Talk to quilters and each will have their favorite quilting task. Some enjoy the planning with fabric shopping. Others really like cutting all of the fabric and laying out for sewing. Piecing is probably the big winner among quilters as their most enjoyable thing. A rare few I have spoken to really love binding their quilt. Most have mentioned to me that they finish their binding by hand after attaching with a sewing machine. In classes I have attended, there are usually quilts on display and I always turn the edge to look at the binding. How was it finished? Did they do it by machine and if so, what is their secret to even binding and stitches? That is the million dollar question because every machine is different just like every quilter. I have even had teachers refuse to answer because it is their trade secret and part of classes they offer. I can't blame them because it is how they earn their living. Even so, this method isn't something I have ever seen so maybe you haven't either and it will be that magic process for you.
I have been on a continuous search for a better machine, a better binding foot, better clips, pins, glue, pressing etc... I think I have watched every binding tutorial and read magazine, blog and web articles looking for some way to get consistent results. Results that look as beautiful as the piecing I work so hard to make match and meet. I think that is why quilters dislike binding so much. We have worked and sweated on the pieced top and to get a mediocre end binding result with a machine infuriates us. Maybe you want a quick binding method with a machine because hand sewing isn't your forte. I think I might have stumbled upon a great method just from trying literally every sewing foot out there for my machine. I have done sewing tests, made samples with other methods; and to date, this one is the most consistent.
Meet the blind hem foot. This is an unconventional foot to use for binding but it gives great results because of the center flange. It will ride the left side of the binding and if your needle placement is moved to the right side of the flange, you will be able to get a consistent stitch line.
Your machine may not come with a foot like this. I have a Baby Lock and a Brother so the foot will fit both of them. It is a snap on and you might be able to purchase an adapter to fit your machine. Please do your research before you try this or damage your machine. Every manufacturer should have some kind of blind hem foot. Your results might be slightly different from mine, but you can practice and make changes until you get your best results. If you will notice, the flange has a small indentation. That area has a spring movement that allows the fabric to ride along the flange and then as it gets to the indentation, the edge will slightly fold upwards. If your needle is in the crease of the fold, it will land a stitch exactly inside.
A very important measurement to look for is the needle width or position. Every machine is different and older ones might not be able to articulate side to side. If yours will, try to use a 5.5 millimeter width. That seems to be where my fabric makes that tiny fold against the blind hem foot flange.
Here are the other tools you will need. A 1/4 inch foot. I like one with a flange. I use this to sew the quilt binding to the BACK of the quilt. Two binding Wonder clips are all you need. Make sure they measure 1/2 inch from the hinge of the clip to the end. You will use these to fold and "measure" your binding fabric as you move along the quilt edge. I also usually keep a bamboo skewer handy to help manipulate the fabric.
Here is your placement of the blind hem foot. The flange rides the left side of the binding. The needle is in the 5.5 mm width setting to the right of the flange. The binder clip has 1/2 inch width of binding folded into the hinge area. Adjust the fabric width as you sew. Move the binding clip about 6 inches in front of you as you sew. That is plenty of fabric to manage. If the binding width needs to be adjusted, do it as you go along. Working in short bursts or length like this will allow you to avoid having to pin or glue the entire binding edge before sewing. I have done both and never got excellent results.
When you get to a corner, use the second clip to hold the bottom fabric width to maintain the 1/2 inch. Sew until the needle catches the binding at the turn. You will probably have to backtrack a couple of stitches when your turn that angle to get the flange along the next run of binding.
Here is the quilt after the turn. You can see the binding clip placement. It needs to be moved about 6 inches forward to continue sewing.
Taking your time will ensure straight even stitches. You will see this stitch line on the reverse side. That is why a matching bobbin to the back fabric is a good idea.
The stitches on the back are slightly visible. Gone are the days of trying to land in the ditch for me. I am more interested in having a binding that will withstand washing and drying because we use our quilts. If it needs to be show quality, I will finish them by hand. Remember, it's your quilt. I didn't see the quilting police sweating with me while I sewed this together. No comments allowed except compliments!
So pretty don't you think? Have you been inspired to try this method of machine binding? Would you like to see it in action? I have a YouTube video you can watch below with lots of detail. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
This summer has been quite busy. I have several projects I am working on around my house and fitting sewing in has been a challenge. When I found out that Lori Holt from Bee In My Bonnet was doing this Bee Vintage Sew Along, I really liked the quilt, but I literally had one day to prepare before it began. There were several things I couldn't get my hands on like her interfacing and ruler to trim the blocks. I also didn't have time to shop for fabric so using my stash was my best option. The bonus is I saved money and freed up some space in my studio.
The quilt sew along guide is free to download from her webpage and Lori does an introductory video on her YouTube channel to start the quilt. Then you follow the schedule in the guide and read her blog on the scheduled sew days. She goes through each block with techniques and tips. This was the first time I have done one of her sew-alongs and to be honest, I was always a little confused when I watched videos because it seemed like there was a lot of information to keep up with. Other bloggers and YouTube channels show their way of keeping up with the simple shapes that you use to create the applique blocks. There are binders you can purchase that Lori Holt has designed specifically for that purpose. You can also buy several cute tools that are color coordinated. In other words, there can be a lot to keep up with, but if you have the sew along guide and her simple shapes, you can make this quilt. Now that I have finished one, I am confident I could do another
Lori's Blog Page And Simple Shapes
If you have never done applique before, this quilt will certainly make you decide if you love it or not. By the time you are finished you will have worked with many different size applique pieces. The basic premise is you trace the simple shape onto a piece of lightweight interfacing. Then you layer that interfacing on top of the chosen fabric and sew along the traced line. A small cut in the interfacing allows you to turn the shapes so the edges are not raw. Then you sew the shapes to a blank block of background fabric. My best tip is to keep a turning tool close by. Some of the small shapes are a little finicky and I did have to use a pair of locking clamp pliers to assist.
