Saturday, July 27, 2019

Sewing Machine Review: Meet Goldilocks, My Bernina 475QE!

Well, she's not brand-new anymore -- I bought this machine five months ago but I wanted to sew on it for awhile before posting a review.  I LOVE this little cutie!  I brought 'Nina, my 7-year-old 750QE to the Bernina dealer to have a minor part replaced back in February, and was the first person to play with their demo B 475QE sewing machine that they had just barely unpacked and set up on the sales floor.  By the time they had finished working on my 750 I had made up my mind to purchase this one.  I've been sewing on this machine for five months now, and it just might be one of the best machines I've ever owned.

Meet Goldilocks, My Bernina 475QE

My B 475QE is named Goldilocks because she's not too big to take to a class/bee/sit-and-sew, but she's not too small for large-scale paper piecing (like Lars's graduation quilt -- those foundation patterns would have to be rolled up inside the tiny throat of my Featherweights).  She has the same color touch screen, familiar interface, and all of the bells and whistles of my big 7 Series Bernina -- including the JUMBO BOBBIN, y'all! -- but no embroidery capability to jack the price up into the stratosphere.  I'd looked for a more portable "baby sister" machine before, but the 5 Series Berninas were priced beyond what I wanted to pay for a secondary machine and the 3 Series machines were a bit too small and were missing too many features that I use regularly.  Goldilocks is not too hard, not too soft, not too hot and not too cold -- she's the machine in the middle that was just right for me!  Here are my favorite features:

  • She weighs in at a reasonable 21 pounds (whereas my 750QE weighs 30 pounds)
  • This is a full-sized machine rather than a 3/4 compact size, so it doesn't feel cramped the way that the 3 Series machines did when I test sewed on them
  • She uses the same Bernina Hook system with Jumbo bobbins as my 7 Series machine, with the same exact INTERCHANGEABLE bobbins.  I can wind a bunch of bobbins for a project on one machine, and grab those bobbins when I switch to the other machine.  That is SO convenient!
  • The 475QE is a 5.5 mm machine, so the feed dogs are closer together for better control when piecing intricate patchwork than they are on my 9 mm machine.  Yet, unlike my straight stitch Featherweights, the 475QE can also do zigzag, blanket stitch, and invisible appliqué stitches
  • The 475QE has the Adaptive Thread Tension feature that was added to the 2nd generation 7 Series machines for even better stitch quality
  • This machine has the tie-off stitching and automatic thread cutter (love that feature when paper piecing)
  • It comes with the Bernina FHS Free Hands System, the knee lift bar to raise and lower the presser foot so I can keep both hands on what I'm sewing
  • Unlike the 3 Series machines, the 475QE has adjustable presser foot pressure
  • There are a total of 840 stitches in this machine, even more than the 837 stitches in my 750QE, and 40 quilting stitches (compared to 33 quilting stitches in the 750 machine).  The ones I'll use most often are the piecing straight stitch (#1303 on this machine), the invisible appliqué stitch, and the beautiful blanketstitch appliqué stitches
  • She comes with full size presser feet, not the snap-on soles, and Patchwork Foot #37 is included
  • Even though I have a longarm machine for quilting, it's nice to know that I can grab the BSR foot that came with my 750QE machine if I want to do free-motion quilting on something small on my 475QE.  The BSR foot is an optional accessory for this machine that I already own.
  • She has the same bright, cool LED lights for excellent visibility that I love on my 750 machine
  • The 475QE comes with the coolest zippered canvas accessory bag!!!  None of that silly Barbie Doll closet nonsense -- this accessory case is rugged, functional, and perfect for sewing on-the-go:
Bernina 475 QE with Zippered Canvas Accessory Bag
Interior Compartments of Zippered Accessory Bag
All of the accessories that came with the machine fit in the accessory case, with room for additional accessories as well (the above photo shows a couple of additional items that were not included with the machine).  I did purchase a few additional accessories for my new sewbaby up-front:
  • I bought the upgraded Bernina Foot Control that has the heel tap feature to raise and lower the needle.  That foot control comes standard on the 480 machine, but is an optional upgrade on the 475QE and the soon to be released 435 machine.  
  • I also purchased a Patchwork Seam Guide that screws into the bed of the machine (shown in the case in the photo above).  It's just like the one that came with the 97D Patchwork Foot for my 750QE, and just like the vintage seam guide that I use on my Singer Featherweight 221, and it's my tried-and-true favorite for maintaining a consistent, accurate 1/4" seam no matter which machine I'm using.  On the 475QE,  I'll use the seam guide in conjunction with the #37 Patchwork Foot that came with my 475QE.
  • I bought a straight stitch plate.  Did I NEED it?  Probably not -- but I'm in the habit to switching to the straight stitch plate for piecing on my 9 mm machine and I wanted one for this machine, too.  I've put my straight stitch plate on my 475QE, so the stitch plate shown in the photo above is the 5.5 mm plate that came with the machine.  
  • I also purchased Open Embroidery Foot #20 because I like to have maximum visibility when I’m sewing decorative stitches or doing machine applique, and I do have some machine applique planned for the imminent future.

As of this writing, MSRP for the Bernina 475QE is $2,399.  Compared to the other machines in the Bernina lineup, that is an amazingly affordable price for a brand new Bernina that comes with so many bells and whistles.  My dealer offered me a great deal on the machine at $1,899 but by the time I added on my personal "must-have" accessories and North Carolina sales tax, I ended up around $2,300 anyway.  Having sewn on this machine for five months now, I'm really happy with the purchase.  In fact, if I decided to give up machine embroidery, I would consider parting with my 750QE because the 475QE does absolutely everything else that I need it to do, stitches beautifully and reliably with any thread (including 50/2 cotton Aurifil and monofilament thread), and can handle everything from garments to fussy little quilt blocks to machine appliqué.  

After shopping around, I bought this DeNOA wheeled trolley case for transporting my Goldilocks 475QE:

Although the 475QE is light enough to carry by the handle, the rolling bag provides a little additional protection during transit.  The real advantage to the trolley is all of the other stuff that can be packed in there along with the machine -- threads, notions, fabrics, projects in progress, etc.

I've taken this machine to my quilting bee and to Karen Kay Buckley's machine applique class.  I also had it set up in a little SewEzi table downstairs by the TV for a few weeks when I was piecing the blocks for Lars's Mission Impossible quilt.  And now I have her set up in my studio at my secondary workstation, because I've discovered that it's really convenient to have multiple sewing machines when you're toggling between different types of projects.  Goldilocks is all threaded up with monofilament thread, a size 60 Microtex needle, and her Open Embroidery foot so I can work on my block from Karen's machine applique workshop, while my Big 'Nina 750 is threaded up with cotton piecing thread, a size 75 Quilting needle and foot 97D for piecing quilt backings and other odd jobs.  

Anyway, I highly recommend any of the 4 Series machines, either as a secondary machine like mine or as your One and Only, if you aren't interested in machine embroidery.  I'm definitely glad I got mine!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Millie's DIY Spa Staycation With Bernie, My Reluctant Sewing Machine Technician

It is amazing how quickly a man who is not interested in taking apart your sewing machine changes his tune upon learning how EXPENSIVE it is to ship the darned thing back to the factory to have it worked on by someone else.  Meet my newly cooperative sewing machine technician:

He's Not Just a Cutie; He's HANDY!!
My husband Bernie can take just about anything apart and put it back together again to get it working: lawn mowers, ovens, cars, air conditioning units, computers, commercial espresso machines...  We were all scheduled to send Thoroughly Modern Millie (my 2013 APQS Millennium longarm quilting machine) back to the Iowa factory for "Spa Servicing" -- but I had a change of heart.  The folks at APQS say that a spa visit (factory refurbishing, essentially) isn't necessary until a machine has seen 9-10 years of heavy, daily use in a business setting.  Although my machine was used as a rental in an APQS dealer's shop before I adopted her in 2017, that's only 3 years of heavy business use and I've only quilted a few quilts in the two years I've had her.  SO...  There's really no way she needs to have all of her guts swapped out for new parts yet.

