Progressive Detail Quilting

I’ve been inspired by several talented machine quilters over the past few years since I began my journey – Natalia Bonner, Angela Walters, Sharon Blackmore, Judi Madsen, to name a few! – and when I’m working on a quilt using techniques I’ve gleaned from a particular video or class I always like to mention it as part of my story about the quilt 🙂

As I’ve said many times before, we all put our own personal spin on things as we progress with our free motion quilting and develop our own style, and the projects we make will show a combination of ideas that we’ve gathered along the way.  This quilt is a good example of that.

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The most recent class I was attracted to is Judi Madsen’s Progressive Detail Quilting class on iQuilt.com.  I love the way Judi sets up a secondary design in the background areas of her quilts and I’ve admired her style for long enough that I decided to get some direct instruction and basic planning inspiration by taking her class.  So when it came time to quilt this Modern Plus Sign quilt (pattern by Missouri Star Quilt Company) I was ready to put some of it to work.

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When you look at the overall effect, you might or might not notice differences between this and other densely quilted projects I’ve shared, but I’ve definitely incorporated some of the planning and ideas she uses to create cool geometric sections with ease.  I still did lots of this in the moment – as opposed to marking the whole quilt top before I started – but the class really helped with expanding my vision of what could happen in the negative space.

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And of course, even the back looks cool with designs like this!

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I’m super happy with how this turned out and I am again in a quandary about whether or not to keep it! LOL

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Check out the links below to videos I posted over on my Youtube channel at various points while I was working on this quilt.  The first has no sound, just stitching.  The others show some of my planning.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Free Motion Graffiti Quilting

Happy Hump Day! (yeah, I know, sounds kind of weird but I’m told that in the present day that’s what working people call Wednesday…getting over the hump for the week!)

I recently posted this short video on Youtube – sped up, of course – showing some playtime free motion quilting I did on a practice sandwich.  I had spent a bunch of time working on some techniques with digital stitching designs, and after all that the wide open space just called to me…

Just Stitching – free motion fun

After several days of working on cementing some of the basics of edge to edge computerized quilting in my brain, I was feeling the need to get in some of my favourite hand guided free motion quilting.

I loaded up a practice quilt sandwich, lowered the belts, and spent some time playing on my new Gammill, did a bit of ruler work and, of course, some spirals!  It brought me a lot of enjoyment and peace to just go with the flow and stitch randomly whatever came to mind 🙂

Custom Computerized Quilting on my Gammill

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After practicing some edge to edge designs on a few quilts this past week, I went ahead and tried some custom work using computerized patterns.

This quilt has a lot of wide open space, but it is pieced together in rows so, for the most part, I chose designs for each row.  When I got to the blocks with text, I fit the designs around them.

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This was so much fun!  LOTS to learn and every day there’s something I have to tripe check as I go, but it’s gradually getting more comfortable.  Check out the video below for an idea of how it all came together 🙂

My Gammill is Here!

I would like to introduce you to my new Gammill Statler Stitcher (fondly referred to for now as my “personal assistant” until I can come up with just the right name for it! LOL)  It arrived a week ago, has upped the decor level in my quilting room by several points, and is performing like a rock star.

I’m spending time right now getting used to the process of computerized quilting; it is a huge learning curve, but I’m gradually getting the hang of it, and since I was without a machine for just over a month after the old one sold, I had time to piece together a few quilt tops to have ready for practice.  I’m testing out different ways of getting the patterns onto the quilt, some edge to edge as well as some customized work, choosing different patterns to fill specific spaces.

This machine purrs like a kitten and is a pleasure to drive (“She’s got a competition clutch with the four on the floor and she purrs like a kitten ’till the lake pipes roar, and if that ain’t enough to make you flip your lid…” OK I’ll stop!)

Everything here is solid as a rock and it’s clear this is no lightweight piece of equipment.  I was slightly intimidated the first time I turned it on myself the day after Mr. Bentley, my dealer/delivery man left.  I had to stand back a minute, take it all in, and show some respect.  Even moving the rollers – smoothly as a hot knife through butter – gives me pause to be grateful.

