Friday, December 27, 2013

Almost at the Half Way Point

I am almost at the half way point on this quilt - OH MY GOODNESS!!  I cannot wait to be finished.  I have half a dozen more ideas floating in my head and I have quilts coming in soon!!!  Tomorrow is our second Christmas with my Husbands family...a day of play...then after that I have to buckle down because that only gives me one more week to finish the quilting on this.

I have been getting a lot of questions about what batting or what thread I'm using.  This is Glide thread on the top and in the bobbin - the cream fabric is mainley natural muslin - meaning there are natural imperfections in the fabric.  I like the look personally - and I like even more the idea of an elegant design over what is normally thought of as an inexpensive utilitarian fabric.  I love love love Glide thread because it tends to quilt up somewhere between a very fine thread and a thicker polyester's perfect for sort of, all purpose quilting.  You can do a lot of dense quilting without a terrible amount of thread build up or you can do really simple designs and they look very elegant and fancy with Glide's bit of shine.  I wind my own bobbins and have yet to use the magna bobbins but I hear great things about them!  I also like that Glide comes off the cone really smoothly.  I have only had one cone out of the forty or more that I've purchased from them that I had to use a thread net over.  (The price is right too - and they have one all across the board I pay the same for the thread as you!  I am not affiliated - just a fan!)

I am using two layers of batting - and I prefer two layers of a lower loft batting to one layer of high loft batting.  It just gives a better more fuller look in my opinion.  Dare I say I even like the look of a "faux" trapunto look with two layers of batting and dense quilting versus real machine trapunto over top another layer or two layers of batt.  Or maybe I'm just lazy and would rather quilt the crumbs out of my quilt instead of cut away batting...  LOL!  :)

The top batting is Hobbs Tuscany Wool - I have never used this brand of wool before this quilt and I have never made a quilt this size with wool, but I do like Hobbs 80/20 quite a lot and they are very consistent so I thought it would be a good wool to start with.  I do love the fullness and the loft...but I don't like the memory retention and the sort of looseness of the batting.  When on the frame I like to poke the sides of my quilt where there is no top with pins while I am adjusting things and wool doesn't make a very good pincusion!  :)

The bottom layer is an off brand equivalent to Warm and Natural.  I have no real strong feelings about Warm and Natural either way other than to say that Warm and White tends to beard and beard bright white through my fabric so I rarely if ever use it anymore.  I honestly don't care for cotton either because I'm a machine quilter - I feel like poly and poly blends show off the quilting better and I like even more that poly batts tend to retain fold lines less.  I do however really like the look of these two batts together (wool and cotton) - though in the future to get more bang on the back I will probably layer wool with Hobbs 80/20.  Hobbs and Quilter's Dream have been my two favorite battings so far...and both are pretty economically priced.

Alright, happy sewing!  Hopefully I'll be DONE next time you hear from me!!!  :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Free Motion Play on My New Juki!

Happy day after Christmas!!!  I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, even if you don't celebrate.  It was so great here, family - food - and goodies!!!  I was FINALLY able to open my Juki...I gotta say that was a TOUGH wait!

I needed to make up a sample to paint before I attempt painting on my "vintage charm slash wedding quilt" and well, what better time to play with my new toy!  I'm using Robinson Anton thread that came with the machine, two layers of low loft Quilters Dream poly batt, and muslin.  Just scraps from the stockings pretty much.

I want to say the Robison Anton seems to sew up a lot like Glide...but this is the only experience I've had with it yet so I can't really say  much more.  I like it a lot though, and being a huge Glide fan (still haven't tried magna bobbins though) I think I'm going to like this thread.  

The coins turned out really cool and are WAY easier when I can slow down with the Juki versus on the long arm!  LOL

Below is some of the thread I got with the one more that is on the spool pin.

