Craftsy’s Biggest Sale of the Year!

November 28th, 2014

Craftsy Black Friday 2014

Craftsy’s biggest sale of the year is going on right now!   I know that this is the season to shower your loved ones with gifts, but why not invest in yourself, too? Craftsy is making that just a little easier by marking down ALL online Quilting classes to $19.99 or less, including mine, through Monday. Treat yourself to some incredible instruction and remember that you will own this class forever, and can take the class according to your own schedule.  Click here to see all the great classes that are available for a bargain price through next Monday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2014


In addition to all the wonderful experiences and people in my life for which I am grateful, I am so thankful that quilting is part of my life.  Who would think that running a hand across a piece of fabric could elicit such excitement…


…that cutting up fabric and putting it back together again could be so exhilarating…


…that seeing fabrics change color right before our eyes could cause heart palpitations…


…and that quilting designs with a sewing machine needle could be so endlessly exciting and soothing, all at the same time:


We share amongst ourselves the wonder and passion for all things fiber.  I am so grateful to my mom for getting me hooked on sewing at a  young age; it has literally brought me decades of exploration and fulfillment.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Bolstering Free Motion Quilting Skills

November 23rd, 2014
I am really focusing on trying to strengthen my  ruler work free motion quilting skills.  For me, this involves 2 separate areas that I am working on:
1.  Strengthen my mechanical skills at handling the ruler and moving the quilt at the same time.
2.  Develop an artistic eye for how to create secondary designs from the quilting design.  One thing I love about ruler work is one can easily create a framework or skeleton to hold free motion designs and when this framework is repeated across blocks, the result can be very interesting.
The only way I know to learn these skills is to just keep doing it.  I’ve been practicing on things I don’t care about a whole lot so I won’t feel badly if I mess them up.  I made this block recently from the large heart MEA design a couple months ago:
I wasn’t wild about the colors and fabrics I chose, so I set it aside.  As it turned out, this was a good substrate to practice my ruler work.  I started by playing in the center section where I used curved rulers to create 4 crescent shapes:
I went back in and created a channel by stitching another crescent zone a little smaller than the first:
That channel matters-can you see how much more “punch” that simple design has just by virtue of adding a channel?  I thought about stitching something inside those crescents, but I’m learning that leaving some “empty zones” is very effective, so I left them as is. 
Next up, I wanted to kind of “frame” the applique design.  I swapped my curved ruler for a straight edge ruler and here’s what I did:
(Those outer feather things in the corners look pretty weird, but it’s because I planned for a 1/2 inch seam line, so I had to make them small enough that they’d be outside the seam line.)  Here are a couple of close ups:
Overall, I like the block a whole lot better after the quilting has been added, so i think I’m on the right track!

Quickie Quilt (Warning-Lots of Pictures to Follow!)

November 16th, 2014
I did a demo on the George sit-down quilting machine a little over a week ago for Sheridan Kay Quilting Studio in Hendersonville, NC and you can find her web site by clicking here.  Sheridan is the local APQS dealer in western NC and I can personally attest to what a great studio and shop she has.  Anyway, I needed to come up with a quick quilt that I could work on during my demo.  I wanted to demo some basic ruler work on a sit-down machine, so I came up with this quilt:
When I was creating all the digitized feathered wreath designs for the 2 Majestic Feathered Wreaths CDs which you can find right here, I ended up with about 10 million quilt blocks with wreaths quilted on them because I needed to test out every design in every size.  I decided to use a bunch of them up in this quilt, so throwing this together got me a quick quilt for the demo as well as used up some stuff I had lying around.  You can see the pieces of it starting to come together in the photo below:
Once I’d pieced the whole thing, I threw it into a quilt sandwich and did my stitch in the ditch quilting, followed by outling each “zone” of the wreaths.  (The reason I do that is it causes the trapunto to really pop!).  For my ditch quilting and my outlining of the various “zones” of the feathered wreaths, I always use Monopoly Thread by Superior Threads.  This lightweight thread will not be seen but it allows you to create these kinds of fabulous effects and I use a TON of this thread in my quilting.  Once done with that “anchoring” kind of stitching, I switched to my ruler work.  I am a relative newbie at ruler work but I’ll tell you, I am really learning that a little bit of ruler work can add a whole new level of interest to your quilt.  I’m talking about a big time level of interest!  In this shot below, you can see how basic this ruler work was:
The side setting triangles and corner setting triangles are all done with easy straight edge ruler work that creates a “skeleton,” or framework, and then you move in and add some fill in freehand work.  Once you’ve done a few of them, you start to appreciate the secondary designs they create.  For the blue blocks in the center, I used curved rulers and started by creating simple double arcs inside the blocks:
I then marked the center of each block and a few guidelines and created these spinning something-or-other shapes:
Notice that all those lines are double lines with a channel in between.  You’ve got to have that channel or the design will not have much punch, so take the time to create 2 thread lines.  My original plan was to hyperquilt something inside, but I decided against it…at least for right now!  I then filled in  my arcs with a row of pearls and you can start to see that this creates a secondary design of a frame of pearls in this next shot:
The wreaths really poof out nicely because they have a trapunto layer of a lightweight polyester batting behind them.  You can appreciate that in this shot:
…and here’s another good shot for that effect:
Ooh-la-la, I can’t get me enough of that splay-of-fireworks feathered wreath!  Anyway, this was a very fun quilt to quilt and I am falling more and more in love with ruler work.  If you haven’t tried it yet, you really must…

Day #5 of the Machine Embroidery Blog Hop

November 14th, 2014


Today is the fifth stop on our blog hop so head on over to SewCalGal’s blog to read about her project.  She created the The Love Birds Wall Hanging in a class with me, and this is a derivative of the Harmonic Song Birds Quilt which you can find here.  (It is created by using bird block 1 and the corner setting triangle feather pairs files.)  Here’s a shot of the full  Harmonic Song Birds Quilt:



If that’s a bit of an overload of color, here’s another version of it created with less color:



It’s quite easy to isolate a block from a large quilt like this to create a small wall hanging.  For instance, this little wall hanging was made using Bird Block 3:



SewCalGal spent some time playing around with these files and did some really cool stuff.  She took the bird block #2 files and stitched part as machine embroidery applique and the other part as purely embroidery with a trapunto layer!  She also isolated the swirl shapes from Bird Block 2 and created a beautiful pillow using them in a mirror image format!  This is a fabulous lesson in the versatility of machine embroidery…you can take a set of design files and play with them in many ways beyond their original purpose.  To see what she’s done and learn more about how to play with design files, head on over to SewCalGal’s blog now!  While you’re there, be sure to make a comment so you can enter the give away!

I hope you have enjoyed the machine embroidery blog hop and if any of you have been on the fence about getting an embroidery machine, I hope this blog hop helped to tip you over the edge!  When you combine machine embroidery applique and quilting…look out!  The results are fabulous! If you haven’t visited all the participating blogs, here’s the full lineup:

I Have a Notion Blog Mon 11/10/14
Gene Black An Alabama Artist and Quilter Blog 11/11/14
Marjorie’s Quilting Bee Blog 11/12/14
Jean Creates Blog 11/13/14
Sew Cal Gal Blog 11/14/15