Motivational Stitchery

One of the fun things about working at a Janome dealer is access to a range of machines; sewing, embroidery, sergers and even the Artistic sit-down long arm. So when I saw one of my favorite motivational quotes had been made into a free embroidery download, I jumped on it!

she believed she could, so she did

Thanks to the folks at Urban Threads and Sew Simple, I stitched this sample. (It's free until Sept. 7th!) I'm going to make it into a binder cover to hold our class information and supply lists at the shop. A fitting use, don't you think?

I am learning more and more that we are hampered more in life by our beliefs about ourselves than we are by our circumstances. I have a very loud and vicious inner-critic, so I battle her in part with encouraging words. Many of those words come from your comments! I even have a Pinterest board for encouraging words.

I am amazed at how my free motion quilting adventures have taken me new places- physically and creatively. I hope you've enjoyed some of my journey too.

Repeat after me, "I can! I can! I will. I will. I did!"

Tips for Using Monofilament

In my post "Quilting Away!" last week, I was using monofilament thread for some free motion quilting stitch-in-the-ditch (SID), also known as invisible thread. Afterwards, I had a few folks ask questions about this thread. So today I'll give you my best tips for using this handy, yet sometimes finicky thread.

tips for using monofilament thread

First of all, today's monofilament thread is not the fishing line-like product of years ago. It is super thin and flexible. Monofilament thread comes in two compositions: nylon and polyester. I haven't used any nylon monofilament since those fishing line days, but I hear it's just as good as the poly, though a bit less heat tolerant so it may need a cooler iron. I use the polyester version and have been using Sulky's brand.

free motion quilting stitch in the ditch
Can you see it? Every seam has been stitched.
I would like to compare a few other brands, but this stuff is so thin it lasts a very long time. Most makers carry it in clear and a darker version, usually referred to as "smoke". This is good when using it on darker colors. Some monofilament threads have more shine than others and that can detract from the camouflage effect of this clear thread. I hear YLI's version and Superior Thread's Monopoly are pretty popular.

The biggest tip is to feed the thread off the spool without twisting. This means it needs to come off of the side of the spool when straight wound. My Janome 6600 has a great set up for spools fed off the top for cross wound and less finicky threads. But I have to be creative to get a spool to feed off the side. I use a spool cap upside down close to the top of the spool pin and then skip the high thread thingy, then thread the rest as usual. You can see this better in the first picture of this post. For most machines, use the vertical spool pin and make sure the spool unwinds freely.

The second tip is to use a very low tension with this thread. It is stretchy and tends to 'create' extra tension via the stretch. I use a .75 to 2 tension on my machine, though each machine is different. Too high tension will result in the bobbin thread popping to the top (you may actually see the thread coming up out of the hole when the stitch forms!) and/or break the invisible thread

Tying off- The thicker fishing line version of this thread from days gone by was a total bear to knot. The newer threads are much easier to tie off or knot, but they still have a tendency to come untied or have ends pop out from the project. I almost always knot these thread ends by stitching in one place and then burying the ends very well.

Needles- I prefer to use a smaller needle with this type of thread, usually an embroidery needle, size 75/10. The thread is very fine, so you don't need a huge needle and resulting needle hole unless the fabric of the project requires a heavy needle.

In the bobbin- For quilting with monofilament thread, a fine thread in the bobbin is a good choice. I use monofilament in both the top and bottom when I finish a binding by machine and have not had to change my bobbin tension at all. Though it usually requires a top tension of less than one on my machine.

I hope you find these tips useful. Monofilament is a great thread for certain situations, especially when there are multiple colors of fabric and you don't want to keep changing thread colors.

Once I came out of the house, frustrated, to tell my husband that I couldn't find my invisible thread. Our neighbor, to whom the hubby was speaking, found it quite funny!

Free Motion Monday: August Week 4

The slacker edition....

Week four of August, my "off" month for our linky and I'm busy working on finding my new groove of two kids in school and a ton of quilty projects that I can't show you. (In part because several are just in my head.)

Somebody on Facebook asked how I choose quilting designs. That's a long answer for FB, so I'll use it here!

