Friday, September 17, 2010

Fear not

I realized something today... I'm scared of my sewing machine.

I've been working on a project for my husband's birthday this Sunday and I've had two things happen with my machine that were rather frustrating. I finally got both of them solved, but it make me realize that the complexity of my machine has made me nervous. I'm afraid that if I do something it will mess the machine up badly enough that it will cost a fair amount to fix it.

I think a good solution to the fear is just to get more comfortable with the machine and if I learn the pieces and parts as well as I can and what all the fancy bells and whistles do, I believe I'll be less apt to be afraid.

So as I sew I am working towards that goal.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fabric, Fabric, Fabric!

I'm into lesson 120 of Quilter's Academy which has a section on fabric. Now I've read Harriet's book From Fiber to Fabric. Although the book was written several years ago and some of the specifics are out of date, it's still an incredible resource. The detailed description of the process and her explanation of just what effects your fabric's color and stability is eye opening. As a person interested in fabric dyeing, I found the section on what makes fabric lose color absolutely fascinating.

There was only a taste of information on fabric in the lessons here in class 120 and there are promises of more in future books to come, but if you are seriously interested in learning more, pick up From Fiber to Fabric.

One thing the lesson did for me, as someone with a lot of fabric, was to get me to drag out my various fabric tubs and really take a look at what fabric I currently own. Although I haven't bought much in the last couple of years, you can easily see in my stash how tastes have changed. Here are some of the very first fabrics I bought when I started quilting. I still have a few yards of stuff like this. I wonder how long I'd have to hang on to it for it to come back into style? :)

In lesson two the authors talk about whether to pre-wash or not pre-wash your fabric. When I very first started quilting I was told you had to pre-wash. I did so for my first quilt but soon after I decided I'd move over to the wait and see camp, so most of my stash is not washed. I was thrilled to hear Harriet's arguments on why pre-washing won't guarantee colorfastness in your fabric, since I probably mostly don't pre-wash out of laziness, I now have an excuse!

Although it wasn't strictly in the lesson plan, this lesson gave me an opportunity to evaluate my fabric stash on a number of levels. When looking through my hand dyes I noticed a definite lack of some colors and an abundance of or pink anyone? I also need more variety of lights and darks. I plan to do some dyeing this week and I want to try to work in some of the missing colors.

The exercise in this lesson was realigning the grain on a piece of fabric. I don't have any spray starch and I can't go get any at the moment so this exercise is being shelved for a bit until I can get some and since the next lesson involves working with a ruler and getting ready to cut I won't be able to move on for a bit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Weekend

Saturday and Sunday are usually days I spend with my husband. And although I might do some quilting, I will rarely post about it.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to have a monster post on Monday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Busy day

I've been keeping to my pledge to work on the Quilter's Academy books and yesterday I decided to work on more than one lesson. The lessons in class 110 are all about tools and since it's not new to me I figured I could easily work in more than one lesson.

Yesterday I'd worked on my quilting space. It really is a small room crammed with way, way too much junk. I'm hoping that as I get moving and get some of the quilts done I want to get done I will make a bit more room in here. But who knows... As I work on more projects it may not clear things out like I hope. I have one project on the design wall that I want to work on in conjunction with the other stuff I'm doing. It's a quilt for my son that I started last year. I don't think I have quite enough fabric to finish it, and so I'm going to have to do some improvising with borders. I've tried to get some more of the fabric but no one has it.

If I can get rid of the boxes of extra junk, that will give me a bit more room. But the room is always going to be smaller than ideal. I guess I should just be grateful that I have a space now.

Yesterday's lessons in the Quilter's Academy started with the sewing machine. When I started making quilts I had an old Singer. I don't even remember the model, it was just a little workhorse but eventually it died. For a long time then I had no machine and when I went back to quilting I pieced by hand. Eventually a friend gave me the opportunity to buy one of her Singer Featherweights and I pieced many a quilt on that machine.

But ever since I first heard about the machines way back when I started quilting I'd lusted after a Bernina. When I split up with my long time lover I splurged and bought one. One of the things stressed in the Quilter's Academy is to buy a good machine. I've been very, very happy with my Bernina. After reading the chapter I took some time to look over my machine and reacquaint myself with the feet I use. Although Harriet recommends using a #13 foot with the Bernina, I don't have that foot and am not sure what difference there is between it and my #37. I've been pretty happy piecing with my current foot and I think I'll continue using that one.

I did purchase a straight stitch throat plate, as mentioned in the book and have found that keeps my fabric from being eaten as easily as sometimes happens with the regular throat plate.

