|C is for Charlie, 42 x 42 prior to washing|
First Big News: A Quilt Finish!
My AQS Letter Home QAL (resized, recolored, and with EPP monogram block added) is finished! I wrapped it up last night, carefully packed it in a box along with big sister Margot's butterfly/clam shell quilt, and Bernie just entrusted the package to the safekeeping of UPS for its journey to New Mexico. Godspeed, little quilts! May you arrive safely and be literally loved to pieces!
|Letter Home Monogram Baby, Quilting Completed|
I ended up really liking how the the custom quilting came out with the Superior Fantastico variegated thread in shades of pale green. All of the quilting is hand guided free motion or ruler work and SID. For that center monogram block that was English paper pieced, my seam allowances are pressed open rather than to one side, so instead of quilting in the actual ditch where I would have risked piercing the piecing thread and breaking the seam, I shifted my quilting slightly inside the seam line onto the green fabric instead.
The larger-scale meandering against that white background fabric reminded me of jumbo marshmallows and Caspar the Friendly Ghost as I was quilting it. 👻
|Letter Home Monogram Baby Quilt Trimmed|
|Applying Binding with my Bernina 475QE|
My 750QE started throwing tantrums in the middle of embroidering Charlie's quilt label, and I skipped her annual Spa Visit last year, so I dropped her off at the Bernina dealer for a good cleaning and servicing. I love having my 475QE as a backup machine that can do everything the 750 does except for embroidery, using all the same feet and bobbins, with all of the features I'm used to on the big machine.
|Should Have Done Machine Binding...|
My IntelliQuilter had already arrived by the time I got to the binding stage of Charlie's quilt, making me REALLY wish I'd gone with a machine binding so I'd be done with it already! I wanted these two baby quilts to be finished and out the door so I could focus on the new computerized quilting system! It took me two days, probably somewhere between 4-6 hours total, to hand stitch the binding on this 42" x 42" baby quilt, and that does not include the time it took to cut the strips, join them, press the strip in half, machine stitch it to the front of the quilt, and join the ends of the binding.
|Hand Stitching is 3/4 of the Way Completed after 4 Hours|
|C is for Charlie After Washing, 39 x 39|
Here's what "C is for Charlie" looked like after washing and drying (above). The quilt was SO much softer after washing out all of the starch! This quilt started out at 42" x 42" just like Margot's quilt, has roughly the same quilting density, and the same 80/20 batting. However, Margot's quilt was made with unwashed fabrics and all of Charlie's fabrics were prewashed in "Very Warm" water to shrink them ahead of time. Margot's quilt finished at 38" x 38" after washing, for a shrinkage rate of roughly 10%, whereas Charlie's quilt finished at 39" x 39" for a shrinkage rate of approximately 7%.
The biggest post-laundering surprise with Charlie's quilt is how my binding appears to be ruched after washing it! Apparently I did an excellent job of getting all the shrinkage out of the binding fabric prior to cutting the strips, so the binding stayed the same size even though the quilt it was attached to still had some shrinking to do. I need to remember this, because it would be interesting to recreate this effect deliberately with some projects -- but I think that next time I make a quilt with a cotton or a cotton blend batting, I'll use UNwashed fabric for the binding regardless of whether or not the fabrics in the quilt top were prewashed. The ripply-textured binding is fun on a baby quilt for little fingers to explore, but on most quilts I'd prefer a flat, smooth binding and allowing the binding to shrink in the wash along with the batting would minimize the rippled effect.
|My Binding Looks Ruched After Washing!|
|THIS Arrived on Wednesday!!! FINALLY!|
Second Big News: The IntelliQuilter System Arrived!
Oh my gosh, you guys -- I ordered my IntelliQuilter computer robotics for my APQS Millennium long arm machine at the end of August, and it finally arrived last week. My husband installed motors and tablet for me on Thursday.
