Slippin' and a Slidin'

Remember when I showed my Supreme Slider all taped up? Word to the wise; be very careful if you stitch right up to the edge when using something really stiff like Peltex. If it catches the edge of the Slider, it will tear it.

 I finally ordered a new Queen Size Supreme Slider and put it on my machine. I think I've had the old one for around 3 years and maybe they've changed the product slightly since then, but I was really glad I had replaced it.

 It seemed more supple and stuck so much better to the machine and table top! I didn't even use tape. Also I had seen that the custom-cut slider at the sewing machine shop on their Janome 8900 had a hole cut for the bobbin case. Up until this point, I had never even thought to cut a hole. I didn't do the greatest job of it, but I love having better access and sight into my bobbin case when free motion quilting.

Another thing I did that involved sliding this week was to take advantage of the felt pads under the legs of my sewing table and to move it where the ceiling light wasn't blocked by me when quilting. Not only did I get better lighting, but it made a visible block to keep the kids from going to the right when they come down the stairs when I am quilting, which puts them close enough to bump me in mid-stitch. Now when I am quilting and slide the table this way, they go through the door on the left. I do slide the table back when I don't need the extra light.

I'm belatedly linking this with Leah Day's Free Motion Friday. Leah's reminding us to check out Craftsy's sale too. Craftsy Class Sale up to 66% off from 11/29-12/2!

Craftsy Sale

I wrote about Craftsy last week in this post, "What is Craftsy?" and have since then delved into the wealth of online classes offered.

I started off with  Free Classes at Craftsy . First I watched Sewing Machine 911 and then Machine Embroidered Classics. I wanted to see if these would be good classes to refer customers to when I'm working at the local Janome dealer. (Did I mention I'm working one day a week there?) I also wanted to fill in any gaps in my own sewing knowledge and learn more about machine embroidery. These free mini classes certainly did that.

But the class I'm most excited about is Kimmy Brunner's Machine Quilting with Templates. I haven't gotten very far into the class with all the Thanksgiving busy-ness, but I really like it so far. She speaks very conversationally, not with a stilted script and throws in some humor too. And since she's recorded, it's more polished than a live class (or at least that's my assumption, not having taken a live class with Kimmy). I'm learning more about using templates/rulers for quilting. And you know how crazy I am about using rulers to free motion quilt on my stationary sewing machine.

My next class I want to take is the Online Beginning Serging class, as they sell sergers in the shop and I have never used one! Then I want to take some more quilting classes. Fun!

Craftsy has all types of classes. I am thinking of taking one of their photography classes too.

Right now, they are having a sale on all classes until December 2nd! All classes are $19.99 or less!And they are having other sales on fabric and yarn.

It's a great time to sign up for classes at Craftsy. Don't forget that once you sign up for a class, you can watch it instantly or if you're busy now, wait until any time in the future to watch it. And you can view the class as many times as you want!

Thankful Thanksgiving

Just a quick post to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope your day is full of food, friendship, and gratitude for a multitude of blessings. I have much to be thankful for, but I just want to say here how thankful I am for the people and fun that have come into my life through this blog. For that I say to you, thanks!

What to Quilt? Auditioning Quilting Designs

I'm working (still!) on a customer quilt and needed to figure out a design for the setting triangles. Out comes the handy dandy plexiglad sheet and a dry erase marker.

deciding on quilting motifs for free motion

I had to figure something out that wouldn't require me to quilt it too densely, but would still look great. Feathers tend to fit that bill nicely. It's a bot of an odd shape, but the echo around the black helped.

Above, the design itself, off the quilt. Below, it's all quilted and worked great. You can use plexiglas, clear vinyl or even a page protector or laminating sheet to figure out designs. Just make sure to devote one particular side for the drawing so marks don't accidentally transfer and make sure that you don't go off the edge onto the quilt!

Pennies from Heaven Quilt

I also use the plexiglass as an oversized ruler for squaring quilts up and sometimes for marking out the size of a whole cloth wall hanging or such. This one is 18x24 and is quite handy for these tasks.