Lesson three talks about rotary cutters and mats. Harriet and Carrie say to try a variety of rotary cutters and find the one that works best for you. I've tried a few brands but I always seem to come back to Olfa. The lesson mostly concentrated on introducing things and didn't get too in depth on how to cut other than mentioning the proper way to hold the cutter. I have not been holding my cutter with my finger on top as per the book, so when I actually do some cutting again I am going to definitely try that. She talks about various mats and again, I've tried a few but always come back to my Olfa. I have the large one 24" by 48".

The last lesson in class 110 talked about rules. I have a lot of rulers and templates but I actually don't have a couple of the sizes that the authors recommend you use. I don't have 2.5" x 12 or the 4" by 12. One thing mentioned is how you should use the smallest ruler you can use to help prevent slippage. Since I occasionally have problems with the ruler slipping, I'm really tempted to buy the smaller sizes and see if that helps my accuracy. When I started this venture I'd vowed to myself to not spend any money if I could avoid it, so I'm still debating whether or not to spring for the rulers.

By now you are saying "This isn't a blog post it's a book!"

In addition to the Quilter's Academy books I have been working on a few other projects. I think I'll save those till another post!

I will leave you with my quilting companions...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Quilter's Academy - Class 110

So today I'm starting off on the Quilter's Academy Books by Harriet and Carrie Hargrave. Even though I'm not a beginning quilt maker, the books appeal to me. I'm going to be doing a few different projects and working through these books is just one.

I've always liked Harriet Hargrave. I met her once long ago when I first started quilting at a store in Pasadena California where she was teaching. She impressed me at that time and I've followed her stuff ever since.

There is a new breed of quilter coming through doing something called Modern Quilting. It involves doing things in an easier more free form manner. And although I'm thrilled to see younger quilters picking up, it's not a style I find visually appealing and I feel that in some ways it's fhe very antithesis of what I'm trying to do now.

I will be going through the Quilter's Academy books lesson by lesson...and so without further adieu I'll start with Class 110 Lesson One.

The first class is talking about tools and your quilting space. When I first started quilting I had to work on a fold out table that I put up in the living room and took down every evening. I had not fabric stash and only the bare minimum of tools. Now I'm lucky enough to have a whole room and somehow it seems more cramped then that fold out table. Mostly I think because I have so much stuff!

I have an old wood desk that my sewing machine is currently on. The space is large and works well for sewing. The only downside is I do not have a cutout for the machine to bring it down level with the table. This makes it a bit more challenging to sew and at some point my husband has promised he will do the cut out for me. If he isn't able to get it done, I may do as suggested by the book and order a portable table. The threat should get him moving on the cutout if nothing else. :)

This lesson also talks about ironing and cutting spaces. I have an ironing board that I will take up and down, but at some point I want to get a big board. My friend Yvonne has one and says it's really great. It would certainly help when ironing fabric after dyeing.

The last section of this lesson is about a cutting area. That's one of my areas that's less than ideal. Because I have so much stuff in my little sewing room there isn't a space for a permanent cutting area and I will have to do it on a card table I take up and down.

The lesson gives information on what is the best kind of areas, but most of won't have the best of everything especially those of us without a permanent setup. Tomorrow's lesson is about the sewing machine!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Over a year

It's been over a year since I've been here. Lots has happened. Probably the biggest one is that we bought a house. Having a house means a lot of different things, one in particular is that I now have my own dedicated sewing room.

Moving made me really take stock of how much stuff I really had. The room I have to use is just a small bedroom, and although it looked big enough once I got all my stuff in there it just wasn't that big at all.

I am going ot make a concerted effort to cut down on how much stuff I have, that means not buying much and working on using my stash.

I think it's ironic that as quilters we work to build up a stash of fabric and then don't really use it. So it borders on hoarding instead of gathering a palette. At least it does for me.

I have a good friend that I met through blogging and now we either email, phone or use video calling to chat and keep in touch. She's a really amazing woman in so many ways, and I am blessed to have her as a friend. Especially given how I can be rather flakey. She's working on freeing her quilting style and quilting the Nike way ... Just do it!

While I understand her approach, I'm drawn to a different style of quilting that really has more to do with precision. Lately I've been caught in kind of a mire and haven't moved forward with any projects, mostly because making a decision is sometimes hard for me. But there are a couple of things that appeal to me and I'm determined to work on them.

I'm going to start with the Quilter's Academy books by Harriet and Carrie Hargrave. Although I've been quilting on and off for years and I probably don't qualify as a beginning quilter any longer, I'm still believe there are things I could learn.

So... off I am on a new adventure. My goal is to blog it here as I'm doing it. I'm not promising anything to myself, just taking it one day at a time.