Friday, July 20, 2018

You're never too old to learn!

I hope you weren't disappointed in what was in the crate. I have to tell you about the crate. My brother works at a place where they ship all kinds of stuff on palettes. Originally we were going to just put the chair on a pallet. But then he remembers they have a crate palette. OK - what do I know? So yes - that smallish chair went into that big crate. But it worked out fine with a little bit of cardboard to protect it. In total, the thing weighed a LOT because of the crate, the chair (which is solid wood so it's not light) and that antique sock knitter which probably weighs more than the chair!!!  All arrived without getting damaged and that was the key. Now to get rid of the crate from the garage.

You're never too old to learn. Doesn't matter what the subject, learning keeps you young. I learned that from my Dad. And I'm constantly learning new things - whether it's how to keep a very unruly dog under control, new quilting stuff or just things in general. Ask lots of questions - that's how you learn. Test the teacher - see if they really know their stuff. I love when students do that - it means they're thinking and I absolutely love when they come back to me with the thought process worked out. It means I've done my job.

I've mentioned before that my Dad, who is 85, is still learning. He's constantly checking out YouTube videos to learn things about motors and alternators and generators and whatever. Then he applies that to his daily puttering at the Western Development Museum where they're in full swing getting as many tractors running for the upcoming "Those Were the Days" show at the Museum. The day he can no longer do that is likely the day he'll be gone. The crazy guy still puts in a full day FIVE days a week. We tell him to slow down, but that's like - well it isn't going to happen.

In light of that and the amount of fabric that's in the basement, I'd better keep learning or I'm going to be gone as well, although I do like to spend an afternoon or two, just hanging out in the backyard!

In addition to fiction, I read a fair amount of non-fiction as well. Right now, I'm reading a quilting book and I wanted to share it with you.

The book is called Quilter's Academy - Volume 1. There are six books in the series.

Quilter's Academy
 The book was written by Harriet Hargrave and her daughter Carrie Hargrave. Gosh - it was published in 2009. ALL of the material is still extremely relevant today. Read the reviews on the link above - everyone loves this book.

Oh my gosh - this is a very IMPORTANT book to read. I want to back up here just a wee bit and say that I took a class from Harriet years ago. I was still very new to quilting. And I learned a TON of stuff from her in that class. The class was all about machine quilting as she was the guru (at that time) on machine quilting.

I've been planning on sharing some samples with you for a long time and well - today is the perfect day for that as the samples were made shortly after I took the class from Harriet. Funny how that happens. 

I know what you're thinking. Why is an experienced sewist and quilt teacher reading this "beginner" quilt book? There are several reasons - I might pick up a new tip, I may find a different way to present some of the things that I know, to get confirmation that how I'm doing is the best method, but more importantly that why I do things has a logical reason for doing them. I think I just finished the second lesson and I have resounding WOW to all my reasons for reading this book.

It's really a shame (and Harriet) mentions it in the book - there are so many quilters (both experienced and not experienced) who sit down at the machine and sew. No concept of what they're doing or more importantly why they're doing it. I'm talking basic things - like how to properly use a seam ripper, why the 1/4" is hard to achieve and tons more. This book goes into a lot of detail - the boring behind the scenes stuff. The stuff that helps you when you get stuck. It's GOOD information.

I've borrowed this book from the library. If you can get your hands on it, I would highly recommend that you read the book. Actually, I would read ANY of the books by Harriet. They may be "old", but the information in them is amazing. It's jam-packed with ideas, tips, etc. Newer books, tend to slide over that in favor of flashy projects and cutesy modern prints. But they don't touch on this stuff. Today's society doesn't care about what's under the hood - they just want to make the shiny thing on the outside.

It may be hard for you to see the samples below clearly but you should be able to click on them to make them bigger.

This was an experiment that I did with batting. I just checked - yes this is the BATTING TEST from Harriet's Heirloom Machine Quilting book - page 58. This is the 3rd edition - there is a 4th edition out.

I took TEN different battings and made FIVE samples for each batting type. Yes - that means there are 50 samples in total. It took a long time. I'm sharing some of them with you.

How does it work? One side of the sample is plain muslin with a 6" square drawn on with a permanent marker. This will help us test for shrinkage. The other side is half muslin and half solid black fabric. This will help test for bearding (the batting coming through the fabric).

