More on Midarm Quilting Machines

Back in December, I posted about my quest to learn more about midarm, or sit-down longarm quilting machines.  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to learn more about several machines at Quiltcon.

I spoke with the kind folks at the Innova booth for quite a while, and watched a quilter demonstrate some gorgeous free-motion feathers.  Several features of the Innova sit down machine appealed to me.  First and foremost, if you ever decide to go from a mid-arm to a full-fledged longarm, you can take the Innova machine and put it on a frame.  The Innova also has stitch regulation capabilities.  Instead of a little doohickey to attach to your quilt (like on the Pfaff and Handiquilter machines), the sensors on the Innova are built into the machine, right under the needle.  I’m not a fan of stitch regulation of any sort, but this seemed like a very smart way to go if you want regulation. The quilter also pointed out that the Innova has a tall, narrow shaft holding the needle, to give more visibility behind your needle.  For more information and pictures about this machine, check out the Innova website.

Then I had a chance to test drive the Martelli Bella Sedere. This machine had some interesting bells and whistles.  The table is designed such that you have a large cutting surface behind the machine, for a kind of “all-in-one” sewing workstation.  What’s cool about it is that you can raise and lower the entire table with the push of a button, so you can cut (or quilt) sitting or standing. You can even raise only one side of the table, if you wanted to quilt at an angle (think drafting table).  The workstation comes with a huge range of Martelli tools, including their rotary cutter (which I blogged about here). For more information on the machine, check out the Martelli catalog.

I can’t remember either machine’s price exactly, but they were definitely in the $9,000 range.

Finally, I tried out one other midarm machine. . . The saleslady was a hoot and a half.  She showed me all kinds of gorgeous quilting on it, and even pulled out a ruler and did some ruler work in the demonstration.  Then she sat me down at the machine and walked away so I could play around.  It was lovely.  When she came back, I wistfully asked her the price on it.

And just about fell out of my chair when she answered.

Compared to everything else I’ve seen on midarms, it was very reasonable. And the show special price was even better.  Sooo. . . we bought a midarm!  To hear more about it, you’ll just have to check back in a couple of weeks when it arrives :-)  I promise, there will be plenty of unboxing pictures, and a full review of how easy/hard it is to set up.  I’ll even share my first attempts at quilting on it, no matter how embarrassing they are.  Until then, I’ll be rearranging my studio to make room for this lovely.

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Midarm Quilting Machines | 4 Comments

Hexagon Troubleshooting

The other evening, I decided to sew some of my hexagons together for the Hexagon and Fence Post quilt.  (You can read more about that quilt here.)

You would think, by now, that I know how to sew hexagons together correctly.  But this layout is kind of weird, in that you sew rows of flowers together along two hexagon sides, and then lay them on an angle for the border.

So I sewed two rows.  Each time, I lined up the rosettes so I was sewing two hexagons on each rosette.  Here’s how it looked:

orientation wrong

 

 

 

 

 

I spent a good thirty minutes looking at those two rows.  They were not going to fit together, and I was completely baffled as to why they wouldn’t fit.  Then my sweet husband asked what was wrong, and figured it out in about thirty seconds.  (He’s an engineer.  And far more detail-oriented than me, evidently).

Apparently, you can sew two rosettes along two hexagons two different ways. If you look only at the center hexagon, it’s easier to see, at least for me.  In one of my rows, the centers were on point. On the other, they were flat across the top.  So essentially, that row of three was sloping up, while the longer (correct) row was sloping down.  Here’s a picture with the centers oriented the same:

centers same

 

 

 

 

 

Truth be told, I’m glad to have this all settled out now, instead of a couple of months down the road, when all 130 hexie flowers were sewn together.  I made a new row of three:

corrected row

 

 

 

 

 

Took the old one apart, and then kept on rolling.  Now I have the entire top left corner of the quilt done.

upper corner

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever sewn hexies together wrong?  Or is it just me?!

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Hexagons, Japanese Quilting | 7 Comments

Kindergarten Quilt Finishes

As a lot of you probably know by now, each November-January, I spend a good bit of time on a service project for our kids’ school.  (And if you’re new here, you can read about this project here, here, and here!)

red

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, each year the two kindergarten classes participate in a service project to help new mommies in our community.  The kids make a painted hand print on fabric.  Then they bring in a square of fabric from home.  Then I get all those hand prints and squares, and turn them into one quilt for each class.  Finally, the quilts go to moms and new babies.  It’s an incredible project, and amazing to be a part of.

blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, I was especially touched by one of the blocks a child brought from home.  See that sunbonnet Sue applique block?  It was hand pieced by the little girl’s great, great grandmother. Wow!  I was super careful and lined the fragile block with lightweight interfacing before sewing it into the quilt.  I just love the fact that this family chose to share an heirloom with a complete stranger.