The sewing guide will also show you all of the fabric quantities and colors you need to purchase or find in your stash. At first it looks confusing because there are a lot of different fabrics. I didn't cut or organize my fabrics at all. In fact I just had them in stacks and each sew day, I found the block to work on and pulled fabric out of my stash. It was very unplanned so I felt like I had a little more creative thought as the quilt went together.
Here is my stash of fabric and my clear project box where I stored finished blocks.
Here are the completed applique blocks in order of the schedule starting with the Vintage Strawberry. They get a little more complicated as you go further along. Some of the blocks had hand embroidery on them. I used my digitizing software and machine embroidered those like the antenna on the butterfly. There are also a couple that need buttons. I will add them after it is quilted. Lori is very easy to follow in her instructions. I did make some fabric color alterations like the umbrella. I had a piece of fabric I loved but it wasn't similar to the original quilt. No worries. Lori says it is your quilt. DO what YOU love.
Laying them out as they are completed really gets you motivated to continue. The design is very simple and I think that is why her quilts are loved by so many quilters. I enjoyed having this quilt to do and appreciated the guide so much. It kept me focused even though my days have been full so I could get it done. I have not quilted it yet but plan to as soon as those home construction projects are done and I can get back to my longarm machine.
Here is the quilt top laying on my queen size bed. If I added another border, it could fit nicely. I don't think I will though. There was so much work in this that I would be upset if it was ruined or stained. Maybe I will hang it on a wall instead. We will see once it is quilted. I filmed a video you can watch below showing some of the construction. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
This summer has been a busy time for me with my quilt making. I have done several donated quilts and this is the third free Quilt of Valor pattern in my series. It can be completed using a panel or large scale fabrics. Visit my link here to see several projects you can sew and donate.
I was lucky enough to have this panel gifted to me for the purpose of sewing a quilt to be donated. The panel was not totally intact so I did get creative with using it in the corners of the quilt. The printed squares were 16 inches finished so this one was very easy and quick to piece together. I also used the narrow areas in the borders of the quilt. All other parts of the Quilt Of Valor were from additional fabrics my friend sent along with this panel.
There was even a block in the fabric I received. It became a focal center of the quilt with patriotic sashing and cornerstones. You could instead use a large scale print or part of your panel for the center. Remember it is your quilt so do what makes you happy. The pattern shows the measurements required for cutting all pieces but you are the designer.
Here are the borders using the remainder of the panel. Careful placement in the middle of each side really shows off the text.
Do you press your quilt top and back before loading it on your longarm frame? This really prepares your quilt in a way that makes it easily accessible. I will mark the top left corner of the front and backing with a safety pin also before hanging it on a hanger. The back is squared nicely so there is an even edge to pin to the leaders. Orienting large pieces of fabric that have been marked already ensures they are loaded properly on the frame cutting down on prep time. Seeing this hanging next to my longarm excites me so much more than a rolled up wad of fabric and batting that has to be measured, trimmed and pressed. Your longarm quilter may require this as a step so make sure you read their fine print when sending your quilt off to be finished.
Quilted and trimmed right on the longarm frame. Ready to be bound. This top goes very quickly because of the 16 inch block sizes. Using a panel or large scale fabric and pulling solids from your stash will be so satisfying.
Simple, but sometimes less is more. Have I inspired you to sew a Quilt of Valor using a panel in your stash? Get the Free Pattern here. Look for my first QOV1 free pattern here and my second Free One Block Picket Quilt Of Valor Pattern here. Watch the video below showing this panel project from beginning to end. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
Sometimes you purchase a panel or have a focus fabric that you hate to cut up. Recently at my quilt guild, one of the members brought in several different panels and said whoever wanted to make a quilt could have them for the use of the guild. I jumped on this piece because it would be perfect for a car lover. I knew if I made it the perfect person would end up with it.
I found three different remnants in our stash of fabric from the guild. I love the first geometric border. It looked like vintage car interior to me. The black border was great to frame the panel and the brown print helps to soften the top from that black transition.
I used a brown fabric on the back and what do you think about that geometric quilt pattern? It looks like a schematic to me. Right in line with cars and mechanical things.
Here are all of the measurements I used for this quilt. It finishes to 58x58 inches. A nice throw size. I filmed a short video to inspire you. Check it out below. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
So how brave are you to work on another quilter's quilt? It is intimidating for sure! I have been working very hard to learn about my Handi Quilter Amara and Pro-Stitcher software since I bought it last summer. I have made several quilts for myself, family members and donation quilts. So it was time to get adventurous. My guild has requests to make several Quilts Of Valor this year and one member asked me to finish hers.
So here it sat with the top, batting and the backing ready to become a masterpiece.
I laid it out with the backing and measured everything to make sure I had enough fabric. I also needed to know what to put in the Pro Stitcher software as far as quilting area size. This was a good time to check for any areas that the stitching might be coming loose and look for potential problems. I did find one and I repaired it so it wouldn't get caught while quilting.
I doubled checked the backing to make sure I had it turned the right way several times. I was so nervous that I would stitch something wrong. Isn't that funny how nerves can play with your mind?
The quilting design is perfect for a Quilt Of Valor with the stars and swirls. Her piecing was beautiful and a pleasure to watch stitch out.
Here she is trimming away the extra backing and batting so she can bind the quilt. That smile on her face really made me feel good. By the way, she hand binds her quilts.
