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!!

But sweetie….he followed me home!!

Wednesday started out like a normal day. My plans were set for working in the morning and spending the afternoon in my studio. Then, we went to the gym….and you know that NOTHING good ever comes from that!!

While plodding along on the treadmill, I started listening to a quilting podcast and towards the end they started talking about Quilting Machines….long-arm, sit-down, mid-arm etc……

Slippery Slope: What It Is and How to Respond to It – Effectiviology

Back at the house, I couldn’t get the conversation out of my head and kept thinking about the Color Wheel quilt that is 82 inches square and wondering how I would ever quilt it on my Juki. Also, I realized that I actually have room for something like this in my new studio!!

Finally, I picked up the phone and called my local(ish) Juki dealer and started asking questions about the 2200QVP Sit-Down machine. I found out that this machine is being phased out and replaced by the identical machine, except with a stitch regulator (and a lot more $$$$$). Since I really wasn’t interested in the Stitch Regulator, I decided to make a trip to the store and give it a try.

I went prepared with rulers, quilting gloves, practice pieces and a basted charity quilt. I was immediately pleased with the stitch quality……

….but continued to sit and play!!

After about 2 hours, I was hooked and decided that this machine HAD to come home with me.

After huffing it up the stairs, Michael paused to take a photo of me and Julio……

On Thursday I found a couple of hours to keep working on the charity quilt and am again pleased with the results…..

There will definitely be things to learn and it will take a bit of time to get used to, but I am thrilled with my new purchase!!!!

Ruler Quilting–a little blip

I have been using a ruler to quilt the borders on a cute baby quilt and have learned a few things as I quilted along.

I first used the straight edge to quilt lines inside the inner border….IMG_7512..a nice ease-into using a ruler.

Then I started using a curved edge to quilt the pieced borders……


….and that is where I started having issues.

Firstly, I found that the foot was getting stuck as I crossed seams and, because I was having to force it along, I was making long (toe snag) stitches.  I kept raising the presser foot height but it wasn’t getting any better.

Then, I had a good look at my ruler foot and realized that there is a spring and screw that, amazingly, raise and lower the foot!!!!IMG_7513


Then a few hours later, I started having trouble with the thread breaking.   I completely unthreaded my machine, cleaned out the lint, including a small piece that was stuck in the bobbin case and started over but it still wouldn’t work for long.

As a last resort, I decided to change the needle and it fixed the problem.  I seldom think about the needle being the issue but obviously it had a burr on the eye that was causing the thread to shred.

Here is the finished border…..


I was able to quilt it without having to make any marks and it adds so much more than my normal 3 squiggly lines down the middle.

This was a simple pattern, using the easiest of the rulers, but I am pleased just to have made a start!!

I am one Happy Quilter!!!

Making my mark on the 4th of July

Over the past week I have been working on a design for my “Henna Whole Cloth” quilt.  I spent several evenings making Google searches for Henna Tattoo designs and came up with TONS of great designs.   It was especially hard to whittle them down to the ones that would work on my quilt!!!

I cropped the images that I liked, used Power Point to print them in the size that I wanted and started working on my full size pattern.   I started with the original design that I tested and then started building out from there.   This is the final design……IMG_5505

I say that this is the final design…..there will be some echo quilting around the circle designs and also in the blank corner areas. 

So, today my plan was to begin tracing this intricate design onto the fabric.  In the past I have used a small (12 inch square)  lightbox and was really not looking forward to trying to do something this large on it.

But…..quilting friends to the rescue….. My friend, Sheila, had a large, flat light box that she allowed me to borrow for this task…..IMG_5509

….and boy did it make a huge difference!!!

There are two great features on this piece of equipment….first of all it is flat so that my pattern and fabric were able to lay flat and not slide around.   Secondly it has a dimmer so that the light doesn’t have to be so bright.   When it was on bright it looked like this…..IMG_5501

…..and I couldn’t see where I had drawn already!!    The dimmer function allowed me to see the lines and also see the blue oft the markers…..IMG_5502

So, after about 5 hours  and 4 blue pens later,  the main part was traced…..IMG_5504

My next step will be to make sure that the corners are going to be square and then I will add the four peacocks in the corners.

Now I just have to figure out how I am going to baste it!!!!!

Project Planning

As I have been working on various Quilts of Valor, I have been thinking about new projects to start and I had two in mind…….

The first is an inspiration that I had when we were in Chengdu, China back in 2016.  There was an office building next door to our hotel and at night there were long strings of colored lights shining brightly on the building.  These is a very bad quality photo that I took to remind me of my inspiration…..DSC08558

The colors would change from blue to red to yellow and sometimes the light lines would split up……DSC08552

Again a horrible photo but it was best that I could get from inside my hotel!!

