Virtual Quilt Festival

Last weekend I attended the Virtual Quilt Festival that took the place of the International Quilt Festival in Houston. While it was not NEARLY as much fun as spending 3 tiring days walking the convention floor, it was still fun to peruse the galleries and take some classes.

The most exciting thing was to see my quilt Mahek the Market Girl “hanging” in the competition entitled “In My Mind”…..

It was also fun to be able to sit with my feet up, drinking a cup of tea while I watched the classes that I had signed up for. Both were quilting related and while one was just so-so, the second one was AMAZING.

I spent 1.5 hours with Claudia Pfeil in her studio in Germany!!

I would never have taken this class in person because it was designed for a long-arm machine, but with distance learning, I was able to enjoy her work and learn lots about developing new quilting designs.

She started off by talking about her “alphabet”….the building blocks that she uses with most quilting designs…..

screen shot from class

She starts with 5 basic patterns…..bridge, swirls, S-designs, straight lines and balls!!

Then she talked about her 5 elves (she had cute names for them) …. additional element, echo, mirror, combination, spacing

Then she moved to the machine and demonstrated how she uses these elements. As she started quilting in an area, she would begin with one of her simple designs. She would echo and/or mirror the design and start adding additional elements as she went. The final combinations were amazing….

She also showed a way to tie off your threads without having to bury them. I videoed this portion and want to get to the machine and try it out. IF I can figure out exactly how she did it, I will be sure to pass it on!!

I left the seminar feeling encouraged and inspired and then discovered that she had also provided a 27 page pdf full of quilting designs!!!

If you haven’t heard of Claudia, be sure to check out her website. And, if you get American Quilter magazine, there is a wonderful article about her quilts in the January 2021 issue!!

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!!

It was an “ARGGHHH” sort of day!

On Saturday, I had one goal….finish quilting a piece that I started several years ago. I had been excited to use some of my new-found ruler technique and Thursday I had tried it out on one of the borders. I didn’t do any measuring nor really try the pattern so it was an unmitigated disaster!!.

On Friday night, I patiently pick out ALL of those stitches including all of the places that I had traveled over previous stitches.

When I started working on it again, I decided that I would do some practice and figure out the sizing of the design and do it right. This photo is three different tries with various spacings……

Once I thought that I had a good feel for the design, I tried it on the quilt. The design looked OKAY but not great and, when I looked at the back, I could see that the tension was horrible, so I picked it out AGAIN!!

Now I moved back to a practice piece and started trying every ruler that I could find and every 5 to 10 inches the thread would jump and wrap around the needle and, of course, cause a huge thread nest. Believe me, there were MANY spicy words spoken!!

I was describing what was happening to my husband, Michael, and had the thought that I needed to go thru my list of settings and see what was different. What I found was this……

The ruler foot has a spring at the back with a thumb-screw on top.

This determines how close the circular foot is to the fabric. If it is too close, it binds the fabric against the machine and it can’t move. If it is too high, the fabric moves around too much and the needle and bobbin thread cant nest properly and THE THREAD GOES HAYWIRE!!!

HURRAY….I figured out the problem.

At this point, there was no way I was going to work on an actual quilt so I spent the next 30 minutes just quilting all over my practice piece. This is what frustration looks like…..

At lunch, Michael mentioned that he needed to make a stand for a piece of steel that is used to protect equipment that he needs when doing firearm reviews. As we talked about possibilities, I started channeling my Dad (who loved to do projects like this) and thinking about how to build one from leftover lumber in the garage. Now the challenge was on!!!

I got all of my tools out…..

….and yes that is a quilting ruler!! I mean, what else does a quilter use when she wants to draw a straight line!!!

In a little over an hour, this was my accomplishment…..

It works perfectly and at least I accomplished something for the day. It is always amazing how the act of creating something makes my day!!

Tomorrow I will tackle the borders again…..maybe……or maybe I will start a new project!!

Stay tuned!!

Quilting for Charity (and practice)

A little ways back I posted a video about how to spray baste a quilt. As I mention there, it was a charity quilt top that was given to me so that I could practice some quilting.

I normally quilt with a 50 weight thread and have been happy with the results, but when I was at the Houston show last year, I started thinking about trying some heavier threads. I bought three, two 30 wt Aurifil threads……

…..and one 12 wt Superior thread…..

I did a little bit with the rulers but didn’t have much luck with making it look okay (sometimes it is just that way) so I ended up doing most of it freehand. These were both done with the Aurifil……

I did a very SMALL amount of quilting using the 12 wt thread but it kept breaking so I quickly put it aside.

For the border, I turned to an old favorite thread….a 30 wt Variegated Sulky…..

I did not end up spending as much time on this quilt as I had planned but am okay with how it turned out……

I have learned that I REALLY like working with the 30 wt threads but am not sure that I will ever use a 12 wt thread again…..at least not without a LOT of practice!!!