Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Quilting on Lenni

On Saturday I was able to go back to the quilt shop and do some more quilting. This time I chose to do an overall clamshell pattern on my quilt (Dancing Fans). Since I had trouble loading my quilt the day before I brought my camera so I could capture those steps in pictures that I could look at later in case the procedure gets a little lost in the misc. files in my brain. Sharan was kind enough to get me started, and once I figured out what my error was, things went swimmingly and it only took me a short time to get ready to quilt!

My problem was that I pinned on the wrong side of the leaders. I had pinned on the front side of the leader instead of the back. Much easier to pin correctly, and everything clicked immediately.

I got out the clamshell pantograph, set it up and was on my way. The quilting went super fast and I only had a few issues. One turn I had the quilt a little too tight and my thread broke several times. A few of the fusible appliques were starting to come up, and I discovered that I definitely do not have the fine control I am used to when using my home machine. I wonder if that will come with practice, or if it's machine related. I love the bottom line thread for the bobbin. I plan to buy a spool of it to try out on the Juki with free motion quilting. I'll do black or maybe red for the commision quilt I am working on next week. Love the way it just disappears into the back (of course I used a nice busy back also so that helps!

All in all I was quite pleased with the way my second quilt went. Not sure it's really much of an option for paid work, as at $15.00 an hour it cuts into my profit greatly. But it might be a really fun thing to do on some of my personal quilts. The next quilt I am going to go without the stitch regulator and do some free motion work, just loops and flowers I think. Don't know if I'll get to quilt at work today, but maybe next week will work out for that.

Oh, and one piece of advice - don't try clamshells your first time out. It seems like a simple design, but because the clamshells have to connect just so, it's probably not the best choice for a first time machine quilter.

Just Sayin'

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Paper Lantern Quilt on the Lennie

This is a sample I've been working on for Threads That Bind. It is a Jason Yenter pattern using fabric designed by Kumiko Sudo. They are beautiful fabrics, not only in their soft pastel colors, but their feel is also wonderful, very soft and silky (got to love quilt shop fabrics, I must say!)

The pattern features 30 of these blocks, but we decided 4 blocks would be perfect because that is how many fabrics we ordered to go with the border and the peachy color sashing! It was fairly easy to make, but I'd most likely get very bored making 30 of these blocks - and all the cutting of small squares to make those lantern points (done in a sew and flip technique).

I finished up the Paper Lantern sample and brought it in to the shop yesterday when I went to work. Sharan suggested that I go and quilt it up on the Lennie since there was nothing much that needed done, so off I went. It's been a while since my lesson, so I had some trouble mounting it, but I did get the job done (though it took quite a while to accomplish it!). The quilting - went all right, but not up to my standards, yet. I think it's going to take quite a bit more practice before I would ever consider doing one for hire on it, but who knows.

We thought clamshells would look nice as it is an oriental quilt. I did a combination of pantograph quilting on the outside border with free-hand quilting for the inner blocks. I think I would have been a little better off had I loaded the quilt the opposite direction of what I did - the clamshells were quilted up-side down, so it was a little different to get the feel of. I also discovered that it's very hard to make a nice diagonal line on a long arm machine! You can go up-down, and you can go side-side, but those diagonals just go wild on you. Sharon says you need to use a ruler for that, so next time I will try it! I did get a better feeling for the stitch regulator, and feel more comfortable with that now, so that is a good thing.

Overall it looks quite nice, though I did miss a spot!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Another Birthday for my Baby!

My Baby turns 14 today, or as the calendar says: 365 days till I can get my driving permit! Does she want the rest of my hair to turn gray already? I cannot believe that she will be in high school next year, or that after 4 more years she will most likely be ready to fly off to college. My motto has been I survived 4 I can do one more, but sometimes my heart is not ready. We did good, though. They should be ready to leave and make their own lives. I sure don't want to have a 30 year old hanging around my house asking what's for dinner everyday!

I had a lovely afternoon yesterday working on a sample for the shop. Only Candy came to quilting, but we had a lovely time sewing and chatting. She is working on a stunning rose applique quilt - can't wait to see it complete, it's going to be absolutely gorgeous. My sample is coming along, you'll probably see pictures of that tomorrow - just have to finish the borders. Have got to start taking more pictures of my works in progress!

I am looking forward to doing some quilting next week - have to put borders on the quilts first, though, so I will work on getting at least one of those done tonight. Can't wait to get some of these things moving along, though I should probably go make one more batting run at JoAnn's before the sale is over. I did buy a small package of the bamboo batting, it's a little pricey, so we'll see how well I like it. I think I may try to do two small ones, one machine and one hand quilted just to see what I like/don't like about it. I'll write about it once I get to that point!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't Forget the Label

This is one of the things that I have a problem with - the added step of adding a label to my quilts. I hate to think of how often I have completed a quilt, then not added this needed information to the back. One of the things that really helps me is to use one of the pre-printed labels that are available to purchase. A 1/2 yard panel gives you a large assortment of attractive labels to adorn your quilt with very little work. The only other thing you need is a permanent archival quality writing pen and a needle and thread to attach it.

