Monday, September 1, 2014

Free Motion Monday: Gimme a "C"!

Where does the time go?! It's the first of September, happy Labor Day to those in the USA, a Monday and time for a new design.

Columns of Cs free motion quilting design

Remember our first Free Motion Monday Series of McTavishing? That design used a series of small "C" shapes to get out of tight spots. I never felt really happy with my "C's", so that the design focus for this month.

Ick.

To give a cohesive design to work on, I'm introducing "Columns of "C's". This design has popped up in several quilters work, including Renae Haddadin's Fill'er Up: Quilting Designs, where she calls it "Column of arcs". There are a couple of variations of this design, some also are featured in Renae's book.


I'm quilting a customer quilt, so I used my back up machine, a Janome 3160. I use a modified standard free motion foot on it. I figure some folks might enjoy seeing a smaller machine used.


Column of "C's" is done by subdividing the quilting area with columns, and filling the columns with "C's". I prefer to echo my column lines so there's a channel between the "C's". I definitely need to practice this design and improve my "C's". Feel free to "Gimme a C!" in whatever form you want.


I also want to thank all of those who answered my "Roll Call for the Ruler Toe". A winner has been drawn for a giveaway of an Accents in Design ruler. "StitchinByTheLake" is my winner, assuming you live in the USA. I am compiling your responses into a reference chart for this handy ruler foot.

BTW, I drew 2 other folks first, but they were no-reply bloggers, so I chose again.

 Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. (This month is unspecified, so anything dealing with free motion quilting is fine!) Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Motivational Stitchery

One of the fun things about working at a Janome dealer is access to a range of machines; sewing, embroidery, sergers and even the Artistic sit-down long arm. So when I saw one of my favorite motivational quotes had been made into a free embroidery download, I jumped on it!

she believed she could, so she did

Thanks to the folks at Urban Threads and Sew Simple, I stitched this sample. (It's free until Sept. 7th!) I'm going to make it into a binder cover to hold our class information and supply lists at the shop. A fitting use, don't you think?

I am learning more and more that we are hampered more in life by our beliefs about ourselves than we are by our circumstances. I have a very loud and vicious inner-critic, so I battle her in part with encouraging words. Many of those words come from your comments! I even have a Pinterest board for encouraging words.

I am amazed at how my free motion quilting adventures have taken me new places- physically and creatively. I hope you've enjoyed some of my journey too.

Repeat after me, "I can! I can! I will. I will. I did!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tips for Using Monofilament

In my post "Quilting Away!" last week, I was using monofilament thread for some free motion quilting stitch-in-the-ditch (SID), also known as invisible thread. Afterwards, I had a few folks ask questions about this thread. So today I'll give you my best tips for using this handy, yet sometimes finicky thread.

tips for using monofilament thread

First of all, today's monofilament thread is not the fishing line-like product of years ago. It is super thin and flexible. Monofilament thread comes in two compositions: nylon and polyester. I haven't used any nylon monofilament since those fishing line days, but I hear it's just as good as the poly, though a bit less heat tolerant so it may need a cooler iron. I use the polyester version and have been using Sulky's brand.

free motion quilting stitch in the ditch
Can you see it? Every seam has been stitched.
I would like to compare a few other brands, but this stuff is so thin it lasts a very long time. Most makers carry it in clear and a darker version, usually referred to as "smoke". This is good when using it on darker colors. Some monofilament threads have more shine than others and that can detract from the camouflage effect of this clear thread. I hear YLI's version and Superior Thread's Monopoly are pretty popular.


The biggest tip is to feed the thread off the spool without twisting. This means it needs to come off of the side of the spool when straight wound. My Janome 6600 has a great set up for spools fed off the top for cross wound and less finicky threads. But I have to be creative to get a spool to feed off the side. I use a spool cap upside down close to the top of the spool pin and then skip the high thread thingy, then thread the rest as usual. You can see this better in the first picture of this post. For most machines, use the vertical spool pin and make sure the spool unwinds freely.