She was so happy with the quilt that she asked me to do a table runner as well. I was very proud that they both turned out like expected. I filmed a video that you can watch showing them being quilted. Maybe it will inspire you to be brave and do some longarm quilting for others. I am sure I will have more in my future. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
Don't you love a free pattern that is quick and fun? This Patriotic Wall Hanging designed by Kaye Collins from Oh, Kaye Quilting is perfect for this time of year. We have several patriotic holidays coming up and if you like to decorate I think this might become a new favorite. I took a longarm class with Kaye at the Sewing And Quilt Expo In Atlanta. She is a Handi Quilter educator. I really enjoyed the class and now receive her newsletter emails. This project was in one of the emails and I printed it off thinking I really want to make that.
I like the pattern because it doesn't require much fabric and you have lots of options. The fabric requirements are easy especially if you have scraps. She has two different finishing options. One has a binding and the other is envelope style. I chose the latter because I didn't want to fuss with a binding. I also altered the stars a bit. On the pattern, she has you do raw edge applique.
Instead, I used some wash away stabilizer and traced the included pattern with a heat away Frixion pen. Then I layered the stabilizer on top of the right side up fabric, sewed around the traced star and trimmed away the excess. I cut a small hole in the stabilizer and turned the star right side out carefully poking out all of the corners. This is an easy way to get a hem finish around those edges. I used a zig zag seam to attach the stars on the pieced panel. A small amount of fiberfill made the stars puffy. I finished with some hand sewing.
I did the quilting on my domestic machine with variegated patriotic thread. I used one of my specialty stitches and the edge of my presser foot to guide me around each star.
All of the other quilting was simple straight lines. I matched the bobbin to my back fabric.
Here is a close up of my other fabrics. Stars everywhere! You could really make this wall hanging your own by using different fabrics. How about using camo or subdued military fabric? Maybe the Army prints for one strip and a solid khaki grunge with black stars? I see your creative wheels turning now.
Look how pretty my front porch looks with my wall hanging. I love the size of the finished project because you can really see it from the road. Those dimensional stars pop! Are you inspired to make your own wall hanging? You have time before Memorial Day and then use your hanging to decorate through the Fourth Of July! Check out Kaye's website here. She has lots of great content. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
This is the time of year for all things patriotic and I have a brand new FREE Quilt Of Valor Pattern. I am calling this a One Block Picket because the angled pieces remind me of picket fences. Every block is sewn exactly the same way and when they are rotated, a star will show up from the light fabrics.
Here is a view of the block and how they are rotated. See the beautiful star along with a secondary pattern that is formed. The best part is you can use light colored prints or solids for those star areas. You can also use medium to medium dark prints for the other end of the pieced block.
Much like my last Quilt Of Valor Free Pattern, we grabbed leftover fabrics from our Quilt Guild stash and designed this pattern around what was available. We did also have a sweet fabric donation that arrived in our mailbox from Texas. Some of those were used in this quilt also.
Here is a view of some of the many different scraps we used. Our long strips were blue and we used what we had so they are two slightly different colors. This was a fun project to sew together. There is not much to match up when sewing the blocks.
The top has two borders and finishes to 70x78 inches. A nice size for a Quilt Of Valor. The free pattern is available here. It's easy to add to your cart and then you will receive an emailed link to download the PDF. I did film an instruction video that will show you how the block is sewn together along with the quilting I chose on my longarm. Download, sew and donate one today! I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
I have been busy sewing a Quilt of Valor. Recently I was at my quilt guild and I found a box of donated fabrics. Like treasure waiting for me, there were four orphan blocks that are represented in the pattern by the nine patches above. Since some of the piecing was already done I thought I would take it further and design a quilt using these blocks. I also found solid red and blue fabrics in the box. These were used in the large half square triangles. I did have to purchase white fabric and I had the navy blue in my stash which I used for the cornerstones.
Using the measurements of the orphan blocks, I was able to design the rest of the quilt easily around them in EQ8. I am starting to really like this program because it takes the math out of the cutting equation. That makes quilting more fun for me.
You never know what you are going to get into when you work with blocks that you haven't pieced. These were stretched out a bit in the centers from being handled over time. I knew that once they were in the quilt and on the longarm, there would be some fullness that needed to be worked with. I did press them with steam and that helped a bit.
Here is a photo of the rows as I got everything sewn together. If you download this Free Pattern just be aware that even though the blocks are large, they can still be confusing with the angles. So pay attention when you sew the rows together. Looking at the picture versus the rows above and you can see I have some upside down. Glad I caught them so I didn't have to rip.
I did quilt this on my longarm using a continuous block pattern available in Pro Stitcher. I used a silver thread and it came out really nice.
The binding was sewn on by machine as this quilt will be donated and I wanted it to be very secure.
Here it is hanging outside my house. I had to rotate the picture so it didn't drag the ground. I love how simple this pattern came out. It took me a couple of days to piece and then an afternoon to quilt. So I think it would be really good for a beginner. The pattern will have all of the cutting and fabric requirements. I didn't include a lot of sewing instructions because you can easily follow the picture which is what I did. I just sewed the big pieces first and then worked down to the smaller units.
Are you ready to sew and donate a Quilt Of Valor? You can find a group local to you for donation by searching the Quilt Of Valor Foundation Website. I filmed a video showing the quilt being put together and the longarm quilting. Maybe it will inspire you to make one! I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
I think I have been spending more time on the road recently than in my studio. It has been a beautiful spring in my area and I am so glad I took this recent day trip to Oneonta Alabama. You know it is always a sweet surprise to find something local to your area and realize you don't have to go very far to find beauty. I drive past the Oneonta exit when going to Birmingham and have never gotten off the interstate. I can say it will be a destination in my future because there is a lot to see if you love mountains, rocky outcrops, creeks, parks and small town home cooking restaurants.