A really clever person could think about it ahead of time and actually piece it into the back of the quilt, but I am not that clever, mine are usually just hand appliqued on the lower right corner of the back of the quilt. every once in a while I do get a little clever and add the label before the binding, so I only have to hand sew two sides!!

One hint to make it easier to write on the label is to iron freezer paper onto the back of it. This makes it a little more stable and easy to write on. I like to practice what I want to write on a piece of paper the size of my label, just to make sure everything fits and looks nice. I like to use a pigma pen, or sometimes a medium point gel pen (and I like to use colors!). The minimum information I add is my name, the date, my city, and the name of the quilt. If I'm making a gift label I put the name of the recipient, and the giver if it's been purchased for someone else. I've been known to add a poem, or quotation, or a bible verse, each of these things makes the quilt more personal.
After writing on the label, I attach it to the quilt with pins, trying to get it fairly straight (not always my strong point!). I stitch it down using an applique stitch.

I don't know why it's so hard to do this, it hardly takes any longer than it's taken me to type this post, but it's a very important part of quiltmaking. After all someday, somebody will want to know who made this quilt and why, and what was she thinking when whe used that color of purple?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Quilt for Asher

One of the fun things I've done lately is to make a sweet baby quilt for my grandson. Having no experience in making boys things, I am having a wonderful time looking at fabrics in a new way. The inspiration for this quilt was the tractor fabric. Definitely a boy fabric! The first fabric I chose to go with it was the mustardy yellow. I liked how it brought out the color in the tractors. Then I started looking at blacks, greys, and other greens.
One of my favorite fabrics in this quilt is the ruler/tape measure fabric. I had thought of this fabric in terms of being feminine because of my connotation of it being a sewing tool. That is, until the day a little boy in the quilt shop showed me another point of view! He thought of it as a tool like the ones in the hardware store, and he loved the numbers on it, showing off his ability to count. So, of course that one was included.

That got me going, so I found some rocks that were gray, a black and white check (racecars!), and some nice green trees. Then a beautiful bright orange with quilt blocks on it because after all this is from his quilt obsessed Grammy! One more nice green, and a quarter yard of fabric that looks like grass for the border and I had the top ready to go.

An adorable flannel with tigers on it in the perfect shade of gold makes an awesome back for this quilt. I put a poly battting in it, because I want this to be a drag around blanket, and machine quited it to make it nice and sturdy. I hope Asher enjoys his quilt as much as I enjoyed picturing him snuggling in it while sewing!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do the Bustle!

Yes, I am a product of the 70's! Couldn't resist this title, because I wanted to share about my newest skill - bustling wedding gowns! In the past I have always avoided the issue of bustling wedding gowns by adding a wrist loop to the train, but this train was so long that this approach really wasn't going to work at all.

So, thanks to my good friend Google I found several great resources for instructions and ideas for bustling wedding gowns. I learned the difference between a french bustle and an american bustle. I learned all about pick-ups, loops, ties, hooks and rings. Definitely an evening well spent because now I am confident enough to take on any gown that needs a bustle!

This gown called out for a french bustle (which is a bustle that is attached insided the gown. After some experimenting with pins I decided the best intervals to attach the ties, and got busy with a needle and thread and some grosgrain ribbon. I then marked all the sets of ties to make it a little easier on the wedding day to get it all tied up nice and neat!
I ended up with a couple of different options for the ties, this one is with the outer ties tied to the center of the gown, which I think showed off the pretty embrodery and beading on the train the best.
This one is with the lower section tied to the sides.

I am excited that the next time I am asked if I can do a bustle I will not hesitate to say "Yes, I can!"

Besides wedding dresses, most of my sewing lately has been hemming and altering prom dresses. The prom is Saturday, so I think I'm about done with that, I am so ready for some quilting! I have finished a few things, but I'll save that for another day, got to have something to write about, you know!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Not Much Quilting Going On

Well, there hasn't been a whole lot of quilting going on here lately, but there has been a lot of dress hemming, and working at the quilt shop! (There also hasn't been a lot of progress on the Walking in this World book either, but I promise to get back on that and finish it up in May.

Here is picture of me at Threads That Bind, taken on my new cell. I'm not as skilled at the girls are at self portraits, but it's acceptable! I will be glad for next week when I don't have to work so many hours and I'll hopefully have time for some quilting. I bought fabric for a quilt for Asher, but I haven't had any time to work on it.