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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Free-Motion Wrestling!! and Thread Painting Experiement

Perhaps you have this same situation: quilt tops that need to be quilted. The dilemma: how to quilt them. I'd love to use a long-arm machine, but don't own one. I'd love to RENT a long-arm machine, but that's a two hour drive away. So it's time to take matters into my own hands, literally, by going "domestic," as in use my home "domestic" machine. Of course, it has turned into a wrestling match. It didn't look anything like Leah Day, believe me.
Safety-pinned and ready to whirl
I pulled out the quilt I began making for my husband back in 2007. I had it sandwiched and pinned, ready to quilt. My domestic machine does not have its own cabinet, so I use an acrylic table attachment when quilting. It's small. When machine quilting on a domestic machine, it helps to have a level surface to help support the weight and size of the quilt while quilting it. It's ridiculous, but here's what I did:
The QUEEN-SIZE quilt sandwich is on the dining room table. I decided to use the living-room throw pillows to prop the weight of the quilt up to almost the level of the acrylic table attachment. The pillows would also, in theory, be soft on the table surface and slide easily as needed in maneuvering the quilt. Clumsy, but I'm desperate.

The dining room chairs are substantially built, but they're not the right height to wrestle with this monster. Add throw pillows and practically fall off the chair.

Now I have to learn how to work with the speed and rhythm of the machine. Result? Skipped stitches, uneven stitch lengths.

The thread is also important. I used King Tut cotton in the top and The Finishing Touch polyester thread in the bobbin. Result? Broken threads...un-sew...restart...broken threads...repeat. I won't show you THAT ugly photo.

I think the bottom line for quilting on my domestic machine is to use its high speed, which is scary at first, and then the other key is: don't swirl too quickly (skipped stitches, broken threads).

I like swirling, but I think many of my swirls end up looking like velociraptors from the Jurassic Park movie. (Speaking of velociraptors, have you ever noticed that they move around and act distinctly like chickens?? If you're a chicken-lover, you'll notice it!)

I'm not done with this "monster" yet. I've imperfectly completed about a third of it. I figured that it's better to get this done so we can use and celebrate the love we share. Since it's for our use, who cares if it's not perfect?? I won't let the "quilt-police" examine it. And someday, when my children inherit it and realize it's not their style or colors, they can donate it to a quilt museum where the caption will read: "Had this quilter lost her mind??!!"

Thread Painting Experiment

During the local quilt show last week, I attended a presentation about thread painting. Of course I had to go home and try it.
My first attempt: a cup and saucer. I drew a crude picture with a Frixion pen. I used a light stabilizer behind the top fabric (an old cotton sheet) and machine embroidery thread, neither of which were thick enough for this project. I believe she recommended a thread weight of 30, but I currently don't have any. I hooped it on a wooden hand-embroidery hoop.

My second attempt: Thick, wash-away stabilizer, a layer of old cotton sheet sandwiched between the stabilizer and top fabric, raw-edge applique fabric scraps for tree trunk, tree roots and branches and leaves, multiple layers of that machine embroidery thread and varied colors. I used the wooden hand-embroidery hoop again and I suspect that it wasn't tight enough, since the fabric is rumpled or gathered. I might try my machine embroidery hoop next time and purchase some thick thread to try this out in the future.

Linking up with other creative ones like you at:

Sew Fresh Quilts           WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced          Quilting is more fun than Housework

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eye Candy & Inspiration from a local Quilt Show

There's a group of quilters in town, Pioneer Quilters, who have been meeting in a traditional quilting bee-style for 40 years!! They demonstrate how to hand quilt and share the joy of our art and craft. If you hit the hyperlink I've provided, you can see some of their work over the past two years. I have some photos to share from this year's show in Eugene, Oregon (sorry I didn't touch up the photos so that you'd see their actual colors and brilliance):

"She Flies with Fish"

"She Flies With Fish" by Sharon Rogers

A Tribute to Laurel Burch
The show program says the following about this quilt:
"Size: 72" x 72"
This panel runs horizontal instead of vertical, so there was a bit more of a challenge when piecing it. I was inspired by Karla Alexander's book 'Dynamic Quilts with Easy Curves'...If I am not following a pattern, I work from the center out and add blocks, rows and borders according to what I see fits."

