Repeat after me: ‘Quilting is for fun’
I give up. I admit it. A quilt in progress has defeated me.
I’m not usually a quitter. When my seams don’t match or my points aren’t sharp, I’m willing to rip the patchwork out and start over. Generally, I become stubborn, dig my heel into my Janome foot pedal, and try, try again.
But I’ve done that already on this challenging miniature pattern. Twice, I have recut the little pieces — 1 1/4-inch squares and 7/8-inch strips of fabric — and tried to make them all fit properly into place. They just won’t. By now, I’ve frayed the fabric edges and pressed the blocks so far out of whack, I’d have to start over completely with fresh material.
I’m just not willing to do that this time. I’m letting go of this quilt, not looking back, not listening to that inner voice nag me with “you should ... .”
I’m moving on to quilting projects that give me pleasure, not aggravation.
Perhaps I’ve had a moment of emotional growth. Hmmm, I am feeling liberated.
My decision was further validated by last week’s speaker at a Western Slope meeting of the Colorado Quilting Council in Glenwood Springs.
Michele Scott traveled from Deptford, N.J., to share her experience with free-motion machine quilting and show many of her quilts, more than 50 of which have appeared in national magazines.
One of the first statements she made was about quilting being a hobby for most of us (she teaches fourth-graders in her real life) and that we don’t need to let it be a stressor.
“After all, isn’t this supposed to be fun?” Scott asked rhetorically.
Vindication is mine.
Scott quickly admitted to the crowd that she’s “a horrible piecer” because she has no patience for it. “Most of my quilts aren’t perfect, but they’re done,” she said, with emphasis on done.
A true city gal, Scott coaxed the laughs from her audience with ex- husband anecdotes and some spicy language, the words tumbling out of her as fast as coins from a change dispenser.
Despite her piecing deficiency, Scott is quick to say that she is good at machine quilting. Her quilt top patterns primarily are put together with easy fused applique.
It’s the freedom of free-motion stitching that fascinates her, especially creating designs that don’t require marking. Embellishing quilts with all types of decorative threads and yarns thrills her, and Scott tries to incorporate as many different stitching patterns as possible into her quilts.
For the past 10 years, Scott has taught her techniques and strategies for working effectively with threads. She also designs quilts for McCall’s Quilting, Quick Quilts and Fons & Porter magazines.
During her trunk show and lecture titled “Quilt As Desired,” Scott shared many of her tips.
Because practice hones your machine quilting skills, she suggests starting on small pieces or perhaps volunteering to help with your guild’s charity quilts. The recipients, often babies, won’t notice if your stitches are less than perfect. Nor will they care.
Use invisible thread and a backing fabric with a busy design so mistakes don’t show.
Use the same invisible thread in your machine’s bobbin that you use as your top thread. “It makes life so easy — no issues with tension,” Scott says.
YLI is her preferred brand of thread, and a size 90/14 topstitch needle works best for her. She especially likes the textured metallic version, YLI Candlelight.
If your thread fits in the top of your machine, you can use the same thread in your bobbin without the need to adjust the tension in your bobbin case.
When quilting, look ahead rather than focusing on the exact spot where you’re stitching.
Couch yarns to your quilt surfaces, a simple process in which she zigzags them down with invisible thread.
Use YLI perle cotton in the bobbin and invisible thread in the top, then flip the quilt over and free- motion stitch from the back.
Use 505 Spray and Fix, a temporary fabric adhesive, to hold together your three quilt layers — no basting.
Fairfield Bamboo batting “is the best” Scott’s ever used.
Designing on Electric Quilt is easy and fast. With this computer program, Scott creates fabric collections for Northcott Silk.
Her fourth line of fabrics, titled “Galaxy Gala” will debut this fall at International Quilt Market in Houston.
Watch for Scott’s book, too, planned for publication in October 2011, “Bobbinpalooza and Fusin’ Fun!”
She already teaches classes from the book’s premise, promising to show students how to sew with specialty threads in the bobbin while taking away the fear of adjusting tension.
Fearless pretty well describes this spunky Philadelphia native. When her ex-husband complained that she had a studio with $5,000 worth of equipment in it, but he couldn’t get her to sew on a button when he needed it, Scott was ready for him:
“Da Vinci never painted houses, did he?”
You gotta love this gal’s style.
E-mail Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.