Thursday is the day I was having trouble embroidering my quilt label and taking my 750QE in for service, and when I got back from the Bernina dealer I wanted to get my label stitched to my quilt and get the binding sewn to the front of the quilt, so I didn't get a chance to run the software tests on the IntelliQuilter system until Friday. Bernie did a fantastic job with his installation so the X and Y motor engagement strengths, calibration, and drift tests went perfectly the first time without requiring any additional adjustment to the motor positioning. Whew!
|My In-House Tech Guy, Working on My IntelliQuilter Installation|
Doesn't Millie look like a robot now? The 12" tablet is her face and the machine handles look like arms. The IntelliQuilter makes cute little beeping noises that remind me of R2D2 from Star Wars, but my teenaged sons tell me she sounds "like an evil alien space ship that decides the human crew is expendable." 😒
|My Robot! THIS is the Droid I Have Been Looking For!|
|IQ's X and Y Motors Mounted to Machine Carriage|
Besides the tablet that mounts to the front of my machine head, the only other hardware to the IQ system are the two motors that drive the machine on the X and Y axis. One motor rides along the machine's carriage to control vertical movement of the machine, and the other motor rides along the edge of my frame to control horizontal movement. No belts or pulleys and no giant computer hanging off the end of my frame. It's very streamlined, and the motors engage and disengage with the touch of a single button on the tablet so it's easy to switch back and forth between manual, hand guided quilting and computerized work. Very cool.
Friday was the last day of the big semi-annual 25% off sale at Urban Elementz, a site that sells thousands of fabulous digital quilting designs that I can use now that my long arm is computerized, so I spent a good deal of time (and money!) stocking up on a variety of edge-to-edge, block, sashing, and border designs that I am SUPER EXCITED to start playing with. On Saturday, I figured out how to upload my installation logs to IQ's Support page, the final step in the self-installation instructions, and then I spent some time downloading all the digital designs I'd purchased, transferring them to my IQ tablet, and organizing them all in Evernotes on my iPad/Mac computer so I can pull up all of my E2E feather designs, or all the designs with florals, or all of the geometrics, etc and find what I want quickly. I still need to do that for the designs that came preloaded with my IQ system. I stepped away from the IQ for all of Sunday, since it was Bernie's birthday and we had Important Birthday Things to do with our Important Birthday Boy. I got a lot of hand stitching done on that binding while "watching" football with Bernie on Sunday. Yesterday I finished the binding, washed the quilt, took the photos, and wrapped everything up for shipping... And here we are again on Tuesday!
Tuesday's Weekly Goals
My two goals last week were to finish Charlie's quilt and to install my IQ system, both of which are completed. Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish this week:
- Back to Anders' Nanu Nanu quilt! This is the next block to be foundation paper pieced (on my 475QE, since Big 'Nina 750QE is away at the Bernina spa):
|Next 15 inch Block for Nanu Nanu!|
- A little bit of Secret Sewing that also involves paper piecing, to be revealed at a later date
- Continue learning my new IntelliQuilter system. I need to rethread the machine, incorporating the new IQ thread break sensor wheel, and play around in manual mode to readjust my tensions to accommodate for the additional "pull" on the top thread from the altered thread path of IQ. I also want to experiment with different speed settings for IQ and the APQS machine, since they work together to determine stitch length rather than using the stitch regulator built into my APQS machine.
- Once I've got nice, pretty stitches on both sides of my quilt sandwich, I want to go back through the hands-on IQ lessons provided by my dealer, Angela Huffman of Quilted Joy. I went through all 6 hours of training videos while I was waiting for my IQ system to ship and found them extremely helpful for learning the interface and the various tools available within the software, but now I want to cement that knowledge by following along with my machine for each of the exercises. Angela's excellent video classes cover all the basics for setting up and stitching out E2E/pantograph (edge-to-edge) designs as well as custom quilting blocks, borders and sashings, and I love how she filmed the classes in 10-minute segments so it's easy to find the bit you want to review quickly without having to rewatch or fast-forward through an hour-long class when you need a refresher.
That should be plenty to keep me busy this week, don't you think? Considering that I also need to start planning and shopping (and baking and freezing) for Thanksgiving...
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
· Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
· Free Motion Mavericks with Muv and Andree
· 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