Friday, September 18, 2020

Fresh Off the Frame: Patriotic Star Quilt with E2E Confetti Parade Quilting

I tried out one of my new pantographs yesterday on this veteran's outreach quilt, and I love how it came out!  This top was pieced by a fellow member of the Charlotte Quilters' Guild and I volunteered to do the quilting.

70 x 80 Veterans' Hospice Outreach Quilt, "Flirty Bubbles" Pantograph

Now, I know that some kind of star pattern would be the first choice for many quilters, but to me, that felt too matchy-matchy.  Instead, I chose the Flirty Bubbles pattern from Timeless Quilting, because this design reminds me of baloons, confetti and streamers filling the air during a parade to honor returning soldiers.  I used Glide thread in a creamy ivory color, top and bobbin, and I don't know what kind of batting they gave me except that it was SUPER linty and it had a scrim.

Operation Welcome Home Parade, June 1991

This was my first time using the Flirty Bubbles pantograph, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.  You wouldn't expect anything "flirty" or "bubbly" to be appropriate for a soldier's quilt, but that just goes to show how the name of a pattern can sometimes limit our imagination as far as which quilting designs "belong" on which quilts.  Clever names make it easier to remember the name of a great panto design when we see something we like, and that's why pattern designers rack their brains trying to come up with catchy and unique names for each of their designs.

How I Use Channel Locks To Maintain a Straight, Square Quilt with the Fully Floated Loading Method 

I did a full-float load with this quilt, as I do with almost all of my quilts.  That means that although the backing fabric is pinned to the belly bar at the front of my frame and to the takeup roller at the back of the frame, the batting and the quilt top are not attached to any rollers at all.  Instead, they "float" on the surface of the loaded backing and are basted in place along the perimeter each time I advance the quilt.  Now, I know some quilters recommend and prefer doing a partial float, where the quilt top is attached to the quilt top roller, and this is supposed to give one "better control" so the quilt will come out straight and square.  However, in my own experience (YMMV!) I have tried pinning quilt tops to the quilt top roller several times, and I felt like I had LESS control over what was happening with the quilt tops that I pinned and rolled up for a partial float load.  Especially with a top that has "personality," I just could not get a not-quite-perfectly-flat, not-quite-perfectly-square top to roll up evenly on that bar in the first place.  By doing a full float with that quilt top bar totally removed from my frame and out of my way, I have maximum visibility of the entire quilt top throughout the quilting process, and I have full access between the three layers of the quilt to double check that everything is smoothed nicely and situated properly with every advance of the quilt.  If you're a new long arm owner, definitely try both methods to see what works best for you.

"Full Float" Loading Method, Quilt Top Roller Removed From Frame

(Note that the batting I was given for this quilt was NOT quite wide enough!  Definitely "cut too close for comfort," pun intended!!)

So as you can see in the photo above, I maintain a straight, square quilt by ensuring that my vertical and horizontal seam lines are all perfectly straight each time I advance the quilt, before basting the sides and proceeding to quilt.  I am visually checking any seam that falls near my belly bar, where the needle of my machine cannot reach.  Then I use my machine's horizontal and vertical channel locks to check that the sides of the quilt, the vertical seams, and the horizontal seams between blocks are all positioned as straight as can be, and scootch those seams as needed.  I just hover my needle above a seam line, engage the channel lock, and then drift the machine head along the seam line without stitching.

Basting a Generous Block to Maintain Straight Seam Lines

On this particular quilt, I discovered some manageable but definitely unwanted fullness in the "Home of the Brave" text print block shown in the photo above.  After adjusting the seams above and below this block to be perfectly straight, I used big flower head pins to distribute the fullness evenly along the raw edge before basting the side of the quilt.  That ensures that my hopping foot doesn't "snowplow" the fullness as I'm basting down the side.  There is no risk of hitting a pin with my needle because I'm taking these half-inch basting stitches manually, one at a time, rather than running the machine at a regulated stitch length that might result in hitting a pin.  After basting the side of this one wonky block, I just pull out those pins and then continue basting the rest of the way down the side of the quilt.

By taking the time to check and align each and every seam line with my channel locks throughout the quilt, I get a nice, straight edge when I get to the bottom of the quilt rather than the dreaded "smile effect."  

Note: I've got a couple of magnet bars from Harbor Freight securing the bottom edge of the quilt in the photo above, just because it was a convenient place to put them.  I use those magnet bars to temporarily attach a sample quilt sandwich off to the side of the quilt I'm working on, whenever I want to tweak or adjust tension for better stitch quality mid-quilting.  Normally I'd have an extra 4" of batting and backing on both sides of the quilt where I could lay down a scrap of fabric and test stitch quality.  That's the ideal way to do it, since the specific batting and backing fabric can affect tension and stitch quality in different ways, but I didn't have any extra batting to practice on with this quilt so I had to make do!

