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Archive for the category “Free Motion Quilting”

Another one bites the dust!

I’m beginning to love that song!

quiltYes!!  I have another finished project.  I purchased this pattern about a year ago.  I put it on the back burner for a while.  I guess I lit a fire under that burner when I decided I wanted to learn wool applique.  I added the last border on my own.  I didn’t think it looked finished without it.  I like it very much!!

quiltingHere’s a close-up of my quilting on this piece.  I used a stencil for this corner.  I didn’t trust myself to do this free-hand.  If you click on the picture you can see my freehand leaf border.  Now, that’s something I like!!  I have the leaf design down pretty good!

pumpkinAnd here’s my first  attempt at wool applique.  I learned something while stitching this.  I didn’t know that perle cotton came in different weights.  I know it now!  This was like stitching with a rope.  I’m sure it would have been easier and the stitching finer if I had used lighter weight perle cotton.  Ah well!  Live and learn!  I’m just glad I didn’t learn it on my Noah’s Ark project I plan to begin shortly.  I’m going to a new quilt shop Saturday.  I’ve called ahead and found that they carry Valdani perle cotton in various weights!  So, that’s next on my list!

Two unfinished projects now finished!  Whoohoo!!!!!

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One more down!

Last year, my husband and I took a trip to Shipshewanna where I purchased this church window.  I liked the shape of it and I could see an old quilt behind it.

open_window I took it home and put it away for another day.  It was a good idea when we bought it but then I had to actually do something with it.  I’m not one to cut up old quilts…even if I had one.  So, I knew I would have to make something.  There it goes….up on the Later Tater pile!

Then I fell in love with hexies.  So I began to make hexies.  What to do with the hexies I was making?  The church window came to mind so I stitched enough hexies to fit behind the window.  I stitched all the way to Florida and back.  A long as I was stitching with the window in mind, my husband stopped asking me when I was going to do something with it.

hexiesThey were finally pieced.   I knew they needed to be quilted.  This was a perfect opportunity to practice free motion quilting.  It was a nice, big piece, it had a purpose and it would hang above the front door so no one would ever be close enough to see mistakes!  Win-win!

I quilted on this piece for about three hours and when it was done, I thought it looked pretty darn good!

quitingAs soon as the quilting was done, I wanted to staple it to the back of the window.  My sweet husband gave me the staple gun.  I actually thought he would staple it for me.  Ha! Who was I kidding!  He sat in the recliner and offered direction.  I was tempted to use the staple gun on his lips but thought better of it.

windowNow it’s finished…  At least my part is finished.  It’s up to him to figure out how to hang it on the wall.  Let’s see how long it takes him….

 

I love a new beginning….

I love starting new projects.  I just have trouble finishing them.  When I go into my sewing room, I always intend to work on finishing something.  But then I get like that cat that sees a sun ray on the floor…bat, bat, batting at it.  So easily distracted.  Oh, don’ t those fabrics look good together.  What can I do with them?   And I’m off and running with a new shiny thing.

I know that I can never have the discipline to finish one thing before I start another.  I just have too much churning around in my brain and everyday I have less and less time and I just have to see how this might look.  The birth of a new project.  But I firmly believe it’s the birth of a new project that keeps my mind fresh.

Yesterday I saw that I had too many projects in various states of completion.  Something had to give.  And I know I can’t stop myself from starting something new.  I’m sweating just thinking about it!  I have convinced myself to finish one project every month.  So here is my Completion #1–my inner hippie quilt that I believe I’ll call Peace Out, Man.

quiltIn this post, I told you why I stepped out of my box and made this.   I finished the piecing and applique and hit the brick wall I always hit–how to quilt it.  Free motion quilting and I are not best buddies.  We try to be and we’re cordial but we aren’t friends.  I suppose it’s because I haven’t taken the time to really get to know him.  (It must be him because he’s so aggravating! 🙂 )  I love to piece but don’t really like to actually quilt.  So, I delay the inevitable until the very last possible minute.  I’m told the key to FMQ is practice, practice, practice.  But since I set aside completed tops in hopes that the quilting fairy comes in and quilts them at night while I’m sleeping (she doesn’t), I don’t practice much.  Each time I decide to FMQ, I’m starting over.  So, on this quit I decided to practice feathers…once again.  I have not given up on feathers!  I feel like the details and stippling in the center of the quilt look pretty good.

close_upI saw the improvement from first feathers to last.   Not my best work, but at least they look like feathers!

feathersThere’s hope for me after all!  But, most importantly, one down and who knows how many to go!

