Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quilting Quandry

I am slowly quilting this quilt. I removed the leaves though, I thought they looked horrible. I am quilting a continuous rope design by Keryn Emmerson in the brown strips, a leaf design in the 16 patches, a different leaf design in the triangles, and a celtic ropey design in the borders. I am having some tension problems, I am using Bottom line in the bobbin and Gutermann polyester on top. The Bottom line just seems so tight. My upper tension is high and it doesn't seem to make a difference, the top thread is making pokies on the bottom. I am quilting this on my Janome 6500.

I have run into a problem. And I think I have found the reason for the quilting slump I am in. I am not inspired right now because I am not learning anything. Not to toot my own horn but I know how to machine piece and hand piece. I can machine quilt and hand quilt. I can design a pattern of my own, and I can look at another pattern and figure out how it was made. I have done landscape quilts, scrappy quilts, wonky quilts, and matchy quilts. I have made string quilts, block quilts, triangle quilts, crazy quilts, and sampler quilts. I have made placemats, wallhangings, tablerunners, baby quilts, lap quilts and bed quilts. I have made purses, bags, doll clothes, and miniature quilts. Every member of my family has at least one quilt. I even made my dad a quilted jumper cable holder!

So, my problem is, what is left? I live in a small town and there are other quilters here but no one is doing anything extraordinary that I haven't done. There is one small quilt shop that just opened that is having a nine patch class. The magazines I see do not seem to have anything new, just repeats of old patterns. I have lots of books, but nothing jumps out at me. So, I guess I'm bored. I don't think a new project will cure this.

I recently made a Bible cover, without a pattern. I made a little village wallhanging, (new design technique) but now I have tried that. I don't have that many WIP's so I can't really get out an old project and be inspired all over again. How do I fix this?

I wish I knew a very experienced quilter so I could get some machine quilting pointers. I know how, so books don't help anymore. I need to know things like, how do you make a freehand design repeatably symmetrical? How do I fix this quilt that has really wavy edges with no logical explanation? How do you not make little jogs in the machine quilting when quilting on a small (not long arm) machine?

I don't want to be a show quilter, I have this thing about being afraid to fail. I just want to be a great quilter for myself. But I don't know how to get better from here.


debbie said...

Try looking outside the quilting world for inspiration. Take a break from fabric and quilting, and read up on rug hooking, knitting, woodworking, ethnic textile traditions, Persian rugs, Tlingit basketry, Asian pottery, architecture, landscape design... anything that might pique your visual or mental interest in a novel way. Look at artwork that you don't necessarily want to make yourself, and gradually start thinking about how you might achieve a similar effect but through your chosen fabric/quilt medium. How can you demonstrate the smooth, coolness of a handthrown pot? What object in your house that's familiar to you can you abstract into a Cubist style design for a quilt medallion? How would you conjour the feeling of vastness that you get when looking out to see from a fishing boat? Are there family stories you want to tell that can be expressed in fabric and quilting stitches? Hope this helps, but my first suggestion is to step away from it for a while, read some good books including fiction, listen to some music, get to know some new people, etc. You'll return to quilting refreshed and with an expanded perspective.

KCQuilter said...

When I run into a "brick wall" with my quilting, I turn to other crafts--still involving fabric. I love to crochet rag rugs or rughook small projects or hand embroider. For some strange reason, handling fabric in a different way motivates me to try new things with quilting. Have you tried any of the Quilt University classes? I have not but they look interesting and are often about techniques I haven't used yet. Good luck in your quest!

Norma said...

What about trying "art" quilting. I would think that the freedom in this form might stimulate some inspiration and renewed enthusiasm for quilting. Also, when I use Bottom Line in the bobbin of my long arm, I have the tension very loose. My experience with Bottom Line is that it loves to be adjusted a little looser. Have you tried Bottom Line in the top and Bobbin?

Gail said...

Have you been to you may find something there to perk you up. Meanwhile, the quilt looks very good, can you show a closeup of the quilting when its done?

joyce said...

If you want to try art quilts check out the blog of this amazing quilter.
She is inspiring and amazing and has a number of tutorials.

Shelina said...

If I felt like this, I think I'd venture out into harder quilts - some curved piecing, or wedding ring, or log cabin. Maybe some art quilts. Take some classes, even if I already know the technique for the socialization, - because seeing other people's color and design choices - and the teacher generally has at least one tip that I hadn't heard of before. Also looking at other people's blogs will give you ideas. Try Beth Ferrier's block of the month. She has a new technique each month, and has lots of tips to make things faster or more fun.

To stop jogging while quilting on a small machine, use the needle down, and try to smooth out your turns. It's abrupt shifts that cause the little jags.

Karen said...

Quilt University has awesome classes that will stretch you and you'll learn some wonderful new things. I've taken a few of them, and always came away inspired!


Morah said...

I too can't figure out how to stop the little jogs I get when machine quilting. Yor're going along just fine and reason. I wonder if it's a muscle thing???