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Welcome to the Modern Quilt Group January 2018 Newsletter
The MOD-Q diary is already filling up with exhibitions and events for the forthcoming year. Come and visit, get involved or enter a challenge.
A word (or two) from the Editor
New Year, New You: well, perhaps that is rather too much for anyone to hope for, but since I am not one for resolutions I might just get through what is, for me, the most trying month of the year, without too many feelings of inadequacy! Determined as I am to reduce my seasonal Black Dog to the size of a chihauhau I started the year with two new designs to use as my entries for this year's challenge FOOLING THE EYE. Since I set this theme, I thought I had better get off my backside and actually produce something. Keeping busy has really helped; planning, scribbling, sewing and showing these designs to friends, although on occasions I haven't felt like talking to anyone, has made me look outwards rather than inwards - onwards, rather than dwelling on the unchangeable past. It would be so easy at this time of year to curl up under a blanket by the fire and ignore the world, and during the dark evenings that is an appealing occupation. However we all need some outside stimulus to get our brains back in gear after a surfeit of Christmas. An interesting exhibition, a hitherto unseen quilting book (a visit to the library might be surprisingly worthwhile) a flick through last year's magazines before you turf them out, and, of course, a good delve through your stash might just be the kick-start you need. You can find inspiration for different colour combinations everywhere - try them out from your stash, stroke fabrics, think about possible projects and look forward. And remember; chocolate is for life, not just for Christmas, as HelenH says, dark chocolate is good for the brain - believe it!
Well, it's a New Year, and we have been bashing my stash. I try to assess and compress and inspect my not-inconsiderable piles of fabrics at regular intervals. This time (I didn't manage it last New Years') we got absolutely everything out of the boxes, tidied, assessed, discarded (oh, how we discarded!) and re-packed the boxes. With my Newsletter Editor and co-conspirator, we also cleaned carpets; rid the stock of everything the least bit tired; bought new storage boxes; gave away scads of unwanted cloth; drank a lot of tea, and ate chocolate. This last is a most important part of the process, of course? Dark chocolate is good for the brain, you know.
Do a Little Dance by Maria Shell
QUILT STORIES: Headline NewsSome Thoughts on Sharing
by Maria Shell
Sharing matters because it advances our art form in a way that is directly in line with the maker philosophy. Quilt making has a long tradition of being passed from maker to maker in an informal manner. We learn by asking each other questions, by experimentation and sharing, by being generous with our ideas and techniques. We understand that we were standing on other quilt makers' backs.
FREE PATTERN: Fabric PostcardsCLICK HERE to visit the patterns page
SEWING MACHINES FOR BEGINNERS (and more advanced students!)by Helen Howes NEW SERIES: PART 4 - It's just a foot?
This is the original "Quilt Foot" that Singer machines came with - just a guide, really
OK, Hands up, those of you who are unwilling to change the feet on your machines?
Thought so. Well, you ought to really, as the general purpose foot that is supplied if all fine and dandy for sewing curtains or hemming a frock, but you are all specialist sewists, in that you quilt and piece. So, you need the Right Foot for the job.
Now, at this point I have to admit that for the first 20 years of my treadling, I didn't change my feet either, apart from an occasional foray into ruffling or making buttonholes. My machine came with a narrow even-sided foot called a Slim Jim, and it does pretty much everything.
When I eventually discovered quilting and "proper patchwork" (quarter-inch seams!) it was a while before my technology caught up. When it did, my pleasure, skill, and enthusiasm was increased a thousand-fold all at once...
Metal and plastic "quarter-inch" feet, and my "Slim Jim"
So, let's consider the options
For piecing, you are best using a Straight Stitch Foot of one kind or another, but you need to be sure that your machine will co-operate. If the foot is nice, but the quarter-inch is not, your patchwork can be distorted, and your blocks may come out much too small or large. (I find, as well, that if you have more than one machine, the seams tend not to agree. There is much to be said for sticking to one per project). I'm not a fan of feet with "guide blades" as they don't work on curves. And nothing beats practice - if you can see what you need to do, you will be happier..
But, when we come to quilting, there's a real need for the Proper Item. For most quilters, the Walking Foot is the one. It has little teeth or rubbery bits on top which help the upper layer to keep pace with the underneaths, and this makes the end result soooo much smoother and nicer. (It's a common fallacy that the walking foot actually feeds the top layer, this isn't so, it just stops it from catching and ruckling). Some machines have a built-in little foot which drops down behind the regular foot and works the same way - these are good, as visibility is much better. At a pinch you can use a Roller Foot for this, too, but nothing beats the Walking Foot.
Assorted Walking Feet for Bernina, Low Shank, Slant Shank, and High Shank machines - you need the Right One, of course
Of course, this is a big foot and you can't do really complicated patterns with it (you can, however, quilt with your built-in fancy stitches, so that may appeal) - just straight lines and gentle curves.
If you want to make pretty images in stitch, follow the outlines of your fabric's patterns, draw, or doodle, you need a Hopping, Darning, or Embroidery Foot (three names for the same thing)
These work by holding the fabric firmly when you need to form the stitch (when the needle is down), then letting the fabric move under your direction when the needle is above the cloth, so you can alter the direction and length of the stitch yourself. These come in lots of shapes and sizes, but they all work pretty much the same way.
Now there's a secret to Free-Motion Quilting, and that is Practice. Little and often is preferable. Set a kitchen timer to 10 or 15 minutes, sew, and when it pings, stop. Do it every day, and you will be a genius at it in 3 months. Once a fortnight, and you will never get it..
Practice on scraps, not your Best Piecing, too, and smaller samples at first, not a double-bed quilt for your favourite niece.
Oh, and the other secret? It's like a good marriage - gentle hands (move slowly) and a firm foot (run the machine fast...)
MODERN QUILT on the road: THE COTTON CLUB
The Cotton Club Quilt Group are running a three day exhibition from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th February. Lynne Edwards will be doing her usual wonderful thing on the Friday (we understand), and we will be there on Saturday morning. Come along and join the fun.
CHALLENGING?Click through to the Challenge 2018 page on the MOD-Q website for more information and dates for next year's challenge FOOLING THE EYE, as well as reminders for the return of past challenge quilts (yes, HH still has some from 2016!) Also we would like next year's challenge to go on the road if anyone has ideas of suggested venues they would be appreciated.
CLICK HERE to see the latest crop of pictures and to read all about it