Quilt Getaway Weekend

Last weekend I packed my bags, kissed the hubby, and left the kids in his care and ran off to visit my wonderful quilty friend, Robin.

Isn't she adorable? Robin and I 'met' online at MQResource. A quilter and an experienced homeschooler who graduated her youngest already, we had a lot in common. I drove down and met her in real life this past January. Yes, I did what we tell kids not to do!

This time we had a very laid back weekend and went shopping. First we hit Mary Jo's Fabrics. This place is huge! It's mostly older fabric lines and clearance type fabrics, but they had a great selection of quilting fabrics. Below is the only pic I took as the place was very busy and I didn't want a bunch of strangers in my pictures.

That picture represents about one-sixth of the store! I did buy about 4 yards of fabric here. But didn't break the bank.

Then we were off to "Sew Much Fun"! What a great name for a shop. This is probably the prettiest, biggest, well lit shop I have ever been in. The colors and prints were just beautiful and the place is huge for quilt shop standards. Not as big as Mary Jo's but quite fabulous (and cleaner).

Above is to the left of the entrance and below is to the right, where they had Berninas galore and all kinds of embroidery supplies. I bought just one spool of thread, a lovely blue and silver metallic combination to use on the fabric I bought at Mary Jo's. I was the very image of restraint!

 Then after a meal of huge burritos at a place called Q'doba's (is that spelled right?) we drove back to her house and set up my machine. I gave a free motion demo to a friend of hers and then I convinced her to load some fabric onto her longarm for practice. She has been needing to stretch herself by doing more free motion work, and I wanted to try the long arm. I really don't want to get a long arm, but since I've been doing quilts for others, I have been giving it some thought.

free motion quilting

Some of my stitching. Not too bad. It feels like I have no control whatsoever compared to moving my quilt under a sewing machine.

free motion quilting

Then I left Robin with a stitch sampler to use as "homework" as she and a friend are wanting to improve their free motion quilting skills. Robin even wants to get better at quilting with her sewing machine even though she has a long arm. It was good to make an assignment for her as I am working on teaching a few more classes soon and I like to have the best plans possible for my students.

free motion quilting sampler

I had such a good time. I didn't have to quilt anything, but just did what I wanted to. And we sure got to talk and laugh and enjoy ourselves. Her hubby was such an accomodating host too! I felt refreshed when I got home.....until I saw the dishes. :-)   Actually, the house was in pretty good shape and the hubs and kiddos enjoyed themselves too.

Have you met an online quilty friend (or otherwise) and then met in person? Is there a place you can get away to for some refreshment that includes quilting. Have you done a quilt retreat?

 I will be linking this post with Leah Day's Free Motion Friday and Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday. Come share in the fun and visit some great bloggers.

What is Craftsy?

If you're a regular visitor to the online crafting and quilting community that is the web, you've probably come across  Craftsy. If you're like me and tend to get easily distracted and find yourself hopping down way too many virtual rabbit trails, you've been trying to ignore the plethora of resources and classes that the site and online community offers.

But my blinders have been ripped away! My friend Robin gave me a little glimpse of one of her Craftsy classes when we were together this past weekend. They were very well done and she was really enthusiastic about them. The teachers' are very conversational on screen and present their material in an orderly way. Instead of a scripted class, instructors follow their outlines on camera to create an authentic and engaging teaching experience.

Most know about Craftsy's classes on all kinds of crafts, covering quilting and sewing, knitting and crochet, baking, painting and more. The classes are online and on-demand and you can retake a class as many times as you want and you can pause and re-play as much as you need to learn as much as possible. How many times have you taken a class in real life and wished you had a pause button for the teacher?

But they also have a patterns marketplace (Free Quilting Patterns at Craftsy) where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. I have been asked occassionally if I have a pattern for some of my projects, maybe I should check out how to sell patterns there. (Then again, I imagine my first step is to actually recreate my designs!)

They currently have over 23 free mini-classes to explore (Free Classes at Craftsy), and as a Craftsy affiliate, I will be getting to try a regular class for free. (This is where I fully disclose that as an affiliate, I may have a financial reason for promoting them, yada, yada. What can I say? It's nice to make some pocket change for the time I put in here. Never fear, my thoughts are still my own!) I am looking forward to taking Machine Quilting with Templates from Kimmy Brunner( her Online Quilting Class) as it should help me design my ruler work!

