Saturday, February 7, 2015

Choosing your first hand quilting project

Are you a machine quilter who would like to try hand quilting?

Many people seem to be intimidated by hand quilting, but it is really a simple process that just takes a little patience.  

Your reward at the end is a hand made item that is extra special.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when you are choosing your first hand quilting project.  If you keep these tips in mind, then your first project will be a success!

1.  Keep it small.
         I recommend making a small wall hanging or table topper for your first project.  Obviously, hand quilting takes longer than machine quilting.  If you make a bed sized quilt as your first project, it is likely that you will get frustrated at the time it takes.  Start with something small and you can feel the satisfaction of completing your first project quickly!
   Another reason to start with a small project is that you are less likely to pressure yourself to make it perfect.  I'll be honest with you.....the stitches on your first project will probably not look like the stitches you have seen on hand quilted items at a quilt show.  So be kind to yourself.  Learn on small projects and before you know it, you will be ready to move on to something bigger.

2.  Keep it simple.
      Another consideration is the number of seams in the quilt top .  Seams don't make a lot of difference when you are machine quilting, however they can make a huge difference when you are learning to hand quilt.  Every seam will slow you down and make it more difficult to keep your stitches even.   It's not impossible to stitch over seams of course.....they just make it harder.  So starting out, its better to use a simple quilt top pattern with large pieces and few seams.  A simple oversized block is perfect.

3.  Keep it slim
     Finally, your choices of fabrics and battings can make your work easier or more difficult.  100% cotton fabrics that are high quality and not too thick will help keep your stitches even.  Using fabrics that are light in color and either solid or with a small print will help you see your stitches easily.
   The choice of batting can also make your work easier.  Choose a batting that isn't too thick.  Many quilters enjoy using wool batting, although others like cotton or polyester.  However, I think the most important thing when you are starting out is to make sure it isn't too thick.

I hope these tips will help you choose the perfect first hand quilting project.  It is a wonderful, relaxing method of quilting that can add a special touch to your quilts.

If you decide to give it a try and have any questions, please comment and I will try to help.  

Good luck!!


Monday, February 2, 2015

Quilting vs. weaving

I was recently reading an interesting book called "Steal Like an Artist" when I came across this phrase.

Quilting vs. weaving

Have you ever thought about the differences between quilting and weaving?

Weaving is the process of taking raw materials to produce a piece of fabric.  It is something completely new.   Quilting however is the process of taking materials that others have created, taking them apart then combining them in a new way.

Quilting is the art of combining.  Rearranging.  Mixing it up.  Looking for original ways to use old ideas.

It is making "modern art" with block patterns from the 1800's.  It is taking inspiration from the world around you to paint with a needle and thread.  It is recreating the favorite quilt your grandmother gave you, but making your version in your favorite colors.

A little old....a little new.

The more I study the history of quilting, the more I realize there is truly nothing new under the sun.  Every generation has its "modern" movement in contrast to those who prefer the more "traditional" designs.  And that's ok!

Take inspiration from it all.  There is excitement in new combinations, new layouts, fashionable color trends and there is inspiration, dignity and experience in the old.

Let's not forget that all of us are simply quilting together ideas from the past in our own ways.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happiness in the Hoop

Nothing makes me happier than spending a few hours with my hoop in my lap.

I'm not the best quilter in the world.  My stitches are average.  My patterns are simple.  There's nothing extraordinary about my quilts (although I hope to get to extraordinary level someday).

But none of that takes away from the pleasure I feel as I make a quilt. 

While I certainly do the best job I can and continually strive to improve, I don't sweat the fact that I'm not the world's best quilter.  You see, the only way to improve is to keep on quilting.  No one starts out as an expert and there is no shame in being a beginner.

Attitude is everything when it comes to quilting, especially hand quilting.  The joy MUST come from the process itself or you are basically wasting your time.

So to all of you who are beginners or who are still learning, keep on quilting.  A quilt that comes from the heart is always beautiful! Don't apologize for the little imperfections.  Take note and strive to improve with the next quilt.  Quilt for the joy of quilting, to express your creativity and provide for your loved ones, not to impress anyone. 

Sit down with your project as often as you can and leave the world behind.  Stitch your cares away as you focus on the feel of the fabrics, the beautiful colors and the sound of the thread as it swooshes through the stitches.  Then when you look at the finished project you will feel proud that your heart went into it.

I hope you find happiness in your hoop!