A Few Helpful Hints

I had an uncommon fairly acceptable hair day yesterday so it was a good time to step in front of the camera for a change and record a video with a few things I wanted to share 🙂  Hope you find it useful, or at least entertaining!

It’s been craaaaazy windy for the past few days where I live but I have to keep my enjoyment of the cool temperatures to myself because there are a lot of summer lovers out there who are probably getting really frustrated right about now 🙂  For me, it’s a happy break from heat that was and heat that I know is still coming our way.  Every cool day is a gift to me!  I’m not looking forward to going out for the mail though – thankfully I’m not a skinny gal or I might just blow right from my house to my car … no “haha” here, I’m serious!  It’s blowing limbs off trees!

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Improv Composition 1 + video – and Pinterest Adventure Days 17 thru 24

I’m giving myself permission to use this quilt post to make up for several Pinterest Adventure days!  It was time for me to stitch something wide open and I’ve been wanting to incorporate various ideas I’ve seen into a modern whole cloth quilt so I knocked off a few saved pins in this one, along with a bunch of spontaneity in planning on the fly.

I’m not sure how many hours of stitching there are in this quilt;  I always think I’m going to keep track and then I don’t.  The funny thing is that my machine actually has a timer I could use if I wanted to check it out and learn how to set it.  But I’m always more interested in digging in and getting started and then I forget all about it!  I’m going to “guess” at about fifteen hours as it was over the course of (I think) three days and an evening when I first loaded it and couldn’t wait for morning to start stitching.

Every once in a while I need to do something like this.  Part of it is because I love negative space and wild quilting and blending designs together to make them look like they’re going in front of and behind each other all over the place.  Part of it is because I need to do an occasional “idea dump” to satisfy the part of my brain that is storing up all kinds of inspiration and eventually it just needs to come out all over the place! LOL Most of my pieced quilt tops and customer quilts don’t allow for this kind of thing to happen so  eventually I just have to plan for the opportunity 🙂

Here are a few photos (and by “a few” I mean far too many but they’re all so cool I couldn’t choose!) to show you my process.  Of course I can’t “show” you my thinking process, just my stitching one, but hopefully you get the idea … well, OK, the idea is that I hardly plan this out at all.  Which isn’t much help to you, I know, but in person I could totally keep you posted as to my thoughts along the way if you were standing right beside me while I’m quilting!  Of course that would mean a lot of hours, many of which would be completely boring to anyone else … which is why I didn’t try to capture it on video …

I did start out with a few lines on a piece of paper, just to block out a kind of sort of plan, which I transferred to my fabric in a rough draft sort of way …

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And that’s about it for pre-marking.  You’ll see from the end result that I followed some of those lines and ignored others!  There were a few times that I made tick marks here and there after deciding to cross hatch or do something else that I wanted at regularly spaced intervals, just before quilting a space.

There IS a video below showing the whole finished quilt though and a quick frame telling you what I do with the marked lines, which is about as much as I can put into words 🙂

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Just when I think I’ve found my favourite section, I change my mind 🙂

Whew!  Today I’m taking a break: my eyes, back, feet, and shoulders are begging for relief.  My brain is still going though and I’ve entitled this quilt “Improv Composition 1” for a reason …

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A new adventure + video

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Things got real on Saturday morning when I’d filled up my scribble sample on the new long arm machine and decided to load an actual quilt.  I’d been working on multi-directional control as I moved the machine around the practice fabric, trying to translate my free motion skills into what feels like another language, and the practicing was proving its effectiveness.  As with all free motion quilting, practice makes progress, not perfection, but definitely progress 🙂

I got to the end of the sample piece and stitched out the overall interlocking geometric design I do on certain quilt tops to give them a modern look and cool texture without quilting too densely.  It’s good for print heavy quilt tops where a lot of fancy quilting doesn’t really show up anyway, it’s pretty simple to learn (it’s part of my private free motion quilting lesson) and also a great design for quilts for guys who aren’t quite as appreciative of flowers and feathers as some of us ladies are! LOL

Once I was confident enough to take it to an actual quilt, I loaded up one of the tops I’ve had ready to go and got started.  This pattern is called “Wiggle” and it’s from the book Modern One-Block Quilts by Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting.  I recommend this book for modern quilt lovers; there are twenty-two patterns and instructions for three different sizes with each one.  I love the way this pattern turned out and I will definitely be making it again!

