Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Machine Quilting Progress

Hello Everyone,
Here are some images of my machine quilting progress on Prairie Flower.

I quilted my way across the top of three borders.

I was glad to finish the first set of borders and then moved on to the setting triangles.  So far I'm sticking with my plan.  You can see my very scrappy back rolled up on the uptake bar.  I only had scraps left from all of the fabrics Marcus Fabrics sent me, so I cut them all up and put them to work on the back.

The Prairie Flower blocks go fairly quickly.  I am also quilting in the center section of the flower to nail that down.

In the comments section, some of you asked some very good questions, and I'll answer them all collectively.  I have a Handi Quilter (HQ 16) which I purchased new in 2006 directly from the manufacturing plant in Salt Lake City. I was in the market for a machine, and HQ fit my price point which was under $10,000.

I signed up for HQ's beginning machine quilting class before I purchased a machine.  I wanted to take the class first to see if I had an aptitude for machine quilting.  With airfare and all it cost me around $1,000 to attend the class.  I figured that was an inexpensive investment to make before I plunked down the big bucks for a machine.

The class was wonderful! Even though I was the only person in the class of 15 who didn't own a machine, the staff made me feel completely comfortable.  Each of us had our own machine to use during the 3-day class.  The instructors were incredible and the food even more incredible.  By day two of the class, I purchased my HQ and I immediately named it Arthur.  As in Arthur Murray.  Because I learned how to dance with my machine.

HQ sent a distributor to my home and completely set up my machine and I was up and running.....and terrified.  I loaded on large pieces of fabric and started practicing.  Our two dogs had the nicest dog beds you've ever seen! 

I really worked at machine quilting for 6 months, then returned to HQ for the Intermediate class. Then I felt confident that I could quilt for others. Would I recommend that....probably not.  It was the hardest job I ever had in my life.  I was so afraid that customers wouldn't like what I quilted, but they loved how I quilted! I did have one problem person who I found out later was never happy with anything.  I was devastated.   What I thought was absolutely stunning, she didn't. (Insert sourpuss face here!)

Sue asked if the machine was easy to maintain.  The answer to that is yes it is.  I oil it and clean out the lint after every two bobbins. I've only had to call for technical support once in 11 years when something got out of whack.  Now I hope I haven't jinxed myself. It is a good, quality machine that doesn't require taking out a second mortgage.  My entire set up at the time was $8,000.  It has paid for itself over and over again.

Have I quilted something and didn't like the results?  Yes to that!  I quilted an entire row of Baptist Fans across a 103" quilt using a groovy board.  What took 20 minutes to quilt, took 8 hours to pick out.  I was not a happy camper. 

I think deciding what to quilt is the hardest thing to figure out.  There are many resources available on line, and you can spend hours scouring Pinterest and the Internet for ideas. If you can't draw it, you can't quilt it.   I repeat, practice drawing first before you begin stitching.

Once I started designing and running the pattern business, I became so busy I only have time to quilt my own things.  Now Arthur collects dust between quilting sessions.  But he's just like an old friend, and we get reacquainted with each new project.

I'm off to the shop today to spend the day with my Sew'n Wild Oaks girls.  I'll spend the day with Arthur tomorrow.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Quilters, Start Your Engines

 Hello Everyone,
The backing is made and now it's time to get Prairie Flower loaded onto the long arm.  I put a roll of film over the blocks, and with a dry erase pen, started drawing what I think I'm going to quilt.

I was going to cross-hatch the beige area in this quilt, but then I remember that cross-hatching would look like horizontal and vertical lines on a block which is set on point.  Back to the drawing board, and I came up with this.

This should make the red squares pop along the outside border.

The outside triangles will look like this. 

The only part of the quilt I actually marked is the black setting squares.  I used a Sewline chalk pen.  It doesn't rub off easily, has a nice sharp point, and I can see it!
So that is my quilting plan.  I may change my mind once I get going if I don't like the look.  It is going to be an intense week of quilting.  Nothing about my long arm is computerized, so I will be driving my machine across the top of the quilt. I had to learn to dance with my machine.  I take the lead and orchestrate the dance.  Hopefully I don't trip over my own two feet!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spoken For Class Was In Session

Hello Everyone,
I taught Spoken For yesterday at In Between Stitches.  The girls dug right in and began making Dresden Plates, incorporating both fans and blades.  Kristi is using Edyta Sitar's new fabric line in her blocks.


Here is a collage of the results from the class.  This in itself would make a beautiful, scrappy quilt.  All different kinds of fabrics are in the collage from Japanese fabrics, to 1930's, to reproduction, to brights.....they ALL work.

