Friday, January 31, 2014

Diary of a Long Arm: Week 3 - Flowing Feathers

I have been finding feathers really hard on the longarm. I wanted to practice them. I still have my peacock that started my progression in feathers on my domestic machine. I decided to add some fabric to the peacock and just quilt feathers - all sorts of different feathers. Why not have both my first feather practice pieces together?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Candy Free Valentine Idea: Flower seeds

We can't seem to leave the idea of flowers behind for Valentines Day. This year our little Valentine tokens are again candy free.

We made little sacks out of burlap, tied at the top with red ribbon. The sacks are made from some burlap scraps I had - sewn together with a simple red zigzag stitch. They were very very easy and quick to make.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Diary of a Long Arm: End of Week 2

People give me all sorts of materials - all sorts of clothing, fabric (cotton, upholstery, antique.) Sometimes this fabric sits there for years before I find a good purpose for it. A friend of mine gave me this cotton/linen/canvas type material which has some really pretty flowers embroidered on the top. After I had washed the fabric it felt really nice. I put in a double layer of cotton batting and quilted along the embroidered pattern on Freddie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Bear Paw Shirt Quilt

When I was first given the materials for this quilt I was a little scared. I had no idea how to make this pile of shirts into a beautiful quilt for the family.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: Day 6-8

I have loaded the memorial quilt that I have been avoiding to quilt so long on Bernie. Loading on a longarm really is so easy and the lack of 505 spray & endless smoothing while on my knees made me feel like there is hope in this purchase.

For this quilt I was using ladies shirts. All sorts of different patterns & materials. The family wanted to use the quilt in their house in Vermont - so we agreed on the traditional Bear Paw pattern.

Monday, January 20, 2014

WIP: Kids Painted Quilt - Spin Art

A good friend of mine gave her kids these really cool Spin Art Centers for Christmas. Of course knowing my love of turning any kids art project into a quilting challenge she invited me and some of my fabric over to play. We did try using a salad spinner as well - but the salad spinner did work as well as these little machines - perhaps because with the salad spinner you add the paint before you spin - as with these machines you add the paint while they spin.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: Day 4

I have loaded a practice piece of material onto the now named Freddie (imaginative no?) This is a piece of material I had found to practice my free motion quilting skills back in August. It is a colorful hexagon print by Michael Miller.

Here is a rare picture of me - concentrating hard. 

For perfectly straight lines on a longarm you can use a ruler - almost genius.

I'm trying to follow the shapes & patterns somewhat but dismally failing. I hope by the time I have finished the 'quilt' I will have made friends with Freddie a little bit more.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: Day 3

For some reason I'm finding leaves, strawberries and a potential sunflower relatively easy.

Swirls & curves are still alluding me. I'm frustrated and I'm largely doing anything but play on the new machine.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: Day 2

I have purchased a great fun book Doodle Quilting by Cheryl Malkowski. I'm systematically going through the exercises and patterns. I would recommend this book to anyone who is learning to free motion quilt (longarm or domestic) - the simple exercises like molar teeth then get turned into flowers and ferns ... that will make sense if you get the book.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Diary of a Longarm: Day 1

It has arrived. It is ridiculously massive. Stupidly I thought my transition could be relatively easy - it seems so much harder.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Longing for a Longarm

My debate over buying a new machine has lasted many many months. I've gone through every option - another domestic machine with a bigger throat, a quilting frame for a domestic machine & longarms - sitdown & frame. For a long time I thought I would get the sitdown version of the Handiquilters sweet sixteen - but something - and I don't know what - held me back from taking the decision. I spoke to everyone I could - owners, dealers, quilters. After much much debate & research - and driving everyone around me mad - I decided on a Handiquilter Fusion. This is truly a massive beast. It will take up most of our bedroom and eventually it will be moved into our basement.

There was a couple of things that made me finally decide on this chap:
  • Cost - Handiquilter have the most reasonably priced longarms on the market that I could find. 
  • Stitch regulation (or not - you can turn it off)  - the stitch regulation works like a dream - it doesn't even compare to my BSR foot.
  • 24" throat - which only gives you a 20" working space - the Avante only has a 15" workspace and I wanted to ensure I had the most space I could possibly afford.  

I do love Bernie and I feel very guilty about this purchase - I hope he knows how much I love him - that I will never leave him - and I hope hone my FMQ skills on him some more. As soon as I made the decision I felt sure it was the right one - but I was also nervous of the step I was taking - a massive step for me personally - committing fully to this free motion quilting game.

I have had a memorial quilt folded up & waiting to be quilted for some time now. I was just dreading quilting the size of the quilt (Queen) under Bernie - I feel like I'm fighting these quilts. I know that my free motion skills are improving but the whole dragging, pushing etc defeats my energy supplies and will to quilt before I even sit down. I also want to make many more of these memorial quilts for families and for me to do that the quilting process will sometimes have to be quicker.

Wish me luck - I'm totally intimidated. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Union Jack Patchwork Quilt

This was a custom quilt that I made for a family for Christmas. The wife had seen my Union Jack Recycled Sweater Quilt and wanted a Union Jack Quilt - perfect sofa size for her husband - who was British too.

I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed quilting this quilt because I'm usually really nervous about starting the quilting process of a quilt - but all that practice must be paying off as I'm really pleased with this quilt - as is the receiving family.

The red squares are quilted using a design I first saw on Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project - she calls the design Pearled Feather

Sticking with Leah's site to describe the other parts of the quilt design. The white portions of the quilt are quilted in Echo Shell - but I used 5 echos on each shell.

The red diagonals are sort of like a mussel shell

The blue squares are quilted in a spiral that I honed from Angela Walters class on craftsy.

The quilt measured approx 92" x 52". It might be the last large quilt I quilt on Bernie (sssh don't tell him.) I felt pleased with the result.

Technical Info:
Batting: Supreme Loft Quilters Dream Cotton Batting
Backing Fabric: Wide Flannel Quilt Backing Leaf Black
Top: Blue Fabrics: Bumper 2 Bumper Tonal Dot Dark Blue, Peanuts Hugs for Heroes Netting Navy, Timeless Treasures Sketch Navy, Kona Dimensions Honeycomb Navy. Red Fabric: Christmas Peace Paisley Red, Timeless Treasures Soho Solid Broadcloth Cranberry, Moda Weave Texture Country Red, White Fabric: Various white on white fabrics from stash.
Border & Binding: Timeless Treasures Soho Solid Broadcloth Cranberry
Thread: Aurifil Quilting Thread 50 wt Dark Navy, Natural White, Carmine Red & Sulky® Clear Premier Invisible Thread in bobbin

Friday, January 3, 2014

Practice Placemats - Free Motion Feathers

I am not very good at just 'practicing' there has to be a result or product at the end of it. Perhaps this is why my French Horn and Piano career never took off!

With Christmas soon upon us I decided that I could use up some fabric and make some placemats - improving my free motion quilting as I went. My idea was to choose a theme (feathers and leaves) and make 6 placemats. Here they are:

This design is based off of Leah Day's Feather Leaves. Mine doesn't seem to look anything like her's but I like it none the less.

This design I would call a traveling feather design. Again referencing Leah's website you could use the same approach as she demonstrates in Swirling Feathers. However I did not do such tight curves as she uses in this demonstration.

Again inspiration from Leah's site - Flowing Leaves

This one is a mix between Leah's Pearled Feather and a Feather design on Page 55 of Doodle Quilting.

This one is a plain leaf inside with feathers on the outer edge of the leaf.

Then a traveling leaf/vine with one echo around each design.

Here are the placemats all together. They were a cute addition to the families Secret Santa game.