computerized

Taking your time

Connie Repro Quilt
Connie Repro Quilt

The secret to an amazing quilt? The inside. That's right --- the part that no one can see. Connie pressed each tiny block in this quilt, and paid a lot of attention to the squaring of each block, and the direction of her seams. When she joined each block together she made sure to alternate her seam allowances, and there are no lumpy areas in this quilt. Waiting until the end of piecing the quilt top) or even the piecing of just one row SEEMS like a time-saver, but in reality you save time by taking care of each tiny issue along the way. This reminds me of something a house painter explained to me years ago. "A wall can only look good painted if it's smooth before the paint is applied. If you paint over all of the lumps and bumps, trying to hide them, you'll still be able to see them in the end."

Adding a feathered over-all design to this quilt in a nice even density enables the eye to go to Connie's accurate piecing and enjoy her vast selection of fabrics. It also makes the back of the quilt as pretty as the front. This quilt measures 103 inches square, and will be used and washed frequently. An over-all design is perfectly suited for a high-use quilt.

Connie's quilt also reminds me of something that George Washington said because I firmly believe in this principal.... people won't remember how QUICKLY you did something, they will remember how WELL you did it. Relax and take a little extra time pressing along the way, and enjoy your piecing. Years later, you'll be happy you did!

Holly Lane

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and this quilt tops my list of things that can make me start singing Christmas carols! While working on this beautiful quilt, I could imagine cookies baking, twinkling lights, and the sound of jingle bells.

Bev did a beautiful job piecing this quilt from The Quilt Company, and it was truly a joy for me to do the quilting on it! The quilt is called Holly Lane, and you can see it here. We decided to use Christmas bells, holly leaves, hearts, and stars in the separate borders to add even more fun to the quilt. Each of the four corners has a crisp snowflake. Bev still has a little more work to do. There are red buttons to be sewn on all the way around the outer border, tiny door knobs to add, slower buttons in the windows, and hand-stitched smoke from one of the chimneys. A dark green binding will finish the edges of this quilt. Each house features a layer of high-loft polyester batting to make it really stand out from the background.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Antique Lone Star

I can just imagine how this happened..... Linda's mother started piecing this Lone Star back in 1939. Sometimes, life gets in the way, and she set it aside for "someday".

Years go by, and Mom passed away. Linda and her sister were going through some of Mom's possessions, and they found this project --- that was back in the 1980's. Linda decided that she would be the one to finish this quilt... for Mom.

Years pass again, and the project was set aside... again. Just recently, Linda decided to finish this quilt for her daughter. When she looked at the quilt top, she noticed that the white fabrics were starting to disintegrate from age. She lovingly replaced all of the white fabric, and brought it over for me to quilt it for her.

I was honored (and thrilled!) to be able to finish this quilt! When the binding is put on, it will be displayed with antique photos of.... Mom. How fitting.

Adding Motion To Embroidery

Boys at Play Quilt
Boys at Play Quilt

Some of my favorite quilts incorporate both piecing and embroidery or applique. Having that "little bit of extra" in certain blocks can create a real challenge --- and I LOVE a challenge!

This quilt features very detailed embroidery designs. Each stitch is perfect! I'm not a fan of quilting over top of embroidery, if it's possible to avoid it. I would rather do something special in the background, especially when the design that's quilted serves the purpose of adding to the embroidery, and not detracting from it. The design that I used is from Stitch Happy, and is called Vortex. I think it really gives a feeling of motion to these little boys (as if little boys don't already create enough motion! LOL!).

This embroidery is from a collection named "Boys at Play", and is available from Priscilla Madsen of Madsen Originals.

Calligraphy Art

This embroidery collection from Priscilla Madsen of Madsen Originals is one of my favorites. If you look closely, you can see beautiful birds in each of the embroideries. Priscilla wanted quilting that would emphasize the gorgeous fabric she used for this quilt. Here is a screen shot of the layout that we used:

Each embroidered block has a small stipple, combined with a little bit of stitching following the embroidery to hold the layers together. If you click on each of the pictures, you can see close-ups of the designs that are included in this collection called "Calligraphy Art". You can also see the back of the quilt, which shows the designs that were placed in the blocks that were not embroidered.

Working with Minkee

I have a love/hate relationship with Minkee — but mostly love! Leslie brought two quilts recently that both have Minkee involved. One of the quilts had a Minkee backing, and the other quilt featured Minkee on the front for applique fabrics. Minkee can be tricky to work with on a longarm machine. Keeping the stretch parallel to the rollers will help to keep the stretchiness of a wild Minkee backing  tamed. Also, keeping the side clamps very loose —- so loose that you will think that the quilt top looks rather baggy —- will also help you to avoid having the backing shrink up when you remove the quilt from the machine. The most important tip I like to pass along is: REMEMBER NOT TO ROLL THE QUILT TOO TIGHTLY.  If that’s the only tip you remember, you will avoid a lot of headaches.

Backings pieced from Minkee should be avoided if possible. Because of the thickness of the Minkee, the seam on the backing can show through to the front of the quilt. Also, it’s a bit difficult to piece Minkee without having it slide around, causing a backing that looks square on the table to look like this on the machine:

If this backing had been pieced out of any other fabric but Minkee, I would have removed it from the machine and done the piecing over. As it was, I held my breath and let the extra fabric be absorbed by the dense snowflakes that would be quilted on it.

If you have any frustrations during the process of working with Minkee, just slide your hand across the wonderful fabric and you will be guaranteed to smile!

If you would like to experiment with a little touch of Minkee, but don’t want to use it for the entire quilt, consider using it for your appliqué fabric. Leslie brought over a quilt that had adorable elephants appliquéd on it, and she used various pieces of Minkee as the appliqué fabric. She used flat Minkee, striped, nubby… a little bit over everything. The elephants look so cute with the little bows on their heads!

