Thursday, December 31, 2009

December has been a really busy month!

My husband and I celebrated his birthday in December by going on a cruise right after finals.  I still have one research paper to finish and I really need to get working on the reading, but I've really just been enjoying our time off.

The cruise stopped in Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico.  On our way back we were able to take advantage of being bumped for a later flight on United airlines in order to allow to Boise State University football players to take their recruiting trip.  It was almost like another vacation!  They put us up in the Westin Hotel and gave us $30 worth of meal vouchers.  We arrived home on Saturday afternoon rather than Friday night; the two free airline tickets made it totally worth the wait!

DSCF1410Once we were back home I loaded my customer quilt and was able to complete it in time for her to pick up for binding and presentation for a Christmas gift.  I must say I'm very pleased with the outcome!

This week’s challenge has been to try to complete a couple of baby quilts using some of the with the example blocks I  started in conjunction with  my quilt   I'm rather stumped as I can't figure out why these don't look quite right, it's really just so bland!  It's also not finished yet as it's only 30" x 30" so I have lots of options; any suggestions?

I have the week off and have been taking advantage of the time by starting a new log cabin quilt project while watching the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl with the University of Idaho vs. Bowling Green…and the Vandals won 43-42!!

I'm also cutting out a new project in preparation for a sewing retreat day in January,  as the log cabin project requires lots of pressing and isn't really a good retreat project.  I  have another one of my customer’s quilts to do and need to  finish quilting the American heroes quilt I started in August.   After that, I know the pattern and thread I'll use on the second American Heroes quilt and I'm still stumped on how to quilt the third one.   Oh, wait, I only have four days left before have to go back to work!

I guess you can see now why I haven't been posting much!  I've even been able to keep up with the Stashbusters Yahoo group postings this week and thanks to a posting there even found another enticing project:

That makes the third project that I’d like to do this next year, in addition to everything else that I have in my UFO list; I’d better get busy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

While I have been trying to put together a blog of the recent past adventures, Christmas has snuck up on me!

May you all be able to spend quality time with your sewing machines!

And, simply….Merry Christmas!! 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Not quite caught up…

I haven’t posted in awhile because I’m just finishing up the semester, and I’ve been working on getting my final done.  There’s still a 7 page  research paper due that the teacher has been gracious enough to give me an extension on.  For today, I’ll be sending in the final and taking a break!  Interesting to me that even though I never thought I’d post a blog, I’ve missed it;  there simply has been no time.  I’ve been sick the last couple weeks, too, which doesn’t help a bit.

I haven't exactly completed the quilt class that we started for my school project in that the blocks aren't all done and we haven't covered all of the material, but we certainly have had fun and learned a lot!  We'll be continuing the class after the holidays and I'm really looking forward to seeing what my students come up with.  I did however get the school project turned in and have had some good comments from a teacher.

 BroncoQuilt-sm2Oh, and I had a great business idea come my way….making Boise State University Bronco quilts! I’m not sure if you remember that I made my mom a University of Montana Grizzly quilt? Well, I had started a Bronco quilt before that, just hadn’t finished it because I wanted to create a pantograph design of my own, as I couldn’t find anything out there that I liked. That hadn’t come to fruition and I found a football design so I used that instead and started showing people. They LOVE IT! Now, I don’t think I’m being modest, it’s nice and all, but really, there are much nicer quilts out there….

Anyway, I’ve started the process to get a crafter’s license from the school so I can officially start selling them. I already have an order for 2 quilts, which are roughly 75” x 54” and I’m charging $200 each. They have a fleece back with the Bronco logos all over.  Another customer wants a king sized quilt, but I haven’t worked out a price with him yet. I bought a bunch of blue and orange fabric on Thursday on my way home from work, they had a 50% off sale and I’m going to buy the fleece from my wholesale vendor.

We got a birthday coming up next week to celebrate, and then I’m quilting a customer quilt on Sunday.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out; I'll let you know!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sampler Quilt – Class #1 Progress

Saturday was the first day of teaching my Sampler Class.  It was a never ending comedy of errors, definitely a learning experience!

I found that because I had concentrated on providing samples and activities for later in this series of classes that I started to think that I needed different samples to assist with the main presentation.  I started to work on those samples at 9 AM with the goal of being at the facility at 1 PM.  What I failed to remember is that I had planned to use the sampler quilt that I had previously made for this part of the presentation.  It was only later, during the class presentation that I realized my completed quilt would have worked perfectly and that I had stressed out for nothing.

We had some great conversation about color, color value, the grain of fabric and how to cut it, and definitions of fat quarters and what they are used for (lots of variations in your quilt!)

We started with the Roman Block:


Then, because it used the same strips as the Roman block, we progressed to the Log Cabin:


And, having practiced matching points and cutting, we moved to the 9 Patch:


These are not my usual colors, but they fit my living room, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Next weekend we are going to work on half square triangles.  Woohoo!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Midterm completed!

