Friday, April 29, 2016

Aussie Assist

Roo's Quilt Top
Joining Facebook has allowed me the opportunity to reconnect with friends near and far.  Take my friend Roo (Roo is her chosen camp name, appropriate for an Aussie), who was my partner in crime for several summers working at Girl Scout resident camp.  She was the Arts and Crafts guru, led the CIT program and helped plan all-camp programs and hilarious costumes for our Camp Director.  Turns out Roo is also a fellow quilter, and so we've had a few conversations about our quilting adventures living on different continents!  

Back in March, Roo PM'ed me and inquired about how I basted quilts for quilting.  After sharing my pin basting preferences, I inquired about her current project and asked to see a picture.  She sent me a photo of her newest quilt top and it was spectacular.  I especially loved the fun and modern design, especially all the negative space created by the raspberry solid fabric!!  There were so many possibilities for adding quilting texture!!  Roo asked me if I had any suggestions for quilting it.  I began by first learning more about her quilting preferences:  walking foot and/or free motion.  She shared that she had both options available but was more comfortable with a walking foot.  I imported her photo into my Paint program and sketched out some quilting lines, using dot to dot designs from Angela Walter's Dot-to-Dot Quilting Craftsy Class.  Stitching some straight lines would help break up the negative space and create a wonderful secondary design.  Each diamond could be further broken down with additional echo lines and/or filled in with free motion motifs:  figure eights, loop de loops, pebbles or anything else!
Quilting Designs Sketched
As I am not a fan of marking my quilt tops, I shared my trick of using blue painter's tape to help guide my stitching lines.  Roo was intrigued and had a few questions about placement of the blue painter's tape.  As I am not a technical writer, I took a few minutes to sketch her block onto paper and placed strips of blue painter's tape to show placement, and used a sharpie to mark stitching lines and even a stitching pathway to minimize starts and stops!
Visual Reference for No Mark Quilting Using Blue Painter's Tape
Roo was thankful for her "quilting lesson" and said that she felt like she had just been to a class!  She was impressed with how I was able to break it down to be fairly simple and easy, and she was ready to give it a try.  She decided that a trip to her local hardware store was in order to stock up on this new quilting tool, so I shared a few other uses for blue painter's tape (marking block placement, foundation piecing, etc).  It really is a very versatile tool for quilters!!  I was pleased that I was able to provide inspiration and guidance, even though we were 8000+ miles apart!  Yay for modern technology!!

After just a few days, Roo sent along pictures of her progress.  She did an expect job of taping her guidelines (much neater than me!!) and had begun stitching her diamond/kite shapes.
Roo's Progress on Dot to Dot Quilting
The ever wise Roo did some practice free motion quilting on a practice sampler and was feeling a little frustrated in the stitch quality.  I showed her some of my earlier free motion stitch samples that were wobbly, uneven and ugly.  I also shared some free motion quilting tips and encouraged her to keep practicing.  I remember how frustrated I was when I first started learning to FMQ and wished I had a magic wand to help.  Unfortunately, free motion quilting is one of those skills that is near impossible to teach via instant messaging, and does require practice, practice, practice.

The very next day, Roo sent me the following message:  "I have made an executive decision.  I am going to forego the free motion quilting on this project.  I am going to quilt some straight lines in the diamonds."  She included a sketch of her own which I thought was a perfect quilt design solution--more dot to dot quilted lines!!
Roo's Ingenious Design Solution--More Dot to Dot Quilting!
Roo's Beautifully Quilted Baby Quilt
After experiencing some technical difficulties with her walking foot, I was afraid Roo was ready to throw in the towel, and I felt terribly guilty that I had led her astray!  After referring to the sewing machine operational manual and looking at her machine in a new perspective, Roo was able to trouble shoot the glitch.  I know all too well how maddening it can be trying to sew with a machine that is not entirely cooperative!

So it was with great joy and relief that I received word a day or two later, sharing that she had resolved the issue and was now enjoying the process more.  Alleluiah!!  Just a few days later, she had finished all the quilting and was rather happy with how it turned out!  As she should be--as it really turned out truly spectacular!!

I too was pleased at how Roo embraced a new technique and showed great perseverance despite technical glitches with her sewing machine!!  Seeing the finished result and hearing her take such pride in her work was priceless, and I was so happy to be part of her quilting journey!

Imagine my surprise when I received a package from Australia this past week!  Inside, contained a lovely assortment of goodies:  fat quarters of Australian fabrics, a beach themed post it note pad, a thoughtful thank you card and more pictures of Roo's beautifully finished baby quilt.  I love the fabrics and can't wait to find a project worthy of cutting into them!
Aussie Thank You Gifts
So--does this make me an international quilt teacher?!?  ;-)

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