Thursday, 13 September 2007

Meandering - free-motion machine quilting

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I had my first class using my new sewing machine. I hadn’t practised, as I have been pretty busy with completing my blocks (I have only 2 blocks to go!!).
So I turned up never having used the machine before!

Before I start describing how my class was, I will first let you know how I got there. It looked like I was making a big move, here I’m walking from the carpark to the quilt shop with a trolley (which contained the sewing machine), on top of the trolley my big Oilily bag which contained my sewing-box, fabrics, quilt ruler, small rotary mat and a special homemade board. Some of the ladies in the class had their partners/husbands come along to carry the stuff inside and downstairs. Little old me had to do it all by herself ;).

It was very strange to be in the quilt cellar without my usual group. I therefore decided not to sit in my usual spot. I unpacked everything and introduced myself to the other ladies.
Aagje, our teacher, helped me to fit the Open Toe Spring Foot. Then the class started!!!

Using the sewing machine to quilt is completely different to hand quilting. We are learning the free-motion technique (feeddogs dropped and using an open toe spring foot). This is a special foot that gives clear visibility when doing the free-motion quilting, very important tool.

We first practised on paper, meandering away, or at least trying too. Boy is that hard. Do you know how hard it is to get the stitches consistent in spacing and scale, keeping your hands moving at a steady pace and if that is not all, keeping steady pressure on the foot? Belief me, I need to practice, practice and practice.
This doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not one to practice! This is not a Helen trait. I can tell you, at this stage, I don’t think I will become a machine quilter. But who knows :)
Luckily for me, the other ladies were experiencing the same difficulties.

Thus, we practised and practised using more paper. And I can tell you, I’m not very steady and there is no consistency in the stitch spacing and scale, yet!.

Finally, we were allowed to try out that what we had learned, on fabric. And yes, it then became clear that I didn’t know my machine. The tread tension wasn’t quiet right and I didn’t know how to fix it. I have to bring along my manual next time so that Aagje can help me set the machine just right. Can you belief it, I forgot the manual! While I had everything else with me.

I learned a nice trick – before you start sewing, you need to pull the bobbin thread up to the surface and hold both threads, very nifty.

Learning to meander or stippling, is hard on the neck and shoulders. You have the tendency to cramp if you don’t take a break. Luckily, there were a lot of breaks in order for Aagje to explain how a technique worked or show examples. Naturally, there was also a coffee break.
The 2 ½ hours flew by.

We got homework!! I really don’t need homework at the moment. I have so many quilt related projects at the moment that I don’t know how I will find the time to do it.
We have to make 3 samples. For two samples we have to fill in the areas with squiggly lines of quilting (meander). This is not easy and very time consuming, but this way we will get some practise. For the other sample, we only need to trace the quilting motif on the fabric.

I enjoyed my first lesson, even though you might think different after reading this. And, I learned a lot too.

2 comments:

Judith said...

Sounds like a great lesson and you will learn in the end.

Anonymous said...

Helen,
Ik bewonder je moed om naast je drukke baan en andere bezigheden, zoals het handquilten, toch nog een nieuwe cursus te beginnen.
Ik wens je veel succes!
Kan je JW de volgende keer jouw spullen niet laten sjouwen?
Groet,Marja