Friday, October 03, 2008


Well, there were 3 good reasons not to go to Myrtle Beach this week:
1. I couldn't have accomplished as much as I did (and still hope to do), if I'd left home--and that is a long list.
2. Tandi came down with a really bad yeast infection in her right ear, scratching enough to make it bleed. The boarder would have been calling me to come home to take care of her. I was able to get her to our vet yesterday and get her started on medications right away, poor thing. And BAD Mommy, for not taking better care of her!
3. But the best reason is: there was a cancellation in the beginning free-motion quilting class with Saradean Hallman today--and I was first on the waiting list!

She is a competitive quilter, doesn't have a longarm (does it all on her Bernina) and has won awards, but is able to teach on our level, and it was a great class! This is my sampler sandwich with some of the free-motion patterns she had us practice. (I don't know why the camera made some of the pictures of the fabric look pink--it was white, with black thread).

She started with stippling, even though it's one of the hardest to do, because she said she knew that's what we all wanted.

Next we progressed to loops, and then to making hearts of the loops:

Some of my hearts looked liked tulips, but with some practice they began to look a little better.

Then we went to flowers, practicing sewing back up the same line on the petals until we got to the next one. After that, we did a flower with a heart center, and did some echo quilting on the outside of it:

Next were shells, but my brain must have been stuck in flower mode, because the shells looked suspiciously like flowers again.

After that we did scallops, or fish scales. She said you have to start with a straight line--either a seam, or a drawn line--and to try to get them all the same height. Yeah. Then we practiced scrolls, and then added scallops to the scrolls. I can see how you could make a big paisley, if you made a big teardrop instead of a scroll.

As you can see, I turned two of my scrolls toward each other, added scallops and was right back in hearts and flowers mode.

She touched on feathers, but didn't go into them very deeply. That would be the next class. Saradean did tell us to start from the top of the spine (mine was straight, but curved would have been better) and stitch the spine down, then start from the bottom of the first feather, and to go back and forth, so when you get to the top, you're all finished. It's a little complicated, but she said mine was pretty good for first try.

The next exercise, spirals, needs to start with a straight line, also, and looks really nice between two lines. A variation, which I didn't try, would be straight line spirals, which looks like some sort of Greek design to me.

And lastly, she showed us one worked with a grid. It was 1pm by then and class was over, so I didn't get to finish this grid, but you can see how it would look:

That reminds me of cathedral windows quilts. I have a chessboard I started for J-Man and then got stuck on how to quilt it. The squares are a bit large, but I'm thinking the above pattern might really go well on it:

I promised to share some of the tips from the class, though most of you probably already know these.

Saradean uses 505 spray basting to hold her layers together. To get it perfectly smooth and tight, she irons frequently, with steam, and she says the spray basting gets even stronger with the ironing. She doesn't use safety pins, and she doesn't have to baste it. (I see SO many more quilts in my future already!)

Instead of using flat hands to move the fabric around, she rolls it up and practically scrunches it to draw with the needle. Her basis is that we are the ones in control, not the machine. I like that a lot better, because that was what I was tending towards, anyway and it's not such a strain trying to keep my hands flat. I seem to jerk less that way, too. Oh, and sewing at a good speed was better than sewing slowly; I made less mistakes, which was the opposite of what I thought it would be.

Her preferences for batting are Quilter's Dream Poly Select, because it's a nice, lightweight batting, and Hobb's Warm and Natural, because it's a heavy batting and she knows her wall quilts will hang straight. She doesn't wash her quilts, because she does wallhangings, so that is what works best for her.

Saradean also keeps a fabric sandwich nearby so she can test her machine before actually quilting, and to warm up a little.

Other things I learned:
*Section off the quilt and only do small sections at a time.
*Pull bobbin thread to the top after the first stitch, then clip both threads after several stitches so they won't get tangled. She doesn't do any knotting at all, or back-stitching. Since the stitches are usually tiny, they aren't going to come out. (My machine doesn't have a BSR, so stitch length is set at 0. For those who do have a stitch regulator, she says it's optional whether you want to use it or not. Not everyone liked it.)
*With stencils, Saradean uses the iron-off pouncer only. She says everyone she's talked with about it agrees the other kind won't come out of the fabric. Oh, and don't actually "pounce"--wipe across it and then the chalk doesn't go everywhere.
*If you have a book with quilting patterns, or use online ones, copy them, put a big needle in your machine, and stitch along the lines on the paper without using thread. Then use your pouncer.
*If marking, don't do too far ahead, as the marks tend to get brushed or wiped off easily.
*When doing straight line quilting in rows, or the lines above and below spirals, use the walking foot with the seam guide to keep the lines equidistant apart.

That's about all I can remember off the top of my head. She was very enthusiastic and complimentary, and I hope she comes to our area to do another class soon.

Can't sew tomorrow--got tons of yard work to do, but Sunday I hope to pull out a couple of small projects and practice before I forget everything I learned today!


Diane of Crafty Passions said...

I need to take a class and play too!

Quilting Newbie said...

Thank you so much for sharing what you learned. Your samples look great.

Quilt Hollow said...

It is always fun to hear about a beginner quilting learning all the tricks of the trade. Just keep on practicing and soon it will all come like writing your name. Your practice pieces will surely be fun to look back at. :-) If you are doing something small and don't want to use the basting spray...cotton batting and a iron works just as well. I love cotton batting because I like to wash my smaller quilts and display as old and crinkled pieces.

Libby said...

What a great class . . . that's a lot to learn before 1 in the afternoon *s* Now to practice, practice, practice. You'll be an old pro before you know it.
Harper gets yeast infections in her ears, too. *ugh* No one is ever happy about it. Hope Tandi is cleared up soon *s*

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing all those tips. I still haven't tried free motion quilting -- as it makes me SO nervous. But those tips are giving me a bit of courage.

MightyMom said...

well goooooolllleeeee sarge!

you had fun huh?!

My task for tonight is to make a baby blankie for a girl at work. must get done tonight cuz my next night off's task (Sun if I get canceled..Mon if not) is to start the 3 Hallowweenn costumes.....and your ticker is SCARING ME!

KateKwiltz said...

Looks like you got a great start! My first free-motion class, the only thing I came away any good at was making something that looked like olives!

Thanks for the tips!

jacquie said...

thanks so much for sharing all of this. really good information!! it gave me lots of ideas for more practice too.

HarryJack's Mom said...

I have no quilting experience despite a love of quilts. So happy you got to enjoy a wonderful class - GL with all the fun practice and new tricks (or were they really treats?!).

Erika said...

Thank you for all the interesting things you learn in your class. I actually learn how to use the free motion by myself It was scarry and still is but I an getting better. Thank you again for sharring.