Recently Dione from Clever Chameleon stepped outside her comfort zone and tried a new quilting technique. The result, a beautiful applique quilt. I could tell you about it but I’ll let you read first hand here. After watching her progress and seeing her finished quilt I was more inspired than I had been in a long time.
Then I read Karen’s post at Tu-Na Quilts, you can see it here.. There I found the cutest hedgehog applique block for the new “Fall Into a QAL. The block was designed by Vanda at Quilting with Vanda. You can read the rules to the QAL on Karen or Vanda’s blog.
So here I am, truly inspired by Dione and this cute little guy.
I have stepped out of my comfort zone and joined in my first QAL. But I have to rethink invisible thread and straight stitching around the patches. With white thread the stitches would have been visible and straight unlike they are now. Hopefully after its quilted its appearance will improve. Or perhaps I will make another.
For this block I did turn my seam allowance then ran a straight stitch around the pieces. My options were limited here since my machine is a straight stitch. I do have 2 machines capable of decorative stitches but one isn’t very reliable and retired. The other, the bobbin stops spinning after about 3″ of stitches. Yeah, I think I will play with this block a little more.
We are just days away from the Wish Upon A Star Blog Hop being hosted by Carol at Just Let Me Quilt. Mark your calendars, set reminders on your cell phone apps, or whatever it is you do to help you remember events.
The last blog hop hosted by Carol in which I participated was the Virtual Cookie Exchange. It featured cookie and candy recipes, most memorable Christmas stories, free patterns and other giveaways. There we so many delicious sweets shared that I will never find the time to make them all and quilt. Priorities prevail and there are fewer calories in quilting. It didn’t stop me from saving them for a rainy day though.
For that blog hop I shared my North Star, a free paper pieced pattern. A block that is a constant reminder to me that you should never remove papers from a block before it is completed. It’s a lonely block hanging above my piecing table.
The Wish Upon a Star blog hop will surely feature many free goodies and eye candy (no calories) from 44 bloggers. I wish I could share with you what each blog will feature but unfortunately I don’t know myself. One thing I can share, I’ll be giving away 2 pdf quilt patterns . To enter, come back on my day which is May 25th and leave a comment. That’s it! You can still leave a comment if you don’t wish to enter. Winners will be announced on May 26th by email.
Oh yes, you can visit Just Let Me Quilt May 21st for a link list of bloggers Good luck and hope to see you May 25th.
Pattern testers wanted for new pattern. See post here.
Mosaic QAL month 4 is here. You are getting so close to completing this quilt. I cant wait for you to share photos of your completed top .
This month you will be making the inside border. All 24 blocks are identical, the 4 corner blocks are also identical. If you are following a color scheme I suggest you lay the templates on the floor prior to piecing. Mark them with notes to yourself.
For my geese border I chose to alternate the fabrics. For my sashing on these templates I decided to go with a dark blue fabric.
Cut 24 strips 2″ x 18″.
Geese sky fabric
Continue cutting 2″ strips as needed.
Cut 24 strips 2″ x 9″
These strips will form the border around the everything we have pieced to this point.
Cut 8 strips 2″ x 5″
These will be used for the corner templates
Joining the blocks from Feb-April
Join your blocks in 3 rows of 3, as shown in the diagram. But do not join the rows together.
Next join 6 of your geese border templates without the corners. Stitch this strip to the top row. Piecing diagram
Join 6 more geese templates and join to the bottom row.
Now you may join your 3 rows. It just makes handling easier.
Finally, make 2 more strips of 6 flying geese border templates to form the sides. Attach the corners.
Join the sides.
Find the center of your block strips and flying geese border strips. Use your preferred method to mark the centers. I prefer to use a dab of glue to baste the 2 together but you can use a pin if you prefer. After basting the centers together line up your corners, baste or pin. Line up seams between the pins, use pins or glue baste. Stitch.
When I made this quilt I never expected the feedback that I have received. From the first day I posted it online, then again when I started For The Love of Geese quilters have asked the same question, “Do you have a pattern. who designed the quilt?”
This is the first quilt I designed and the medallion is my own. In fact, this was the first block I ever created. There are no Y seams and the most important to me, no curved piecing. Some people are curved piecing challenged and I am one of them. Maybe I haven’t given it a chance? I have made a few and the tops laid just okay. There were no real issues when I quilted them. But I was convinced there had to be an easier way.
