Sunday, June 27, 2010

Aaaaargh! - Polyester Batting

That’s it, I quit.
Never again will I work with that thick polyester batting. It’s too hard to work with and the results are questionable at best. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with the thinner polys. But that extra thick stuff is a pain in the caboose. It doesn’t lay flat and when you smooth it, it puckers back up in a second. It sticks to everything and creates lumps and bumps and distortions in the quilt. I won’t even get into how hot it gets because it doesn’t breath.

In addition to the bumpy uneven look, the binding is a pain as well, the quilt is so thick and puffy that it is hard to wrap the binding around to the back and stitch it in place. I’ve tried pressing, but you can’t apply the iron too long without risking melting the batting. I won’t even get into how hot it gets sitting under it while doing the binding.

Again, don’t get me wrong, thick poly has its uses. I use it for Trapunto work. It is fantastic in tied quilts. For pet beds its great because it resists pests, but for long-arm work it is difficult at best.

My preference, of course, is 100% cotton. Almost any brand as long as it is fairly thin and flexible. I’m not a huge fan of the really thick cottons because I like my quilts to drape. I also prefer a batting with scrim or binding of some sort. I hang most of my quilts and have found that some of the battings without scrim begin to sag after hanging for a while. They are lovely if you have tight quilting, but I often quilt loosely, because for some projects, I don’t want the quilting detracting from my piecing.

Stitch density is part of the quilting decision for me. I am partial to looser quilting. Many of my regulars like tight-tight-tight quilting. And that’s fine. Your vision for your quilt is not the same as mine. That makes it hard for me to choose what might suit your tastes.

It drives me nuts when the customer who says, “Oh I don’t care, just do whatever you want.” Not happening folks. I’ll discuss it with you and give you my ideas and reasons for them, but I will not just “do what I want.” That’s undue pressure on the quilter. If I’ve done a large number of quilts for you, I might consider it. Maybe! By then I know your tastes and have a better idea of how your “quilt vision” works. But for a first or second time customer NEVER!

So far, things have gone well, I’ve never had a customer complain about a quilt. They have all seemed satisfied or even ecstatic with the quilt they got back. Even those picking up the rare ones I’ve thought would have looked better with a different pattern or thread choice. I’m counting my lucky stars on this. But I do try really hard to ensure that what the client chooses is going to work well on their quilt.

Are you a long arm quilter? Do you use a long arm quilter? Have you ever hated the quilt you got back? Have you ever had a dissatisfied customer? How did you handle this?

On a totally unrelated side note: Julie: My Calendar Critters block for July.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Evolution of a Quilter

The other day, someone asked me what inspired me to start quilting. After thinking about it I came up with these things.

1. Years ago, too many to count as I was only about 13, the family went on vacation to Nova Scotia, Canada. We spent a couple weeks there visiting relatives. At one house, their Grand Mother (Aunt?) was visiting and she was busy hand quilting a top she had made. It was lovely. Too this day I can see it clear as a bell. Lovely blue and green background with Sun Bonnet Sue, trees, a pond, ducks, a barn. It was a fabulous scene and kind of the inspiration for my Sundreams pattern.

2. Sewing clothing. I always loved sewing. So much so that my parents gave me a sewing machine when I graduated high school. We didn’t have much money then, and it was a huge gift! Thanks folks. But what I discovered it that I was short, had very short legs and a big chest, nothing I ever made fit quite right. I even took a pant-fitting course and had the instructor in fits trying to figure me out. Over the years, it only got worse as I blossomed (read as got fat). A huge percentage of my clothing attempts were failures, so I took up quilting. After all, if a blanket doesn’t fit, use it somewhere else. King becomes queen. Queen becomes double. On down the line it goes until it’s a wall hanging.

3. Babies! Yup. Twin girls. Tons of fabric scraps and still having the desire to create. I made quilts. When one of my daughters is sick (she’s 22 now) she still sleeps with the first quilt I made her.

4. Craft book sale. I joined a craft book club. For signing up I got 5 or 6 books for $1.99 You know how these things work. 6 Books only $1.99 but the don’t tell you about the $20 shipping. Sigh. Anyway, I ordered a couple of crochet books and a couple of quilting books. Older books. Nothing in them about rotary cutting, just templates and black and white drawings. I picked the nine-patch and I was off.

Now it should be noted that I am mainly self taught. I learned a lot of things the hard way as I went along. I mean who knew you couldn’t cut eight layers of fabric with dull kitchen scissors? Not me that’s for sure. Still I persevered. I a made a double quilt from poorly pieced blocks. Quarter inch seam? Never heard of it. I thought all seams were 5/8ths. It went together poorly, the blocks weren’t square. I layered it. Pinned it. Quilted it. Walking foot? I had two of those, one on the end of each leg, but not one for my sewing machine. Needless to say, the quilt has puckers. More than one and some of them are quite big. One was so bit that my husband taught the girls to flip up the corner and say “look at the hockey pucker.” Gotta love men!

So there it is in a nutshell. Yes I get it. That would make me the nut! I’m a quilting nut. I quilt everyday. I have to quilt every day. Two years ago I even burned the potatoes on Christmas day because I snuck into the studio and got distracted.

Do tell me, what inspired you to start quilting? What was your biggest quilting mistake? Next time, I’ll tell you about the twelve days of Christmas Quilt disaster.

To the right is Rabbity Long. One of my Long Fellas Series.