Fellow long arm quilters who DO use your quilt top roller to do partial float loading: Can you help me understand how you load a pieced top onto the quilt top roller, especially how you deal with areas of fullness in the quilt top?  I know about twisting along vertical seam lines to accommodate for their bulk, but what I could not figure out was how tightly the top is supposed to be wound on the quilt top roller in the first place and, specifically, how to roll up areas of a quilt that have excess fullness while keeping seam lines nice and straight.  My full float method is working well for me so far, but it would be nice to have more than one method in my "toolbox."

Next on the Frame: 42 x 42 Modern Baby Clam Shells

Next up for quilting is my Modern Baby Clam Shells quilt -- I can't wait!!  Originally, I was thinking of finishin up this long-overdue quilt quickly with simple E2E (Edge-to-Edge) pantograph design like what I quilted on the veteran's quilt.  But...  After putting so much time and energy into the design, the curved piecing, and the broderie perse appliqué, I just can't bring myself to do that.  Instead, this is going to be a custom quilt job incorporating my ProCircles rulers.  I know I want to accentuate my curved piecing and appliqué with SID (Stitch In the Ditch) quilting, but beyond that I'm just going wait and see where inspiration leads me.  Stay tuned!  Hopefully I'll have some progress to show with this quilt in time for my Long Arm Learning linky party on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, I'm linking up today's post with my favorite blog party girlfriends:


·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

·       Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

·       Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

·       Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

·       TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here:


·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


·       Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

·       Tips and Tutorials on the 22nd, open 22nd through end of each month: Kathleen McMusing

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

LAL#7: Inspired by Online Ruler Work Classes, Bathroom Tile Projects, and Chasing Butterflies

 Oh my gosh, you guys -- how is it Tuesday AGAIN?!  Last week, my big focus was on finishing up the quick and easy (NOT!) baby quilt top that I dreamed up in December of 2018.  It was for a baby who is now nearing two years old and who will become a big sister on or about October 1st.  I finished the curved piecing of these 9 1/2" giant clam shells last week and added a 2" outer border matching the background fabric, just enough so the clam shells float away from the binding when it's finished.  And then I went off chasing butterflies...

...Like, LITERALLY chasing butterflies, because I had this idea that I wanted butterflies to look like they were flying across the quilt top, as though the printed fabrics were flowers in a garden.  I considered machine embroidery and had a design all picked out to embroider, but I couldn't bring myself to do it for two reasons.  First, this is a baby/toddler quilt and form needs to follow function.  The 7" butterfly design I almost embroidered would have created large stiff areas in what I intended to be a smooshable, cuddly little kiddo quilt.  Second, I was concerned that machine embroidered butterflies might make the quilt appear more store-bought and commercial versus a handmade gift, and when I considered everything I know about this particular baby's parents, machine embroidery just didn't feel like a fit.  

And then I stumbled across this butterfly print online, took a chance and ordered a remnant of it on eBay, and then spent a ridiculous amount of time figuring out how to do a turned edge, broderie perse, blanket stitched appliqué.  I won't bore you all with the details.  I'm just glad the top is finally DONE, with nice, soft butterflies that are just as soft and supple as the rest of the quilt.  Edges are turned under for durability and to avoid the use of any kind of fusible web.  Backing fabric is trimmed away.  The butterflies were a much bigger hassle than anticipated, but the quilt looked like something was missing to me before.  Now it feels "done."

I love that big Monarch butterfly SO MUCH!!  The backing for this quilt is seamed and ready to go, but first I have that outreach top that I showed you last week, still waiting to be quilted.  Planning to load that one up and start quilting tomorrow, promise!

I also designed and ordered fabric for a second baby quilt last week, a quilt for the baby brother whose arrival is expected October 1st.  No curved piecing or appliqué in that one!  Oh, and I convinced my husband to rip up the kids' Jack & Jill bathroom and start laying new tile:

We figured that the pandemic is as good a time as any for a little renovating, since all of hubby's overnight work travel is on hold.  This bathroom was SO nasty before that I can't even bring myself to show you the before pictures!  White subway tile will go on all of the walls to just above the light switches, as well as on the side walls of the tub/shower.  Small black hexagon tile will go on the back wall of the shower, and the offending shower curtain that led to all of the mold etc. is getting replaced with a sliding glass door that will keep the water IN the shower, where it belongs!  I'm not actually in the bathroom with power tools (that would not be healthy for my marriage), but I am heavily involved in the selection of tile, shower doors, fixtures, etc.

