“You are not machine quilting. It’s hand-quilting with an electric needle.” Harriet Hargrave
Harriet wrote that as the opening line of her landmark book, Heirloom Machine Quilting, first published in 1987. If you weren’t quilting back then, it’s hard to describe the extent to which it changed how quilters viewed machine-quilted quilts. While it took a little longer for some quilters to come around, without Harriet, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today.
Through all the books I’ve read on the subject in the years since, it’s notable how many acclaimed machine-quilters cite Harriet’s book – or one of its many editions – as their starting point.
I was already machine-quilting when this book came out but it helped. (Though where was Harriet when I needed her to tell me not to baste a quilt on a shag carpet?)
With bigger quilts, starting a business and the invention of long-arm quilt machines, I wasn’t doing as much quilting. I would occasionally quilt a small project or two… usually just enough to be reminded that this wasn’t exactly like riding a bike, that regular practice was – is – a necessary thing.
Flash forward to today. I find myself doing a lot more machine-quilting with my small projects.
Most of what I quilt is straight line – sometimes with a wavy stitch. I like straight-line quilting – especially what is often called “organic wavy lines”. I’m not really big on marking lines so I mark my first line – usually with a Hera marker, chalk or masking tape – and then use my presser-foot as a guide. If it’s not perfectly accurate… whatever.
So when Christa’s new book came across my desk, I was excited to read it. I was familiar with Christa’s terrific quilts and her machine-quilting from Instagram and her blog, and whenever someone is that good, I know there is plenty to learn. Even if it’s something small – like finding out that we like the same kind of Aurifil 50 wt. thread – it gives me confidence that I’m heading in the right direction.
The book is divided into four sections:
Introduction & You Can Be The Quilter. After a short introduction from Christa, the second chapter is a short overview on batting, thread, pressing, feeding the quilt through the machine and other things that are important to know before you actually start quilting. What I like best is that Christa takes the approach of “this is what works for me” – and “this is why I think this will work for you”. I was thrilled that she doesn’t roll or fold the quilt neatly while stitching, preferring to “scrunch and smoosh” it out of the way as needed. (Me too.)
Finishing Touches. This is at the end of the book but I put it here because the middle two sections are the most important – and the most fun. The subjects covered in this last section are piecing quilt backs, layering the “quilt sandwich” and bindings.
Walking Foot Wonders. There are seven wonderfully original quilt projects in this section, each quilted with a wonderfully original quilt design that is done with a walking foot.
This is Square In A Square and this is the terrific design Christa used for the quilting.
(Both photographs of Square In A Square are the work of Brent Kane.)
Throughout the book, there are boxes with tips – Line Guides, Avoid Quilting On Empty, Triangle Tip Placement and Bobbin Along. The tips are for both piecing and quilting – and they’re placed to be relevant to the project and technique used in that particular quilt project.
Free-Motion Favorites. The five quilts in this section build on the skills learned in the first section – or you can jump right into free-motion since Christa’s instructions are so good. There are ten different free-motion quilt motifs presented, starting with basic stippling – which I’ve always found to be much harder than it looks – and moving into waves, pebbles and loops.
So do you need this book? Even if you’re a machine-quilting dynamo, I’d bet there is something in this book that you don’t know. It’s got that much terrific information – and twelve really good quilt projects. If you’re like me and you’re looking to pick up a few tips to improve your skills, then yes, I think Christa’s book is a worthy addition to your library.
Trust me – it’s a really good book. (That’s why I’m keeping the copy I have!)
A hop without a giveaway isn’t any fun at all so we’ve got you covered there too.
Just leave a comment by midnight on Sunday – September 20th – telling us if you do any machine quilting – and if you do, what’s the biggest project you quilted? (My biggest machine-quilting project was 88″ x 88″. Never again. Just saying.)
If you don’t machine-quilt, that’s okay too. Maybe you’d like to learn.
Someone will win a copy of Christa’s book, Machine Quilting with Style, and a Fat Quarter Bundle of Basic Mixologie by Studio M. (It’s even better in person.)
There’s enough to make a big quilt! And after reading Christa’s book, you can quilt it yourself!
While I love quilting my little projects, I’m inspired and energized by the quilts and quilting in the book to consider taking on a bigger project sometime soon. (After Quilt Market, of course.)
So go say Hi to Christa – check out the blog schedule, see what you’ve missed and then go have a look-see at her book. And if you’re on Instagram, be sure to say Hi to Christa at @christaquilts and see the projects at #machinequiltingwithstyle.
And be sure to vote for which quilt you’d like to see Christa make in January! She’s planning a quilt-along and can’t decide which quilt from the book to make – re-make – so she wants you to decide. You can see each of the quilts on a blog listed on Christa’s blog hop schedule, and then you can vote for your favorite here.
(P.S. Don’t worry if you don’t see your comment appear – it’s there. Wordpress is being a little persnickety right now.)