Choosing Quilting Designs

I am certain that there are as many ways to choose quilting designs as there are quilters. So I will do what I do best and tell you what I do and try to give some insight into my process.

how to choose designs for your quilt

First I think you need to know what designs you do best. If you are new to free motion quilting, your choices might be a little limited. Don't let this hamper you much. We increase our skill level when we stretch beyond our comfort zone! I tell my students to also note what motions or shapes of stitching lines do they gravitate towards. Some quilters like spiral-type designs, some go for more straight line shapes.

Then you need to look at the piece you want to quilt. Sometimes you want to quilt according to the piecing (continuous curves, etc.), sometimes you want to mimic the lines of the top's design (circular designs in a quilt with many circles), other times you want to balance the top's design by quilting something different (Maybe something curvy to break up a spiky piecing design or subdividing open areas to give the quilt some extra pizzazz). Are there some issues in the piecing that need to be taken into consideration? Typically, if there is some fullness in a block or border, you don't want to quilt it very densely or there may be puckers or rippling. Some borders can be helped with lines going out to the edges to take up fullness or keep from stretching bias edges (piano keys, beadboard, etc.).

Then, if nothing's coming to mind---and with time the process gets more intuitive---it's time to look at sources of quilting designs. Look at your past quilting, books, blogs, Pinterest (set a timer if you need to!), magazines, etc.

Now you should have a few ideas. Take a look at my post on a Quilting Plan for a few more tips on how to audition designs. Try the designs out on a picture of the quilt, mock it up digitally, use plexiglass or clear vinyl, etc.

Don't forget to practice the designs! Draw them out and even give them a test stitching if they are new to you. You might find you don't like them. Better now than ripping them out later. There may be tricks to moving in and out of the different areas of the quilt too. Drawing the designs helps form muscle memory, making the designs flow more naturally.

Once you've started to quilt on your project, don't be afraid to change it if you don't like it! Some very neat effects are created from using a variety of designs together. There's always the seam ripper if things go horribly wrong. It seems that free motion quilting goes hand in hand with the seam ripper. But don't be too hard on yourself either, chances are good that once the quilted project is out from under the machine and your eyes are farther than 12-20 inches from it, the slight imperfections become, if not unnoticeable, at least part of the handmade charm!

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. (This month is unspecified, so anything dealing with free motion quilting is fine!) Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question.

Quilting Away!

Tons of projects to do! Quilting, quilting, quilting.....must keep quilting..... Testing threads.

I wanted to use this variegated thread on this quilt so badly! But alas, it would not cooperate with the light colored back, no matter how well I got my tension. I wasn't feeling brave enough to go with a darker bobbin thread on the light back, plus I would have then had issues on the top when the thread was in its lighter color.

Testing more threads.

The winner for the stitch-in-the-ditch on this Dresden Plate ended up being the monofilament. Not my favorite thread, but I just couldn't find a shade that worked with all of these wonderful colors.

The cream thread to the right of the mono is the winner for the cream background and in the bobbin. It's a So Fine #50 from Superior Threads.

I've got a good start on this customer quilt and now I'm off to mark a cool design for the inner border! (I hope you like it, dear customer/reader!)

Floss Your Bobbin Holder and Other Cleaning Tips

I was cleaning out my bobbin case and it reminded me of a couple tips for all my free motion quilting friends. Actually, this applies to all sewing machine users and technically, I have a bobbin holder, since my machine is a top loading machine.

I love my top loading machines for ease of use and easily seen bobbin. I hate running out of bobbin thread! But one drawback is that the groove that creates the bobbin tension can be difficult to clean.

Getting lint built up in these grooves can really mess with getting good tension on your machine. Here's a video on cleaning these spots:

Make sure you have a good brush to clean the lint out of the bobbin area. One should have come with your machine. You can also get these at any sewing center or place with a good selection of notions.

See the bit of lint I teased out ?

You can "floss" your bobbin holder too with a bit of thread as shown in the video. Running a piece of good thread through the groove can loosen lint and help remove it.

Don't be tempted to disassemble the case/holder as it is likely that you will lose one of the tiny screws or have difficulty getting the tension set back to where it needs to be.

