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Needle and thread...

Needle and thread...

Written by: 
cnelson

It's what makes a quilt a quilt - the stitching that joins the three layers of the top-batting-backing sandwich.

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That's Butterfly Kisses by Pat Sloan - Mini Marvels.

You know Pat, right?  Uber-quilter, author, stitcher, teacher and all-around-super-cool-woman!  Pat has a new book - Teach Me to Machine Quilt - from Martingale-That Patchwork Place.  After much begging and pleading, I'm lucky enough to be part of her Mega Fun Book Tour to talk about the book.  (Just so you know, I was the one begging and pleading, I had already seen the book and knew it was pretty awesome.)

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I hope you've been touring since yesterday - the first day of Pat's Mega Fun Book Tour.  If you were, you already know that Pam Vieira-McGinnis - aka PamKittyMorning, Kimberly Einmo, Alyce Blythe and Bonnie Hunter think the book is terrific - a must-have.  They're all very smart ladies - and I wish I had more to add than "what they said"!

Even though we all agree on the main points - that it's a must-have book - I hope you'll read what each of these lovely ladies wrote as they have different takes on what they liked best about the book.

I hope you'll also visit Matthew Boudreaux - Mister Domestic - and the Editors of American Patchwork & Quilting today.  They're Mega Fun!

As for me, what stands out about Teach Me to Machine Quilt is that it is a great resource for beginners, and for quilters like me - those of us who learned to machine-quilt many years ago but haven't done it regularly enough over the years to be as practiced, skilled and knowledgeable as we'd like to be.

It's full of good, solid information on getting started, the basics of every aspect of machine-quilting and problem solving.  In addition to the excellent presentation of the material in the book, there is additional support online in the form of "how to" videos.  It's a really cool idea - some things just make more sense when you can actually see the process in action.  There are also useful tips and appealing projects on which to practice specific machine-quilting skills.

So if you're a beginner and don't know where to start, Pat will lead the way.  But if you've already got some skills and need a refresher, some new tips and lots of practice, Pat can help there too.

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And she'll do it all with a smile and a positive, upbeat spirit.  That'll come in especially handy if-when you have tension problems - and no worries if you do, Pat is there to help.  I did say she covers every issue and possible problem that might crop up... if you've done any machine-quilting, you know that tension problems will come up.

Before you ask... why this book?  There are many really good books on machine-quilting available these days, why should you consider getting this one?

  • The presentation is straight-forward and step-by-step in a way that makes it easy to follow.  I read through the first half of the book where Pat discusses every aspect of getting ready to machine-quilt and the actual process of walking-foot quilting and free-motion quilting.  Pat lays it out - this is what you need to know and she anticipates the questions that will come up.  Reading the section, then working through each step like a workbook would be an awesome way for a beginner to get started, and a rusty-not-beginner to refresh their memory.
  • This isn't everything you'll ever need or want to know about batting, thread, quilting options and styles, etc., but it is everything you need to know to get started, get better and enjoy machine-quilting.
  • Pat is also honest - being a good machine-quilter takes time and practice.  It is an acquired skill, one that everyone can learn.  Samples.  Samples.  Samples.  I love that Pat advocates making "practice sandwiches" to check-try everything from battings to threads, new designs to just loosening up.  Muscle memory - it's not just for professional athletes.

One last thing - I was so happy to see the book discuss thread weights, and to encourage trying different weights.  (Practice sandwich!)  I've written about how much I love playing with different weights of thread and mixing them is a very popular trend with modern quilters.

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There are so many options now with thread weights and colors - and yes, Aurifil 50 wt. is a great place to start.

So armed with my "refresher course" from Pat, I'm going to do a little bit of machine-quilting this weekend using Aurifil's new 80 wt. thread.  I've stitched just a bit with it and it's quite wonderful, so I'm excited to use it for something else.  I have a couple of practice-sammies ready and when it all goes well - thanks to Pat, of course - I will have a new pillow by next week.  (I highly recommend pillows and bags as the sort of project for practicing your machine-quilting skills and experimenting.)

Now for the best part - Pat is giving away five copies of Teach Me To Machine Quilt.  You can enter to win at Pat's Mega Fun Book Tour!

And because we love Pat - you can also leave a comment here to win a copy of the book, a Layer Cake of Pat's upcoming Sunday Drive collection and a spool or two of Aurifil thread.  Just leave a comment by Midnight on Monday - November 21st - telling us why you need this book.

(Winner drawn randomly - if you really really n e e d this book... Pat's giving away five copies.) (And thank you to the nice folks at Martingale for letting me borrow all the pictures.)

Now go see what Matthew and All The Quilting People are up to.

Happy Saturday!

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