Product Review and a Sale!

February 24th, 2013


I was contacted awhile back to test  and review a new product.  I have to tell you that 99.9% of the time, when  I discuss a product on this blog, it’s because I purchased it with my own money and I’m just letting you know how that product worked out for me.  On the rare occasion that a manufacturer sends me a product to test, I always tell them up front that the only way I’ll agree to write a review is if I still get to be 100% honest about the product, even if my review is not a favorable one.  I don’t want my blog to become an advertising vehicle for products and this is the only way to ensure that it doesn’t.  In this particular case, I was surprised that the vendor still wanted me to review this product, because I’ve always been very outspoken about how much I love Machingers Quilt Gloves and this new product is, in a sense, a competitor.  But she confidently told me to try them out and now I know why.

 The product I tested was devised to help a quilter move the quilt across the machine bed and it’s called “Grip & Stitch.”  Here’s a photo of what the product looks like when it’s all packaged up:



When you open it, you’ll find a pair of discs, one larger than the other.  Each disc has a black side and a blue side and from what I can tell, each side is made from a different type of foam.  Here’s a shot of the 2 discs outside of the package:


I was really worried about these discs when I saw them as they appeared kind of bulky to me and I figured that it would take me quite awhile to feel comfortable using them to move my quilt.  I. was. totally. wrong.  Totally!  It only took me about 2 minutes to feel completely comfortable using these discs to grip the quilt!  Here’s a shot of how I was holding them as I quilted the sandwich below:


The directions say to hold the large disc in your left hand and the smaller disc in your right hand.  I don’t know if you can see it here, but you’re not really even holding the discs, you’re kind of gliding them with a light to medium touch. When I needed to stitch fine detail in a motif, I moved my disc closer to the needle so I had better control.  I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but some of the stuff I was quilting was fairly intricate and it really wasn’t hard to do with these discs!


The only thing I don’t like about Machingers is that because they are white, they pick up every little bit of dust/dirt and extraneous dye from fabric and they get to looking pretty dirty pretty fast.  When I inquired about how to clean these, I was told that even after several months of use, they don’t generally look dirty!  To clean them , it’s as simple as wiping them with a damp cloth, and that’s no big deal.  Now, am I going to stop using Machingers and start using these discs for free motion quilting?  No.  But, I think these are a great product because I meet people in every class I teach who tell me they can’t use any kind of quilting glove.  Maybe it’s because gloves make them sweat or maybe they feel kind of claustrophic wearing gloves, but whatever the reason, there are lots of quilters out there who can’t use gloves.  If this is you, give these discs a try.  I say this because most of you folks who can’t wear gloves are gripping the quilt with your fists and you can’t quilt very long doing it that way without getting soreness in the muscles of the upper arms, shoulders and neck.  Instead, you can enjoy free motion quilting for hours without pain by using these discs.  Honestly, I’m going to be carrying a set of these to my free motion quilting classes so people can try them…they’re that good!  We also picked them up in our online store, and you can find them here.

And one more thing..We’re having  a sale this week on retail sales of all our PTD books and DVDs.  They’re all 25% off until 9 am EST on Friday, Marc 1, 2013.  To get the discount, enter FEB 2013 in the discount code box during checkout.  The prices will appear normal until that code is entered and be sure to use capital letters since the code is case-sensitive!


flagyl suspension

What I'm Quilting Now

February 18th, 2013

Boy, I’m really struck by how stuck I’ve been on blues/greens for awhile now…I need to focus on warm colors for my next quilt!  Here’s the center section of a quilt I’ve just begun quilting (it’s not completely pieced yet in this photo):



The 4 large blocks are 4-patches like this one:



…and all of the flowers are either red/pinks, oranges, or yellows. The shapes were all cut from Appli-K-Kutz dies and cut on my Sizzix Big Shot machine, and then I embroidered them using an embroidery machine.  Once the center section was done, I added a yellowy-gold border around the whole thing:



I couldn’t decide what color to use in my outer border, so I started auditioning fabrics by laying them “next door” on the floor:



