Saturday, May 08, 2010

I Am a Sewing Fiend.

One of the presents I was given for my birthday this year, was a class at the Oakville Sewing Centre on machine quilting, along with a free motion and a quilting foot for my sewing machine (thanks mom!). The class ran over the last two Saturday mornings and I just finished it today. I also need to thank my friend Jennifer and Scott's mom (No Nonsense Nana) for watching Cam so I could take these classes.

I have long despised the quilting part of quilting. That makes no sense, right? My favourite part is actually called "piecing", which is the part where you cut out the fabric and sew all the little pieces into blocks, eventually making a quilt top. If I could just hand over my quilt top and have it magically turn into a quilt that you could put on your bed, I'd be okay with that. Seeing as I don't have the budget to pay someone else to do this part for me, I figured I'd better get with the program and learn how to machine quilt (versus hand quilt which I am doing right now on my jelly roll quilt and it is taking FOREVER).

In theory, once you have spent time practicing the skill of machine quilting, you should be able to use your sewing machine to make beautiful designs on your quilt. This is Linda, our teacher and the lovely owner of the Oakville Sewing Centre showing us what we are striving for:The first class covered how to put your free motion foot on your machine, the importance of getting your bobbin thread on top of your fabric (to avoid those nasty bird's nests on the bottom of your fabric that we all know and love), how to move your fabric in different directions while managing your stitch length at the same time, and how to make the simple designs (like hearts! and flowers! and stars! and leaves!) that make up all those complex looking quilt designs you see advanced quilters do. Normally you would use a thread that is a complementary colour or one that actually blends in with the quilt top (unlike the bubble bee theme I'm rocking so that I can see what I'm doing):
The second class covered how to sew a straight line with your free motion foot (harder than it sounds) and move between sewing wavy lines and straight lines. This is me thinking I probably should have indulged in that 3rd cup of coffee this morning before attempting to pull my act together and quilt:
We also learned how to "stitch in the ditch" (normally done with a walking foot), but with a free motion foot. This is a good skill to have for times when you need to be able to move between straight lines and free motion, or when you need to move your fabric in ways that your walking foot can't. It looks easy when Linda does it, but there is definitely skill involved in sewing up and down and side to side in a straight line with even stitches:
It turns out you aren't limited to plain old basic stitches when free motion quilting. You can do embroidery stitches and fun stuff like zig zag stitches (perfect for kids quilts):
The last part of the class was learning how to adjust your tension when using thread with a heavier weight and what type of needle you need to use to make bigger holes in your fabric to accommodate for the thicker thread (something I never would have thought of). At the end we learned how to correctly put your walking foot on your machine, how to line it up perfectly, sew evenly spaced parallel rows, and also how to quilt those cross-hatching effects in square and diamond shaped patterns.
My favourite part of this class was getting to hang out with a group of ladies who love quilting as much as I do. It was a terrific group of quilters with varying skill levels, and I never felt intimidated or crappy for being one of the novice sewers in the room. Somehow Linda manages to keep everyone moving, answer an endless stream of questions coming from every direction and has in depth knowledge of all of the sewing machines in the room (all 9 of us had different makes and models!). I not only learned how to machine quilt (without feeling like I need to curse), but I learned a lot about sewing in general, and how to get my machine to do things I didn't know it could do in the 1st place. I'm excited to get going on my next quilting project so I can try out my new skills. Thank you Linda for your patience and sense of humour!


  1. Katrina, thanks for the kind comments about the class. If I had known I was going to be "published" I would have had a manicure and tried to make my samples neater. However, I was very rewarded by the enthusiasm and progress made by the entire group - a real reward for an instructor. Look forward to having you in more classes. You were a joy to teach.
    Linda Peel Devitt, Oakville Sewing Centre

  2. Wow. You have such patience, Kat! I wish I had that kind of dedication to producing something so beautiful.