Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Crazy Quilt and a Crazy Acquisition

Many, many years ago, when I first started quilting, I made some crazy quilt blocks. I didn't know what I was doing, so I tore up an old sheet to make 13 inch squares to use as foundations. For my crazy blocks I used scraps of all kinds -- including polyester blends. I used the sew and flip method and decorated some of the seams with the fancy stitches on my sewing machine. And then the blocks sat on a shelf for decades.

Recently, I pulled them out again, squared and trimmed them to 12.5 inches, and actually put them together to make a quilt top. It's not a very pretty quilt top, but at least it's done.

I find myself looking at the different fabrics. Sometimes I recognize them. Here's a bit of my daughter's dress. And there's a bit of the printed panel from which I made a dinosaur toy for my son. When I look at some of the other fabrics I can't help wondering why in the world I ever bought them. I would never make this quilt now. At least, not in this way.

It's an odd size, but I intend to quilt it. Previously, I would have felt intimidated at the thought. The quilt top is rather thick, especially at the seams. But now I have no fear because during my blogging hiatus, I acquired this:

It's an Innova long arm quilting machine, and it fills my entire living room. (I don't really need a couch, right?) It took three years of shopping, researching, and testing various brands before I settled on this one. I love it!

It's got an 18 inch throat and a 10 foot frame. I could do up to a queen sized quilt on it. (But so far I haven't done anything that large.) It's very well engineered, and it glides so smoothly that I can guide it with one hand if I want to. I don't have much upper body strength, and I also have osteoporosis in my spine, so I wanted something that I could move without struggling or strain. It's very versatile in that it can use almost any thread. And the manufacturer offers 24/7 technical support. It's also modestly priced compared to most long arms.

I bought my machine from Let's Quilt in Utah. They were vendors at Road to California. (However, they are now cutting back on that sort of thing for heath reasons.) There's a lot of useful info on their website as well as some great videos about ruler work. And this is the link for Innova itself. I'm not connected to either the dealer or the manufacturer in any way; I'm just a really happy customer.

The thing that everyone asks when they find out about my machine is, "Are you going to be doing this as a business?" And my answer is, "No. At least, not yet. And maybe never." But if I'm not planning to make money with it, how did I come to buy such an expensive machine?

A couple years ago I decided to become serious about learning to machine quilt. I took some classes, read some books, and tried out various tools. I have problems with my right hand and elbow (which I injured in my youth). And I found that the motions used in quilting with my domestic sewing machine really stressed my body and made me more reluctant to quilt.

Using a long arm machine just works better for me ergonomically. And of all the machines I've tried, the Innova is the easiest to use and does not stress my body.

Having it has made me eager to finish up some of my long standing UFOs. And that's a good thing. Why, you ask?

Well, some quilters like to say that she who dies with the most fabric wins. But I think that she who uses the most fabric is the real winner. When I die, I don't want to leave behind a hoard of unused fabric that my children will cart to the curb for the trash pickup. I want to leave behind a legacy of finished quilts, most of which will have already been delivered to their recipients. And if my kids get rid of any of the quilts still remaining in the house, I'll come back and haunt them!

(Just kidding. I'm sure they wouldn't do that.)

This week I'm joining Jennifer Fulweiler in writing seven posts in seven days. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

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