Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guest Quilters and My First Class

The quilting studio has been hopping lately.  I've had several guest quilters stop by to try out the new machine. It's fun to see others come in and try out the quilting machine.  I spend time practicing new patterns and working on my skills but really don't have anyone that has the same experiences as I do on a quilting machine in my daily interactions. So it's fun to see others to come in and try it and see how much fun they have trying their skills out and discussing the ins and outs of what I do.  It's fun!
My good bicycling friend, Susan, came out on a Friday night earlier this month.  She wanted to see what I do and excited about.  She stayed for over an hour playing on the quilting machine and trying out the different patterns I have.  
Susan practicing her patterns on Pantovision.
Yesterday my husband's aunt (does that make her my aunt in law?), Lisa, and cousin, Sarah, came by to drop off some quilts for me to practice on.  They gave the quilting machine a practice run.  I think Lisa may be seriously considering a run as a quilting lady in western Kansas.  I may have encouraged her in that endeavor more than Dustan's uncle would have appreciated. 
Sarah admiring previous guest quilters' work and Lisa in the background quilting away.
In other news last Saturday I taught my first piecing class.  Now that I'm a longarm quilter I don't call the making of the quilt top quilting since it confuses that two process.  Putting a quilt top together is piecing a quilt and sewing the three layers of a quilt together is the actual quilting.  Semantics, really.
I had 3 people enrolled in my class.  It was scheduled through UFM here in Manhattan.  It was an all day class where we made a lap sized log cabin quilt. Participants brought their sewing machines and a few basic supplies.  Included in the class fee was the fabric.  I bought the fabric and had it all cut so all the participants had to worry about on Saturday was sewing.  I think things went well and it was a big change from my kindergartners. I also pieced together a lap quilt as I went as part of my examples I was using to show the class.  Although I had two choices of fabric I ran out of battery on my phone so I only got a photo of the quilt I ended up piecing for my example.  The other fabric choice was shades of grey and looked really dramatic in my opinion.  
My finished project from my class.
I am currently putting together my competition quilt for the Machine Quilters Showecase in Wichita April, 2-5th.  So that will be consuming my time in the near future.  I also have several practice quilts I'm working on and need to get finished quilting so that will keep the machine hopping.  If you are in the area you should stop by and give the machine a test run.  It's a lot of fun and it might put you in a quilt state of mind.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kansas Longarm Quilters

In my effort to branch out and meet like minded quilters I found a quilt guild just for owners of longarm quilt machines here in Kansas.  The Kansas Longarm Quilters ( ) meet every other month in Wichita.  It's a two hour drive from here but I decided it would be worth it to meet others who are in the business of longarming so I can learn and pick their brains about the trade so when I'm ready to launch this enterprise I will have more knowledge.
I arrived about 15 minutes before the meeting started and was able to sign up to become a member.  I chatted with a few ladies and found a seat quickly since the room was packed! The meeting started with the program this month, which I gathered was opposite of the way that most meetings are ran.
The program this month was put on by Bernadette Bradshaw an artist of various forms from Wichita.  The art form she was presenting on Saturday was thread art.  She works as an instructor for the Wichita Center for the Arts. Although she doesn't longarm I found her presentation fascinating.  She has a basic Bernina sewing machine, massive amounts of thread, a 7 inch embroidery hoop, and an amazing ability to see depth and color.  She takes canvas duck cloth and sketches the picture she wants to do. She drops the feed dogs on her machine (the little claw things that stick up from the bottom of the machine that moves the material around) and free hands the motion of the thread to draw the designs.  She doesn't use an embroidery pattern! She then starts building up the colors using complimentary colors on the color wheel to build her values into the picture.  To get different hues and values she uses 5 to 7 layers of thread all over the picture.  Remember if she has 5 layers on top of the fabric she has 5 layers of thread on the bottom.  That's 10 layers of thread on an already heavy piece of fabric. Crazy! She said she works on one area until it is complete before moving onto the next area of the picture.  She showed us at least 5-8 large pieces of her work, including a bear that was still a work in progress so we could see how it develops.
The bear  which is a work in progress.
The picture of the wolf was a piece she did for a group in Minnesota for a winter wolf festival they have in that town.  The wolf was a picture she had take of him as an adult and then she added the baby wolf which was from a picture of the same wolf as a youngster.
Close up of the baby wolf.  you can see the thread and how she layers it.  Even though the wolf looks grey he is actually made out of blues and orange hues.
The adult wolf.
I found the whole process Bernadette uses just fascinating.  I did get my sails a little deflated after I realized that you have to be able to draw to do the thread art.  But I still very much appreciated the time that goes into one of her pieces.  If you'd like visit her Etsy shop and see more of her work go here:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Quilt of Valor Take Two