"Fireworks in Grandma's Garden"  (great name!)

"Fireworks in Grandma's Garden" by Robin Fouquette
The show program says the following about this quilt:
"Size 62" x 62"
Inspired by Mickey DePres book 'Pieced Hexies'. The quilt is hand-pieced, including the entire background, then machine quilted. After the quilting, pastel chalk was applied and finally Swarovski crystals were added to create the 'fireworks.' Received Honorable Mention at the Denver International Show, 2nd Place at the NW Quilt Expo and 2nd Place Viewers Choice at the Emerald Valley Quilters 2014 Quilt Show."

"Stars Over Marcola"

"Stars Over Marcola" by Diane Scott (Quilted by Lisa B. Wilson)
This clothesline is too cute!! (I still actually use one myself whenever I can.)
I love the detail of this quilt. The church windows look like stained glass.
Program Description:
"Size 63" x 63"
This folk-style quilt depicts life in rural Lane County [Marcola, in her title, is a small community in Lane County]. The structures and stars were created using a paper piecing technique. Rounded trees were made using needle-turn applique, and there are elements of surface embroidery in many details. It was great fun to design and make each of the border scenes. There are over 100 little paper-pieced stars in the background represnting local July constellations. Many of the individual patterns are from the book 'Down in the Valley' by Myra harder and Cori Lee Derksen."
What a masterpiece!!

I'll have another one to share later when I get the details about who made it. You'll love it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bowtie Block Swap & Bloggers Meet-Up

My blocks are very scrappy. They'll be swapped with 11 others, so it will become even MORE scrappy. I randomly laid them out on the floor to photograph. If this were my final quilt top, I'd definitely rearrange the reds and blacks to be more random throughout the top. In the grayscale photo, the darks are perhaps more obvious, a good technique to use when deciding on block/design placement.

Quilting is more fun than Housework   

Meeting another Quilting Blogger: Cynthia Brunz

I'm also looking forward to meeting Cynthia Brunz of Quilting is More Fun Than Housework today at the Pioneer Quilters Show at our local historical museum. She'll be sharing her experience and insights on "Social Networking for the Quilter."        

Linking up with you and others at these other sites as well:

Sew Fresh Quilts

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Something to do...

Visit "Quilter's Bug" this month for more connections, resources, and fun!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015



I recently became involved in an online swap featuring bowtie blocks.
They're quite simple to make. I need to make 88 individual bowtie blocks (measuring about 6.5" each), assemble them into a larger block of four (measuring about 12.5" each), and swap 22 of these big blocks with others. Yikes!

 I've made 65 so far from my fabrics and scraps on hand, which means I currently have about 16 ready to assemble. It's definitely a stash buster!! Just a few more to go!

If you'd like to try this block, you can find the instructions at Quilters Cache.


I purchased fabrics from the Moda line by Kate Spain called "Horizon" (any time her designs come out, it's hard to resist!!) to make the "Leaves" Quilt by Barbara Cherniwchan for Coach House Designs. The moment I saw the pattern and the fabrics, I fell in love!! The leaves are appliqued and there are little appliques on top of each leaf. What a project!
Leaves Quilt Pattern Download
Pattern cover quilt (isn't it lovely??)

Leaves with Leaf bits machine appliqued
I organized the parts into a box a couple of months ago so that I can pull it out and "fuss" with it. I am beginnng to machine applique the bits of appliques on the leaves with invisible thread by Guterman. I tested the thread to make sure it wouldn't melt under the iron first! It's performing fine.

Looking forward to being inspired by YOU as we link up at:

Sew Fresh Quilts                       Quilting is more fun than Housework