Clean this area out frequently. Newer Janomes make this easy with their lever release needleplates. If the area under the bobbin case is linty, it can cause extra tension on the top thread and can cause the bobbin case to try to come unseated.

One suggestion quilters are given when having a sudden issue with tension is to re-thread the machine. We all hate to hear this as usually we think it's threaded properly. But there are times that the issue is a wad of lint that has caused the problem and the re-threading process may work it loose. (Plus, there are those times when the thread jumps out of the take up lever!)

You probably already know this, but never thread the machine with the foot down! Put the foot down to thread the needle if need be, but the thread won't settle between the tension discs properly with the foot down as that closes them. For this reason, I always raise the presser foot when adjusting my thread tension too.

I mentioned canned air in the video, don't blow it into the machine! It will send the lint around the gears and shafts. I have seen some machines so full of lint (glitter, sequins, needles, and pins too!) that a wad of lint has felted and become a wedge in the workings and causes them to "freeze up".

So, now that I have a clean machine, I'm off to sew......

Free Motion Monday Week 3

It's Free Motion Monday! It's now the third week of August and the second week of school. I am not into my new groove yet. But I thought I'd share a few quilts from the Charlotte AQS show.

I took a bunch, but because of the regulations about taking and using pictures, I'm only showing a few, and those are watermarked with the maker's name.

Christa Watson's quilt was there! She's a reader of mine and a busy quilty biz gal!

Janet Stone's "A to Z for Ewe and Me". She does great applique and quilting.

Some serious bling by the crystal loving duo of Cheri Meineke-Johnson and Linda Taylor.

I love the exotic mix of Dianne S. Hire's quilts. She had at least two quilts in the show. Stunning applique! She was in one of the lectures I attended and she was fabulous.

Laura Davies from Tanderwen Quilts had her whole cloth in the show too. She was there, but we didn't meet. Bummer. Her blog has several quilts from the show posted too.

I took a bunch, but because of the regulations about taking and using pictures, I'm only showing a few, and those are watermarked with the maker's name.

Not much news here to share anyway, but if you'd like to share with us, please do!

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question. 

Review of the Artistic18SD

Sew Simple, where I work one day a week, got in the Artistic18SD quilter a few weeks ago. I wasn't sure about getting the machine as it was essentially a Tin Lizzy under the Artistic brand, a division of Janome. I had the impression that Tin Lizzie was a very economical brand, but didn't seem to be liked by the long arm quilters I knew and 'visited' with online.

Artistic long arm sit down quilting machine

But there it was, on display and I got to play with it. So play I did.

Orientation- Having learned to quilt well on a sewing machine, I have always found machines that are oriented perpendicular to the quilter to be disorienting. Plus I don't like the idea of pushing my quilt forward to eventually hit the machine. Having the rest of the machine to my right and the entire thread path easily visible and reachable from my seated position is my preference and that is how the Artistic is positioned.

Size of the machine- While the vertical clearance (which I didn't measure) of the long arm is less than many sit-down systems, it has a full eighteen inches to the right of the needle. That's 2 inches more than another popular brand.

Table- There's no point quilting on even the best machine if the table it is on is hopping around, so the table is important. My first impression is the table is a bit wiggly, but when I used the machine there was no hopping or excessive vibration. The table has a huge leaf to the rear to support large quilts. I didn't lift the leaf up in the shop while testing it out. The table is quite large and I think that the leaf is overkill, given that there is not a lot of space to the left of the needle. IMHO, the rear leaf should be half the size and there should be a leaf to the left, or even just a leaf to the left and no leaf to the rear. Setting a table to the left at the same height would be an easy fix. The surface of the table was a bit of a disappointment. It is slightly textured instead of perfectly smooth. Smoother is better!

Visibility- One of the biggest advantages I feel a long arm system has over quilting on a domestic machine besides the extra harp space is visibility. A sit-down long arm doesn't let you see as much of the quilt at a glance as a frame system does, but you can definitely see more of the area immediately around the needle. I think there may be less visibility than some other systems, but it is adequate.

It has a large lamp with CFL bulb on a flexible arm mounted to the machine to put light where you need it. I think does a fine job, but I might would opt to buy an after-market LED light strip to mount under the arm.

