Saturday, May 3, 2014

Quilter's Folly?

Irons are a topic much debated amongst quilters.  Steam? No steam?  Which one?  Rowenta, that  revered German brand?  Oliso, that floats on the ironing board, so as to not burn your block if you leave the iron on it?  Dry irons--also very popular; either a heavy vintage one, or a new one?

I've had many---at least 3-4 Rowentas, a Sunbeam, Classic GE steam, and more recently a Continental Dry Iron, and a Euro Steam, which actually has a boiler inside.

I think every quilter has to, just once, buy a very expensive iron, preferably AT a quilt show, with friends who are also buying one.  Aren't those demos amazing?  Good God, can that iron be any better?  It's SOO wonderful, I MUST have one!!  That was the Euro Steam.  I LOVED it, was so excited, and thought it worked great for about 11.5 months.  Some friends that had gotten one weren't as happy with theirs, but I loved it.  It didn't distort my pieces, worked really well.    Then, long story short, had to get a new part from it's distributor.  Of course you'd want to pay $200 for an iron, wouldn't you only want the best for your garments? Ummm...I'm a QUILTER, bought it at a QUILT SHOW.... The disturbing part was their approach to their product.  If you sent it to them for a repair, there's a bench fee.  You pay shipping, repair could be expensive.  It didn' seem worth it.  If you chose NOT to pay for an expensive repair, you still had to pay bench, and return shipping if you wanted your iron back.  Expensive repairs?  On an iron?

My new part was mailed to me, free, 'as a courtesy' even though I was a titch past my one-year warranty (thank you for that!), and I think it took care of the steam leak issue I was having, but it just didn't seem to work as well.  Shouldn't a $200 iron last longer then a year?  Shouldn't it be a wonderful lifelong appliance?

BACK to using my cheap Black and Decker Classic.  Then, got a 'dry iron', the new ones seam more cheaply made, but we were happy together for awhile. Hmmm, I said to myself.  Went to Kohls, on a sale day, armed with a discount coupon to buy ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAN I'D ALREADY HAD.  Got this, took it home, works nice.  Seems like it could be hotter, but with water in it, works well.  Those steam holes don't distort, like the ones on my Black & Decker Classic, and the weirdly shaped (sort of duck-bill nose) is nice, doesn't pull, easy to get into places.  No big investment either, I think $39.99 on sale, plus a coupon discount.  Shark seems to be making a lot of good products, so we'll give it a whirl, see how long we are happy together.....(insert audio here, the Turtles, singing "Happy Together").....

The other thing that has a LOT of my attention right now is machine quilting.  Took a class thru a local guild with Natalia Bonner (see previous blog entry) and here are some samples from the class.  I think I was already the most advanced student in the room, not sure how much I learned, although Natalia tried.  Her quilts were fabulous, she's very sweet and got around to everyone,  demonstrating her designs on a white board, which was great in the classroom.  Some free motion feathers.  Not perfect, but soft & pleasing for the most part....

But it was a really fun day, class with a couple of friends from the Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild, and a couple from Great Lakes Heritage Quilters, along with the Cameo Guild members, and someone from Oakland County Guild whose quilts I had seen & liked at their recent show.  A great part of taking a class is your classmates!

The week before the Natalia class, I started my Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot class that Jacquie Gering is teaching on Craftsy.  I'm thru maybe 4 lessons so far, and can't wait to get to 'Spiral Designs' with your walking foot!!!  It's a great class, I highly recommend it.  I actually finally purchased a walking foot for my Bernina 820, which has dual feed, so they say you don't really need the walking foot.  Which is why I waited so long.  Experienced quilters say, Yes, you should have it for that machine.  I went generic, as the foot for that machine now retails over $200.  The store where I got it would sell it to me for $165.  The generic, guaranteed by the ebay store I got it from, was $68.50.  It works great!  I did these straight line designs from Jacquie's class.  One is her famous 'matchstick quilting', absolutely crazy, straight lines quilted 1/4" apart (you can go 1/8 if you want to).  Notice that crazy halo of light?  Instagram!  But I do love this design!  It was fun...on this SMALL SAMPLE!

The other she calls a Spirograph design.  Even for a small sample, you need to be sure it is PERFECTLY basted, flat as can be. In some ways I think free motion quilting (FMQ) is infintely more forgiving than a walking foot, fun as they are.  Fun to mix both techniques.  'Why choose' as my brother Calvin would say!!!

Lastly, something cute I saw somewhere, don't remember where, so I can't give proper credit.  If you know where, let me know.  When you get your binding all cut, pressed and ready, you can wind it onto an empty spool for nice, neat storage before using.  How cute is this???!!
Heading off to the Grand Hotel today, taking classes with Sarah Fielke of Austrailia, then bringing home Bonnie Hunter for her lecture and classes at Great Lakes Heritage Quilters (see  Susan Carlson is also teaching at the Needleworks Seminar, and Lucy Neatby.  The weather might not be the best that far north, ferries have only just gotten back to regular schedule due to ice on the Great Lakes, but hey....its GRAND HOTEL, quilters, friends, great teachers, great food & wine, turn-down and a mint on my pillow every night.  I go with my best friend, my DH Michael.  We will dress for dinner every night and have cocktails in the Cupola Bar, overlooking the straits of Mackinaw, the grandest bridge of them all, and maybe some boats.

Not bad, my friend......not bad!!

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