Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ripping and Gripping

This week in the studio wasn't quite as productive as usual, due to a nasty head cold and bronchial issues, but I did manage to miter the border corners on the garrison quilt. Two of them look like this (not bad):

...while the other two turned out like this:

Ironically, the two misaligned corners are on the same border strip that had to be ripped out last week and reattached. (Oh that's right, got that done, too). However, I haven't decided whether the misalignment bothers me enough to re-do it. It might just take a small adjustment--one stitch removed from the long side and one stitch added to the short side--but that could very well make a pucker or put a jig in the miter seam. Frankly, when you back up a couple of feet, this isn't noticeable at any rate, and since the quilt is not destined for competition, I may just let this ride. Also, by the time it gets quilted, that misalignment may just disappear into the stitching. (Talked myself out of that one, didn't I? ;)

Below is the newly bordered quilt top, back on the design board now, where I'm auditioning the shrubs I embroidered recently. Still not sure where (or even if) they'll go on the finished quilt. After that, it's time to sandwich the quilt and baste it.

The only other thing I felt like doing this past week was ironing the Color Catchers (dye absorbers) accumulated from laundering new fabrics. Someday I hope to do something creative with these. You get the coolest dye splotches on some of them, although it's hard to tell from the photo. The one with the obvious spots was deliberately splattered with bleach. The only thing is, you can tear these without much effort, so I don't know how durable they would be in an art quilt or a collage. We'll see. No doubt it's been tried already by someone, somewhere. If you've ever tried it, please share your experience in a comment, it would be much appreciated!

Since this is a fairly short post, it might be a good time to mention a product I tried a couple of weeks ago. For the last few months, I've been having frequent and sometimes debilitating shoulder and arm pain due to my position and arm/shoulder tension at the sewing machine when quilting in free motion. For three years I had been using Machingers quilting gloves to manipulate my quilt. They're great, but I tend to press my gloved hands down very hard while sort of pushing outward when I quilt, in an overly controlling effort to avoid wrinkles and puckers. (Yep, a bit of a control freak, I'm afraid.) Also, I'm long-legged, requiring my chair to be high--which means I then have to 'duck' to see what's going on under the needle. Bad posture all around, but what to do? The very thought of having to stop making my landscape, no, no, it just isn't an option!

Well, a friend loaned me these machine embroidery hoops, and they just may be my salvation.

They're called The Fabulous Fabric Glide, by The Gypsy Quilter, and they come in a set of two sizes, 5-1/2 and 7-1/4, and have great grip on the fabric and very easy-to-hold handles for free-motion quilting. I used them while attaching the tree leaves to the garrison quilt top, and they made the quilt top glide around so easily, with hardly any pressure at all. Granted, there were fewer layers than there will be during the actual quilting, but I have a feeling there will also be a lot less strain involved when the time comes. Again, that's just my experience, but if anyone else has these issues, these hoops might be helpful. I'll post about it again after trying them for the actual quilting.

Also, click here for an article on quilter's pain--apparently I'm far from alone!

Leah Day has also addressed this issue in a post or two, as I recall. Speaking of Leah, click here to read her latest blog post on her new group project (all are welcome to join in!), and check out her reader hookups.

Linking up with Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday post. She did some organizing and repairing in the studio during last week's blast of frigid weather, as well as some piecing for her church's quilt donation project. There are tons of reader hookups to check out there, as well.

Have a great weekend (and watch your posture)!



  1. Hope you feel better, one shouldn't do to much quilting while sick as mistakes tend to ensue. Those grips look interesting. I've tried every FMQ gadget known to man and machingers are the only thing that I like BUT that doesn't mean I will stop looking. I've tried the hoop that's heavy and rubbery but you have to get it under the foot and move it a lot and it just gets on the way. This looks like you move it like you would your hands, right. Thanks for the tip :-)

    1. Carol, thanks, feeling much better today. The hoops-- I used the larger one, and you're right, it really was almost as easy as using my hands! Crossing my fingers that it works just as well for the actual quilting.

  2. So cool!! I love what you're doing here! I'm not sure whats wrong with the miters ever after you pointed it out. :)

    I have the same problem you do leaning over to the needle. I'm hoping to get a taller table soon to help. We'll see how it goes!

    1. Thanks, Susan! Yeah, it's kind of hard to see the misalignment unless you click on the photo, but I decided not to do anything about it after all. Way too much trouble to go to for just a little over 1/16". You know, I thought about raising my sewing table, but that would require raising the two adjacent tables as well--a whole lot of trouble and probably less stability, with that carpet on my floor. But I might have come up with another solution today. Can't be sure it will work until I start quilting this piece, but if it does, I'll share my fix-it. Let me know if the taller table works for you. Good luck!

  3. I know this is an older post, but wanted to say I came up with a solution that works for me--I have wearing gloves and having to pull them on and off to change thread colours. I do 4-6 colours per tree, so its a pain in the rump. I now use two sponges, palm sized. The square ones with a scour pad on one side and a sponge on the other. Works awesome. And yes, I was surprised at how well this worked

    1. Oh my gosh, I would never have thought of that---definitely worth a try! Thank you, Dahn!!


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