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Archive for the ‘In Progress quilts’ Category

Lupines: the quilting begins!

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

Ever so slightly ahead of schedule, I have begun quilting on the Lupines. Luckily (and one reason I chose this imagery) this will be easy quilting.  And yes, once again, I LOVE MY BERNINA Q20.  Crazy expensive and worth Every. Single. Penny.   Lots and LOTS of pennies.

This morning I finished basting the Lupines quilt.  I decided to try something I haven’t done before:  a double batt.   I definitely wanted to use wool, but I haven’t been able to find a source for my favorite Matilda’s Own Wool-poly blend batt in the US recently, and I’m hoarding my last batt.   So I used  Quilters’ Dream Wool which is much fluffier; I fused my top to that.

BUT I was concerned about distortion because of the fluffiness–it just didn’t feel like it would hang well and be stable.  Dreamy (pun intended) in a bed, lap or snuggle quilt, but by itself on a densely quilted wall quilt?  Not so much.  So I took the only cotton batting I had, Quilters Dream Select, and layered that underneath the wool.  If I had had Request, the thinnest, I would have used that instead.  Finally, spray basted the backing and safety pinned intermittently.  I am using up long lengths of print fabric in my stash when they suit the quilt–time to move them along.  Will have to dye something to match for facings and hanging sleeve.

I also selected thread yesterday afternoon and this morning.

When I choose thread for a quilt, I “test drive” it by drizzling on the surface. If it works, it goes in the shallow box. I probably won’t use all of these, but will use most of them–about half the solid greens and almost all of the rest. And I added a medium purple this morning and will likely not use the dark purple in the box at all.

Things I have learned so far:

  • Painting a nonwoven is a good thing.  But if that nonwoven is Pellon 65 heavyweight interfacing, it is somewhat like using construction paper.  Will do the non woven thing again, but will look for something softer yet still dense (so no shadow through).
  • Mistyfuse is by far my fusible of choice.  But it behaves differently on the interfacing than it does on cloth.  If I fuse this particular interfacing again, I will use TWO layers of Mistyfuse–it is plenty fine and easy to stitch, and it will help this painted interfacing stick better–see photo.

Because of the difference (in porosity maybe?) between fabric and interfacing, my fusible isn’t sticking quite as well as usual. So I have re-fused various spots, and in a couple of cases tucked snippets of Mistyfuse under the stubborn lifting petals. I found, luckily, that if I am careful I can still quilt those lifting petals because the interfacing doesn’t wobble around like fabric.

And to my astonishment, I quilted almost five of the six purple lupines today.  I have a couple of the tops where I will use pale lilac or cream unstitched as of this evening, but I am definitely farther along than I thought I would be.

Quilting in progress…done on the right, not done on the left. Using just one purple thread to stitch down the petals/quilt down the petals is working out OK despite the value changes from petal to petal.

That means the “after Eli goes back to college” period may be less frantic than I had feared. YIPPEE!  Barring catastrophe, I will be one and able to take photos and submit then ON TIME.  Stay tuned!

 

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Birdie Bernina takes her first drive….

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Imagine that…working on a quilt, and not an art quilt! AND it’s a UFO! Here I’m trying out various design options.

We moved to Maine in 2004.   This top pre-dates that move by at least a year–I made it as a local quilt group mystery quilt (design by Debbie Caffrey but don’t remember the name).  I only made four blocks, made it into a small top, and it has sat in a basket mocking me lo these many years.

Fast forward:  I SPLURGED.  I ***seriously*** splurged.  I bought a Bernina Q20 sit down.  Yes, it costs as much as a nice used car.   And Oh. My. Yes. it is worth it…what a DREAM!  I figured you only live once, quilting is my favorite thing, so I’m gonna just go for it.   And yes, I am beyond grateful that I have been able to earn enough by writing, teaching and selling my art quilts to be able to afford this indulgence!  To each and every person who has ever read an article or my book, watched my DVD, or taken a class or bought an artwork, THANK YOU!