Foot- This may be the thing I like least about the machine. It's a hopping style foot with a presser foot lever (they call it a tension lever), this means that you have to raise the presser foot just like with a sewing machine when you remove the project or want to move to another area to quilt. The other long arm systems I have seen do not have such a lever. My Janome 6600 and all the other bigger Janome sewing machines have a wonderful knee lift mechanism for the presser foot. This means I keep forgetting to lift the lever, which I need to do if I want to pull on the top thread like I do when I stop and start.

The frame mounted machines in this line have a ruler toe available, but Janome does not have one available for the sit-down model yet. I am told that it is available through Tin Lizzy and will be available soon. You know I have got to have a ruler toe! I will be waiting to see what it looks like as the current open toe really isn't suitable for ruler work.

The height of the hopping foot may need to be adjusted depending on the thickness of the quilt sandwich, but it's very easy to do.

Tension and Threading- Like all long arm systems it has a vertical bobbin, which takes a little getting used to if you usually use a drop-in. The top tension, like most, if not all long arm systems is more complicated than a sewing machine but pretty straightforward. There are no thread-break sensors which is a plus to me. Nothing extra to go wrong and I have eyes for spotting thread breaks. I was able to easily get good tension and stitch formation with a few adjustments of the tension dial. Once when I was quilting on it, the thread broke after about 24 inches and I was a bit peeved until I noticed someone had threaded an old spool of rayon on the machine. Rayon is delicate and I don't think it's suited to such use.

Electronic features- This machine has two electronic features that I feel a sit-down machine really needs and nothing else. Once you have needle up/down and a maximum speed control, anything else is an extra- sometimes an expensive extra! (I show the controls in the video) These are very basic but functional controls. I did see a different, very economical (cheapest price for a sit-down long arm I have ever seen), basic machine at the Charlotte show that had no electronics-- not even needle up/down. The maker assured me that I didn't need one and that it meant there were fewer things to break down. He was mistaken. While I appreciate a basic machine at a basic price (about $2000 less than the Artistic), his was too basic (not to mention looking like Frankenstein).

Foot Control- The variable speed foot control was a bit on the small side, but pretty responsive. Working in conjunction with the speed control, it should serve the purpose.

Bobbin Winder- There's a built in bobbin winder which is nice. Who needs extra clutter? It will wind while you quilt. If you want to wind bobbins when not quilting, the needles still sews--- so remove your project and unthread the needle.

Operation- It's a bit noisy, some of which I will attribute to the size 18 needle, which is a bit large. I could easily put a smaller needle in it and reduce some of the noise. but since it's being test-driven in the shop by quilters of all skill levels, a bigger needle is better. Long arm machines are definitely noisier than sewing machines, so I don't find this problematic. It was easy to quilt on and there were no confusing keypad options to make sense of before I could quilt on it.  Note that in the video, I had no trouble quilting with only one hand!

I have heard some complaints about the lower-priced long arm machines in general, and I have to wonder if sometimes it has to do with the skill level of the quilter and the willingness to adjust things to get the best out of each machine and thread combination. I think this applies to sewing machines as well. (To be fair, when it comes to long arms on a frame system, there are a lot more factors to consider, many of them a function of the frame and carriage--this isn't a factor with the sit-down machines.)

Oiling- Most of the long arm machines need additional oiling than sewing machines do. This machine has only 2 spots where it needs oil and has an internal oil reserve. That means you don't have to oil the hook itself.

Price- Since I work for a Janome dealer and Janome is a bit of a stickler about posting pricing info online for certain machines, I'm going to play it safe and not give the actual price. There will be variations among dealers on the price and you are free to search out the cheapest price possible and have this machine shipped to you, but I've got to say that buying a machine from the dealer that you will use for training, servicing, repair or parts is really important. For most folks that means using the dealer who is closest to you.

I will say that this machine seems to be around $2000 less than the Handi-quilter Sweet 16 and its variants. It is around $2000 less also than the APQS George (Which I will tell you is my absolutely preferred sit-down machine). It is about half the price of the Gammill Charm, which is a fabulous machine with a great table, but has more features than I need or am willing to pay for.

