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  • I love quilting – on my machine. The hand quilting? Meh.

  • What A Bunch of Crabs! That should be your next one. All in sand tones. You go, impatient patchworker! You’re as fast a sewer as a knitter. I’m just standing around looking at a bunch of quilts and you’re actually making them.

  • I’m glad you’re getting the hand of hand-quilting. I’m no expert (that’s my mother-in-law’s post, expert quilter), but I’ve moved far past the fear of holes in fingertips, and that’s good. Though, apparently, lots of the dainty quilters use spoons and thimbles to protect their fingers. Me? I have dotty fingerprints when it’s quilting season.

  • I’ve always wanted to try quilting, but now…maybe not. I read those instructions and it’s like it’s in a nother language. Good luck! The practice item looks good; I love the fabrics!

  • Don’t shy away from machine quilting, that’s my advice. The only time I hand quilted I used Perle cotton and longer-than-average stitches (it’s the sampler quilt in my gallery). Machines can do the job, so let ’em! Up next for me in quilt-land is to jump out of the ditch (quilter lingo) and try some free-form stitching ~

  • I do my quilting . . . when I *DO* quilting . . . by hand. That way I can relax in front of the tv or on the couch or wherever and, you know, relax, rather than sitting hunched over a sewing machine in a hard chair . . . much more fun the other way! But yes, there IS a substantial reduction in speed . . .

  • Kay, it looks beautiful. You have a thang for colors. As far as scribble lace, you got me thinking…fabric & thread? What do you think?

  • there is no shame in machine quilting. the options can be endless…

  • I’ve been tempted to try this handquilting of which you speak. I am even stocked up on fabrics from my old home in central Africa and on old-school books from the 1940s and 50s from the used/rare book shop. Seeing your attempts is giving me some courage! And I like the notion of knitting the project prior to quilting it – at least I know I can succeed at that, and see the ideas start to come together.

  • There is no shame in machine quilting (I do it), hand quilting (do that, too), or . . . the ultimate joy for us quilters who really just like putting the fabrics together in neat combinations . . . sending your tops out for someone else to quilt (haven’t done that yet, but my beautiful quilting aunts and grandmother swear by it). In my grad school days I couldn’t afford it, but now that I’m in a two-career family with a toddler — if I ever actually finish a quilt top that’s bigger than crib-sized, I’m sending it out!

  • I am a knitter, but my stepmother is a quilter. She machine quilts. However, I though I would pass this along, they have pens that erase with water, when you wash the quilt it disappears. If though it is very humid, the lines disappear as well. She has some pens that one end is purple that water -erasable the other end is blue that is air-erasable.

  • First of all, air-erase pens are variable by brand; the one I use stays for several days at a time (it’s purple, not pink). Try another brand and see if it lasts longer.
    Secondly, try machine-quilting. You already HAVE a hand-work hobby, so you don’t need another one. I love to quilt, and really consider myself a quilter-who-knits, rather than the other way around, and I can assure you all my quilting is by machine. I love it! It’s a completely different animal, though — don’t use the same book and just insert “machine” in front of the word “quilting;” you’ll need a new book with a new attitude for machine work.
    And, indeed, re: the crabs: ew.

  • Yep, you can use a No. 2 pencil for marking–my grandma, who was a quilter by necessity, among other things, used pencil–but the lines don’t come out very well when you want them to.
    Good luck with the quilting venture. It’s by far too Fiddly for me, but I love the end result. When someone else does it.

  • STEP AWAY FROM THE NO. 2 PENCIL. Get a water-eraseable pen. A nice colored pencil that is chalk-y will work too–nothing too waxy. The wax, she is problem. For this reason, I don’t like most of the yellow pencils billed as quilt marking pencils. Eeek, that stuff doesn’t come out without lots of grief (and some dish soap and some rubbing alcohol…). Good luck!

  • I have a special mechanical pencil I used when I used to quilt. Unfortunately, there is no brand name on it. It does say “Ultimate marking pencil for quilters & crafters, always sharp – washes out, thread covers pencil line, fits through stencil openings.” Love the colors in your practice pillow cover!

  • I’m taking a wonderful hand hand sewing/quilting class at Purl Patchwork taught by Cassie (of Too Much Wool), and she isn’t a fan of those disappearing ink markers. she suggested using a mechanical pencil and/or a silver artist’s pencil.