Oneonta is located about 36 miles north of Birmingham Alabama in Blount County. It is known as the Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama because there are three located within a short drive of each other. I used Map quest to see how to plan our trip and found that visiting Horton Mill Bridge, then Easley Bridge, on to Swann Bridge and then ending up in Palisades Park made for a nice drive. In fact you could do all of these destinations in an afternoon. You will want to plan for time to get out and look at each bridge and stay for a while in the park also. Maybe bring a picnic lunch and water too.
Horton Mill Covered Bridge was our first stop. It is right off Highway 75 and there is a small parking area. You can get out of your car and walk around easily.
The bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic but walking it will give you such a sense of nostalgia. This is the highest covered bridge above any US waterway and you will feel it when walking from one end to the other.
The Easley Covered bridge was our next stop and it is the smallest and oldest of the three bridges in Blount County. The location is about three miles west of Oneonta off Hwy 231. The small country road will lead you right up to the bridge which is still open to one lane vehicle traffic. There are a couple of gravel areas that can be used to park cars. We saw motorcycle riders enjoying the beautiful day so know that you can traverse the roads on two wheels.
Moving on to the Swann Covered bridge which is 1 mile off Hwy 79 near Cleveland Alabama. This is the longest covered bridge in Alabama and one of the longest in the United States. It is 27 feet above the Locust Fork Tributary.
The bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic but there is a parking area to use. Be careful if you have a low clearance car as some of the parking was washed out. You can turn around with a regular vehicle but if you are towing something like a trailer or driving something difficult to turn on a two lane road, you may have a hard time getting pointed out. The road signs will tell you that there is no outlet. This location looks like a well visited place because you can get right down to the water. The creek was really rushing on our visit so watch pets and small children.
It was a lot of fun to be able to park our car and get out at each location. The Locust Fork tributary is a popular white water kayaking destination as well. If you love nature and fast running creeks, all three of these Covered bridges will delight you. Once you have seen them, make your way back toward Oneonta and visit Palisades Park.
Palisades Park is located on top of a mountain which you can tell from the overlook and bluff pictures. The day we visited, there was no entry fee, but they do accept donations in a drop box at the main office. This a day use park so no tent or RV camping is allowed. If you like to hike or rock climb, you will love this location.
There are several lodges throughout the park that can be rented for events. We were curious about the electrical outlets through the park. After researching we realized that they do a fantastic Christmas lights display every year.
Gazebos, picnic tables and porch swings are scattered throughout for you to sit a spell and listen to nature.
If you like historical buildings you will love the cabins, barns and school house. You can walk right up to these buildings and admire the construction techniques. I love seeing how these structures have weathered time.
I am always surprised where sewing pops up. I am a true believer that it is literally everywhere if you look for it. The Blount County Quilters Guild is located in Palisades Park and what a cute little building they have.
They meet weekly at the cottage and they are very welcoming. I visited Palisades Park on a Monday but I was curious to get inside their space and see how it was set up. So I went back on Tuesday when they were meeting and got to see everything and talk to the members.
The members were glad to have a visitor and I had a great time. They are a Non Profit organization and have several service oriented programs.
They donate quilts to babies and children through the Blount County Sheriff's office. The group also makes pet beds to give to their local Animal shelter.
When you visit, you can purchase handmade items from the guild including hand quilted quilts!.
This beautiful hand quilted quilt will be raffled off in the fall of 2023. You can purchase raffle tickets when you visit also. Most of their yearly budget that helps them promote their service projects are funded though ticket sales.
The group is already hand quilting the 2024 charity quilt. Isn't it stunning?
In October they have a quilt show that anybody can enter. They also have Quilt Of Valor ceremonies in November. Several quilts are currently in the process of being made for this year's program.
Have I piqued your interest in Blount County? I think you would love to visit the area. You can watch my Travel VLOG below of my day trip. If you would like to support a fantastic organization, check out the Blount County Quilters Guild. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
The 2023 Sewing & Quilting Show season has begun. I have made it a tradition to attend the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo in Atlanta (Duluth) every year if at all possible. It is one of my favorite events because there is so much to see and do. If you want to take classes, learn new techniques, try out a certain machine, look at pretty quilts, meet new friends or just get away for a trip- this might be it.
Now don't get upset that this Atlanta event has already passed because it travels around the United States all year. So you have many more chances to attend.
You can visit https://www.sewingexpo.com/Events/Atlanta-GA
and get to their website. There you will be able to see upcoming locations. Some advice for you would be if you think you will be attending, don't wait to book your classes. They fill up fast. Especially anything quilting related. Also, book your hotel as close as possible so you can get to and from the Expo easily. Then it won't matter what time those classes are being held. Some of mine were at 8:30am, so I had to get to the parking garage early. In years past there were night classes and I did have to go to my car in the evening. So an Uber might be a better choice for you. If they are scheduled after dark, you may feel more comfortable having someone drive you.
Make sure you check out the dining options at your hotel. I was very lucky that breakfast was offered at mine. Every morning I knew I would have a full tummy and coffee of course to fuel my day.
I was so tired and hungry from my classes and staying busy the first day that I ordered room service. That was a fantastic hamburger.
You will need to print all of your tickets before you arrive and then immediately go to the check in desk. This is where you can pick up your arm band that allows you to enter each day. You also get one entry for the daily prizes. Remember to drop your ticket in and stay until the end of the day. If you aren't present someone else gets the prize!
Sewing machine dealerships sponsor these events and the classrooms are full of brand new machines. The instructors teach lessons so you can try everything out. Then you can purchase the machines at a special show discount. The vendors also have booths with just about everything you could want or need.
