Monday, February 28, 2011

Completion #3 - Poppywood

This one tried to break me. After wrestling with it I felt it had become my nemesis.

Oh, sure, the FMQing in sections went well.

Sections 1 and 2 went together nicely.

But section 3 did not play nicely! And being a king-sized quilt, this one was heavy and left me feeling beat-up.
I actually sewed it 4 times, and unsewed 3 of those! The 4th was the charm. Washed, dried and on the bed.

Whew, I won!

Poppywood - 95" x 95"

Fabrics from the Laura Gunn Poppies collection. I made disappearing 9 patch blocks, set them on point and made a scrappy border.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Great Class!

I teach FMQ* at my LQS once each month. Last year was all beginner, and this year, I have developed an advanced level class. Yesterday was the first of my advanced class. 

I had 4 super, sweet and talented quilters, and we had such fun! We chatted about family, fabric, machines, oil prices. If only the world leaders were quilters, (sigh).

These ladies inspire me so, they all do absolutely beautiful work and I am humbled by their attention! And fearlessness, they will try anything!

All of them do such wonderful work. They do not seem to realize that for them, I am less of a teacher, but more of a coach. And I learn so much from them!

Thank you so much Phyllis, Connie, Linda and Marjorie! You made my Saturday so great!

*FMQ = Free Motion Quilting

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Free-Motion quilting for my friend

I have shared a couple of the quilts done by my friend Tammy. She is a new quilter and quite fearless! I am so proud of her. Here is here first quilt, and here is her 3rd quilt. Well, she wanted to make a special gift for another of our coworkers who is moving on to a new job. So our boss drafted the pattern, Tammy pieced it, and I FMQ-ed it. Here Tammy and I show it off:

And here is the back to show my stitching:

I used a Sulky Blendable in shades of tan and brown. The recipient loved it. And yes, the little fish jumping out of the water has a special meaning attached. Connie (the recipient) had a beta at work named Blaze. She had asked Tammy to feed Blaze while Connie was on vacation. Well, Tammy went to clean the water and inadvertently killed Blaze. She did the thing where you go and buy another and try to pass it off as the original, but it didn't work. She was distraught, but Connie was understanding! So Blaze had to be on the quilt. Anyway, Tammy is doing great with her quilting and Connie loves it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thanks! and beautiful Public Art

Thanks so much for your great comments about sewing machines! I like to seek information and recommendations from the experts, and the experts are the users. So, again, Thanks to you for the info! I am planning to do some "test driving" in the near future and will let you know what I discover.

No sewing last night. I have been part of a mentoring program at Appalachian State University in Boone and went up last night to meet with the young lady I am mentoring. It has been a great experience for me, and I hope for her as well. She is graduating this Spring and already has her job lined up. I believe she will encounter great success! 

So, seeing how I was there, and so is my son, he met me and we ate dinner together. It was a great treat for me. I have really missed him. He is working a part-time retail job, so we don't get to see him as often as we would like. Anyway, he took me on a walking tour of the campus to show me some of the newer buildings. We walked through the Student Union and saw this delightful treasure right at the entrance:

Here is the artist's info:

And a detail shot:

Art feeds one's soul and I am always happy to see a quilt hanging in a place of honor. Those peeps at ASU are so smart and have good taste too!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sewing/Quilting machine(s)

I am in a quandry. We are getting a tax refund this year (thanks to the move, and college tuition!) and I am going to use part of it for a new machine. I have, and love a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 830. I use it every day, and get it serviced regularly. The repairman told me that I sew too much, and I do not want to burn out my machine! My quandry is that I really, really want a long-arm. But with said kid still in college, and me being in a not-too-secure job situation (textiles), I can not take the leap for a machine that costs more than my car (Gammill=$$$$)! My LQS (where I purchased my Sapphire) now carries BabyLock in addition to the Vikings, but none have the throat space that I currently have. I have been looking at a Juki TL98Q in combination with a Grace frame. I could use the machine on a table top and then on the frame as well. I need some opinions! Anyone out there have a Juki? A Grace frame? Another machine with a long throat? My Sapphire has an 11" throat which makes FMQing a large quilt easier to handle. Can I use my Sapphire on a Grace frame? Advice? Thanks in advance!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quilter's info-Threads

Image from

The variety of thread sizes, fibers, and styles is truly compounded by the sheer number of colors available!

I sometimes catch myself just staring at a thread display gazing from shade to shade!

In the beginning of my quilting adventure, I kept to cotton thread only for piecing and quilting, using the exact same thread in the bobbin as well.

(yes, I was a cotton-only quilt snob)

There's nothing wrong with this approach! Simple is good as well as cost-effective! There are just so many varieties and once you give yourself permission to try new threads, you will see which ones you like and how the right thread can really enhance your quilts.

Thread sizes are simply this: the larger the number, the finer the thread. Example: a 50 wt.(weight) cotton thread is larger in diameter than a 100 wt. silk thread.

I use Mettler 50/2 cotton (purple labelling) for piecing. I use both the cotton and silk for quilting, but my favorite thread to quilt with is a 40 wt. polyester thread (Isacord and PolyX are the one I have) generally sold for embroidery. I love the subtle sheen and the way it can disappear into a quilt or stand out depending on the color. In my bobbin, I use the same 50 wt cotton in my bobbin with the polyester and use a 60 wt cotton with the silk.

I am always on the look-out for new threads, new tools, like new fabric,  can be a starting point of inspiration!

So, what are the differences?