DSCF0984Wow, I finally finished it!  My midterm ended up being 20 pages long…and am I glad it’s finished!  I even took two hours to sew!

Yesterday I found the most fabulous fabric for the borders on my baby quilt sampler!



  I started it when a friend of mine, Laura, asked me to teach a basic baby quilt class that had gotten cancelled at the local quilt shop.

The more I look at the class components, though, the more I think this needs to be a beginning quilt class, though.  Neither my friend, nor her friend, know how to quilt, so even the basic 9 patch, which is what this other quilt is, are going to be that easy.  And who wants to go around in life not knowing how to do a half square triangle? ;-)

So, I talked to Laura today and she reluctantly agreed to a longer class schedule for a sampler class.  I will help her get the 9 patch baby quilt completed if and when she still wants to do that project, but since she said she wanted to cover the basics of quilting, I really think the sampler will accomplish what she’s looking for in the long run.

Now, I am compelled to finish this project, then I can focus on my next round of homework!  Let’s see, two chapters plus two write-ups, more chapters for the class I just finished, a paper due in a couple days, and starting the outline and journal for the quilt class.  Oh, and don’t forget, I have to work and try to exercise, too!…  OK, now it’s time for bed…

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teaching a quilt class!

As I've mentioned before, I signed up for 2 online graduate courses. One of them has a requirement for 12-15 hours of field observation that I'm supposed to journal about. That's a lot of watching!

One of my friends had signed up for a quick baby quilt class, but it was canceled due to low enrollment and my friend asked me if I would teach it to her and to her friend. My mind immediately started in on working out the details of the quilt. On Friday I found out I can teach the quilting class as a replacement for the field observation, and even use the experience towards applying to the program!

I started, and have almost completed the top for, the quick baby quilt pattern that was the inspiration for the class and it is so darn cute! It’s pink and green, and I pulled most of the fabric out of my stash, although I needed a border and backing so I went to JoAnn’s last night because it was the last day of their 50% coupon sale. We have a new superstore in town, although, unfortunately, it does not have the variety of fabric that one would expect with the square footage available, and very long lines just to get your fabric cut...over a half an hour!

I got the most wonderful light green fabric for the back, I think it's considered a fleece. It's very soft and has a nap, with the bubbled up dots as a part of the fabric. Well, it was a bit expensive for a baby quilt, but it is so cute! I may have to keep this one for myself!

I was talking to Marian from CuddleTime Quilts, who not only has a teaching background, but also quilts and teaches for her own business. I really value her advice and she suggested that rather than teaching that specific quilt as a class, to change it to a beginning quilt class that covers more information and extends over a longer period of time. I tend to agree, considering the people who will be taking the class hardly know how to sew, but that will make the class hours longer and increase the preparation time. It would be a better class, though….

I just need to figure out where to hold the class. My teacher doesn’t want me to have it at my home, since that is somehow less professional. Sigh.

I’m also very behind on my schoolwork, have a midterm due and the teacher even extended my deadline but I am still scrambling not only to finish that project but to keep up in my other class. I do NOT like taking 2 classes at once, and it is definitely interfering with my quilting!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Working on my Website

Well, my website is in transition.  I am finally changing hosting providers and got the name servers updated by this morning so the new location is where the domain name points to but, lo and behold, my software hadn’t installed by then!

So, the site was down almost all day, and now I have only the default Joomla installation files on the site.  Anyone looking at it will not know it is my site until I am able to put a placeholder up.

Wow, it sure is a lot of work to find something I like, but I think it will be worth it in the end.

Weekend’s coming, got a lot of homework to catch up on, got a mid term coming up in two weeks!  Eeek!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two Weeks Post-Innovations

I can’t even believe it’s been almost two weeks since Innovations!    The quilting was amazing and inspiring, and so much has happened, and so much to talk about, I can’t even remember everything!

I came back from Innovations all fired up to quilt!  Would you believe that some of the best instruction happens between classes?  I was introduced to Ione Whitney by Sue R. from American Hero Quilts as Ione was getting ready to teach a class.  I’ve seen her name in the catalog before, but had not taken any of her classes.  I told her that I have the darndest time trying to figure out the continuous lines in a design.  I spend more time trying to be efficient than I do quilting!

One simple question from Ione put me on a new path.  She asked me “do you think you can’t cross over, or double back on, a line of stitching?”  The answer was a thoughtful “yes”.  She proceeded to show me how to quilt a 9-patch with a traditional X placed in the middle of each square.  It was so easy!  When I got home, I put that very design to work on my American Hero Quilt with the set in blocks and 9-patches, and it only took 2 hours to get two rows of 5 blocks done.  I still have to quilt the setting blocks, but I was able to stabilize it enough to take the quilt off so I could show my machine to a potential new Innova owner!