Summary- The Artistic18SD is a perfectly functional sit-down long arm machine. It's not pretty, there are no extra features and that helps to keep the price down. I'd call this a great, basic, "Git 'er done" kind of machine. I like it; I'm a "Git 'er done" kinda person. I won't be buying it as it isn't in my budget and I'm quite happy for now with the 9 inches of throat on my Janome 6600, and if I want to move up to a larger machine, I might only move to  a Janome sewing machine with 11 inches. If I could afford it or the George, it would be a bit of a toss up for me and I might just go with the Artistic since I'd save about $2000 and the dealer is local to me, though George lacks the annoying tension lever which is a vote in its favor.

There you have it. I hope you found this review helpful. I wasn't paid in any way for this review, other than I was on the clock at the shop while quilting on it. You'll note that I am not horribly motivated to switch from a large sewing machine to a sit-down long arm machine as I think fabulous quilting can be done on a sewing machine with needle up/down, speed control, a good free motion foot, a large flat surface, and preferably with a few inches more than the basic sewing machine.

Roll Call for the Ruler Toe

Today I don't have much for you, dear reader, but I hope you have something for me. I should have been keeping better notes as I shared my ruler work techniques and which machines could use what combination of Janome Convertible Free Motion foot sets whether the low shank (202002004), high shank (202001003), or 1600P version (767433004).

If you have been using the any Janome foot set above with the ruler toe (one half of the Janome Frame Quilting Feet Set part #767-434-005) on a machine that is not a Janome, please answer this "roll call" in the comments with the particular combination you are using.

If by chance you have found a foot/toe for ruler work other than those from Janome, please let me know what you are using also.

In order to sweeten the pot, any comments on this post (even if you don't have this info to share) will qualify you for a drawing to get a ruler from Accents in Design at my expense (must live in the US, sorry). I will randomly draw a name from these comments September 1st.

Roll call, sound off!

(You guys are the best!)

Quilting Plan

As I shared on Monday, I haven't been doing any free motion quilting lately. But I've got plenty of projects in the works. Whenever it's time to quilt, you need a plan and that's what I'm blogging about today.

Now, I'd love to talk time management plans and how to get all those quilts in your mind done. But I am the least qualified to talk about that!

Most quilters tend to make a top without thinking too much about the quilting until the top is done. So the first thing to do is study that top. What type of quilting is it wanting? Traditional, simple, complex, or maybe even pictoral? How will the quilt be used? Are there construction issues that need to be addressed like wavy borders, fullness in a block, or missing points? Sometimes these can be "quilted out".

Hang your quilt up on a design wall if you've got one big enough to get the full view of it. I have a large design wall where I used to have my sewing space. Now it's the wall behind my bed. (We tend to play a room version of musical chairs in our house, switching things around according to the needs of our family.)

studying a quilt on my wall

 I hung a customer quilt on it this week to plan my quilting. This lovely quilt actually belongs to one of my blog readers and when she asked me about doing some quilting for her, this one spoke to me right away. She included this cute card in which she gave me full rein to quilt it as I saw fit. Words to cheer any quilter!

Sometimes just looking at the quilt will give you the obvious plan for your quilt. Sometimes you need to do some testing of designs. Since this quilt is symmetrical, I really only need to focus on the center and one quadrant of it.

dresden plate quilting plan

You can use Plexiglas or clear vinyl and an eraseable marker to draw designs in place on the quilt. This will really help with planning the scale of quilting too.

Pictures of the quilt can be handy for planning your quilting also. Take the picture and print it out so that you can draw on the picture. Or use the picture in a graphics program (paint is available to most folks and works for this) and draw on it electronically. More advanced graphics programs can really help with this, but unless you're very skilled with them, it can use as much time as getting hooked on Pinterest!

I play around with several different graphics programs; mainly because I'm too cheap to buy Adobe Illustrator. All of them are better suited to different things. File compatibility is a royal pain. I know a few long arm quilters who use a tablet and stylus (like a Wacom or Bamboo brand) so they can draw on the computer more naturally than using a mouse and more efficiently than using a ton of graphic elements to create the design.