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Natalia is one of my very favourite online teachers and continues to be a strong influence on my own quilting journey.  Check out her website at Piece and Quilt where she regularly posts photos of quilts she’s working on and shares videos of her quilting process.  She does a lot of modern quilting which I really enjoy and she’s a RULER NINJA!

I used Maker’s Home fabrics from Windham for the prints, and Moda Bella Solid Prussian Blue for the sashing and binding.  It’s quilted with So Fine 50wt thread, top and bobbin, from Superior Threads.  I also tried a new-to-me batting, which you can’t see, but I’ll mention it anyway:  Quilter’s Dream Poly Deluxe.  I can’t find Quilter’s Dream battings in Canada, so I’ve imported a few from the US, but I really like them.  This deluxe is a heavier weight batting than I’ve used in the past and it has a different effect, so I’m glad I tried it and now have another great option to add to my list.

It was so exciting – and a little unbelievable – to actually be working at my own long arm machine on a real quilt and seeing everything working so well.  This is clearly the beginning of a beautiful relationship LOL

Stitching out this simple free motion geometric design gave me lots of opportunity to practice controlling the machine in every direction, get used to the way it sounds as I go, notice how it behaves along the way, and to experience success that motivates me to get the next one loaded on the frame.  But my next one is calling for some fancier stitching and custom quilting with ruler work and I’m hesitating just a little …

I already have customers waiting for me to be ready for their bigger quilt tops now that I’m not limited to what I can handle on the sit down machine, but I really want to get in what I consider to be enough good solid practice time doing various designs that I’m used to already before I stitch on someone else’e beloved project 🙂  Thankfully a great piecer friend of mine is sending me a couple to practice on so I’m going to try some fun designs on those and hopefully that will get me ready for the next phase of customer quilts.

I did a short video while I was stitching this one, so if you’re interested check it out below.

 

Pinterest Adventure Day 14

I’m still going!  HAHA

I know you’ve seen me do feathers before and I continue to look for new ways to embellish them, twist them, branch off from them etc.  I’d saved a pin with a few of these popping off a densely quilted background and decided to sit down this morning and knock this off my list LOL

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Don’t look too closely at my background though, it’s only there to make the gold feather stand out and I hurriedly stitched it to pack down the batting but didn’t have any matching navy thread, which would have looked much better.  But I’m super happy with the cool feather.  Don’t you love how that Magnifico 40wt polyester thread builds up and defines areas?

I haven’t done much embellishing of bump back style feathers as they tend to be more traditional, so I wanted to see how it would look compared to my more casual feathers.  One of my goals is to get as comfortable stitching out this type of feather as I am with my go-to designs so today’s exercise proved to me that even a traditional custom feather can handle some whimsy!  I find it boring to just stitch out regular old feathers so there always has to be a surprise somewhere …

Couching on the weekend

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No, couching has nothing to do with laying around on the sofa …

I made a set of pillow covers this weekend using one of the Handi Quilter couching feet, some free motion quilting, and a cool ball of chenille yarn.

The neutral colors worked well for a modern look and both covers came out of the wash with no issues so that pleased me as well!  I wasn’t sure what to expect with all that chenille, but it held up beautifully and is oh so soft to touch.  It gives wonderful texture to the cushion covers.

I recorded a short video to show you the couching foot in action – most of it is sped up so no, I wasn’t going that fast!  In fact, when couching, it seems best to run the machine faster but move the project more slowly to make sure the stitches are good and tiny securing the yarn all along the way 🙂

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Couching is really no more difficult than free motion quilting itself, just take a little extra care in keep the yarn feeding through the hole in the foot without knotting up and away you go!  I used my regular So Fine 50wt thread in the light cream color and it got lost in the yarn which is exactly what you want.

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All stuffed and ready to cuddle!

 

 

Keeping in Touch!

Hello everyone.  Yes, I am still here!  There has been some craaaaazzzzzy heat in my area the past while and when that happens my brain fries so I’m not able to do a lot of work on any kind of project.  I kind of just sit still in as little clothing as possible and try not to melt.  Don’t picture it …

But I just noticed that I haven’t posted my most recently finished projects, one of which is actually a new quilt! Yay! I was able to bind it on a very infrequent cool evening and I just love how it turned out because it is so soft I just want to keep squishing it.