There is a main stage that has something happening throughout each day. You can watch demonstrations, fashion shows or special distinctions like this Quilt of Valor being awarded.
Some of the classes will have special gifts that you get to take home with you. Here is all of my loot.
Of course there are so many beautiful quilts to see. Here is a small sample.
You will also probably find several non profit sewing organizations. This was one that I found.
I really enjoyed looking at all of the purses they had on display that had been donated. You may be able to find a local chapter you can donate to. They have free patterns on their website. Click the picture to be taken to their site.
There are so many other things to list. I am glad I planned this getaway for myself. I met new friends, learned some new skills and had a great experience. I filmed my trip and have a video you can watch below to see all of the quilts. I also show you my hotel, the parking and give you a tour of the event. Just in case you want to make plans to attend. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work!
One of my sewing dreams was to purchase a longarm and it finally happened last year. It was a big decision and if you are thinking of doing it yourself, maybe this blog post will give you the confidence to move forward. There is of course the expense to think about and I am sure most people dwell on that for a while. Then the thought of where to place the longarm machine will probably haunt your thoughts unless you have a large room available. Once you get past those hurdles, the third thought will probably be fear of breaking the machine or not being able to operate it. If you have surpassed all of these and your machine is purchased and set up, congratulations. I am going to assume if you found this blog post by a search, you might be having tension problems. So let's see if we can get you sewing again.
Longarm machines are sewing machines that have been stretched to accommodate larger sewing areas. If you have sewn on a domestic or home sewing machine, you will already be familiar with how one should operate. There are differences though. I didn't realize just how much lint was produced from a quilt. Before beginning a new quilt and at each bobbin change, I will usually have to clean the bobbin area with a small brush. A drop of oil on the race of the bobbin area is a good idea at each bobbin change also. Make sure you clean inside the bobbin case also. I have noticed that my machine does not do well with slippery thread. When I first purchased mine, I will admit, I tried to use embroidery thread in it just to see what would happen. I didn't have great luck with the brand I use in my Happy machine. The thread would slip out of the upper tension assembly and no stitches were formed. This would cause repeated alarms to go off on the machine. Once I began using Omni thread by Superior Threads, I had much better luck. So if you are having tension problems, try another thread cone to see if that helps. It is an easy fix if it works. Make sure your thread path is correct and that there are no snags, twists or missed tension placements. Back to your bobbin. Winding the bobbin is very important if you are not using pre wounds. A spongy or loose bobbin that is uneven will give you problems. I received a winder with my machine and it took some practice. You want a nice even distribution of thread on your bobbin and if you can press the thread in and visibly see sponginess, you may want to try re winding it.
This is a Towa Gauge and it will become your best friend. It is used to measure the tension on your bobbin. I have one for my embroidery machine and my longarm. Each machine has a different bobbin size so make sure you purchase the correct gauge for your bobbin size. The bobbin case with bobbin is inserted into the Towa and thread is pulled through two small circular tension areas. Once you pull the thread at a smooth steady pace, a needle will move and the small red arrow shows you a measurement. Each machine brand will be calibrated slightly differently and factors will alter the best measurement. I have noticed that around 200 works with the 40 weight Omni thread I currently use. There are different weight threads and some people like to use a lighter weight in their bobbin. You do you. There is no "RIGHT" thread. It all depends on what you want your finished quilting to look like. It is ok to try many brands of thread until you find one you love and just stick with it once you get your settings in a place where you can consistently get results. Using the Towa will help you get brave because it is a way to test thread and get answers. Play with your Towa and find the best setting for your machine and thread.
I haven't seen a lot of people talking about this little tool in the Longarm community. I have seen it in the embroidery world and it is a good thing to have.
This Tajima Thread Tension gauge has a spring inside and a hook on the end. You wrap your thread around the hook and as it is pulled, the spring will retract causing the red needle to show a measurement. I will pull my thread out of the needle before wrapping my thread so you are pulling from the last tension area before the needle. This is a great way to learn what your upper thread "FEELS" like at different tension settings. The upper dial on your machine tension assembly can be tightened by turning right and loosened by turning left. Each time you turn it, you can wrap the thread and gently pull the gauge to see the measurement value. I find with the Omni 40 weight thread that around 200 works well. A different weight or brand of thread may cause you to alter your tension. It's good to have a tool that will assist so you can get a good starting point.
Here is a view of me using the tool and you can see how the thread is being pulled out away from the machine.
You need to be brave with your tension dials on the side of the machine also. Here you can see me turning mine. On this day, I had checked my thread path, my bobbin and needle but alarms kept going off every time I began to sew. I cranked my tension dial all the way down and then opened it back up using the top tension gauge; testing each time the knob was turned. I also opened the discs on the tension assembly and really flossed my thread into those discs. This will ensure the thread is seated well and also push any lint or debris that has accumulated in between those discs. Don't be scared that you are going to mess your machine up. You can always put a test piece of fabric, batting and backing on your frame and test your tension. In fact, the extra batting that you have around your quilt is a great place to do this before you start sewing. Just keep going and get friendly with your machine dials.
Your needle and it's placement are very important. Make sure it is inserted fully up into the needle bar. Also, if it is turned backwards, you will not be able to pick up your bobbin thread. If it is inserted slightly to the right or left, the bobbin thread may pick up but it might skip stitches. You can use another needle inserted into the eye to adjust either right or left and hold it while you tighten with your screwdriver. Change to a new needle for each new quilt also.
Get used to climbing underneath your machine. Here you can see me ducked under the frame and looking at my stitches. I can't stress enough checking this periodically as you quilt or if you have had a thread break or a bobbin issue. When the thread breaks on top, your bobbin thread will stay in the fabric. As you pull the machine to cut the thread and check your bobbin, the thread is long. If you don't trim those bobbin threads that are long, they may get caught up in your quilting. That is why you pull the bobbin up as you begin sewing so it is pretty on the back.