But that means  need to learn to use it and not be a tad intimidated.  Light Bulb Moment!!! Take those two UFO mystery quilts (yep, there’s another larger one) and use them to test-drive the new Bernina, named Birdie because of the beautiful bird’s eye maple cabinet (yes, I splurged a little more and upgraded to the cabinet…pics below).  So I got the somewhat soiled, tired, not particularly well pieced tops out, ironed them, and decided to go for it.

You can see some of my quilting design. I planned to do some straight line work with a ruler and ruler foot in the green. I wanted to do more ruler work and curved cross hatching in the white spaces. And since I’m adept at free-motion, some of that using a leaf motif from the navy print in the corners and small squares. I’m not positive yet what I’ll do in the navy floral, but may just use navy and outline the flowers.

Here I’ve completed the straight line work on the green (not perfectly, but not bad for a first attempt as I get used to using the stitch regulator with the rulers. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE curved cross hatching! And then I began on the free-motion for the leaves. I plan to go back in with a lighter weight thread–I’m using 40 wt Superior trilobal poly here–to to a background dense fill around the leaves. There is a half inch outlined space between the leaves and the cross hatching.

I have to say the included-with-the-machine video was great, although I have no clue WHY Bernina doesn’t make it able to play on a DVD player–only a PC or a Mac.  Have they not noticed that computers don’t come with disc drives any more?????  Luckily, separate disc drives are cheap (about $30 or less) and I had planned on buying one for other reasons (moving CD music to the laptop).  But still.   The disc ought to be able to be played on a DVD player!   Anyway, it is well done, as is the manual.

The Q20 comes with a bobbin tension gauge and the manual says (yes, I read manuals! you should, too) you should test every bobbin.   So for now at least, I am.  That helped me get my combination of thread–40 wt. trilobal poly in the needle and 60-wt very fine Bottom Line poly in the bobbin–adjusted with a minimum of fuss.  The stitch balance is simply fan-flipping’-tastic.  I DO match needle and bobbin thread always, though, just in case!

And here’s my beautiful Birdie Bernina on her maiden quilt. Contented SIGH.

I need to thank three people:  Barb Black and Karen Miller are friends who have the Q20 (Barb’s is a sit-down like mine, Karen’s on rails) and Jeanie Cook-Delpit of Bernina for their advice, rave reviews and, from Jeannie, help.  When I saw Barb at Quilt Festival I got a great big laugh out of her when I greeted here with “Thank you for leading me into temptation!”  It’s totally true.  And Jeanie — you helped make this possible.  THANK YOU!  You are the creme de la creme of Bernina Ambassadors.  I’ll post more pics when done.   Let’s hope the power doesn’t go out tomorrow during the incoming storm, which is supposed to be heavy, wet snow.  I wanna quilt!

Janome 9400 review

Monday, December 5th, 2016

As many of you know, I’ve been fortunate to be affiliated with Janome America for many years and sew on their great machines.   They’ve come out with a new top-of-the-line NON-embroidery machine, the 9400.  And as I have come to expect, they take something that is already really good and make it even better.  We’re getting close to perfect!   To see the machine on the Janome site, go here.

My newest sewing love, the Janome 9400!

My newest sewing love, the Janome 9400!  Notice the FABULOUS lighting?  I love the pull-out light, too!

Over the past few months I’ve been able to put the machine through its paces, making a knit top, finishing a set of quilted placemats, finishing a small bag with zipper, and (who me?) piecing several quilt tops.   The machine excelled at everything I threw at it!  The 9400 has taken many features from the top of the line embroidery and sewing 15000 machine, including that awesome light on the top left that slides out.  I think the design of it  on the 9400 is even better than on the 15000, as it curves a bit.

One of the first things I did was some class samples for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag….including installing a zipper.