Valery started making her 'plates' ahead of time. She is only pulling fabrics from her stash for her quilt.  The blocks are 8-1/2", yet it's amazing how much fabric you use.  The fussy cutting also uses up more fabric.

Here is the beginning of another one that I'm going to make.  The blocks are addicting.  They start out so large, and end up so tiny.  There are a lot of seams, and they have to be a spot on 1/4".

I can't make just one block!


Here's my original Spoken For.  I would like to make another one about 4-times as large as Spoken For #1 to cover a queen sized bed.  I can just picture it......now I need to do it!  If you are interested in the pattern, it is available HERE at In Between Stitches. 

Thank you all for the great day of quilting, chatting and eating!  Now that your templates are made, you are ready to fly through the blocks.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Patchwork Math Was In Session

Hello Everyone,

I've been playing hooky for the past couple of days enjoying the mountains, the extreme weather, and now the crystal blue sky with white puffy clouds. 
Here are a few images from the Patchwork Math class at Quail's Nest Quilt Company in Sonora, CA. Shop owner Susan took pictures for me since I left my camera at home! 
I had the pleasure of spending the day with 12 wonderful ladies.  They were eager learners and I saw many "light bulb" moments in the class.

I use a document camera and projector so everyone can see even if they are sitting at the back of the class.  I present a new technique and formula every hour, then the class makes the component. We covered how you make, and the formulas for, Half Square Triangles eight at a time, Flying Geese, Double Flying Geese, Square in a Square, Quarter Square Triangles, and Square in a Triangle.

Here's the versatile Y-square.  It makes a perfect sashing or border.

Look how Susan changed her Y-squares up to make this combination.

Here they are again in a pinwheel formation.

If you would like to find out how to make a Y-square, click HERE for my post all about Y-squares, calculations, and applications.

I loved spending the day with you girls at "The Nest".

Although it was rainy, windy and thundering outside, it was warm and cozy inside with a lot of good food provided by Susan.

The girls were busy and they worked hard learning and creating.  I know many of them are going to take this class to a higher level, and fly with the formulas and techniques I presented to them in class.

Getting out and meeting quilters is just about one of my favorite passions in life.  You are so interesting and interested.  You are friendly, fun, and I can't thank you, and Quail's Nest Quilt Company enough.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

An Epic Day

Hello Everyone,
Grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy the images, and words chronicling our epic trip to Yosemite yesterday. 
We've been rained in at the cabin forever.  We received over 8" of rain in 2-1/2 days. We've been without power, Internet, phone, and TV sporadically for the past week.  Over the breakfast table yesterday morning, we saw blue sky and made a quick decision to drive to Yosemite.  It didn't start off well.
It snowed over night and then it froze solid.  Mr. Joe drove the car out of the garage and onto our steep driveway so we could load it up with our picnic lunch, snow boots, our Geezer lifetime pass to all National Parks, heavy coats, and Mazey.  When we went to load the car, we went through the garage, but we couldn't get the garage door open.  Well, we quickly discovered the driverless car slid down the driveway and came to rest against the garage door. Not a good angle of repose for a car.  Note to self: Leave car at all time in the garage and not on the slippery slope.
I checked the Yosemite webpage and saw there was basically only one road open to the park.  A normal drive to Yosemite takes about 2-1/2 hours.  Yesterday we had to tack on an additional hour as you can't make good time on the curvy road below from Coulterville to Mariposa.  (It was much nicer coming home in the dark, because I couldn't see the sheer cliffs!)  Tack on another half-hour for darkness on the way home. If I had to rate this road, it would be a 4 Dramamine road for my sister Gail.  I am not prone to hurling, she is.

The reward for our persistence was this view from Inspiration Point.  We were gobsmacked!  I love using that word.

Heavenly views in all directions.

Half Dome covered in snow.

The "spiritualness" of this park is beyond words.  I said a prayer at the chapel for my friend Barbara. Surely God heard me.

We walked to lower Yosemite Falls.  One could hear the roar of the falls from miles away.

Here's a glimpse of upper and lower Yosemite Falls.

There are many elegant bridges in the park dating back to the 1920's.

The absolute highlight of the day was seeing the natural firefall at Horsetail Falls at sunset.  It is just beginning to start with a glow at the bottom of this picture.

Many things have to fall into place in order for this natural phenomena to occur.  There has to be water in the falls, and it has to be clear for the setting sun to hit the falls at just the right angle.  We experienced snow throughout the entire day so you can imagine how thrilled we were when the clouds parted. Over the span of about 10 minutes, we were witnesses to the incredible show of nature.

The amazing glow peaked at this point, about 8 minutes after the first glow began.