I ended up going with the blue border and using small machine embroidered blocks for the 4 cornerstone blocks, but I didn’t snap a photo once it was at that stage.  (There will be more photos of this quilt to come as I get to quilting all the different parts.)  Once it was basted into a sandwich, I outlined all the applique shapes with Monopoly invisible thread and also did all the stitch in the ditch along the outside of the large 4-patch blocks and along the sashing/borders.  (I deliberately didn’t stitch in the ditch inside the 4-patch blocks because I want to use a quilting design in the centers that would be “fractured” if I did stitch in the ditch there.)  I started quilting the light green sashing by quilting 2 parallel lines about 1/8 inch from the stitch in the ditch lines.  This photo shows how it’s already making the sashing look a bit different:


My goal was to then stitch a chain of very large circles inside the sashings.  When you’re stitching really big circles in a  setting like this, it’s important that they look fairly symmetric and there’s no way I could do that freehand.  I had seen a posting on the Quilt Rat’s Blog some time ago about placing adhesive circles where you wanted to quilt and then stitching just outside the edge.  I’d never done it before, so I did a short run of them on a throw away sandwich:



It worked great, so I marked a line down the center of my sashing and placed my long line of adhesive circles.  I was excited as I got ready to start stitching, but then I realized that most of my circles had come off/changed position just by me manipulating the quilt.  DRAT!!!!!!  That told me this technique is probably good in places where you only have a few circles and won’t need to manipulate the quilt much, but it wouldn’t work for what I needed.  I removed them all and then started marking with one of my trusty templates from the office supply store:



Once marked, I stitched the first half of the circles out like this:



…and then went back along the opposite sides to finish the chain of circles.  Here’s a closeup of what the sashing stitching look like:



And here’s a shot that shows part of all 4 sides of the sashing:



I really like how that sashing came out with an interesting texture and can’t wait to quilt the rest of it!

cost viagra

Free eBook

February 17th, 2013

If you’ve ever been entranced by all the cool designs you can create by manipulating the basic log cabin pattern/ technique, there’s a free ebook available from Fons and Porter that’s worth your time.  I tend to be somewhat wary of free stuff but I have to say that this ebook was far more comprehensive than I thought it would be.  Here’s an example of a beautiful quilt made by Ricky Tims where he combined the basic log cabin with the traditional Bear’s Paw block:


fons and porter bears paw log cabin

(Don’t you just love Ricky’s sense of color?)  Do you see the lovely featherwork in the border that’s stitched using heavy Razzle Dazzle thread?  Not only are there full instructions included in the book for how to make this quilt, but there are also instructions for how to do this lovely bobbin drawing.  Honestly, if you haven’t tried bobbin drawing yet, it’s worth reading through the instructions and trying it for yourself.  Perhaps this particular log cabin variation isn’t your fancy, but there are many others from which to choose!  How about this lovely Chevron variation:


Fons and porter chevron log cabinWow!  It’s hard not to fall in live with this kind of bold geometry and the colors are to die for!  Again, full instructions are included in the ebook.  (BTW, the book does not give the name of the maker of this quilt but it’s owned by Sarah Miller…isn’t she lucky?!)  Let me give you one more example to whet your appetite…how about this version, which is called the Courthouse Steps Variation:


Fons and porter log cabin squares

This beauty was designed by Lori Christianson and I don’t know if it’s because of the batik fabrics or not, but it just seems like a more contempoary version of the Log Cabin to me.  “Yummy” is all I can say!  If you’re interested in the ebook, you can get it free here.  I’ve been told that an earlier version of this ebook had some errors in it but that this version is error-free.  Enjoy!


ciprofloxacin dexamethasone

Part 2 of the Oversized Tote Bag

February 8th, 2013


This is the completed oversized tote bag (that’s an old hand-quilted quilt from about 30 years ago hanging next to it.)  When we left off on part I of the process, I had quilted the front and back of the tote.  I made a pair of handles and attached them to each side, making the attachment on the good side of the fabric.  (Normally, I put 1 layer of Warm and Natural/White batting but this time I also fused 1 layer of medium weight stabilizer to the wrong side of the handle fabric to give the handles more body before I added the batting.)  Here’s the front w/handle attached:


