Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Surfing

It's a gloomy spring day here in Virginia. Everything is still gorgeously green, but our plans to have a cookout at a nearby state park have been derailed. Yesterday was sunny and kind of hot, but today is a little too cool and damp.

Sundays like this are a great time for surfing the web, and I've been saving a few links to share with you. Since the pic below is all I've managed to quilt this week, I'm so glad I can share others' work with you!


First, since I've shared how I'm trying to Finish more projects this year, I thought I'd share this Craftsy post about how to get more sewing done. Pretty sure I need to actually do some of these, not just read about them.

I love Johanna Basford's art and it looks like I'm not the only one, she's even been on TV news lately! Over at Quilts On Bastings, Karen's made a quilt based on one of Johanna's drawings. It's so pretty, go take a look!

Abby Glassenberg always has thought provoking and inspiring things to say about the creative process, especially for those who are trying to create a business from what they do. She confronts the idea that we need some sort of perfect studio to really become super creative and applauds the work done simply where we are.

Lastly, Margaret Solomon Gunn has an awesome post on the process behind her latest show quilt, Bouquet Royale. So many wonderful pictures of her gorgeous work. Margaret is one of my quilting heroes and I wish just reading her blog and articles in Machine Quilting Unlimited was enough to pick up some of her meticulous piecing and quilting skills!

Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sewing Machine Foot and Accessory Storage

One of the things I miss about my Janome 6600 is the accessory box that came with it. The 6600 is a flat bed machine so there was no little storage area built into the machine bed. This is usually built into that part of the bed that is removed to access the free arm on many machines.

Janome 8200 on-board storage

The Janome 8200 does have a wonderful storage compartment on top of the machine and built into that removable part that exposes the free arm, but since my machine is set into the table with that part off, it's not too handy for foot storage. I could set it next to my machine and use it, but since it's not attached to my machine, it is difficult to open the compartments (Yes, plural. There's great storage on this thing!) without dumping the contents around.


So I emptied out the storage compartments and moved it all to a great little container I picked up in the crafts section of Walmart. It's got one large compartment and 4 long narrow compartments. Plus each compartment can be subdivided with the provided divider pieces. (The brand name is Creative Options and the model # is 3650N Made in the USA by www.planomolding.com)


I left the large compartment as is, so it could hold which ever needle plate I'm not using (Love being able to change out the needle plate with the press of a lever!), Even-feed foot, extra bobbin case and other larger bits. I subdivided the smaller areas to best fit my different feet (those that didn't go on top of the machine) and some extra bobbins.


You can also see in the first picture that I use the spool area on top of my machine to hold the current pack of whatever type of needle I'm using and my screwdriver. I bought the optional cone thread holder for my Janome 8200 and use it for most of my threads. (Love it! Though it isn't as compact as the 6600 for travel.)

Janome makes a very nice accessory and foot box for its MC15000 model and they've made it available separately. It is nice for anyone with Janome's 9mm wide machines, having space for each available foot. But it's too bulky for what I want. My clear box sits in a narrow spot on a shelf within arm's reach of my machine.

What do you do for storage of feet and accessories? I admire what I think of as the Barbie's closet from Bernina, which holds feet and accessories so neatly. I know many quilters use boxes like mine, or a small tackle box. Plus plenty of people make do just fine with the compartments built into their machines. There are some machines that have quite ingenious built-in storage too.

I'd love to hear what works for you as it may be just the thing to work for somebody else! Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Matchstick Quilting- Free Motion Ruler Work

I'm working on a sampler of ruler work designs for a class I'm developing. Matchstick quilting isn't something I've used much, but I have seen the design used to great effect on others' quilts.

Free motion quilting with rulers Matchsticks

This is not something you want to do from one side to the other in one fell swoop. If you did, things would creep and slide. Subdivide and conquer. (Somehow I got turned around in my moving from one side to the other.)

Matchstick free motion quilting using a ruler on a stationary machine

I'm not too fond of this feather, but the matchstick quilting looks great next to it. This type of quilting does build up quite a bit of thread in the 'ditch'. If this was on an actual quilt, I'd make sure to use a very fine thread.

Free motion quilting Matchstick design detail

In the above picture, you can see two different densities. Near the top right hand corner, I subdivided the 1/4 inch lines with two more lines. The rest of the piece I stitched 3 lines between the 1/4 inch lines and it was actually easier and more uniform to make those divisions.

Matchstick fill around free motion feathers

This type of free motion ruler work is slower than doing a nice dense free form fill, but you develop a rhythm as you go. It isn't as difficult as you'd think to quilt these 1/16th inch lines. It does give a nice effect.

