Thursday, February 9, 2017

Machine Quilting Block Party Update!

I've had a few "sew days with the gurlz" and a retreat weekend in the past few weeks so I've made some progress on several projects!!!   I think my productivity has a lot to do with cleaning out my sewing room to be honest.   I can actually find\organize stuff.

One of the projects that I mentioned that I'd be starting in my Top 10 UFO's for 2017 post was the BOM (Block of the Month) Machine Quilting Block Party hosted by Leah Day.

A very good friend of mine, that less than 2 years ago was a COMPLETE beginner, did the "Block Party" called Sunshine Surprise in 2016.  She took a fast liking to free-motion quilting so I sent her looking for Leah Day.   All I knew about Leah Day at that point was that she had a fast-growing internet presence when it came to quilting on a domestic machine. The more you googled...the more she came up in results.  12 months later, Sabrina presented the most BEAUTIFUL finished quilt!   I couldn't be more proud!   Her skills with piecing, cutting, points and quilting increased 10-fold!!  

Sabrina's Sunshine Surprise
When it comes to free-motion, if you've followed my blog over the years, I'm still a less-than-confident novice.    I can TELL you everything you need to do, but still have this internal hesitation on doing it myself.   Last year - I quilted my first quilt on my Vintage Singer 201 Sewing Machine. You can read about that fun journey here.  After seeing how much Sabrina excelled with Leah Day, I was ONBOARD for doing the next one with her!  

Join us!   Machine Quilting Block Party - Flower Festival.   Block 2 was just released on Feb 1.  First of the month, every month, the next one gets released.  You get the instructions for the block, the template for the quilting and there are many many many videos to provide instruction and confidence along the way!  Tutorial Videos.

So here's how far along I got!

Fabrics Picked!
It's hard to see in the picture - but the background fabric is a light blue\gray batik with Light blue impressions on it. That I bought at Miller's Amish Shop in Lyndonville on a road trip with Rose & Sabrina.  The other Batiks are from Vicki's stash.  The LOUD batiks are going to go on the back of each block.   This is a Quilt-As-You-Go Quilt so all the quilted blocks get attached at the end.  I have a bunch of amazing batiks that I inherited from Vicki that I would never have the heart to cut into.   They are just so gorgeous in BIG pieces.   The back of this quilt will be a cool mish-mosh of some of these fabrics.  The night before retreat I even got these all in the washing machine and dried.   I don't normally pre-wash but Leah Day said so, so I did.   I am a BIG advocate of when you are taking a class\instruction from a teacher, you do everything their way when you are learning.   No matter how skilled\advanced you think you are, there will ALWAYS be something, even if it's just a teeny-tiny tid bit, that you will learn.   Nobody likes a know-it-all student.   If you know it all, why are you taking the class?  Anywho, I digress...

OH - Important to mention!!!   Speaking of learning a teeny-tiny tidbit....let me tell you about the octave my voice reached when I threw in a purple batik fat quarter last minute and the water in the washing machine immediately started turning HOT PINK.    OMG, I totally started to panic.   I ripped that purple out of the water sooooo fast!   Threw it in the laundry tub and tried to rinse it and it just kept flowing, and flowing and flowing hot pink\purple down the drain.   I finally grabbed it like it was a spider body in a kleenex and threw it at the garbage can!!

I had a batik\hand dye discussion with my friend Sandy over at Quilting For The Rest of Us.  (Go on, visit her a minute and then come back.    She does a fabulous "pose" when told to.  (grin) )

Anywho - Vicki was dabbling in dying fabrics, so there is a chance that the purple "batik" I threw in the washing machine was a hand-dyed fabric that had not yet had the color set.  Sandy does a LOT more than dabble with it.   So I peppered her with questions on retreat.   The result is this bulleted list:
  • do NOT wash anything that COULD be a hand-dyed fabric until you soak it in RETAYNE.  Retayne FIXES dye to fabric and should be used in cases where you are concerned that a fabric might bleed.   She recommended only putting LIKE colors together.
  • SYNTHRAPOL is a special detergent that does all kinds of cool stuff.   It suspends dye particles so that they do not reattach to fabric.  Removes sizing, oils, fingerprints and other impurities.
  • a COLOR CATCHER catches loose dyes found in the wash water and prevents the dye from running or bleeding onto other fabrics.   
  • I got REALLY lucky that I caught the only bleeding fabric.

Moving onto Block 1!    "Blooming Nine Patch Block"   I spent about 2 hours starching and pressing all my nice clean fabrics before I started cutting.   I joked a few times...  "why did I wash, dry and then stand here making it stiff again...."

"Bleeding and Shrinking" I was reminded.... I have to admit - working with this fabrics after all this preparation was REALLY worth it.   I have never felt more confident putting pieces under the needle.

Just keep piecing, just keep piecing
Block 1 - NOT yet Quilted
Block 2 - minus the center
Block 2 went together beautifully as well.   It's not sewn down yet and somewhere between my dryer and retreat, the yellow batik disappeared...  I had a small piece with me for the center of Block 1, but not enough to do the center of block 2 and I wanted yellow there.    This one is an applique block.  I want to watch Leah's video on how SHE does the applique steps here.  I was going to hand applique it down, but again....why take a "class\guided instruction" if you are just going to do it your way??

Home on the design wall
I worked on several other projects at retreat, which I will cover in another post, so these two blocks made it home and up on one of my design walls without being quilted.    I kept feeling this little "tug" about which machine to use to quilt this quilt.    By the time I got set back up at home....I knew what I was going to do...

Meet "Emma"....   (gasp!)  Did you even know that I had a computerized machine?? This is actually "Emma II".  My first machine was a Viking Designer 1 that I purchased as a house-warming gift to myself back in 2003.  My first love was Machine Embroidery...not quilting.  More on that some other time. A few years later, I had an opportunity to upgrade to a Designer SE, so I did!  Anyway... a long-time friend of mine happened to mention that she was looking for a new home for HER DSE.   We bought them\upgraded them at the same time.   So this little nostalgic tug pulled at me....  Lula... Lula is Emma's SISTER!   Don't ask me why, but she's coming home with me too.  So Lula and Emma will live happily ever after together...    Ok yeah - getting off track here...

So I set up my Viking (Emma) in my cabinet and grabbed an old practice sandwich to take her for a spin....

Practice, practice
The BLUE thread is from a show I did.   We were testing tension on an old Singer 15-91.  I loaded up some rainbow varigated thread and just started testing out some of the blank space that was left on this scrap.   Once I got my rhythm going, I slapped a 10" square light blue batik right on top of it and loaded up a different thread.

Really liking this thread Weight!

Looks like a 40wt cotton
So after playing around a bit, I've decided I'm going to DOUBLE my batting on my Leah Day blocks, and try using a heavier thread with the quilting.    Stay tuned!!