I am more than a little nervous to send off my schnitzel and boo mini. Making something for a complete stranger, what was I thinking? The hashtag #makeaquiltmakeafriend was the siren that sucked me into another challenge and although I am glad, I do think I am a little crazy. A mini? Really! I did not think this one through. I am not that great of a piecer and a mini can truly show off all the short comings of matching corners, points, etc. However, my imagination saved me and I decided to focus on my quilting and do one of my soon to be famous wonky stars with lots of negative space. I also plan to put some enviable goodies into the box when I mail it off today. Other surprises should lesson the blow of a non-intricate pieced mini. I hope I can call my swap buddy a friend!!!
I’m a longarm quilter. When I see a top, my mind starts clicking pictures of it with different quilting techniques, patterns, and thread choices. But almost always, I do not use the first design that I latch on to. I’m not sure why that is, but I feel no guilt in moving on to another design choice because I have the advantage of knowing a lot of different digitized quilting patterns. It’s sort of a trade secret that I want to let out of the bag.
You might wonder why I would want to explain this part of the longarm quilting process as someone who does this for a living. It’s because the one line I do not like to hear is, “do whatever you want.” This scares the bejeezey out of me! I know I will love what I do, but will you? The more a customer knows, the better I can finish her top. Therefore, I hope that my clients will want to engage more in the pattern-picking process by knowing some of the great patterns that are out there.
I have a Gammill long-arm machine that is equipped with Statler Stitcher software. Pulling a description from Gammill’s website, “The system can determine the pattern size, block size, stitches per inch, repetitions of the pattern and the offset of the pattern.” It is an amazing machine that brings out creativity in me that I didn’t even know I have. (Side note: digital long-arm systems are a booming business. Here are just the systems I know about: CompuQuilter, HQ Pro-Stitcher, Innova Auto Pilot, IntelliQuilter, Machine Quilting Robot, PC Quilter, Pro-Stitcher, Q Bot, Quilt Artist, Quilt Magician, Quilt Motion, Quilt Sew Clever, Shirley Stitcher, and Side Saddle!) There are literally thousands of digitized patterns. My machine has over 4,000 patterns loaded on it designed by quilters and graphic artists from all over the world. In addition to that, my very favorite site to peruse is Intelligent Quilting. The patterns are easy to see and scroll through, and it’s a great site to start your imagination flowing. (Just don’t be buying any of these unless you own a long-arm system!)
Do you know a few of the basic terms in the digitized pattern genre? There are E2E (edge to edge), background fills, frames, blocks, point-to-point, along with borders and sashings. When you are searching for patterns, look at all of them, not just the one category you think your quilt top design fits into. Recently I did a custom quilt using a border pattern that I manipulated into an E2E. I love the overall modern effect:
Once I’ve picked a design or two, one of my passions is to connect different patterns together to form a unique design for my customers. I don’t always use a block pattern as a block or a sashing pattern in a sash. My system makes the connecting very simple (and fun!) because it utilizes a touch screen and literally allows me to draw connections with my finger or stylus. I doodle and improvise. I am a huge fan of Angela Walters’ free motion quilting; I’ve seen her do it up close, and I’ve even taken lessons from her. But unless I set aside ten years to practice, my quilting will not look as remarkable as hers. I strive for that, but know I need the help of digitized patterns.
As always, you can Google long-arm digital patterns to find ideas. However, on behalf of long-armers around the globe, please leave the picking of a specific design to your quilter! They know their machines and systems best. There are particular designers I gravitate toward because I know that their designs will “stitch out” (another cool term to know) beautifully and without errors. And when I am standing in front of my machine staring at a beautiful top that I know took many hours to produce, I don’t want any added headaches. Once I get my groove on, I just want to quilt, quilt, quilt.
So next time you’re tempted to tell your longarm quilter to “do whatever you want,” take a few moments and brainstorm. Even having a few general design ideas will help give your quilter an idea of what sort of quilting you like best, even if she isn’t able to use those exact patterns. The important thing to remember is that specifics help us make you happy, which is really all any of us (quilters and clients) want. Help us help you! www.right-sides-together.com
This cute and cuddly quilt is going in the mail tomorrow. There is a first grand baby that is going to get some love from his Grandma! My husband’s cousin asked me to make a quilt for her first grandchild and when I went to pick fabric I couldn’t resist these little cars, airplanes, and castles. Can you guess the baby’s name?
I feel so retro and domesticated posting this. I love this new iron. Well, new to me. The fact that it is pink makes it all the better. It is powerful. I have been limping along with a few Shark irons acquired from Costco or Target and knew that I needed to upgrade my tool selection. I used an Oliso at the Portland Sewdown and got used to the fact that you don’t have to keep setting it up on its end, “time saver.” But what I also got used to was just how good the heat and steam was to work with. I love a flat, flat seam.
Domesticated ironing is underrated. I know that I haven’t taught my daughter how to iron properly and I can add that to the list of shortcomings along with teaching basic cooking. (She can boil and egg and make a grilled cheese, though.) When I was young my biggest chore was the ironing. I would let it all pile up until Sunday and then stand there for hours ironing everyone’s shirts and pants. ( The fashion time frame: it was after the polyester trend and before good no wrinkle cotton.) My father was in the military so I learned to press his uniform shirts. I got good, real good. So good that now I send my husband’s shirt out. I achieved the pinnacle of ironing bliss. But maybe now that I have this new iron I could start pocketing the dry cleaning money and use it for more fabric… ah, NO! Once that summit has been scaled you can’t go back. But I will have fun with my flat, flat seams.
