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

Daneen

 

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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

Daneen

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

 

My Quilting Story – Lets start from the very beginning…….

My Quilting Story – Lets start from the very beginning…….

I was going to call this “My Quilting Journey ” But I really hate the way that word is used these days….but that’s a another whole story.

My story starts like most with sewing at school, I was never really enjoyed sewing at school but I did it because I had to. I come from family of handicraft women, allot of knitting, crochet and needlework, we were all taught to sew. I remember in my teen years swapping housework chores with my mother so she would sew me a new outfit, I was capable but I didn’t like sewing and she didn’t like housework. There was no such thing as shopping for a special dress for a social event in our family, things were always homemade, but homemade well so I was always proud to wear what was made for me. Fast forward a few years and an extended backpacking trip round Europe bought me back to Australia many many kilos heavier than I left and broke. The only chance I had of not walking round naked was to borrow mums old sewing machine ( she had updated to a fancy “cam ” machine )  and start sewing some clothes, this went on for quite some years, back then before everything was made in China you could get good quality fabric to make clothes that lasted and it was still much cheaper to sew your own clothes than purchase ready made.  I made everything! jeans, tops underwear including Bras, a few wedding dresses for friends and family …everything, I sewed for all my friends children but at this stage there was not a quilt in sight!

In 1991 I got married to the most wonderful man that I am still fortunate to be able to spend every day with. At the time we were building a house and renting in a nearby town. A quilt shop had recently opened up called ” Lighthouse Cottage Quilts” it was run by ( I think ) 3 talented ladies that had the fortunately for me insight to not only have a beautiful quilting shop but also run quilting classes with talented teachers out of Sydney ( not something that happened often in the country ) So one Saturday morning while my husband was at work I “popped” into the shop and was instantly hooked. As I was working full time and not planning to have kids for a few years I had the two things needed to quilt, time and disposable income! Not having time to attend classes I bought my self a book, picked a pattern out, got some fabric ( the closest match I could possibly make to the picture in the book of course ) and I was off, little did I realise that I would also be back in the coming weeks and buy all these new toys, rulers, rotary cutters etc.etc. I was so keen I would leave work at lunch time, drive the 7 km to the house we rented, do a bit of piecing and then drive back to work….wondering the whole afternoon if I had remembered to turn off the iron!

Over the next few years my quilting progressed I was lucky enough to do classes with people that went on to become very recognisable Australian Quilting teachers, which at the time would have been all quite new to their  careers as quilting teachers, we were still along way behind the USA, good fabric was ( and still is ) very expensive, I collected every quilting magazine out their and like allot of quilters probably spent more time “looking” than doing.  Then in about 1993? Janome bought out their first Machine Embroidery machine ….and I wanted one. BAD!

Being the person that I am I have to be able to justify things, especially the big purchases, I had tried every line I could think of the get this machine, …you know I could do shirts for work, and for our friends work, maybe I could sell the shirts, they have xxx embroidery designs wouldn’t that be good, Hey you know when we have kids they could have the cutest bunny rugs etc. I am sure my husband got sick of hearing about it.  Little did I know that Santa was going to be very generous that year.

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My sewing room at our first home, tucked up the back of my house, tiny, cosy, organised and very productive!

Meet me back here again to hear the rest of the Story.

Till next time ……Take Care

Daneen

 

 

 

Whats in a Blog name ?

I have been thinking about the perfect blog name for quite some time now, its a tricky one …you want something catchy, a little witty, that actually means something to you.  Something that when you become a incredibly talented quilter people will be able to remember. ( yes we all will be incredibly talented quilters one day ! )

Looking at my final choice I don’t think it  meets my very own  criteria. In my usual  procrastinating manner I think not being able to choose the perfect blog name stopped me numerous times from continuing, then of course when I did find the perfect name it was already taken, how could other person have already had the exact same incredibly  fantastic blog name that took me ages to choose.

Anyway my final choice was not the witty play on words I was hoping to find but it does mean something to me ….first it has the word Quilt in it, after my family the word quilt rates right up there with good friends, great food, fun times all life’s essentials to survive. ( Yes quilting can be an essential part of life for a sometimes sad group of individuals ) Then the word Yatta, this is where I live, well its part of the place I live, Yatta Yattah, NSW Australia.  The word Yatta has a few different translations depending on the language, as I am in Australia , where I live is a translation of a aboriginal word meaning two waterfalls there is a rainforest and waterfall very close to my home. In Japanese I found this definition

I did it” and “hooray” are similar enough in meaning to “yatta”. It’s an exclamation given when you accomplish something you are proud of.”

Not that I can speak even a word in Japanese ( well except for Yatta ) but the Japanese definition makes it the  perfect word to put before the word Quilt.

Well with absolutely no previous blog experience this starts my Blogging/quilting adventure stay tuned for my next post that will actually have something about quilting… well about me and when/how I started quilting.

Till next time ….Take Care

Daneen

PS …when I work out how I will get some of those bloggy things like pretty banners and pictures up!