Monday, March 2, 2015

Crazed Quilting Week

Taking a few quick moments to blog. This week is shaping up to be CRAZY! And to top it off, I just got a call from the school that they may cancel school tomorrow. Tomorrow being the one day I would have to quilt without any little feet running around.

ruler work on a sewing machine

I've got 2 projects to finish for the Top Anchor Quilting Tools booth at the AQS show in Lancaster next week. I might be sewing binding in the hotel room the night before.

 The thread for the second project got hung up in bad weather and arrived 5 days later than planned!

My sister is getting married in 4 weeks and I'm co-hosting her shower on Sunday. I'm sticking to the quilters' maxim that a quilt done before the first anniversary isn't late.

Worst of all, my husband's father passed away a few days ago. He was well loved and a sweet guy who had been living on borrowed time for quite a while. We are glad his suffering is over and he is with the Lord. Hubby will be leaving Saturday for his service and returning Monday, then I leave Tuesday for Lancaster.


BTW, I just got the current version of the Westalee Ruler foot in the mail today. I am going to have to delay the review by 2 weeks now, but until then, here is the back of the packages, so you can see the feet a little. I got the foot in both low and high shank versions.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Free Motion Ruler Work: Midnight Snowflakes

I am having a great time with my new Janome 8200 and quilting with rulers. This machine is so quiet, plus the visibility and ability to work behind the foot with standard 1/4 inch thick rulers is so much improved over my 6600.

Free Motion Quilting with Ruler Work

Not that the Janome 6600 isn't a great machine, it's only when it came to ruler work behind the foot that I had any issues. In fact, the 6600 is no longer mine. It sold yesterday at the shop. I showed it the day before to a young mother and I hope it was her husband who returned the next day and bought it for his wife. I didn't get her name, but I gave her my card so I'd love to hear from her. (I want to let her know that there are some customized settings on the machine that I should have returned to the defaults before it sold.)
Isn't this a cool batik to free motion quilt?
I'm working feverishly on a sample quilt for the Top Anchor Quiting Tools both at the Lancaster AQS show in less than two weeks. All of these snow days have slowed my quilting down. The kids have been having plenty of fun; sledding and drinking hot chocolate. I've been doing more laundry than ever since giving up cloth diapers a few years ago.

The batik motifs are based on 8 points and most of the rulers I'm using are based on 6 points, so it doesn't line up well, but I think it's still pretty! You can see the anchor post in the middle of this design.
For the ruler work motifs on this quilt, I'm using Yenmet Metallic thread. It's a blend of turquoise blue thread and silver metallic. It's working beautifully! I'm using a 90/14 universal needle in the machine and Glide thread in the bobbin. I did take the tension off of auto so I could use a very low tension on the top.

I'll work on getting a few in process shots soon, maybe even a video if I can get the kids to be quiet long enough.

What have you been quilting on? Are you doing any ruler work? Anybody else longing for spring like I am?

Monday, February 23, 2015

DIY Cone Thread Holder

If you do a lot of quilting your own projects, you can really start burning through a lot of thread. And because you can never have enough thread, it doesn't take long to realize that buying the larger cones is more economical.

But you've got to have the right holder for cones of thread. They feed thread off the top of the spool. A vertical spool pin won't work, and the newer horizontal spool pins/holder aren't really made for cones and won't fit the really large cones.

Horizontal spool pin on the left, vertical spool pin on the right.

The Janome Skyline S5 has a nifty spool cap for the horizontal spool pin for use with 1000M cones, which is just absolutely brilliant! They work on other Janomes with horizontal spool pins, which is all but the lowest end machines, though I don't know if these little things are available individually yet.

My previous machine, the Janome 6600 already had cone thread holders built into the machine and so I have a ton of cone threads. My new 8200 doesn't have cone thread holders! There is a 2 cone thread holder accessory for this machine that screws into the back of the machine. I have one ordered, but in the meantime, I'm making do.

You can buy a separate cone thread holder and they are handy--IF the base is nice and heavy. There are some really cheap plastic bottomed ones that just don't work well.

I rigged up a temporary solution, and while it's noting new in concept, I thought I'd share it with you in case you find yourself needing one.

  • I used a wide-mouthed pint Mason jar, but you can also use a coffee cup. Then came the ugly part- a wire coat hangar and since I couldn't find any wire snips in the house, I couldn't make it pretty. 
  • First I straightened out the hanger (sort of).
  • Then I determined the height I needed to bring the thread above my machine. It needed to be high enough that the thread wouldn't get tangled up in the foot storage area on top of my machine or cut by the bobbin thread cutter (a handy feature when winding bobbins!) 
  • I bent a curlicue into the end for the thread, not a closed loop as I just want to hook the thread into it, not actually thread it through.

  • Then I wound up the excess around the jar to create a base for the wire. It doesn't stay tightly around the jar, but is somewhat self-supporting.

  • Finally, I used my handy-dandy painter's tape to secure the upright portion to the jar.
It sure isn't pretty, but it works perfectly!

Now I can use my large cones of thread with no problems. Off to quilt!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Ramblings

This week has been one of my least productive in a while. It snowed here in Virginia on Monday. We got all of 6 inches here, and since Virginia is considered part of "The South" everybody lost their minds. They closed school for the entire county for the entire week! The roads have been good since Wednesday morning, but they must find it more cost effective to not be prepared for our sporadic winter weather.

I did manage to finish a small customer project and move on to a new project. I thought I was all set to start quilting today, but I just can't decide on threads. It's another one of my word art wall pieces, but this will be much, much bigger.

My thread audition.

It involves rulers too and you can see it at Lancaster in a few weeks, so I've got to get cracking on it!

A few thoughts to share:

You can never have enough thread. Really. Never.

If you want to ask me a question in the comments, make sure you check the comments for my reply or sign up for notifications of a reply if you are a no-reply blogger. You can also email me directly with a question.

I got my new camera mount in the mail today! I am so excited to be able to use my new camera for videos to share with you and this thing is going to really help.

I hope to share this project with you soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stitch Sampler

My new Janome 8200 and I are getting to be good friends. It's been great to free motion quilt on, smooth and quiet. The newly enlarged spot for it in my home made sewing table is working so very well. I've got to give thanks to the hubby for that!

Decorative stitches on the Janome 8200

But the first sewing I did on this machine is what I suggest to every new sewing machine owner. A stitch sampler. Nothing fancy, but I go all the way through every stitch pattern, even some of the different setting for straight stitches. As you can see from the letters below, I just stitched back and forth across my fabric, switching stitches as I stitched enough of each one for a good sample and turning when I got close to the edge.

Since I want to try out all the decorative stitches and this machine can stitch up to 9mm wide, I used a layer of embroidery stabilizer behind the fabric to keep the stitches from puckering or drawing up. I used a medium weight tear away for this.

Once you stitch them all out, you'll see that the image given on the stitch chart can look very different from what is actually stitched out.

This helps you learn your new machine too. I do the first sampler with default settings and eventually will go back through and do more stitches at my preferred settings and also experiment with combining or elongating stitches. I make sure to label the stitches, both for the default settings and especially for my preferred settings.

This is exceptionally handy when it comes to the blanket stitches! Most of the mid-grade computerized machines and up have several blanket stitches to choose from and they can look very different from each other and from what's printed on the machine. It was also a great test of the automatic thread tension on this machine.

I hear many people say they never use their fancy decorative stitches, and while I don't use all of mine a whole lot, when you can actually see what they look like, you're more likely to use them.

Are you snowed in? We are on the third snow day for this week. The kids are enjoying sledding and playing in the snow and I'm doing a ton of picking up of wet things and cooking up hot chocolate.