I also came back with a sampler pack of 20” squares of batting from Pellon to quilt up and see how they work out.  They have a new variety of battings that will not be available in the chain stores.  If I sign up to be a distributor, I can sell it to my local quilt shops, if they decided to carry other types of batting, which is a big IF!

The three most intriguing to me are the soy batting, bamboo and cotton blend, and the wool and polyester blend.  They feel really soft and I can’t wait to feel how they feel inside of a real for real quilt.  I was thinking the other day that I should have bought two of those sample packs so I could quilt one with a flannel back and one with regular cotton.  I’m thinking of using a great big feathered wreath, some wonderful King Tut thread, and stitching the name of the batting into the quilt.

Of course, I got together with some of my friends from last year, Edie Ellison and Marion Drain from Cuddle Time Quilts, and Marion Carmickle, and we all met up with some new friends!

The night we had dinner together was not only fun, it was hilarious!  The poor waitress dumped a tray full of salad, salad dressing, water, and other beverages and food all over the heads and backs of Marian and Linda Rech, from Finely Finished Quilts.  Linda and Marian got their dinners comped, including dessert, which was a chocolate mousse cake!

And, with all that enthusiasm for quilting stirring around, I came back to lots of homework, and an even bigger realization that I have a mid term coming up in two weeks, and I’m very behind on that reading!  EEEKK!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Innovations class - live!

I am co-teaching a class with Sally Terry, right now, and it is fun!
This is Sally's picture of Vicki's quilt. Isn't it beautiful??

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Innovations 2009

Innovations, the machine quilting conference in Tacoma, WA is starting today!

This is not just a quilt show, it is a place to take classes on machine quilting.  Short arm, mid arm, and long arm, it all applies.  This year there are classes specific to short arm machines that I did not see last year.  Of course, vendors are setup, and you can try out just about any machine in which you are interested.

I will be attending several classes, as well as helping Sally Terry with her class about creating or improving your web presence.  I am really looking forward to the experience!

Cindy Roth, the organizer of the conference, is teaching a class on how to use templates, and I am very excited about that class.  I don’t have a lot of template rulers, but I want to know which ones I’m most likely to use, and then buy them.  Cindy has her own line of  circle rulers, which I can’t wait to see put into action.

The Innova dealer, Cindi Rang, will also be here, and I’m hoping to see the ruler attachment that ABM has come out with.  From what I’ve read, it frees up your hands so you can concentrate on your work.  I’m interested to see how it might also help with curved arcs, if it does.  I’m also interested in seeing if they have a solution for doing pantos from the front of the machine.  If they do (I know there’s a laser light that can go up front) then I can push the machine against the back wall and free up another 2 feet of space!

There are so many classes I wanted to take, I just had to pare them down to allow time to enjoy the quilt show that is also part of this conference.

And, I can’t wait to meet up with the friends I met from last year!  They are a pack of talented ladies, all very accomplished quilters, and they are loads of fun.

I am pretty lucky, because a friend I’ve known for 20 years lives in Tacoma, and she graciously allows me to stay with her while the conference is going on, and I can take the bus to the Convention Center.

Classes start this morning, and the show opens in the afternoon.  People can still come to take classes, so if you suddenly get a bug, and you are in the Tacoma area, stop by!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day weekend

The plans I had. Oh, the plans I HAD!

I was going to quilt, I was going to piece my Pass the Bag blocks, I was going to try out my ideas for re-arranging my quilting room. Catch up on my reading, write out the answers to my end-of-chapter questions, walk the dog, balance the checkbooks, go shopping, visit friends, and spend time with my husband.

No, that didn’t happen. I devoted my time, instead, to another worthy cause: completing a document that will be used with Sally Terry at Innovations!

Sally is teaching several classes at Innovations. The one we are working on together on Friday, Sept 18th at 8am is called Creating and Improving Your Website. I’m very excited about being involved with Sally, and getting to present some of the information to the class, as it goes right along with my Master’s program, Adult and Organizational Learning.

I’m really glad I had a long weekend to finish working on the classroom document. While I didn't get to sew, I did manage to walk the dogs and spend time with my husband. I even manged to work in a bit of homework last night!

Innovations, here I come!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to School

Yes, it’s that time again.  Many people are getting ready to get their kids back into a school schedule and maybe relish some alone sewing time.  Me, I’m going back to school!

I started an online Masters program, Adult and Organizational Learning, from the University of Idaho.  I still have to get officially admitted to the program, but I can take classes while I work on the application process.

So, yes, I’m a Boise State Bronco at heart.  But that doesn’t mean I will let pride get in the way and pass a great opportunity by!  Hey…I married a Vandal!

