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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
I do NOT need another hobby.

The knitting thing is already taking too much time/money and I'm still enjoying it.

And it's not like I've doing the writing thing lately, either.

But I've been watching craft shows a lot lately, and while the scrapbooking holds no interest for me, the quilting shows were...interesting, in that they were having fun with geometry. Not the way they were doing things, which were more about the pretty threads and the "embellishments" (I really am coming to dislike that word) and the fancy machines that do all the work, but the results of pretty placemats and bedcovers (and , yeah, wall hangings). The machine quilting which is all they showed - well, you need shortcut techniques because to do it, you need to sit down at your machine and have your iron all ready (and it seems as much ironing as sewing) and you can't do anything else at all.

I like knitting. You knit a shawl or afghan or sweater on the couch watching television. You take a sock or other small project with you on the bus or subway, or to the doctor,and it's very sensual with the yarn slipping through your fingers and the different feels of knitted work, and how the needles fit your hands - I very much like the change when I go from sock needles to larger ones, or wood to metal, or sock yarn to worsted. I have a feeling I'll enjoy knitting laceweight for the same reason. I'm very much a tactile person, and knitting satisfies this. It even makes listening easier - a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd listen to my current lecture series (on the life and times of Henry VIII) while getting a manicure and pedicure. Since, you know. You can't read while getting your fingernails done.

And. Seriously. I barely heard the lecture (on the Pilgrimage of Grace - two minor and quickly resolved revolutions after the Reformation), much less understood it. I switched to filk music. I barely got it because my hands were not busy. I normally listen while I'm cooking, and it's wonderful. I've also listened while knitting, and it's made long waits at the dentist or doctor fun, and long bus rides interesting. But if my hands aren't busy, my mind wanders.

But the quilting on craft shows is all consuming and you can't multitask at all. You have to be at your machine and table and that's it - or you let the machine do all the work with a program.

But I know the point of these shows is to sell the machines and the feet and the needles and all the other supplies, and so they're not going to show another way. And they even go so far as to say, "Hand (as in handwork) is a four letter word around here." Of course it is - it takes longer and won't sell stuff.

And then I saw an episode about miniature quilts - tiny replicas of full-sized ones. And while part of the show was about fabric choice - making sure the print is in proportion and works - another part was how to sew tiny, tiny squares and triangles and such *by machine*, and they clearly disdained a technique so obvious I came up with it right then and there (they used the term but I didn't know what it meant) - what turned out to be "paper piecing" - basically sewing the tiny pieces to a backing of cloth or paper. Instead, they sewed larger squares and cut them to size, often losing half the material in the process. And they never talked about another obvious solution, the one I suspect half the miniature quilters used.

So I did a little search and found an entire universe of *handpiecing* - no machines, no elaborate use of special rulers and sewing techniques which, in fact, are to *mimic* the look of handpieces and often seem wasteful of material. And you don't need to block out the time to do it - it's perfect for in front of the tv or for the doctors office - even for commuting if you know you won't drop your needle.

In terms of the miniquilts, I'd think it would take less time to use a needle and thread than all the elaborate arrangements they made to avoild it.

I can so see the attractions of hand piecing. But. Not yet. Not while I'm having so much fun knitting.

(What *do* machine quilters do when they watch tv? Knit?)


The mini-quilting sounds like fun! And I've even got a nephew I could test them out on, as he loves to have blankets for his "babies" [stuffies] to sleep with.

Hmmm...And, like you, I need another hobby like I need another hole in my head... *g*

I've done both. The quilting shows are very wasteful - in real life there's no real difference in how much you use. The programs often show strip piecing, but the pieces that are being attached to the strip are kept an inch or two apart so the camera can pick up what the presenter's doing. That's not necessary. I put less than a quarter of an inch between mine.

The differences are mainly that machine piecing is faster and, because you're handling the fabric less, the edges (and especially sharp corners) tend to be less likely to unravel. That's a big factor when you're dealing with 100% cotton.

Paper piecing is very useful when you start and with smaller blocks - and especially those with unusual angles. There's a good online reference for it here. Once you start to quilt seriously it can take more time than machine piecing, though, and it's not very useful for larger blocks or those done only in squares.

Machine piecing is especially useful for the Log Cabin pattern, where you have maybe 40 pieces in one block and all the pieces (except sometimes the middle one) are all the same thickness - and usually quite thin. You can get all the piecing done in one or two days for a smaller quilt.

I could go on for another 1000 words on this.

By the way, that was supposed to be a new comment, not a reply to ariestess's comment.

I knew there would be a quilter (or two) on my flist who could set me straight!

I was just guessing that for the miniature quilts, people would paper piece as means of managing tiny pieces - it just seemed easier than doing "normal" piecing methods.

But I'm also guessing it all boils down to preference (and, as ratcreature said, it's not actually necessary to have more than a basic machine.

Precisely. I once pieced a quilt on a Singer pedal machine. All you need is straight stitch.

Now if you want to do the actual quilting part (as opposed to piecing) by hand, it helps to have a Singer electric, because when you're dealing with three layers, one of which is slipperier than the others, the plain stitch doesn't work as well. One layer slips and the others distort. You need an accessory that feeds top and bottom at the same rate.

