Staking Out the Mailbox

I love getting packages in the mail, don't you? I had ordered some new free motion quilting play things earlier this week and they had the grace to arrive together. Both packages were wrapped so nicely under their USPS outer garments.

First up comes from Spool, and the Bad*ss Quilter's Society. Now, I admire the attitude behind the pin, and while my language is colorful at times, (legacy of being a cow hand, rancher, truck driver, and farmer in my youth), I prefer not to use such language in the written word. especially with the kids around. Enough so that I almost didn't order this fabric from there. But I wasn't sure where else to find it and I thought both fabrics would be wonderful to do some ruler work samples on.

Inside are two 1-1/2 yard cuts of modern cheater cloth. The colorful one is Tangram, from the line Graphyx, by Mark Hordyszynski for Michael Miller. The second is design #14763 in the Color Composition line of Kona Coordinated from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. Sadly, the scale of both pieces are much smaller than I had envisioned, so I'm not sure what I will do with these yet. Especially the white and gray piece as the blocks of color change to narrow strips They are beautiful though. I might be inspired by them to do some similar piecing on a larger scale.

rulers for FMQ ruler work

Then my new rulers! These are from Linda Hrcka, of The Quilted Pineapple. She's a long arm quilter who does amazing ruler work and has designed her own line of rulers. I bought the whole entire set and I'm happy to report that only one curve was a repeat of another ruler I had. The arc is the same, but the ruler is longer, so it's not an entire repeat.

The Quilted Pineapple's templates for ruler work

I can't wait to try these rulers out! It's wonderful to now feel like I've got a good range of arcs to play with. I went shopping online for some smaller circle templates, but I just couldn't make up my mind. There are a ton of styles, sizes, and I didn't want to buy duplicates of what I already had. Long arm rulers aren't cheap and I have a post about their pricing coming up soon.

Let me know if you want the pin above and I'll pick a name from the comments who say they want it!

Giveaway is closed. Andrea R is our lucky winner!

Now, I am off to make my poor hubby a nice dinner. He works in marine construction and they not only got caught on the lake in a storm, but the boat had died and they had to paddle to the lake's marina. Thankfully, the work boat has a small cabin so they weren't out in the open during the storm. But I believe his arms are aching as that isn't a tiny boat.

Of Bindings and Open Window Weather

I'm finishing up the little charity panel quilt I mentioned last week. Simple quilting; mostly following the printed lines. I'm nearly done with the binding, but I'm not sure I made the best choice.

It was the best choice from my stash however. Guess I need to add some red and blue to my stash. This was the first time I've used the even feed foot for my Janome 8200 and it worked like a charm. I do still need to get the optional feet for it, like the 1/4 inch and in-the-ditch feet. The actual bottom part of the foot is interchangeable, unlike my previous machine, the 6600, where I had to buy a whole new foot.

I took the quilt out to the porch to sew the binding down by hand. I could have easily done it by machine, but for some reason I wanted to do it by hand. Maybe it was my subconscious telling me how nice it would be to stitch on my porch while the kids played.

Wonderful dappled sunlight on the porch.

It was even better when I sent the older two in to do dishes while I stitched! I had to wipe down the porch furniture first, since there's pollen on everything.

My sewing room has a window right by my sewing machine table. I enjoy hearing the birds and getting a fresh breeze whenever it's nice enough to open it. But it's a little vexing when it's pollen season. Look what I spied inside my free motion ruler foot! That yellowish stuff isn't fiber from the quilt. It's pollen! It had worked its way into the bobbin area too. It looks like most folks in our area keep their windows closed most of the time, despite how nice the weather is. But I bet they don't have to worry about this pollen on everything.

My little guy has recovered from his Pink Eye and Strep infections. He never got too sick feeling other than his recurring fever that kept him from sleeping well for a few nights, which kept me from sleeping too. Nobody else got sick, which is a miracle considering how contagious Pink Eye is.

Do you have pollen issues where you live? Do you enjoy open windows as much as I do? What do you do when it's pollen season?

Art and Quilting Inspiration from the Book

Even though I've been trying to set some boundaries for myself when it comes to the times I write blog posts and other "work" type stuff (and I use 'work' pretty loosely here), I could not wait to share what I found today!

There are two things that are part of my quilting 'style': ruler work and using text in my quilts. Some of my quilts are inspired by my faith and I love using text with these.

So when a gal from church showed me several pics of 'Bible Journaling' that she had found on Pinterest, I was totally into it. Journaling in a bible or in a separate journal is nothing new, but apparently, some people are combining text and illustrations together in a special bible. Since I firmly believe that creativity comes from the Creator, I just love this! (Whether you are of the Christian faith or not, I believe we possess creativity as part of the creation, however you believe or don't believe.)