What that means, overall, is that I might not be posting so much.  Well, I try to be somewhat consistent.  More than anything, I don’t want to blather on without anything real to say.

But I love talking about quilting!…and I have a Pass The Bag to finish for Friday, a Bronco game on Thursday night, so better get cracking!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Customer quilts

My mom had bunion surgery in February, in Great Falls, Montana.  We got into town early before the doctor’s appointment, and I visited Quilt-A-Way on 13th St. S.  What a great shop!  Open and airy, and the fabrics are grouped in unique displays, so that each category, such as vintage or batiks, are showcased in their own areas.

I introduced myself to the gals at the counter, Lynn and Kathy, and showed them a sample of my work.   When I had more quilted samples posted online I contacted them and they sent me three quilts to work on.

The first one is a green, red and tan Stack ‘n Whack.



Lynn asked for an overall meander with a neutral thread.  I think it turned out really great!










The second one is called Stepping Stones.DSCF3030 





Lynn wanted free standing circles, as you can see, and I also stitched-in-the-ditch around all of the seams. DSCF3097













DSCF3034The third quilt is a shop sample that Kathy had made.  She didn’t have a name for it, so I call it the Black, White, and Turquoise quilt.  If anyone knows the name of the pattern, please let me know.

She picked a light blue thread and wanted dinner plate sized freehand flowers.









DSCF0530I added loops and leaves around all of the flowers, too.




All in all, I am pleased with the results, and I look forward to working with both of them again.  Their piecing is wonderful, I loved their colors, and very nice ladies!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From Good to Great!

AmHero-4patch Last night I finally finished all of the blocks for my American Heroes quilt that I started in March! I’m stoked! So much so that I had a hard time sleeping last night. The thoughts that kept running through my head ranged far and wide:

“How am I going to quilt it?”
“I hope that the soldier who receives it will like it.”
“I hope the soldier doesn’t have to stay in the hospital too long.”
”I hope it’s warm enough/not too warm.”

This morning, the dog got me up in a panic to go outside, but not before an idea had blossomed: set the blocks on point and get another quilt out of it.

What a great idea!


If you would like to contribute to the effort to give a quilt to a hospitalized soldier, please contact Sue at American Hero Quilts. If you do not quilt, monetary donations are accepted to purchase batting and backing.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why Did I Buy an Innova?

I’ve been asked several times why I bought an Innova, and what I think about the machine, so thought I’d post my thoughts on that subject.

I love my Innova!

 QuitingStudioYes, it's the first system I've had, I only did a couple of other small projects on my DSM, then I rented a machine at my LQS.  I loved being able to quilt them myself and decided after having done 2 baby quilts that in order to get as good as I want to get, that would require a lot of practice, as with anything that you get good at.  Since it is $15/hour to rent a machine, and it takes me about 3 hours to do a baby quilt, I decided that if I could afford that kind of money each month to practice (way more than those 3 hours!), then I could afford my own system at home.  Not only that, I'd have the convenience of working on it when the quilt shop was closed instead of feeling pressured to get it done.  The only time I could rent their machine was on Saturday, since I work a regular 8-5 job. The shop is about 30 minutes from my house, too.  The big task was to convince my husband!

I started shopping around.  I had a bit of trouble with the stitch regulator on the major brand machine at the LQS, getting it to respond when I wanted to start up again after stopping and thinking about where I wanted to go next, so that machine wasn’t at the top of my list.  I had heard good things about another machine that was much less expensive, but not a short arm, that was in the right price range.  When I saw it, though, it didn't have a regular hopping foot, and I had to buy the poles at my local hardware store, etc.  So, the advertised price wasn't the actual price and that put me off a bit, although money doesn't grow on trees, either, and even getting a machine was a luxury.

That dealer lives about 2 hours away from me, the Innova dealer lives 8 hours away.  I was on my way back from visiting my family and decided to add an extra day to my trip to see the Innova, and after I test drove it, the other brand just wasn't an option for me anymore, even though the 18" version of the Innova was $1500 more at the time.  I decided that as bad as I wanted one right then and there, it would be worth waiting and saving that extra money to get the one I really wanted than to settle for one I was only sort of interested in.

Eventually, I decided to get the 26" machine, even though IT was an additional $1500 for the larger throat and subsequently wider frame.  I knew I wanted to be able to do large quilts, as we have a king sized bed, I already have a quilt in progress with 12" blocks on point, which needs 17" of quilting space, and I knew I wanted to be able to do customer quilts.  If I had only been able to get the 18" machine, though, I would not have been sorry.

closeup-black-white-turqIt was so smooth, and it has a great sound to my ear and feel in my hand, the stitches are great, it handles all kinds of threads, it's heavy duty, and it has a servo motor; no others on the market have that, that I know of!  My engineer brother will tell you that a servo motor is the King of Beers in electronics.  Having the servo motor means there is so much power that hasn't even been tapped yet for what I'm doing, and also allows for expandability of the machine, which the company has added since I bought mine, and it's easily retro-fitted if I want those upgrades.  Also, as you are comparison shopping, you'll see the maximum number of stitches a machine will go to is 1200 - 1500, but the Innova will go to 3000.  That's also an indication of the kind of motor it has.  The way the tension works is independent from the hopping foot, which is different than other brands.  I have a post here, if you want to read more about it.