My last post was buried in the reader so I’ll ask this again.

threadSee the pretty notch?  When I’m FMQ-ing, the thread sometimes gets caught in there.  Usually it’s when I’m on a good roll.  I wish thread companies would do away with them.  But until they do, are there any remedies out there?

How time flies…

…when you’re having fun.  Or supposed to be!

After getting through Thanksgiving with little or no drama–no dropped pies or turkeys that didn’t cook–decorating for Christmas should be  a piece of cake.

It’s a tradition (or a curse–not sure which) to decorate the weekend of Thanksgiving.  Since this was Mr. Christmas’ (aka my husband) first post-retirement Christmas, decorating should be a snap this year!  Or not…   It’s well documented that when we decorate, the rest of the family scatters to the four winds.  No one wants to be around when the battles begin.  Getting  a pre-lit tree has helped tremendously in curtailing the not so festive words that would fly around the tree trying to get the lights wrapped around the branches just right.  And, yeah, those nuggets came from me.  Mr. C was always too busy having a holly, jolly Christmas.  No holly, jolly for me until the decorating is done.

This year we were getting an early start–a whole day early.  Maybe this wouldn’t be a lost weekend after all!  Step One…assemble the tree.  You know, as they say, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt….or the tree falls over.  Yep, our tree decided to keel over.  The “trunk” bent and we watched it fall like a giant redwood in our living room.  Mr. C decided to just bend the trunk back the other way and it should be good to go for one more year.  Oh yeah…that worked…for about 60 seconds.  Tim-ber!!  It came down again.  Two choices…tie it to the window locks or buy a new one.  We had a tree that had to be tied up back in the day.  Even though we tried to make it look festive by tying it with red ribbon, the bottom line was it just looked tacky.  So, off to the store we went.  By this time Mr. C was no longer holly, jolly and since I wasn’t to begin with, you can imagine the mood in the car.  Add to that a little thing we call “Black Friday” and I think you know where this went!

The store was not very crowded–grateful for that.  They were also not very cheap.  If I need to buy a new tree I’m the day after Christmas bargain hunter, so I was stunned by the prices.  Narrowed it down to two and couldn’t decide–should I go cheap or go pretty?  Mr. C reminded me that we weren’t buying a house …just a Christmas tree.  PICK ONE!!  OK…so I went with pretty.

Later on that evening, MiniQuilter and MarioFan came by to “help” decorate the tree.  I’ll admit to being a little bit tyrannical particular with ornament placement.  It comes naturally—my grandmother was the queen of the ornament placers!  I had to keep reminding myself that in a couple of years they won’t want to help decorate and I”ll be sad.  But WHY do kids find the butt-ugly ornaments–the ones you just can’t bring  yourself to toss out for whatever reason–and put them right in the front of the tree?

Right in the front where i have to look at it every time I pass by!  Is it a kid thing?

But when it was all said and done the tree was pretty and it was finished in one day.  Sitting on the couch with a glass of wine and Mr. Christmas with a beer, it looked pretty and festive.

Which gave me all day Sunday to sew.  I had made a baby quilt for the granddaughter of a good friend.  It’s an I Spy quilt.  Picked up the kit for $7–all cut out and ready to go.  Pieced it quickly and it looked cute.  I decided that since I had a poly batt, I’d use that.  After I started to stitch-in-the-ditch, I remembered why I don’t use poly.  I like flat quilts and this had too  much loft  for me.  Too late to change horses now.  So I plugged along.  I did some nice swirlies in the border–several times.  I had to “unsew” and resew because the backing folded over and was caught in the stitching.  I don’t know how many times I have to do this before I learn.  Apparently…several!

My favorite part not) of quiltmaking was up next…the binding.  It actually went on pretty well for a change.  But I have lots of trouble with mitered corners.  Mine do not look nice.

Maybe it’s practice..maybe it’s me.  I just know I’m not happy with the results.  So I walked away from it and came back to it later.  It didn’t look so bad.  The baby won’t my mistakes.  And I don’t think his mom will either!