Here's a great discussion from Jann Gray about how she uses Bible journaling. She's got some beautiful examples and talks about the how and whys of her practice, including her reverence for the Word in doing it.

I wish I had a picture to show you directly on my blog, but I didn't have time to ask permission to use someone else's pictures here. I certainly could have easily scraped a picture from somewhere, but that's bad blog etiquette you know.

You can see a ton of beautiful and inspiring pages by searching Pinterest for  "Journaling Bible". I have also pinned quite a few images to my Good Words board on Pinterest.

I hope it doesn't seem crass to share these affiliate links above when it comes to talking about the bible, but "the worker is worthy of his wages" perhaps and these are relevant to the post. I have had the two books on the left for several years and love them. I think one of these journaling bibles is in my future too. This one is a little lighter than my current study bible, which I love, but I find that reading through a new bible after using a well-worn and highlighted version for a while helps me to learn anew some of the old and timeless truths. I hope the pages are thicker than the average bible paper!

I am looking forward to then taking some inspiration from these pages and translating them into quilts. Painted, appliqued, stitched, however I am led to create them.

Now back to some family time and Sunday rest.

Hugs to you!

Free Motion Quilting with Rulers: Parrs Reel Ruler Foot Video Review

After posting the video from Wednesday's post, I realized I had never posted my video review of the ruler foot from Parrs Reel Ruler. Silly me! The blog post version, A Ruler Foot Alternative: Parrs Reel Ruler, was posted in December.

My final verdict on this foot is that I really, really, really wish they had made the foot a standard 1/2 inch in diameter. That makes spacing a big issue and it won't work with rotating rulers like the TopAnchor Quilting Tools. I also am not wild about it being a hopping style foot, but that does have advantages when it comes to bulky seam intersections. The hopping isn't a deal breaker. I wouldn't choose it over my Janome foot, but that's me. The price is approximately $75 US, including a sew slip mat and ruler, not sure about shipping. Wish it could be bought with just the foot. It comes in low 'reach', high 'reach', and Bernina version. I don't like the rulers. You have to cut your thread to take the ruler on and off the project- no groove for threads to slide out of the center.

Now I am off to care for my little guy who has pink eye and strep. Why did I ever send him to daycare? Besides sanity and a need to work. Poor fella.

Free Motion Quilting with Rulers: Star Template

It's been a while since I've posted a new video and that's a shame because they've been pretty popular and I've been sitting on this footage for a while. Shame on me.

I'm quilting a six inch star, using a specialty template from Top Anchor Quilting Tools. These templates are so fun as they yield a great uniform shape, without marking.

I accidentally used the template upside down on the anchor post, but it works just the same, though right side up would have allowed me to line up the registration lines on the template more accurately.

I didn't put any sandpaper dots or other non-slip aid on this ruler and had no issues of slipping. Though if I had those dots or in this case "sandpaper anchors" on the template, I bet I would have noticed sooner that the template was upside down!

Aren't these cute? I haven't yet stuck these to my templates, but I suspect that the irregular, angular shape of these anchors will help grip the quilt top better than an equivalent rounded sandpaper dot.

Now I am off to get more quilting done! Gotta finish!

Sunday Surfing

It's a gloomy spring day here in Virginia. Everything is still gorgeously green, but our plans to have a cookout at a nearby state park have been derailed. Yesterday was sunny and kind of hot, but today is a little too cool and damp.

Sundays like this are a great time for surfing the web, and I've been saving a few links to share with you. Since the pic below is all I've managed to quilt this week, I'm so glad I can share others' work with you!

First, since I've shared how I'm trying to Finish more projects this year, I thought I'd share this Craftsy post about how to get more sewing done. Pretty sure I need to actually do some of these, not just read about them.

I love Johanna Basford's art and it looks like I'm not the only one, she's even been on TV news lately! Over at Quilts On Bastings, Karen's made a quilt based on one of Johanna's drawings. It's so pretty, go take a look!

Abby Glassenberg always has thought provoking and inspiring things to say about the creative process, especially for those who are trying to create a business from what they do. She confronts the idea that we need some sort of perfect studio to really become super creative and applauds the work done simply where we are.

Lastly, Margaret Solomon Gunn has an awesome post on the process behind her latest show quilt, Bouquet Royale. So many wonderful pictures of her gorgeous work. Margaret is one of my quilting heroes and I wish just reading her blog and articles in Machine Quilting Unlimited was enough to pick up some of her meticulous piecing and quilting skills!

Enjoy your weekend!

Sewing Machine Foot and Accessory Storage

One of the things I miss about my Janome 6600 is the accessory box that came with it. The 6600 is a flat bed machine so there was no little storage area built into the machine bed. This is usually built into that part of the bed that is removed to access the free arm on many machines.