Each sample had a different combination of washed or not washed which was written on each sample. I've taken a picture so you can see which was which. Then each sample was quilted with a wreath pattern with no quilting in the center of the wreath or outside the wreath. The edges were serged and then all the samples were washed. The results are VERY interesting. 

The batting used in the samples shown is a 100% cotton batting

Sample One - the top and backing were washed, the batting was NOT washed 

Sample 1 - Front

Sample 1 - Back

Sample Two - the top and backing were not washed, the batting was washed

Sample Two - Front

Sample Two - Back

Sample Three - the top was washed, the batting and the backing were not washed

Sample Three - Front

Sample Three - Back

Sample Four - NOTHING was prewashed

Sample Four - Front

Sample Four - Back

Sample Five - All three layers were prewashed

Sample Five - Front

Sample Five - Back

While the end result of all samples is a crinkly looking quilt (that's one of the reasons why you should always wash a quilt that is being gifted - if the new owner washes the quilt and it goes from crisp to crinkly - they freak out!)  It doesn't matter if you prewash the batting, the backing or the top - the end result is a crinkly quilt. You can spot a washed quilt from an unwashed quilt a mile away.

Things I learned from doing this experiment - I did not like the fact that the center of this wreath was not quilted. The crinkly look in the center of the wreath is not the same "consistency" as the spaces between the feathers and it doesn't look appealing. The same with the space outside the wreath. That is good to know - I'll make sure that the density of my quilting is similar over the entire quilt - no "holes" or "gaps" in the quilting for me! The samples where the cotton batting was NOT washed, but some combination of the top and backing were washed have the most pronounced effect. The sample where nothing was prewashed is actually not bad, as all the materials shrunk at a somewhat similar rate. There is shrinkage and in some cases, the height shrunk more than the length or vice versa. The ones where the batting was not washed shrunk the most. But it's as high as 1/4" over 6". All of them had some shrinkage. The cotton bat did NOT beard through the black.

Now before you set about washing everything or not washing - check the labels on your quilt batting. Some cotton bats would disintegrate in the washing machine - oh yes - I did that (as part of my experiment). Like everything - you MUST read the labels. And the more you experiment, the more you learn. I've made tons of samples and done tons of experiment over the last 20 years. Guess what? I'm still learning. I used flannel as one batting, muslin as another, wool, combinations of polyester/cotton. One had scrim. A total of ten different types of filler.

I would suggest that if you use predominately one batting type, that you do this experiment. It's interesting to see the differences. It may help you next time you try to decide if you want to prewash or not. By the way, Harriet has a GREAT section in the Quilter's Academy Volume I on whether to prewash or not. Get the book and read it!!!!  And if ever you hear her in person, the way she pronounces the word WASH will have you in stitches. Somehow she manages to get an R in there or so it sounds from her accent.

That's my learning tip for today. Heck - I could do a lecture on this subject - all my work is done. OH - I checked my Heirloom Machine Quilting - Harriet signed it in September 2000. That book is also a MUST HAVE. Everything I learned about machine quilting, I learned from Harriet and her book.

On that note, I'm out of here. I'm home all day so I've got loads to do - quilts to quilt, the studio is a HUGE mess (and there's a sit n sew this weekend) and I've got blog posts to write.

Check out the final day for QUILTsocial and see my finished pot holders. They're super cute.

Have a great day!!!!



  1. Our guild in High River Alberta have worked our way through Books 1 and 2 on Education days a couple of years ago. They were excellent. Members of the group took turns presenting the chapters. There was always a lot of discussion. As a relatively new quilter, I was surprised how much the more experienced quilters seemed to get out of the discussions. Well worth doing.

    1. Betty - What an EXCELLENT idea. I shall propose it to our guild. I'm very impressed with the books and yes - those books are for all levels. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Does not everyone "warsh" their clothes?lol. That is how it is done on the east coast

    1. Oh Shelly - I love WARSHING my clothes. I just love how that R gets in that word.

  3. My family is from central Illinois and they always "warshed" the clothes too.


  4. I actually started learning to quilt  with Harriets books - I now own all of them.  I learned everything from her and really, she covers each and every topic!! I even have her applique book and the one about fabric/batting.

    I also made the batting samples,  just like you did. 

    I wish I had a chance to take a freemotion class with her,  but I think she stopped teaching.  And anyway to fly across the Atlantic for a class of two days... but still. I would love to!

    1. Nina - that's so exciting! I love her and her books. I'm so glad that you found them and I only wish that more people did. Happy quilting across the Atlantic???