Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Yes, I'm Still Here, Working On Baby Quilts...

 Hello, my lovelies!  It felt good to step away from the blog for a few days.  

We brought our 19-year-old son home from college for the weekend so he could cast his very first vote in a Presidential election during Early Voting rather than having to change his voter registration to his college address.  My 17-year-old son has strong opinions about the election that he believes we're all entitled to hearing, and he is not pleased to be the only nonvoting member of the family.  ;-). Hah!

I made more progress on my baby quilt version of the AQS "Letter Home" September QAL:

Monogram Baby Quilt In Progress

Those are 8" finished blocks, center monogram block that I added is English Paper Pieced, and the finished size of this quilt with narrow borders will be 42" x 42".  None of the blocks are sewn together yet, but I'm nearly finished piecing all of the blocks now.

I did get my Modern Baby Clam Shell quilt finished -- COMPLETELY FINISHED!! -- a couple days ago, but haven't taken the final photos of it yet.  Still debating whether or not to wash it first.  And, since my October goal is to completely finish BOTH of these sibling quilts and get them mailed off by the end of the month, I figured I might as well wait and photograph both of them together.

Final Stretch of Binding on Modern Baby Clam Shells

As usual, I'd be farther along with the baby quilts if I hadn't been busy working on other things.  I spoke with a potential new client about a vintage quilt made by his grandmother that he's looking to have restored.  I've been researching and crowd sourcing about quilt battings in order to finalize which ones I want to stock for clients.  I also worked on a Double-Top-Secret Surprise design for a friend in EQ8 and sourced special fabrics to bring that idea to life.  The fabrics I needed showed up in yesterday's mail and they are AWESOME -- it is going to be SO HARD not to show you this one until after I surprise my friend with it!  

I have also been working my way through all of the IntelliQuilter training videos provided by my dealer, all SIX hours' worth, covering both computerized edge-to-edge as well as computerized custom quilting.  I am SO excited by the possibilities!  The system that I ordered in late August is finally ready to ship and install on my APQS Millennium, and I finished the last of the training videos last night so I'm raring to go.  I absolutely cannot wait to start putting everything I've learned into practice on my quilts!  My IntelliQuilter should be up and running by Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween, my furry little beefcake puppy Samwise will turn one year old on Halloween!

Samwise Turns One Year Old on Halloween!

That's all you get for today, folks!  I'm linking up with the following linky parties:


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

·       Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

·       Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

LAL#11: The Season Finale

 Hello, machine quilting friends, and welcome to what I've decided will be the last Long Arm Learning linky party.  I have so appreciated those of you who've been linking up with me here for the past 11 weeks, and I've learned a lot from all of your posts.  However:

  • I enjoy lots of other aspects of quilting besides the actual machine quilting part.  Even though that's my strongest focus these days, I'm finding that I struggle to come up with a long arm quilting themed post every single week.  Some weeks I've been exploring English paper piecing or quilt design or hand stitching and would rather write about that.  So the linky party focus is feeling constraining to me as the host.
  • I enjoy visiting and being inspired by a wide, varied range of quilters, whether they are hand quilters, machine quilters, or masterful appliqué artists who "quilt by check."  If I'm going to host a linky party, I'd rather cast a wider net and include EVERYONE in the party rather than just those who've written about machine quilting in a particular week.
  • Finally, I'm noticing that a lot of us -- myself included -- are linking up the same posts in several different linky parties that we all participate in.  It's like we're all on the same linky party bus doing a bar crawl together!  So I'm wondering whether there is actually a need for me to be hosting yet another linky party here on my blog at all?

Where Can We Link Up Together Going Forward?

These are the linky parties where I currently enjoy linking up on a weekly or monthly basis, where I see a lot of you linking up as well:


·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


·       Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

·       Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt


·       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  

·       Free Motion Mavericks with Muv and Andree

·       Sew and Tell Thursday (on BerninaLand Groups.io)


·       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: http://tgiffriday.blogspot.ca/p/hosting-tgiff.html



·       One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts. Link up your goal at the start of each month and link up your finish during the last 6 days of the month 

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

The easiest linky parties for me to participate in are the ones that are pretty open-ended, where I can link up any kind of quilting project, in any stage of completion.  The goal setting linkies are helpful as well (Roseanne's To-Do Tuesday and Elm Street Quilts' One Monthly Goal) although I don't always get my goal post written up in time and I'm not great about finishing the goals by the end of the week or month.  The "finished" linky parties are ones I enjoy visiting to see what others have made, but I don't crank out finishes fast enough to have one to share at the end of every week.