With medallion pattern in hand I then chose my favorite quilt blocks and drew up templates. The hst’s I made using a template from Generations Quilt Patterns. The flying geese are both paper pieced and 3d. The pinwheels are also 3d blocks, sorry I don’t remember the site I picked that pattern up.
So, I was asked again this week if I have a pattern. Like I said, I had no idea I would be overwhelmed with the question over and over. So, I decided to look for my designs and put a pattern together. With a twist.
In my original design I used 3d pinwheel and 3d flying geese. In the new pattern I do offer that suggestion but do not offer instructions for making them. I do hope to find the tutorials I used and supply links. There will be paper templates for these blocks.
The finished quilt will be roughly 82″ x 90″. I am presently working on a decipherable pattern. One would never be able to read my original notes and make any sense out of them.
After successfully completing this quilt I gained confidence. Which led to me designing For The Love of Geese.
Do you have free time? In between projects ? Could you start on it right away? Can you share positive and negative feedback to me with honesty? If so…then send me a message or add a comment to the bottom of this post and tell me so. In exchange I will offer you free of charge my Nostalgia Twist pattern free of charge to test.
Looking for suggestions for an ongoing project
Do you have tried and true tricks when quilting a top on frame? What about tools and gadgets that make your job easier? How about tips for beginner longarm quilters? See my post here to get an idea of what I am looking for. Thoughts and suggestions are appreciated and will be shared in a single post.
Do you have tried and true tips for long arm quilting? Trinkets and gadgets that make things come together? My current project is collecting items to put in one post as a reference for myself and other new quilters.
My experience with hand guided long arm quilting
If you are new to long arm quilting I would love to hear about your experiences and any tips you may have. Perhaps you are considering the purchase of a long arm but aren’t sure where to begin.
My search began after I purchased a Juki TL2010. My old Singer Slant O Matic was having fewer good days than bad and it was time for an upgrade. I was overwhelmed with all the choices on the market today and frankly the bells and whistles on new models confused me. Once I considered what was important to me the list was narrowed down to just a few machines. After all, I just needed a reliable straight stitch machine.
Write down your must have’s in a machine. Long arm or domestic.
Decide on your price. Many websites will let you search in a price range.
Once you have narrowed your choices by using the 2 previous suggestions, find reviews on the remaining machines.
Find a reliable dealer
While researching the Juki and reading reviews I was sold. It’s a straight stitch only but the biggest selling point, reviews claiming its use on a quilt frame. I could then purchase a frame and save myself hundreds of dollars a year on my quilting bill. Which I did and all was well. Except with the 9″ throat it doesn’t leave much work space when quilting a large top. Otherwise, the setup was perfect and I would recommend the Juki TL2010 paired with a quilt frame without hesitation.
After I recovered from this purchase I decided that what I needed was a 16″ or larger long arm. WOW, I choked when I saw the prices. There was no way I could sell the idea of paying more for a sewing machine than my new car to my dh. This guy puts up with and agrees to a lot of hair brained ideas from me and rarely tells me no, but this was totally out of the ball park.
What not to get
Read reviews, many reviews. Be warned, if it sounds too good to be true, “it is”. Not knowing much I purchased a machine made by a no name company with horrible reviews. Made in the USA, they are very proud of this. They even think “they” revolutionized the quilting industry by making a frame we could use our domestic machines on. Sellers can claim anything they like, true or not. Consumers can post horrible reviews and we usually don’t share our experiences unless it’s a negative review. With this in mind, weight the good against the bad. Follow your gut.
Turns out all the reviews were accurate for this no name company. They offer no service after the sell, mismatched parts, well a Frankenstein. After struggling with this machine I was able to get average results with it in the end. I’m going to end this with, “the machine performed better when I sold it then it did when I purchased it”.
A local quilter was selling her 20 yo Gammill Premier and frame. My dh, oh yes I love this guy. I advertised and sold my current long arm and purchased this beast. The 12′ Gammill frame, we had to bring it in through the window, lol. That night I was quilting. It was like going from an old beater of a car to Rolls Royce. It is hand guided and does not boast all the extra bells and whistles. But I do have a panto table and laser if I ever decide to use that. Baby steps though.
In the 2 years since the first long arm I have watched A LOT of online videos and read many posts. I can now make simple adjustments and maintain my own machine. So what works for me? Below are items I use to make my quilting more enjoyable.
These are great. I didn’t think I would actually like them but as long as the leaders remain straight they are wonderful. You just have to pay attention to the zipper direction when stitching your backing to the leaders.