So, I have been thinking about how to make a quilt that has these same slivers in it.  Here is where I am so far…..IMG_5466

…but this ain’t cutting it.   I am not sure if the slivers that I am using aren’t bright enough or what, but I am not happy with it. 

I have been wondering if it would be more interesting if I completely pieced the black/grey backgrounds first (maybe in a brick style) and then made the slivers go from top to bottom.  The biggest problem with this will be that every time I add a sliver, it makes the edges wonky.  

And, looking at this photo, I think that the slivers may need to be a bit wider and maybe I only want to use the lighter orange ones????  I have been trying to use some silks that I bought in India in 2015 but they may not be the right colors…..

SO…..since I am sort of stuck on this one, I turned to my other inspiration.

On the same 2016 trip, we spent some time in Trivandrum, India, and one of the things that I wanted to do was to get a Henna tattoo.   IMG_8752

As I watched the young woman applying the Henna designs to my skin I couldn’t help thinking that the technique was similar to free motion quilting…..of course I viewed this exercise thru my “quilt-colored glasses”!!

So, I have been combing the internet looking for henna tattoo patterns  with the thought of making a “white on white” quilt using those designs.   I didn’t really want it to be white but was thinking about more of a tan-on-tan.  

Yesterday I bought some appropriate fabric and decided to make a sample to see how it looks, and I am SOOOO happy with it……


I was thinking about doing some Trapunto work on it but decided instead to try using two battings.   I placed an 80/20 batting on the bottom and a fluffy batting on the top.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the bag that the“fluffy” one came in so I have NO idea of exactly what type of batting it is, but it works and I have enough for the big project so…..who cares!!

Now I need to spend a lot of time designing what this 40 inch square is going to look like.   I am pretty sure that this sample design will be the center of the medallion and I am planning to put peacocks in each of the corners, but who know what else will be added to it!!

I also have to figure out a way to get the design onto the fabric.  I have a light box but it is too small to do a big piece.  I will have to put on my thinking cap!!!

So, no finishes, but a couple of FUN starts……    more to come!!

Other People’s Money and Other fun things!!

Today, I drove to Atlanta with my friend Linda to help her pick out a new sewing machine.   She had used my Juki and really liked it so off we went to buy one for her.  While she was trying out the new machine, I did some looking around (which is always a bad idea)!!

I was excited to find a set of nested circle machine quilting rulers…..IMG_4663

As soon as I got home I had to try them out!!!   Each ruler is 1/4 inch wide and they were fairly easy to use.  Here are my first attempts…..


Yes, there are a few wobbles and one where I simply quit and started over, but for the most part I am happy with them.  The individual  rulers are a bit slippery so I may need to find some VERY small pieces of grippy stuff (the technical name) to hold them in place better.

The guidelines were drawn in place using a tool that I bought at Houston…..IMG_4665

While I was there, I also invested in a sampler pack of rulers put out by Westalee…..


It came with 6 different rulers that can be used to made an infinite number of different designs…IMG_4666

Since I was already in “play mode” I pulled out the petal ruler and gave it a try as well…..IMG_4668

Before I could try any others, I ran out of bobbin thread (sigh) and, besides, it was time to fix dinner order pizza, so I reluctantly put my play things away!!

But, the good news is that tomorrow I am free until the all-important football game at 4:00  (University of Georgia vs Auburn University) ….GO DAWGS, so the plan is to spend most of that time in the studio!!!

Hope your weekend includes some creative time as well……

Whole lotta quiltin going on…..

This past week I have tried to find time to work on quilting the Queen size Pineapple.

I enjoyed quilting the long, straight lines leading from the edge into the red highlight area….

…and as much as I tried, they ended up being basically symmetrical around the quilt.   It just looked better that way!!!

I wanted to highlight the red area and Michael suggested circles, so circles it was…..

You cant see a LOT of the quilting, but may be able to see the blue lines where I marked the concentric circles…..

The final step was to decide on a design for the borders.   Once I decided WHAT to do, I decided that this was a good time to try using a ruler.

When I bought the machine, I purchased a Ruler Foot as well…..

A ruler foot is different because it has a deep circle around the needle which bumps up against the ruler.  The needle is a perfect 1/4 inch inside the circle.

When I first got the machine and had played with it, I had trouble with skipped stitches and was NOT happy with the results.   After a bit of Googling, I discovered that the problem was that the foot was not sitting close enough to the fabric.  AND, after examining the foot, I discovered that there is a screw (just above the spring) that pushes the foot down.   After making this minor adjustment, I was ready to go…..