OK, so can you tell that I love my machine? ;-)

When I need help with something, I call their tech support line which is available 24/7.   They have been in business with the industrial side of quilting machines for 70 years, and many of those machines operate overseas, so they have to be available for them and they are available for us, too.  I like that it's made in the USA! I always talk to Michael, the "M" in ABM.  Yes, I have them on speed dial.  I always play with my machine to see what it will do and that takes adjusting the machine.  For example, I bought a kit that had an extra throat plate so I can use heavy decorative threads.   Those threads require a very large needle, a size 21. Michael calls them nails, they are so big!  Well, the timing on the machine is set for the "normal" sized needle, a 16 or an 18.  It does not work the same for a 21, and the tension will not be the same for that thread, either.  The next project requires different thread so we go through it again.  I KNOW this machine will work properly with dark thread on the bottom and light thread on the top, I've SEEN it, I've DONE it!  And when I can't get it working correctly it drives me crazy so I fiddle with it.  I have another 2 bobbin cases on order so I can set them with one type of thread and leave it, and that will minimize my having to play with the tension settings in the future.

I am very independent, and stubborn, too. S o, I want to do things myself and not ask for help.  I have made things worse by doing that, then I have to call and Michael asks me why I didn't call right away.  I understand what he means by that, and I have started calling more easily when I have a question or want to change something so I spend less time tinkering with the machine and more time on my project.

My hubby and I set up the frame ourselves.  It wasn't hard, it was just involved.  Setting it up with one person would have been difficult but only for those times when you want to put the long beam in the middle to connect the two ends.  None of the individual pieces are heavy, except the machine itself. I have pictures of the setup process here:

Don't worry if you don’t have a dealer in your area.   ABM is literally a phone call away.  If you are shopping for a long arm, I would suggest that you do a lot of hands on comparisons between the models you are interested in.  It's a very personal choice, not only how much it impacts your wallet, but as a tool, and your mental state of mind while you are creating.  My husband is a drywaller, and I want him to have good tools that won't wear his body out, or cause him difficulty by making a job harder, just because he was trying to save money on a tool.  Quilting is the same way, as you know.  It's very tactile, and the interaction with the tools, thinking of who you are creating this gift for, steeping yourself in the colors and the patterns, and the challenge of learning something new is so rewarding.  Having a tool that doesn't interfere with that process is really important, and if it enhances it, all the better.   And I think the Innova enhances the experience!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where’d the time go?

Wow, 2 weeks sure fly by fast!

Let’s see, here’s a run down, in no particular order:

I volunteered to quilt for the American Hero Quilts organization, and received two lovely quilts. One thing I like about these quilts is that they are a useable size, not just a lap quilt. Then again, I always want to make a bigger quilt! I already know the design that I’m going to put on the Rail Fence quilt, I just need to get the gold thread. My husband helped me decide on the color of thread. He’s pretty good at that, and I appreciate his input.

The second quilt is pretty awesome, and I am going to be challenged on this one. It’s has Ohio stars all over it, so I need to do some research on how to best make it look good. Don’t have a photo of that one yet, though.

I have been busy quilting. I mean really quilting, not just piecing. I finished my customer’s third quilt and handed them off to her sister, who will hand them to another relative to get them to her. In fact, they should be there already, and I am dying to know if she likes my work. I will have to wait to post photos, though. It would be very impolite to publicize her quilts before she’s seen them.

I am also working on a quilt for a toddler; it’s a surprise for someone, so I can’t say much more than that. But it’s just darling, and I can’t wait to see my friend’s face!

A co-worker is leaving us and moving out of the area, so having a pizza party tonight, so will get back to sewing on Wednesday. I can’t wait!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Golf, anyone?

Last weekend my DH and I played our first round of golf.  We have each taken lessons before, hubby most recently as I had hurt my back when the lessons were scheduled, but we had never played an actual round.

We went with another couple who knows the ropes, and we had a blast.  I even told DH that I could see upgrading my thrift store clubs to a bare bones set from the sports store.  Given that I don’t know what I really want in a set of clubs, I eventually settled on upgrading the driver, as the rest of the clubs really aren’t so bad.

The downside is that I hurt my right arm so much so that the inside of my forearm was swollen for almost a week.  Being right handed, this was a bit of a problem, but I was still able to move the quilting machine around.

