Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Monogram Baby Quilt Finish + IntelliQuilter Computer Robotics Installation

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.

Letter Home Monogram Baby Quilt Trimmed

The larger-scale meandering against that white background fabric reminded me of jumbo marshmallows and Caspar the Friendly Ghost as I was quilting it.  ðŸ‘»

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%.  

My Binding Looks Ruched After Washing!

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.  

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.

My In-House Tech Guy, Working on My IntelliQuilter Installation

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 Robot!  THIS is the Droid I Have Been Looking For!

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."  ðŸ˜’

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!

My Queen Nanu Nanu! Sampler (Adapted from Moda Modern Quilt Blocks)

  • 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


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

aren't you glad you have a technician in the family :) the quilt turned out fantastic, I love that binding

TerryKnott.blogspot.com said...

C is for Charlie is wonderful! Congratulations on your finish. Have fun learning abut your IntelliQuilter!

Anonymous said...

What a great finish! And I love that backing fabric!
Thanks for sharing the progress on this quilt and the one for big sister as well! Both quilts are amazing!

Sandra B

Roseanne said...

Hi Rebecca! I read every word about your quilt for Charlie, but I have to honest. I was anxious to get to the #2 Big News. Charlie's quilt turned out great, and that is interesting about the binding (which is really cute, btw). So, so, SO COOL! Gosh, I can hardly wait for you to jump into some of those Urban Elementz designs. Happy belated Birthday to Bernie! Thanks for linking up this week. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

Ramona said...

C is for Charlie turned out so well! I love the colors, the design and your quilting. Great finish. Have fun playing with the new addition to you long arm!

Chris said...

You did it! The quilts are in the mail!! And big sister will not feel left out when baby brother gets his because she gets one, too! Such good planning on your part. (haha) And I'm so impressed that you're going computerized. Can't wait to see what you do.

dq said...

I really love the binding and backing fabric. Your quilting is always so perfectly beautiful. I need to be more mindful of the seams when I quilt. Thete us always more to learn.

Vicki in MN said...

You have had a very exciting week getting your IQ. Love Charlies quilt, the binding effect is interesting. I too was thinking how one could use that to our advantage in say an art quilt perhaps.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Your "C" quilt is gorgeous, just stunning! Just the right amount of quilting and I love, love that fun binding. I can't wait to see what you're going to do with computerized quilting. Thank you for sharing your whole journey, the "opportunity moments" as well as the highs. It's always a good read.

SJSM said...

You accomplished so much! C is for Charlie will be cherished as much as Charlotte's quilt. You must be stoked that HUGE accomplishment is in the mail well before the kids set off for college. ;). My 730e needs the spa once again this year as I sewed my left index finger, or at least tried to do so. Of course I broke the needle into the nail of the finger and did the usual dance of running to get the pliers to pull it out. All is healing well except the machine. The needle bar now is 3 clicks to the right. It needs to be re-aligned and hopefully no new parts.

Enjoy learning your IQ machine integration with your long arm. Exciting projects are ahead.

Tracy said...

Congratulations on the step up to digital quilting. Wasatch Quilting has their annual sale coming up on 11/20, just to make sure you have a good start on a library of designs. https://www.digitizedquiltingpatterns.com

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Yay on the 2 quilts finished and on their way, Rebecca! Yay on the successful installation of your robotics! A pat on the back to your in-house installer, and happy birthday, too! I'm excited to see what digital designs you use on future quilts!

piecefulwendy said...

Well, at least Millie is just making cute (or alien) beeps and not saying "exterminate" (sorry, Dr. Who reference) - ha! Looks like you are going to have grand fun with her new additions. The baby quilt is so nice, love the quilting, but I love the backing fabric! I've never seen binding do that, I don't think? Interesting. There's always something to learn, right?!

Kathleen said...

I love that you got it going. You did great getting Millie set up - the set up is different than the HQ but I bet you are going to love it. I have a quilt to do Saturday and I am always itching to get to quilting now that I have the pro-stitcher!

chrisknits said...

So exciting!!! Good luck on your new journey of quilting excellence!

Lynette said...

Rebecca, Charlie's quilt turned out so fantastic!! The shrinkage - was the batting preshrunk before quilting? Just curious.

And, hehe - yeah, I see the robot that the computer system creates. :D I'm sure you'll love playing with the computerized quilting!!!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Congrats on finishing Charlie's quilt, Rebecca. Awesome quilting!! Question about your new computer system... Why did you opt for Intelliquilter over QuiltPath?

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Wow for your beautiful finish, I love the backing and the binding as much as the top! And wow for the new toy too ;)

Gwyned Trefethen said...

Your quilting is impeccable on C for Charlie. Love the ruler work, especially how you varied the open areas with tightly quilted parallel lines.

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, you are so amazing! I'm not sure that I would have the courage to tackle that much technology! You're also lucky to have an in-house tech guy (although he's awfully lucky to have a wife who watches football with him! - I haven't done that in years :-) ) Your C is for Charlie quilt is great. I've never had that rippling effect on my quilts...it's very cool. I wash everything that comes into the house for quilting - the other fibre stuff doesn't have to be washed since it's only for things that should never be washed!
Thanks so much for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks. I can't wait to see what you will be making with your incredible new machine! Take care.

Emily said...

Love the C is for Charlie quilt and the striped binding! Sorry it waved on you! I rarely prewash these days (in the beginning, I did it religiously) and I found your side-by-side shrinkage comparison very interesting.

I hope you are enjoying playing with your new computerized system!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Your monogram quilt turned out perfect and it was well worth the time it took to custom quilt it. Congrats on the new computerized system! What fun you'll have learning it. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

For the love of geese said...

Haha, it does look like Casper. You did a great job on the quilting, its perfect. Thank you for linking up to Put your foot down. congrats on your IntelliQuilter.

Susan said...

Well done on the custom quilting. The motifs fit perfectly! Congrats on the robotics - enjoy!

Ulrikes Smaating said...

Chalies quilt turned out really phantastic! love the binding and the georgeous quilting...great! greetings from denmark, Ulrike :0)

Anonymous said...

The quilt is just gorgeous. Such a lovely color combination and your quilting is awesome! How wonderful that your Intelliquilt system arrived.