Monday, March 23, 2015

Show Shopping

I've been home a full week now since my return from the American Quilter's Society (AQS) Show in Lancaster, PA. My house is pretty much back to normal and life resumes its daily routine of never enough time and too much mess life with little kids. My sewing room is not entirely back to normal.

By "normal" in both instances above, do not read that as neat and tidy. I have learned to temper my creativity with some organization and good habits, but the rest of my family? No. Especially the only other female in the house who has mastered the creative chaos process. Her creative vision seems to require cutting up tons of paper, fabric, string, yarn etc.

But today I thought I'd share my shopping haul from the show. Compared to many shopping trips, this is pretty small. This may be due to having completed my business taxes prior to heading out to the show.

The first thing to buy was batting from Hobb's. Three queen-sized batts were purchased, one 80/20 cotton/poly blend and my new favorite batting- their new cotton and wool blend, Nice stuff! No picture as batting is fairly unexciting to photograph.

The next thing on my shopping list was thread. Now there was a ton of thread for sale at the show, but when faced with a huge selection, my brain just can't make up its mind. Since I couldn't buy it all, I bought what was new to me that I already knew I wanted to try.

thread from YLI

The Top Anchor Quilting Tools booth was right next to the YLI booth. The folks there were such good neighbors. Jim saw me eyeing the spools of braid. I explained that I was wondering if it was big enough to use for free motion couching or small enough for bobbin work. The sweet man gave me the two spools shown above! I also bought a ginormous cone of their #40 poly thread that is similar to Glide and two small spools of grey Silk Sparkle, which is silk thread combined with a silver metallic.

Then I had to try some thread from WonderFil. There was a huge selection and again, I just couldn't decide. (Plus I had to hurry back to the booth- no slow shopping stroll here.) I snagged a pack of rayon cord, perfect for bobbin work. (I had bobbin work on the brain since I used it for the Top Anchor banner.) I also picked up a cone of  InvisaFil, a #100 poly thread. So thin and fine! I had heard a few longarmers talk of using it, so I thought I'd check it out.

Then I bought two half yard pieces of unique hand dyed fabrics. Both will end up as table runners and/or teaching samples. The bottom one tells me it wants some straight line ruler work done Zentangle style.

The last stop was the sew Batik booth. I love their gradations line of solid batiks. It was easy to pick up these two and hard to say no to the others. I wanted to pick up some of their rayon batik for a tunic for myself, but since I haven't done anything with the last piece I bought from them, I refrained.

That's it! Positively restrained in my shopping, wasn't I? How about you? Do you go crazy when you get to a big show like this? Do you have a list and stick to it? Are you like me and get overwhelmed with choices? Share in the comments.

Showing off my purchases reminds me of the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival three years ago when I bought the Janome Frame Quilting Foot Set. I had no idea if I could use it on my stationary machine with my convertible FMQ foot set, but I was going to try it. I'm so glad I did!

I also want to welcome new readers who found the blog after seeing me at the show. Hi!

A final parting note to let you know that Craftsy is having a sale on fabric and kits right now. Use the link to them on the right sidebar to take a look.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Review: SewEzi Portable Table

For my trip to demo templates at the AQS show in Lancaster for Top Anchor Quilting Tools, I wanted a table that was at a comfortable height, sturdy enough to not bounce while free motion quilting, gave me a decent space to hold my samples, and was easy to carry into the convention center.

I decided to give the SewEzi Portable Table a try. I had seen another quilter using one at a meeting of the Virginia Consortium of Quilters. (Cool guild name, huh?) She said she loved it.

I didn't have much time to order the table and get it shipped to my house, but it came in plenty of time. I think it took less than a week to arrive along with the insert for my Janome 8200. There was a little assembly required to get the recessed platform for the machine put together, but it was easy enough to do.


There are handy handles at the top and along one side to make carrying easy. The case is constructed so that the handles aren't covered up.

At the bottom are these nifty wheels. They look like skateboard wheels and allow you to pull or push the table along from the top handle.

Above is a storage compartment in the case to take advantage of the space above the machine platform. Below, on the other side is a flat pocket for carrying the insert.

Everything folds up neatly. I found the locking mechanism for the legs very stiff and hard to lock and unlock, but a little WD40 may help with that. It's also an indication that they won't be too loose anytime soon.

My machine fit the table and insert nearly perfectly! I did adjust the platform a little lower than the directions specified for my machine. That was easily done using the various thickness of hard plastic washers included for the purpose.

SewEzi portable table and Janome 8200

The table's surface is nice and slick, though I did use my queen-sized Supreme Slider while quilting just to help where the insert and machine joined and to cover the two support screws to the left of the machine opening. The table is pretty small for using to quilt more than a table runner or topper. It's perfect for samples or piecing. Using regular tables against it to expand the surface should be useful for supporting a larger quilt. I also found it the perfect height for sitting in a regular chair at the quilt show. I had my own sewing chair in the car since I hate being too low or too high at the table while machine quilting, but I didn't need to use it.

There are all sorts of accessories for the table, including a tray for tools and such. I haven't bought any of those. There's a cross support on the left pair of legs that would be a great spot to make a hanging pocket for supplies.

A recessed area for a cup is at the right corner of the table. Perfect for my souvenir glass from the historic Revere Tavern. My Mom's cousin and his wife took me out to eat there while I was at Lancaster. It was begun by a relative of Paul Revere back in 1730. The food was excellent!

The SewEzi table was everything I hoped for. While not entirely wiggle-free, it was perfectly steady for sewing on. Before the show, I gave it a test run at high speeds and while it did shimmy a bit, it was at speeds above what I use for free motion quilting. If you were stitching long lines at high speeds, or are a speedy piecer, it might be a little bouncy. But I think that there's a good balance between sturdiness and portability.

There's a more heavy-duty table available, but it doesn't have the handy wheels. It's also quite outside my price range. The portable SewEzi table cost me $245 plus shipping which was an additional $35. I think it's money well spent. Now I will have a great table for teaching at different locations.

If you travel a bit with your machine, I can say I highly recommend the Sew Ezi portable table. These opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation or discount from the Sew Ezi company for this review.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AQS Lancaster #2

I'm still dusting and trying to get my sewing space back together after packing so much of it up for the AQS show in Lancaster last week. Something always gets left behind on these trips and this time I left my computer mouse. Thankfully, it was at my dad's and it will be mailed back soon. Makes for a less than enjoyable use of the computer for now though.

Today I bring you two more quilts from the show. Both by fabulous quilters. One is a blogger too and the other I got to meet briefly at the show. Both quilts employ fine quilting on the top before the quilt was sandwiched with batting, which makes it free motion embroidery.

First, there's Stars On Mars by Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison. You can check out Jan's fabulous quilting on her blog: The Secret Life of Mrs. Meatloaf. This quilt is amazing, so it's no surprise that it was named best of show.

The white stitching on those spiky swirls are free motion embroidery and it is possibly also trapuntoed.

Those stars are pretty stinking complex and look at all those appliqued circles!

So stinking impressive! I am just amazed at all the work on this piece. You can read more about it at Jan's blog which is linked above.

Let's Do the Dresden Twist is by Teri L. Cherne and I got to meet her briefly at the show when she stopped in at the booth. I hadn't seen her quilt at that point so I missed my chance to grill ask her more about it.

I could have stared for hours at it with all of the creative fills and designs.

In the shot below, you might see that those larger circles and diamonds in the border have a slight purple cast to them. That's because she quilted, or rather, free motion embroidered them with a fine purple thread!

There's so much variety here! But not too busy.

These quilts blow me away. They are the work of very talented ladies on long arm machines, and I suppose that I should be showing quilts done on domestic machines, or at least sit down machines, but these really grabbed me. You know that I believe we can do just as fine work with our smaller, stationary machines. I didn't have much time to see the show quilts, but there were some really fabulous quilting going on. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bernina Ruler Foot

I got back from the AQS Quilt Show in Lancaster last night and while I'm still getting life back to normal, I had to hurry and share this with you:

new ruler foot for Bernina sewing machines
Sorry for the poor picture.
 It's the new ruler foot from Bernina! Yes, it's on its way and made a little debut at the show in the Bernina booth. It was as we had suspected, made for the Bernina longarm, but will fit onto the Bernina sewing machines.

Ruler foot for Berninas

The Bernina representative told me it will be available in April. I got this sneak peek at it at the show as they had the long arm there. It's a nicely done foot, smooth and round with the desired 1/4 inch from the needle to the outside edge. It also has a small cutout for better visibility in front of the needle.

The interest in using rulers and templates with free motion quilting on a domestic sewing machine was incredible! Of course the need for a foot was a bit of a disappointment when I had all of those nifty templates at the ready from Top Anchor Quilting Tools. Especially for those who have non-Janome machines. I made sure to tell folks to check out the Westalee foot or to see if their machine is compatible with the Janome ruler foot and to pester their dealers for a ruler foot. I will have reviews of the final version of the Westalee foot sometime this week.

A Brother dealer made sure to come down and ask about buying the templates for her shop. She said all of her employees at the show kept coming down to our booth to look at the templates. She also said the Janome Ruler Foot combination (Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilt Foot Set (In the appropriate high or low shank) plus the Frame Quilting Feet Set ) worked on their Brother machines.

I was so happy to meet several blog readers at the show! Thanks for coming by and saying "hi". So nice to put some faces to your names. Especially one who gave me a hug and some well-timed words of praise when I was visiting the Janome booth! (That was awesome!)

Now I must go put my house back in order. Seems like while the cat was away, the mice played, while papa bear did some sanding in the house and there's a lovely layer of dust.....

Thursday, March 12, 2015

AQS Lancaster Quilts

Sorry for the delay in posting these last few days. I've been working hard on the banner for Top Anchor Quilting Tools and then I left to come to Lancaster PA for the AQS show.

I haven't gotten to see much of the actual show, since I've been super busy demonstrating how to use long arm rulers on my domestic sewing machine. So many quilters are blown away with the idea of ruler work.

Several weeks before, I contacted a few people at Janome to let them know I'd be at the show demo'ing on my new machine, Janome 8200 and that the technique I used required the Janome Convertible Free Motion Foot Set and the ruler foot from the Frame Quilting Foot Set and would they please make sure that any Janome booths had those feet in stock. I was told they would. By this afternoon, I was told by quilters that the Janome and Elna booths were both out of those feet. Quilters are loving being able to do ruler work on their domestic sewing machine or sit-down long arm.

I snuck away this afternoon and made it down one aisle of show quilts before returning to the booth. Happily, it was the row that a quilt each from Margaret Solomon-Gunn and Bethanne Nemish were hung. The other quilts were wonderful of course, but these gals do amazing longarm work and have inspired my quilting over the years though I've never met them.

Words nor pictures do these quilts justice! Amazing quilting and fine detail work. I want to be like them when I grow up, but without the long arm. Though I'm not sure I have it in me to do such meticulous detail. Below, you can see the beaded piping that Bethanne pieced into her quilt. Those are beads stitched inside a bias strip.

I am exhausted from doing so much chatting with so many wonderful, friendly, and enthusiastic quilters! I hope to post more quilts from the show over the next few days.