Still gearing up for Barbie…   🙂

You’ve come a long way, baby…

My sister posted a picture of a quilt she made years ago.  She pointed out all of the mistakes that were in that quilt…all the reasons why she was going to trash it.  Then her daughter rescued it (Way to go, Sam!!) from the trash heap and loved it to death…literally.  Death of the quilt I mean…Sam is alive and kickin’!   And my sister brought up a point about how far she had come as a quilter.

Something to ponder.  How far have you come as a quilter?  I remember that day about thirty years ago when I took my first quilting class.  I was a raw rookie.  I became obsessed with quilting.  Everyone got hot pads or pillows for Christmas that year.  I was a pillow making machine!  I thought they were beautiful.  Ohio Star…hand pieced…hand quilted…with stitches about 1/2 ” in length!  When my husband’s grandmother passed, I was reunited with one of those pillows.  Yikes!!!  Were the quilting gods laughing at me?  Was it the result of bad karma?  Whatever it was, this couldn’t be the pillow I gave her.  Mine was beautiful….not this hot mess!

It all came back to me.  Yep…this hot mess was one of my first endeavors.  Then I thought about my first real quilt.  It was a sampler I made for my son….just blocks and sashing…no borders.  At that time my idea of quilting was to quilt just like our great-grandmothers quilted…by hand with cardboard templates.  And even more than that, I would use whatever fabric I found lying around.  Even fabric that belonged somewhere else…like my husband’s uniform shirt. 🙂 It was the perfect blue and it was old…sort of.  After he discovered that I cut triangles from it, he locked up the rest of them!  I wish I could show you a picture of that quilt but it’s 1200 miles away with my son.   Sometimes I think that’s not even far enough away!  I guess the miles have spared me the embarrassment of sharing. 🙂

I think that looking back at my early quilts, I can say I’ve learned a few things.  First of all I can’t believe that I would only hand piece and hand quilt.  I wouldn’t dream of going near a machine.  Now I’m convinced that if our great-grandmothers had access to a machine they would have gladly used it!  It took me forever and a day to finish anything that way.  I liken it to quilting in quicksand...just…can’t…move…  I don’t say this as a knock against hand quilters.  Hand quilting is a thing of beauty and I truly admire it.  And I understand the peacefulness it brings to hand quilters.  It just doesn’t bring me that same peacefulness.  I truly love the hum of my Bernina.  While it’s humming away on Project A, my brain is humming on Project B…and C…and D…

I’ve also learned to use the best quality supplies I can afford.  A bargain is not always a bargain.  My husband’s shirt may have been the perfect blue, but if it was old to begin with, it had two strikes against it when it’s sewn into a quilt.

I’ve also learned to step out of the comfort zone occasionally.  I always go back to what I love, but  a walk on the wild side from time to time is fun!

These are lessons learned the hard way…with quilts that did not stand the test of time.  They did, however, stand the test of love.

Here’s a picture of one of my earliest quilts.  Would you look at those colors!

How far have I come as a quilter?  Pretty darn far!  And there’s a long road ahead.  So, let me ask you…how far have you come as a quilter?

And speaking of far, here are my latest Grandmother’s Choice blocks.  I love this quilt.  It reminds how far women have come and how much farther we have to go.  So, no matter if you are pro-life or pro-choice or pro-whatever your issue is,  please be pro-vote tomorrow.  Vote and let your voice be heard….for Grandma!

Beauty and the Beast

A while back, my blogging buddy over at Coloring Outside the LInes and I decided we would do a New York Beauty quilt.  I decided to step out of my comfort zone completely and move away from the reproduction fabrics.  It was a chilling thought…didn’t know if I could do it.  I decided to use batiks.  The pattern lends itself so well to batiks.  Of course I had no batiks in my stash.    I begged some batiks from my sister and purchased some others and dug around in my mountainous stash and found two.  Yep…two.  Have I  mentioned that I usually only work in reproduction fabrics?   I guess the Civil War era ladies just weren’t that into Bali . 🙂

I went through my minute little pile of batiks and pieced some NYB blocks.  I can see now that my mini stash of batiks is sorely lacking in brights.  Looks like the only brights I have are red or pink.  What’s a girl to do?  SHOP!  I guess that’s the only answer.  Shop.  So, that’s the plan for this weekend.  Shop for batiks.