This is what I prefer to use for loading my backing. You can purchase rare earth magnets from Harbor Freight. They are a couple bucks for 10 magnets. They are easy dropped when removing your top from the frame. They bounce like a super ball and quickly attach to anything metal. Easy lost and they shatter too. If you notice a chip throw it away. I keep a couple extra bottles of them on hand at all times.
Knife and tool magnet bars, also from Harbor Freight. They are 18″ long and have pre-drilled holes where I attached a porcelain knob for easy removal from the bars. You could use these to load your quilt but you would need enough to go all the way across the top and bottom of your backing. Otherwise your backing may be wavy. If I am floating my top I will lay these on my belly bar to stabilize the top. But mostly I use these to hold my leaders in place when I’m not using my frame. I have also used their weight to add a little tension here or there on the top instead of rice bag or canned good. These were beneficial when I quilted a top for my sister recently, photos here.
Magnet trays are great too which I also purchased at Harbor Freight.
UPDATE : I purchased these long arm tension clamps at Quilters Apothecary. These are handy. I cant tell you what their technical name is or where I purchased these. You can use them on the belly bar when floating a top or use them on your leader ends to keep them from flopping as you advance your quilt. They are thin and your leader wraps around them smoothly. You could also use these to keep your leaders in place when not using your frame.
Heard about red snappers?
These are obviously NOT red snappers. There are videos on youtube regarding the use of red snappers but I found them to be too expensive just to try. An alternative to these, clip-n-seal bag clips. I purchased mine on Amazon (link takes to you the clips with great photos) in the 36″ length and believe there were 10 sets per package. They are easily cut to length with a sharp knife. While I did not like them for loading my quilt because I didn’t get a smooth even result, I do like them for my side tension. And also in the kitchen for sealing frozen veggie bags and chips.
For side tension, I cut the inside (round piece) to 16″ and ran a piece of heavy twine through it. Tied the ends into a knot and pulled that knot inside the tubing. The outside C shaped piece I cut to 15″. I attach the clips to the sides of my backing and batting and attach clamp from my frame to the string.
If your leaders already have a pocket stitched in them these would be great. They are a pocket book friendly alternative.
Well rulers, I am just beginning my journey with these. So far it’s not been great. It is however what prompted this post. In all the videos I have watched and tips/tricks I have read online no one mentioned sliding rulers.
Half way through my current top a light went off. Up until that point I wondered how other quilters kept these pesky things from sliding. If your machine is hand guided you already know you need both hands to steer. Add a ruler to the mix and you are 2 hands short.
With a hand guided machine you are already at a disadvantage because you are controlling the speed, direction and you add a ruler… Honestly though, I love this machine and it is the best for me. The only thing I wish it was equipped with is speed control. Like a thumb throttle on a motorcycle. Reaching up to adjust the speed while quilting is adding to the need of an additional hand.
Sorry, got side tracked. True grips, the reason for the expanded post. Oh Lord did they ever make a difference in my ruler work. My lines are so much nicer. Well, except when my right hand wants to do what my left hand is doing. Its much like driving a car, you look over your left shoulder and your steering wheel goes right. If you use any kind of grippers on your cutting rulers give them a try on your quilting ruler. You wont be disappointed. I just cant believe no one ever mentioned this in an article or quilting video. Perhaps they thought it was a given.
Sandie says: My favourite grip for rulers is Handi Grip by Handi Quilter. 10 strips in a pkg for $10.
I teach rulerwork and recommend this to all my students. Available at quilt shows, from Handi Quilter dealers and amazon.com
Barbara says: I seem to have the most luck with sand paper grips (you can make your own with sticky backed sand paper – probably available at Harbor Freight). But when I REALLY need a sticky ruler, I spray the back with temporary adhesive.
If you have any tips, tricks or alternatives for quilters I would love to hear and share them in this post. It would be awesome to list tried and true items for new and experienced quilters to view in one spot.
Churn dash top is complete. While I do and have always loved this block I wont be in a hurry to make another one. Related post can be found here.
The two scrap quilts did put a dent in my left over fabric and scratch off 2 of my bucket list items. With the hexie quilt ( download templates from pattern page) I was able to use all of the batik strips left over from my For the love of geese quilt. With the churn dash I used 19 fat quarters from a large pile left from my Mosaic quilt. There’s still a pile staring at me and I now have 4 more blocks added to the orphan pile.