The second tip is to use a very low tension with this thread. It is stretchy and tends to 'create' extra tension via the stretch. I use a .75 to 2 tension on my machine, though each machine is different. Too high tension will result in the bobbin thread popping to the top (you may actually see the thread coming up out of the hole when the stitch forms!) and/or break the invisible thread

Tying off- The thicker fishing line version of this thread from days gone by was a total bear to knot. The newer threads are much easier to tie off or knot, but they still have a tendency to come untied or have ends pop out from the project. I almost always knot these thread ends by stitching in one place and then burying the ends very well.

Needles- I prefer to use a smaller needle with this type of thread, usually an embroidery needle, size 75/10. The thread is very fine, so you don't need a huge needle and resulting needle hole unless the fabric of the project requires a heavy needle.

In the bobbin- For quilting with monofilament thread, a fine thread in the bobbin is a good choice. I use monofilament in both the top and bottom when I finish a binding by machine and have not had to change my bobbin tension at all. Though it usually requires a top tension of less than one on my machine.

I hope you find these tips useful. Monofilament is a great thread for certain situations, especially when there are multiple colors of fabric and you don't want to keep changing thread colors.

Once I came out of the house, frustrated, to tell my husband that I couldn't find my invisible thread. Our neighbor, to whom the hubby was speaking, found it quite funny!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Free Motion Monday: August Week 4

The slacker edition....

Week four of August, my "off" month for our linky and I'm busy working on finding my new groove of two kids in school and a ton of quilty projects that I can't show you. (In part because several are just in my head.)

Somebody on Facebook asked how I choose quilting designs. That's a long answer for FB, so I'll use it here!

Choosing Quilting Designs

I am certain that there are as many ways to choose quilting designs as there are quilters. So I will do what I do best and tell you what I do and try to give some insight into my process.

how to choose designs for your quilt

First I think you need to know what designs you do best. If you are new to free motion quilting, your choices might be a little limited. Don't let this hamper you much. We increase our skill level when we stretch beyond our comfort zone! I tell my students to also note what motions or shapes of stitching lines do they gravitate towards. Some quilters like spiral-type designs, some go for more straight line shapes.

Then you need to look at the piece you want to quilt. Sometimes you want to quilt according to the piecing (continuous curves, etc.), sometimes you want to mimic the lines of the top's design (circular designs in a quilt with many circles), other times you want to balance the top's design by quilting something different (Maybe something curvy to break up a spiky piecing design or subdividing open areas to give the quilt some extra pizzazz). Are there some issues in the piecing that need to be taken into consideration? Typically, if there is some fullness in a block or border, you don't want to quilt it very densely or there may be puckers or rippling. Some borders can be helped with lines going out to the edges to take up fullness or keep from stretching bias edges (piano keys, beadboard, etc.).

Then, if nothing's coming to mind---and with time the process gets more intuitive---it's time to look at sources of quilting designs. Look at your past quilting, books, blogs, Pinterest (set a timer if you need to!), magazines, etc.

Now you should have a few ideas. Take a look at my post on a Quilting Plan for a few more tips on how to audition designs. Try the designs out on a picture of the quilt, mock it up digitally, use plexiglass or clear vinyl, etc.

Don't forget to practice the designs! Draw them out and even give them a test stitching if they are new to you. You might find you don't like them. Better now than ripping them out later. There may be tricks to moving in and out of the different areas of the quilt too. Drawing the designs helps form muscle memory, making the designs flow more naturally.

Once you've started to quilt on your project, don't be afraid to change it if you don't like it! Some very neat effects are created from using a variety of designs together. There's always the seam ripper if things go horribly wrong. It seems that free motion quilting goes hand in hand with the seam ripper. But don't be too hard on yourself either, chances are good that once the quilted project is out from under the machine and your eyes are farther than 12-20 inches from it, the slight imperfections become, if not unnoticeable, at least part of the handmade charm!