I wanted to share with you some of the things I’m working on, just to keep you posted and stay in touch while I’m learning 🙂  I have three completed quilts with edge to edge patterns on them and am currently working on a custom one – mostly computerized, some ruler work – and all will be available in my Etsy Shop in the next couple of weeks or so.

Once I’m confident with the basics, I’ll be opening up my computerized quilting services to clients in addition to the hand guided work I’ve been doing thus far and continue to enjoy very much!  For now, here are a few peeks into the fun I’ve been having.  I’m trying a new techie system of embedding these from my Instagram feed, so be sure to follow me over there – annwalshquilting – to see regular day to day updates that don’t always make it into a longer post here 🙂  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Instagram, the notations you see under these photos go along with the Instagram posts, and it’s all about the hashtags over there!

Longarm machine comparison

I’ll bet from the title of this post that you’re expecting me to give you a chart of some kind, with various brands and features, and present myself as an expert on the subject!  That’s not happening.

First of all, I’m no expert on anything other than my own opinion. Secondly, writers of blogs choose post titles carefully so they can easily be found, and calling this “If you’re in the market for a longarm you might want to check out some of these suggestions” would register as TOO LONG AND BORING! LOL

However, if you ARE in the market for a longarm you might want to check out some of these suggestions:

  1. Don’t be hasty.
  2. Do your research and make comparisons very carefully.
  3. Try various brands even if you have to travel a bit of distance.

DON’T BE HASTY

If you’re looking at buying a longarm machine, you could potentially be investing as much money as you would to buy a new car, or perhaps a small house, depending on where you live!  Now, not everyone is buying the biggest, fanciest machine with all the expensive technology, but the point is that this is no minor purchase and just as you would weigh the pros and cons of buying an economy vehicle next to those of buying a luxury sedan, based on your needs and your budget, you need to consider a lot of different things in order to make the best decision FOR YOU.

If you’re an impulsive shopper – STOP IT! This isn’t something you want to buy in a hurry, or on a whim like when you’re at a big quilt show and you want All. The. Things. This is one of those items to go gather information about and then go home and think about, not one to load up in your truck alongside all the bags of fabric and kits and gadgets you don’t really need but just had to have…)

“But there’s a special deal on today!” Come on, we’ve all been around the block (quilt pun intended) enough times to know that there will always be some kind of deal if we are just patient and wait for it.  Getting a special deal on something you will later regret buying is NOT a special deal.  And next month’s special deal might be even more special anyway, so just stop and think.  There should be a mantra for this, like stop, drop and roll.  Maybe “stitch, stop, and sleep on it.”

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Talk to dealers about everything you can think of with regard to their machines.

Ask about warranties, what they cover, what they don’t, and which circumstances have limitations.

Ask about service and regular maintenance:

  • Who does it, you or the dealer?
  • Where is it done, in your home or somewhere you have to take your machine?
  • How often does it need to be done and how much does it cost?
  • Does the price include training?  Where will that happen?

Find out if the people selling the machines are also USING the machines.  Are the dealers/owners actually longarm quilters themselves or are they sales people?  Do they have hands on personal experience and insight to share with you and help you make your decision?  If not, think about whether or not that difference matters to you.

MAKE COMPARISONS CAREFULLY

This is a very tricky area.  You won’t be comparing apples with apples while comparing longarm machine brands.  You’ll be comparing apples, oranges, bananas and passion fruit.  I threw that last one in there because there’s a little part of each of us that is enticed by the “extras” we might or might not actually need to do the job we want to do.  But they might be fun, or allow us to grow more in our skills, or make something easier.

Because direct comparison can rarely be made, you need to look at various things on each machine to find out what the features do, why they’re helpful (or not really), if they’re things you need to have or not, things you will grow into, things you want to afford or things you don’t.  Notice I said “want to afford”.  Sometimes we’re looking at items we CAN afford but choose not to.  Each person must decide for themselves which features and prices suit them, but having said that, again I stress that your comparisons should be CAREFUL ones.

