Hold on to your hats, folks: I’ve been quilting! I recently joined the Cambridge Modern Quilt Guild, a newly-formed organization that meets right here in my neighborhood, and I’ve been having fun experimenting with a different type of sewing. I’ve done plenty of quilting in the past (see my finished Mariner’s Compass Quilt and Tulip Quilt), and even more so during my childhood and adolescence, so it certainly isn’t a brand new experience for me. However, since I’m a bit rusty on the basics and never made it to many of the advanced techniques, I’ve been enjoying the learning process.
Over the past week or so, I made the 6 blocks you see above using a fat quarter bundle that I won (!) a few years ago. Each block is 12.5 inches square and is composed of half square triangles arranged in a geometric pattern that I randomly found in a Google image search. No fancy pattern to purchase. Each triangle is 3 7/8 inches along the side.
The blocks were made for the CMQG’s first charity project, which involves donating pieced and quilted blocks to Soy Amado, an organization that provides quilts to homes for children previously living on the street. It has been such a nice change of pace meeting with other quilters in person and doing some work for a good cause. What a great reminder that we’re all human beings behind our computer screens!
I picked up this crazy fabric for the backing at Gather Here’s semi-annual sale last weekend. Since the quilts are for children, the guild encouraged us to use bright, colorful fabrics. I think this one fits the bill, especially with the $3/yard sale price!
It’s been an interesting experience trying to get an accurate 1/4 inch seam (standard in quilting) using my current selection of presser feet. The block above was the first one I made, when I was being super careful and diligent, and I think the point-matching came out pretty well. Subsequent efforts were not as good! I’ve been using my walking foot to keep things aligned, but it’s not ideal for 1/4 inch seam allowances. I debated purchasing a 1/4 inch foot for my Bernina, but OUCH those Bernina feet are expensive. I think I’ll stick with my (already expensive) walking foot for now.
My first-ever attempt at free-motion machine quilting!! 🙂 Friends, I was so excited to learn this new-to-me technique. I got some guidance from this Sewing With Nancy video, adjusted the settings on my machine, and just went for it. And you know what? It was super easy! Granted, I assume wrangling a large quilt through my machine would be much, much harder to deal with than this 12-inch sample, but the quilting technique itself was a piece of cake. Who knew?
Here’s a close-up of my stippling. It’s far from perfect, and you can see some jagged edges where I got confused about where I was going, but overall I’m pleased with my first attempt. The video suggested practicing the squiggly lines with pencil and paper first, and I can report that it was indeed a helpful exercise to get the feel of things before going to the machine.
The quilted fabric is so squishy and sproingy – I love touching it! I may or may not have rubbed it against my face every time I walked by my sewing table for a few days after making it. 🙂 I’m excited about the idea of making an entire quilt with this stippling technique – one day.
For now, I’m planning to individually quilt my 6 blocks using free-motion quilting, including stippling and perhaps trying some other techniques such as pebbles and echoing. I feel like an entire new world of things to learn has been opened up before my eyes. Isn’t that such a wonderful aspect of sewing? You really never stop learning.
As a final note, I’ve found that meeting up with local quilters has been such an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Sometimes (ok, often) I get frustrated by the aggressive marketing that is starting to pervade every crack and crevice of the sewing blog community, and it’s nice to interact with other sewists in a purely social environment with no one shoving products down your throat. My thoughts on online marketing extend well beyond sewing blogs, as I’m sure yours do as well, so it’s been nice to shut off the ads and just enjoy my hobby in peace for a change.
Do you enjoy quilting at all, or are you exclusively a garment sewist? Have you ever tried free-motion machine quilting, and if so, do you have any tips to share?