Friday, April 22, 2011

An old dog's new tricks

MQX is a marvelous machine quilters exposition that emphasizes the quilting in a quilt more than the piecing of it, and as such, brings to the public examples of some of the most detailed and finest quilting I have ever seen.

As a professional long arm quilter, I understand fully the amount of time, dedication and expertise that this intense quilting takes,  and I thought you would enjoy seeing some of the quilts in my blog today.

Isn't this work truly magnificent?!  Can you imagine the time and the creativity it takes to do all these tiny stitches?  Even with the evolution of machine quilting into computerized robotics, you just can't imagine all the innovative approaches that can be seen in this show's quilts.

This year I had the pleasure of attending MQX East from April 12 - 16 with my quilting buddy, Mary It was held in Providence, RI, and since Mary hails from Newport, we spent several hours exploring her old hometown before actually going to Providence.  The day was grey and cold and blustery, but I could imagine Newport's history as I stood on a windy hill over looking the ocean and felt the longing of a ship's captain's wife for her husband's safe return.  The seashore is dotted with several beaches and occasional rocky promontories that afford the perfect vantage point for searching the horizon for that elusive ship.  Scattered along the shore, there are also the summer mansions of the unspeakably wealthy from back in the 20's and 30's, one of which was the location for the filming of the movie The Great Gatsby.

Too soon we headed for Providence to check into the Westin, which joins the Convention Center, where the exposition and classes were being held.  Lots of excited bustle by other quilters at the front desk increased our expectations of a full and fact-filled week.

This remarkable tool was introduced to me by Donita Reeve, who taught a class called "Gadgets and Gizmos."  Today I will discuss just one of the gadgets, since it can be used by both quilter and piecer.  It's called the Proportional Scale, and it is invaluable in determining the percentage of increase or decrease you need in the existing size of a pattern without having to resort to mathematics at home.

If you click on the above picture, you will see a magnified representation of this scaling wheel.  On the inside is the size of the block or pattern or piece that you want to change.  On the outside of the wheel is the size you would like to have instead.  In the above example, I have a 10" block, and I want to change it to a 12" one.  If you look in the little window below the numbers, you will see that this corresponds to a change of 120%.  Before computerized quilting, paper pantographs were followed with a laser or stylus to create the patterns across the quilt.  If you wanted Kinko's, for instance, to increase the size from 10" high to 12" high, you could figure out instantly with this wheel that you needed them to increase it by 120%. 

Likewise, using the same example, if that block was made up of  little squares that were 2 1/2" finished size, you could see that you would need to cut squares that were 3" finished (3 1/2" unfinished) in order to achieve the same relationship in the pattern.

I will leave you with another tidbit from Donita:  gassing a thread is a procedure during which the long staple cotton thread is passed through a flame to burn off the little slubs (wisps of cotton) that cause so much fuzzy residue in many cotton threads, clogging our needles and bobbins.  She spoke of Wonderfil, a long staple cotton thread that has been gassed twice, making it pretty much fuzz free and very strong.  So I bought some.

Luscious colors, and variegated, too!  I'll be trying them out over the weekend on some quilts I just received in the mail, and I'll let you know if they live up to their reputation.

Donita had other handy tools to demonstrate, but I will show those tomorrow since they are for use on the long arm machine.  In future blogs, I will talk about Crystal Smythe, who gave several very informative classes on the IntelliQuilter.  

1 comment:

  1. WOW, I have to get me that gadget..I could use it right now.. The thread sounds amazing also. Do they make it for the regular sewing machine? The colors are yummy. Love the quilts that you posted also..The quilting is amazing..