Monday, May 12, 2008

Machine Quilting Class

Yesterday my good friend Koleen and I finally had a chance to get together for my machine quilting class. It was a six-hour class and worth absolutely every minute I spent with her. Koleen has been a long arm quilter for five or six years, I think, and she is very accomplished at what she does.

We spent some time in the beginning of the class discussing the various controls on the machine, batting, threads, tension, some reference material, and a few other things as I thought of questions to ask. Next, we loaded a four-yard long quilt sandwich; and I learned how Koleen loads her quilts, how she prepares them for quilting, and how she advances them after she completes a section of quilting. I've been doing pretty much the right things at home, but I did learn some things that never occurred to me--like, you can get the side clamps attached upside down, which will weigh the edges of the quilt down.

We started with meandering, which I'm feeling pretty comfortable with; and we added different elements to the meandering to change the look of the pattern. Koleen would stitch out a little bit of the new pattern to show me how to do it, then she'd draw a little of it with a blue wash out marker. I'd stitch on the drawn lines, then I'd be in virgin territory. Sometimes I was able to reproduce the pattern, and sometimes I'd get so lost I couldn't reproduce even a single repetition. I can get it in my head when I see her do it, but it doesn't always translate so easily to arm movement!

We worked our way down the entire 4-yard length of the quilt, each new pattern a little more complicated than the last. Near the end of our practice piece, I tried some feathers. They were a disaster (of course, it was my first time!), but it was such a blast. My favorite patterns that we stitched are here in the photos. They are all Koleen's handiwork, because these were also the same ones I had trouble duplicating. I think any of these would be fabulous to free motion on an entire quilt, either on a longarm or on a domestic.

The last thing we did was a pantograph, and it was much harder than I imagined to keep the laser light on that line. Still, I don't think I did badly for my first time out, and I think the trick might be to keep the curves smooth and the points sharp even if you get off the line a little, and no one will know the difference, specially on a busy print.

I took my practice quilt home, so I have a lovely repertoire of 15 or so free motion patterns to emulate and enough practice material to keep me busy for months.


Amanda said...

What a marathon session! Loads of luck with your practising. I'm looking for lessons on machine quilting with my regular machine so that I can attempt something more than straight lines and gentle curves.

Margo said...

Wow you have been it...I have been practicing from Koleens book using pencil and paper...trying to do new designs..we are fortunate to have such expertise close by.

Pat said...

What a great class...looks like you learned lots and have lots to practice! That'a totally awesome!

Lurline's Place said...

Thanks for visiting Sue - your free motion class must give you a lot of encouragement and direction. Such beautiful work and your OC is certainly looking stunning.
'Bye for now - Lurline.

Ribbonwiz said...

Your class looks great and wish I can do a class like that, I would love to do more than just stitch in the ditch and stipple.
Love your OC block..

Becky said...

I would love to spend a day learning to machine quilt. What type of machine do you quilt on? I use my Bernina, but would love to have a long-arm.

Have a great weekend!