  • dear kay girl….do seriously consider machine quilting. then you can concentrate totally on fabric combos and designs. it’s very speedy, and instantly gratifying. don’t want you to become “crabby.” 🙂

  • My grandmother handquilts. I grew up playing underneath her queen sized quilting frame that hung by ropes from the ceiling in the living room and which she raised and lowered every week when her quilting group came over. I’m telling you, I have this in my blood, too. But I have no desire to handquilt. I want to design a quilt, I want to learn about it, I want to USE a quilt that I’ve made, but I like machines. They make my life easier. And sewing needles hurt. I’m with you on this one.
    Also, there must be something contagious about this quilting thing. And about Denise Schmidt. I just scoped out these same fabrics in my 24 hour quilt crisis.

  • I haven’t machine or hand quilted, but just looking at the fabrics you have makes me want to start another hobby. I’m off to check Purl’s website!

  • just adding some new advice into the mix – if you’re doing straight lines, masking tape works fine for marking them. It comes in different widths, it’s designed to come off easily when you want it to, and you can just follow the edge of it. Have to admit though, it’s not so hot for curves.

  • Thirty years ago I used to knit. Ten years ago I was a quilter, now I’m a knitter who quilts sometimes. You already have a carry along hobby and a TV enabled hobby so I’d strongly suggest machine quilting rather than hand quilting. As I keep telling my 6 year old “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Get a walking foot and a darning foot for that machine and then zip through the quilting. The actual quilting for me has all the allure of making up, it’s the transitional step that’s necessary to get from the fun bit (piecing) to the finish.

  • Uh, I’m about ready to go back to hand PIECING after my not-fun-realization yesterday afternoon that my squares had turned out not to be square. Never fear though. I’m not going to spend half my life picking out those 160 seams. Nor am I going to square up 80 squares. You just wait! You’ll see!

  • Oooh, be careful! I tried machine quilting for the first time the other night, and suffered a severe attack of craft rage. Consider yourself warned!

  • I use chalk wheels or pencils (you can usually find them at fabric stores) to mark my quilts, since even my machine quilting takes days. Or there is the option of “stitch in the ditch” which means you only have to follow your patchwork lines – it’s not too bad for a quilt with geometric lines that you want to emphasize.

  • I’m with you on the hand quilting. Don’t forget you can also play with all that fabric and all those tools and machine piece your quilt top….
    then, take it or send it off to a long arm quilter who puts it on her big ol’ machine. It will come back to you as a beautiful quilt. You get to skip the hassle with trying to machine quilt on a home sewing plus no back or neck ache!

  • I too suggest the chalk wheels. I’m not too fond of the air/water eraseable pens, as I’ve heard too many negative things about them.
    I suppose that now that it’s in the 90s down here in Florida it’s not the time for me to get back to the hand quilting, eh?

  • Try a leather type thimble. It’s one of those funny looking things on the wall of gadgets. It keeps the finger safer. I’m with the person that said ‘step away from the No 2’. You’ll never control the lead and it will smear. New vocabulary term. Feed dogs. Find them and find out how to disenage yours.(If you have a removable tray to allow for ‘free arm sewing’ pull it out and check for a small switch.) Then use the lightest pressure setting on your pressure foot. From here you should be able to ‘scribble sew’ or free motion quilt all over the quilt top. Saves lots of time. The hard part is what to do with the part of the quilt that has to get bunched up so you can reach the part you want to sew on. Try rolling it. Don’t let it shift. An accordian fold works for me. Remember to put the lever for the pressure foot in the down position. Even though you’ve removed the pressure, the down position regulates tension on the thread. For fun, practice this with some of that fancy thread on water soluable stabilizer. (On the gadget wall) Free motion all over it with lots of colors. Use a steam iron and a press cloth to make the stabilizer go away. Now you have a lace type piece of fabric. Have fun.

  • Machine quilting….machine quilting….machine quilting!
    For marking, I really like white or grey chalk pencils. Will come out for sure if you wash it and pretty well by rubbing even if you’re not going to wash it. Or soap slivers. I’d stay away from the water soluble pens as I have heard many horror stories of them not coming out.

  • My Grandmother made all her quilts by hand even though the machine was no less than 10 ft. from her quilting frame. If you can tough it out doing it by hand, work it honey…but the machine is so shiny and fast!

  • Kay,
    I have made a few squares in my life, and helped with a queen size raffle quilt,,,
    Know what?
    I would always send a quilt out to be finished,, Period. Guess I am unusual in that respect here,
    YOu cant believe what they DO to the actual quilt (and its not that expensive~) but,, really price around tho,,,
    I could not believe the added texuture the machine quilter added,, as well as her ideas and trained eye,,,(which helped a lot ),,,she was great, and so was the completed raffle quilt!
    If this is a smaller quilt( baby, etc),,sew it on your machine~
    its done~ and ready to be enjoyed!

