My Quilting Story…..from stitch in the ditch to freehand.

See I really should post more often already because I have totally lost where I was up to.

Eventually a move meant a house with 4 bedrooms so I would finally have my own space, I think at the time I could have possibly been a bad mother not giving my boys the opportunity to choose rooms, assigning them to the two small rooms so I could have one of the bigger rooms to sew in ….well it was only fair otherwise one would have had a small room and one a large room …. I was doing them a favor really.Sewing Room

Machine embroidery still played a big part in my sewing time, but there was more to learn, in my early quilting days I did as many classes as I could. As my personal quilting progressed  so did quilting itself, we went from piecing and stitch in the ditch quilting, to stencils and now to freehand quilting , quilting frames and longarms. We also went from traditional quilting to more modern designs and right the way through to art quilts, where is is hard to tell what techniques are used. And the most wonderful part of all is that there is a place for all. When I first started there was ” well its not a real quilt unless its hand quilted”…… I did one quilt hand pieced and quilted. There has only been one…there may only ever be one!

Then we went to machine piecing and then machine quilting then it was “acceptable” to outsource our quilting and to me its whatever works for you, if  its the relaxation of hand piecing, applique or quilting that does it for you or if you more like me that needs to make quilts fast so therefor does everything by machine or if the idea of getting a big quilt through a small machine horrifies you and you put you treasures out to a professional longarmer its OK. If your quilts are being finished, being used and being loved why does it matter how you make them. I can admire the patience of hand works and I can  lust after the talent of a freehand longarm quilter.

So here I was piecing and applique by machine but still struggling with getting big quilts through my machine, my shoulders would be sore for days after getting a large quilt done and my family would starve as once I started the machine had to stay on the dining room table until it was done. No wonder my husband had no complaints when I wanted to buy quilting furniture for my sewing room. I did a class in Sydney with Kellie Wulfsohn ( Don’t look now )  This was when my quilting really started to develop and I began to get the confidence to freehand quilt  but there was this idea of a machine quilting frame….. they were out there and they were so expensive but the worse part was most of them would not fit in my sewing room, a 12 x 12 room does not fit in a 12 foot quilting frame. Fortunately my husband is very very clever and he made me a frame, it was brilliant you loaded the the quilt onto long poles like a conventional frame but the part that took the machine was only about 4 foot long so you quilted what you could then moved the poles along the frame kind of in reverse to a home machine quilting frame. I got quite a few quilts done this way, I really developed my freehand all over designs ( like a panto graph but done freehand ) my skills were moving along. I resisted the urge for years to buy a quilting frame and by the time I got seriously thinking about it home frames had begun to loose popularity as they took up so much room and I will put money on it that half those sold never got used for more than a few quilts, I looked constantly at ebay thinking that eventually I would pick up a cheap 2nd hand one at home we discussed where I could put it …maybe clean out a small section of the garage and have it down there. But deep down I knew it was really not for me, I didn’t want to be down in the dark garage cut off from my family doing something I loved, I wanted to be up in my sewing room, up with my family.

Somehow,  I can’t remember how I stumbled on sit down mid arm machines, this was about two years or so ago. Was this my option, would this be perfect for me ? It was time to start some research. I watched every youtube video available, checked out all the machines available, found out what was available in Australia, eventually decided on the Handiquilter Sweet Sixteen and have not looked back.

My quilting has improved ten times over, I have learnt so much I am back to pushing the fabric through the machine but with 16 inches of harp space there is no longer strain on my body, the quilt slides beautiful under the needle of the machine, the table has plenty of room for the largest of quilts. I can concentrate on forming beautiful designs and I can play with almost any thread I like and it runs beautifully. Am I happy with it yes a thousand times over. My quilting once again changed and instead of designing a quilt, piecing it then thinking about what I would quilt on it, I started designing my piecing around my quilting, working in reverse. As I am settling into learning my new skills ( and yes it has been a long process to get to where I am, I cannot tell you how many whiteboard markers I have worn out practicing ) my quilting is once again evolving to a different level, there is no way I could say if I am a traditional, modern, art etc quilter, it changes with every quilt.

After all these words I am really not sure if I should have called this series of posts “My quilting Story” as it has turned more into “My Story” but its how I got to now.

Until next time….Take Care




My Quilting Story……continues

Every story is long ….right ?

Enter machine embroidery….. Wow how this one little ( well not so little ) machine was to change things. Back then machine embroidery for home use was quite new, we would buy very expensive “cards” that contained about 10 – 12 designs and cost a bomb! But the things we could do with those designs….we had designs on everything. Towels were really popular, I had rabbits on all my boys clothing ( or boats, trucks  etc.  ) they had the prettiest bunny rugs, and bibs you can imagine along with personalized hats, bags you name it. Gosh we were clever!

As soon and a new gadget became available I was checking it out, I purchased a very expensive “box” and a blank card that would allow me to get free deigns from the internet and sew them out on my machine.  That changed the word of home machine embroidery very quickly soon people were digitizing there own designs and posting them on forums, web pages etc, it also opened up the opportunity for digitizers to sell individual designs not a whole card of designs that you would really only use one.

So after that first Janome 8000 machine new machines came out, I upgraded a few times to bigger and better machines, as our skills developed we no longer just embellished towels and babies clothing we now make amazing things in the hoop, can do applique, lacework the list is absolutely  endless. Just when you seen it all someone else blows your mind with what they can do on their embroidery machine. The software to write things straight to our machines, digitize our own designs has also improved over the years I have used Embird for along time and seen it develop into an amazing program and have been a Beta tester for Embird software for about the last 5 or so years. Anyway that was a big digression into machine embroidery but all relevant to my quilting Story.

I still have a reasonably current machine that has a large hoop size, when I look at the progression from that design on a shirt to digitizing something and then stitching it out or designing a whole quilt that might have 70 -80 hours of machine embroidery I am constantly stunned . I don’t often use machine embroidery in my quilts these day ( I am much more into the freehand machine quilting ) but it still has a big place in my quilting life.

Along with the embroidery machine the internet was another giant in changing the way I quilted, it started with just being able to see whats out there, living in a smallish country town and working so not being able to get to a guild etc, meant that I was exposed to only what I saw in Quilting magazines and at an occasional quilt show, The internet opened up large ( really large ) groups of like minded people that could “nurture” my quilting needs, I have been lucky to make some really close friends and become involved in annual retreats that never would have been possible without the internet. We keep in touch with online groups being able to share not only our knowledge but our successes and disasters in our quilting. Isn’t it the greatest  when we can post a problem and often within minutes we have an answer, or spend way too much time drooling of pictures of quilts.


Till next time…Take Care


My next post will actually get onto the real quilting part, well what I call the quilting part, my change from stitch in the ditch quilter to a freehand quilter