Here was my view underneath my fabric. The long stitches on the right are basting stitches. I usually lengthen my stitches when I baste my quilt. Some people choose to use a regular stitch length. It's up to you. I like to have those longer ones because they are easier to pull out later when I am squaring up my quilt. The stitches on the left are regular quilting stitches at a shorter length. You can see that they are looping and not balanced. When you are basting with a long stitch, it is difficult to see exact tension on your machine. You will have better luck once the stitch is shorter. Both of these were stitched before I got my tension adjusted and you can tell unless the alarm had gone off during basting, I would not have known I had tension issues. Looping can be caused by the bobbin being too tight/loose or the top tension being too tight/loose. This is a tug of war between those two threads. The looping tells you who is winning. I knew my bobbin tension was good because I had my Towa gauge and I always start with the bobbin first. I also thought my top tension should be good because I had adjusted it with my Tajima tool. It was good on both and the culprit was trash in my tension discs on that top assembly. Once I pulled the discs apart and flossed the thread really well, I think whatever was in there got knocked out. Such a simple thing and when it started sewing, it was happy with no alarms.
A beautiful balanced stitch finally formed on my quilt top. I will tell you that I did these steps; except opening the tension discs, TWICE. It wasn't until I cranked that knob down and then opened it wide flossing with thread and cleaning any trash that my problem was fixed. I worked for about an hour. Don't give up and if the alarm bothers you, turn it off until you get your tension adjusted. Take breaks, drink a cup of coffee and keep going. You never know what the fix will be but if you have the tools and the knowledge, you can adjust your longarm tension yourself. You will feel proud and accomplished. I have a video you can watch below that will show you each one of these steps. Watch it for moral support. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
Have you ever walked around your fabric department and a fabric spoke to you? That is what happened to me with this quilt project. I wanted to make a quilt for my mom but my inspiration mojo was at a low point. I wanted something feminine for a ladies bedroom but I didn't feel like a whole lot of piecing. So I let the fabric "speak to me". As soon as I saw the bee print, my plan began formulating.
Isn't this so pretty? It just looks inviting. I could imagine my mom snuggled underneath. I went in search of other fabric that would be a good match.
Now quilt math and calculating fabric are a another story for me. I freely admit that I am no expert and if a math problem has more than two parts, I am at a loss. Quilt math reminds me of word problems. Yuck. There is light at the end of the tunnel though in the form of a wonderful website. Quilters Paradise. They have several FREE calculators that will take away the math pressure and allow you to just be creative.
I decided to treat the bee fabric as a panel and then sew increasing borders around it. The border calculator allows you to enter the measurements of the center part of your quilt top and then add up to five borders. It will tell you how much yardage to purchase.
They have a batting and backing calculator and a binding calculator also. I like to use these before I make my shopping trip so I am prepared to purchase. Really the fabric is enough stimulation in the store. I don't need to add math in the mix. Check out the Quilter Paradise story and their retail store. They have such an interesting background.
I wanted to incorporate some embroidery on the quilt top so I digitized the bee logo from the fabric and added quilting as an applique.
Here is that central focus fabric with the embroidery and two of the three borders. On my shopping trip I also looked for a special trim that I could use to break up the center panel.
I pinned it across and then used a zig zag seam to attach. Something this small can make a big impact. Up to this point, I really haven't done much piecing either. So this top came together really quickly. I think I had it ready to go on the longarm frame in three days from initial cutting.
Here it is loaded up on my frame ready to quilt. Since there are multiple borders, I decided to do different quilting patterns on each. Now I did work vertically down the quilt and once I got all of the borders done across, I took the whole quilt off the frame and rotated it. Then loaded it back on the frame and quilted the two side borders. That way I didn't have to chunk any borders or figure any math as I was advancing the quilt in my frame.
Look how pretty all of those feathers are on the back. That center oval is where the embroidery was and I had plans for it. I put the quilt label inside.
Here is a view of the label without my heartfelt quote. Some things are between a mom and a daughter..... You can see that I added another cute bee and I did hand sew with turned edge applique.
I had extra fabric and trim so I made a small throw pillow that she can decorate with.
The best part of making a quilt as a gift is seeing it in the space it will be used. I think it matches my mom's bed perfectly. She loved it and I even got to talk to her the day after she slept under it for the first time. That is a memory that will stay with me. Maybe you have been inspired to sew a simple quilt using a focus fabric you love. I filmed a video you can watch below showing more of my process and even the quilting in case you want to see how that came together on the longarm. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
Veterans Day is this week and this is a time to thank those who have served. Our little community always has special events for the local veterans and it makes me proud to see. My dad served in the Navy during the Vietnam war and did two tours. Then he enlisted in the Army National Guard. I grew up with Army green supplies and Meals Ready To Eat in the house. We loved the Chiclet gum in those meal kits. I have fond memories of my dad and his sense of duty and honor to country. So I am always proud to make something for a Veteran and one of my recent quilts was specially made to donate.
I started with a panel from Northcott Fabrics. This jumped out at me when I was shopping my local fabric store. I thought it would be a perfect throw size quilt. Now this pattern is not my original idea. I have seen many people online cutting a panel and adding strips. It just seemed like an easy project to get done as I had recently finished a harder quilt. Sometimes you have to give your craft brain a rest and this did just that.
I used the panel and a yard of gray fabric. I cut about 12 inches off the yardage and sewed it to the bottom of the panel and then to the top so it was a loop of fabric. Then I cut six even strips lengthwise and cut the looped fold so I had 6 inches of yardage on top and bottom of the panel. The strips of gray fabric were cut 2 inches wide and pieced so they were as long as the panel strips. A 1/4 inch seam allowance was used to sew them all together. This is easy straight seams but I would advise using pins to keep the strips from stretching as you sew.