How about you? Have you taken any Craftsy classes? There are quite a few classes from some of my favorites in quilting, Leah Day, Angela Walters and Cindy Needham.

Busy Quilty Week

Last week was busy! I worked on this customer quilt, below, and really hope to finish it and return it to the owner this week.

Plus I visited my local Janome dealer, John Heckman of Sew Simple and checked out a few of his new machines. The shop is in Lynchburg VA and he does a fabulous job of service and repair of all makes of machine, plus he has great prices on all the latest Janome machines.

I tried out the new MC8900, and gave it a free motion quilting workout. I had planned to try out the MC8200, but he had the 8900 set up in a nice cabinet with a large, flush work surface.The 8900 is the same size, but has more stitches and features than the 8200.

The free motion foot is a little different, but it's just the toe part that changed. It still has the base usit of the convertible free motion foot set, so that means I could give the ruler toe a whirl on this machine.

free motion quilting ruler work on Janome 8900

I did a nice big feather and then started some ruler work as a fill on it. I put my Supreme Slider on the work surface even though it was in a nice cabinet. The Slider helps smooth out any bumps and reduces drag on the fabric. Mine was a bit linty so I had to tape it down.

free motion on Janome MC8900

I learned that the MC 12000 combination sewing and embroidery machine has a different foot for free motion than I had seen before. It works with a fabric thickness sensing system to set the height. This gives the needle area better visibility, and this foot is a snap-on type for quick installation.

free motion foot on MC12000

You can still use the convertible free motion foot set on this machine also, but you have to turn the fabric sensing mode off first. Below, shop helper Marsha show how the foot works for free motion.

free motion on Janome MC12000

Below is a shot of the large touch screen interface on the 12000 and some of the stitch options for free motion.

Then Marsha showed me the new, top-of-the-line sewing and embroidery machine, the MC15000. This machine is the same model that Leah Day just bought and actually has some of her quilting designs in it as embroidery patterns.

Janome MC15000

I watched it do some embroidery, but I didn't try it out.

Janome MC15000

Then I packed my bags, sewing machine and supplies and headed out to Charlotte NC for a nice little quilt retreat where I got to do a demo of free motion quilting. Fun, fun, fun!

What have you been up to? I hope you got to quilt!

Painter's Tape as a Quilter's Tool

 I know folks have mentioned using painter's tape for marking straight lines on quilts, but below is my favorite way to use it. The adhesive grabs those threads off my not so smooth hands and keeps them tidy until I can throw them away.

Right now I am working on a customer quilt, ever so slowly but steadily, and I needed to mark some circles. I hate to risk marking anything on a customer quilt, especially on black wool. Painter's tape saves the day!

marking circles with tape for free motion quilting

I'm using my ruler to do a line of quilting 1/4 inch in from the straight side, then freehanding the 1/4 inch line around the curves with a nice looped circle. It's looking great! Don't ask me to get a picture of that black thread on the black wool, because it just isn't happening. I tried!

I'm linking up with Connie's Linky Tuesday at Free Motion by the River. Go visit the party where she's also featuring Leslie from MarveLes Art Studios. Leslie is one of my favorite quilty people and a mentor though we've never met in real life.

Got any great tips for using painter's tape?

Puddling a Large Quilt to Free Motion Quilt It

 I thought I'd post pictures of what it looks like to "puddle" a large quilt for free motion quilting under the machine.
How to position a quilt for free motion quilting

This quilt isn't a huge quilt, but is big enough to demonstrate. See how there's only a small portion of the quilt flat around the needle of the machine? The rest of the quilt is mounded or puddles up around the machine. Not rolled or laid flat. This way I only have to move the weight of the quilt to the nearest fold of quilt, not the entire bulk. The majority of the quilt stays put.