I'm not opposed to continuing to host a linky party, now that I've set up the account with InLinkz and figured out how to do it.  But if I start up a new party, it would need to be open to all stages and techniques of quilt making, all styles, so that I'm not stressing out about needing to come up with a post each week on a specific topic even if I'm in a different place creatively that week.  And when I look at my roster of other bloggers' linky parties, I see that there are already so many great linky parties like that going strong.  Go ahead and share your feedback and opinions in the comments, but right now my inclination is to call it a wrap and let other bloggers be the Hostesses With the Mostesses.  If anyone is disappointed that my machine quilting themed linky party is ending, I want to encourage you to check out Free Motion Mavericks, cohosted by Muv and Andree on Thursdays.  Whether you're on a domestic machine or a long arm, quilting with rulers or working on freehand designs, all of that is welcome at Free Motion Mavericks.  I'll be linking up with them there when I do have machine quilting to share!

And now, without further ado, here's your LAST CHANCE to link up with Long Arm Learning!  I can't wait to see what you've all been up to this week!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Monday, October 12, 2020

Tuesday's To-Do List: Still Slogging Along With Butterflies and Clam Shells

 Might as well just get to the meat and potatoes this week!  Last week's goals turned out to be overly ambitious:

✅ finish quilting Modern Baby Clam Shells, AND 

get it labeled and   

❌ bound, AND  

❌ get my Letter Home baby quilt top and ready to load on my frame.  

After quilting the pantograph design over most of my Modern Baby Clam Shells quilt and stitching in the ditch around my butterfly appliqués  a quilter who was more goal oriented and focused than I am would have finished up the quilting with some monofilament or color matched thread to machine quilt along the butterfly veins.  I decided to haul out all of my yummy hand stitching threads instead.  I ended up quilting my butterfly veins with Perle Cotton #5, which would probably have looked better with a longer stitch length, but I like it anyway:

Perle Cotton no. 5 for Hand Quilted Butterfly Veins

I like the idea of combining machine quilting with hand stitched details, and think I might explore more of that in future.  

Best of all, since my butterflies are turned edge appliqué with the backing trimmed away behind them and no fusible web or anything like that to add stiffness, they are super soft and smooshable and were very easy to needle for the hand quilting.

The purple butterflies got green stitching.  It's subtle, but I love the vintage hand stitched vibe it gives my butterflies.

All Quilting Completed, Ready to Trim

You know, I was really tempted to custom quilt this one, if I hadn't been up against a time crunch to get it finished.  But I have to say, the less densely quilted pantograph design makes this baby quilt SO soft and cuddly!  Custom quilting might have made for a stiffer quilt, and if I'd gotten too carried away with it, the baby's mom might have felt like the quilt was "too fancy" for everyday use and stuck it in a closet.  😱😱😱. Heaven forbid!  So all's well that ends well!

Attaching the Machine Embroidered Label

My bee group that used to meet in person Pre-Plague has been meeting on Zoom instead on Monday afternoons, and I used that time today to get this quilt trimmed and to attach the machine embroidered label I'd digitized and stitched out on Sunday.  I tried something new this time, using Aurifil 50/2 Cotton threads in the needle and also in the bobbin to embroider my quilt label.  I am really happy with how it came out!  That extra thickness to the thread (compared to regular embroidery thread and bobbin thread) gave the stitching more prominence, yet I had zero issues with puckering or thread breaks.  And although I love the sheen of trilobal polyester or rayon embroidery threads for other projects, I liked the matte lustre of the 100% cotton thread for this quilt.  I used one layer of water soluble topping, one layer of tearaway stabilizer in the hoop, with a second layer of tearaway stabilizer floated beneath the hoop.  I used my built-in basting stitch around the perimeter of the design as well, both to reduce the tendency of the embroidery to draw up and pucker, but also because the basting stitches form a nice, straight rectangle around the label design that I can use to trim the excess fabric and turn the two edges of the label that won't be caught in the binding.

