Eek! I only just realized that it's been a week since I've posted. I guess I was hoping that my next post would be a completed Star Quilt Along top. Alas, I'm not quite there yet (still working on borders). I have been busy doing stuff, but really there isn't much in the way of excitement to share. I've been working on my hexagon flowers (keeping my hands busy during the Dear Baby Jane break). I've finished cutting out the Prairie Pinwheels fabrics (that took way too long... ugh). Last night I started on the last posted Dear Jane block, H-6. And I've been thinking about quilt tops.
I have a pile of quilt tops in my closet. Most of them have been there for at least 3 years... waiting. One still needs a final border, but the rest are just waiting for quilting. My main reason for not having quilted them is that I spent so long putting these tops together that I was afraid of messing them up in the quilting. I'm finally feeling like I'm confident enough to tackle at least a couple of them. To help myself along, I've been doing some reading.
Machine Quilting by Sue Nickels
In 2005, I took a class from Sue Nickels at the Houston International Quilt Festival. It was eye-opening and really boosted my machine quilting skills and confidence. This book offers much of the same information that she provided in the class, as well as similar practice sampler projects. It's almost like having her with you. She addresses everything from needles and thread to deciding what quilting designs to use on your project. I also appreciate that it includes not just free-motion info, but also valuable wisdom on stitching in the ditch which is often completely glossed over in many machine quilting books (though it sounds so simple, it can in actuality be very challenging). This book is a great resource for anyone interested in growing or enhancing their machine quilting skills
Mastering Quilt Marking by Pepper Cory
A number of the tops I have in the closet are large... I think there are three queen-size, and one king in there right now, and the Star Quilt Along quilt is not small either. Though I like stippling and free-motion meanderings, I also really enjoy traditional patterns like feathers and wreaths. One of the keys to doing those well is getting them marked on the quilt. I bought this book years ago, but only last week picked it up and really looked at it. In fact, I read the whole thing cover-to-cover over the course of a morning. The book focuses on the art of marking the quilt in preparation for quilting. The author discusses the tools, a variety of techniques, when to mark what (before basting or after basting?), and how important marking is. The book does NOT discuss how to quilt a quilt. But it does offer advice on how various styles of quilting have different effects and can serve different purposes.
After spending some time with these books, I'm feeling much less intimidated now, and am anxious to start in on one of my tops. I even have one in mind... now I just have to find somewhere to baste it!