Then it slowly changes to a light pink.  We were double gobsmacked.

We were incredibly fortunate to witness this event.  We couldn't stop talking about it on the windy, 4-hour ride home in the dark. 

I'm sitting at the dining room table writing this post, watching a light snowfall, remembering yesterday shared with Mr. Joe, and feeling very blessed.  The car, and the garage door aren't feeling so lucky.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Officially a Flimsy

Hello Everyone,
Prairie Flower is a flimsy!

I must have made it for this bed since it fits perfectly.  Now I wonder what guests are going to be sleeping under her?

I put a flange on most of my quilts.  This one is no exception.  It's all about the details.  Just this little 1/8" of color adds so much to the look of the quilt.

Doesn't the border look like a soft chocolate swirl ice cream cone?

Of course Mazey wanted to get into the picture.  This quilt was too large for the design wall, so it spent a fair bit on time on the floor so I could measure, measure, and measure again while preparing the borders.  I found myself stitching her dog hair into the seams more than once.  I know it was her hair since it is much longer than mine! 

I'm plotting my machine quilting for this one.  I have a good idea what I'm going to do and it is going to be pretty intense, both the quilting and the time involved.  I love to machine quilt when I have the right mind set for creativity.  Since I'm under a deadline, to get this completed and shipped off for a photography session, my mind set had better shape up pronto! 

Many have asked if this is going to be a pattern, and the answer is yes.  I have some of it written already, but that will be my main task in March.  I also have to calculate the fabric requirements which isn't trivial.

I'll work on the backing today as long as the power stays on.  It's coming down in buckets right now and the winds are starting to kick up.  It is pretty amazing to see just how far the pine trees can bend in the wind without snappy like a toothpick.  It is also a little scary. Yet ANOTHER major rain event is hitting California today.  Thousands are on standby evacuation orders as many rivers are spilling over their banks.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Sonora to teach.  You know the phrase, "Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise".  Keep warm and safe today.



Sunday, February 19, 2017

On The Border

Hello Everyone,
Little skinny border.....check ✔
Bigger pieced border....check ✔  

Two more borders and one flange to go to make this quilt perfect for a queen.........sized bed that is!  Normally I would be taking a picture of this outside, but it's been raining constantly and I don't want the quilt to shrink.

Significant amounts of rain and snow are predicted for California over the next few days...YIKES!  I have never seen so many warnings and alerts, from flooding to high winds and blowing snow.  We could be in for a wild night up here in the mountains!



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Just a Tease

Hello Everyone,
Just a tease this morning to give you an idea how the borders are going to look on Prairie Flower.

I got all of the pieced borders together and the little strip of rust sewn on the quilt when the power went out.  Since I couldn't sew, I cut up the remaining fabrics and started working on my pieced backing.

Here is a picture of the pieced corner block that didn't make the cut.  In the grand scheme of the quilt, it just looked funny....almost lost.  Mr. Joe even weighed in on the subject, and he liked the pinwheel block better too.  I really had to sharpen up my math and drafting skills to create this block.  It was a good exercise in futility.

It sounds like I'd better quilt like crazy today.  The atmospheric river or pineapple express is headed our way Sunday night into Monday.  We are going to be pelted again with rain and wind.  I have to get myself over to Sonora on Tuesday to teach a full Patchwork Math at Quail's Next Quilt Company.  I may have to break out the kayak and paddle.
If you don't hear from me in a few days, I'm probably relaxing on the couch and reading during a power outage.  Or I'm taking Mazey for a walk in the rain and wind.  She's just like a little kid and loves to play in the puddles.  Whatever you do, I hope you have a great weekend.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Machine Quilting Suggestion

Hello Everyone,
No, we didn't get another Golden....but we've thought about it.  This just happens to be my favorite picture of Mazey.  So why show you this? 

Well, I'll tell you.  Suzanne brought her beautiful quilt into the shop and asked me for my suggestions on how to quilt it.

I thought about this quilt below, and suggested this overall machine quilting design.

Here is a great picture where you can see the quilting on the back.  The rotating wavy lines make an excellent overall pattern which can be easily achieved on a domestic sewing machine.  This is much denser than an overall pantograph.  Each block of quilting covers four pieced blocks.

You can tell in this picture how the quilting transitions from one set of four blocks to another set of four.  This is great way to quilt a 'busy' quilt.

I'm still working on borders for Prairie Flower.  Hopefully I'll have something to show you tomorrow. I spent a very frustrating day yesterday on the corner blocks.  I got out my drafting paper, EQ7 software and scrapped the whole idea about 8pm. I tried, really tried, and I'll show you my rejected blocks tomorrow. I'll look at it with fresh eyes this morning.