Sunday, November 22, 2020

IntelliQuilter Learning Continues: Exploring Digital Pantographs for E2E + Background Fills, with No Sew Zones

 Good morning, lovelies!  After my little R.B.G. block detour, I returned to the cheater cloth panel that I'd loaded on my long arm frame for IntelliQuilter practice.  Feeling comfortable with resizing and distorting block designs to fit less-than-perfectly-square quilt blocks, I decided to practice laying out and sequencing some E2E (Edge-to-Edge) designs.  Oh my gosh, you guys -- I LOVE how my APQS machine stitches these designs out with R2D2 (yes, that's what I've named my IQ) doing the driving instead of me!  Smooth feather curves, crisp points, and perfect circle bubbles with beautiful stitches on the top and bottom of the quilt, no matter which direction the machine is moving.

Aphrodite Grande E2E on Practice Panel

This particular E2E design is called Aphrodite Grande from Urban Elementz.  It's an E2E because this type of design is intended to cover the quilt from edge to edge, irrespective of the piecing lines, borders, etc.  It's a lot faster way to finish a quilt than treating individual blocks, sashings and borders separately, but it also has the advantage of being very evenly distributed quilting method that retains the loft (and therefore, retains the warmth) of the batting better than heavy custom quilting.  E2E quilting generally results in a soft, drapable finished quilt, too, even if the quilt top is heavily pieced to begin with.  So there are lots of reasons to choose an E2E design for a quilt besides just the wallet-friendly price point.  E2E quilting is great for bed quilts, baby quilts, charity quilts, etc., and there are literally thousands of designs to choose from. 

Aphrodite Grande E2E Design

Now, this E2E design and most others like it are available as paper pantographs for use with non-computerized long arm machines.  With lots (and lots!) of practice, some quilters become quite good at following the quilting design on paper from the back of their machines using a laser pointer to guide their machine along the stitching path.  After a few years of trying that, I've discovered that following paper pantographs is not my superpower -- especially not designs like this one with lots of circle details and tightly nested rows of quilting.  I'm excited about being able to vastly expand the number of allover designs that I can quilt out reliably.  

Setting Up a Computerized E2E Pattern on IQ

But there are more advantages to computerized E2E quilting designs compared to following a paper pantograph pattern by hand.  If purchasing a paper pantograph pattern for Aphrodite Grande, it comes in one size/pattern density only -- with a 12" row height.  With a digitized design in IQ, I can stretch any design bigger or smaller, changing the density of the quilting to make the scale of the quilting design more appropriate to the scale of the pieced blocks, or to adapt the design to my (or my customer's) preferences for lighter or heavier quilting overall.  

Stitching Out My Aphrodite Grande E2E Design

Yet another thing I am loving about quilting computerized E2E designs is that, instead of having to keep my eyes on the laser light to follow a paper pattern at the BACK of the machine, I get to be right at the front of the machine where I can see and supervise the actual stitching when the computer is involved.  My hands are free to work in any fullness or "personality" that a particular quilt top may have, as well, whereas if I was quilting a pantograph from the back of a quilt that had "C-cup blocks," a pleat or two might get quilted in those areas of excess fullness.

Other cool things about the IQ screen in the photo above: When I set up an E2E design, or any kind of computerized quilting design in IQ, it tells me how much thread the design is going to use in yards ("Remaining Length: 16.1 yd" in the above photo means 16 yards of top thread and 16 yards of bottom thread are required to stitch the remainder of this practice quilt).  It also tells me how long the whole thing will take to stitch out (excluding the time it takes to stop, advance the quilt on the frame, and baste the edges).  I have two speed settings that I can adjust, the regular Speed that is set to 2.0 inches per second for this pantograph, as well as a Details speed that I've got at 1.6 inches per second for this design.  I can also program IQ to pause or "Dwell" at the sharp points and other intricate details ("dwell points") of a design, and fine-tuning Speed, Details speed, and Dwell enables IQ to sew even the most intricate, complex designs with accuracy and precision.  So very cool! 