Janome 8200 on-board storage

The Janome 8200 does have a wonderful storage compartment on top of the machine and built into that removable part that exposes the free arm, but since my machine is set into the table with that part off, it's not too handy for foot storage. I could set it next to my machine and use it, but since it's not attached to my machine, it is difficult to open the compartments (Yes, plural. There's great storage on this thing!) without dumping the contents around.

So I emptied out the storage compartments and moved it all to a great little container I picked up in the crafts section of Walmart. It's got one large compartment and 4 long narrow compartments. Plus each compartment can be subdivided with the provided divider pieces. (The brand name is Creative Options and the model # is 3650N Made in the USA by

I left the large compartment as is, so it could hold which ever needle plate I'm not using (Love being able to change out the needle plate with the press of a lever!), Even-feed foot, extra bobbin case and other larger bits. I subdivided the smaller areas to best fit my different feet (those that didn't go on top of the machine) and some extra bobbins.

You can also see in the first picture that I use the spool area on top of my machine to hold the current pack of whatever type of needle I'm using and my screwdriver. I bought the optional cone thread holder for my Janome 8200 and use it for most of my threads. (Love it! Though it isn't as compact as the 6600 for travel.)

Janome makes a very nice accessory and foot box for its MC15000 model and they've made it available separately. It is nice for anyone with Janome's 9mm wide machines, having space for each available foot. But it's too bulky for what I want. My clear box sits in a narrow spot on a shelf within arm's reach of my machine.

What do you do for storage of feet and accessories? I admire what I think of as the Barbie's closet from Bernina, which holds feet and accessories so neatly. I know many quilters use boxes like mine, or a small tackle box. Plus plenty of people make do just fine with the compartments built into their machines. There are some machines that have quite ingenious built-in storage too.

I'd love to hear what works for you as it may be just the thing to work for somebody else! Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question.

Matchstick Quilting- Free Motion Ruler Work

I'm working on a sampler of ruler work designs for a class I'm developing. Matchstick quilting isn't something I've used much, but I have seen the design used to great effect on others' quilts.

Free motion quilting with rulers Matchsticks

This is not something you want to do from one side to the other in one fell swoop. If you did, things would creep and slide. Subdivide and conquer. (Somehow I got turned around in my moving from one side to the other.)

Matchstick free motion quilting using a ruler on a stationary machine

I'm not too fond of this feather, but the matchstick quilting looks great next to it. This type of quilting does build up quite a bit of thread in the 'ditch'. If this was on an actual quilt, I'd make sure to use a very fine thread.

Free motion quilting Matchstick design detail

In the above picture, you can see two different densities. Near the top right hand corner, I subdivided the 1/4 inch lines with two more lines. The rest of the piece I stitched 3 lines between the 1/4 inch lines and it was actually easier and more uniform to make those divisions.

Matchstick fill around free motion feathers

This type of free motion ruler work is slower than doing a nice dense free form fill, but you develop a rhythm as you go. It isn't as difficult as you'd think to quilt these 1/16th inch lines. It does give a nice effect.

Have you ever given this design a try? You should, if you like using dense fills.

Cherry Blossoms, Quilts, and a Ramble

I'm still working when I can on my panel quilt for my quilt guild, and I've also got some class prep I'm doing for a ruler work class while getting some practice in with the Westalee Ruler Foot. Speaking of classes, Craftsy is running another great sale on their classes this weekend. (My favorite so far is Kimmy Brunner's Machine Quilting with Templates: Creating Design Perfection since I can use my rulers!)

The quilting is giving these flowers on the panel some dimension. Today it feels like Spring has finally arrived and flowers and new green growth is busting out all over. After several dreary days, I'm glad to see blue skies.

This sashing design is a variant of the traditional "egg and dart". This is a table runner ruler work sampler I am working on. It makes a great secondary design with a circle around the block.

My parents and I took the kids to Washington DC to "see the cherry blossoms" but I think the kids are at an age where they were like, "meh, trees".

They all loved the train trip, especially my 5yo. My oldest really liked the Jefferson Memorial. It was a rainy day, so it wasn't too crowded.

Here's a shot of the Washington Monument and some of the cherry trees. They were in pretty much full bloom, but the gloomy skies spoiled the effect a bit.

We did a lot of walking. It was pretty hard on my 5yo, so that resulted in being rough on me. But the rest did very well. Nobody got lost, so that's a good thing. Somebody kept insisting that we'd find some place to eat besides the food carts, so we ended up eating at the USDA employee cafeteria. It was pretty good, a lot like eating at a mall food court, but I would have preferred a meal without armed security guards checking us in, showing our ID, and a metal detector. I may have been pretty irritated with our self-appointed leader at that point.

After the cherry trees, we hit the Smithsonian, where lo and behold, they had cafes in each building. Of course, you have to go through a metal detector to get into the Smithsonian too, so I guess the USDA building wasn't so unusual (though while open to the public, it wasn't really a great place for kids and I felt like we were someplace we shouldn't be).