I now know from looking at the quilt that I want to quilt that border around the central block as a unit. It could be quilted like a double border, quilting the lines of strips individually, but I'd rather quilt them together as a single border. I haven't settled on a design yet. Size-wise, this is a good spot for feathers, but the quilt doesn't quite look like it wants them.

There will be stitch-in-the-ditch between the blades of the Dresden plates and continuous curves around the edges. Some sort of fill in the cream. There's not quite enough background area to make me think I'll quilt a motif in the corners, but I won't rule it out. I'm not sure about the rest of it yet, but I think it's going to be fun!

Once you've got the designs figured out for the most part, do yourself a favor and take some time to figure out the order of quilting. Does the quilt need stabilized along the main piecing lines? Will an over-all design work best? That's one design or design group worked across the quilt regardless of piecing. How can you quilt your planned designs with as little back-tracking or stops and starts as possible?

I hope that's given you some ideas for planning your quilting. Have you got any tips to share?

Free Motion Monday: August, Week 2

This post could also be called Free Motion Monday Mish-Mash. But enough alliteration......

This month I am taking a break from featuring a specific design, but I encourage you to link up a post from your own free motion quilting adventures.

I have quilted nothing all week! But I have gotten my kids ready to start school. They've been homeschooled so far and now they are off to the local elementary school for 3rd and 4th grades. Today is their first day, so I nervously await their return in less than 3 hours. I haven't shed a tear so far today, but it's been hard to let them go.

 But my goal is to get more quilting done along with some other side jobs. (Not to mention keep the 4yo out of trouble and do some preschool activities with him.) Today I prioritized several projects and gave myself some deadlines. One of which is some quilting for one of my blog readers! More on that in another post.

I had to do some hemming of the new school clothes for my rather short and stocky kids. Have you hemmed jeans with this technique? Works great and preserves the original hem. Once the pants are on a wiggly child, no one notices the seam. I didn't trim the excess since I imagine these kids of mine will need the hem lowered in a few months. I used the blind stitch to sew the folded fabric up inside the pants leg so they don't snag their toes on it or end up with the fold peeking out from under the hem.

My Janome 6600P doesn't have a free arm so I got out my smaller machine, a Janome 3160.

So dirty! We won't tell John at Sew Simple (where I work part-time) who does the service and cleaning about this! Cleaned it all up with a scrap of batting. (Batting scraps are great dusters. You can even use a big piece on a Swiffer mop.)

I set up a folding table in my sewing room for it and plan to keep it out for my daughter to use. Unfortunately, that means there's not enough room for my recliner now. It's just as well, as the chair had become a dumping ground for assorted projects, material, and such. (What the Fly Lady would call a clutter hot spot!)

So there's my less-than-exciting news for today. If you've been doing some free motion quilting, link it up and share. Let's go a-visitin'!

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question. 
Now I'm off to have some homemade cookies ready when the kids get off the bus.

Bobbin Quilting Fun!

I was so happy to take Michele Scott's Bobbin Quilting Fun class at the Charlotte AQS show. I had been wanting to do bobbin work for a long time. Leslie's posts and projects at Marveles Art Studios had inspired me to try it maybe 2 years ago.

Here are two of my samples from the class. I laid a single strand of Isacord (a 40wt thread) on top of the sample for scale. Theses threads would never work on the needle side of the machine!

bobbin quilting free motion

I had even bought a fairly large stash of thick threads to use for bobbin work too! I am a thread addict after all. But I just hadn't done any.

silk and rayon flower

Above is a sample where I needed to tighten the needle thread (top tension). This is also a great time to use invisible thread, which Michele encouraged us to use.

Michele took me from thinking, to actually doing. It was so easy, I don't know why I had waited so long.

Here's the 'top' of my piece, which is really the backside. Flip it over and viola! (There's that piece of Isacord for scale.

In case you're not familiar with the technique, bobbin work takes a lovely decorative thread and puts it in the bobbin. You quilt (or stitch, it doesn't have to be a quilting project) with your project upside down. This keeps extra thick or delicate fibers in the bobbin where they are subject to less tensioning and friction, not to mention, they don't have to go through the eye of the needle.

