A Lovely Year of Finishes: March Goal

Okay, so my goal from last month is now my goal for this month. To finish – quilted and bound – my pink and coral windmill quilt. I did get it all basted and I even started quilting it, but I got hung up somewhere along the way because I didn’t like how it was looking… and I unpicked four blocks worth of quilting. (Which was not that much, but still felt like A LOT.)

practise not perfection

The thing was, I was trying to do very large spirals, so that I could do one per quarter block, which is a 4-inch square space. And while it wasn’t a bad idea in theory, it’s actually pretty tough to make a spiral that big! Not just to make one that big, but to make one that big that looks good! I was ending up with a lot of squarish bits on my spirals and jerks because I had to move my hands too far to get the outer ring the right size. (It’s different when you spiral out from the centre, that’s not as tough – you just have to maintain a consistent space between quilting lines, but this is a the kind of spiral where you spiral in and then spiral back out in the empty spaces.) And it was leaving too much of a gap in the centre of the block, so out it came.

Quilting Swirls

This time I’m doing a more organic spiral, trying to fill in the spaces with different size spirals that fill at approximately the same scale. I’m not that good at it – there are bits where I forget to leave room to spiral out and so have lines nearly touching that shouldn’t at all, and then there are some bits where there’s a solid inch between quilting lines. But this is practise and I’ll never get better if I don’t just practise.

Quilting Swirls

I’m still having a pretty hard time with regulating the speed of my hands and speed of my machine… so I’ve got some giant stitches (along the lines of 1/4-inch length) and some very, very tiny ones. I have a tendancy to jerk just a little bit when I first start quilting again after I’ve paused to reposition my hands. And sometimes I panic while trying to decide where to quilt next. I’m trying to work in a fairly logical progression around the quilt (working out from the centre, essentially spiralling around that centre block), but I think just figuring out where to go next might be the hardest thing about free motion quilting.

Quilting Swirls

Seeing this quilt in the machine in the sunshine is kind of making me like this quilt again, which hasn’t always been the case. I’m bouncing back and forth with this one. I bet when it’s done I’ll like it better than I ever thought I would.

If you can see that dangling thread in this photo, that’s because I had to stop here when the bobbin thread ran out. I didn’t feel like picking back my stitches last night (so that I’d have enough thread to buy), so that’s on tap for tonight, if I ever make it off the computer and into the sewing room. But before I go, I wanted to show you some of the more amusing (to me) parts of my quilting set-up.

I sew on a cheapie kitchen table which is taller than standard with shorter than standard kitchen chairs. With the machine on the table, it’s a bit like trying to quilt with my elbows at my ears, so this is my height solution:

Quilting set-up

That would be an Ikea neck support pillow, which was too stiff for sleeping, but is remarkably comfortable for sitting on while sewing, topping a double stack of quilting books (my bum is big – one stack of books isn’t going to cut it, comfort-wise). I don’t always quilt with the pillow on top of the book pile, because it sometimes feels a bit too much like I’m hovering over everything.

Quilting set-up

These books are pushed way too far back on the chair, normally they’re up closer to the edge of the chair so that I can sit on them more comfortably. They add a nice 4 inches or so of height! Some of the books in this stack… it’s the most use they’ll ever see. But the two up top – Sunday Morning Quilts and Shape by Shape – are two of my favourite books in my quilting collection. I’m sorry author-ladies: the fact that I park my ass on your books is not a reflection of my opinion at all! It’s just an added dimension of usefulness in a pair of already magnificent books.

Quilting set-up

Since I’m lifted so far up from the floor, I also need to lift my foot-pedal up from the floor – I’m a short person, so I can’t stretch down to the floor all that comfortably. The plastic box is a rather old piece of Tupperware that I probably inadvertently stole from my mom about 15 years ago. I’ve got it turned the long way now so that there’s more space to rest my foot, but that’s the basic set-up.

The things we do for our hobbies.