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. (This month is unspecified, so anything dealing with free motion quilting is fine!) Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quilting Away!

Tons of projects to do! Quilting, quilting, quilting.....must keep quilting..... Testing threads.


I wanted to use this variegated thread on this quilt so badly! But alas, it would not cooperate with the light colored back, no matter how well I got my tension. I wasn't feeling brave enough to go with a darker bobbin thread on the light back, plus I would have then had issues on the top when the thread was in its lighter color.


Testing more threads.


The winner for the stitch-in-the-ditch on this Dresden Plate ended up being the monofilament. Not my favorite thread, but I just couldn't find a shade that worked with all of these wonderful colors.


The cream thread to the right of the mono is the winner for the cream background and in the bobbin. It's a So Fine #50 from Superior Threads.


I've got a good start on this customer quilt and now I'm off to mark a cool design for the inner border! (I hope you like it, dear customer/reader!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Floss Your Bobbin Holder and Other Cleaning Tips

I was cleaning out my bobbin case and it reminded me of a couple tips for all my free motion quilting friends. Actually, this applies to all sewing machine users and technically, I have a bobbin holder, since my machine is a top loading machine.

I love my top loading machines for ease of use and easily seen bobbin. I hate running out of bobbin thread! But one drawback is that the groove that creates the bobbin tension can be difficult to clean.

Getting lint built up in these grooves can really mess with getting good tension on your machine. Here's a video on cleaning these spots:


Make sure you have a good brush to clean the lint out of the bobbin area. One should have come with your machine. You can also get these at any sewing center or place with a good selection of notions.

See the bit of lint I teased out ?

You can "floss" your bobbin holder too with a bit of thread as shown in the video. Running a piece of good thread through the groove can loosen lint and help remove it.

Don't be tempted to disassemble the case/holder as it is likely that you will lose one of the tiny screws or have difficulty getting the tension set back to where it needs to be.


One suggestion quilters are given when having a sudden issue with tension is to re-thread the machine. We all hate to hear this as usually we think it's threaded properly. But there are times that the issue is a wad of lint that has caused the problem and the re-threading process may work it loose. (Plus, there are those times when the thread jumps out of the take up lever!)

You probably already know this, but never thread the machine with the foot down! Put the foot down to thread the needle if need be, but the thread won't settle between the tension discs properly with the foot down as that closes them. For this reason, I always raise the presser foot when adjusting my thread tension too.

I mentioned canned air in the video, don't blow it into the machine! It will send the lint around the gears and shafts. I have seen some machines so full of lint (glitter, sequins, needles, and pins too!) that a wad of lint has felted and become a wedge in the workings and causes them to "freeze up".

So, now that I have a clean machine, I'm off to sew......


Monday, August 18, 2014

Free Motion Monday Week 3

It's Free Motion Monday! It's now the third week of August and the second week of school. I am not into my new groove yet. But I thought I'd share a few quilts from the Charlotte AQS show.

I took a bunch, but because of the regulations about taking and using pictures, I'm only showing a few, and those are watermarked with the maker's name.


Christa Watson's quilt was there! She's a reader of mine and a busy quilty biz gal!


Janet Stone's "A to Z for Ewe and Me". She does great applique and quilting.


Some serious bling by the crystal loving duo of Cheri Meineke-Johnson and Linda Taylor.


I love the exotic mix of Dianne S. Hire's quilts. She had at least two quilts in the show. Stunning applique! She was in one of the lectures I attended and she was fabulous.


Laura Davies from Tanderwen Quilts had her whole cloth in the show too. She was there, but we didn't meet. Bummer. Her blog has several quilts from the show posted too.




I took a bunch, but because of the regulations about taking and using pictures, I'm only showing a few, and those are watermarked with the maker's name.

Not much news here to share anyway, but if you'd like to share with us, please do!

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question.