I recently attended a digital stitch conference for my Gammill Statler Stitcher. I had an “aha” moment at least three times in each lecture. For those of you not familiar with the long-arm machine, it uses a CAD software program called Creative Studio to motorize and maneuver the quilting machine head. I thought, before the conference, that I was using a lot of the functions and features; however, 90 percent of my “aha” moments came when the instructor demonstrated how to do something in one or two simple steps.
I did learn a new trick that I thought was brilliant and wanted to pass along to you: machine appliqué using your long-arm machine. What a great way to add a dimension to a quilt top without struggling with either hand-turned edges or satin stitches on your domestic machine! What I learned was specifically for the Statler Stitcher, but any long-arm could accomplish a similar outcome.
Last week I thought that I would put the long-arm appliqué technique to the test and take photos along the way. I had recently received the new Monaluna collection “Under the Sea” and was anxious to whip something up.
I couldn’t get the idea of portholes off my mind. I chose which fabrics I wanted to feature in the body of the quilt and which one I wanted to have peeking through my port holes. Once the improvisational body of the quilt was completed I loaded my long arm with the backing fabric and floated the top of the quilt. Under the Sea has a fabulous orange in it that I had aKona solid to match in my stash. I decided that the Kona orange would be the frames of the port holes and got to work.
I had chosen ahead of time to do two large portholes along the top of the quilt and two small portholes on the left-hand side, next to the improvisational design I did to highlight the fun collection. I backed the fabric that I was using inside the port holes and Kona orange with very light weight fusible interface, but did not press the fabric with the interface on it to the quilt.
The next step was to position the orange fabric and gently mark with a soluble pencil where I wanted the portholes to be stitched. I pinned both fabrics at the same time to the floating top and back to secure it during sewing.
Stitching the circles was simple. I took three trips of stitching around each circle to secure the fabric since it would become a raw edged appliqué. I echoed the inside circle with three more rounds of stitching so that my porthole frames would be about an inch wide.
After stitching, I roughly cut the fabrics back to the outermost stitching lines and proceeded to quilt that portion of my quilt (everything but the port holes).
After that portion was quilted. I advanced the quilt top on my table. I chose to quilt the improvisational part of the quilt at this point to secure the quilt sandwich before repeating the raw edge appliqué of the two smaller port holes on the left hand side. I repeated the same procedure with the appliqué as above and then quilted the negative space around those two smaller port holes. When all of the quilt had been quilted, I removed it from my frame/table and delicately snipped the orange fabric back to the inside sew lines, exposing the fabric selection in each port hole, essentially performing a reverse appliqué. I did this after taking it off of the frame because I chose not to quilt the inside portion of the port holes. I thought leaving them free of stitching would help with the overall effect of sea creatures floating past the windows.
It might sound intimidating but it was truly easy and delightful to do. I have never been a fan of appliqué because I thought it was a technique that would take too much time to master. Doing it this way allowed me to produce a quilted 45” x 55” top with a brand new line of fabric in two days and feel like I was able to be truly creative. I don’t know about you, but normally I buy the new fabric collection and spend too much time deliberating how I want to make it come to life. Completing a quilt this quickly was very satisfying.
And don’t you just love the portholes?!
Hello Summer and thank you for starting with such wonderful weather. I’ve already lost time to the pool and friends. I think a change of schedule, timing wise, is probably in order for the three months ahead. Early morning and late afternoon quilting.
Not too long ago I was reminded of the summer of 1977. I spent a lot of time at my Great Aunt Muriel’s house in Shenandoah, Iowa. “Shen”, that’s is what we called it, was a town of about 3,000 people and a huge outdoor cement swimming pool. My brother and I would walk to the pool each day, taking a route that probably looked a little haphazard to anyone but us. We kind of explored our way there. I love small towns. But every day couldn’t be a pool day with the hot Iowa sun, so I found a project to keep me occupied when we weren’t outside. Good old Woolworth’s! The block pictured above is from the embroidery kit I picked out. I loved working methodically on these squares. And amazingly, I never got tired of the color pink.
Recently I was at Treelotta (www.treelotta.com) in Denver and a woman had a very similar quilt on their quilting machine. It had been a project of her mother’s and she was trying to finish it with the help of Teresa by getting it finally quilted. It was amazing to see her mother’s quilt top together. I never got all my blocks together, but I did finish the embroidery on them. Now that I have seen one finished I just might get nostalgic and finish mine up this summer. For now, I have this one block finished as a mini quilt.
I met Lee Heinrich, one of the authors of Vintage Quilt Revival, at The MQG Portland Sewdown. I loved the class she taught, so I bought the book. Then one day I saw Lizzy House’s Catnap fabric line and knew I had to make something from it for my sister-in-law, Sherri. Sherri had been sending me funny photos of “cat quilts.” I am not one to love the literal quilts, so I used the double Z block pattern to illuminate the beautiful Catnap fabric.
And here I am with Sherri when I surprised her with the finished quilt. I altered the pattern from the book slightly by making the HST bigger and then doing an identical double sided throw sized quilt. I know Sherri and her little cats are going to love snuggling under this beauty. She deserves a little quilting love!!!
This weekend we are clearing out our basement so that we can have it finished. As with most people, we have a lot of stuff. We moved to this house a few years ago and in that process purged and the last few years I’ve been mindful that the day will come that everything still down there will come upstairs. So, I thought that I was doing a great job purging, even after our move. Let me say, this past week I have become friends with the drop off man at our new Goodwill Store! I’m gonna miss him.
That is my way of complaining that I had to make some decisions on what to give away, what to pack away (for the duration of the build) and what I will focus on the next 10 weeks. My quilting machine will be moved upstairs, right in the middle of our living space. I think it is a good time to focus on long arming and have my personal quilt projects on hold for awhile. Here is a photo of the machine as it is now, in the basement. I’ll post what it looks like upstairs in a week. My family is going to get tired of the staccato of the stitches, but I won’t.