After my first go at quilting a Quilt of Valor quilt, I was a tad bit hesitant to go straight to the second one I had waiting for me in the closet.  So I took a break and thoroughly enjoyed quilting the brown heart quilt from eBay.  After recharging my batteries on the eBay quilt I was ready to tackle my second Quilt of Valor (QOV) quilt.  I carefully checked the backing for any flaws in the fabric and did find a small stain on the edge this time before I was halfway through quilting.  So I carefully loaded the quilt so the stain would not be on the finished portion of the quilt.
Locked, loaded and ready for quilting.
I then chose a pattern for this beauty.  I have a very fun loopy flower but the flowers on the fabric of this quilt were more pointy.  So I went into the pattern library of my Pantovision software and started looking around.  That's a place I had visited since I got my machine and decided those patterns were way to hard for me.  This time they didn't look nearly as daunting and I found a cute and simple pointy flower that I thought accented the flowers in the quilt print nicely.  I had never used this pattern before and normally I would try it out before I went to work. But I had already loaded the quilt and decided what the heck I was just going to go for it.  I started slowly and the pattern proved not to be too difficult.  Six weeks ago I would never have thought of just going for it without hours of practicing.  What a difference some quality time at the machine makes in workmanship and quality.
A picture of the quilting on the top side of the quilt.
Finishing this quilt didn't take too long. I finished it up Friday night because my good bicycling friend, Susan, was coming over to see my new set up.  So I wanted to get it off the frame and load some practice fabric so she could try out this new monster taking up a bedroom in our house.  I also was heading to Wichita the next morning for a meeting so it worked out nicely so I could deliver both of the QOV back to the coordinator who lives there.
A picture of the backside of the quilt when I was finished quilting.  
The lessons learned while working on this quilt were more of  confidence building type instead of the workmanship side of things. Since these flowers were more pointy I had to concentrate to make sure I stopped at each point before returning back down so I had a true point on the petals of the flowers.
I delivered both QOV Saturday morning and traded them in for a new QOV that I will quilt up here in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day Fun!