When I started the churn dash top it was my intention to make a 7sq x 8sq top. However due to my miscalculation I ended up with 54 blocks instead of 56. I am over making these blocks so the top is 7sq x 7sq. Now I am on the lookout for a design to finish up the fat quarters.
My yearly goal was to quilt the 4 tops in my tote that have been waiting for 1-2 years. Two have been finished, one is currently on the frame and there is one left in the tote. Its not alone though with the addition of the 2 scrap quilts.
My quilt bucket list is getting shorter. The completion of the (non traditional) Hexie quilt top inspired me to move down my list. It’s really a short list and consists of 3 itmes.
In reality I was able to accomplish 2 things with the Hexie (pattern here)quilt. Mark the quilt off my list and use remaining jelly roll strips from a previous project. This inspired me to move on to my next bucket list item, a Churn Dash quilt.
Though I cant say why I have never pieced even a single Churn Dash block, I do love them. So Friday night I pulled all my fat quarters left from the Mosaic quilt. Once I decided on my block dims and patch sizes I pulled 19 fat quarters from the pile. From a fat quarter I can get three 12″ finished blocks. And of course my favorite muslin for the background fabric.
All fabric was cut to 5″ squares. You need 4 colored patches and 5 background patches for each finished block. Then I paired each colored square with a muslin square. made my hst by drawing a diagonal line from corner to corner, stitched 1/4″ on both sides of the line and cut down the middle making 2 hst. Do this 2 times. Right sides together of course. For the bar between the hst, I stitched a 1/4″ seam down the sides and cut the block down the middle at 2 1/2″making 2 blocks. Do this 2 times. Easy peasy, why hadn’t I made these before?
After doing all my cutting Saturday I was able to make 6 blocks. Yesterday I completed 17 more. The plan is to make a 7 across by 8 down top though this may change. There is still a pile of the fat quarters that I can use on yet another project or add additional blocks/borders to this one/
Lighting and my sewing room
OMG I have been missing out. If you aren’t aware, I live in an earth home. The front wall of my home is exposed, the sides and back are below grade. That means any room in the rear of the home has no windows so lighting is a struggle. Guess where my sewing room is?
Over the years I have tried different lighting options. These are what I have settled with over the last couple years:
LED’s in the ceiling light
Halogen floor lamp (which really throws bright light and heat)
LED clip on light
An additional LED floor lamp that I drag around my room when and where needed.
Like most of you (I’m certain) it has taken me a while to finally setup my 10′ x 10″ sewing room to be comfortable. Function hasn’t been as big an issue as much as feeling cluttered with different layouts. Because of my limited space large pieces of functional furniture is out of the question. Then there are items like…my mother in laws sewing cabinet that I really like but my machine doesn’t fit it, an oak table from the late 1800’s that my husbands great grandpa made and my son’s Radio Flyer wagon. These things I have put to use making my work areas.
For the last year I have been comfortable in my current setup so I decided it was time yet again to try other non expensive lighting options. For $25 each I purchase two 4′ 4500 lumens LED shop lights. My dh placed one over my piecing table and one over my cutting/ironing table. Girl let me tell you, “I am in heaven”. I’d show you photos but now that I can see it appears my room is a little past due on a paint job.
If you struggle with lighting or lack thereof you may wish to try these. They do not throw light horizontally. Meaning I have a dark corner in the room. However each shop light provides more than enough light to the areas they are placed over.
Last night I finished putting this together. Do I add an outside border or no? When I started this hexie quilt it was to use up scrap batiks that I had on hand. If you haven’t been following my progress here is a recap.
I don’t hand piece but have always wanted to make a hexie quilt. With a pile of batik strips left from previous projects in hand I sketched a few templates on paper. Some didn’t make sense but I finally decided on the finished 1.75″ x 2″ blocks and 1″ x 1.75″ half blocks. You can find the free templates on my pattern page.
It sure took a lot of hexies to complete the inside 39″ x 45.5″ section. 482 whole hexie blocks and 24 half hexies containing 2,482 pieces of fabric. Then there are the outside hexies. Even though there are so many repeating blocks with small pieces I had so much fun piecing this and it went together better than I expected. I did have to change my routine and use pins instead of glue basting. Pins were the only way to line up the blocks accurately.
Each hexie took 3 minutes to complete and I started piecing this around March 16th. As it lays now the top is 56″ x 64″. It doesn’t need to be larger as a sofa quilt but I think it does need an outside border. The problem, I ran out of batiks because I don’t keep a large stash. Actually I don’t keep a stash at all. The chances of finding a match locally that blends well will be almost impossible.
