Moving fabric under a stationary needle is much, much, much harder than moving a needle over a stationary quilt. What was I thinking?

I'm about halfway done, so I will perservere, but next time I quilt, no matter the size of the quilt, I will use my Voyager 17. I'm still trying to figure out why I didn't use it for this quilt. Some of it has to do with the fact that the quilting machine is downstairs, so it's not quite as convenient. When I use the sewing machine, it's right in the same room as my office, so it's a quick commute from typing to sewing or quilting. When I don't have much time, just five-minute snatches here and there, it seems easier to just quilt upstairs on the sewing machine. It might be easier as far as proximity, but easier as far as technique it is not.

I think the second reason I decided to use my sewing machine was because I wanted to quilt the quilt with monofilament thread, which I have never used on the quilter, and I was concerned about the amount of time it would take to tweak the tension. So I didn't even try. I should have tried. Maybe it would have been easy. I'm such a chicken.

The third reason I used the sewing machine was that I convinced myself it would be easier to outline the applique on the quilt with the sewing machine. So very untrue! As I said above, it's very difficult for me to come out with even, straight stitches when moving the fabric instead of the needle. I think if I turned the speed down on the Voyager 17 I could go around the edge of those appliques just fine.

All of this has made me realize that the real reason I don't use the quilter is that I am afraid of it because I'm not good at it. I want to be good, but I'm not willing to pay the price to be good, or at least I haven't been in the past. I know I've made promises before to practice, but honestly I have to do it or the quilter will become simply a really expensive decoration in the downstairs bedroom.

I have looked online at those panels you can buy to practice quilting. I want to get some, but they are pretty pricey. I am pretty sure I could practice without one. I need to practice things like feathers, stippling, allover quilting besides loops, and how to make my own designs in blocks. I need to get good at this kind of quilting so I can move on to ruler work, which I would love to be able to do.

I just read an email from the lady in charge of Quilt University, talking about how her machine quilting had really suffered since she hadn't done it for so long, and so she made a commitment to quilt every day in the summer, and now she's back to being fabulous. That's the kind of commitment I need to make. I could do it. I should do it. I will do it. I will put some fabric on the quilter and just practice whatever I want, over and over again on the same piece of fabric, just using different colors of thread to keep track of my progress. Now, when will I start this? I promise here on this blog that I will start tomorrow.

Just an update on the knitting. The sweater is coming along. I have the back and both fronts finished, and I'm currently working on the sleeves. One sleeve is about six inches long or so right now. Once I'm finished knitting the sleeves I need to figure out a way to block the sweater. I don't think I have anything big enough to pin it to. I may just try using the tablecloth. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back to Basics, Back to Me

Last night I listened to a quilting podcast for the first time in a long time. It was Allison Rosen's Within a Quarter Inch podcast. She is so fun! I am jealous of her new sewing room, but I can be content with my little corner of the office. Since I organized most of my fabric it's much better. But what I was reminded of as I listened to her is the fun I have when I'm quilting, which I haven't done really since July and the Sister Quilt Retreat. So today I am getting back to basics, back to quilting fun. My plan is to quilt my McKenna Ryan applique quilt and get it hung up in the kitchen. I'm not going to stress over perfect quilting, just do my best and enjoy the journey.

I am torn all the time between starting new projects and finishing old ones. I love to start something new, be all excited about new fabrics, new patterns, the joy of creating, but then I start thinking about all the old projects I have sitting around, mostly waiting to be quilted but some waiting to be pieced, and I think how great it would be to have them finished and usable, and then starting a new project would be even more fun because there would be no lingering guilt from all those neglected quilts. And I don't even really know why they get neglected, because at one time I couldn't wait to start them, so now why am I waiting so long to finish them?

While I dabble occasionally in other crafting, knitting, scrapbooking, other sewing, I always come back to what makes me happiest, quilting. So today I am going to finish an old project, start a new project, and plan for a future project. Today is the day I get back to me.