Tonight, I went to hit a bucket of balls, and on the first swing, I re-injured my arm.  So much for taking it easy!  But I’ll tell you, I eventually got that new driver to work for me:  I was able to hit over 100 yards!

Tomorrow…finishing my customer quilt.  Once she picks them up, I can post pictures of all three.  I can’t wait for her to see them!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Who’da thunk?

+ = Good
++ = Very Good
+++ = Excellent

I got my comment sheet back from the judges for the Boise Basin Quilters 2009 Quilt Show.

EleanorSurpriseQuiltShow For the Design components, which include Use of Color & Fabric, Top Design, and Quilting Design, I got a “+”.

I got a “++” for Workmanship, which includes technique (precision, stitches, grain line, shadow-through).

My “+++” rating came from…drum roll, please…..Finishing! The judges comment was “wonderful binding”.

So, I guess it does pay off to hand stitch binding down, eh? Or was it the milliner’s needle I liked so well?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How to Pin a Quilt onto the Leaders

Jennie Kerwood, a new ABM Innova dealer in NY, posted her method of how to pin a quilt onto the leaders.

Her explanation is quite detailed, easy to read, and easy to follow; you can't go wrong if you follow her directions.

I do a couple of steps differently, mainly pinning from the back. I could never seem to get the pins on top where I could see them, once I was ready to attach the backing, and this was causing the pin heads to drag on the arm of the machine or on the ruler plate.

In order to accomplish this, I let the leader out and keep it wrapped around the bottom bar and up over the top bar towards me so I don't have to lean over the table.

Once it’s pinned, I can roll it onto the take up bar to get to the end of the back and start pinning to the belly bar at the front of the machine.

Hope this makes sense!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Binding, hand sewing and needles

I usually sew my bindings on by machine, as I'm not much for hand sewing. It's not that I can't sew a slip stitch, it's that I don't want to take the time it requires to do it, I want to move on to the next project.

Well, it just didn't seem right for this quilt, the one I'm finishing for the quilt show. Maybe it is the batik border, maybe it's peer pressure. No, actually, it's that I cut my binding at 2 1/2" instead of 2 1/4" and when I wrap it around to the back, the binding isn't filled out with the quilt sandwich if I only bring it to the seam line. So, I have to bring the binding beyond the stitching line, making it wider in the back than the front. That would leave me with a lip on the back if I used SID from the front, or it would leave me with an "inside line" of stitching next to the binding around the entire quilt. Depending on the project, that's not an entirely unacceptable solution, so maybe it is the batik!

I started out with a quilting needle. Two different brands, even. Those needles were so hard to pull through the fabric that my thumb joint was literally sore the next day.... and I hadn't even finished an entire side yet!

The next needle I tried was a John James Gold'nGlide size 10 milliner's needle, and I can't believe the difference! The difference isn't so much the length as it is the "girth" of the needle, and the eye isn't larger at the end, like the quilting needle. I haven't had to squeeze the needle to try to pull it through, it just slides right through my BATIK fabric!

These needles are not the same as some other milliner's needles. I picked up a variety package of Piecemakers milliner's needles before I realized I had the other ones. The eyes of those needles seem a bit larger than the John James needles. I haven't used them, and since I found something I really love, I'm going to see if I can return them. No use messing with success.

I might just consider hand sewing ALL my bindings!......

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 13th deadline - the rush is on!

So, with all of the changes we made to the studio on Memorial Day weekend, I just had to put my theory into practice....and get my quilt done in time for the quilt show that I already entered it into!

eleanor-top-sm This is a Turning Twenty Again pattern, measuring 89" x 75"

I used a batik border and a batik back, and there is at least one batik in the piecing.  This is the first time I've quilted a project with batik...and it was a learning experience!

PolyQuilter-Oceans I loaded this quilt last Sunday and proceeded to mess around with trying to get my tension right.  You see, I can't use the same stitching scenario all the time!  The Innova handles all kinds of threads, and I want to experiment!  That's what gets me in trouble, I guess... ;-)

I used a new-to-me thread called PolyQuilter, from Superior Threads, which is a 19 wt spun polyester thread that feels like cotton.  It's really soft, and it is just gorgeous!  I didn't pay attention to the weight of the thread on the package, and it never occurred to me I would have to make adjustments, as you would with a decorative thread.  Well, maybe that's just me....

I only realized it was such a fat thread when I went to thread the needle.  It was much easier to use the size 18 needle just to get it through the eye, which worked out really well because of the batik back.  I like to test my tension on loops and swirls in order to test everything I might encounter during the actual quilting.  I've used an 18 before with no problems, but, for some reason, I ended up needing to re-time the machine this time because I was getting skipped stitches on my practice loops.  