Have you ever given this design a try? You should, if you like using dense fills.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cherry Blossoms, Quilts, and a Ramble

I'm still working when I can on my panel quilt for my quilt guild, and I've also got some class prep I'm doing for a ruler work class while getting some practice in with the Westalee Ruler Foot. Speaking of classes, Craftsy is running another great sale on their classes this weekend. (My favorite so far is Kimmy Brunner's Machine Quilting with Templates: Creating Design Perfection since I can use my rulers!)


The quilting is giving these flowers on the panel some dimension. Today it feels like Spring has finally arrived and flowers and new green growth is busting out all over. After several dreary days, I'm glad to see blue skies.


This sashing design is a variant of the traditional "egg and dart". This is a table runner ruler work sampler I am working on. It makes a great secondary design with a circle around the block.


My parents and I took the kids to Washington DC to "see the cherry blossoms" but I think the kids are at an age where they were like, "meh, trees".


They all loved the train trip, especially my 5yo. My oldest really liked the Jefferson Memorial. It was a rainy day, so it wasn't too crowded.


Here's a shot of the Washington Monument and some of the cherry trees. They were in pretty much full bloom, but the gloomy skies spoiled the effect a bit.


We did a lot of walking. It was pretty hard on my 5yo, so that resulted in being rough on me. But the rest did very well. Nobody got lost, so that's a good thing. Somebody kept insisting that we'd find some place to eat besides the food carts, so we ended up eating at the USDA employee cafeteria. It was pretty good, a lot like eating at a mall food court, but I would have preferred a meal without armed security guards checking us in, showing our ID, and a metal detector. I may have been pretty irritated with our self-appointed leader at that point.


After the cherry trees, we hit the Smithsonian, where lo and behold, they had cafes in each building. Of course, you have to go through a metal detector to get into the Smithsonian too, so I guess the USDA building wasn't so unusual (though while open to the public, it wasn't really a great place for kids and I felt like we were someplace we shouldn't be).


Ian loved seeing the trains in the Smithsonian. I wish we had enough time to see more of the Smithsonian buildings, but we had a train to catch. I really enjoyed the train ride myself, looking at some beautiful scenery and reading a book after dark. It was relaxing.


We've got some beautiful cherry blossoms here at the house too! My lilac bushes are flowering too.


That's it for now. I hope you have had a great weekend so far and enjoy the rest of it.



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Creative Jump Start

I mentioned I was in a bit of creative funk in my last post. Not that I'm stumped for ideas, just so many projects it's hard to focus and figure out which to do first. So I decided a little creative jump start would be in order. I wanted something that was a bit of play, something fairly easy to complete, and something that would feel real good to get it done and out of the house.

Look! My cutting table is clear enough to baste on!
I am a horrible quilt guild member. I make it to maybe 2 meetings per year and haven't helped out with any of their projects so far. I haven't brought fabric to the exchanges, joined a creative challenge or anything! But I did offer to quilt a panel quilt for their charity auction last year. I'm not sure if I agreed to get it done before last year's auction, but I didn't.

Plenty of shapes and spaces to have some fun.

So it fit the bill perfectly! Fast-ish, playful, and will feel so good to get it done. I keep telling myself not to over quilt it, but every line of the design is almost begging to be stitched. I sandwiched it up yesterday and have been quilting it off and on, whenever I can fit a few minutes in. Today was a work day, so I didn't have much time on it today.


The backing was provided by the guild too. It's a lot lighter than the front and I tried to quilt it with a dark grey thread on top and a cream thread on the bottom, but even though I got the tension close to perfect, there was too much contrast and you could see the contrasting color inside each stitch-hole.


I kept the cream So Fine thread from Superior Thread on the bottom, but tried out a new to me monofilament nylon thread by FilTec on the top. Now I don't have to change the top thread for every color or stay exactly on top of the printed outlines.


It's super fine and needs more tension than the previous brand of monofilament poly I used before. There are a few early spots I might take out when I'm done as the tension was a little loose on the back. I hope the guild doesn't have anything against invisible thread. I've heard some people think it shouldn't be used on quilts for children.

But I'm glad to have a project going and especially some time to think on my other projects while I work on this simple piece.

Tomorrow, no quilting will be done as my parents are taking the kids and I for a train ride and day trip to DC to see the cherry blossoms. I'm not entirely sure the kids will appreciate the trees as much as my folks, so I bet we end up in the Smithsonian, especially as they are calling for rain. But I know the kids will love the train ride!