Here is the panel and strips sewn together. Even though the print is separated, your brain "sees" it together. Kind of cool and it levels up the print so it is a bit fancy. Pressing as you go really helps this process also. You could stop right here but I decided to add some borders.
Red white and blue border strips were cut 2 1/2 inches wide and then sewn round robin style. Again pressing each one keeps it flat. I also made sure that all of the loose threads were trimmed before I quilted it. My white, blue and red fabrics were side by side and I didn't want any loose threads showings through the white.
Here is the quilt after I pulled it off my Handi Quilter longarm machine. An edge to edge star pattern was used.
I trimmed the quilt and sewed the binding strips by machine so it would be nice and sturdy.
Now that is a beautiful simple quilt and I delivered it to my brother when I travelled to Houston for the quilt show. He is a member of a Veterans Riding group and I can't wait to see what they decide to do with this quilt. I filmed a video showing a more in depth look at how I sewed and quilted this project. You can watch it below. Has this inspired you to make a quilt for a veteran or organization? I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
The Houston International quilt festival has been on my bucket list for many years and I finally got to check it off. I have heard that it is the convention where you will see new items, techniques and get inspired. It was definitely all that.
Now I live about 12 hours from Houston so we decided to break the trip up by staying in Natchitoches Louisiana the first night. The length of the drive is doable in a day for me but I have a soft place in my heart for this little historic town. My husband and I both spent time at Northwestern State University and we have many fond memories of the Christmas Festival of Lights, Cane River, Front Street, Restaurants, Bed and Breakfasts, Pecans from Little Eva Plantation and so many other things. So it is always a place we will try to get a visit into.
This bread pudding from Fontenot's Restaurant is some of the best I have ever had.
Even though we haven't reached Thanksgiving, the town was already setting up for the Christmas Festival of Lights. Here is an iconic light fixture on Cane River
I have to give some love to Lasyonne's Meat Pie Restaurant. This was our breakfast Thursday morning before we pulled out of town.
We had an obligatory stop at Toledo Town which is right before you cross the Toledo Bend Reservoir bridge into Texas. This is a spot my husband loves because of the fishing tackle.
We made sure to drive slow enough to Hit Lufkin Texas right about lunchtime so we could eat at another old haunt of ours. Cafe Del Rio has some of our favorite Mexican food. Order the green sauce and you will know why. Cool creamy and addictive with their hot crispy tortilla chips. Can you tell we judge our trips by the food? If you travel with us, you are gonna eat well.
We pulled into Houston on Thursday afternoon and Friday Morning bright and early an Uber picked us up at my brother's house. This was a first time for me and I am now hooked on the Uber app. I think the worry of driving and finding a parking place in a downtown area or garage is one of the worst parts of travel. No more because I now understand why so many people say they just "grab an Uber"
I met the Gourmet Quilter. I couldn't believe she travelled all the way from New Zealand and I was worried about finding a parking spot. This lovely lady got me through Covid quarantine. She had so many videos to watch I was constantly learning something new.
I saw Emily who is the Collage Quilter. She was plenty busy so I didn't get to talk to her. I love her quilting designs. If you haven't seen her work, check it out.
Here is a lineup of guests at the All Brands Booth. SO many talented people.
I got to visit with Becky from Power Tools With Thread. We had a nice chat and she was super popular. I saw a lot of people coming up for photos with her.
Adam from Adam Sew Fun is one of my favorites. If you have never seen his videos, look him up on YouTube. I have learned so much from him and he is always being brave and trying new things with his Long Arm machine. He is also a hot Handi Quilter Ambassador traveling all over the country teaching.
Kaffe Fassett was on one of the main stages. He was very popular as you can see. I was at the back of the standing room only crowd. Did I mention there were quilts there? LOTS of beautiful quilts to get you inspired and make you drool.
I also brought several quilts to my family that I had been working on. My car was stacked with them. It felt really good to pass on those beautiful quilts that they will enjoy using.
When we got home, I was welcomed by this beautiful mum in my yard. I had to share this because it came from a very small piece that broke off another one last year. I nursed it all last winter and look how beautiful! What wonderful memories I have from this trip. I feel so lucky to have been able to go and that we can congregate once again with others that enjoy our crafting journey. I have a video you can watch below with more footage from my travel. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
It is National Sewing Month!! What are you sewing?? I am currently working on a T-Shirt quilt and if our cooler mornings are any indication, we will need some warm quilts pretty soon. I think prep work may be one of the things that keeps people from sewing. By the time you get to the sewing stage, you might lose your creative steam.
This is my pile of T-shirts waiting to be disassembled and interfaced. Quite a pile of them as I will be making a king size quilt. If the thought of using an iron on all of this intimidates you, think about using your heat press instead.
The interfacing I am using for this quilt is Pellon 906F. It is a sheer weight and I like the hand of the knit fabric after it has been applied. Some of these shirts have very dense screen print logos on them. So I don't want to add more weight or stiffness. The instructions should always be followed per the manufacturer and I do that with a couple of minor changes.
A wool heat setting is recommended. That is around 300 degrees F. I set my press to 280 degrees. The time to press on the instructions is between 10 and 12 seconds with lifting and overlapping your iron . I set my heat press timer to 8 second increments. This will allow for moving or repositioning in case any spots are missed. Modifying the time and temperature slightly should keep the t-shirts from overheating and melting the screen print logos. You are pressing from the back but it would be so sad to discover an applied logo couldn't stand any heat. You don't know what kind of materials were used when the shirts were made so caution needs to be observed.. The pressure is set to a medium on the heat press.