This, of course, necessitated a call to ABM technical support, which is always great.  Michael was very patient with me as he walked me through several steps, making sure I was liking how the tension was set and how the thread laid on the back.  In order to not have the threads "lying on the top of the fabric" we ended up moving the needle bar height so that the hopping foot was about a dime's height above the quilt top, where I usually have it set to a nickel's height.   However, by the time that was all set, it was time to go to bed!

I used Willow Leaf Studio's Koko pantograph.  Although I've used a pantograph before, this is the first panto I've used on my machine.  Koko pantogragh Overall it was a pretty easy pattern to follow, although I found that I jerked on the edges of the little musical instrument too much and I have several points, rather than rounded edges.  That was probably me going too fast, as I have a tendency to be impatient.   Also, since I have the 26" machine, I wish I had more than one row on the pattern so I didn't have to roll so much.  Once I figured out the placement and rolling technique, I started to feel much more comfortable with the entire process.  I used about
1- 1/2 rows per bobbin, and I used about 8 bobbins.

I LOVE how the thread looks on the back!  It's actually more interesting than how it looks on the front.  This is part of that learning experience I was talking about...

closeup of design on back

So, this quilt has taken me a whole week to complete, except for the binding, which I am going to finish this weekend. Resting

Monday, May 25, 2009

Studio Updated!!

Lots of work on the house this Memorial Day weekend!  We purchased a small flat screen TV for the exercise room and for the sewing studio and mounted them on the walls, along with shelves in each room to try to economize the space.

I asked DH to make the corners rounded, and he obliged.  I have already saved myself some injury when I bumped my hand into one of the shelves while I was arranging items.  I am so glad he installed the screws at the end of the brackets to secure the shelves!

If you haven't seen my studio before, here is the preview picture from March, 2009.SewingRoom-March2009-sm

And today, Memorial Day 2009, here is the updated photo of the sewing area: 


I am SO excited about the new arrangement!  I hope I can keep it this organized when I'm working on my projects.

I am also planning to bring a computer into the area and connect it to the mounted TV screen.  I'll have to figure out how to store the keyboard and mouse when I'm not using them, but having a computer here allows me to work with clients in this area without running up and down the stairs, and I'm really excited about that!

I will be able to rearrange the other end of the room so that I can move the cutting table closer to the wall, which will increase the area on the free motion side of the quilting machine.  You don't want to see a picture of that area right now, I can assure you!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Animals in the Park

Animals in the parkI've been so busy quilting and trying to keep up with the normal life events that I have hardly gotten the pictures off my camera.  I've been dying to get some time to post some of my progress!

This one was done at the end of  April.  It's another baby quilt for my guild.  The top was donated, it has a mitered corner border applied around the outside of the panel.

I just loved the print, it called out "pink" to me, so I quilted it with Superior's Rainbows thread, both top and bottom.  It's a variegated thread, and has a slight sheen to it, and I had to use one of the thread bras to keep the thread from puddling off the cone while I was quilting it.  But it really came out nice, and I didn't have any problems with the tension once I got it set.  closeup of meandering quilting I put a very bright pink flannel back on it, and even reduced my stash in the process!  That's what a stash is for, I guess!closeup of pink flannel

Monday, April 20, 2009

Garden 2009 - the Next Steps

So this is the area I started on last weekend, pulling weeds with the dandelion digger. My chiropractor rolled his eyes at me when I said "Well, it HAD to be done!"

My husband rototilled for me this weekend, and even took out another couple of feet of grass so I can expand. Next year, another couple of feet!

Hubby also rototilled one of the sprinker heads! Oops! Not a problem, that just encouraged me to implement a soaker hose option for the area that I've been talking about for 3 years. Can't believe I didn't do it sooner, as the head was only about $6 and 50' of soaker hose was another $6.50.

Check out our new compost bin, too! We sort of made it up as we went, didn't follow any instructions, but made it out of a black garbage can, cut a hole in the bottom and put a side opening on it, with a handle. I can't wait to get some black gold out of it!

I took out the corner rose bush and transplanted it to another area in the front yard. It was almost on top of the underground sprinkler head, so it was rather ineffective anyway, and I was always worried about mildew, even though it got plenty of sun. That's probably what saved it!

So, yesterday I was a bit sore overall, raking and pulling weeds was very good for me, but I kept it to a minimum and my hands didn't get overworked.

So, I sewed!
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting the garden ready

I worked in the garden this weekend, pulling weeds for an hour.  Will I ever learn??

I was using the weed pulling tool to get out the overgrown weeds that were covering my garden plot, and I over-used my hand.  I can feel it in my wrist, arm, and even something in my shoulder.  I need to go to the chiropractor and get an adjustment.  Oh, will I ever learn?  At least it looks pretty good now!

