Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Quilting Immersion!

This morning's post is a little late, but I have an excellent excuse!
Early January, every year, it's the same story as I quilt my annual entry in our regional quilt show.
Total immersion!! 
Me and George (my APQS machine) and Pandora and a lot of strong, sweet tea!
I'll show the final results next week, but as I've been listening to the "relaxation" channel on Pandora non-stop for days, I've also been recalling many of the machine quilting pointers I received from master quilter, Sue Nickels.
Around the turn of the century (don't you love being able to use that expression?), I was part of a small group of shop owning teacher disciples of Mary Ellen Hopkins.  We met up for a week every summer and swapped workshop ideas and talked about everything.  One year, we had two days with Sue focusing on machine quilting skills.  It was a turning point, break through experience for me.
We spent one day working on a technique sampler and then executed this 18" piece which I finished into a pillow.  Sue's is not just an expert technician, she is a professional teacher with the ability to clearly explain and encourage students.  I never look at this piece without a sense of awe that I actually did this.
Do you want a closer look?
The feathers and cables were marked before we started and we had practiced maintaining consistent density of background quilting.
So here is a quick review of the three pointers I learned from her that come back to me whenever I machine quilt.
First, she compared machine quilting to driving -- when you drive, you are always thinking about where you are going -- it's subconscious, but without that focus you won't get there.
So when I'm quilting arcs that I hope will be graceful, I'm focused on the end point and thinking about stitching a graceful arc.
Second, when you feel "lost",  just stop.  Get your bearing and then continue.
Third, stop with the needle down and then start each line slowly. 
Be ready to move along when you start the machine to prevent stitch pile-ups (which show more on the back where you can't see them until it's annoyingly late).
Finally, she introduced me to "self-threading" needles and how to use them to bury my thread ends.
Leah Day justed posted a video that illustrates the method perfectly HERE.
The kettle is whistling, so it's time to go back at it -- two more days, I think. 
Focused on the borders -- have a design planned based on elements from the center of the quilt.
I will get this done!!
If you aren't familiar with Sue -- HERE is a link to her website where you can get acquainted with her books, review her teaching schedule, and get inspired.
Remember we can't use these quilt tops until they are quilted!!
Mary Huey


  1. Great tips for quilting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your quilting is beautiful. I'm still in the straight line stage, but that is more than I could do a year ago! Looking forward to seeing the finished quilt. Blessings, Gretchen

  3. I have two of Sue's book and they have been very helpful. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Oh, I so hear you about self-threading needles. Mariya Waters taught me about them in a workshop and it was a hallelujah moment!

  5. I also had the pleasure of taking a class with Sue. Her quilting is so perfect you would swear a machine did it. She is also an excellent teacher and a sweet lady! Thanks for the reminders and the shout out to Sue (and for your wonderful blog!)...