Friday, January 9, 2015

Quiltin', Quiltin', Quiltin'

And I am remembering to roll my needle through the quilting stitches. Its surprising for me to make as much progress hand quilting as I am.

There are only two more Kaleidoscopes off the edge of the frame to the right of this pic. What is draped onto the floor is already hand quilted. 

This is a monotonous work and so, what happens to me, is that my mind wanders. Each time I thread the needle, I think of my maternal Grandmother telling me that the hardest thing of growing old for her was that she could no longer thread them. Her eyesight blurred.

At the time, I thought I was helping when I bought her a standard needle threader. I have never used this kind so don't even know IF it works, and of course, she has passed long ago, and I do not know if she was able to use it or how she felt about it as a gift from me. My current machine has a self-threading function, and now there are many automatic threaders on the market that make it easy-breezy.

These very small needles don't make threading easy. And the other thing this story reminded me of was to change the needle. Like any blade, pins and needles loose their edge and get dull going through fabric after awhile. Its not something you notice so much until you start using a new one. They will bend or snap at the far end of use, however, I do try to change them before that happens. Most quilters change needles on their machines with every new project. And I have heard that it is wise to change hand sewing needles after about 4-6 hours of use to keep a better stitch.

And then the pins. I thought a pin was a pin, and bought whatever I could that was on sale. HOWEVER, like any tool, the needles and pins can be vastly different and are worth testing and tossing when they do not work. 

I have been slowly shifting my supply to flat heads, which seem to be thinner and work better under the machine needle. Longer glass heads often means thicker pin blades. Thicker means more breakage as I sew. And of course, it costs twice as much to buy the longer, thinner glass head pins. The larger the number usually means a smaller needle or pin, and the difference is noted on the package. Here, a quilter or sewer needs to read the package and compare products to get her needs met. Luckily, places like JoAnn's always have a coupon or sale.

I've learned to take three stitches when I quilt, rolling the fabric so the needle goes through, and single knotting on both ends. The whole purpose of quilting is to form the fabric sandwich, and then to give a decoration to the pattern. Also important is not to use too long a thread in case it does break or pop free on the ends with hard use. Hand quilting thread is a bit heavier than what is put through the machine for both piecing and then machine quilting. Lot to know about these simple tools.

Claudia (5 Heart fabric store owner in town) suggested that I echo quilt around the spins...inside on each blade, and then outside around the entire spin. What happened next is that I started following the background pieces and echoed those lines on both sides.

I haven't usually washed the quilts before giving them, and have included washing/drying instructions, a page on how to store it and fold it so it doesn't get creased over time, and then a couple of Color Catcher sheets. However, part of the thoughts I've been having while quilting it, include whether or not to wash it before giving it to Jer.

There is so much more quilting left to the project. Once the center is done, the borders need quilting either by hand or on the machine, and that is yet to be determined. Then it will be squared up on all four sides and binding added. Not there yet.