Friday, November 23, 2007

Long Arm Quilting Class

Today I am taking a class on how to use a long arm quilting machine at Howell's Sew & Vac, Auburn. After successful completion of this class they will allow me to rent time on their machine.

By the end of the class my brain was full.

This is an art form that requires development of specific physical skills in addition to artistic interpretation. I was hoping that it would be like using the Gammell machines where you program in the design/pattern and let it ripe. Instead, you do all the movement of the needle and you make the nice even curves.

Don't think I will be using this machine to do much quilting. I don't have the time to develop the level of skill I would expect of myself before finishing a top.

Lessons Learned

Draw First, Quilt Second for Better Freehand Quilting

For freehand free motion quilting, drawing your design first helps train your brain for quilting. The easiest continuous line design you can quilt is your signature because you've practiced writing it over and over. The same logic applies to any other continuous line design. Even stippling is best learned by drawing first. Always practice drawing by filling in a square, rectangle, or other shape you might find our your quilt top. Your quilt has boundaries-so should your drawing area.

Successful Quilting Starts by Looking Down the Road

The best analogy for successful free motion quilting is from Harriet Hargrave. She compares free motion quilting to driving. If you drive by looking at your hood ornament, you're likely to crash often. Looking down the road and anticipating the next curve or stopping point is a much better driving plan. Periodically check your mirrors and blind spot and slow down when you're stopping or parking.

The same philosophy applies to quilting. Don't focus on the needle hitting the fabric, not even when you're quilting a marked line. Look ahead for changes in a curve or towards the next point in your design and quilt towards it. Trust that your peripheral vision will help guide you. Slow down when you have to hit a specific point. Look at the needle hitting the fabric only occasionally.

No comments: