Thursday, July 30, 2015

Return to the Ruler Work Sampler

We went to the coast of Virginia this past weekend for a whirlwind visit of the beach and the aquarium. We were at the beach in the afternoon through sunset of the first day. Then our hotel lost power in the middle of the night so we managed to make it back to the beach at sunrise.


Perfect photo taking time! But my kids are not very cooperative when it comes to all looking at the camera at the same time.


They did have a blast however and none of them were afraid of the seaweed, unlike their mother. I can't stand stuff touching me in the water. A few days later and I took the kids and my mom to a small water park. More fun! Poor kids have one full week before school starts, so we're living it up.

In the midst of all the summer fun, I managed to knock over a light fixture in my studio and sent an explosion of glass everywhere. What a disaster. I got it all cleaned up, I hope, but the studio is a wreck. Hard for me to stitch when it's a mess, but I decided I was going to knock out a block of my sampler.


Above, I've used my trusty air-eraseable marker to mark the point at which I will turn these V's. First I had marked at 1/4 inch from the corner, but then I went with 1/2 inch away. I used my quilting ruler to measure it. Then I drew out the design on one of the corners to make sure I'd like it.

free motion quilting with rulers

Ruler work and McTavishing. I was really feeling tight and things weren't feeling good as I quilted with my rulers, but then I started filling in with the McTavishing and it started to flow. I'm not feeling too confidant about the light turquoise thread throughout this quilt, but I want the quilting to show as it is a sampler for my classes. I might re-do the section on the navy. You can see even here that the thread looks white and the contrast is doing funny things in my camera (below). See how those lines on the left look jagged? They're straight! Just the camera and pixels playing tricks.


The McT might be a little dense compared to the feathered center. One of the things I love about using rulers is that it gives great results without having being too dense and stiff. I've been checking Pinterest out for great ruler work and free motion quilting that combines well with it and finding some fabulous inspiration. I need to practice some of the new-to-me designs.

That's all I've got for now. Quilt on.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Free Motion Quilting Video: Amy Introduces Herself

So here's the first video I've ever posted that shows more than just my hands and I've got to tell you that this was the hardest video I've ever done. I want to keep tweaking it and getting it just so, but sometimes you've just got to move on. It's about sharing my quilting adventures, not about how I look.



I am no videographer, but I hope you enjoy seeing it and learning a little more about me.

Watch it to the end and there's a little blooper for you.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunrise at the beach.



Normally, getting up to see the sunrise while on vacation is a nice idea in theory, but not likely to happen. But the power went out at our hotel at 5am and since I use a Cpap machine, I got up.

Once I'm up this early I love the peace of the early morning!



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Of Quilting and Blogs

Happy Thursday dear readers! One more weekday and my family and I are taking a much deserved trip to Virginia Beach. We're going to hit the Virginia Aquarium and wade at the beach. (All the talk of sharks on the east coast and I'm happy to decide we'll stick to the shallows!) The great thing is that this short trip will be completely funded by my blogging and quilting activities.

My kids earlier in the summer
  I'm so happy to make a big deal about this with the kids because they've dealt with less than stellar meals from time to time and sometimes a cranky and busy mommy as I worked on various projects. I think it's good for them to see me work and make progress on my goals as we've had big changes since my husband's cancer a few years ago, when I had been a SAHM whose sole focus was on raising the kids and keeping up with the house and garden.

Like many 10 year-old boys, my oldest child is into Minecraft. He built a 'world' with our family in it. My 'room' has a craft table in it.
Sometimes the work of blogging takes over and pushes out the quilting that I'm supposed to be blogging about! Then there's the work I do for my local Janome dealer where I handle anything that has to do with computers and the internet, including a little social media on the shop's behalf.

I'm not making a killing, especially if I add up how much time goes into the blog itself and the writing (and I am such a slow typist), not to mention the quilting projects. I think any quilter understands that aspect of it. But it fits with my life and family and at least it's a subject that I love. The people I interact with because of the blog are absolutely wonderful! As a blogger, it's hard to earn much without selling a product or book, unless you're doing sponsored posts or have a large amount of advertisers. I've started selling a few advertising spots, but I've never done any sponsored posts or sold products or patterns. I'm excited to see how I can improve what I'm doing soon as all three kids will be going to school in two short weeks.