So last week we got out the manual, turned to the back with the Maintenance and Troubleshooting appendices are located, got on the APQS forum to see what has worked for others facing similar issues, and Bernie took the covers off my machine and got busy with his tools!  Here's what all we did:

  • Wiped down the rails, cleaned the wheels, removed the needle plate cover, and cleaned the hook assembly area
  • Checked the hook for burrs, found a burr that could be classified as a gouge, and filed it smooth with emery cord
  • Checked the thread guides and needle plate for nicks, burrs or grooves (did not find any)
  • Gave the hook a WD-40 "bath" and re-oiled it
  • Checked the encoder wheel and adjusted it to the tightest position
  • Checked the motor brushes and blew out the carbon dust from the motor
  • Checked that the wicks were touching moving parts inside the machine head and adjusted the one that wasn't touching anything
  • Adjusted the needle positioner
  • Adjusted the hopping foot height (and finally got the foot level this time)
  • Checked and adjusted the mag collar sensor
  • Removed, disassembled, and reassembled the tensioner device
Basically, we did our own Spa Visit at home.  As expected for a machine that's only a few years old, my Millennium did NOT need all of her wear and tear parts replaced.  Thread guides were fine, motor brushes were fine (previous owner may have already replaced them because they are nearly brand new), and I didn't find any grooves or issues with any of the thread guides.  Angie at APQS Tech Support helped us over the phone and emailed PDF instructions with very clear photos that were a huge help.

The biggest issues we found were:

  • The encoder wheel needing adjusting to snug back up to the carriage again, because the little rubber wheel was worn enough that it wasn't always in contact with the carriage when the machine was moving.  That can cause irregularities in stitch length in regulated mode.  
  • The gouge in the hook.  I don't think I've ever broken a needle on this machine since it's belonged to me, but SOMEONE did!  Perhaps it happened when someone was renting the machine before I purchased it.  The APQS manual says that, if you break a needle, you definitely have a burr SOMEWHERE that you should find and file away before continuing quilting, but I can imagine if the needle broke during someone's rental session why they would want to keep quilting if they weren't experiencing any problems with thread breaking or anything.
  • The hopping foot not being perfectly level, which can contribute to some of the directional tension needle flex issues I've been having
  • Last but not least, my tension assembly was not working correctly before and it is SO MUCH better now!  Something was jammed in too far and pinching the takeup spring before, so that no matter how much I loosened the tension dial on my machine, the upper tension did not loosen at all.  Even when I loosened the tension dial to the point that the discs weren't even touching, I still felt a heavy drag on my thread when I pulled it through the eye of the needle and my stitch samples still looked like my upper tension was too tight.  I thought I was going crazy that I couldn't get good stitches for any other thread but Glide, but my tension assembly was stuck at the right tension for Glide and it was like it wasn't adjustable at all.
After doing all of that, I played with So Fine thread and made sure I could get a pretty, balanced stitch with that, and then I threaded up the machine with some King Tut variegated cotton thread.  I am a MUCH happier camper now as far as tension is concerned!