I’m really trying to pare down the amount of fabric stashed all over my studio, so I made a couple of extra baby quilts from large panels.  I love how easily these sewed up.  I even did the binding by machine.  Sometimes it’s just delightful to baste a top, sit down and stipple mindlessly, and have a quilt finished by dinnertime.

panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

panel2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite these fun finishes, I still have a two-foot tall pile of quilt tops waiting for quilting.  Yikes!  Guess that’s what I’ll be working on this weekend.  Besides helping our five kiddos get over this round of stomach bugs, of course! Ah, the joys of motherhood are without number, as my mom always says.

Hope you have an absolutely delightful St. Valentine’s Day weekend!!

emily

 

Posted in projects | 4 Comments

Simple Bowl Cozy Tutorial

Back before Christmas, I posted about making some fun bowl cozies.  I made a bunch more for Christmas gifts.  Which was all well and good, except for one major problem.  I broke TWO of my heavy-duty, Titanium sewing machine needles on the final round of topstitching.  Not cool.

So I started wondering- was there some way to make the cozies WITHOUT having to turn them right-side out and topstitch the opening closed over all those layers of batting and fabric?

Bowl Cozy

 

 

 

 

 

Yes.  There is.  And the added bonus to this method is you get a schnazzy little border along the top of the cozy that makes it look all spiffy.  So here’s my tutorial for simple bowl cozies.  A huge thank-you to Andover Fabrics for providing the lovely Allison Glass Sunprint fabrics that you see in the pictures below.

Materials:

materials

 

 

 

 

 

  • One 10″ square fabric (leftover layer cake squares work great)
  • One 12″ square fabric (this will be the outside of the cozy and the border layer)
  • Two 10″ squares of Pellon Wrap ‘n’ Zap batting (hint:  a one yard package will make six cozies)
  • 100% cotton thread
  • Template plastic- this is optional, but may be handy if you’re going to make a bunch of these.
  • Clover wonder clips- also optional, but they certainly make life easier

 

1. Layer one square of batting and the 10″ square of fabric- wrong side touching batting.  Pin baste.

 

2. Center second square of batting on the wrong side of the 12″ square of batting. Pin baste.

basting 12 inch

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Quilt both squares.  On the 12″ square, don’t quilt beyond the batting (i.e.- on the fabric that extends past the batting). You can free-motion quilt these, or do straight lines, anything goes here.

quilted

 

 

 

 

 

4. Make a dart template from my dart template (it’s free, just a little one page document I created instead of explaining the dimensions of the triangle). You can make yours with template plastic, or just cut it out from plain paper.

5. Fold the 10″ square in half through the middle of the sides right sides together, and line up the template along the folded edge.  Mark a dart on the top and bottom sides.  Make sure the top of the dart is aligned with the middle line of the template.  Unfold the square and refold through the middle of the other two sides.  Mark darts on each end of the fold again.

10 inch template

 

 

 

 

 

6.  In the same manner, mark darts on the 12″ square.  This time, however, align your template top with the top of the fabric square.

marking darts

 

 

 

 

 

 

darts marked 12 inch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Sew darts, stitching on the line you traced in steps above.

sew darts

 

 

 

 

 

8.  Trim excess fabric from darts, leaving about a 1/4″ allowance between your seam and cutting line.

clip darts

 

 

 

 

 

9. Press dart seam allowances open.

10.  Take both squares and line them up so that the batting squares are aligned.

wrong sides together

 

 

 

 

 

 

layered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.  Now you’re going to double fold that extra fabric from the 12″ square to create your border.  I find it easier to start this at a dart.  Fold the extra fabric so that it touches your 10″ square.

center first fold

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.  Now fold the 12″ square fabric again so that the fold overlaps the 10″ square fabric.  Pin in place, or hold with clover wonder clips.  Continue folding and pinning until you reach the corner.

center clip

 

 

 

 

 

 

13.  As you turn the corner, fold the next edge of fabric into a small triangle that touches the 10″ square.  Fold again to create a mitered corner.  I like to pin at the very edge of this corner so that when I’m sewing the border down, I don’t have to remove the clip until my needle is in the fabric on the second side.

corner fold

 

 

 

 

 

corner clipped

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. Continue folding and pinning around the other three sides of the cozy.

all clipped

 

 

 

 

 

 

15. Topstitch all the way around your cozy, keeping your needle a scant 1/8″ from the fold line.

finished two

 

 

 

 

 

 

16.  Enjoy your new bowl cozy!

17.  Try it with a yummy bowl of baked oatmeal from this terrific recipe.

oatmeal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cozy can be machine washed and dried.