Using Glue to Match Seams

Karen brought over a quilt top with a real "Go Green" theme to it.

She found the fabrics at Timeless Treasures, and I'm sure her daughter will love this one! The backing fabric needed to be pieced together, so I thought I would take pictures along the way so you could see how I used glue to make the process much easier! There were motifs and lettering on the backing fabric that had to match up perfectly, and the glue is the secret to doing this project. Here's the process:

Fold one of your pieces of fabric under 1/2 inch, and press, being careful not to stretch the folded area as you press. Set this piece on top of your other fabric piece, matching the pattern on both sides.

Working in small areas, use a small line of Elmer's School Glue on the folded portion of your fabric. Squeeze a line of glue approx. 10-12 inches long on your folded seam allowance, then set the fabric in place on top of the flat area. Press with a warm iron (no steam). This will set the glue, and keep things from sliding around. When you are sure that the glue is dry, you can turn back the edge of the fabric to check on everything. It should look like this:

If you used a little too much glue, some may have leaked through to other layers.

Don't worry! It's easy to run your finger along the area, and gently pull the glue apart.

If your seam is long, you may want to add a few pins along the area before you carry your fabrics to the sewing machine. The glue is fairly strong, but not enough to support a lot of weight.

After stitching the entire seam line, run your finger along the glued area to open the seam.

As you can see, the glue did a great job of holding the layers together.

Press the seam open.

The selvage edges must be removed from both pieces of the backing fabric before putting the quilt backing on the machine. You can do one side at a time with a rotary cutter, or just use scissors.

Turn the backing over to the right side, and press.

The glue really helps with the process!

Square both ends of the backing, and you're ready to quilt!

Border pucker panic? Use steam!

Border panic? Quilting condition? Surprise hiccup?  Just what can you say when you approach a section of a wonderfully pieced quilt that has a tricky situation that you didn't notice before mounting the quilt top on the machine? This quilt has lots of gorgeous fabrics in it, and the blocks and borders were nice and flat when I looked at the quilt laying flat on a table. After I had done a row or two, something on the left side caught my eye. What's that?!?!?!  Oh my gosh, where did that come from? It was a pucker that appeared overnight when I wasn't looking! Uh-oh

After rolling back and forth a couple of times, I noticed that there were a few of the sneaky little devils in this border. Funny thing, though.... every other border was perfect.

Border excess

I decided to stabilize the entire area, because it was too late to take the quilt off of the machine and remove the borders. This is how it looked with a little stitch in the ditch to hold all of the layers in place:

Border puckers

Time to heat up the steam iron. It never ceases to amaze me how much excess I can remove with just a gentle shot of steam. (Hint ..... this works particularly well when the fabrics have not been steamed during the assembly process. I have been asking all of my customers if they used steam during piecing whenever I see an issue with their quilts.)After just two shots of steam, the fabric was already starting to behave better.

After steaming

Since this border was on the side of the quilt, I decided to wait until the entire quilt was finished before I turned it to deal with this problem. Traveling through the rest of the quilt was easy, and I made sure that everything remained nice and square. After finishing, I turned the quilt and remounted it to work on this border. One more shot of steam now. I kept both hands near the needle as the design stitched, enabling any excess to be evenly distributed. The finished border was perfectly flat in the trouble area:

Finished border

You can see that the problem did not migrate further down the border:

Excess gone

I would recommend this method for borders -- or blocks -- that are giving you trouble with puffiness!

Austin block layout

This quilt was made with blocks chosen from Quilter's Cache. You can see the Austin block here, and the layout for the quilt here.

Linda's Log Cabin Quilt

Linda's Log Cabin Quilt I recently received a quilt top from Linda at Putting You In Stitches. I love her sense of humor! She had been working on these log cabin blocks in her spare time (what's that? LOL!) and after making so many of them, she just wanted to be DONE ALREADY! Rather than face the idea that she would need to make twice as many as she already had finished for this large quilt, we decided to try an experiment.

Linda took very accurate measurements of her quilt top along the four sides, and most importantly, through the centers in each direction. She cut five inch wide borders in the same colors that she had used for the log cabin blocks, and added those wide borders to her pieced center area. The extra time that she took to do her measuring made this quilt top lay perfectly flat -- and made it a joy to quilt!

Borders

The design in the center is a pattern from Anne Bright called Playful Paisley. This design has appeal to any age, and any gender. The four designs in the outer borders are also from various Anne Bright collections. Border number 1 (the blue border) has the coordinating Playful Paisley design, border 2 is called Swirling Double, border 3 is from the collection Bending In The Wind, and the white outer border is also from the Playful Paisley collection.

Enjoy the pictures! Note --- if you click on a picture to open it, and then click on it again, you will be able to see all of the details!

Embroidery on Quilts

Our school district was having a fund raiser for the Marching Band, and they wanted a quilt that they could raffle off. Being in Ohio, I thought that the best block pattern that I could use was the Ohio Star. I chose blue and gold for the school colors, and embroidery designs with a music theme to them. I always prefer to do the embroidery on the fabric before the blocks are assembled, because I don't want the bobbin stitches to show on the back of the quilt.

As a special touch, I digitized the school logo, and embroidered it for the block that would end up in the center of the quilt. You can see a close-up of the embroidered logo in the block.

My favorite stabilizer to use for this type of embroidery is a tear-away/wash-away. You can remove the bulk of it by tearing it away after you embroider, and then proceed to assemble the quilt. When the quilt is finished, the block is nice and soft. The stabilizer that does remain behind the stitches holds up well over time, and any extra stabilizer just washes away when the quilt is laundered.