Sometimes there's far more blogging than quilting going on. Pardon the mess- this is real life! Oh, and I'm supposed to be standing when I work on the computer. Busted! Let's just pretend that my shirt is ballooned out in an unflattering way and that's not my tummy.
If you're a blogger, do you read Abby Glassenberg's blog, While She Naps? She's a crafter who has developed a niche of blogging about the business of craft blogging and business as well as her softie design work. She's recently provided a link to Quilting Jet Girl's recent post for quilt bloggers. It's got quite a few links and content of interest to those who are blogging about quilting.

Quilting Jet Girl is part of the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop, and as such there's some great tips and stories of interest offered. I wish I was a new enough quilt blogger to join in, but it's great reading. Being old enough to not have a ton of experience with computers in the workforce (My college years were pre-Windows), I'm sometimes overwhelmed by all this internet stuff! But I'm learning.
Clearly this lighting and arrangement will not work for this video.

As part of my YouTube channel, I'm finally taking the plunge and doing a video introduction of myself. It's a big stretch to show myself talking on screen after some 80 videos that pretty much show just my hands! Not to mention needing to set up my studio in a totally different manner and running back and forth from behind the camera to being the star of the show, so to speak.

Amy Johnson Quilting with Rulers
That's better. Mostly.
That's part of the reason I've not been posting as much. I hope to get back into the swing of things and get some projects finished!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Quilting with Rulers: Feathers Off a Curve

Somehow summer has nearly ended and it's time to get the kids ready for school and make some plans for myself while all three kids are in school each day. It's been hard to get any actual quilting time in, though I've been doing some work in my studio. When I can, I'm still plugging away on my sampler.

Feathers drawn out.

I decided to use a curved ruler around the edge of the white square and then add feathers. The square is actually made up of 4 triangles so it was easy to plan the feathered areas. Since I wanted them to be pretty uniform, I went ahead and drew them out.

Two feathers down, two to go. It's hard to see but the stitching isn't right on top of the lines.

I don't like marking much, but I knew in this case that marking would be faster than ripping out feathers if they weren't even enough. I used my trusty air-erasable marker.

The markings are nearly all gone so you can see the feathers.
They're not perfect, but if I strove for perfection, I'd never get done. Good enough is perfect. I still need to work on the angle and spacing of the stitching where a plume gets close to the spine. The seams gave me a little trouble, changing the feel of things as I stitched on the seam allowances. There's one spot where I got right into the seam (which was pressed open) and the stitches practically disappeared.

I'm really loving this quilt and all the opportunities to use rulers on it. It will make a good sample for my classes.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Free Motion Quilting Tip: Smooth Surface

I'm having a little trouble getting into my quilty groove after my trip. Lots of laundry, playing with the kids, getting my sewing space set back up, and it's already time to start back to school shopping. In the midst of setting my machine back up for free motion quilting, I realized I ought to share this tip I've been using.

It's no secret that I love my Supreme Slider for giving me a smooth surface for my quilting. But since I use a machine with a drop-in bobbin, peeling the teflon-coated mat back up to change a bobbin was a small irritating hassle.


So I cut a hole around the bobbin cover area. That was great, but sometimes my basting pins would hang up along that cut edge. Plus, sometimes when doing dense tiny stitching, I could feel that cut edge interfering with the sliding of the quilt. Such a tiny little difference, but there it is.


So I started putting a piece of my beloved but ugly painter's tape over the cut out. It smoothes out the cut edges and the tape is easy enough to remove and replace when changing a bobbin. Plus the tape secures the slider to the bed of the machine there and keeps things flat around the needle area.

I came across this wall hanging the other day- it's the first finished piece I ever used rulers on, back in 2012. 

Hope this tip is helpful and I really hope I can get some decent quilting done today!