My local chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild will be doing its first in-person stitch-together next Saturday, in the parking lot of the church where we usually meet, with masks and social distancing in place.  I'm planning to get the binding machine stitched to my clam shell quilt tomorrow and then set it aside to be finished with hand stitching at my guild's outdoor gathering. I sure hope the weather cooperates!

And then I can turn my attention back to the baby brother's quilt, based on the AQS Letter Home QAL.  So, that's what I'll be up to for the rest of this week!

Rebecca's To-Do List for This Week:

  1. Attach binding to clam shell quilt by machine
  2. Finish piecing Letter Home blocks
  3. Assemble Letter Home quilt top
  4. Piece Letter Home backing
  5. Load Letter Home on the long arm frame

I'm tempted to put more on that list, but there's so much SHAME when I have to put red X's next to everything at the end of the week!  😉. Best to quit while I'm ahead!  I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt


·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

·       Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

One Monthly Goal: October 2020

 I'm late to the OMG (One Monthly Goal) party this month, slipping in my link right before the OMG goal setting linky closes over at Elm Street Quilts.  I did not meet my September goal, and wasn't sure what my October goal should be.  So hard to pick ONE goal when so many are swirling around my monster to-do list!

October OMG Part I: Modern Baby Clam Shells Quilt

Okay, so my October OMG is going to be a two-fer-one special, because these two quilts are going to the same home.  By the time Halloween rolls around, I need to finish my Modern Baby Clam Shells quilt for an almost-two-year-old who is newly a Big Sister, AND I need to finish my baby sized monogram version of the AQS Letter Home QAL for the baby brother who was born on October 1st.

October OMG Part II: Letter Home Baby w/Pieced Monogram

The current status of the butterflies-and-clam shells quilt is that it's loaded on my long arm frame, 2/3 of the way quilted, and should be ready for labeling and binding by the end of today.

Clam Shell Quilting is Currently In Progress

The baby brother's quilt is still in the piecing stage.  Everything is cut out and I'm close to having all of the blocks pieced.  Hopefully this one will be ready to load on the frame soon after the butterfly quilt comes off.

Letter Home Block Construction is Currently In Progress

I've purchased and prewashed/shrunk the backing and binding fabrics for Letter Home, but still need to seam two backing lengths together and actually make the binding.  Plus I still need to digitize, embroider, and attach a label for each quilt, and I usually hand stitch my binding so that will take some time as well.  

So the plan is to get both of these quilts finished, wrapped, and sent off in the mail by Halloween!  If you don't see me posting as often this month, it will be because I'm busy QUILTING instead of just WRITING about quilting!  ;-)

LAL#10: Creating a Manual "No Sew Zone" for Appliqué in a Hand-Guided Pantograph Design

 Good morning, my lovelies!  Welcome to another episode of Long Arm Learning, where the focus is on honing our machine quilting skills, regardless of what kind of machine you're using.

As for myself, although I spent much of the week mired in English paper piecing of another baby quilt top, I did finally get around the impasse of procrastination and got about 2/3 of my Modern Baby Clam Shells quilted yesterday.  The hardest part was starting; I really did not want to mess it up after spending so much time on the curved piecing and the appliqué.  I know a lot of quilters feel that way -- worried that they will "ruin" the quilt tops they worked so hard to piece, so they just never quilt them at all.  That's where the adage "finished is better than perfect" comes in handy.

Daisies Galore Pantograph, Quilted Around Butterfly Appliques 

In this case, I was nervous about whether or not my bright idea for quilting an edge-to-edge pantograph design WITHOUT quilting on top of my butterfly appliqués was going to work out.  I got the idea from how, in a computerized long arm quilting setup, you can program No Sew Zones in embroidered or appliquéd areas and tell the computer to sew an allover design everywhere else EXCEPT the area you've masked off.  The computer robotics package I've ordered for my machine won't be shipping until the end of the month, and this quilt needed to get done YESTERDAY.  