  • Damn u Kay . . . while I simply cannot knit with a broken hand, I can certainly sew. So . . . thanks to you ad Angela, my latest mental obsession is about to become reality and I’m getting a machine and a lesson on Thursday night! It is all your fault!

  • Hi Kay – ok – not to brag or nothin’ but I am a really good quilter (ribbons, titles, etc) – so for what it’s worth – yes, do step away from the #2 pencil – I’ve already made that mistake for you – try the Roxanne’s pencil – comes in silver or white, takes a nice point & is washable – I also love anything by clover – H2O erasable as well as air erasable pen but do erase both at the end of each quilting session with squirts from a bottle of distilled H2O -get yourself a copy of The Art of Classic Quiltmaking (Hargrave & Craig) – excellent reference but only thing is that it doesn’t actually address the quilting part – for that see Gwen Marston’s Quilting With Style – actually I know you would enjoy any of her books – check out her web site – she’s a real delight – oh, & please, if you do decide to machine quilt, please refrain from stippling – I’m so tired of seeing perfectly lovely quilt tops turned into what look like mattress pads – bon chance – Catherine

  • So Kay, you’ve gotten the message on the #2 pencil….it’s a SIN.
    I’m proud to say that when I was a “wee 22 year old” I passed the test of my church women’s quilting group “6 stitches per inch” – and was able to “sit at the frame” – the youngest by 40 years. Maybe I’m crazy but the quilting the top – MY FAVORITE – we sipped tee (off the frame off course) and I listened to their womanly wisdom.
    Now I’m 45 and I buy my quilts at TARGET.
    Once they are both in Kindergarten though………..!

  • This is totally off-topic, but I couldn’t remember which of you two is the Fainting Goat lover. I just learned that a cyber-pal of mine actually owns some! She’s at http://www.geocities.com/caberjim/Faint_Goats.htm
    Oh, and good thinking about the sharp pointy needles. How does one use a thimble properly, anyhow??

  • The chalk wheels are definitely awesome, though they’re difficult for drawing curves–best for straight lines. I have seen Prismacolor Verithin pencils recommended for drawing more complicated quilting patterns and have used them successfully.
    Hand quilting is wonderful, and you will build up a nice little callus on your beneath-finger eventually, but it truly takes forever. Definitely explore machine quilting if you plan to do much of this.
    I recommend the book The Fine Line by Melody Crust & Heather Waldron Tewell (I may have spelled that wrong…) for all kinds of quilting help (basting, marking, designing, etc., hand and machine) and pictures of beautiful and inspiring quilts–AND ONE OF THEM HAS CRABS IN IT!!!

  • This post makes me all shivery with delight. After I finish embroidering the top and bottom (doing the girl’s handprint and some featherstitching, etc.), I am going to hand-quilt my big Heather Ross pink and orange masterpiece (of four big rectangles of fabric). I’m going to do bicycle shapes on the bicycle fabric and dandelion shapes on the orange (best. orange. ever) on the dandelions and stripes and dots and snozzberries on the snozzberry
    Lovely informative post. I was hoping in my imagination that there is such a thing as very thin cotton batting because that is exactly what I need.
    And, I knit some (dishrags, you know, and scribble lace) and then I embroider some and then I go back and forth and it’s such fun. I’m taking a dishrag to my daughter’s ballet class this afternoon. Next week, it’ll be embroidery. Happy, happy.

  • Kay, you practical thing, it was just a matter of time before you succombed to the quilt world. It’s that Nebraska heritage, no doubt. (We must sew up all of our scraps during the long winter and before the next Pony Express delivery.) As a quilter-before-knitter, I suggest that you consider taking a machine quilting class, get hooked on those wonderful textures (and threads!), and save your hands for knitting! There needs to be a game plan in order to use as much fiber as possible . . .

  • What a description of your first foray into quilting. I have kind of abandoned quilting for knitting within the last 2 years. I still quilt occasionally, and I love it, but the thrill of having a portable project cannot be denied. Quilting can be just an awesome thing – the variety and style of fabrics out there just makes you want to salivate. But it can also be very time consuming with lots of equipment needs, etc. But sounds like you might get hooked on it. I personally prefer machine quilting. The finger that is underneath all the backing, batting and top does get to be a bloody little stump!

  • Kay, as a quilter-rather-than-knitter, another word of advice: cut off your selvedges (that’s the sides of the fabric with the manufacturer’s name and color spots on it).
    You can see a selvedge at the top of one of the squares in one of your pictures. The selvedge usually has a tighter weave than the rest of the fabric and there might be a difference in shrinkage when you wash the quilt. This can cause puckering along the seamline or even the popping (opening) of a seam. I say might, because it isn’t always a problem but most quilters do trim the selvedges just in case.
    On the hand hand work in quilting, it caused my carpal tunnel syndrome. I now teach machine quilting because I had to switch or stop doing it all together. Hope this helps.