Ooooh and there she is!  My Juki!  She needs a name I think ... she's a lot younger than Eunice so I think she needs a younger name...I'll have to think on it!  LOL

OH!  One more goody the Husband bought me...I have been wanting this book forever!!!  It is out of print and kind of difficult to get your hands on because quilters tend to hang on to it.  I have never spent so much on a book and outside of Cindy Needhams Linen Quilt book I don't think I will again...but I had to have this for my collection and I love it.  My Husband even got ahold of Karen and asked her to send me a Christmas card!  LOL!  She is so super sweet, she obliged him and it was kind of exciting to get a card from one of my quilting super heroes!  :)  LOL  I will save it forever with the books for my children.

Alright I'm off - just had to share.  I have a TON of work to makeup after being off for so long and goofing around the last few days!!  :)  Hope you all are getting some sewing done out there!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Christmas Eve!! Progress...

It is 12:03am and I can officially say - MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE!  LOL  Ok ok ok I know you don't usually say Merry Christmas Eve and all but I'm a total Christmas geek and I've been listening to Sounds of the Season since November 1st.  Eeep!  It's almost here!!!  :)

Because of all the last minute shopping and the required cleaning that I have to catch up on (since I've been doing all that quilting and being creative stuff this year INSTEAD of cleaning...) my progress isn't very grand.

I am pretty happy with it though!  I think it looks like frosting on a fancy wedding cake.

I need to fix that bias tape because it's driving me batty - I think I'm going to try and stitch some gold cording down along either side to hide some of the womples.  Also beads or something so it doesn't look like the flowers are disappearing into the underside of those ribbon bows...LOL

This quilt looks so much like a wedding quilt it's just missing the white dove and two gold wedding bands.  I think I'm going to nix Vintage Charm and call it - "Turned Out to be a Wedding Quilt".  LOL!  :)

Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!  :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Late Night Progress Photos...

I'm up late quilting...pheww and boy is it time for bed.  It took me all day yesterday and today to mark and load this up...but, in my defense, our heater went and there was a leak in one of the bay windows so we've had repair men trampling in and out of the house all around my long arm and quilt!

Several hours of work...I have some flaws I need to fiddle with and see if I can straighten up but otherwise I'm pretty happy! 

More Stockings!!! This time from Nancy and Doreen!

After posting a few photographs of my stockings I had a few quilting pals pipe up and say, "oh I have always thought about doing that!" or "oh you have inspired me and I'm GOING to do that!"  Well I have to share a few photos of pals that DID!

With permission Nancy and Doreen have allowed me to borrow and post photos here of their whole cloth style quilted stockings they created.  Here are a few shots of Nancy's stockings:

I really love the curved cross hatching that Nancy added to he heel and toe, and the accent at the top - lovely!  Boy does that give me ideas for more stockings...

You can see the thread to which she posted these photos by clicking here.  Just lovely!  I'm thrilled to see what you created Nancy and thank you for allowing me to share it here!

My good blogging pal Doreen also made whole cloth stockings!!  Here are a few photos of what she came up with:

Doreen has really been taking off with her quilting as of late and these stockings really showcase her beautiful work.  I love how she chose pebbles in the toes and heel - and metallic thread!  Lovely!

You can see a tutorial for Doreen's stockings by clicking here.

Thank you for sharing ladies and thank you for allowing me to share your photos as well.  It was really fun and inspiring to see different interpretations of these whole cloth style stockings!  :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Looking Back over 2013 and Feeling Blessed

I am making progress on my quilt, albeit slowly, but today I should be finished marking and loading it up on the frame.  This past weekend was my middle daughter's 8th birthday - and if you're family is like mine then you will understand how a birthday quickly becomes a birthday week when you factor in family and friend visits and celebrations! 

I have been reading lovely posts around blogland about what people are thankful for and what they've been reflecting on over the past year.  I have to say, I'm feeling awfully blessed.  This time last year owning a long arm was a pipe dream.  A wish and a prayer I didn't know for sure would happen.  Not only do I have my dream machine but I have a thriving business and I have come into contact with some of the most wonderful quilters through quilting.  It has been an amazing experience!