Monday, July 13, 2015

My First Quilt

It's been a wonderful, but hectic week and now I'm headed out again to go rescue my dad from my three kids. He and his longterm girlfriend have had them for a week and a half. She's loving having them, but Dad hasn't had kids in their tiny cabin for this long a period before, plus I miss them!

I've had a ton of comments I want to respond to, but haven't wanted to do it on my phone, nor have I had enough time to do it on my laptop. So give me a couple of days and I should get back to you if you've asked a question or shared something pretty interesting. Due to the number of emails and comments I've been getting lately, I don't always respond to the simple compliments and thanks that I ought to at least say thanks to. I'm gonna work on that though. You can be certain I read all the comments and am very thankful for each single one of them.

Until I get back home and can write more, I leave you with this:



My first quilt! That's me and my mom back in 1989 or 90 and I'm hand quilting that 9-patch. That thing was a train-wreck of a quilt. There were supposed to be star blocks in between the 9 patch blocks. How was I to know as a self taught quilter that traditional Lemoyne stars had Y seams and were hard to do?

Ok, gotta go......

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ruler Work Sampler: Slow Progress

I was so disappointed to miss the deadline I had set for myself on this quilt. But there's a point where you either begin quilting like a maniac and the quality suffers. That would be the quality of quilting and the quality of life for the quilter and her family. I didn't want to go down that road, so it was set aside and now I am itching to get back to quilting it.

Ruler work around applique crosshatching free motion quilting

I used Linda Hrcka's BFF template--- she's made her own line of rulers called The Quilted Pineapple Curves--- for that curved chevron sashing.


My butterfly still needs some quilting in the orange and some antennae. Then I'm going to put something on the outside of those arcs along the sides of the block.


The above block gave me a bit of trouble with this continuous curves in the triangles. The thread would split as the stitch formed. I think it was a needle deflection issue. I had to go to a 100/16 needle to get through the corners and the seam allowances and I still had trouble.



I've got several of the pieced blocks started. So far it's pretty much only ruler work that's been done on this quilt, giving it some structure for the rest of the quilting.


I've been using a variety of rulers on it and having quite a bit of fun. Now that my rush is over, I can take my time and quilt it up super fancy.

I can't wait to get back to it! Does anybody else here get antsy when they've been away from their quilting for a few days?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Free Motion Quilting with Rulers: A Giveaway Winner

I've pulled a winner for the True Grips giveaway. Congratulations to Rebecca Grace, aka The Cheeky Cognoscenti to get a pack of these self adhesive silicone gripping dots. Rebecca, I hope you give these things a good workout on your rulers.

And what good is a blog post without a picture or two? Since I'm out of town, I'll post these:



I think I'm on a search for the perfect straight ruler. I had hoped this one above was going to fit the bill, but it's dud. I love the tabs for accurate placing of stitches in the ditch and 1/4 away, but it wasn't cut properly. The edge of the cut should line up with the 1/4 marking and it's off. I'll be contacting the maker and seeing if this is just a defect in need of replacement. If not, I'll continue my search.


I do most of my quilting and much of my sewing with polyester thread because it's pretty, strong, and has no lint. But for my recent pieced quilt, I used a lot of the popular cotton thread on the market. It's a lovely thread (You know the one with all the buzz....) but it's still cotton and I wanted to show you how much lint was produced. Clean your machines, folks.


And finally, another shot of my very own ruler creep. Just because I can and because I love him. Don't let ruler creep slow down your work with rulers on your sewing machines! Use quilting gloves as you quilt and try some of the non-slip products on the market, like the True Grips, sandpaper dots, velcro, etc.

I can't wait to get back home and show you the work I've continued to do on my recent pieced sampler.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Quilting With Rulers: Ruler Creep and Giveaway Follow Up



Here's a look at my pile of rulers I'm using right now as I quilt. The noise my sons make as they paw through their Legos has nothing on me at the moment. It's like a pile of crystals in the sun from my window.

The turquoise gems in the center are DIY handles. You can't pick up the ruler with them, but it's a little something to keep side to side motion reduced. Plus they're pretty. Pick them up at any craft store. I found these in the scrapbooking section.