Well, to me the cotton thread stands out on the quilt top because it is larger. The polyester can blend or shine depending on color, and the silk can become almost invisible since it is so fine. I recommend that use by a spool of each and try them out to determine what you like. I keep all three on hand so I can change the look of my quilting to suit the design of my quilt. I have used all three on a sampler to keep as a tool for matching my thread to my project.

Be sure to use a new needle in the right size for your thread. Thread sizes correspond to needle sizes. Use a small needle with a fine thread, I use my 60/8 needles with the 100 wt silk, a 75 Microtex or 80/12 with both the 40 wt polyester and the 50wt cotton.


All 3 of these, cotton, polyester and silk, are colorfast in my experience. I haven't tried Rayon, but it is beautiful! I really am trying to keep a check on my toolbase. If you use rayon, let me know how it works for you.

Some terms you may see with threads are "mercerized" and "trilobal".

A mercerized cotton thread has been treated to enhance it luster.
The beautiful, rich, lustrous batik fabrics are dyed on mercerized cotton base cloth.

A trilobal polyester thread has 3 rounded sides which will catch the light, also enhancing luster. Variegated thread (like Sulky Blendables) has multiple colors spaced on each spool.

These are not RULES. I offer guidelines, a place to start. Be adventurous and try that beautiful lustrous thread you bought because of the color!

More in depth thread info is available here and here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quilter's info-Needles

Are you confused about needles? What size do you really need? If the Universal needle came with the machine, should it be okay for everything?  I just leave my needle in until it breaks, then I change it. That's okay, right?

Um, no. 

Lets start here:
*Change your needle at the beginning of every project, at the very least.*
(Your machine and your project will thank you!)

Now, needle types and what they mean.

Universal - a general purpose needle for mending, occassional sewing

Microtex/Sharps - a thin, very sharpp needle originally made for sewing micro-fibers. Very goos for piecing tightly woven batiks 

Quilting - a thin needle with a taped point, quilting needles are good for both piecing and quilting

Jersey/Stretch - these needles have a slightly rounded point for sewing knits

Jeans/Denim - Strong and sharp, this needle is made for sewing through tightly woven fabrics as well as layers of fabric - yes, will work for quilting

Topstitch - this needle has a large eye and groove to carry a large topstitch thread

Leather - a wedge-type point literally slices through leather and vinyl, and multiple layers such as layers of interfacing when making handbags

Sizes of needles are usually listed with 2 numbers such as 80/12. This is a combination of the European size and the American size.

But it is simple to decode:
the smaller the number=the smaller the needle!

And you need to match your needle size to your thread size. But that comes next!

Whew, thats a ton of info! For more details on needles, check out the Schmetz site here.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WIP King-sized FMQ

I may not be blogging much, but I am quilting! 

I am FMQ-ing this king-sized beauty. Can't wait to get it done. This is for hubby and me!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adding to the stash

Seems so many quilters in blogland are trying to de-stash. Well, not me! I really never have just randomly bought fabric, not since I figured out my quilting style. What's my style? Well, I like to shop with a project in mind. I have several projects on my mind at the present, but until I finish the king-sized quilt I am working on, I will not allow myself to start anything else!

Back on the subject, adding to my stash. 

I have made small additions this week. First up, I visited Dragonfly Quilt Shop this week after a customer meeting. The shop was so cute and the ladies working there were delightful! They have a large window-filled room for there classes and lovely selection of fabrics. I bought the cute Charms, FQs, a pattern and some Dr. Seuss fabric to use as a backing.

Next, Tammy and I were walking this week and discovered that the little quilt gallery (Sew Welcome) near our office has started carrying fabric. They have a nice selection of FQs so I bought these for a T-shirt quilt I have on my to-do list.

Lastly, my Mom went to Batiks Etc (maybe our very favorite quilt excursion!)on Friday and brought me this pattern.

Can't wait to start it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Design wall Wednesday

Put this together from this recipe.

 I used a charm pack of "Zaza" by Moda along with red Kona cotton.

Right now it is 40" square. I may add borders to make it bed sized.

Monday, February 7, 2011


This year I am teaching 2 levels of Free-motion quilting. A beginner's class, in which I go over needles, thread, tension, feet, and then practice moving the fabric. My local quilt shop asked me to add an advanced class where I teach specific stitch methods. So, I came up with this drawing.

And this sampler.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How I make my pinwheel quilts

So my first 2 quilts of this year are pinwheels. This one and this one. A great template makes these both easy and fast.
Start with this tool:

(I bought my template at my local quilt shop)
Also this book and this book.

Add 10" squares. I love the fabric layer cakes, it is a great way to get an entire collection of fabrics and this is a great way to use them. I like to loosely arrange the fabrics allowing for some contrast.

Sew the squares together into rows.

Then sew the rows together. I added a border.

Now the fun! Line up the crossed lines on the template with the intersection of your seams.

Cut it out!

Now align your new pieced squares. See the pinwheel forming?

Cut all the new squares from the intersecting seams. 

Sew blocks into rows, then sew rows together. Layer over batting and backing then quilt as desired.

 I really like how this pattern/template shows off the fabrics while making the process really quick, really fun and the end result looks really detailed! 

I need to get backing for this cutie and will post it again when complete.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My 2nd quilt for 2011

Same pattern and template as the first, but this is for a baby!

The fabric is from a layer cake by Moda, Kashmir 3.

FMQ'ed with white polyester thread. Giving to a friend on Saturday.

Gotta Brag...

On my dear friend, co-worker and new quilter, Tammy and her 3rd (yes, her third) completed quilt!

She made the pattern up herself! She did stitch-in-ditch quilting. I am so very proud of her!
Oh, and this quilt is a birthday gift for her sister, a breast cancer survivor!