Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First finish of 2014 and Reflections on Machine Quilting

My first quilt of 2014 is complete! Thank you all for your encouragement on machine quilting. It's been helpful to know that I am not the only one who gets stressed out over this whole process.

Although this wasn't my first ever machine quilting experience, I realized that the time in between two projects also dictates how I feel when I start these projects. I am almost certain that if I were to baste and quilt another quilt this week, I wouldn't be so worked up about it.

LeeAnn suggested using a thinner thread. It's a great tip! In the past I have used the thinner thread, it helps a lot since you are not refilling the bobbin as frequently.

I would also think little harder when I choose the color of the thread. With busy patterns and vibrant colors of this quilt, it was difficult to see the variegated thread I was using. I am okay with variation in the stitches but when I don't see the pattern forming with thread, it was hard to navigate through stitching.

My stitching was better when I could see the design and on darker or busier surfaces I was almost blind stitching. If that's even possible!

Handling the Quilt on the Machine
Most of my stress comes when I am working on the center of the quilt. Bulky quilts are hard to maneuver on a home machine. I was feeling the tightness in my shoulders, which was then slowly and surely creeping down onto my hands. I was pressing down the quilt so hard that it was holding me back from guiding it gently through the machine. As soon as I let go of that tightness, the quilting was better.
I guess that glass of wine must have helped but I don't drink wine so I settled for some music. Listening to CNN was not helping at all!

Owning it all!
In my earlier post I said my quilt was ruined. That's true, that's how I felt then. But the fact that I have still kept it the way it is, some how it suggests that I am thinking of someday redo the quilting. . Even if I said that to any of you, I know, it's never going to happen. I would rather be making new quilts than tearing old ones apart. They are truly the marks of my journey as a quilter. I like to be reminded on how far I have come from the first baby steps I took in 2006 with machine quilting. But the fact that I haven't bound it, suggests that I'm not owning it. Guess what I will be doing this weekend?

Why Machine Quilt when I enjoy Hand Quilting?
Belinda said she has 25 quilt tops hanging in the closet. I do too! Barb says she machine quilts some quilts for the assurance on wear and tear on the quilt. Nat Said she sends some of her quilts out to a professional machine quilter.
They all have good points. I need to have some of my caterpillar quilt tops turn into quilts. Unless I choose either one of the options of quilting, they are not magically turn into a butterflies. And there is no way I am going to quilt all of my quilts by hand. Then there is this theory I followed for a while - I would be okay with all stacked up tops! Now it's starting to bother me too. Not because of the number of quilt tops I have but because they are all folded and stored away, out of sight. I want to see them more often and use them as quilts.

The Stack!
I love my stack of finished quilts.. Not only they keep us warm in the evenings but they bring such excitement in everyone's eyes when they see them. I want that for myself for my old quilt tops in suitcase. I want them to be new quilts in the family room. This winter has been so cold, we have practically used every single quilt I have.
I have sent my quilts to the long-arm quilters in the past and still planning to for some of the large quilts.
If I were comfortable with my machine quilting, I would make more quilts for charity and for gifts.

Practice makes it better, if not perfect
I am not looking for perfection. For so many reasons, I would like to just get comfortable with machine quilting and enjoy it. We all know that everything gets better with practice. I have no doubt that if I continued, I will loose all the anxiety and figure out easier ways to handle the stress in this process and eventually completely avoid it.
I have tried practicing on smaller quilts and it works like magic! But when it comes to larger quilts, it's trickier. So now I am going to practice on larger quilts. I am not the kind of person who worries about the irregularities in my work. In fact, I love that about quilting. I just want to be comfortable. I have machine quilted large quilts before, just not as gracefully, that's all!

Respect for the Process of Machine Quilting 

Kavita's Ferris Wheel, 2011, designed, pieced and machine quilted by Sujata Shah
By no means I think machine quilting is easier than hand quilting or, it has lesser place in my mind. Whether I  machine quilt or by hand, I personally go through the process, I am guiding my quilt, if free motion quilting is done, I am designing as I go, so I do understand that it is still hand work. I am very much involved, almost too involved. I can't look up, I can't talk while I quilt, I am pretending to be listening to the music but all I am hearing is the sound of my machine. It gets tiring and frustrating if I let it get to me.

Julie said it right -" I so respect and admire the work machine quilters do (domestic, mid arm, and long arm - especially those who do hand guided stitching)." I so agree with her.

I made super queen size Ferris Wheel in 2010, it was for my daughter's bed so it had to be machine quilted. I quilted this one with all my mighty! 

All that quilting created heavy texture on the quilt and it's been washed a few times. I love textures of all kinds!

Sometimes you also need that feeling of accomplishment. Machine quilting allows me to do that. I would not have been able to finish three quilts on time for Christmas for my kids any other way.

Snow Blossoms, 2014

Snow Blossoms is done! It's still snowing. Another snow storm is around the corner. Glad I was working on this quilt and not crying over the endless winter other than few occasions.