Because I was so inspired by others, I decided I too want to share with all of you some of the creative highlights of MY year!  :)  Here goes...

1.  Opening my tiny quilting business!  I wasn't sure when I began that this would be where I would focus myself, but it has truly turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

2.  Leading a free motion quilting class with friends...I would LOVE to do this more in the future!

3.  Teaching my Mother a new skill - she has taught me so much over the years it is an amazing feeling to share something in return with her...I owe all of my passion for sewing to my Mother.  She after all is the one that taught me how to use a sewing machine!

4.  I wrote and self published a free motion quilting handbook that I would love to see become a jumping off point for many more future class ideas and book ideas that I have been tinkering with!

5.  I also wrote and self publsihed a Creative Quilting Designs handbook that I would like to expand and elaborate on in the near future.

6.  I dyed lots and lots of fabric!!!!!!!!!!!!

7.  I discovered a passion for designing whole cloth quilts!

8.  I have been blessed with wonderful customers who are also friends - and they have entrusted me with the honor to quilt their amazing quilts for them.  More than I can share here but below are just a few -

9.  One of the quilts I quilted for a customer even won a first place in its category ribbon!  ;)

10.  I began expanding on my own personal quilting endeavors and pushing myself to create more elaborate quilts.

11.  I learned to airbrush!!!

12.  I conquered a few of my timing my long arm and ripping open the motor to change the motor brushes!!!

13.  I rekindled my passon for paints!

14.  I experimented with LOTS of different kinds of thread!

15.  I feel as if I have finally begun to master this long arm and realizing the how endless the possibilities are!!

I am so excited for what the new year will bring.  I have so many ideas, so many goals - and even if I do not reach them all I am still amazed at how far I have come.  It was ten years ago that my Mother and I made the trip to that very first quilt show - the one that introduced me to quilting and set me on this amazing journey.  This artform has given me so much joy - I don't know what I would do without it!

I hope everyone in blogland is having a wonderful Holiday Season and spending some time reflecting on all of the creative blessings in YOUR lives!  :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WIP Wednesday and a QuickTip

I've got a terrible cold so I don't have any monumental progress to report today.  The only large move I've made on Vintage Charm is I finished stitching down the bias tape around the border.  I ran out of adhesive so I basically traced a line two inches from the edge and tried to align it to that by eye - never again!  It came out all sorts of wonky and that adhesive, though expensive, is worth every stinkin' penny for the accuracy and neat factor alone!  I think I can work around it...I'm going to add beads and lace to the border so hopefully that combined with trapunto will help give the optical illusion of perfect lines.  LOL  In any case I'm thrilled to say that my goal is to have this baby loaded on the frame for quilting TODAY!!!  That gives me about three weeks of quilting time before I start customer quilts again...and of course taking a few days out for Christmas festivities.  Woot and JUKI TIME!!!  LOL  :)  I'll need a good solid day or two of play with the Juki too...hehehe!  :)

So my tip for today and a shot of my WIP!  I have found for me, the easiest form of applique seems to be to cut out the shapes I want to use out of freezer paper, pressing it to fabric, then turning the edges under and adhereing them with a bit of glue from a glue stick.  I'm still perfecting applique and getting better at it all the time, so when I get a free day I'll do some tutorials and show you what I've learned.  In any case, the only downer to this method...the glue sticks....REALLY stick!  It can be difficult at times to remove the paper from the back, especially if you have tiny pieces. 

One thing I found that really helps the process go faster, is after you have stitched down all of your applique pieces, to spray them with a little bit of water to loosen up the glue.  Let it dry, then cut your slit in the back of the quilt and remove the paper.  It makes things EASY PEASY!!!