First, here are a couple of smaller items I worked on in the mornings before the scorching started …

This is the medium size train case (Crimson & Clover pattern by Sara Lawson at sewsweetness.com) done in a vintage looking clock print with some music on the inside.  I added a second pull to the zipper and what a different that makes not only to the appearance of it, but also to the function!

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This size was definitely easier to do than the smallest one I made a while back (in red), like the difference between sewing barbie doll clothing and adult clothing! haha

I also got some couching done on a pillow cover, and used some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine to add some quilting pizazz in bright colors for a funky look.  I used a couching foot for my Pfaff QE 4.2 to do the wavy lines of yarn and then switched to the free motion couching foot for the lettering.  I could have done it all with the free motion couching foot, but I am still getting used to it, so I wanted to save that for a small area that I could easily fix if need be 🙂

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And here is my newest quilt, pieced with soft vintage looking floral prints, bordered and backed with the Quilter’s Muslin I mentioned in a previous post.  I used a finer thread on this quilt – So Fine from Superior Threads – because I’m trying to work into using that for certain projects where I just want texture that blends in more than a heavier thread that stands out.  I’m hoping to get it to work consistently for me as many quilters and teachers love it and while I have a few kinks to work out, I’m getting advice from the experts so I’m trying to stay positive that it will indeed become a good option.

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Doesn’t that just look so cuddly?  And it feels like a quilt you just got from grandma, soft and loved.  I think the lighter weight thread does play a part in that.

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That’s all for now, hope you are all enjoying whatever you like to do in the summer.  I’ll be inside with the blinds pulled, sipping ice water and trying to figure out where my next meal is going to come from.  They say “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, and because even boiling something on the stove raises the room temp, I’m taking that rather literally!  FYI: there’s no shame in eating cereal for supper … and chocolate tastes better soft anyway.

Happy Mail!

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Look at all the yummy thread I just got in the mail!  My fabric has been waiting …

Since I’m still working on a couple of custom projects right now and have no new pictures to post quite yet, I thought I’d share an opinion today!  I enjoy reading about what other quilters are finding useful in their craft, so perhaps someone out there will find this information helpful.

I’m not a thread expert myself.  I do have a mentor who is, though, and I daresay she has turned me into a thread snob!  BUT it’s totally worth it, because once you’ve tried a few different threads and you discover the features of each one and learn just how they all work on your own machine, sometimes there is no comparison.

Yes, top quality thread costs more.  Sometimes lots more (and there are really good reasons for that, from how it’s manufactured to how it’s wound to how it works on different machines) but when you’re heavily into a wild-quilted-with-lots-of-travel-stitching project the LAST thing you need is a thread issue right in the middle of the best motif you’ve ever done.  Trust me, those are times for words I can’t post on this G-rated blog.

I was in a cotton thread box for a while when I first started quilting last year, until I learned that the age-old issues with using anything other than cotton on a quilt were just that: age-old.  The way threads are made now, you just have to go for it and see what you like best because you don’t need to be concerned about hurting your precious handiwork by branching out.  Even well-known quilters and teachers like Leah Day will tell you that!

So while I’ve played around with different brands here and there, I have to say that right now, my absolute favorite thread for quilting is Magnifico by Superior Threads.  I really like their King Tut cotton quilting thread as well; it has never given me a problem, and I highly recommend it for use of cotton thread, but I was looking for a good quality 40 WT polyester quilting thread that would stand up to a lot of wear and tear (not from quilt use, but from quilting the way I quilt! lol) and when I tried my first spool of this stuff I was hooked.  It quilts like a dream and it travels back and forth over and over itself like butter – smooth, slick, and no resistance.  AND I can use it in my bobbin too so everything always matches and I don’t have to worry about thread bleeds when I’m doing dense work in certain areas. AND it has a lovely luster that just makes every line of stitching exciting to follow as you’re flying around from one area to the next.

As always, you have to discover what works best for you in your style of quilting and with your machine (yes they each have their own personality!) and I haven’t used the Magnifico on my regular machine just yet as I mainly use my Pfaff Powerquilter for quilting projects and it does run at a much higher speed.

If you’d like to read more about Superior Threads, visit their website here: Superior Threads

If you’d like to buy them in Canada, I get mine from Cindy’s Threadworks in BC.