  • Kay, you are an inspiration (guinea pig) for all us non-quliters. My mother years ago started a quilt (her first) and didn’t finish it before she passed away. I have all of the fabric bits and pattern. One of these days….

  • Kay, you’re making me jones for the days when the “f” word around my house was “fabric”. I haven’t quilted much since I took to the sticks-n-string some ten years ago. I believe I have a pile of cut fabric just a-waitin’ to be pieced in an abandoned corner of my basement…

  • Yowza, the quilt is fabby. It really comes together and feels so fresh and summery!

  • lord.
    and i thought the never-ending mitered square thingy was taxing.
    here’s to having the attention span of a goldfish.

  • I got lost at the end – can someone tell me what DS is?

  • Kay, what have you started here?!! (Whoohoo!)
    Letter to follow. 😉

  • Kay, two words : machine quilting. It’s the bomb. Try it, you’ll like it.

  • Machine quilting is good but if you really get sucked into the hand quilting, they sell these things to protect those fingers underneath the quilt that keep getting stabbed. Or – and this is my favorite – there are people that will quilt your creation for you (for a fee of course). But it is soooo worth it!!

  • Purl is beautiful. And they do have a few gizmos. City Quilter, however, has EVERYTHING. It’s not in fabulous SoHo, but it’s close to the fabulous Antique Cafe (on 26th by 6th), and near all the shockingly interesting (and free of charge) exhibits at FIT (27th by 7th). More fun sewing notions and etc. are just two blocks away at “Spacesaver Hardware” (specializing in home sewing) on 23rd between 6th & 7th.
    City Quilter: 25th between 6th and 7th.
    Try to walk in only with the amount of cash you are willing to spend (plastic is dangerous in a place like that!) and a hanky to wipe up your drool. Get yourself some chalk marking pencils, and I DARE you to walk out of there without even contemplating the sashiko kits (indigo! simple stitching!)
    On an entirely separate but equally important note, I LOVE THAT YOU ARE KNITTING AND QUILTING TWO VERSIONS OF THE SAME QUILT. Exactly the pathological madness that I wish I could make the time to indulge in.
    City Quilter.
    And keep up the good work!

  • Advice to you from a super stash building quilter before I was a stash enhancing knitter – I think you should remember it is all supposed to be fun!
    I hand quilt items that are intended to be loved and cuddled and a memory maker for someone – I machine quilt the ones that are more wall art, and or utilitarian. And, there is nothing, nothing, to keep you from doing both on the same quilt! Machine quilt the big anchor points and block outlines, and hand quilt motifs in the centers.
    There is an erasable pen, than disappears when water is applied, and not before unless your hands sweat (horrors)! I have never had it not come out, and I have had pencil not come out …. though it is supposed to!

  • I remember my first hand quilting lesson. The very first thing they taught us, before anything else, was how to get blood out of fabric. I thought either I’ve made a very wrong turn, or this is my new sport! Well, it wasn’t.
    But I LOVE machine quilting, and I mean very freehand. I draw no lines anywhere, and I have lots of fun with it. I’m sure I would get no respect from real quilters, but I’m having a grand time.
    I love your quilt so far. I hope you stick with it.

  • Kay, grab a roll of electrical tape and stick a little square on the finger under the quilt. I like my leather thimble a lot, but sometimes it gets lost and this works pretty darn well. I agree with whoever suggested masking tape for marking–there’s also Tiger Tape which can handle curves and is “striped” to help you get those even stitches.
    Better yet–send the top out to the Amish for quilting.

  • mary db, DS = Denyse Schmidt, modern quilter.
    I bought her beautiful book last night (wish it was hardback, tho) and, ahhhhhh.
    I really like to sew by hand and can’t wait to make neato pictures all over my kids’ quilts, but I have to say that the machine quilting in figure 8s is breathtaking. I can’t begin to imagine how one does it, either.
    I have enjoyed the tips in the comments a lot, y’all–I will employ a thimble to start, but I might switch to electrical tape for quilting because I likes my virgin fingertips!

  • Hi: I’m a knitter and a sewer and a quilter and an embroiderer. I discovered, when doing my book latest book, Colorful Stitchery, that washable kids markers make the greatest marking tools for fabrics. You may have to research (via the web) how to remove the stain (by manufacturer) but I have yet to not be able to remove one.
    Maybe you should take up embroidery too – you seem to have the talent and passion for lots of techniques.
    Kristin Nicholas
    p.s. I love your book! (And I don’t buy many 🙂 )

  • Links: http://celexa-

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