A damp press cloth is supposed to be used on top of the interfacing. I use a piece of 100 percent cotton fabric and a spray bottle filled with clean water. The water can be misted on the press cloth and it will create a steam press environment.
So you can go from this pile of messy shirts to a stack of flat t shirt logos ready to insert into your quilt.
I really do think the heat press allows for an assembly line workflow. I was able to knock out 30 t-shirts in a few hours.
The Pelon instructions do state that a final steam press can be done from the front. I don't press from the front. Instead, I will press the interfacing from the back and take it back to my cutting station. There I trim away any excess fabric and square the block up. Then I take it back to the heat press to make sure I haven't missed any edges. This is done from the back again just like the initial pressing.
If there are any small logos on the pockets or sleeve of the shirts that look interesting, I will interface them and sew with a zig zag stitch to the t shirt block. Usually on the edge so they don't obscure the logo.
Now I just need to decide where all of these different blocks will be placed in my quilt and sew everything together. There is a quick video tutorial you can watch below to see my heat press in action. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
My recent creative works have been all about quilting. This project is a long time coming as I started it in March. I finally gave it to my brother as a surprise gift so I can show my process. There is a Video Log you can watch at the bottom of this post also.
My brother loves motorcycles and I wanted to make a quilt he could use on his bed. The finished size is a queen and I also made two pillows with leftover fabric. If you haven't done a quilt this size it is quite a project to get planned and completed. There are so many decisions that have to be made. I knew the design would include logos from his favorite motorcycle manufacturer. The color scheme would naturally need to be dark red and white or cream.
I had a pattern book with a lot of traditional blocks and I chose the King's Crown because it has a blank center that would be perfect for embroidery.
This is the pattern book and it does have plastic templates you can use to cut out your fabric pieces. I knew I would have to use a large piece of fabric to do all of the embroidery blocks first and once I read the pattern, I thought I might be able to find an easier way to piece each block. I found a great quilting site online that includes video instruction. It is called www.teresadownunder.com
Teresa has very clear instructions that were slightly different from the Patchwork book. I am finding just like sewing, that piecing and quilting can be done in many different ways.
Muslin was my fabric of choice for the embroidery. I used a lightweight interfacing on the back of the entire piece. Once I digitized the embroidery designs, I did test stitch outs to make sure they looked good. This process takes some time to mark out on that large piece of fabric. I made sure there was an extra 1/2 inch in between each design placement area so I could have some fudge room when cutting out.
When figuring out how everything would look, I used Microsoft Publisher. It is easy to make shapes and fill them with color or logos. You can add borders also. This is a fun way to visualize your quilt before you do any kind of cutting or sewing. It isn't helpful with your measuring and fabric purchase needs. So the Patchwork pattern book helped me figure out how much fabric for the desired size.
Plastic templates helped me mark all over the large piece of muslin. The embroidery was a very large part of this quilt and it took some time to complete.
Each logo had to be sewn in a new hooping. The lighter fabric was something I had to be very careful with also. I was worried about staining it while it was being embroidered and pieced.
Cutting out all of the block pieces for a quilt this size takes some time also if you aren't following a pattern exactly. I am still learning about strip cutting and making the most out of my time while cutting. So getting to this point was such a milestone.
This particular block was a new adventure for me with the points. I know better now for my next quilt that pressing matters as does matching the points. This was the first time I pieced a quilt with all of these type join areas. You can see in the cream blocks my seams don't match. I have since done another quilt and I did much better on it. You have to start somewhere though and I wanted to show you that it is not perfect. How else do we learn except to try and see what can be improved upon?
The quilting was a big endeavor because I used a new tool. The Handi Quilter Amara with a 12 foot table is my newest addition to my craft. I have wanted a computerized quilting machine for many years. I did a blog post on my Grace Cutie Frame as well as a video showing all of the ways I added things to make it more productive. You can read that here. I still use that frame with my sewing machine and I like it for the mobility. This Handi Quilter Amara with frame is stationary and my plan is to use it for those large quilts that are heavier to handle. The older I get, I am realizing that physically, my will to do something far exceeds my ability. Expanding my digitizing to quilting is also a natural fit so I hope to learn how to create some computerized designs in the future.
My imperfect piecing coupled with the embroidery made an edge to edge design impractical on this quilt. I learned really quickly how to do multi point placement with the Pro-Stitcher. So each block was custom quilted and I was pleasantly surprised how well the quilting nested together. Here is the back of the quilt.
The design I chose came in the Pro-Stitcher software and it worked really well. I learned that when the machine passed over those points that weren't exactly pieced it did catch underneath because of the thickness. So I chose a computerized design that would not sew over those areas. Instead I looked for something that would concentrate on the open places and away from the points and embroidery. My blocks did have skewed areas and the Pro-Stitcher was awesome to put each design exactly where it worked best.
The binding was done on my sewing machine. I have a feeling I am going to get a lot of practice doing this.
The extra fabric left over from the quilt was used to make throw pillows. I just increased the size of the embroidery designs to the largest hoop I have and stitched out like the block fabric.
So it all turned out better than I hoped. My brother loved his birthday present and I learned so much. I think the biggest lesson is patience. I have steered away from piecing harder blocks in the past and I feel like I am entering a new phase of learning. So much to learn and not enough time is how I am feeling right now. On to the next project. Remember to check out the video for this quilt below! I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
Lagniappe Peddler believes that the process of working with our hands can be one of the best forms of healing the hurts in our lives and welcomes all who visit this safe little corner of the world.
What is a Lagniappe Peddler?
ˌlanˈyap,ˈlanˌyap - something given as a bonus or extra gift
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