Speed and Details Slowed down for Intricate Block Design

In this photo, you can see that I've got IQ slowed down to 1.3" per second regular speed and slowing to .9" per second for this Willow block design.  I also have Dwell on the highest setting (3), which I learned NOT to do because it caused too many stitches to land in the points, creating knots where the machine was pausing too long.  I got better results with Dwell set to 1.  

Willow Block 4 Design

That's the block I was working on in the photo above.  I have a collection of coordinating blocks and border designs in this Willow set and I really love it.  It's what I'd consider a "transitional" feather style because it can work equally well with traditional or more contemporary quilts.  

Willow Block 1

Willow Block 1, Stitched on Practice Panel

Isn't that pretty?  But back to those E2E pantograph designs.  Remember that I said I can change the scale of the designs to make them more or less dense?  I can also use that feature to shrink a pantograph design way down and use it as a background fill for custom quilting, like "behind" an appliquéd or embroidered area in a quilt top.

Shrinking an E2E Design Down as a Background Filler

That's what I've done in the photo above.  This is an E2E digital design called Dewdrops that, in the paper pantograph version, has a row height of 12" just like the Aphrodite Grande pattern I showed you a few moments ago.  But here, I've shrunk Dewdrops all the way down to a row height of 1.75" with a pattern density of 5.73.  The triangular boundary that I've filled with the design is a partial on-point quilt "block" from my practice panel that I mapped out with my machine needle so that IQ knows exactly where the edges of the block lie on my quilt.

No Sew Zone Created so Filler Doesn't Stitch Over Star

Next, I used the same technique of moving my machine along the edge of the area where I didn't want stitching to map out a No Sew Zone for IQ.  

Ruler Work Sashing + SID, Computerized Block + Background Filler

I'm not 100% pleased with the background filler yet to where I'd put that on a real quilt, but I found some additional educational resources that will help me to get better results with it next time.  Same thing with my first attempt at programming the computer to quilt circles in the sashing -- I found that it was faster and easier to just grab my 1/2" Pro Pebbles acrylic template (available from Lisa Calle here) and quilt them by hand with the ruler.  For now, as far as custom quilting is concerned, I feel pretty comfortable delegating some of the block and border stitching to R2D2 in conjunction with hand-guided ruler work and free motion quilting.

But meanwhile, I have a few real quilt tops patiently waiting for E2E quilting and I'm looking forward to picking out the perfect design for each of them.  And then, don't hold your breath, but maybe I can get my Ginormous Pineapple Log Cabin quilt top turned into an actual finished quilt on my bed soon, after all these years!  Remember this one?

Computer Rendering of 120 x 120 Pineapple Log Cabin Top Waiting to be Quilted

That's actually an EQ8 rendering I created by tiling a photo of the first block I finished piecing, repeated and manipulated in the software to "preview" the way the finished quilt would look with borders and everything before I invested the work of actually making all of the blocks.  Here's what the actual finished quilt top looks like, draped over my 12' quilting frame, so you're actually just seeing half of the quilt top in this photo:

Actual 120 x 120 Pineapple Log Cabin Top, Draped Over 12' Frame

Each of those pineapple log cabin blocks has 97 pieces and the strips finish at just 3/4" wide, so this is a VERY heavily pieced top.  It weighs a ton.  In fact, that's why I don't have a photo of the entire finished quilt top to show you.  I was afraid that if I had my husband and son hold it up by the top border, the weight of the quilt top might cause the center to rip away from the border!

At first I was leaning towards a very traditional Baptist Fan quilting design for this 120" x 120" monster, but I really liked the way that Aphrodite Grande E2E design looked when I stitched it out on my practice panel:

Aphrodite Grande E2E on Practice Panel

An allover, updated feather design sprinkled with pearls like this one might be just the thing for my pineapple log cabin quilt, preserving the loft and warmth of my wool batting, without any thready buildup or stiffness from backtracking.  Hmmm...  Decisions, decisions!  Too many choices is a good problem to have!  To all of you in the United States, have a wonderful (and safe!) Thanksgiving this week!

PSST!!  I'd Love to Quilt for YOU!

By the way, if you or any of your quilty friends has a quilt top or two that needs quilting, I'd be delighted to quilt for you!  My turnaround for edge-to-edge quilting is currently running about 2 weeks, and you can click here to find out how to book your quilt with me.