In the class, the Janome 8900 machines we used already had the bobbin case loosened to accommodate the thicker threads in the bobbin. Using my extra bobbin case at home, I reduced the bobbin tension screw a quarter turn and all was ready.

If you get a chance to take a class with Michele, do it! She's a riot. Bobbin work: another tool in my quilting tool box. Can't wait to use this in another project!

Free Motion Monday: August, Week 1

It's Free Motion Monday! For the month of August, we're going to have a "breather". I've got vacation bible school this week (Guess who gets to be on the stage for the singing and dancing? Have I mentioned I'm an introvert with a severe dislike of crowds? But I love to sing, so....), my kids start going to public school next Monday (We've homeschooled them up to this point.), and I'm in need of extra time as we get used to school and I focus on some other projects.

So let's use this month to share any quilty projects you want to link up here, especially if it's something from the previous months' designs. Same linky guidelines apply, but if you haven't shared because you don't have a blog, email me 1-2 pics and a blurb about them, and I'll post them on the blog next week. Send them by Friday.
free motion quilted bag

My purse held up well on the trip, but when I decided to bind the edges instead of use a lining, I forgot to adjust my pattern. That made the strap wider than it should have been so it didn't sit well on my shoulder. The thing I loved most about this bag design (my own too) is that the strap stays put on my shoulder.

I should have trimmed the bag down by 3/8 of an inch along the top and the inside of the handles. I'll make a note on my pattern for next time.

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question. 

AQS Charlotte Show

I had such a great time at the AQS show in Charlotte NC this past week! First of all many thanks to my wonderful friend Robin who put me up in her home and fed me. I forgot to get a picture of her.

The show was held in part of the Charlotte Convention Center. Parking was expensive, and Friday I had to go back and forth to the car since I had a bad case of forgetfulness. My feet hurt badly at the end of the day. I did not make the best choice in footwear, choosing my "confidence shoes" which have a bit of a heel.

So many beautiful quilts, innovative ideas, and vendors galore. It was a bit overwhelming. I have a bunch of photos of individual quilts, but I need to go through them before posting and make sure I have the names with them to give them credit.

I met Bonnie Browning and she agreed to a photo op with me. I also met AQS editors, Elaine Brelsford and Michele Duffy. I attended three lectures which I really enjoyed. I also took a class by Michele Scott, below.

Author of "Bobbin' Quiltin' and Fusin' Fun", she led a class of intermediate and better free motion quilters to explore using thicker threads either through the needle, in the bobbin (working with the quilt upside down), or using couching. She was a ton of fun and very funny and frank. She also took some time to give me some encouraging words on my quilting adventures.

I've had far too many thick threads that I had been meaning to do bobbin work with, but never actually did. Michelle's class was just the thing to get me going! (My sample above.) We used brand new Janome 8900's in the class and it was nice to use a machine I was already familiar with from working at Sew Simple.

Look at all the thread yumminess that she provided! Below is a close up of some of the fibers with which we played. Couching yarns at the top left and hand dyed threads for the bobbin. I also got to see some of the beautiful hand dyes threads that Laura Wasilowski makes.

I also met up for lunch with Susan from the Bored Zombie. Again, forgetting to take a picture. Robin took a lecture with the talented Sharon Schamber and had Leah Day as a classmate. I never did see either one of them.

I stopped at the APQS booth to chat with Angela Huffman, a talented and friendly long arm quilter from, a forum that I'm on occasionally. I also fondled George, the sit-down machine from APQS. I love George. He's like a good looking country boy. Works hard, gets the job done, but not too flashy.

I tried a few other sit-down quilting machines. Found one that was extremely affordable, but it didn't include a needle up/down function, which is a deal-killer for me. It, and at least one other machine like it were so, um....what's the word, I want to be kind.....functional. Huge and ugly, zombie-like, but functional. It made the Artistic 18 look so much better to me. (Review on it later this week.)

As a quilter who moves the quilt, not the machine, it's very appealing to see these big sit-down machines, but they're really not in my budget (other priorities come first) and I also don't want folks to think you need to spend a lot of money in order to do great quilting.

More on my shopping at the show later this week also. I wasn't too wild with the spending though.