While needing more for the outside border is my present concern there were other issues. Look at the 2 bottom rows of hexie’s, they are not offset. I mis-calculated the whole and half blocks. Regardless I love this top. After reversing the color for the border blocks I wish I had used muslin for the hexie shapes and colored fabric for the block corners.
I’m off to a new scrap project now. There is a large pile of fat quarters left of from the Mosaic quilt. Stay tuned for what I decide to do with those.
Would you like to see what others are working on or have finished?
My hexie quilt is almost finished. For the center, all 482 whole blocks and 24 half blocks are completed. The photo shows just the center which measures 39″ x 45.5″. This would be an ideal size for a baby quilt but I am planning on retiring the current quilts draping my sofa. A little splash of color to my earth tones living room will hopefully liven things up.
How many pieces of fabric are in this quilt? I’ve done the math, so far there are 2,482 pcs of fabric. To this section I will be adding a border then 2 rows of blocks around the outside. Actually a block and a half to the sides and 2 rows to the top and bottom. From there I am not sure. The only thing I can say for sure, “I have used up all of my scrap fabrics in this fabric line”. This is good for my lack of storage space but doesn’t leave any room for error as you will see in upcoming photos.
I’ve been thinking about quilting this top and the only thing that makes sense is straight line quilting. Cross hatching to be precise. Years ago when I made quilted jackets I would always do cross hatching and I loved it. Since I have had my long arm though I’ve not done much and definitely not this large of scale. It will be a little tricky since my machine is hand guided but I do have a gam-guide to assist. If you don’t know what a gam-guide is stay tuned and I will post a photo when I have the quilt loaded on the frame.
For a free download of my paper pieced (not epp) hexie templates click over to my pattern page. As always, if you make something with my pattern I would love to see photos.
We all deserve a little break from the Mosaic QAL. I am certain you will be relieved to hear this is the only block we will be making this month. If you have fallen behind on the previous 8 blocks you will have a chance to catch up.
Fabric for geese, background/sky fabric and sashing: Use any remaining strips you have left from last month first. Cut no more than necessary to complete this block.
Fabric for the inside star.
For the very center of the star (A4 of template) cut one 4″ x 4″ square.
For the four corners of the star (B1, B5, D1 & D5 on templates) cut four 3″ x 3″ squares or a 3″ strip.
For the star points (A2, A3, B2, B4, C2, C3, D2, D4 on templates) cut a strip 3″ or 3 1/2″ strip, depending on your comfort level.
For the inside star points (A1, B3, C1, D3 on templates) cut four squares 3″ x 4″
Continue piecing the geese templates as you have the previous months. This should clean up many of the remaining strips.
Will you be following the same color scheme for the outside geese border in May? Maybe change the sashing color on the border templates? This is the reason behind cutting the strips as needed for the March and April blocks.
After completing this block you may wish to go ahead and sew your 9 blocks together. That’s okay (see photo below for block placement). Next month we will be piecing the flying geese border. At that time I recommend attaching the flying geese strips to the top and bottom rows. Then joining your rows. Either will accomplish the same.
Thoughts and tips
I have been paper piecing with strips for a while now. From my 2″ x 18″ strips I can get 9 colored geese shapes covered. There is very little trimmed off at the 1/4″ seam. The end of my strip after piecing the 9 geese is the size of one of the sky patches. Think about what you would have left if you precut your geese fabric to, for instance 2″ x 3″. Once you stitch that patch on and trim both seam allowances you have 2 nice triangles. Do that 9 times then lay those triangle in front of you to form squares. They add up.
The other option is to precut your geese fabric into triangles. Of course you want them large enough in case you don’t have it perfectly centered when you stitch. There is nothing worse than removing stitches because your patch doesn’t cover the entire triangle. Or it’s lop sided, you end up with more than enough seam allowance on one side but not the other. If that’s not bad enough, what if you precut and discover you have cut too small or large? Either way you have wasted a lot of fabric. Once you have mastered placement and angle of your fabric strips piecing with strips is more economical. That is, if you don’t cut too many strips to begin with.
Another idea to keep in mind if you find pp with strips helpful and timesaving. We all have scraps, some more than others. Print an extra template and use the scraps in different widths to determine the size that works best for you. They don’t have to be cut to exact lengths and widths but they do have to cover the shape on the template. Paper piecing with strips pictorial