Machine Quilting & The Spark of Inspiration

We all have benchmarks or turning points in our quilting journey. Those moments where we feel so inspired, we are compelled to move forward. Its source could be a stunning fabric collection, a pattern you can’t wait to make, or even a technique you simply must try. The lightning strike of inspiration can occur at a quilt show, at a guild meeting, while flipping through a magazine, or while watching a quilting video. We never know when or where the jolt of inspiration will occur, but inevitably it does.

The Spark

A picture of my first quilt in progress.

Before I even owned my own sewing machine, I was at a warehouse clothing sale and spotted stacks of fabric amidst the dresses and shorts. There was a table piled high with fabric bundles. Each one contained ten-inch squares of the company’s vibrant screen prints on a range of fabrics from white to black with lime, coral, and periwinkle in between. Zing, inspiration struck! At the low, low price of one dollar per bundle I grabbed a few and decided I would make a quilt.

I didn’t know how to quilt. Nor did I know that knit fabric would be difficult to cut and piece with precision. Especially since I didn’t know stabilizer was something I’d need for this adventure. That shock of inspiration was so powerful I felt a need to see where it would lead.

One sewing machine, several trips to the fabric store, and over a year later, I’d made my first quilt top. By some miracle the blocks were straight, so I purchased the batting and backing, and cut my binding. I was ready to quilt!

This is where things get a little hairy. After showing my quilt top to coworkers and friends (who am I kidding, I showed that top to everyone who would look at it) I began to understand the grave error I’d inadvertently made—piecing knit fabric with no stabilizer.

The overwhelming advice I received was to send my quilt to a longarm quilter and move on to the next project. Stubbornly, I refused; I wanted the satisfaction of seeing this project to the end. With fear of ruining this precious first quilt top and potentially ending the fountain of quilting inspiration that began to flow, I put away the quilt until I could find a solution to this knit-induced problem.

The Sizzle

The next time I experienced that sizzle of excitement, that compulsion to continue my craft, I was watching Modern Machine Quilting: Straight Lines, Spirals, Serpentines, and More with Catherine Redford. My task was simply to watch the video so I could write a summary for our online store, but I was riveted.

Spiral machine quilted by Catherine Redford

Zing, inspiration struck again! As I watched Catherine patiently and clearly explain machine quilting with a walking foot, my heart started beating a little faster and the familiar exhilaration of inspiration struck.  I could finish my project myself on my home sewing machine! All I needed was a walking foot and practice.

Catherine demonstrates so many variations and techniques to try, that I’ve been practicing for quite a while now. My grids and matchsticks still need some work, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my straight lines, organic lines, and serpentines.

For me, her guidance and instructions made the idea of machine quilting too approachable not to give it a try. Now that I’ve successfully quilted several baby quilts and one full-size quilt using the tools and techniques I learned from Catherine, I’m finally ready to set my fears aside. It’s time to take that first quilt top, knit fabric and all, out of storage so it can be used, loved, and of course, shown off.

Now that I’m surrounded by quilting inspiration every day, it’s harder to pinpoint those sharp bends in the road, but each turn of inspiration propels me further in my quest to become a better quilter.

Have you encountered any sparks or sizzles of inspiration along the path of your quilting journey? I’d love to hear about the turning points you’ve experienced; leave a comment below to share your story.

Happy quilting,

Check out Catherine’s video so you can experience that spark of inspiration too!

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2 thoughts on “Machine Quilting & The Spark of Inspiration

  1. Your article inspired me. Have not heard of Catherine before, so went to Pinterest to see what was there – she is amazing! Eager to get the DVD and get over my own fear of machine quilting. Thanks!

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