APQS Tension Assembly

We did place a parts order for Millie.  She's getting a new encoder wheel -- encoder wheels are kind of like the hooks on your bra band.  They should fit snug on the loosest setting when you first get them so that as they stretch out (bras) or wear down (encoder wheels), you have a couple of adjustments you can make to get them snug again before you need to replace them.  Angie from APQS also suggested flipping my carriage wheels (rather than replacing them just yet) -- that's like rotating the tires on your car.  We'll do that when we change out the encoder wheel.  But I also ordered a few other goodies that I'm excited about:

Texas Hold'Em Bracket: A Place Holder for the Quilt Top Roller, So the Hand Brake Still Functions

"Smart" L Hook and Bobbin Case Top, Larger M Hook and Bobbin Case Bottom
M Bobbins and Prewounds on Left, L Bobbins and Prewounds on Right
My parts should be here by end of day tomorrow, but we won't get a chance to do anything with them until Sunday after church.  My kids are in a production of The Sound of Music at our church with performances Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and one of my sisters is in town this weekend, too.  But I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with my newly-rejuvenated longarm machine next week!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Christmas In July at the Charlotte Quilters Guild Sit-and-Sew

I am pretty sure that Christmas cookies have ZERO calories if you eat them in July, when it's over a hundred degrees outside.  At least that's what I'm telling myself, because I ate at least four(teen) tree-shaped sugar cookies dusted with green sprinkling sugar at my guild's monthly Sit-and-Sew yesterday afternoon!

Although some of us were working on our own personal projects as usual, the Outreach committee had precut kits in holiday themed fabrics ready to go for those who wanted to put together charity quilts.  I brought Bette, my 1935 Singer Featherweight whom I've been neglecting for far too long, and gave her a good oiling before I started to sew just in case anything was binding up from sitting too long.  I need not have worried -- she purred like a kitten and sewed like a dream.

Bette the 1934 Featherweight Came Out of Hibernation for Christmas in July

I took a kit of 25 squares cut from two different novelty prints and got my 40" x 40" top sewn together by the end of the afternoon.  While Bette and I were working (and between shoveling cookies in my mouth), I got to visit with another guild member and get to know her better.  Meet Rona of Rona the Ribbiter Quilts:

I Love the Bag Rona Made With these Gorgeous Kaffe Fassett Fabrics!

Rona is a teacher, blogger, and pattern designer with a great sense of humor and a fondness for frogs.  She's currently serving on our guild's Board as one of two Programs Elect Chairs, which means she's shadowing the current team to learn the ropes and will be lining up our guild's lecturers and workshop teachers for next year.  

I am hoping Rona will teach a bag making workshop for our guild, because I was really smitten by this bag she made using Kaffe Fassett prints.  You can't really tell from the photo, but she incorporated some of her machine's decorative stitches on the bag and found really nice gunmetal hardware to complement her fabrics.  Pop over and say hello to Rona on her Hoppy Quilting blog at Rona the Ribbeter Quilts.

Alright, you guys -- I need to leave the house in one hour if I'm going to make it to warmup for the early service at church this morning, and I'm sitting here unshowered with a giant cup of coffee in front of me...  Have a wonderful Sunday!  Happy stitching!

I'm linking up with:
·      Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 
·      Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·      Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

·      Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

To Do On Tuesday: Longarm Quilting Practice!

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin', into the future...  It's Tuesday again!  My schedule was pretty chaotic last week, considering this is summer "vacation" -- bee meeting, guild meeting, workshops, shopping for everything my son will need when he heads to college (in FOUR AND A HALF WEEKS!), and lots of time spent helping both boys conduct a long overdue Deep Purge of old toys and outgrown books that were taking up too much space and collecting unhealthy quantities of dust in their bedrooms.  

Well-Read, Well-Loved, and Ready for Donation
Don't worry -- there are still PLENTY of books to read in my house, plus hundreds of digital titles in our family's Kindle library, and everyone has a library card.  No one in my house is suffering for lack of a book to read!  We donated 200+ Young Reader and Young Adult titles, mostly, to the Middle School library of the Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, a charter school for intellectually gifted students that my boys both attended for several years.  It makes me happy to know that other children are going to enjoy reading these books as much as we did.