Tuesday's To-Do List for the Week of Thanksgiving:

  1. Finish getting another tumbler charity top kitted for my mom to piece
  2. Quilt at least two pediatric outreach tops for donation through my guild
  3. Bake pumpkin pies, cook Thanksgiving for our small gathering (just immediate family)
  4. Christmas decorating on Black Friday!

That should be MORE than enough to keep me busy for the next week or so, don't you agree?  I'll be linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


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


Nikki said...

I am contemplating getting a long arm. I am enjoying your learning curve.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I love the R2D2 name - my girls grew up on Star Wars and I guess I did too as I feel like I was still growing up myself through those years. I will be so glad to see your pineapple quilt on the frame I loved following along while you were making that one.

chrisknits said...

Oh, you are making me wish for a computer generated program for my machine!!! Enjoying your journey.

Anonymous said...

R2D2 - love it! It looks like you and R2 are already having great fun together. Wow!


Ramona said...

I cannot wait to see your pineapple quilt finished. This is one of my all time favorite quilts that anyone has made. Enjoy learning/playing with your computerized longarm! Your practice looks great!

Kathy S. said...

Love the Aphrodite design! Beautiful finish. Good luck on your learning. I have not ventured to a computerized system for my longarm yet. It's on my wish-list if I ever hit the lottery. LOL. said...

R2D2--what a great name for your new side kick! I am impressed with how you have been able to manipulate designs. It seems like your learning curve has been small! Way to go!

SJSM said...

You are showing good details of why a computerized quilter is useful. It is a informative post to highlight certain attributes of the system and explains why quilts can be quilted so precisely.

I’m working on Christmas gifts for family, cozy bowl holders and microwave bags for potatoes. I will also include a face mask sized lingerie bag for all to keep those pesky elastics and strings corralled. It will also make it easier to find the small masks once you have them laundered. Thanksgiving is with my kid and husband as we bubble together. They see no one but us as they WFH and SIP. Biologist and medical background people are very compliant. We are the more risky as we will go to the grocery or hardware store and social distance talk with masks with a few (2 we see during the week and 3 we see once a month or so) that also are as limited with their social contacts.

Stay safe and enjoy your holiday.

beth s said...

Your quilting is just gorgeous! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving

Karin said...

Wow...amazing what you can do with a computerised set up.

Laurie at Laurie's Place said...

Hi Rebecca,

I loved reading your post about your computerized long arm. I was recently gifted a long arm machine. It doesn't have the computerized snazzy stuff that yours does, but I am learning to use it to quilt my quilts. I am loving how fast stippling a quilt is compared to doing it on the home machine which required rearranging the furniture in the sewing room to position tables to hold the quilt. All that prep work and giving up the ability to easily switch to piecing is probably why it took me so long to get the quilting done on my projects, and is probably why I have such a backlog of projects that are nearing completion. Many of them need to have the blocks sewn together into tops so that they can be layered and quilted.

I haven't ventured yet into edge to edge pantograms. The next step for me is to follow some markings I have on the quilt top and to reduce the size of my stippling. That's the task for the quilt that is currently on the machine.

I love your quilts. The pineapple quilt is stunning. The green and yellow is lovely. The quilting looks fantastic. You seem to be mastering the learning curve rather handily.

I enjoyed your post.


Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

For sure you will be busy! Love your pineapple log cabin quilt, and your quilting too!
Thanks for sharing!

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! I just LOVE reading all the details on your E3E designs on R2D2. Fascinating and oh so very cool. It sounds to me like it was a fabulous investment for you. That's nice that you're kitting up a tumbler charity quilt for your Mom. Happy Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Thanks for linking up this week and good luck with next week's goals. ~smile~ Roseanne

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Love reading about your quilting process! Man you are learning so quickly and producing great results. What a cool setup. Thanks for sharing with Wednesday Wait Loss.

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, so much learning! Your practice panel looks great. What a concept - an automatic quilting machine! I know that they exist but I've never learned much about them. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I think that your Aphrodite Grande could look amazing on your pineapple quilt since you certainly don't want to add much more to it! Thanks for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks. Take care.