I would suggest not using price alone to determine your final choice, unless all other things have first been considered and price is the only significant difference.  Budget is important of course, but keeping in mind that you aren’t comparing apples with apples, sometimes the price can be deceiving.  A machine that appears to be cheaper, might in the long run end up costing nearly the same as another once you decide to accessorize it – either at the time of purchase of later on – with features that already come standard on the initially more expensive option.

Sometimes what you think is a convenience ends up being a sacrifice.  For example, if you like the idea of portability, you’ll likely be sacrificing weight and sturdiness, whether we’re talking about longarm machines, sewing machines, or other bigger items you use around the house.  Lighter weight versions might have more vibration causing louder volume during use.  If the DIY setup/install appeals to you (it’s usually cheaper), you might be sacrificing quality and materials that would be heavier and more difficult to break down in the item that must be delivered and assembled by a professional.  It is, of course, our own choice to sacrifice or not according to our own situations.  The important thing is to consider the possible trade offs in both directions and not ignore them.

If there are features available that you aren’t familiar with, watch some videos on YouTube to find out how others are using them and why they might be advantageous to you, remembering that until you actually have a machine in your house and use it regularly, you can’t always be certain what you will and will not use.

TRY VARIOUS BRANDS

Unless you have owned a longarm before or used one extensively you won’t necessarily know which one is a good fit for you.  Depending on were you live, it might be difficult to access a variety of brands and try them out, unless you can get to a trade show or quilt show where dealers will be demonstrating their machines.  If this is the case, I do suggest giving yourself a chance to try a few different ones.  Even if you already know of a couple you do not want, give them a try at a show where you can also try others on the same day so you can make some direct comparisons as to the weight, the smoothness of operation, the sound, vibrations etc.

Don’t rule out a particular brand because it’s hard to get to a demo.  It might be the right one for you, and Murphy’s Law states that you will find that out precisely two months later when you do get to a show after you’ve purchased the one you thought was a good idea for valid reasons at the time, and end up kicking yourself for it.  Especially when some people who know you pretty well suggested you should wait and get the other one.  And one of them even offered to drive you four hours away to see it in person but you still didn’t go. But I digress…

My point is that when you are new to anything, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t know.  There’s a lot of stuff you don’t even know you don’t know.  So ask questions, read reviews, find out why prices are what they are, what’s included and why, and make an informed decision, not a hasty one, not an impulsive one.  All we can do is make the best possible decision at the time with what we know.  Make sure you know as much as you can, about the machines you’re looking at, and about yourself!

In the words of a smart guy I know, “It’s cheaper to buy one longarm machine than to buy two.”

 

 

 

 

Changing plans for a New year!

As we approach the end of the year, I want to share with you some changes that I’m looking forward to in the coming months.  As with any journey in life, my quilting journey has taken yet another turn, and I’ve made the decision to sell my HQ Amara and purchase a Gammill Statler Stitcher.

Just thought I’d get that out right in the first paragraph and then give you a bit of information! LOL

I’ve made a video that you can link to below, explaining about the changes, and also expressing the importance for me of telling people who follow my blog, Facebook page, or Youtube channel, that my decision was based on personal needs and preference, and not on any bad experience with my HQ dealer.  There was nothing wrong with my machine itself, it just turned out to not be the best fit for me.

Perhaps in future I will share some hints that might be helpful for others in choosing a machine of their own, but for now I’m just wanting to get the update out there, because we’re on the internet following each other and watching projects, tools, listening to suggestions etc. While I can’t control how everyone receives my news, I can at least be up front about my decision!  That’s how I roll 🙂

I’ll be very happy to get my new longarm machine in January and get started on learning how to combine the computerized stitching with my own for a special kind of custom result!  As well, I will now be able to offer edge to edge quilting services for clients who prefer that option.  It’s another “open door” for me (we’ve talked about this type of thing before!) and I’m jumping through.  At the very least, it will challenge my brain going forward and give me lots of opportunity for growth, while allowing me to continue to design my own custom work and do hand guided quilting.