When quilting an edge-to-edge pantograph design with a hand-guided long arm machine setup, the quilter is at the back of the table, guiding a laser light along a printed paper pattern on a table that sits just below the quilt surface.  To do this successfully, you have to keep your eyes on the paper pattern just ahead of your laser light, kind of like how you have to keep your eyes on the road while driving to avoid ending up in a ditch.  You can't actually look at your quilt at all while you're quilting -- which means I can't see when I'm coming up to one of my butterflies that I don't want to cross over with quilting stitches.

Extra Fabric Butterfly Taped In Position on Pantograph Plastic

My idea was to create my own equivalent of a No Sew Zone on the pantograph pattern so I could stop the machine, move around to the front of the frame, stitch in the ditch around the appliqué  and then resume quilting the pantograph design from the back.  I positioned the butterfly by moving my needle to points on the edges of the applique on the quilt surface and nudging the butterfly into position on the pantograph shelf so that the butterfly on top of my pantograph plastic was positioned as closely as possible to the butterfly on the actual quilt top.  Then I stuck a couple pieces of Scotch tape to the edges of my spare butterfly to ensure it stayed put while I quilted that row.

I altered the stitching path a little to go around one wing and marked where I wanted to stop when I was approaching the edge of the butterfly.  I knew that my positioning of the butterfly on the template plastic was as good as I could get it, but not as exact as it would be if I was marking its location with a computer from the front of the quilt frame.  I also knew that fabric shifts as it draws up during quilting, so I was nervous about whether the edges of my butterfly would be in the same place by the time I reached them in my stitching path.  The last thing I wanted to do was accidentally stitch up over the edge of the butterfly.  My palms were sweating quite a bit when I began quilting that first row!

One Butterfly Down, Two to Go!

It worked!  It really helps that this pantograph is such an easy pattern.  I was able to stop quilting from the back about a centimeter or so away from the butterfly and then scootch right up to the edge of it from the front without any noticeable deviation from the pattern.  Whew!

I am using a new hopping foot and a new ruler for the first time with this quilt, too:

APQS Clog Foot with White Arbor Lotus Ruler for Appliqué SID

This APQS "clog foot" is a true 1/4" ruler foot with an open toe for greater visibility.  That made it the perfect choice for quilting "in the ditch" around my applique, especially because I was able to use my Lotus Lines Appliqué Aid ruler from Bethanne Nemesh's Garden Lines collection.  This ruler has a hopping foot "entrapment" -- so I can slide the ruler on over the ankle of the hopping foot and it locks onto my hopping foot, allowing me to guide the needle very precisely with my left hand by dragging the ruler along the edge of the appliqué   It's like having the control of holding onto the hopping foot itself, but without risking the emergency room visit!  LOVED how this ruler worked and I'm looking forward to using it for the other appliqué WIPs in my to-be-quilted pipeline.

Using Bethanne Nemesh's Lotus Ruler to SID Applique

So...  The verdict?  This is definitely doable, but fussing around to position the spare butterfly just right on the pantograph and stopping to SID around the butterfly from the front definitely slowed down the process of pantograph quilting.  If I wasn't taking pains to quilt around the butterflies, I'd have finished the whole quilt today instead of getting 2/3 of the way through.  If you're quilting as a business and thinking about doing this on a customer's quilt, you'll want to factor in an upcharge for the extra time involved.

If you wanted to use this technique on an area of machine embroidery or regular applique (not broderie perse like mine, where I was able to just cut out extra motifs from the applique fabric), I think the easiest method would be to photocopy the areas of the quilt top with the embroidery or applique designs (making sure your copier was set to Actual Size, 100%) and then cut out the photocopied motifs to position on your pantograph table.  I do like the effect for this quilt.  After I finish the pantograph quilting, I'm going to want to go back and add some very minimal quilting inside each butterfly appliqué as well, to prevent it from sagging.  Still mulling the possibilities for that "icing on the cake."

My weekly Tuesday To-Do list for Roseanne's linky party is to finish quilting this quilt, AND get it labeled and bound, AND get my Letter Home baby quilt top finished and ready to load on my frame.  Wish me luck!  I'm also linking up with:  Midweek Makers at Quilt FabricationWednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring QuilterNeedle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation, and  Free Motion Mavericks with Muv and Andree.

And now, without further ado -- it's time to link up YOUR latest adventures in machine quilting!  I can't wait to see what you've been up to.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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