Ian loved seeing the trains in the Smithsonian. I wish we had enough time to see more of the Smithsonian buildings, but we had a train to catch. I really enjoyed the train ride myself, looking at some beautiful scenery and reading a book after dark. It was relaxing.

We've got some beautiful cherry blossoms here at the house too! My lilac bushes are flowering too.

That's it for now. I hope you have had a great weekend so far and enjoy the rest of it.

Creative Jump Start

I mentioned I was in a bit of creative funk in my last post. Not that I'm stumped for ideas, just so many projects it's hard to focus and figure out which to do first. So I decided a little creative jump start would be in order. I wanted something that was a bit of play, something fairly easy to complete, and something that would feel real good to get it done and out of the house.

Look! My cutting table is clear enough to baste on!
I am a horrible quilt guild member. I make it to maybe 2 meetings per year and haven't helped out with any of their projects so far. I haven't brought fabric to the exchanges, joined a creative challenge or anything! But I did offer to quilt a panel quilt for their charity auction last year. I'm not sure if I agreed to get it done before last year's auction, but I didn't.

Plenty of shapes and spaces to have some fun.

So it fit the bill perfectly! Fast-ish, playful, and will feel so good to get it done. I keep telling myself not to over quilt it, but every line of the design is almost begging to be stitched. I sandwiched it up yesterday and have been quilting it off and on, whenever I can fit a few minutes in. Today was a work day, so I didn't have much time on it today.

The backing was provided by the guild too. It's a lot lighter than the front and I tried to quilt it with a dark grey thread on top and a cream thread on the bottom, but even though I got the tension close to perfect, there was too much contrast and you could see the contrasting color inside each stitch-hole.

I kept the cream So Fine thread from Superior Thread on the bottom, but tried out a new to me monofilament nylon thread by FilTec on the top. Now I don't have to change the top thread for every color or stay exactly on top of the printed outlines.

It's super fine and needs more tension than the previous brand of monofilament poly I used before. There are a few early spots I might take out when I'm done as the tension was a little loose on the back. I hope the guild doesn't have anything against invisible thread. I've heard some people think it shouldn't be used on quilts for children.

But I'm glad to have a project going and especially some time to think on my other projects while I work on this simple piece.

Tomorrow, no quilting will be done as my parents are taking the kids and I for a train ride and day trip to DC to see the cherry blossoms. I'm not entirely sure the kids will appreciate the trees as much as my folks, so I bet we end up in the Smithsonian, especially as they are calling for rain. But I know the kids will love the train ride!

Of Ruler Work (on a Bernina), Weddings, and Funk.

Hello dear readers! I seem to have a bad case of Quilter's ADD. I've got so many things vying for my attention, I feel a bit like one of those bouncy balls my kids like to throw around. You know the kind? About one inch in diameter and they bounce about 20 times before rolling under the fridge. The whole time they are bouncing, I wonder if this time it's going to break something. Boing, nope. Boing, nope. Boing, nope. Boing, boing, boing.......roll and disappear.

I'm not going to break nor disappear. But I'm looking at April's more clear calender and am hoping I will stop bouncing so much and finish something. At least I finished my sister's wedding gift.

Darling Di finished something and I thought I'd share it with you. She blogs at Snippets n Scraps and she's done a baby boy's charity quilt using ruler work on her Bernina 1230. She did a lovely job not only on the quilt, but also showing the Janome Ruler Foot components and how they work on her machine with the #75 Bernina Shank Adapter.

I'm still tidying up my sewing room from my trip to Lancaster. Yes, still. Why do I pile stuff on all the horizontal surfaces? Geez Louise! I was a bit frustrated and decided to do just a tiny bit of quilting practice for fun. I felt kinda rusty.

My kids have finished up their school week and next week is spring break for them. Hopefully I can still make some progress on quilting projects, but I plan on doing some fun with them too. There's a short train trip in our future!

I hope you'll indulge me while I share a few pictures from the wedding:

My sister and her groom
My youngest as ring bearer.
Flower girls fighting over the adorable ring bearer. By golly he was going to dance with all the little girls whether he liked it or not! Or at least that's what the girls had planned.
My lovely daughter. No pics of my oldest son for some reason.  As a 10 year old boy, he wasn't too thrilled with all the romance and such.

So next post, I hope to have something with a little more focus. There's the Westalee Ruler Foot review, my silk wholecloth project, and a few other things to work on. Then there's the draw of spring time gardening. I admit being in a bit of a funk. I can't decide what to focus on so nothing gets done. That's got to stop!

When you're in a quilting funk, do you push through the projects and then do something you want to do? Or do you do the thing you want to do first? Hmmm....I sound like a whiner. Well, that's got to stop as well!