Here are the blocks I’ve finished.  I usually don’t paper-piece.  I like the nice, crisp points you get with paper-piecing.  I just hate the waste.  I have a difficult time deciding how big of a piece to cut.  And I always cut some just a smidge too small.  Then the next ones are much too big.  Feast or famine…..  Beauty and the beast….  If anyone has any tips on frugally cutting fabrics for paper-piecing, I’m all ears!

In my last post, I sang the praises of Down Under Quilts magazine.  I still have to make that hexagon quilt that’s on the cover.  The quiltmaker recommended Marti Mitchell’s hexagon template ruler kit.  So, for the small price of $12, I bought it.  I made a test block to see if I’d like the templates.  Oh yeah….they’re great!

My only concern is all of those Y-seams.  I can’t seem to get away from them!  I should be pretty good at them by the end of this project!  BTW….these aren’t my fabric choices for the project!  😉

My little friend and I would like to wish everyone a fun-filled Halloween!

 Happy Halloween!

Ready to roll!!

I’m finally caught up with the Grandmother’s Choice blocks!  I wasn’t sure that would ever happen.  Some of those blocks were pretty complicated.  But they were not going to get the best of me.  It was personal now.  So I played catch-up this  weekend and they are finally finished.  Whew!!

I really like how they’re looking.  I used the Mill Girls line for the basis and then added some fabrics from my stash.  Now that I’m caught up, I’m ready to roll on the rest of them!

Have you ever cut out pieces for a block and found out that even thought you think you did the math, they were the wrong size?  I’ve done that twice while making these blocks.  And I did it again yesterday while cutting out pieces for a small quilt.   I’ve found that I can’t cut out pieces if I’m distracted.   And I’m kind of like a cat….I’m easily distracted!  🙂  So rather than recut more pieces for the small quilt, I put it to the side.  As I had a few minutes left to sew, I picked up a little muslin “sammie” that I was using to practice FMQ.  I decided to play.  I hadn’t practiced in a while so I was afraid I was back to square one.  But I really felt good about it!

Now, I’m really excited to begin quilting the basket quilt for MiniQuilter!  I am finally beginning to believe I can do this!!

Another one finished….

First off….I’m going to apologize in advance. I’m posting this from my IPad and it likes to put words in my mouth. I ticked another project off my summer to-do list. I finished my charity quilt. My sister and I have been making lap quilts for the veteran’s home. While my top has been finished for a while, I put a off quilting it. I wanted to put it on my Hinterburg frame with my Juki TL 98. I have a love/hate relationship with this set-up. When it works, it’s great! When it doesn’t it’s a nightmare. I’ve had more nightmares than sweet dreams. Because of this, I stopped using it. I decided to give it another chance. Loaded up the quilt. That was an adventure in itself since I forgot how to do it. Got it loaded up and fired up the machine. Guess what! It worked beautifully. I was finished in two and a half hours. Only had a small tension problem that was easily fixed. I only did a meandering design to eliminate any extra pressure!

After I bound the quilt, I tossed it into the washing machine. When I pulled it out, I saw that one of the reds had run. Dang! That hadn’t happened to me in years! See what happens when you become complacent? My sister and I worked on the next charity quilt. Didn’t make the progress we had hoped.  But that’s another post for another day!

Better late than never….

I’ve moved from the corner and put the dunce cap away for another day and as promised, here are my words of wisdom!  🙂

I’ve crossed another project off of my summer to-do list!

This one was truly a learning experience.  As you can probably tell by the fabrics, this one has been patiently languishing waiting in the Later Tater pile for quite some time.  It was a pattern that caught my eye but I quickly lost interest in it.  I nearly tossed it recently but I thought it would be good fmq practice.  Originally, I was going to do Leah’s “zippling” but I thought it better lended itself to curvy stippling.  I’ve never known what to do with applique shapes.  Do I quilt over them or quilt around them or just not do them.  Usually I opt for Plan C.

I decided to use the quilting to enhance the appliques.  First, let me tell you that these are fused onto the background.  They will survive a nuclear blast.  I have no idea which fusible I used back in my dark days of beginning applique but just know that quilting through that fusible was like quilting through armor.  I’m older and wiser now (older for sure!).  Now I would cut out the center of the fusible.  Makes for a much softer quilt and I’m sure much easier quilting!  But I plugged along willing the needle to not break in the hot mess that was my fusible!