After this top dries I'll flip it over and cut a tiny slit behind each applique and remove the paper with tweezers.  I'm psyched to be almost finished with this quilt!!!  Hopefully the next pictures I show you will have some quilting in them!

Have a great Wednesday!  :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What A Difference A Little Bias Tape Makes!

It was really fun to read so many different thoughts on the comment I made the other day about quilting being my "hobby".  To be truthful, it's more than a hobby.  Yes, I have a small long arming business that I'm having a total ball with - but for me, it's even more than that.  I suppose at this point, on this level, I've moved beyond hobby or a little fun into the hopelessly obsessed zone!  I AM completely passionate about quilts.  I'm passionate about quilts like artists are passionate about their art - and I fully consider what we do an art.  My running joke - "God called the nuns to the convent...and he called me to the sewing machine!!!"  Ok I'm really not THAT full of myself, HA!  But I say this with the meaning that I do at times feel like something greater than me is pulling me to create quilts.  I love them so much and I love planning them, creating them...I love the people quilts have brought me to meet and I love that buzz of creative energy we get when we bounce ideas off of each other and inspire each other.  This little microcosm of quilting - and in particular us quilting bloggers - it's really an amazing phenomenon that I love being a part of.  :)  While I love other forms of art and dabbling in other mediums...quilting in particular is so fulfilling on so many levels - I don't know what I'd do without it!!!

Mushy stuff over and moving on to the really important stuff - my JUKI IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A number of you asked about this machine and as soon as I have time to play I'll share all I can with you!  I may even do an unboxing video/blog for anyone who might be interested.  I first heard about the infamous Juki brand way back when I had first discovered Sharon Schamber.  I always said if Sharon told me to dance around the room with a pickle on my head because it'd make me a better quilter I would do it!  LOL  There aren't a lot of people I would so blindly follow but this lady - I tell you she has yet to steer me wrong!

I began researching the machine and it fit all of the marks that are important to me, the most important being that it doesn't have a computer.  It is seriously going to KILL me to have to sit and look at it under the tree and not open it!!!  :)  For those interested I bought it from Ken's Sewing Center in Alabama.  They have online stores on Ebay, Amazon, and their own website.  They were wonderful to work with - my Husband did most of the chatting with them but that has always been an important thing to him.  They do I believe have the machine listed incorrectly on their website - as a TL - 2010Qi which I don't believe exists...they sent the correct machine though, a TL 2010Q.  The shipping took about two days - to me that's incredible - and it was free.  They sent it UPS and there was some damage to the box that I wasn't thrilled about but that didn't have much to do with Kens.  They did call me to let me know that they fully guarantee everything so when I do open it up, if there is any damage to let them know and they would replace it.  That's pretty awesome.  :)

I spent some time playing with the borders of my Vintage Charm yesterday - eeep!  I love this!  Can't you imagine this with intricate quilting now!?  I love it!

Off to make breakfast and I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!  :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Plugging Away...

Eeeep!  The reality that I am on a deadline is starting to freak me out a little.  I keep reminding myself that this is my HOBBY and while I have goals, I am not going to kill myself trying to meet them.  (Right?!  I'm not sure if I'm sharing or trying to convince myself!  LOL)

Here is a closeup of the overlay applique I created for the crocheted lace...

Here is where I'm at...and I know it's not terribly spectacular laid out flat and boring like that above but I need a really boring shot so I can plan out the quilting.  Today I'm going to add a little more personality and do something fun with those borders.  I'm thinking sort of a curving scallop edge like my recent whole cloth design.  I've begun designing the quilting plan...OH MY GAWSH I can't wait.  I'm toying with the idea of shading in the quilting with my Shiva Paintstiks.  I'm going to have to do a sample first as there is SO much handwork in this that I might cry if I decide I hate the paint AFTER painting this!  LOL  I really love how the applique overlays look over the crocheted lace.

Oh - and guess what?  MY JUKI COMES TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It's seriously going to kill me not to open it.  :)  :)  :)