Zipper insertion for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag class sample.   Notice how the zipper foot fits PERFECTLY, allowing me to use the zipper coil as a guide and getting the stitching **perfect** ?  I used plum stitching as a decorative accent on the right side of the zipper, and am now stitching the second side of the left half of the zipper.

Zipper insertion for my Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag class sample. Notice how the zipper foot fits PERFECTLY, allowing me to use the zipper coil as a guide and getting the stitching **perfect** ? I used plum stitching as a decorative accent on the right side of the zipper, and am now stitching the second side of the zipper.

A bigger challenge, for both me and the machine, was to make a new top.  I fell in love with the plum knit and bought it a year or so ago.   I also love the aqua top, which is showing its age.  I did a “rub off” which is where you make your own pattern using an existing garment.  You can trace (with garment on top of paper) or rub (with garment under paper) to feel the edges and create pattern pieces.  I extended the sleeves from 3/4 to full length, and am delighted at the machine and the results.

Success!  I actually made a KNIT garment.  The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right.  I'll do a separate blogpost later this week with more info on how I did it and which stitches used.

Success! I actually made a KNIT garment. The original shirt (purchased) is on the left. After making the pattern from that shirt, I made the plum one on the right. I’ll do a separate blogpost later this week with more info on how I did it and which stitches used.

I also have done quite a lot of piecing.  I used the P foot which comes with the machine for my quarter inch seams, but decided to use the optional Clearview foot which I prefer.   In a second project (which I can’t share yet because it is a Christmas surprise) I was astounded at how accurate my results were; I am NOT a piecer, and the feed on the machine worked very well (until my attention wandered, at which point I simply cut the threads, went back to my oops and fixed it).

Using the ClearView foot for piecing

Using the ClearView foot for piecing.  I really like the red 1/8 and 1/4″ markings. This foot is available for both Janome’s  7mm and 9mm machines (the 7 and 9 refer to the maximum stitch width–you need to be sure you get the correct one to fit the “ankle” for your machine). Have I said how much I love it?

I also have been able to do both free-motion and walking foot quilting, though not as much yet as I would have liked.   I finished a set of placemats and table runner called Modern Winter, which I prepared for Janome’s blog.  You can find the pattern and information here.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner.

Modern Winter placemats and table runner. Instructions/pattern on the Janome site at the link.  

The one thing I keep trying to convince Janome to do is to create feet for the top of the line machines that is similar to the convertible FMQ (free motion quilting)  feet for the Janome 8900/8200 and similar which I think are the best quilting feet Janome makes.   In addition to the traditional “hopping” or darning foot used for free-motion quilting, the 9400, 15000, 12000 all have the QO and QC skimming FMQ feet which snap on to the ankle (which is really quick and easy).  However, these feet are clear plastic and not round.   They work great for most people’s purposes, but if you look at pretty much ALL quilting machines, the preferred and nearly universally available feet are metal CIRCLES.  The metal is stronger and can, therefore, be thinner, which affords greater visibility.  And by being a circle, you can echo quilt around (for example) an appliqué, then  continue with free motion without having to change feet.  This is a small quibble but one that is important to me.

The foot on the left is the Ruler Foot for the 8900, and the two bits on the right are the optional bottoms for FMQ, the open U (as Janome made it) and the circle (which Janome made closed, but I used my Dremel to open up a tiny bit)

The foot on the left is the Ruler Foot for the 8900, and the two bits on the right are the optional bottoms for FMQ, the open U (as Janome made it) and the circle (which Janome made closed, but I used my Dremel to open up a tiny bit).  I would LOVE these options for the top of the line Janome machines (9400, 12000 and 15000).

One of the

One of the really cool things about the 9400 (which came down to it from the 15000) is the snap on feature for some of the quilting feet.  In this image, you can see the echo quilting foot, the clear disc with red circles/lines, for the 9400 on the lower left.  It just pops on and off the ankle like regular feet–fast, easy and effective.  The other three in this image are from the bottom of the convertible FMQ foot for the 8900; you have to screw them on to the holder which is a small fuss.  

