Can I Read a New Book and Work on PIGS? | McCall’s Quilting Blog

I have admitted before that I am easily sidetracked from my goal of completing one of my PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) every month. This month is no exception.

I finished a bed-size quilt the end of June and then went on vacation. You can see that bed-size quilt in my blog here.

When I got back from vacation, Modern Machine Quilting by Catherine Redford was on my desk.

Now I know I’m supposed to be finishing PIGS but this book looks like it has some great ideas, information and inspiration.

I enjoy quilting on my domestic machine. I really do … I no longer quilt bed-size quilts on my domestic machine because it’s physically hard work to move the bulk of a bed-size quilt but smaller quilts are delightful to do. It was all I could do not to start reading the book at work but I had tasks that I had to do first since I’d been on vacation.

Evening #1, I skimmed over the first chapter. I know I should have read it carefully but I was impatient. It goes over all the basics so if you are a beginning machine quilter, it has great information.

The second chapter is about walking-foot quilting. I read the first twelve pages of that chapter and then found some orphan blocks (PIGS) to practice what I’d read. (See how I did that, I’m reading the book, playing with new techniques and still working on PIGS.)

I wanted to use the orphan blocks because the smaller area of a single block made the project go quickly and allowed me to experiment with several different ideas from the book.

7 17 17 01 300x294 Can I Read a New Book and Work on PIGS?The first thing I tried was matchstick quilting. What fun! I want to try this again on something bigger. I’m thinking something really modern looking with lots of negative space.

This little block is 9½” square. I’m not sure what its purpose is. I didn’t use Insul-Bright by The Warm Company so it wouldn’t be the best potholder in the world. It’s too large for a mug rug and too small for a table topper but maybe it’s something to put under a houseplant.

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A Quilted Plaid

The second project was still straight-stitch quilting but this time per Catherine’s instructions, I quilted a plaid.

This block is 10¼”. I may need to get more houseplants.

Evening #2, I read just four more pages and got into one of the things that sets Catherine’s book apart from other books on machine quilting.

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It’s a Way to Remember

Catherine has charts to record the settings on your machine. That means that if I want to duplicate the quilting on this project, all I have to do is look at the chart in my book and all the information I need is there.

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Quilted with Decorative Stitches

This project is a cute 18” table topper. I quilted with two different serpentine stitches as well as straight stitches. Because I quilted each segment of color with matching thread, I changed the thread color, brand and weight for different parts of the quilting.

Catherine ends this section with explanations and illustrations on quilting both circular and straight-line spirals. I’ve done circular spirals several times and have discovered that you have to be very careful so the quilt doesn’t get distorted on the corners. Catherine has a fix for that. I’m going to try spiral quilting again. Watch for it in an upcoming blog.

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Mussels – Enlarged and Ready to Trace

Evening #3, I went on to the section on free-motion quilting. Catherine has many designs shown in the book with the suggestion that you enlarge the designs and trace in order to build muscle memory. I copied five designs at the office and thought about them on the drive home and even drew the mussels design on the passenger seat when I was stopped in traffic.

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Can You Say Obsessive?

I am obsessive and a perfectionist. I admit it. So when I started quilting the mussels design I was stitching very slowly and carefully – and making it very small.

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Oh Dear!

I didn’t intend to make it small and I didn’t realize how very small it was until too late to change it so I guess mine are baby mussels. I put the quarter in both the photos so you can see the difference.

For my final project, I went back to the chapter on walking-foot quilting. There are several ideas there that I still want to try.

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Decorative Stitch Quilting

I combined straight stitch and decorative stitches in the same row of quilting and I used two different decorative stitches as quilting. I really like how this one turned out.

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Close-up of Decorative Stitch Quilting

The next section of the book is the gallery – photos of 24 beautifully quilted quilts with close-ups of many of them and the last part of the book is projects. There are instructions for placemats and three different quilts.

What a nice book. And in looking it over and trying Catherine’s ideas and instructions, I finished five, yes, FIVE PIGS! And it only took me three evenings. AND it’s still early in the month. I am way ahead of the game.

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I’m on a Roll!

Catherine’s book is available at in hard copy and digital format. Check it out … I think you’ll like it.

And now, until next time, happy quilting!

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