Quilt Big….

I am still trying to learn how to use Julio (my Juki Sit-down long-arm) and I think that it is going pretty well!!!

I am much more comfortable with using rulers and am seeing better speed control. But, I wanted to know if I could quilt BIG……fill a quilt with large format, unmarked designs.

I turned to another charity quilt for practice.

I visually divided the piece into four columns and started quilting using a different pattern in each area. The first was a simple side-to-side column down the middle of the quilt…..

Next was a simple stipple pattern…..

….followed by a loopy stipple…..

….and finishing with a funky flower with lots of echo quilting…..

The actual quilting only took about an hour….it took longer to baste and bind than it did to quilt!!!!

It was a great exercise in QUILTING BIG and was so much fun to just cut loose and quilt FAST….FAST…..FAST!!!

One thing that I learned is that I tend to clench my jaw when I am sewing on Julio, so guess I need to remedy that by putting loud music on and singing at the top of my lungs….you can’t clench and vocalize at the same time!!!

So….. if you are driving past my house and hear loud caterwauling, you will know that Julio and I are sharing some quality time!!

Finished at last…

This past week I was able to finally finish the Brown Stripe quilt that I had started oh so long ago!!!

If you go back and read any of these posts…..piecing….. home machine quilting…..long-arm quilting ….. you will find that the piecing of this quilt was far easier than the quilting!!!

As I started using rulers on my home machine, I had tons of trouble getting over all of the seams, especially since I had OVERLY pieced the backing. This meant that there was just too much bulk under the needle.

Then I met Julio and he came home to make my quilting life easier…..but he didn’t…..at least at first!! But then I finally figured out how to make him work for me and, before I knew it, the quilting was done!!

I quilted all of the strip designs in the same manner, starting with a square in the center of the strip and then radiating parallel lines out toward the point of the strip.

For the alternating white blocks, I used a series of spinning rulers from Westalee and tried to do a different pattern in almost every block…..

I debated long and hard about how to quilt the background of the border pieces and started out with just a 1/4 inch echo along each of the blocks. Since that looked so good, I decided to add another echo line down the middle of the white border and am very happy with how it worked out.

I did do a bit of marking before I stitched….just to give me a registration point to know when and where to stop or to turn, etc…….

The final quilt looks great……

I have been reading a lot recently about staging your quilt photos so I decided to take this one outside and see what I could do. Michael went out to help…..

….and we got a few good photos, but my favorite one is when the wind caught the edge and threatened to send it into the neighbors yard!!

I am glad that this quilt is finally off of my To-Do list!!!

It proved to be a great learning experience and I am looking forward to starting another scrap strip quilt in the near future……

Getting to know Julio – Part 2

As I posted previously, I am enjoying learning more and more about Julio, my Juki Sit-Down long arm machine.

My first attempts at free-motion quilting were to get the FEEL of the machine but now it is time to start working on precision….and I am going to need a lot of work!!

Firstly, I need to learn how to go slow. You can adjust the speed of the machine, but it is still super hard to just take one or two slow stitches. I use this technique constantly when I need to move the quilt just a little bit!! I could probably fix this problem by putting a stitch-regulator on the machine, but I really don’t want to do that!!

I also found that when I stopped and re-positioned the fabric, it was easy for the fabric to shift just a bit when I started back again. I need to practice holding the fabric well and taking one stitch in the same place before I start moving the fabric.

This machine really notices when the fabric drags so it became quickly apparent that I needed to add something to the table to help that problem. The machine table sits up against my other machine so there is a table on the left side, but I needed something to support the right side as well. I added a fold-up table and that seemed to do the trick…..

I was doing all ruler quilting for this piece and Julio schooled me in a few other practices as well!!

First of all, I needed to make sure that the fabric wasn’t bunched up under the ruler but was instead laying flat. This was especially important when I was doing designs that needed to meet in exactly the same place each time.

I also learned not to look at the needle when I was using a ruler. Instead, I looked at the line on the ruler that I was using for registration. This meant that I wasn’t as likely to let the ruler slide as I quilted.

Finally, I learned about ruler heights!! These are the two rulers that I was using for straight lines. The one on the left is an Angela Walters ruler and the one on the right is from Westalee. You can see that there is a significant difference in their height.