I was MOST impressed at International Quilt Festival, Houston, this year.  I introduced myself to the president of Janome America to say thank you for Janome’s continued support for the past decade-plus, and to ask about developing these feet for the 9400 and 15000 (and 12000).  He whipped out a notebook and took notes!   So as soon as I finish this post, I’m going to follow up with him with details I’ve been mulling over on how best to meet ALL needs for quilting–both hopping and skimming. Love Janome’s responsiveness!  He said he’d send the info to headquarters in Japan–can’t do more than that!

Although you can read it on Janome’s site, I’m adding some info about the features and accessories included on this machine.  Best of all, a lot of stores are offering “Holiday Incentives” on the price!

Janome 9400 Stitch Chart

Janome 9400 Stitch Chart…hooray, my favorite stitches are still here!

Key Features:

  • Top Loading Full Rotary Hook Bobbin System
  • 350 Built-In Stitches and 4 Alphabets
  • Superior Needle Threader
  • Cloth Guide Included
  • One-Step Needle Plate Conversion with 3 Included Plates
  • Detachable AcuFeed Flex Layered Fabric Feeding System
  • USB Port and Direct PC Connection
  • Stitch Composer Stitch Creation Software
  • Variable Zig Zag for Free Motion Quilting
  • Straight Stitch Needle Plate with Left Needle Position for 1/4″ Seam Foot
  • Professional HP Needle Plate and Foot
  • Advanced Plate Markings
  • Full Color LCD Touchscreen (4.4″ x 2.5″)
  • Sewing Applications On-Screen Support
  • Maximum Sewing Speed: 1,060 SPM
  • Full Intensity Lighting System with 9 White LED Lamps in 4 Locations
  • 11″ to the Right of the Needle
  • Retractable High Light

Included Accessories:

  • 1/4 Inch Seam Foot O
  • AcuFeed Flex™ Dual Feed Holder with AD Foot
  • Automatic Buttonhole Foot
  • Blind Hem Foot G
  • Button Sewing Foot
  • Cloth Guide
  • Darning Foot
  • Extra Large Foot Controller
  • Free Motion Quilting Closed Toe Foot
  • HP Plate and Foot Set
  • Open Toe Satin Stitch Foot
  • Overedge Foot M
  • Remote Thread Cutter Switch
  • Rolled Hem Foot
  • Satin Stitch Foot
  • Seam Ripper
  • Straight Stitch Needle Plate
  • Zig-Zag Foot
  • Zipper Foot E

So that’s my recap!  I’ll do a couple follow-up posts on the placemats and shirt projects.  Stay tuned!

a video of me quilting and progress on the Peony

Monday, August 29th, 2016

So over on Facebook I’ve posted some  photos of my current project, a hugely oversized peony…well, part of a peony.  I decided I’d try a quick video posted via youtube so show me actually quilting.   Along the way, I added a quick visit to my studio.   The studio is sort of “midway messy,” true to life.  I have a couple things piled on the floor that are: find time to sort and put away, try to get rid of in some way, and prepping for teaching in Houston piles.  When I’ve found time (usually after just barely meeting a deadline), I have a tidy attack.  Mid project it is utter chaos.  This is in the middle. And apologies for the overly loud and enthusiastic hello at the start.  Learning.  I’m learning…..ps:  if the video doesn’t display at first, hit refresh on your browser. Update:   thanks to Donna for some good questions, so I’ve added info at the end of the post about holding your thread tails and my appliqué press sheets.
On the video, I mentioned how I select threads in a value range.  The reason the light ones are in the box and the dark ones to the side is that I have used the dark ones.  When done, I put them aside so I know what I’ve used.  I keep them in the order in which I used them, which helps if I need to go back and do more in a certain shade.