I was out of town Friday and my inbox filled up with comments and questions on the TrueGrips post and giveaway. I'm going to try to answer some of them real quick.

First, if you want to get in on the giveaway, click on the link above and leave a comment or email me. Make sure you're not a no-reply commenter or leave me a way to contact you. Sorry, US residents only.

The giveaway is for the TrueGrips, not any rulers.

You don't have to have any extra grips on your rulers in my opinion IF you use good quilting gloves and use your fingertips to anchor the ruler. But they do help. There is always the risk of ruler creep.

Ruler creep?!
Not that kind of creep, plus that's my cooperative hubby. He looks slightly crazed (I think I drove him to it) but he's definitely not a creep. I'm talking about the creeping of the ruler as we stitch. (I have a weird sense of humor, but I needed the laugh!)

There were a lot of questions about the class I'm developing. The samples are the same for an in-person class as they would be for an online class. A Craftsy class would be a blast, wouldn't it? I would love to do one. But most of you know enough about the internet to realize that if I was working on one, I wouldn't be able to tell you anyway.

I will offer up that I'm willing to do a little travelling for a good sized class. I live in south central Virginia and am about 2 hours away from Raleigh Durham and Greensboro which is do-able for me. This is a bit of a niche technique so it's hard to get a good-sized group together at this point.

There were a lot of comments from people who were thinking of dabbling with rulers. Let me just say: Dive on in! Yes, rulers can be quite the investment, but they don't wear out and you can do a lot with just a good straight ruler and a curved ruler. Such a great technique for beginners and experienced free motion quilters alike. For beginners, the rulers take out the anxiety of "Where do I go next?" For experienced quilters, they can help you develop a frame work that let your skills really shine.

By the way, you'll notice my advertisers on the sidebars of my blog. Their support helps me keep going with this blog. Please check them out, in particular TopAnchor Quilting Tools and Sew Steady. Sew Steady is the distributor for Westalee ruler feet and rulers in the US. They have a dealer locator on their site.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Quilting With Rulers: A Giveaway

I'm working on developing a "Quilting With Rulers" class which means I get to buy more rulers and associated materials. A lot of manufactures are accommodating the interest in working with rulers, whether on a domestic machine, sit-down long arm, or regular long arm systems.

People are always asking about how to move the rulers and the quilt as a unit and I think if you've never given it a whirl, it seems impossibly hard. Truth be told, for the most part if I have my machingers gloves on (I suppose other gloves work too) and my hand positioned properly, I don't have mush slipping.

The BFF ruler from Linda Hrcka at the Quilted Pineapple- Love it!
 But a little extra grip can be handy. I'm not a fan of anything that 'sticks' a ruler to the quilt. I don't want to be hampered when I re-position my ruler.
I like the little cut out on this straight ruler for SID (it also has tiny scallops on the otherside, but I got it for the straight side), but unfortunately, the cut edge doesn't line up with the markings! Hate it!
I liked my clear nail polish and salt trick for non-slip spots, but I heard from a ruler manufacturer that they were a bit nervous of the idea and definitely didn't recommend nail polish remover on acrylic if I wanted to remove it and re-apply.

I picked up these gripper dots at my local Janome dealer, Sew Simple in Lynchburg VA (Where, at my urging we now carry some of the Westalee rulers and feet as well as the Janome ruler foot of course!). They are clear silicone circles made for your rotary cutting ruler. So if you aren't using rulers to guide your free motion quilting yet, you will still find these helpful.


They're around $5.00 a pack and what I like is there is no waste. There's a sheet where the circles are punched out, but the bits between circles work too. Just make sure to place them so the ruler doesn't rock. They're pretty thin so you don't have to be terribly careful with this.

Using some of the cut out bits between circles too.

I picked up an extra pack for one lucky US resident! Sorry, but shipping isn't cheap even for something this little.

Leave a comment on this post, and I'll draw a lucky winner next Thursday, July 9th. If for some reason you can't leave a comment, send me an email (see my about page).