I then decided that stippling would be the way to go on the background.  After all, I had this beautiful hand-dyed Valdani thread that was perfect.  It was perfect and it quilted beautifully.  I just want to know whose big idea it was to stipple so small.  I thought I would never finish.

Ah…the border.  Finally the border!  I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  Borders always stymie me.  I’m sure you’ve all been there.  It’s the border…I want to be finished!  And many times it’s a plain piece that cries out for fancy stitching!  Well, borders can cry me a river because I typically just quilted a grid or straight lines.  I thought since this was fmq practice, a leafy border might look nice.  And I think it does.  And it was easy!  I’m glad I didn’t take the easy way out.

I’ve tried to fmq without the gloves.  I don’t like the gloves.  They’re bulky and they can get hot and I sew through them at least once a day.  But I can’t get a good grip without them.

My sister took a fmq class and the instructor suggested using glycerine.  You just rub a few drops onto your fingertips and it’s amazing how well you can grip the fabric.  When I first tried it I was skeptical.  It had an almost greasy texture and I was terrified that it would rub off on my quilt.  It didn’t.  In fact, it didn’t wear off of my fingers until I washed it off.  If you have the same issues with the gloves that I do, give this a try.

And here’s the tease….

I’ll be in Florida visiting my son and my sister next week and these guys are going along for the ride.  My sister and I will spend a day putting together a nine-patch for a charity quilt  project that we have.  I’ll post a photo of the finished project later!

Another one bites the dust!

And I’m so glad it did!  I’m checking one more off my summer to-do list!  I finished the quilt I call Square Cubed. I call it that because it’s basically a Square Within a Square block that I extended to have three squares.  I really like this little quilt.  I’m sure you’ll remember the fabrics…the little guys that wouldn’t talk to me.  Piecing the quilt was easy once I decided what I wanted to do.  But as always, I was drawing a blank when it came to quilting it.  I have the hardest time deciding how to quilt my quilts.  I almost never want anything “straight” or grid-like.  But I also don’t always want a stipple or all over design.  I’m usually stumped when it comes to motifs or quilting plain blocks.  This quilt had many opportunities to show off quilting.  However, I’m not sure showing off is a good thing for someone who still has so much to learn.  But here are a few pictures of the end result!

I stitched in the ditch around the blocks and inside the pieced blocks.  I wanted something rounder and smoother for the center, so I chose a spiral.  I have to say they were fun to do and pretty easy.  I had a lot of practice with spirals by the time I was finished!

What to do with the plain blocks.  My original thought was to do a plume in these blocks and feathers in the borders.  After I looked at the borders, I decided that they really weren’t wide enough for my current feathers.  Maybe in the near future I can make them small enough to fit in a smaller border but right now I’m like those big semis you see on the road…I make wide turns!  So I chose one of Leah’s fill patterns…Bubble Wand…and used it in the plain blocks and on the border.  Lots of practice with circles and travelling.  I think that it may also help me with feathers.  It seems like a good jumping off place for them.  The picture above shows my inner border and some of the outer border.

I was merrily stitching along…my fmq looking pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  I made the mistake of turning the quilt over.  Oh dear!  I had eyelashes on the back.  I know that quilting circles and curves can breed eyelashes.  I made the decision to not unsew.    Moved on the next bunch of circles and slowed down a bit and was careful about making the curves.  I was feeling pretty smug.  Turned it over and….more eyelashes!  I had enough eyelashes on the back of that quilt to film an episode of Jerseylicious!  Click on the picture below to get a real good look at the mess!

Dang!  Now what!  I’m not giving up and I am finishing this quilt!  Checked the needle, the thread, feed dogs.  Everything seemed fine.  The only thing left was to check the tension.  (Insert blood curdling scream here.)  I really don’t like to fool with tension.  A few weeks back, I spent an afternoon getting the tension just right.  Then I wrote down the number and thought my tension issues were over.  Wrong.  I readjusted the tension and after a few practice spirals, I found the right tension….again.  And then things went smoothly for me.

This is what good tension looks like.  🙂  I guess this quilting thing is a constant learning curve.  Just when you think you know it all…you learn something else!

Here’s the finished project.  Now I’m on to the next one.  It feels so good to have finished a couple of quilt tops that have been languishing on my sewing room.  Finishing is good…..

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