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

 

 

Posted in Tutorials | 3 Comments

Yoko Saito Sightings

Welcome to my Japanese Quilting Study Group!  If you’re new here, click on the group tab above to see all posts in the study.  (And if you have a blog, feel free to grab a button and help me get the word out.  Thank you!)

Last year I promised we’d explore the works of other Japanese quilters this year.  But for January, I’m sticking with Yoko Saito.  Her name just seems to be in the air lately.  Before we get to all that, however, here’s a quick progress picture of my Hexagon and Fence post quilt.  The rosettes outgrew their initial box.  Here’s 68 of the little hexagon flowers (I’ll be making 186 total; I still have a long way to go!) and some of the tiny rail fence blocks.

January 2015 progress

 

 

 

 

 

For Christmas, I received two Yoko Saito books.  Happy day!  Today I’ll share my impressions of Strolling Along Paths of Green.  If you have not yet splurged on a Yoko Saito book, I HIGHLY recommend this one as a starter.  Unlike Taupe Color Theory, this book includes tons of photographs of the project steps.  The book has a multitude of lovely plant-inspired applique motifs, 18 bag designs and two quilt projects. I’m looking forward to making a couple of these to expand my bag-making skills.  I’ve never been a huge fan of applique, but this book may just convince me otherwise.

productimage-picture-yoko-saitos-strolling-along-paths-green-34_jpg_980x700_q85 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of lovely floral appliques, have you seen Quiltmaker’s 100 blocks volume 10?  It has a block from Yoko Saito!!!!  How cool is that?!?  You can see it in the top right corner of the cover:

QMMS-140050-cover_500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiltmaker did an awesome job of explaining the block and including a special tip for making such tiny bias stems.  I’m going to try this one soon, and probably just frame the block by itself for a lovely mini-quilt.

Lately I have spent far too much time on the internet, pouring over some of my favorite bloggers’ impressions from the 2015 Great Tokyo Quilt Festival.  I’m linking to specific posts below, but be sure to scroll around on their blogs, several of them have multiple posts pertaining to the festival.  Someday, I hope to see this show in person, but until then, these blogs are the next best thing! I especially love the exhibit about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie.

Sashiko and other stitching

Queenie’s Needlework

My Quilt Diary

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Book Reviews, Japanese Quilting | 6 Comments

Mom’s Pencil Box Quilt

Last weekend we finally got to celebrate Christmas with my family, so now I can show you one of my January finishes!!

cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last summer, when Sweet and Simple Sewing came out, I knew I had to make the cover quilt for my mom.  She’s a graphic designer, and taught high school art for years.  So I told her to pick out a jelly roll she liked, and I’d make the quilt for her (and review the book for you– double score!)

Here’s my version of the Pencil Box quilt.

Pencil box quilt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although I’m not terribly confident at applique, I was happy with the way these bright pencils turned out.

close-up

 

 

 

 

 

I modified the original pattern a bit by leaving out the wide center applique band.  I did that for a couple of reasons.  One, I was worried about a ten-inch wide band of interfacing making the quilt hard to snuggle with, and two, I ran out of time.  But it’s a testament to the book that I managed to finish this project in less than a week.

The backing fabric literally jumped off the shelf and into my cart at JoAnn’s.  Doesn’t it just look like the bottoms of colored pencils?!

backing

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a label shot of the quilt.  I love this method of sewing labels into the binding.  If I don’t do it this way, they usually don’t get done.

label

 

 

 

 

 

In case you’re wondering, yes, my mom loved the quilt.  And mostly, I loved making it.  The instructions were clear and easy to follow.  I remembered from previous sewing mishaps that when sewing long strips like this, it pays to alternate your sewing direction after each long seam.  So happily, I had straight pencils at the end.

The book has other fun projects as well.  I like the originality of the designs.  The hand-bound journal especially appeals to me.  Instead of simply covering a store-bought book, the instructions actually tell you how to MAKE a book.  I may have to try that one of these days.  (The picture below and picture of the book cover are both from the Martingale website.)

4ths B1232.indd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Book Reviews, projects | 4 Comments

Sunprints by Allison Glass for Andover

I’m still in marathon quilting mode, and can’t wait to show you some finishes next week!

It’s been brutally gray around this part of Texas lately.  I’ve had to set aside my taupe hexies for a while and play with brighter fabrics to keep my spirits up.  And speaking of bright fabrics, how about these gorgeous deep tones?

Sunprints by Allison Glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line is Sunprints by Allison Glass, and I love the unusual prints and color combinations.  Thank you, Andover, for this fantastic bundle of sunshine!  Most of this fabric is going towards some secret sewing, but a little bit of it will be in a tutorial I’ll have ready for you the first week of February.