I only was able to work for an hour in my studio this weekend.  Probably best, with the hand being sore.  I got the back of a baby quilt for the guild loaded on the machine, need to get the rest of it going and figure out what I'm going to do.

Guild meeting on Thursday, so want to have at least 2 to turn in.  I already know what I want to put on the third quilt, I just don't have enough backing material.  Not only just not big enough for the long arm, with the extra 4 inches all around needed, but it doesn't even cover the back of the quilt!  Arrggh!!  I know what I want to do with that quilt, but I have to work on the quilt I don't know what to do with.  That's life, eh?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Auction Block

ChineseLanternI finished one of my auction blocks for the Boise Basin Quilters upcoming Boise Basin Quilter's 2009 quilt show on June 27th and 28th.

It is a Chinese Lantern pattern from Australian Patchwork & Quilting, although the coordinator doesn't know which issue it came from.  She had a quilt done with this block and it was gorgeous, and the pattern is amazingly easy to do!  I know I've seen the issue that contains the entire set of instructions, and I can't wait to get my hands on it so I can make one of these for myself!

I'm having a hard time deciding if I should use the same fabric to make the second one, which I've already cut out, or if I should use another oriental fabric.  Hmmm....I think a different one.  It will make for a more interesting quilt.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Knitting New Mittens & Gloves

Well, yes, I am a quilt fiend, obsessed beyond belief.  But I also like knitting, and I have cold hands quite often.  I seem never to find fingerless gloves, much less anything I could use while quilting.

Since I am a computer support technician by day, I need to be able to type freely, which most gloves will not accommodate, and forget about mittens, which are really on my mind!

KnittingNewMittensandGlovesSo, I recently picked up this book:  Knitting New Mittens & Gloves: Warm and Adorn Your Hands in 28 Innovative Ways  (ISBN 978-1-58479-666-4)

It has some very pretty fingerless gloves, and I just love the looks of them!  Especially page 102, Rusalka.  Did I mention that I don't start with the easy stuff??

Now, if I can only convince myself that I can do knitting in the round with 4 or 5 needles.....or figure out how to do that with circular needles, I would be in business.

Heck, I learned quilting, I can do this!...why am I so intimated when they say I have to use a 5 needle set?

OK, time to ask my BFF how to do this.  She knows everything.... :-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another Panel

I was so intrigued by the results of Thomas the Train panel that I just HAD to try another one.

On Sunday I got another panel and flannel backing, so I will be ready for the weekend to get that one quilted also.

This one is a soft yellow, blue and brown panel of baby jungle animals, a baby lion and tiger and elephant, and it's perfect for a shower gift where the gender of the child is unknown. I love it! This will be one of my portfolio pieces, so I can show off a simple, large meandering pattern. This time, I will use Warm and Natural cotton batting, so I can also show the texture and density.

Darn, I should have gotten 2 of them, and done one in polyester so I can show off the difference. Hope there's another sale soon!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pass the Bag - Star blocks

My sub group did a Pass The Bag project last year, and I was too busy to participate.  Every month I felt left out because I really liked what I saw developing.

This year, we decided on a star block.  It only requires 2 contrasting fat quarters to get 2 large and 2 small blocks.  The pattern was drawn onto freezer paper, then ironed onto the top piece of fabric, then cut seam allowances.

I decided that I was definitely going to participate this year.  I chose batiks for my own project, and put a note in the bag asking that I get the left over fabric from the fat quarters.  I always want a larger quilt, so not only will the leftovers help with increasing the size, they will provide a place of rest for the eye and/or a really great border.

It's only the first round so far, so yesterday I worked on the next blocks, blue and gold.  I am also making more batik blocks for my own project so that I will get the larger quilt I want.

Here are the finished small blocks:


And here are the larger blocks, ready to sew:BigStar-passthebag

We are not supposed to trim the blocks, so that the recipient can decide how to place them and what size to trim them down to.

I think it's going to be great fun to see what everyone comes up with.  Now, how am I going to quilt this....??

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Quilter's perspective

I've been asked to write an article for our local guild's newsletter about my perspective as a new long arm quilter.  What an honor!  And, what pressure!

What is the voice?  What about grammar?  Will it be interesting to anyone?  I haven't written a "paper" for quite awhile, will it be any good??

Guess it's sorta like just gotta go for it. ;-)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thomas the Train

ThomasTheTrain-finishedI finally finished one of the baby quilts I had signed up to quilt for the Boise Basin Quilters baby quilt project.  I am really pleased with how it turned out, especially since this is the first time I've done meandering on my longarm. 




Themeander-closeup quilt measures 34 x 43 and I used a size 16 needle with a variegated red, blue, green and yellow cotton thread.






closeup-facePolyester batting makes it nice and puffy.






Flannel Thomas the Train backing.


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