Thank you! Each one of you, for participating in this conversation by leaving comments on the previous post. None of us love it but we all agreed, it has to be done!

It gave me lot to ponder over which I did by hand quilting one of the mini quilts. That was a great way to wind down from all that machine quilting.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Stitch Therapy

Or is it?

As you all know, I am not a machine quilter. Most of my machine quilted projects involve organic, wavy lines or stippling. That too is so stressful to me, Most of the time I choose to hand quilt my quilts.

Lately, I am working on a quilt that has to be completed by certain time so I decided to machine quilt which reminded me of this old quilt I made in 2005.

In 2005, I had just finished a couple of pink and green quilts and few scraps were calling to be made into a quilt.

When I first pieced it, I was going to hand quilt the quilt. But one day, I decided to give machine quilting a try and since there were no other tops lying around, I decided this one was IT!

It was so stressful! It was the fear of  "what if it did not look good" that was making me uneasy. After working on couple of blocks, I knew my fear had become a reality. I liked this top which was now completely ruined. I thought of ripping the stitches out but that was even more painful. So I left it alone and practiced some more.

and, then some!

It got better with time. I am still not very comfortable but at least, trying new patterns.

 It is still stressful. I would rather be hand quilting.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Here we go again!

Another snow storm is on it's way.

I really wanted to share these pictures on Valentine's day but better do it now before we loose power.

They were here for a long time! I can't tell you how peaceful it was to see them perched right outside my kitchen window.

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Super Bowl 2014

About a week and half back I had my quilting friends over for a sew day.

Kelly was working on her applique class sample she will be teaching at out local quilt shop. Terry and Stephanie worked on their applique. Christine got some cutting done for a new quilt and all I did was talk!

I decided to sort my scraps while we chatted away. I had brought couple of my bins at the table to iron and cut as I go. My friend Terry was curious on how I organize my scraps.  The fact of the matter is, I don't always have them in boxes. It all depends on the mood I am in. Sometimes I have only one way to organize them and that is to toss them in bins until I have enough to make a quilt. If I was organized by nature, I could learn a thing or two from many quilters. I have tried that in the past. Look at the side bar.. that handkerchief quilt is still in the making. I did add few blocks to that pile. Mostly, I do like the unpredictable nature of scrap quilts and so I just dive in and see where it takes me.   

After they left, the bins remained on the main floor of the house. I was determined to not take them back in the studio until I did something about that explosion of colors in my dining area.

The following weekend was the Superbowl Sunday. 

I am not a football fan but have always been interested in the commercials. This year the Seahawks were playing! Needless to say, I paid less attention to the commercials (they were not impressive anyway) and watched the game. As unexciting the game was, I did have fun watching it with my husband and over the phone texting with my kids. I should also admit that I am just starting to 'get' the game. 

Next day, almost 10 inches of snow dumped in the tri-state area of PA, NJ and NY which also followed by freezing rain the following day. I felt guilty for even having the power when most of my friends were without heat and electricity. If it wasn't for my dear husband being sick with flu, I would have had everyone for camping at our house. I don't think anyone of my friends would have appreciated being sick in this bad weather.

While this all sounds like The Root Connection Channel news, believe me, I do have a point.

The snow storm brought everything at stand still except for my sewing machine! I have been busy with my scraps like a kid in a candy store!

Here is what I did with what I found in the bins.

A Seahawks victory quilt. Would Domination be right name for this quilt?

Super Bowl 2014
It looked a bit smaller when I thought it was done.

So I added few more pieces.

Once I got going there was no stopping.. Sorting of the scraps was quickly replaced by sorting and making of the quilt at the same time.

Or should I say quilts?

Here is #2 with an Amish theme. Don't know if I should hand quilt or machine quilt.

Can't decide which way it looks good either. I guess I will wait until it's done make that decision.

You can read about the process behind this quilt here.

And to answer Terry's question, Since I don't have any specific method, I keep working on multiple projects at a time. When it comes to dark scraps, I piece them together into strips. Eventually they all will get put together in a lap size quilt. To keep it a true scrap quilt, I resist cutting up new fabrics and keep adding new strips made from scraps to already existing WIP. It's a slow process for some quilts but I am not in any hurry.

This quilt is going to be a copy of my confetti quilt but I chose to put all the dark fabrics together instead of brights.

And lastly, I found some large chunks of large floral prints and some 2 1/2'' squares. I am going to have to look into cutting some yardage to add more to this.

This should be fun.
Few 4 1/2'' x 8 1/2 '' or/and  4 1/2'' x 10 1/2'' strips paired with 2 1/2 '' x 2 1/2'' squares, all randomly sewn into long strips. Long enough to cover a twin bed. What do you think?

Back to the news, last I heard, few of my friends are still without power. There is another ice storm on it's way and it is snowing at this moment as I end this post.

I am leaving you with a teaser.. I almost never do this but for this quilt, I want to wait for a full reveal until it's all finished.

I have got my machine well oiled and bobbins full. After a long break, I feel like I am back in the business of making quilts!

Thank you for being interested in what I do.

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