One of the nice things about quilting is that you can find 100% cotton batting so you can make a quilt from pure cotton. My cotton quilt goes over a duvet in winter and a cotton blanket in summer, and breathes - I find polyester fibres uncomfortable for sleeping.

I once made a regular quilt for a blanket, just to see whether I could, and considering that I never used a sewing machine before it really turned out okay. I mean, the geometric patchwork pattern I designed fit together, the quilting worked out okay, and it actually is the prettiest overthrow I own. It wasn't that difficult, and a regular sewing machine without any extras did just fine (the only problem was some of the quilting, because with the stuffing and the thing being blanket sized in some places there was a lot of matrial scrunched up and it was hard to keep the layers aligned). There was a lot ofironing involved though, without that it's impossible to make the patterns fit as planned. And it took memonths to finish it, even though I used a machine. (But then again I never used one before.)

I kinda figured a basic machine (which I do own, even if I haven't touched it in in 15 years)would work fine. It's more that I would have to set it up and put it away, and I'm not found of ironing (yes,I do own an iron, too) and what looks...pitski...by machine looks like fun by hand, if that makes sense?

To me not really. :) But then I'm not good at sewing evenly by hand. I mean, we actually learned a few basics in elementary school, but since then I've never done more than sewing on a button again and things like that, so when I do it it looks much prettier when done by machine and far faster too. Even with a machine it was kind of boring to assemble all the fabric parts, and then do it over again for the next square and the next, I would have never finished it by hand.

I have a friend who quilts a lot, and for commuting by train, she has a bag with needlepoint in it, themed squares she quilts together afterward.

Ohh. Very cool. It just makes sense that they would have handwork to do.

Oh my, quilting! I grew up with quilting - I don't myself, but my mother does.

She quilts - crazy quilting with embroidery done my hand. She also does traditional quilting - she pieces the material usually with a machine and then hand quilts it after that. She has pieced a few quilts from start to finish by hand - a postage stamp quilt - thousands of 1" pieces.

She's done a few wall hangings and some baby blankets, but usually sticks with full size (twin, full and queen).

(What *do* machine quilters do when they watch tv? Knit?) - Truthfully, my mom doesn't watch much TV except for Masterpiece Theatre, Mystery, other random PBS shows, and the occasional M*A*S*H. She listens to a lot of music. She bought herself a good stereo system and all for it.

I love quilts. Er. Wow. This is the longest comment I've written in a while.

My mom was never a quilter - she comes from line of knitters and crocheters. So all I know about it is what I see on TV or, on occasion, at conventions during panels.

Aha! Another reason to handpiece - you can do it at a convention during panels or filking, just like knitting.

Oh, I should tell my dad to come read this entry. He's a quilter, and though he does a lot of the sewing on a machine these days, he's also done quite a lot of hand piecing, mainly when he knows he's going to be sitting and listening to something for a while. Bible studies at church were one of his favorite times to work on them.

He still does most of his machine quilting on an old Singer sewing machine. That thing goes forwards and back in straight lines, and you can force a curve by hand if you're careful and know what you're doing, but it does nothing fancy. You really don't need the fancy gadgets.

Oh, and as for what he does while watching tv/doing other things that don't involve his hands. He doess a lot of fancy counted crosstich things. Very elaborate ones with twenty different shades of brownish red to use on the fox's body elaborate. He finds it relaxing. I find that counted cross drives me up a wall sideways, but I can do blackwork or knitting.

I've knit during programs at my synagogue (not on Shabbat, of course). Again, keeping my hands busy seems to be key to absorbing information.

I'll bet glacierscout makes wonderful quilts.

i've done several hand quilts, most of them baby-sized. i keep a bag or box with my squares beside me and just stitch them together while i watch tv or a movie. i can hardly ever just sit and watch tv -- it always feels like i'm wasting time i could be using better. so i fold laundry or i sew or i clean bricks - whatever :) after i do the piece work i usually sew the back and binding on by machine, because that's quick and easy. the finished product never looks as perfect or fancy as the ones on tv, but i kinda like the imperfections.

another fun thing is rag rugs. i really enjoy the process of tying and braiding them, and again i can just keep a bag of scraps handy. we use them for the cats, since we have to have a lot of places for them to snooze, and they're easily washable (yes, i do pet laundry. any questions?)

i haven't gotten good at knitting. it just doesn't seem to flow for me. and it hurts my hands.. but the handpiecing of quilts is fun! i should get my sister to send me a pic ofthe one i did for my niece, emma. it's pretty cute, i could post it.

Yeah, I can see you doing this. And I really hate sitting around doing *nothing* - it just feels good to have something in my hands. Stitching seams would be fun. But I like stitching seams - especially since I see that handpiecing is all, or mostly, running stitch - not even back stitching, which is what I'd have assumed.

My hands do like to knit. Maybe it's genetic.

I'd like to see the quilt.

My great grandmother taught me how to hand sew, and I have two of her hand sewn quilts. I love doing handwork, and I only use my machine for very specific projects.

Can't knit to save my life!

Oh. What Debbie had figured was that one normally pieced the squares by hand, and then sewed them together and made the quilt by machine.

They did all the wasteful-looking piecing by machine on the craft shows because the main purpose of the craft show is to sell fancy quilting sewing machines. Rather like the purpose of home improvement shows is to sell the sponsors' tools (Binford Tools presents Tool Time)