13 thoughts on “A Lovely Year of Finishes: March Goal”

  1. Oh my golly the ergonomic nuts would have a field day. You DESERVE a table that your machine will sit IN. FLUSH with the table….. Look at Leah Day’s website for an affordable table. ( http://www.leahday.com/shop/product/affordable-sewing-table/ ) And you DESERVE an adjustable chair! Just an adjustable office chair; like they sell for sitting at your computer. I am very short waisted, so I know the feel of the way you are sitting. (For me my dining room table leaves me wanting a booster seat) I worked very hard quilting a queen sized quilt on a little Brother machine, sitting on top of the desk. I felt like I was wrestling an elephant and it is EXHAUSTING. That was the point where I decided my hobby was worth the investment; and my body was worth the investment. You will NEVER regret. Note; I did not buy this particular table but a similar one for twice the price at my local sewing center. I do have a friend who bought this and said it has made a WORLD of difference in her quilting. Treat your body kindly. (Don’t tell your mom you still have her tuperwear….she will probably ask for it back and your feet will be left adangling). 🙂

    1. A drop-in table is definitely in the cards… I just don’t have a lot of space so I keep putting it off until I can figure out a better way to make use of the (small) bedroom I use as a sewing studio. There’s an old futon/couch in there which I think I just need to take out – it would clear up A LOT of space and we don’t have guests so often that it’s all that useful. (And it’s brutally uncomfortable anyway.)

      I actually have TWO of those Tupperware containers, which surely belonged to her! One of them has a broken hinge so if I ever mention it (or if she ever spots it when she’s visiting!) I’ll have to send her home with the good one and keep the broken one for a foot pedal lift 😀

  2. Ahh WP ate my comment and I don’t remember what i wrote 😡

    but basically, I have the same pillow and I agree it’s too stiff so I will try sitting on it so it can feel useful! My husband keeps telling me he wants to make me a table to sit the machine into but until we win lotto to have all the money for the told and equipment then pillow sitting it is 😀

    1. Did you ever try that pillow for sitting on? It’s got enough cush in it to make it comfortable, but it’s stiff enough that you don’t just sink down into it 😀

      I’d like to buy a table to drop my machine into, but I don’t have a lot of space, so I have been putting it off (though my sister is holding onto some money for my last couple birthday/Christmas gifts to go towards it). I don’t know if I’ll ever have more room, though, so maybe I shouldn’t hold onto the dream of more space and should just figure out how to make it work with the space I have.

      1. I’m using it now! I haven’t done much quilting on it yet and have just done a lot of sitting/standing to press things etc so haven’t really noticed a difference yet. Have a few quilts that need quilting so I’ll see how I go with those and the bit of extra height!

  3. I had to do some unpicking on my February project and believe me it’s my least favorite thing to do. Keep going with your quilting… this is great practice and I’m sure that just like my quilt, once the binding is one and it’s been washed and dried… any little “errors” will have blended in and you won’t notice them as much.

    1. It’s amazing what a difference a wash/dry makes, isn’t it? Now that it’s all finished and washed and dried, I can definitely agree with that – it came out really beautifully from the dryer! The crinkle hides a multitude of sins 😀

  4. I had the same problem with chair vs. table, until I found a medical stool on Craigslist (you know, the kind the doctor rolls around on while checking you out). It was impossible for me to find an office chair that got high enough, and I wasn’t willing to replace my lovely table. The stool is really comfortable, and it makes me focus on my posture since I can’t lean back.

    1. That’s actually on my Things To Eventually Buy list! I’ve heard from other quilters too that they’re a great option for quilting, so I definitely want to give it a try! Now I just need to find one…

  5. There are some great examples of people customizing their existing tables, trimming legs, cutting out machine holes and attaching a bottom box to hold the machine – and some who refit old sewing tables… And capitalist occasionally has stuff that is drool worthy for pennies on the dollar..

    Of course in your case a taller chair from goodwill or ikea might be the easiest solution.

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