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Happy Mail | 2 Comments

Quilting in Bulk

I hope your new year’s off to a great start!  So many blogs I follow are posting fantastic goals, and quilt alongs, and new projects.  And me?  Well, I’m starting 2015 with a bit of a backlog.  I have a whopping 25 UFO’s still on my list from 2014.  They’re all over my studio, and they’re starting to make me a bit twitchy.

So I’ve decided to plow through as many of them as I can in January.  Then I can get a nice, creative fresh start in February.  At the moment, I’m working hard on six quilts.  One of them is the colossal candied hexagon quilt I started years ago.  It’s going to live at its new home next week, and I only have the binding left to sew!!  Major happy dance.  You can see the red backing and a bit of the quilting in the picture below.  For the full reveal, though, you’re going to have to wait for a bit.  More on that soon, I hope!

borders and bindings

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the picture is all the bindings and borders I’ve made recently.  During the past couple of days, I’ve basted two quilts, finished a top, and put borders on two quilts.  Today I made binding for several of them. So I really am starting to quilt in bulk.  It’s nice seeing the pile of progress.

pile o progress

 

 

 

 

 

Later this week, I hope to baste two more quilts, quilt three and bind four.  Yes, it’s ambitious.  But knowing I’m so close to wrapping up these projects and getting them OFF the list is exhilarating.

And lest anyone think I’m an overachiever, I’ll be totally honest with you.  All this quilting has a price tag.  My Christmas tree is still up.  And our family Christmas cards are still sitting on the table, unwritten, unstamped, and unsent.

But enough about me! How’s your new year starting?  Are you in creative overdrive, or cleaning like crazy for the new year, or still recovering from the holidays?

I hope you’re having some quiet moments to sew!!

emily

Posted in projects | 7 Comments

Happy New Year- and EU VAT Update

Wow, 2015 already!! I hope you’re spending the new year sewing.  I’ve got a pile of little taupe hexie flowers all ready for stitching, so I think I’ll ring in the new year with them!!

And before I forget to mention it, I did find a way (with a LOT of help from PayPal customer service) to allow international non-EU digital sales.  If you’re in the EU, please know your favorite quilt stores can still order paper copies of my patterns for you.  And I will be keeping close tabs on these new laws to figure out if and when I can resume digital sales there.  But if you live anywhere else in the world, my digital patterns are still available to you through Craftsy!

So, back to the bright new year. . . .I have so many exciting plans for this year.  The Japanese Quilting Study Group will continue, and I’ll be featuring three prominent Japanese quilters, and their excellent books shown below.  As soon as Teresa Wong’s lovely book is released, we’ll be posting about that one too.

2015 books

 

 

 

 

 

New patterns are already in the works.  I’m so thrilled to be partnering with Andover again on some of these. And my one real resolution for the new year is getting back to tutorials on the blog again.  I really dropped the ball on that last year, but I’ve got some fun projects in the wings all ready to photograph and share.

And finally, I need you to hold me accountable on something. . . I’ve been lurking on Spoonflower for months, admiring all the beautiful designs.  And I really, really want to start designing my own fabrics. How cool would that be?  I know posting this on the blog will inspire me to post updates along the way, and actually commit to this idea.  But if you don’t see anything on this subject for a couple of months, e-mail me and say “hey!  Where’s the fabric design ideas?!?”  If this is something you want to try too,  I highly recommend A Field Guide to Fabric Design.

So what are your hopes and goals for the new year?

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Penguin Coasters

I hope you and your family have been enjoying a wonderful Christmas!!  With all the crazy leading up to the holidays, I have had almost no time to sew lately.  Last night, once the kids were in bed and all the leftovers were boxed up in the fridge, I did escape to my studio for a little fun sewing.

penguin coaster 1

 

 

 

 

 

I made a set of four flannel coasters for my brother’s fiancee, who purportedly loves penguins.  Just a bit of fussy-cutting 5″ squares, stitched together pillow-case style with batting, and then a double row of top-stitching to close the opening and give the coasters a polished look. They were finished in less than an hour.  It was so delightful to finish up a project so quickly!

penguin coaster 2

 

 

 

 

 

Now, of course, it’s back to bigger projects, and planning for the bright, shiny new 2015.   Next week I’ll share some of those goals with you, as well as my vision for the 2015 Japanese Quilting Study Group.

Christmas is always a good time to focus on what’s truly important, and to reflect all the blessings of this past year.  This blog, and all the wonderful friendships I have made with quilters around the world, ranks highly on my “grateful list.”  Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this quilting journey with me.  Your friendship and encouragement mean so very much to me!

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in projects | 6 Comments