I then placed the good sides together and stitched the front and back together, leaving the handles inside:


I was making this tote up as I went along, so I needed to get an idea of how large I should make my “box bottoms” at the base of my tote.  I placed a pair of pins on each side, just guessing about how large of a box might look good:


…and then I turned it so the good sides faced out so I could get a sense of whether this would look aesthetically pleasing:


I liked how that came out, so now I needed to go back and do this with an eye for detail since I needed to make sure each box corner would be identical and I also needed to replicate the process with the lining. After turning the tote wrong side out again, I measured 2 1/4 in from each corner down the seam and marked the place on the bottom and side seams. I placed a pin through the mark on the bottom seam and pierced the corresponding mark on the side seam:


Using a ruler, I marked a line that was perpendicular to the bottom seam and when I measured from the center of the seam to each edge, these lines each measured 2 1/4 inches as well. That’s when you know it’s safe to sew over the line, as below:


I trimmed the excess so I was left with normal 1/4 inch seam allowance beyond my stitched line and then repeated the process on the opposite corner. This is what the box corners looked like afterwards:


After sewing the front and back of my lining together, I did the same thing with my lining:


I placed my tote bag inside the lining so that the good sides faced one another and pinned them at the top so I could sew them together along the top edge:


…but I left about 6 inches open along that top seam line. This left me with a hole through which I could turn the whole tote so that the good side was facing outward:


Once I turned it outward, I hand stitched that 6 inch area closed, then topstitched about 3/8 inch from the top edge of the tote to finish it. here’s the inside, showing 6 pockets:


…and here’s the outside:


There is something so gratifying about finishing a project 100%!

cheapest online cialis

Firsts That Are Seconds and a Thread Sale

February 3rd, 2013

When you begin testing machine embroidery applique files that you’re developing, sometimes there are problems with the files that you identify once you’ve stitched them out.  These might be big issues or  they might be teeny-weeny problems.  Either way, when you’re done, you’ll sometimes end up with quilt blocks that have an uncertain future.  That’s why I call these blocks “firsts” (because they’re the products of your initial test stitch outs) that are “seconds” (because they have some kind of flaw.)  I decided to make a giant tote bag out of this block and its partner:


…and here’s a closeup of the center flower; I really like all the fine detail in this flower:


(I must confess that I’ve spent some time looking at this block and I’m not sure what the original flaw was.  I made the pieces for this tote months ago and I felt there was a problem at that time!)  I added 2 different fabrics to make the front of the tote:


You probably wouldn’t need to quilt this if you fused a medium weight stabilizer to the backside before adding the lining, but I like to machine quilt and I wanted the heavier texture it would add to the tote, so I quilted the front and back pieces.  I first outlined each applique piece with Monopoly Invisible thread and then began quilting that center embroidered block with the rudimentary form of the  “Plumify It” machine quilting design:




This background fill design is not a conglomeration of feathers; it’s comprised of plumes that are stitched somewhat randomly to fill space.  The exception (at least on this tote bag front/back),  is in the area near the stem split.  Because the applique shape creates a very symmetric design, I tried to kind of “mirror image” my plumes in this area:


In the larger areas surrounding the center block, I just stitched a loop-d-loop:


Because this tote bag will have a lining with pockets, I didn’t need to place a backing fabric behind my batting layer.  I used Fairfield’s Bamboo/Cotton blend batting and I’m not happy with the texture on the front but you can see how pretty the quilting is if you look at the batting layer from behind:


I should have the lining done and the reat of the tote finished this week, so in my next post I should be able to finish this project in pictures.  I must confess that this is the largest tote I’ve ever made and I’m a little worried that the proportions may not work!  Either way, you’ll find out when I do!

In other news, we’re having a thread sale this week in our online store.  We carry a wide variety of quilting/piecing/embroidery threads and they are always priced at 20% off MSRP.  All threads that we carry (and we now have Magnifico in stock!) are an additional 5% off if you enter Thread in the discount code box during checkout. (Notice that the discount code is case sensitive, so make sure to capitalize the “T!”)  Sale prices are good through 8:59 pm EST this Friday, 2/8/13.

viagra canadian meds