Not surprisingly, I didn't get much sewing accomplished last week outside of my bee meeting, where I worked on needle-turn appliqué  and my two full-day workshops.  Time to take a look at last week's goals again:
  1. Piece Farmer's Wife Block 7 Augusta
  2. Pick out fabrics & gather supplies for Karen Kay Buckley workshops
  3. Fire up the longarm machine and do some experimental/practice quilting. 
Not bad, actually!  I DID piece that block, and I did get my stuff packed for the workshops.  I even unpacked some of it when I got home.  What I didn't get to was the longarm machine -- again.  When your free time is limited, it's so much easier to choose to work on something that is going smoothly than it is to work on something that is giving you grief, don't you agree?  And Thoroughly Modern Millie (my longarm machine) has definitely been giving me grief!

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Midway Through Quilting Mission Impossible
I've scheduled my 2013 APQS Millennium machine for a factory "Spa Visit" in the middle of August.  I bought this machine in 2017 from a dealer who had been using it as a rental machine in her shop, and I've begun to suspect that there may be some worn parts and/or things that are out of adjustment that are hampering my learning curve with the machine.  The "Spa Visit" is actually a refurbishing wherein every part that is subject to wear and tear is automatically replaced, everything is tested and adjusted, and the machine will be shipped back to me in good-as-new condition, as if I was purchasing a brand-new machine. It's pricey, and it's unusual for a machine as "young" as mine to require this service.  APQS Technical Support is wonderful and willing to walk owners through just about any trouble shooting or adjustment over the phone.  

The trouble is, this is my first longarm machine and I don't have the experience to know what it feels like/looks like/sounds like when the machine is performing optimally.  My guild friend who owns the same machine came over to help me trouble shoot and get set up to quilt Mission Impossible, and she was perplexed that 1. My machine is bouncing around and vibrating a lot more than hers, 2. We could not get the tension consistent with any thread besides Glide, and 3. My stitch regulator/motor speed does not match what we're setting it to, and 4. My single stitch function, used for basting, takes one and a half stitches instead of one full stitch.  Now, could APQS Tech Support walk me through all of these issues at home?  Absolutely!  They are SO kind and helpful, and they already helped me with a couple of other issues I was having with the machine.  But I am at the point where there are too many glitches, I don't know what is normal for my machine, and I feel overwhelmed by the idea of dismantling the darned thing with a screwdriver while I'm talking to someone on the phone.  This is my Scientific Method approach -- right now I have too many variables to contend with.  Is something not right with my machine, or am I having trouble because I'm doing something wrong?  Once my machine gets its Spa Treatment refurbishing, I can stop wasting so much time on technical trouble-shooting and focus on quilting with my machine.  Ironically, one of the reasons I chose APQS was that their machines are supposed to be so reliable and easy to use that their slogan is "Be a quilter, not a mechanic!"  So I've decided to suck it up, pay for the spa visit, and let the mechanics at APQS sort these issues out for me, so I can focus on being a quilter when Miss Millie comes home.  They even suggested that, if there are specific threads I want to use with my machine besides the basics, I should include a cone of each of them so the technicians can test my machine with those threads and make sure they play nice together.  I'll definitely be including a cone of Superior Metallic and a cone of King Tut.

Longarm Ladies Enjoying Spa Treatments at APQS
Added bonus: Since one of the things that gets routinely replaced during a Spa Visit is the entire hook system, I'm going to have them change my machine over from the Smart L-Bobbin to the jumbo M size bobbin, at no additional cost -- and without having to retime the machine myself, like I'd have to do if I just ordered the parts and tried to do this at home.  The L bobbin that my machine uses currently is like a regular sewing machine bobbin, like the kind my Featherweights and older Berninas used to have.  I am super spoiled by the ginormous bobbins in my current Berninas (750QE and 475QE) and it REALLY bothers me to have such an itty bitty bobbin in my longarm machine that I can only quilt one full row of a pantograph before it runs out of thread!

