Thursday, October 30, 2008

Coral Reef from Yarn!

This is absolutely amazing. I wish I could see it in person. I love the intersection between art and science -- it makes my quest as a quilter and crafter feel somewhat related to my goals as a scientist.

Check out the Hyperbolic Coral Reef here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Beginning Quilting Tips

* Squaring up your blocks after making them inevitably means that you will have to rip out seams and re-sew them. As one of my classmates said, "I wish I'd paid more attention while making these things, it would have made this part easier." No kidding. Watch out for those quarter inch seams...they'll gettcha!

* Sew around the edge of your quilt top (quarter inch from the edge, running stitch -- nothing fancy) once it's all pieced and before you make your quilt sandwich. I can't say I really understand this part but apparently it has something to do with preventing your quilt top from becoming not-square. (I have a feeling advanced quilters are reading this and laughing -- that's OK).

* Binding strips are sewn together on an angle because it prevents bunching at the seams when you roll your binding and sew to to your quilt. My guess is a diagonal seam also distributes tension a little better to that seam, so your binding doesn't pop open inadvertently.

* When taking a quilting class at a store ALWAYS ask what the total cost of the class is, and if it's OK to bring your own fabric and what supplies will be supplied as part of the cost of the class. The cost of my class has doubled due to unnecessary supply purchases, and my inability/reluctance to ask these questions and/or just assuming that it was all inclusive.

* Color choices and fabric pattern picking: is this generational or learned? There are some wonky color/fabric choices in my class.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quilt 1

I think I am officially becoming a quilter. The last block (lower right) still has to have all of its pieces sewn together. And then there's the boarders between the blocks and the boarder on the outside. I'm enjoying the process and the rules of quilting (what you piece together and what order you sew them all together -- it's very theoretical and meditative at the same time). I'd actually like to quilt it by hand, but that may be a whole 'nother can o' worms.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Beginning Quilting

These are some of the things I learned at my first quilting class:

- Don't iron your fabric in a back and forth motion. Instead, press your fabric in an up and down motion because this means you won't make the fabric fibers move around in funny ways.

- Don't reverse stitch your seams, because in quilts it doesn't matter anyway.

- It's Ok to start with the needle of your sewing machine in the 'down' position without it being in the fabric, but have your fabric right up against your needle.

- Press your stitching before pressing your seam open because it helps 'set' your stitches.

- Apparently it's not always necessary to wash your fabrics before cutting. This seems a little gross to me, though, so I'll just keep washing my fabrics first. It makes for more intense pressing with the iron.

- When using a rotary cutter make sure the blade is sharp (I didn't know they were easily replaced, but it makes sense) and make sure to cut slowly and "inch" the hand holding the ruler/straightedge as you cut. Watch your fingers, 'cause blood on your fabrics REALLY means you gotta wash 'em first!!

- People have amazingly different taste in fabric colors, patterns, etc. It's probably the most amusing part of my class so far.

- Fabric guilt: gotta learn to fight it when it's too late to change your choices (but there's SO MUCH to pick from!!).

- Fabrics when they're cut down to size for the blocks sure do look different together than when they're by themselves on the big bolts.

Obviously, this might seem like a bunch of randomness. As one of my classmates asked, "So what do you do?" "Oh, I'm in grad school." "What are you doing taking a quilting class?!" Honestly, it might not be the most effective use of my time, but as a grad student I struggle with abstract learning goals and hazy benchmarks of understanding so it's nice to come away from three hours of a class where I have used my brain and my hands and I can say, "Today I learned how to properly use a rotary cutter and sew a seam." That, my friends, is progress I can set my watch to. I've got five more weeks and a sample quilt on the way!!