How to position a quilt for free motion quilting

 There are a few things to watch for when moving a bigger piece:
  • Don't let the quilt fall off the table. It gets really heavy once gravity begins pulling the quilt down the side.
  • Don't pinch the quilt between your tummy and the table. (Is this only a problem for us 'fluffy' gals?)
  • Certain types of even feed systems can get hung up on the quilt or basting pins.
  • Really big quilts may need to drape over your right hand to manage the bulk under the throat of the machine.
  • Remember there's no need to have more than half of the quilt under the throat of the machine at any time. Rotate when necessary.
  • Folds from the edge can get accidentally quilted. This has happened more times than I like to admit.
  • Because the quilt is bunched up, you may think the quilting looks horrible when looking at bunched up areas. Lay the quilt flat to take a look before declaring a disaster.
Even with the caveats above, I still find this easier than any rolling up of the quilt. 

I mentioned we were in the midst of the birthday season here. Yesterday we went to the Transportation Museum in Roanokem which is mainly about trains. There's no better way to celebrate turning four years old for a little boy.

He didn't want to leave the area where they had the cab of a real train set up (above) with moveable levers and buttons and such. Once he got outside, he was so excited I couldn't move fast enough to get his picture! He's jumping up and down in the picture below!

 Now I've got to finish up that quilt above. It's turning out real nice but you should see the lint of this wool applique! Fuzz city.

Favorite Books for Free Motion Quilting

Here's some of my books on free motion quilting. Two of the first three, Dancing With Thread by Ann Fahl, and Threadwork Unraveled by Sarah Ann Smith, are the best resources for beginners and beyond. Judy Woodworth's book, Freemotion Quilting , is great too and also has idea for creating your own designs and for using rulers (directed at long arm use, but still applicable).

Threads: the Basics & Beyond , below, is a great resource on threads and a ton of techniques for creative threadwork. Hyperquilting! and Feather Adventures! , both by Patsy Thompson are full of great designs, tips, and eye-candy.

Quilt Savvy: Gaudynski's Machine Quilting Guidebook and Guide To Machine Quilting are just absolutely fabulous! Her work is stunning. And then there are three books published by American Quilter's Society chock full of creative designs to use for free motion quilting. There's Machine Freehand Patterns by Nan Moore and Quilting Possibilities...Freehand Filler Patterns (Golden Threads) and Adaptable Quilting Designs , both by Sue Patten. These are great for showing designs that fit into actual quilt blocks, sashings and borders.

There's a bunch of newer books out there for free motion quilting, but I haven't read them yet. One that I want to check out soon is Renae Haddadin's Fill'er Up: Quilting Designs . She's an incredibly talented long armer and I'd love to see what she's got to show on ruler work and grid based designs.

This post is full of affiliate links, which will earn me a tiny commission, at no expense to you, if you purchase anything through them.

Video: Quilting to Add Color to a Free Motion Quilted Doodle

 Wow! I've gotten so busy lately. Where does the time go? I taught my first official (read: paid) class in free motion quilting and while I may have gotten tongue-tied a time or two (why must bobbin and bottom trip me up so badly?) and my face stayed beet red the entire time, it went well I think. My students were the sweetest group of friends on their annual quilting retreat. For their benefit (and yours) I will be posting a list of my favorite books for free motion quilting no later than Saturday, I promise!

I got the quilting done on one side of my latest purse commission and it's going better than expected.

free motion quilting a flower doodle

I even took a video of me stitching one of the leaves on the other side. It was my first video shot in my new quilting studio and all worked out fine, but I need to find a better position for the camera mount.

A close up shot of one of the flowers.

 Another of a leaf.

A shot of the leaf right after shooting the video.

It's been a good kind of busy at least. I've got the purses to stitch for my wonderful friend and neighbor, two custome quilts to quilt, a special commissioned quilt to make from scratch (Eek!), and a few other irons in the fire.

It's also birthday season here. A birthday every month from September until March, counting the all important to us birthday celebration of Christ. Below is my first-born, Jamie blowing out all of his nine candles! Cake baking is not my forte, so I gladly accept my mother's offer to bring the cake for the kids' parties.

I hope that you've been busy as well, with good things and hopefully some quilty goodness. I'm linking this post with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday and Leah Day's Free Motion Friday link parties. Go visit and enjoy!