Since I wanted the grid to be 1 inch, I am placing the 3/4 inch line on the previous line.   When the 1/4 inch on the foot is added, I have a wonderful1 inch grid.  Although I marked the grid on the first set of lines, future marking has only included extending the corner lines into the border and adding the perpendicular line that marks where the line makes a 90 degree turn.

I have finished 1/2 of the border and, unfortunately, ran out of thread, but a trip to the store on Tuesday will fix that!!!

More to come!!


Now that my quilt is finished and hung…..

…it was time to attack the huge job of cleaning my studio. I tend to not worry about what it looks like while I’m working, knowing that I will clean it up after each finish. 

As I sorted through the fabrics I counted 132 different fabrics that I had pulled in making this quilt….

The big trick now is to get them all back into the boxes. Some of these fabrics have been out of their storage containers for over a year and other things have taken their place so it was a bit of a struggle to get everything in. But after 20 minutes or so of pushing and pulling I was able to get all of the boxes closed (well, sort of) and on the shelf.
I set up my quilting area, starting with my the table leaf and then adding another small table to the side just to give this big quilt enough support……

I spent a few minutes cleaning my machine and oiling it…..

It has been a long time since I have had a machine that needs oil so I am having to get used to remembering to do it.  One of the reviews that I read said that it was a thirsty machine, and I think that’s a good description of it. While I was oiling  the bobbin case area I noticed a thread that had gotten tangled in there, so I spent about 30 minutes trying to remove that thread. It was finally accomplish with the use of a pair of needle nose pliers from the garage.

As I was cleaning, I also noticed this hook on my machine…..

For the last 5 months I have been carefully threading the thread THRU the hole without realizing that there was this guide that meant the thread can be slid into the hole rather than threading…..OY VEY!!!!  This makes threading SO much faster!!!

The next project is the queen size pineapple quilt that I pieced a couple years ago and I’ve been waiting to quilt. I had some time to work on it in December and played with various quilting ideas.   The one that I liked best was quilting long lines leading into the red highlighted area. I first marked a series of lines and quilted those so the quilt was well held together. Then I started adding additional lines leading from the outside borders in as well. I marked the entire quilt and started the quilting process but felt like things were being too even and maybe I wanted a little more non-symmetry with it.
So I sprayed it down with water and removed all of the blue lines that I had already put on. I then started re-drawing the lines but again they still seem to be very symmetrical.   So I have now decided to draw some of the lines, quilt a little, draw some more lines, and quilt some more, and just see how it turns out. 

My gut feeling is that I will end up with symmetry!!!

Since the quilt contains every color in the rainbow spectrum, I am quilting it using variegated Maxi-Llock thread in each of the colorways…..

Setting up for quilting

After I got the Flower Pot quilt basted (using fusible batting), it was time to first, clean up the studio……


….and then get set up to quilt a queen size quilt.   

Ever since I bought the inset table for my machine, I had been thinking about the best way to set up my “quilting station”.

First step was to fold down the cutting table and move the storage drawers out.  Then I moved in two small folding tables to form one large table…..


The only problem with this was that the machine table was about 1.25 inches shorter than the other two tables, so I trudged down to the garage and started looking for pieces of wood that I could use to bolster my table height, and voila……_C186998

I found a piece that worked perfectly except that it was WAY too big for the table.  Out came the ruler and pencil, cutting marks were drawn and then back down to the garage to use the Jigsaw to cut the piece to the proper size.  I think that I will eventually cover it with the rubber backings that you can buy for rugs.

I also thought about the fact that I didn’t want the quilt to fall off of the front edge of the tables, so I moved my cutting table to block it off……


As I picked up the quilt to lay it out and start quilting, I realized that it was really heavy and that my tables weren’t in the correct position.  To fix this, I moved the table to my left down so that there was a place to support the side of the quilt

Once I started quilting, I realized that it was still falling below the table so another trip to the garage brought two TV tables that fit perfectly beside my chair, thus giving full support on each side.


To finish the support, I grabbed a cushion from one of the other rooms and put it in my lap to allow the quilt to NEVER drop below the edge of the table.

The only downside to my arrangement is that it gets fairly warm sitting under the quilt and pillow….but fortunately there is a ceiling fan so that solved the final problem!!

By the way, the funky cover on the back of my chair is to keep me from bumping the wall and putting black marks on it.   I will eventually make a nice one, but this piece of flannel left over from the design wall is serving the immediate purpose