LONG STORY SHORT: There are so many things I'd LIKE to sew this week.  I'd like to keep working on the machine applique project from Karen Kay Buckley's workshop.  I'd like to make the next block for Anders' Beware the Ishmaelites quilt.  I'd like to monogram Lars's sheets and towels to reduce the chance of them disappearing in the college dorm's laundry room.  But my one and only quilting goal for this week is the thing I feel like doing the least.  I need to spend some time with my longarm machine, for two reasons:

1. To reassure my wavering mind that yes, scheduling the Spa Visit is warranted and not a huge waste of money.

2. To practice and reinforce what I learned in Lisa Calle's and Judi Madsen's longarm quilting workshops back in April.

There is a danger in taking too many classes and workshops, I think, if you don't allow enough time after each class to review your notes and practice what you did in class before moving on to the next workshop.  What with shipping back and forth from North Carolina to Iowa, I'll probably be without my longarm machine for three weeks, most of August.  So my baby clam shell quilt, Anders' sampler, and the applique projects can all wait until Millie is away at the spa.

Have a great week, everyone, and happy quilting!  I'm linking up with To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things:  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Good Things Happen When You Join a Quilt Guild! Out-of-Print Book Miracles and Workshops With Karen Kay Buckley

What an amazing week this has been quilt-wise, and all because I joined the Charlotte Quilters' Guild a few months ago!  On Monday, our Southside Stitchers Bee met at Christa's house, where I got lots of needleturn applique stitched down, ate a few too many homemade chocolate chip cookies, and got a tour of Christa's professional longarm quilting studio, Cotton Berry Quilts.    Christa is letting me borrow a set of Handi-Quilter Groovy Boards to try out with my longarm machine for my next charity outreach quilt, to see it that works better for me than trying to follow a paper pantograph, and I'm really looking forward to that.  

But then, at our guild meeting on Wednesday night, the internationally renowned appliqué goddess Karen Kay Buckley came to do a lecture and trunk show about innovative border treatments, and I had the opportunity to take her hand and machine appliqué workshops on Thursday and Friday.  I learned so much, bought lots of nifty new gadgets and gizmos, and now I'm pretty sure we're BFFs.

Me and My New Bestie, Karen Kay Buckley
Seriously, if you ever have the opportunity to take a class with Karen, don't pass it up.  These were among the best workshops I've ever taken.  Karen has a legit teaching background and it shows -- she knows how to create a project that is accessible to beginners but also rewarding and engaging for those with more experience, and she packed a LOT into each 6-hour workshop because she knows how to write tight lesson plans, how much time to allow for each step, and exactly how much instruction students can process and retain before attempting to repeat what has been demonstrated.  I learned:
  • A better, cleaner, and more precise way to hand stitch outer and inner points
  • That my Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors can cut FOUR LAYERS of fabric without distortion, thanks to their micro serrated blade.  You know all of those leaves I've been cutting out ONE at a time for my Frankenwhiggish Rose project?  I will but cutting them FOUR at a time from now on!  This is like coming out of the Dark Ages into the Renaissance, you guys!  You can get Karen's scissors and everything else I purchased at class on her web site here, but I'm also giving you (affiliate) Amazon links in this post since Amazon Prime day is right around the corner.  
  • A cool way to accurately transfer appliqué designs onto ANY color fabric
  • A better way to use pins for positioning appliqué so that my thread doesn't get caught up on the pins
  • And so much more.  My notebook overfloweth with new ideas and inspiration!