Once I had raised the foot high enough to cruise over all of the seams (see previous post), it was too high for the Westalee ruler. I used it for a few lines but realized that it would sometimes slip under the presser foot and that was not good.

The problem that I had with the Walters ruler is that, when I am holding the ruler directly behind the foot, it is too tall to completely butt up against the ruler foot!!

If you look, you can see a tiny gap between the ruler and the foot

I never did come up with a perfect solution to this problem but did find ways to re-position the ruler so that it was never DIRECTLY behind the foot.

All in all, I am pleased with my purchase!! I recognize that most of these “problems” can be fixed with attention to detail and with lots of practice.

So, it’s off to design more quilt tops so that I have more to quilt!!!

Getting to know Julio – Part 1

If you haven’t already met, this is Julio……

He has been part of our family for about a month. He and I are slowly getting acquainted and learning each other’s quirks and perks!!!

I started out by quilting Charity quilts and was pleased with the results…..

BUT…..those quilts didn’t have a specific pattern and I honestly wasn’t too concerned if things weren’t perfect. But now, I am ready to work on one of MY quilts…

and one that I really want to do a great job on!!

The issues that I had with this particular quilt were one of the reasons that I bought Julio. And now I was ready to take advantage of those issues being gone……but they were still there!!

If you remember, I HEAVILY pieced the backing and the front was strip pieced so there were a LOT of seams. I was SURE that Julio would jump those seams just fine…..HE DIDN’T!!

I started trying to figure out why. First, I started adjusting the presser foot tension by loosening it using the knob on top of the machine. I turned and turned and sewed and then turned some more, but THIS happened….

I had twisted the knob completely out!!!

After about 10 minutes of panic, I was able to get it back together but still hadn’t fixed my problem.

As I dejectedly sat there staring at Julio, I noticed that there were some hash marks on the foot where it was screwed in. And I noticed that the foot was about halfway up and could potentially go even higher. My heart quickened as I thought that MAYBE there was hope.

Then, I had to remove the foot and boy was the screw on there tight!! After consulting with Dr. Google, I sprayed a few shots of WD-40 on it and, after about 15 minutes, it came loose. Resetting the foot to its highest position was easy now…..

Now I was concerned that it was too high up and that the stitches wouldn’t work, but Julio didn’t disappoint and I was soon skimming over all of those seams with the greatest of ease!!

There have been other issues that I will discuss later but I just wanted to share the sheer joy of figuring out that I was, indeed, going to be able to use and enjoy Julio!!

Meet Julio the 2nd

As I posted here last week, I purchased a Sit-down Long-Arm machine (Juki 2200QVP) and named him Julio!! Well, it ended up that Julio had a few issues so I had to take him back and pick up Julio II…..

I am thrilled with how the machine handles and am finding it easy to do the “fine-motor-skill” techniques. I grabbed another charity quilt and started practicing…..

I used a ruler to stabilize the top with some straight lines and then just started playing with various free motion designs……

I am learning how to keep my stitches even and learned that I needed to set the machine at 100% speed when I am doing these designs. That surprised me because I thought it would be easier at a slower speed. I was WRONG!!

The last thing that I need to get set is the height that the foot floats above the quilt so that it clears any heavy seams easily. I am slowly, oh so slowly, moving it up a bit at a time. When it starts skipping stitches, I will know that I have hit my limit!!!

I can’t wait to keep working with Julio and will happily post my results so be prepared for a LOT of quilting designs in the future!!!

One quilt done….MANY more to come

I spent this afternoon at my new machine and was able to finish the Charity quilt that I started when I was shopping for Julio, my Juki 2200QVP Sit-Down machine.

To say that I am thrilled with the results would be the understatement of the year…..

I quilted 9 wreaths using the Westalee rulers and then just started adding bits and pieces to the open areas. I used rulers for fill designs, rulers for border designs, free motion squiggles and free motion straight lines……

I have found that the rulers work wonderfully and the larger doodling is easy to accomplish. I can see that I will need to practice on the smaller FMQ designs to gain the fine-motor skills needed!!

I even got brave and started working on the borders for the brown stripe quilt. You remember this one…..I was pulling my hair out over it about 10 days back (see my post “FMQ With rulers is NOT for the faint hearted).

AND, the results were spectacular……

So far I haven’t had a single moment of buyers remorse!!!