Last Week's Quilting Goals:

  • ❌ Quilt pantograph on Veteran's Quilt
  • ✅ Finish borders & fix backing shortage for Modern Baby Clam Shells
  • ✅  design for baby brother quilt & purchase fabrics

To Do This Week:

Cheeky Cognoscenti is Now Rebecca Grace Quilting

Oh, I nearly forgot -- the other thing I've been working on is a name change for my blog and my social media accounts, from Cheeky Cognoscenti (that no one can pronounce or spell) to Rebecca Grace Quilting.  Because I'm Rebecca Grace, and I write about quilting...  It was time!  I still need to create a new banner image for the top of the blog with the new name.

Highlights From Last Week's Linky Party

But some of you came here today looking for some legit long arm learning, so let's get on with that!  We had lots of great posts linked up last week, everything from free motion skill building projects to Julie Stocker's fabulous custom quilt job combining computer assisted motifs with extensive ruler work that was all done by hand.  Totally swooning over that one but not reposting her images here since her client will be submitting the quilt for publication.  If you missed it last week, be sure to check that one out on Julie's Pink Doxies blog here.

Next, I wanted to sprinkle some quilty love on Karin of The Quilt Yarn and CAMapleLeaf on Instagram (don't know her/his name!).  That's Karin's raspberry and plum block that you see above, and CAMapleLeaf's block pictured below.  They are both working through the same online ruler work class with Natalia Bonner right now, the 9 Patchalong.  

If you're looking for an online machine quilting skill builder, the 9 Patchalong Quilt Along looks like a really fun option.  It just started at the beginning of September and it's completely free.  You know, top notch quilting teachers like Natalia Bonner all around the world have had their teaching schedule upended by this pandemic and they are all being forced to explore new ways of leveraging technology to teach from their homes and studios.  This could end up being a silver lining for the quilting industry, because once these teachers have invested in the necessary equipment and worked out the kinks of this teaching model, I don't expect virtual quilting workshops to completely disappear once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.  And that means MORE options for quilting teachers to make a living with less time on the road and away from their families, as well as more opportunities for us quilting students to take classes with top-notch instructors.  

I know that Bethanne Nemesh and Lisa Calle are also experimenting with some different models for paid online classes.  Are any of you readers signed up for either of those?  Have you discovered any other terrific online learning resources for machine quilters that I should know about?  Please tell me about it in the comments.

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

·       Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

·       Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

·       Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

·       Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

·       TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here:

Long Arm Learning Linky Party #7

Now it's YOUR turn to link up and share your machine quilting projects from the past week!  Remember that all machine quilting counts, whether it's a domestic, sit-down mid arm, or a long arm on a frame.  If you, like me, were busy doing other things last week, feel free to link up an older post about machine quilting that you haven't linked here before.  Have a great week, and happy quilting!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

LAL#6: The One Where the Dog Ate My Blog Post

No, I haven't quilted anything since last week, but LOOK AT THE PUPPY!  😍

No, Sam didn't REALLY eat my blog post.  I'm just using cute puppy pictures to (hopefully) distract you from what a bad example I'm setting, hosting a linky party that's supposed to be about spending some time each week experimenting, learning, or practicing machine quilting, and here I have nothing to show for myself.  In my defense, I have been throwing that orange ball around the back yard A LOT, and having to fetch it out of the neighbors' yard more often than I would care to admit because I have no aim whatsoever and I keep throwing the ball over the fence...

It's not the puppy's fault at all.  I just spent more of my time piecing and following new design ideas down rabbit holes rather than quilting last week. I've finished all of the curved piecing my Modern Baby Clam Shells quilt top and am currently adding borders and trying to decide what to do about the backing fabric being smaller than I thought it was (I stopped to write this post when I realized tomorrow is Tuesday again) while I wait for the butterfly print fabric to come in the mail.  

I picked my thread color for the outreach veteran's quilt, wound a couple of bobbins, threaded the machine, and swapped out my ruler foot for my new scoop foot.  Then I gave the hook race a nice cleaning and oiling and got the pantograph set up for quilting.  SURELY I'll get it quilted by next Tuesday!

Last week, I especially enjoyed Andree's Pinwheels and Stars free motion quilting progress:

I also admired Chris's curved crosshatching and perfectly round quilted circles on this table topper:

This makes me want to get my rulers out again and do some custom quilting, but I have to work through my backlog first.  Veteran's quilt, clam shell quilt, and baby quilt not yet started, all needing edge to edge pantograph quilting, and THEN I can explore some more custom quilting!

To Do This Week:

  • Quilt pantograph on Veteran's Quilt
  • Finish borders & fix backing shortage for Modern Baby Clam Shells
  • Finalize design for baby brother quilt & purchase fabrics

I'm linking up today's post with To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us.  What have YOU been quilting this week?  Link up below!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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