After finishing up my first Quilt of Valor volunteer project I decided it was time to put on a fun for me quilt that I had absolutely no expectations for this go around.  I chose my brown heart quilt I bought in a group off of eBay right after Christmas.  I chose a tan colored thread to match the tan heart fabric.  I quickly got it loaded on the machine and remember to put down a straight line of sewing so I would know where to line up my quilt.  On the QOV I didn't remember to do this step and luckily I was only off 1/4" by the time I got to the end of the quilt with my stitching. Lucky!!!
The brown heart quilt locked & loaded.
After my quilt was loaded I had to wait.  I do not have a heart pattern for quilting.  Dustan has figured out how to draw quilt patterns for my machine and upload them so I don't have to go and purchase them.  I will give him a rough sketch and he takes it and makes it happen.  Quit drooling, he's taken.  He was having a few glitches pop up so he was having to smooth those out.  Then I was ready to go.  I didn't even get out any practice material and practice quilting it.  I just started right on my loaded quilt!  Oooooo! Talk about daring and reckless.  There is something about when it's a design you've doodled many time during faculty meetings that makes it easier to just go for it.  (Yes, I'm a heavy doodler.  If I'm forced to sit for any length of time and expected to be quiet I get out scratch paper and doodle.)
Here's what a quilt design loaded on my Pantovision program looks like.  
Here's the pattern quilted.  Not too shabby!
We went to bed last night with a lot of snow on the ground and it was still coming down slowly.  We woke up to a foot of snow this morning.  That doesn't include the 3" we got several days before in a weekend snow.  I went out and pulled the first shift of shoveling.  Dustan took second shift and I left him all the drifts.  We had a 3' drift in front of our garage.  This was a snow storm for those with a pioneer heart.
Dustan and Happy out cleaning off the front walk.  Yes, that pile is every bit as big as it looks in the photo.  
After shoveling I went back to work on my quilt.  It went smoothly with no tension problems, batting shifting, or any of the other things that seemingly pop up.  I took a break at lunch time and a siesta, because when will I get another snow day in the near future where the day is completely mine?  I finished about 30 minutes before sunset.  I follow several blogs and I've seen some awesome pictures of quilts taken on the snow.  I thought this one might be a good candidate since it was such a dark color that would contrast well with the brilliant snow.  What do you think?
My finished heart quilt out on the snow.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fear of Getting Started

So I finally finished up my first Quilts of Valor quilt today.  Quilts of Valor (QOV) is an organization that aims to give every American veteran a quilt to thank them for their service to our country.  You can find out more by visiting their website: .
Locked & loaded, ready to get started.
I tack down the edges of the quilt using a large stitch to hold them in place. I sew very close to the edge of the material so the person who is finishing the quilt will not need to remove my basting stitches.
I coined a new term called "fear of getting started".  Some people suffer from the fear of being left out.  Google it, it's real.  I suffer from the more stifling fear of getting started.  I had this quilt on my frame locked and loaded for two days before I pulled the trigger and got started.  
There I go! 
Then once again I suffered from muscle tightness/fatigue.  This time instead of getting an adult beverage I tried some yoga posses-mostly warrior poses because what's a better yoga pose for a QOV than warrior? I used my leaf pattern and offset it as the pattern to accentuate the leaf shapes in the fabric of the material.
This is an up close picture of the quilting on the front side.  I really liked that navy blue bird fabric.  
Then about halfway through quilting I found a slight flaw in the fabric backing as I was rolling the quilt up to advance it on the frame.  Talk about deflating.  I contacted the local QOV representative and let her know what happened.  I then really didn't do much with the quilt and let it setting on the frame since Saturday night.
Finally, today we had a snow day.  There is 11" of snow sitting outside my house right now.  Tomorrow is a another snow day.  I finally went and finished the quilting for the QOV.  Then promptly loaded one of my eBay quilts and was off to the races again.  I'm over a 1/3 of the way done on a quilt the same size as my QOV one that took four days.  I'm really going to have to get over this fear of getting started thing.
Some things I learned this go around:
A look at the quilting from the back of the quilt.
1. Tension issues only pop up on other people's quilts.
2. Fixing tension issues requires you to think backwards.  If it's took tight on the top you need to tighten the top tension.  Seriously?  Seems counter intuitive but I finally caught on.
3. The flaws you see when you stop to check your quilting in the middle of quilting are much bigger than when the finished project is done and you go back to try to find them and they have seemingly disappeared.
4. I'm proud I was able to line up the seem on the backing fabric to match the middle of the quilt top.  That was more quilter's math than I was expecting.
When it's all said and done I can chalk it up to another learning experience and keep on keeping on.
By the way, with it going to be so cold the next few days make sure to throw another quilt or two on the bed.  And if you have one a pup to keep your toes warm.  Until next time.
The view from my quilting studio today.  That's 11" of the white stuff if you're wondering.