Monday, May 26, 2014

Speeding Up My Quilting Process

Today's post is a more technical post.  Part of doing quilting for Quilts of Valor (QOV) is trying to be quick on the turn around time.  Not my strong suit this past month with school wrapping up.  But with summer here I have a little bit more time to quilt.  I've found an easier way to get my QOV quilts done in less time and it has nothing to do with becoming faster on the quilting end (although that never hurts).
The Quilt of Valor I was working on when I took these pictures.  Isn't she beautiful?
Instead of using paper pantographs, which are long rolls of paper with the quilting pattern drawn on them, I use Pantovision. Pantovision is a program designed by ABM Innova.  I happen to love it because it makes the old fashioned roll paper patterns obsolete and digitizes everything instead of me trying to find a place to store the paper rolls.  Let's just say, I wasn't blessed in the organizational area of life, I'm treading water at best.  I'm a fan of anything that takes paper clutter out of my life.
To make my QOV quilting go smoother I've found a way that works for me.  What I've done is I have taken my most popular QOV patterns and saved them as QOVStars, QOVvines, etc so I I know that these are the patterns that I've used on previous QOV.  It is also helpful because most QOV quilts are about the same size usually within a few inches.  Then to make the process easier I've taken and resized all my patterns so I can easily get a set number of passes (usually 4) before I have to roll my quilt.  Knowing that I've done this I do not have to worry about checking before I start quilting if I have enough room on my final pass before rolling.  I know I'm good to go because I've set this pattern up so it fits without needing to check to make sure I'm not going to run out of room.  Nothing stinks worse than starting a pass of a pattern and then bumping into the back of your longarm and trying to pull it down to finish the pattern. It is also nice because I used to spend a lot of time moving my pattern on the screen up and down after I rolled it each time trying to figure out where I was again.
I haven't downloaded the latest Pantovision update so this is my "old fashioned" way of advancing my quilt. I load each quilt and quilt my first four rows.  My first row of the 4 rows is usually a partial row where I am only quilting in the parts that are on the quilt and the pattern is actually hanging off the top of the quilt on the batting.
Each time I start a new row I mark where I start on the batting with a dot.  After I complete the row I come back and line the sew head up with the dot.

 Then I check my screen to see how far off I am. Here I am only about a 1/2" off to the left.
 To fix it I scoot the pattern over with the arrow keys  to line it up. (I'm off just a tad to the north in the picture because I'm trying to do too many things with too little hands.)
 Once I'm lined up on the screen I go down to the next row and put my needle down in my starting place on the quilt.  I always start off the quilt on the batting and then sew my way onto the quilt.  I also mark with Sharpie.  It doesn't bleed through the batting and it will be cut away after I finish quilting.  Then I put my needle down back in the black dot and start sewing.  When I'm through I'll come back to my dot, adjust as necessary like before and go across again.
 Here you can see all 5 dots.  The dot at the very top is from the previous 4 rows that I did before I rolled the quilt top.  It is how I know far to roll my quilt which I explain in the bottom photo.  The next four dots are the four passes I made this time/roll. As long as I line up with the previous dot before I move down I'm good to go.  

 Below is a picture of me lining up the fourth row from the previous quilting before I rolled it to the top. It then becomes a measuring point which you can see on the sewing area but doesn't affect my quilting. What I do is after I finish my 4 passes I roll my quilt to the very top of the frame.  I stop when I have my sewing head pushed as far up to the quilt take up bar as possible and the black dot from the 4th row is now nestled inside the sewing head hole.  If you look closely in the picture you can see the dot and the take up bar where the quilt is rolled onto in the picture.  Since I'm lined up on that dot I can now move down and start quilting immediately without having to make any adjustments on my Pantovision screen.

Hopefully this gives you some new things to think about when you are quilting.  I've found it very helpful to have resized my patterns to fit a certain number of passes on my quilting area.  The time I save is definitely the time it took me to figure out how to resize my patterns to get 4 passes in each time before I rolled it to the next.
What have you done to make longarming easier for you?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quilts, Quilts and Barn Quilts!

I've been busy finishing up the end of the school year as a kindergarten teacher.  It seems like the last days are the busiest.  I've been able to get a few quilts done as well.
This first quilt you have seen before.  It's the quilt I taught how to make in my Beginner's Quilting class I taught for UFM.  It's a simple log cabin design.  (If you'd like to learn I'm offering this class twice this summer through UFM.)  One of my participants had never made a quilt before and I think she did a great job.  I did the quilting for her.
The finished quilt.

A close up of one of the log cabin blocks.

The back, since now that I'm a quilter I like to check out the back as much as the front.
 My next quilt I did for a fellow Deacon at church.  I love this pattern and color choice.  I am a bright person so the colors spoke to me.  Originally we had agreed on a loopy pattern but after I did the double bubbles on the K-State quilt I knew this quilt needed the same pattern of quilting.
The finished quilt.
One of the blocks.
A close up of the back.
A closer look at the quilting on the front.  So I like looking at the front quilting, too!
The last quilt is another Quilt of Valor (QOV) quilt I did.  The neat thing I liked about this quilt is I am finally getting quicker in my quilting so I can finish one of these in an evening after work instead of dragging out over several evenings or a Saturday.  I loved the pattern on this quilt and I felt like I had just the perfect color of thread for quilting it.
The block with my standard stars & loops that I use for a lot of my QOV quilts.
The finished quilt.
Lastly, here are some pictures from our visit to Dustan's family a few weekends ago.  They live in Wichita county, Kansas, which is not the county Wichita, KS is located.  Instead Wichita county is way out west about 40 miles from the Kansas-Colorado border.  Wichita county is having a quilt barn initiative.  The local eco-development is trying to get folks to put up a barn quilt on the local barns.  My in-laws have joined in and I think their barn turned out quite exquisite!  Everyone had an opinion on which quilt block should be used.  I picked my top three and I know this was one of my top three so I was happy.
The barn.

A closer look at the quilt block on the barn.
 Our dogs travel with us quite a bit.  Happy our Golden Retriever went along with us.  He was in love with the water sprinkler my mother-in-law had going in the yard.  He really liked it but I thought this picture was the funniest of them all since it looks like he is scared and running away for his life!
It's coming to get me!