I had clamps by my Janome for working on larger projects, but hadn’t set up hooks from the floor joists (my ceiling) near the Sweet Sixteen until yesterday.  WHAT an improvement!!!!!!! I’ve been using dyed-by-me cotton duck on the backs, and let me tell you the quilts have been HEAVY.   So that’s why there is a blue-handled clamp visible.  I didn’t use the one on the right because of where I had the phone set up to film.

If you like this, let me know and maybe I can do some more videos of me just quilting.  And yes, I sound like a dolt when I try to narrate while quilting–I can’t concentrate on the quilting and manage to talk in a normal rhythm at the same time.

Working on the lighter petals on the big peony quilt. It will finish about 45x55 I think.....depends on how much I trim off and/or turn to the back.

Working on the lighter petals on the big peony quilt. It will finish about 45×55 I think…..depends on how much I trim off and/or turn to the back. You can see both of the hanging clamps in this photo, as well as the photo of the peony clipped to the left side of the thread stand on the machine.

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Detail of laying in the darkest-on-this-petal pink.

 

Showing the clamp on the right in use

Showing the clamp on the right in use.  Some folks have started using those dog-grooming things that you clamp onto the table and attach the dog with a short leash for grooming, but substitute a clamp.   That idea became common AFTER I set things up over at the Janome; since I have bare (primed) joists and sub-flooring for a ceiling, I opted for the much less expensive hook in the joist!

 

UPDATE/Addition:    About the move to another bit, be sure to press down on the threads (top and bobbin) when you begin stitching, even if they are still attached.  If the pulled out part is longer than the “jump” (which it sometimes is for me because I need tails long enough to bury), you can still get a snarl if you don’t hold the tails firm to the machine for the first stitch or few.

Non stick sheet on the wall:   same as on the ironing table, just hold the iron vertically.   I tend to make smaller components flat on the ironing board, then move to the wall.   Sometimes I don’t use the wall…just depends.   If I have draw a full cartoon/sketch, it goes UNDER the non stick sheet that is on the big board, so I just work there.   On the rare occasions where I am working improvisationally or something seems amiss, up on the wall it goes.

I ordered my sheets from Valerie Hearder in Canada…the exchange rate is very favorable at the moment.  She sells 24 and 36 in wide, by the foot.  So I got two that are 72 inches long.   They should hold me for a couple decades.  Misty fuse now has the Holy Cow, which is 36×48.   Had that been available when I got mine I might have done that instead. However, I REALLY like having my Big Board totally covered, and it is about 22×60 inches.

Thanks for writing!   The peony is done and I am revelling in having the Peony DONE and HUNG!

A labor of love–a quilt from A grandmother’s wardrobe

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
A snuggle quilt

A snuggle quilt

I honestly don’t know how long I had the fabric for the two lap quilts I just made.  Maybe 18 months ago (?) Joshua’s sweetie Ashley asked if I could make a lap quilt from some of her Grandmother’s clothes.  Of course I said yes!   Her gramma had died recently, and Ashley’s mom, Sue, was really missing her.  I looked up some quilts on the internet, hoping for a pieced pattern that would work for a scrappy quilt, look good, yet not take a ton of time to assemble.

When Thanksgiving rolled around and her mom came up to Maine for the holiday, she brought with her….gulp…three white kitchen garbage bags FULL of clothes:  turtlenecks, sweatshirts, fleece tops, a fleece bathrobe and a couple of nighties.   Oh.  My.  Not a single woven anything.  Wish I had taken pictures before I began the deconstruction process!

These are just a few of the leftovers!!!! Yes, that is one of those huge IKEA bags. I started with the equivalent of three of those!

These are just a few of the leftovers!!!! Yes, that is one of those huge IKEA bags. I started with the equivalent of three of those!

And Sue asked if I could make two quilts, not one–one for her and one for her brother.  Sure!   I showed Sue the images of quilts I’d found and she picked the square in a square design you see above.   The original was quite scrappy, and went from lights in the center to mediums to darks, with a half-drop on the columns.  Alas, I seem to have deleted the original photo, plus I don’t know where I saw it anyway!

The second quit, on my sewing table. It is about 60x66 inches finished.

The second quit, on my sewing table. It is about 60×66 inches finished.

Well, let me tell you–the lesson is to make sure FIRST what the fabrics are.   Then see if you can ask (I didn’t) if you could buy and use something woven for the back.   I didn’t fully realize how much time it was going to take to prepare the fabrics.  First I had to cut apart the shirts and sweatshirts and nighties.   Then I figured out how I could maximize the fabric in the body and sleeves.   I cut those bits a bit oversized and, having made a trip to Joann’s Fabrics with a fifty percent off coupon to buy a bolt of tricot interfacing, I starting fusing the interfacing to the stretchy turtleneck fabric. Then I made another trip to Joann’s and bought another bolt (almost used up).

FINALLY, I could start cutting out the pieces.  I decided given the fabric, it would be best if I used a 3/8″ seam (from needle to edge of walking foot) and pressed the seams open.  And I decided to use only turtlenecks and nighties for the top, leaving the sweatshirts I had deconstructed for the backs.   I sorted and stacked.  I sewed blocks, trying not to duplicate any pairing of fabric.   I realized that I had lights and darks, but no mediums.  OK, the point of this quilt is love and family, not duplicating a picture from the internet.  Mental adjustment.

Once I got to sewing, it went fairly quickly:  sewing the blocks for and assembling the two tops took less time (by quite a bit) than prepping the fabric!   I divided the blocks into two pretty equal piles and started plopping them on the design wall.  Turned out I had enough for two very similar quilt tops six by seven blocks (they are about 9.5 inches finished).

Next:  backing.  I laid out the sweatshirt fabric:  enough for one backing.  So I also cut apart the fleece tops.  I decided to make one quilt with only sweatshirt fabric, the other with only fleece, to avoid “bad behavior” on the part of the fabrics.

Laying out the fleece for the second backing

Laying out the fleece for the second backing

I cut batting (poly needle punched from Quilters Dream) a little larger than I needed.  Then I sewed the larger squares to the batting batting by overlapping the edges and using a zigzag to join the “seam” and attach it to the more stable batting.  Regular seams would have been ridiculously bulky and stiff.  I didn’t interface the backing as the quilt was going to weigh a ton already, plus I didn’t think the interfacing would stay stuck long enough to do any good.

I used the walking foot (thank heavens) on my Janome 15000 (thank you again to Janome America for their support and the loan of this phenomenal machine) to quilt a spiral from the center out, then switching to straight lines in the dark border.  I used a variegated light color for the center, and a purplish variegated for the outside (Superior Threads).

Quilting in progress....it was a workout

Quilting in progress….it was a workout

The two lap quilts, the one with the sweatshirts on the back is on the right, back side up. Can I just say it weighs a flipping TON!

The two lap quilts, the one with the sweatshirts on the back is on the right, back side up. Can I just say it weighs a flipping TON!

The two quilts, the one with fleece on the back folded and on top of the other one.

The two quilts, the one with fleece on the back folded and on top of the other one.

The only thing from those three big bags I did not use was the green fleece bathrobe!  I have a few sorta larger pieces of fleece left, and then stuff like the cuffs and top of shirts left.  And oh….I used a dark blue solid for the binding.   Done!

The slivery bits too small to use for anything else

The slivery bits too small to use for anything else–yes, my garbage in my studio is one of those big garden tubs!

I’m so glad they are done, and so glad I was able to make them.   It will be a while, though, until I do another something like this–I may need to lift weights to be ready for the quilting process!  Eli may want a t-shirt quilt for college, but I’ve already told him, it must have woven cotton sashing on the front and a regular quilting cotton on the back!   I’m really looking forward to being able to give these to Sue (or have the kids take them down to Connecticut to her) and really, really hope she and her brother like them and enjoy being snuggled in a “hug” from their mom / mom’s quilt!