I’d like to take this moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and thank you for reading, following, and commenting to let me know you are there.  Bye for now!

Interviewed by Leah Day

I had a super fun time being interviewed by Leah Day on her Quilting Friends podcast last week, and it went public today so I wanted to share the link and the experience with you!  We had a great conversation about quilting, creativity, passion and balancing things in our crafty lives.  Some of it was practical and some of it was philosophical.  All of it was a surreal experience for me 🙂  She is just as sweet in person (well, on video call!) as she appears to be and I’m happy to have met her and made a new quilting friend!

You can go straight to the podcast on her Youtube channel by clicking the image below, and you can read more about the podcast in the show notes here: Be Open to Your Creativity

Majesty – the silk quilt

I’m not good at naming quilts (we’ve been down this path before) but when I started this project and decided it was going to be something quite different than other things I’ve made I knew it needed a special name.  The fabric itself inspired me to come up with a name befitting the luxury that comes to mind when I think of silk, so this quilt was  called “Majesty” before the first stitch.  I was thinking of the things I’ve seen in movies about royalty; you know, those huge carved headboards and canopies with the fancy bedding? You admire it and then wonder who launders it!

I did a little planning ahead of time, only in the sense that I “planned” to do more of a traditional style whole cloth quilt (medallion in the centre, fancy borders, symmetry etc.) so it was more of an overall concept than a calculated design.  We know that for me, the plan evolves along the way!  Certainly that’s what happened here.

I started at the top centre, where I wanted to make a statement, and of course there were always going to be lots and lots of feathers, so that part flowed nicely.  I didn’t really have to do a lot of measuring until I happily finished one side and realized that I would then have to duplicate it to the best of my ability on the other! LOL  It was a challenge.  After laying down the foundation I went back in and added fillers, and then used this process throughout.

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For most of the quilt, I just picked one area at a time to focus on, keeping in mind that I was going for the illusion of a plan 🙂 I generally baste the whole quilt at the beginning so I can later roll it back and forth whenever I want to, and for this one that method proved very helpful, especially if I couldn’t quite remember something I had already stitched and wanted to repeat HAHA

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I built the structure I wanted in each area, stitched it out and filled it in, and eventually it all came together.  Not without a few mistakes and ripped stitches, mind you, but overall it was a very satisfying finish.

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And yes, I did have a little bit of that “do I keep this one or not?” going on in my head.  I designed this quilt for a couple of specific purposes, neither of which was to adorn something in my own house.  But again, as I worked on it and later held it in my lap while hand stitching the binding I wondered about whether or not I should keep it.  It is so soft and feels luxurious!

The truth is that this is probably the best work I’ve done in my quilting thus far.  I’m both very proud of it as an achievement of my goal, and humbled by it as a reminder that I’m blessed to have found this thing called machine quilting – or did it find me? – that brings me so much joy and gives me so many opportunities to grow and share.  This quilt represents some important things to me.

But aside from the philosophical aspects, it also made more clear to me the truth about what “makes my soul shine”: my process, what I do and why I do it, and the importance of knowing those things in my art and crafting life.

When I finished the binding, still feeling just a little bit of doubt as to whether or not I would part with it, I spread it out on my bed and stood back to look at it.  I was immediately detached from it.  I saw it for what it was and appreciated all of it, and at the same time I knew it was just fine to let it go because the process was over.

I know I mention it often, but I feel I cannot stress enough the value of knowing what your personal process is and allowing yourself to appreciate it!

If you would like a serious peek into some of the work I did on this one, check out the first video below.

If you would like a peek into what happens when things don’t go the way you hope they will, check out the second video below.

If you would like a peek into my real life goofy fun, check out the third video with my Happy Dance!

Wishing you all a great weekend!