Class Photo from Friday's Machine Appliqué Workshop

And, what nifty new gadgets and gizmos did I BUY, you may ask?  These are my favorite new goodies:

  • I already owned Karen's Perfect Circles templates, but I purchased her Perfect Leaves, Perfect Ovals, and Perfect Stems sets.
  • The pattern for Majestic Mosaic, Karen's AQS Best of Show quilt from 2015.  I'm not planning to recreate Karen and longarm quilter Renae Haddadin's masterpiece (as if that were a possibility!), but I'm fascinated by the way she designed the quilt with those unusual interlocking shaped frames around the block, and I'm looking forward to studying the pattern instructions to learn how Karen created that effect.
  • Karen has some EXTREMELY fine pins that glide in and out of fabric, even batiks, effortlessly and without distortion.  After testing them in the hand stitched appliqué class, I bought both sizes of her pins.
  • She also introduced us to a June Tailor glue pen that I'd never seen before.  At home, my fabric glue sticks were the same size and shape as the glue sticks elementary students use -- not great for applying the glue precisely where you want it to go.  The glue sticks Karen had us using in class were glue pens with a diameter of about the same size as our seam allowances.  So much easier to control!  I couldn't find this one on Amazon but if your local shop doesn't have it either, you can order it from Karen's web site here.
  • I bought Karen's Adjustable Perfect Adjustable Square for trimming down completed applique blocks.  Several quilters on a Yahoo! applique forum had recommended it to me, but it was pricey and I wasn't sure how well it worked or whether I'd actually use it until Karen demonstrated for me on one of my completed Frankenwhiggish blocks.  Well, I think it's a really cool design created by someone who intimately knows the terror of taking a rotary cutter to the edge of a block she's spent a gazillion hours hand stitching, and if it saves me from miscutting and destroying just one block in my lifetime, it's money well spent!  I especially like the puzzle-like assembly that allows the ruler to adjust to any size quilt block and the little holes for creating vertical, horizontal and diagonal alignment lines with thread for precisely centering traditional, symmetrical blocks like my Frankenwhig Roses.
I'm really enjoying my project from the machine appliqué workshop, which surprised me because when I first saw the pattern, I didn't immediately see how I could tweak it to make it my own.  However, I stumbled onto a fat quarter of ombre background fabric in my stash that reminds me of a sunrise, and I'm really digging the effect.  Interestingly, I found it MUCH easier to accurately stitch the appliqué by machine this time around compared to when I took a workshop with Harriet Hargrave on a similar technique six years ago.  I think that all of the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting skills I've developed since then are transferring over to machine appliqué, because in both situations your goal is for the machine needle to rub right up against the folded appliqué edge or raised seam allowance without biting into it.  

My "Circles Squared" Machine Applique In Progress

I'm definitely going to finish that piece, but the hand stitched one I'm not sure about.  I've only got two pieces stitched down and two more ready to stitch for that one, and my Frankenwhiggish needleturn project has got to be my hand stitching priority until the dang thing is finished or it never WILL get finished!  

My "Fiesta Mexico Block 3" Hand Stitched Applique In Progress
Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you -- guess what ELSE happened at our guild meeting on Wednesday evening?  Check out THIS amazing good fortune:

I Found the Holy Grail!!!
That is a real life, honest-to-goodness copy of Karen K. Stone's out of print (and insanely hard to find below $100) Karen K. Stone Quilts book, which contains the directions for her Cinco de Mayo quilt that I'm planning to make for Anders' high school graduation.  That book is in MY hot little hand, in MY studio, and it didn't cost me a penny.  Why, you ask?  Because this copy came from the Charlotte Quilters Guild library, and as a guild member I get to check it out for two months, completely for free.  Happy, happy, joy, joy!!  My guild membership for the next four years just paid for itself.  I'm SKIPPING over here.

Well, it's after MIDNIGHT now and I have to get up in not very many hours to get ready for church!  I would be tempted to skip the 9 AM Traditional service and just show up for the 10:45 Contemporary service, but alas -- our minister of music has chosen a BEAUTIFUL anthem for the early service and if I don't drag my booty out of bed in time, I won't get to sing it with the choir.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

I'm linking up today's post with:


·      Slow Sunday Stitching at  
·      Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


·      Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 
·      Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·      Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·      Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:
·      BOMs Away at Katie Mae Quilts: