December 20, 2017

Quilt 99: Green Fern Table Runner

My friend Lil wants to give her partner's mother a special gift for Christmas this year.  She loves the table runners I've made for her and asked me to make one for Beryl.  She was open to any design I might come up with, but did specify the colours: navy blue, bright green, and cream.  She also told me Beryl is fond of plants, especially ferns.

I couldn't believe my luck when I found this print (navy background with bright green fern leaves).  It was just too good to be true!
 I opted to go with simple blocks, framing the fern print in a gold Bali print (which pulls out the gold/browns from the print), and then adding a band of bright green as out outer frame:

Here it is on the longarm, with the cream fabric added as a final border and sashing between the blocks:
I used my rulers to get very straight "stich-in-the-ditch" edging around the frames - and opted for very tiny loops on the cream fabric.  The effect is lovely, it looks very lacy, stitched with cream thread.
And here's the finished table runner:
58" x 14"
In the closeup below, you can see I've bound the quilt using the same navy/ferns print from the blocks.  It's very dramatic and quite effective - pulls the whole thing together nicely.
The back turned out pretty, too!  On this side (below) you can see how I stitched around the rectangular blocks in the center.
And the runner is done just in time!  Christmas is less than a week away!

November 29, 2017

Quilt 98: "Valley of the Kings" Jelly Roll Race - DONE!

My sister Janelle and I share a passion for ancient Egypt. When I found this jelly roll online, I knew I had to get one and make a quilt for her.

"Valley of the Kings"! How perfect!
I love the prints in this - and after opening up the pack separated them into piles of like colours/patterns.  I racked my brains for months (well over a year, actually) before finally deciding on doing a "jellyroll race" quilt.   Here's a link to a video which shows how to do this kind of quilt:  Jenny's Jelly Roll Race Tutorial
The final quilt was a bit wider than I wanted and not quite as long - so I cut 2 3-inch strips from the sides:
Here's the finished quilt.  If you look at the top and the bottom, you'll see where I placed those 2 strips. 
2017 - 49" x 76"  quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - bamboo batting
(doubleclick the photo to see a larger image)
And here's the backing:
I opted for deep gold for the back and quilted it with a light gold thread.  The thread shows up on the back, but pretty much fades on the front - exactly what I wanted for this quilt.

Janelle is moving this weekend into her new condo - and this quilt is a house-warming gift for her.  I can't wait to give it to her!

November 15, 2017

Australia says YES!!!

No quilt talk today.

Today is a day of great celebration here in Australia.

The issue of same-sex marriage equality has been hotly debated.  The government opted to ask Australians directly what they want - in a simple, voluntary yes-no postal poll.  And just a few minutes ago the results were officially announced:

61% said "yes".

This was only a poll, but it clearly shows that the majority of people in this country support marriage equality.

The people have spoken.  Now let's see our elected representatives get busy and make it the law!

Australia said "YES!"

November 8, 2017

Quilt 97: Scrappy Squares Table Runner - DONE!

Last year I gave my friend Lil a Christmas table runner as a gift.  She loved it and not long ago confessed that almost a year later she's still using it!  When she asked if I'd do another, how could I refuse?

I invited her to browse through my scraps box and see if there was anything she liked.  She had no trouble finding some salmon and mint scraps which would go very well with her dining room colours:
There wasn't quite enough there to make a runner the size she wanted, so I did have to buy a fat quarter piece to be sure and have enough - but for the most part, this table runner is just from scraps.  I fiddled around and finally came up with this design - on-point squares:
For the quilting, I used cream thread (which pretty much fades into the pale green edges).  Keeping it simple, I did stitch-in-the-ditch (with the help of a ruler) going around the squares.  The pale mint triangles on the edge, however, needed something a little more complex.  I've done a little bit of free-motion, and after practicing making leafy-vines on some throw-away scraps, decided that was the way to go.  In the photo below, you can see the wavy vines and leaves:
I have to admit it was nerve-wracking to quilt that design.  Once I got started, I realized the cream thread I'd chosen really does fade/blend into the pale mint fabric - so much so that it was nearly impossible to see the stitching, looking straight down.  You can see the stitching in the photo aboe because the light is casting shadow.  But looking straight down in bright light... no.  The stitching is almost invisible.  EEK!  But it turned out fine.

The photo below shows the backing (solid mint homespun) and the cream stitches are a lot easier to see here.
And here's the final runner - binding fabric is the same as the backing.
2017 - 13.5" x 71" - quilted on the longarm (free motion and ruler) - cotton batting    
I'm very encouraged with this bit of free-motion quilting.  I'll certainly be doing more of it from here out!

November 1, 2017

Echo Feet - Foot Problems

A while back I purchased a set of "echo" feet for Matilda, my Handi Quilter longarm.  These special feet help you to stitch varying widths of parallel lines - similar to what you see on Hawaiian quilts.  The set Handi Quilter offers has three sizes:

I haven't had a quilt where I could use them until now - so I opened them up and put the medium-sized foot on. 


This can't be right.  The needle should be in the center of the foot - but look at the photo below:

It's sitting way to the right of center - right up against the side of the foot.  Not good.  With echo quilting, you want your lines to be even - I'll never get there with this.

I discussed this with Howard, my Handi Quilter dealer, and he showed me that what I have to do with these feet is adjust the mechanism that holds them on the machine.  There's a small screw that has to be loosened and will allow the foot-base to swing into the position you want.  Well... it works.  I don't like it, but it works.  I can't understand why Handi Quilter's echo feet aren't aligned with the ruler foot and other feet - but that's the way it is.

At least  now I can move on and use these on a project!

October 25, 2017

Quilt 96: Squares of Sharon - Autumn Gold - DONE!

In September of 2016, while shopping with my sister Carolyn in Ohio, we came across a fabulous print, which she just loved.  I told her I'd love to make her a quilt, and would be happy to do one with that fabric, and she gladly agreed.  The line to the cutting table was a bit long, and there wasn't time to get the fabric that day (and I was leaving for Florida the next day) - so we decided for her to go back later, get the fabric, and post it to me in Australia.  Carolyn got the fabric, but it was several months before she got around to posting it to me and then, on my end, I managed to procrastinate several months before getting the fabric out and makinig the quilt.

But it's done now - and I'm thrilled with the result.

The fabric has narrow stripes in green, gold, orange, and maroon, highlighted with glittery gold lines between them.  The gold really sparkles.  Wanting to maximize the effect of the strips, we opted for "Squares of Sharon" blocks, which turned out just stunning using only that one fabric (but cut at 2 angles, to create a kind of prism effect.  (When I made my first Squares of Sharon quilt, I posted a tutorial showing how to do it - click here to see that tutorial post)

Here's the quilt on the longarm - In this picture, you can just see some of the sparkle of the gold.  I tried and tried to get a photo that would show that sparkle - but neither my phone or camera really catch that glint.

(double click the photo to see a larger image)
Just before I started the quilting, Caroly asked if I could somehow incorporate the word "hope". In the corners of binding, I've got medium-sized squares of the coordinating deep red fabric - and in those blocks I used the longarm to stitch the word in each block.  Here's the one in the upper left corner:
 And here's the finished quilt!
54" x 66" - quilted on the longarm (free-motion loop-d-loops) - polyester batting
 And a close-up of the Squares of Sharon blocks.
I'm really liking the blocks done this way, and will am thinking seriously about doing another one with a striped print.

The quilt is finished now, and I'll pop it in the mail to Carolyn early next week.  It will reach her just in time: it's starting to get cold up there in Ohio now, and I love the mental image I have of her curled up under this quilt with a good book!

October 18, 2017

Three Fairies (Panel Quilt) - DONE!

I really enjoy doing quilts from panels.  I found this one online a couple of years ago:

Here's the coordinating fabrics (from the same online source):

 I already had this orchid print, and the colours will work well as backing fabric.  I definitely wanted a "busy" backing fabric because I planned to do free-motion quilting on this project, outlining the fairies, butterflies and flowers in the panel.

It actually took me about 2 years to get the courage up to do this one, but once I got started - it was such a FUN project!

Here it is finished:
And here's the backing
On the center (the panel) I opted to stitch around the elements of the image, the fairies, butterflies, leaves and flowers.  Not wanting the quilting to be too busy, I just outlined some of the elements of the panel, leaving a little more blank space than usual.

In the image below, you can see I've outlined the leaves, butterfly, and flowers on the left.
And on the image below you can see I traced around the fingers of the fairy and around the butterfly.
Click any picture on this post to see a larger image
Here's a closeup of the backing.  You can somewhat make out the pattern of stitching, but because the fabric of the backing is so bold and "busy", it pretty much masks out the stitching - exactly what I wanted.
And I got just a little braver - on the quilt top, there are 6 blocks of pink fabric which are more-or-less plain.  I decided to try free-motion stitching a dragonfly in each of those.  They turned out pretty well!  Here's one of them:

I can't wait to do another free-motion panel quilt.  This one was terrific fun!

October 14, 2017

Comparing the Bernina and Handi Quilter Longarms

Very few people have the opportunity to work with more than one brand of longarm - but that's exactly what I've got with my two machines.  I've finished my first two projects on "Bernie", and I'm learning a lot, and am finding that are good (and less so) about Bernina and HQ.

Time to report what I've learned.


The price of a basic Handi Quilter (machine and frame) is very similar to Bernina of the same size, but when you get past the basics and want accessories, the prices start popping at you.  For example, HQ's pantograph kit runs about $200 (AUD) - whereas Bernina's kit is $1,400.  Ouch.

One thing that puzzles me is that both machines use a standard "M" class bobbin.  It doesn't take long before you realize you want to have more than just a couple of these on hand.  HQ's bobbins sell for $5.00 each.  Bernina's are $8.00.  What's the difference?  Bernina's bobbins are read and have the company name printed on them.  Is that worth an extra $3.00?  Uh... no...

The Frame

  • The HQ frame is actually in 3 segments and you can install it with one, two, or all 3 segments in place.  This is great for me because the room I have mine in won't accommodate a 12 foot frame, but an 8 foot frame fits in nicely.  Bernina has different frame sizes available, but they don't have a frame with an adjustable width (yet).
  • The HQ frame weighs a TON.  The Bernina frame, on the other hand, is amazingly lightweight.  It's so light that I can roll the machine around in my room (I have casters on the frame to allow this) and there are no marks on my hardwood floor.  


Both offer things like the pantograph kit, micro-handles, echo feet, ruler kits and so on.  However...
  • Pantograph kit - I've already mentioned the astonishing difference in price - but there's more.  The way the stylus for pattern boards is set up is quite different between the 2 systems.  On HQ, the stylus attachment is set up so that you can adjust the position of the stylus after advancing the quilt.  This makes it easy to keep the next row the right distance from the previous row.  With Bernina, you have to adjust the quilt - which is more demanding, fiddly and prone to alignment errors.  Perhaps there's some kind of "trick" to this on the Bernina that I just don't know about.  At the moment, however, I'm finding it very difficult to align correctly after advancing the quilt.
  • The styluses are quite different.  The Bernina stylus is metal and sits very firmly in the holder - nice!  The HQ stylus is plastic and has a bit of "wiggle" to it - which creates awkward irregularities in the stitching if you aren't careful.
  • A "ruler base" is available for both machines.  The Bernina ruler base is much easier to put on and take off because of it's design.  The HQ is a bit problematic because you have to bend the lucite base in order to slide it into position; I can't help but wonder if the base will become brittle over time and eventually snap in half when I'm trying to get it on or off the machine.  Have a look at videos from each manufacturer on how to install the bases and you'll see exactly what I mean:    BERNINA TUTORIAL         HQ TUTORIAL
  • Echo feet - Bernina offers only one size of echo foot, where Handi Quilter offers a set with 3 different size feet.  
  • Bernina offers a hydraulic lift to raise and lower the frame.  This is a fantastic accessory, although rather expensive ($5,000).  HQ doesn't offer a similar accessory.
  • Bobbin Winding - On the Bernina this is a breeze - the winding mechanism is on the side of the machine and you can wind bobbins while you are quilting (you don't have to stop the machine).  It's quick, quiet, and easy to work with.  HQ has a separate bobbin winder - which is clunky, loud, and temperamental.  
  • Testing bobbin tension - Bernina offers a bobbin tension gauge - which tells you exactly how much tension is on the bobbin (very small device, easy to use).  HQ doesn't have this.  Instead their owners manual gives instructions for testing bobbin tension by simply loading the bobbin into the bobbin case and pulling on the thread.  It's early days, yet, so I'm not sure if the gauge is really worth the extra money.  I've had issues with tension at times with the HQ over the 3+ years I've had it, and it's possible that a bobbin tension gauge might have helped me resolve them faster.  Time will tell.
  • Bernina offers casters for the frame (HQ does not).  These are simply essential for me because the room I have my machine in is small enough that I need to be able to shift the machine around from time to time.  Casters make that easy.  However, I will mention that my dealer told me that casters aren't compatible with their Q-Matic computerized automated quilting system.

Working With The Machine

  • The manual "needle up/down" wheel is on the back of the HQ machine and on the right side on the front of the Bernina.  It's much better up front.  When you have to re-thread the needle or replace the bobbin, you want to be able to position the needle immediately over the line of stitching - so having that nob within reach on the front makes all the difference in the world!  You can lower the needle (as you would on an ordinary sewing machine) and know exactly where the needle will be going.
  • The Bernina has an automatic needle threader.  The HQ doesn't - which puzzles me to no end.  
  • Both machines have a facility to estimate the remaining thread on the bobbin and alert you when it's getting low.  In my early days with the HQ machine I found it too confusing/fiddly to mess with and so never used it.  The Bernina estimator is much easier to use, but I don't really use it much, as having the bobbin run out of thread doesn't really cause me a lot of headaches.  I think if I had purchased the computer automated quilting upgrade it would be more important to me.
  • Both machines have a "precision" stitch mode (on Bernina it's called "BSR2").  With this mode, the idea is that the machine stitches when you move it; when you stop moving the machine, the stitching stops.  It works that way with HQ; you press the "on" button and the machine waits for you to move it before it starts stitching.  But with the Bernina, the machine takes a couple of "startup" stitches even before you move the machine.  When you stop, the Bernina takes a couple extra "tie off" stitches.  The HQ doesn't.  You can't turn off those extra stitches on the Bernina, all you can do is change the number of extra stitches it takes.  I don't necessarily want those extra stitches, so I make sure I start moving the machine immediately when turn on B2 mode, and when I want to stop, I turn it off a couple of stitches before I stop moving the machine.
  • Changing feet on the Bernina is a lot easier - there's just a little lever on the back holding the foot in position; you just flip it and the foot comes off.  With HQ you have to remove a screw (and hope you don't drop it in the process).
  • Oiling HQ is faster than the Bernina because you just have to reach down and drop the oil into the front of the bobbin mechanism.  But the spot where you put the oil is hard to see into, just a little awkward.  With the Bernina, you have to remove the foot and then the needle plate, which seems like more work at first, but when you do that you get a really good look at the bobbin mechanism and it's easier to spot lint you might not have brushed away.
  • My HQ came with a little bottle of machine oil.  I don't know if this is actually an HQ bottle or just one the dealer included.  The bottle has a long metal "straw" coming out of it with a little screw-on cap.  It's fiddly, gets oil all over whatever it touches, and not easy to just get that one little drop.  Bernina has a GREAT oil pen that stays clean and delivers just what you want exactly where you want it - 1000 times easier to use.  You can buy one for under $8.00.

    Have a look:

  • Both machines have a bit of vibration when they are in use, but the Bernina is much, much smoother.  It makes a big difference when you are doing fine work.
  • The flat power/control cables on the back and bottom of the HQ sometimes get pushed up against the cart wheels, causing a sudden jerk/dragging motion that is very annoying.  I haven't experienced this with the Bernina, at least not yet.
  • Leader cloths.  OK.  This may be a bit picky, but I find the HQ leader cloths easier to work with because they aren't as thick/stiff as Bernina's.  Pinning the quilt to them is much easier on the HQ.
  • Changing needles is a bit fiddly with the HQ because the needles it uses are round.  It's too easy to have the needle twisted to one side or the other instead of perfectly in position.  With Bernina, the needles have a flat edge on one side, so you actually can't put them in crooked.
The final thing to say is that the Bernina feels "faster" than the HQ.  This is odd, because the advertised max speed for Bernie is 2,200 spm (stitches per minute) where the HQ is advertised at 2,600 spm.  But I've set off the speed alarm on Bernie several times, and I don't remember ever doing that on the HQ (hm... now that I think about it... I'm not sure there even IS a speed alarm).

October 11, 2017

Quilt 15: Wiliam Morris Layer Cake - DONE!

Quilt 15...?  How can I just be finishing quilt 15 when I posted about quilt 94 only a week ago?!?

Well..  I pieced the top back in early 2013 - but after the top was done I realized some of the blocks weren't aligned perfectly.  I thought about pulling it apart and redoing the blocks, but, well...  ...the amount of work involved in that was way, WAY more than I wanted to get into.  That, plus the fact is that when the top is laying on a bed, you just don't easily see the error (I didn't spot it until I started sandwiching it).  So I went ahead pinned the "sandwich" - but just couldn't bring myself to spend the time required to hand-quilt something that large, knowing the flaw was there.  So it sat in a huge basket in the lounge room gathering dust.

But now....!  I have a longarm capable of mounting a king-size spread on - and as much as I'm loving "Bernie" - learning to work with her is fairly challenging (translation: I'm making a lot of mistakes...), so having a large project that could be a "throw away" if it turns out badly worked out well.  Fortunately, my backing and batting were a good 5" wider than the top, so it was suitable for mounting on the longarm.  So I did just that and off I went.

And here it is:
Queen size bedspread - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - polyester batting.
Although this was my second project quilted on Bernie, there were some firsts, issues to work through and lessons learned:
  1. First queen-size quilt. 
    Lesson learned here was that, with a quilt this large, I don't want to use pieced backing.  The backing on this quilt was in 3 panels - and it wasn't perfectly flat when I rolled it on the frame!  Instead I found that one of the panels bowed slighting- EEEK!  You'd never notice that if you're hand-quilting, but on the longarm it took a good bit of fiddling to get the bowing worked out (I rolled it back and forth on the bars, finding that worked out most of the bowing).  From here out, I plan to purchase extra wide fabric for backing larger quilts from now on so piecing isn't needed.
  2. First time using groovy boards on Bernie. 
    There were a several things to work out here. 

    First of all, when I bought my groovy boards, I got 3 of each pattern so I can quilt up to 6 feet across without having to stop and move the boards.  The king-sized spread is 8 feed wide, so I had to pick up one board and move it from one end to the other.  That was more than a bit of a pain, and I'm thinking about getting a 4th board for the patterns I have. 

    Second, the edge of the surface where you lay your pantographs or groovy boards on the Bernina dips slightly downward on the left side of the frame.  That causes the groovy boards to slide under the edge of the frame instead of resting snug against it.  The result is that the boards on that end tend to slide a little easier, and get out of alignment with the ones on the right.  I use painter's tape to hold the board in position, but even so, it's too easy for them to shift. 

    Third - with the Handi Quilter, the stylus mechanism is adjustable.  Once you advance the quilt, you can move the stylus into position for the next row.  The Bernina's stylus mechanism is anchored on the machine and can't be moved.  That means you have to manipulate the quilt to get it positioned with the stylus.  That's a LOT harder to do - and I actually got it wrong on a couple of rows and I'm not sure what I did wrong.  On this quilt I used "Simply Stippling" and so the places where the rows aren't correctly spaced really isn't visible - but it would be a disaster to have alignments wrong on a pattern like "Baptist Fan".

    Fourth (and finally something I'm happy about), the Bernina stylus is more stable than the Handi Quilter's and has tips on both the top and bottom.  It's the tip that drops into the board grooves.  The tips on each end of the stylus are different sizes.  I used the larger one and found that it fits the Handi Quilter board grooves better than the Handi Quilter stylus does!  The overall result is that it's easier to control the Bernina stylus and there's a lot less "wobbling" - which has always been a problem with Handi Quilter.

October 4, 2017

Quilt 94 - Squares of Sharon - Summer Strips - DONE!

This was my first quilt on the new Bernina longarm. 

I was simply astounded at how fast this one was quilted - I think something like 2.5 hours is all it took.  That's due to two things:

  1. "Bernie" handles speed a lot better than Matilda (my Handi Quilter longarm)
  2. Bernie has a 24" throat, where Matilda is 18" - that extra 6" means I can quilt more without having to stop and advance the quilt on the frame.
Here it is - mounted on the longarm.

Somehow I failed to make note of the name of the jelly roll and manufacturer that I used to make this "Squares of Sharon" quilt.  I'll just call it "Summer Strips" - and I think it was a Moda set (but can't swear to it, and the shop I bought it from doesn't have any more of those jelly rolls).

Anyway - here it is:

54" x 66" - quilted on the longarm (free motion and ruler) - cotton batting
I don't often take photos of an entire back - but this one turned out really well, with the cream thread contrasting on the solid dark green backing:
(As always - double click the photo to see a larger image)
Here's a closeup of the front so you can see the delicate wildflower prints.
And a closeup of the backing.
So I'm off and running with the Bernina!  Watch out, world!

October 1, 2017

Where Did September Go?

To be honest, I haven't done much quilting in the past few weeks - and that's why I haven't posted much.  Instead, I've been pretty much absorbed in getting our newly-renovated house settled.  That's taken a considerable amount of energy, a lot more than I expected it to.

But things are starting to settle down and I've got some projects to show you!  Some are new, but some are actually quilts I started a long time ago and didn't finish.  With the new longarm and the twelve-foot frame, I can finally quilt king-size quilts.  I have three tops that size that I never got around to finishing, so here we go!

Stay tuned - there's a new post coming this Wednesday with a quilt I just finished!

September 6, 2017

Introducing "Bernie" (new longarm)

I went to the Australasian Quilt Convention in April of 2015 determined to buy a longarm quilting machine.  I found a great machine at the Handi Quilter kiosk - and was delighted that they had a great discount going on some machines they'd used in a longarm workshop in Sydney.  And so on Mothers' Day that year, "Matilda" (HQ's 18" Avante machine) was delivered.

I've loved that machine, but have to admit that what I really wanted was a Bernina machine.  Even knowing as little as I did back in 2015, I could tell it's just superior.  But the room I've been using for my quilt room isn't large enough for the 12 foot frame, and Bernina didn't have a smaller option.  Handi Quilter, on the other hand, can be set up at 8 feet, which just fits my space.  So the decision was made.

My circumstances have changed - and I now have space for a 12 footer.  And because my long-awaited inheritance came to me last year, I had the money... last April I splurged big-time and bought a Bernina 24" longarm.

I couldn't take delivery until our renovation was over - so it was a long, long wait since April - but finally on July 21st she arrived!

Boy, and I thought Matilda was big!

Bernie's frame is 12 feet x 4 feet - so she takes up about half of the room.  Of course with a longarm, you really need to be able to get to both the front and back of the machine, so Bernie takes "her half" out of the middle.

I splurged on a few extras, such as the pantograph kit (which includes a stylus for groovy boards), chanel locks, casters and a hydraulic lift.

The chanel locks are attached to the machine - which is great because that way, I never have to go looking for them.
The one on the left is down- you can see the black rubber foot is firmly pressing on the track.  The one on the right is up. 

The casters are just a godsend; I can shift the entire frame Bernie is on with ease:
And, of course, there's a lock on the caster so once the machine is in place, it doesn't go wandering while I'm working on it.  Shelly, the dealer I bought Bernie from, told me that if I ever decide to add the computerized quilting unit, the casters will have to come off, as even when locked the machine can move very slightly - not enough to disturb me, but more than enough to throw off the computer.  No worries.  I don't foresee wanting the computer stitching unit; I'm happy with groovy boards, pantographs and free motion quilting.

The hydraulic lift is just so cool!
You don't really notice the device - it's just connected to the legs of the frame - with the up and down switch on the far right of the machine. Being able to adjust the height of the fram is just fantastic.  When I'm working for long periods of time, it will give my back a break.  Fine work will be even easier to do, lifting the quilt so that I see without having to bend way over.

And the bobbin gage - what a great idea!
You pop the bobbin into the case - whip the threads around the two white nobs - and the gage tells you what the exact tension of the bobbin case is.  Up to now, I've used the "dangle" test to check the tension (just pulling the bobbin case up by the thread) - and that's fine as far as it goes, but I like the idea of being able to get an exact reading.

Other features I really like include:
  • You wind bobbins right on the machine (no need for a separate winding device) - and you can wind bobbins while you are quilting
  • There's a hand-wheel for the needle on the front AND back of the machine (the Handi Quilter has this on the back only)
  • Instructions and even how-to videos for many tasks (such as threading, cleaning and oiling) are inside the machine and can be viewed with the operator panels on the front and back.  This is great, because it frees you from having to dig out the user manual
  • Special sensors can be turned on to alert you when the bobbin or top thread run out
  • It's super easy to change the position of the handlebars 
  • The head has task lighting in it, illuminating the area immediately around the needle - but also along the throat of the machine, so more of the project is well-lit.
The machine itself runs soooo smoothly.  It's so smooth that I find I work faster.  I haven't checked the actual maximum speed, but I did find myself "speeding" when I was working on my first project.  Bernie flashed to warn I was going too fast! 

Matilda has a 18" throat.  Bernie's is 24".  That means I can work longer without having to advance the machine - and WOW!  Without having to stop and advance, quilts get done faster!  My first project would have taken just over 3 hours to complete on Matilda.  On Bernie it got done in about 2.5 hours.

And, of course, with a 12' frame, I can now do Queen and King bedspreads (and I've got 3 king sized tops ready now!)

So far, there's only one thing I've found that I don't like.  For free-motion quilting, I prefer to use the stitching mode where the machine stops quilting when you stop moving the head.  Both Matilda and Bernie have this feature.  But on Bernie, when you stop, the machine continues with "tie off" stitches.  I can control how many stitches it makes, but I can't turn it off completely (2 stitches is the minimum).  

So now I'm a woman with two longarms - and I love them both.

September 2, 2017

Where Did August Go?

OK  - so I have been a bit distracted with the renovation of our home.  But the bulk of that project is done now, with just a few things for the builders to finish and fix up.  I did pretty much stop quilting there for a bit, but I'm back to it again.

Matilda - my Handi Quilter longarm, which I damaged in July by accidentally running over a lucite ruler - is fixed now.  The repair required the replacement of the casing that holds the needle in place - and I'm happy to report the bill for that wasn't terrible.  But I do want to say that I'm a bit surprised that the machine isn't a bit tougher.  I understand that the needle would break (and it sure did - into 3 pieces!), but that it would actually damage the machine seems a bit "much".  But there you go.  You can bet I'm a LOT more careful now.

Matilda has competition for my attention now, as I made the momentous decision last April to acquire another longarm...   ...stay tuned for details!

August 2, 2017

Ohio Star Blocks for Pauline's Birthday

My friend Bec contacted me a few weeks ago.  She was arranging a special birthday surprise for our mutual friend Pauline (my quilting guru).  The surprise is a collection of patchwork squares using purple and green - squares Pauline can then join and quilt.  The idea was to have Pauline's quilting buddies contribute 2 squares each.

I was delighted to be asked - and so here's my contribution:

(unfortunately my camera doesn't always capture colours well....)
These are Ohio Star blocks.  I was pretty sure the odds are good I'd be the only one who'd do Ohio Stars.  Bec email'd me photos of some of the other blocks friends had contributed, and yup... I'm the only one who did that kind of block - GOOD!

Happy Birthday, Pauline!

August 1, 2017

An Update on Matilda (my longarm)

I posted last week that my longarm became damaged when I was doing some ruler work (the ruler flipped up under the needle as it was coming down).

Part of the needle sticking out of the casing - I can't get it out!

As much as I tried, I couldn't pull the broken needle top out of the casing.  I took the machine to Howard (the dealer I bought it from) and he hasn't been able to get it out, either.  Looks like the casing unit will have to be replaced.  Fortunately the quote Howard gave me to do the repair isn't too awful (I was certainly imagining much worse), so now we just have to wait until the part comes in (probably being shipped from the US).


July 26, 2017

The Good, the Bad, the Unfinished

I started this blog back in 2010, not long after I started quilting.  It gives me a complete history of all the pieces I've made (including a couple that didn't quite get finished).  I started out slow and have had periods (sometimes even months!) when I didn't do any quilting at all.  But I've kept at it - and, of course, when I got my Handi Quilter longarm back in 2015, well the pace has picked up quite a bit!

So here's a complete listing of the projects which have at least made it to the cutting stage...

(to see a larger version of any photo here, just doubleclick the image)
  1. Snowball and plain blocks

     2010 - queen size bedspread, hand quilted, polyester batting
  2. Ohio Star

    2010 - queen size bedspread - hand quilted, polyester batting
  3. Gail B's "Faded Memories" kit

      2010 -  50" x 60" - hand quilted, polyester batting
  4.  On Point Lattice Christmas Quilt

    Started 2012, completed in 2014 - king-size bedspread, hand quilted - polyester batting
    Woops! I never posted a photo of this one as a completed quilt (photo above of the top before sandwiching). Oh well...  I'll get a photo of it this coming Christmas (if I remember...).
  5.  Log Cabin "Cosmos"

    Started in 2010, completed in 2011 -approx 50" x 60"m hand quilted - polyester batting
  6. Log Cabin "Sunset"

    2010 - approx 50" x 60" hand quilted - polyester batting
    Somehow I managed not to post a photo of the finished quilt. Hm... well - 2010 was a busy year.
  7. Baby quilt (koala print in frames)

    Started in 2010, completed in 2013 - approx 45" x 50", hand quilted  - cotton batting
  8. My disaster quilt

    Stared in 2010, and... well, I didn't get far.  After cutting out the pieces, I realized that the design I'd come up with wasn't going to look nice at all - so it got shoved into the back of my UFO closet.  Maybe some day I'll take it out and do something with it.
  9. Small throw-sized window panel

    2010 - 48" x 60" (it was just a dark panel intended to cover/insulate a window in a rarely used room) machine quilted (not longarm) - polyester batting
  10. Gail B's "Forbidden Temple" Kit

    Started in 2011, completed in 2012 - 53" x 70", hand quilted   - bamboo batting
  11. Trees

    Started in 2011, currently ready to sandwich and quilt.
    I didn't realize until setting up this page that I never posted a photo of the completed top. All I've posted is pictures of segments. Well, trust me, the top was assembled in 2011 and has been resting inside a pillowcase since then. Another longarm project!!! 
  12. Egyptian Placemats

    Started in 2011, completed in 2012 - approx 14" x 12", hand quilted - polyester batting
  13. Japanese print table runner

    2013 - approx 55" x 12" - hand quilted - polyester batting
  14. Civil War Prints

    2012 - approx 50" x 60" - hand quilted - polyester batting
  15. William Morris prints

    Started in 2013, but sadly neglected. That's partly because after pinning the darned thing, I discovered some of the blocks weren't aligned properly (you can't see it in this photo - the flaw is subtle). I'm actually considering pulling it apart and doing it over. But oh, my... what a lot of work that would be.
  16. Charcoal and Wine Snowblocks

    2013 - double size bedspread
    This project I didn't do the quilting on (which is why the image above just shows the top pre-quilting). I pieced the top and mailed it to friends in the US and they had a friend quilt and finish it.
  17. Tutti Fruity placemats


    Started in 2013, finished in 2015 - 14" x 10" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) polyester batting
  18. Tutti Fruity tablerunner

    Started in 2013, currently MIA
    (hmm... actually... I don't think I actually pieced it together, so it's probably just a pile of charm squares in one of my fabric boxes....)
  19. Tutti Fruity "throw"

    Started 2013, completed 2015 - approx. 50" x 60", hand quilted - Polyester batting
  20. Christmas Charm Squares

    Started in 2014, pieced and ready to sandwich, king-sized bedspread
    This one is on hold until I have a longarm frame large enough to accomodate it.
  21. Thanksgiving Charm Squares

    Started 2013, completed 2015.  55" x 55", hand quilted - Cotton batting
  22. Table runner #1 for Kathy and Katherine

    2015 - 38" x 15 ", hand quilted - polyester batting
  23. Table runner #2 for Kathy and Katherine

    2015 - 63" x 16", quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - polyester batting
  24. Hawaiian Petroglyph

    Started in 2015, finished in 2016 -53" x 66" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - polyester batting.
  25. Jelly Roll Blues

    Started in 2012, finished in 2017 - 51" x 51" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  26. Jelly Roll Purples

    Started 2012, finished 2015 - 38" x 48" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - polyester batting
  27. Christmas Table Runner (from cheap fat quarters)

    Started in 2014 - quilted in 2015 and then I forgot about it until I started working on this post.  It's somewhere in my UFO closet - maybe I'll finish it this year?  quilted on the longarm, dimensions are uh... I don't recall, but it's not very big.
  28. Christmas Cockies Tablecloth

    Started in 2014, finished in 2015 - 55" x 55" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" Groovy Boards) - polyester batting
  29. Green and Purple Bali Print Chevrons

     2015 - 50" x 56" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - polyester batting
  30. Oh Baby

    2015 - 50" x 58" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  31. Civil War throw 

    2015 - 48" x 61" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - polyester batting
  32. Antique Rose Baby Quilt 

    2015 - 50" x 58" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  33. Peacock throw

    2015 - 55" x 65" - quilted on the longarm  ("Baptist Fan" groovy boards) - polyester batting
  34. Christmas Table Runners (jelly roll) quilts 34, 35, 36

    2015 - quilted on the longarm - Polyester batting.
    60 x 12
    44 x 12 (gold)
    49 x 12
  35. see above
  36. see above
  37. Hawaiian Tsunami

    2015 -48" x 55" quilted on the longarm  ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - bamboo batting
  38. My Hair Stylist's Animal Quilt

    2015 -  55" x 55" , quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  39. My Hair Stylist's Beatrix Potter Quilt

    2015 - 60" x 60" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  40. Chinese Peonies

    2015 - approx.  55" x 60", quilted on the longarm ("Baptist Fan Breeze" groovy boards) - Polyester batting
  41. Oriental Butterflies

    2015 - 45" x 63" quilted on the longarm ("Baptist Fan Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  42. All The Pretty Horses

    2015 - 54" x 69" - quilted on the longarm quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - bamboo batting
  43. The Deep Blue Sea

    2015 - 46" x 58" - quilted on the longarm quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards)  - cotton batting
  44. Splish Splash

    2015 -  47" x 59" - quilted on the longarm ("Baptist Fan" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  45. Soccer

    2015 - 48" x 64" - quilted on the longarm ("Baptist Fan" groovy boards) - bamboo batting
  46. Tulip Garden

    2015 - 50" x 60" - quilted on the longarm ("Baptist Fan" groovy boards) - cotton batting

  47. Peek-A-Boo

    2015 -  49" x 49" - quilted on the longarm ("Baptist Fan" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  48. Tulip Garden II

    2015 - 52" x 62" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  49. Splish-Splash (Girl's Version)

    2015 - 48" x 60" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  50. Gold/Red Christmas Table Runner

    2015 -  57" x 12" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - polyester batting
  51. Doggoned Placemats

    2016 - 14" x 11" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - polyester batting
  52. Sawtooth Star Poppies

    2016 - 52" x 64" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - bamboo batting
  53. Hawaiian Ferns Table Runner 

    2016 - 16" x 95" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - polyester batting
  54.  Another "Civil War Charm Squares"

    2016 - 50" x 75" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - polyester batting
  55.  Asta's "Strawberries and Cream" kit

    2016 - 61" x 73" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  56.  Blue Birds and Black-Eyed Susans

    2016 - 45" x 62" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards), cotton batting
  57. Jelly Roll 9 Patch

    2016 - 52" x 52" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops), cotton batting
  58. Persian Carpet in Gold

    2016 - 52" x 60" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards), cotton batting
  59. "Under The Australian Sun" Placemats

    2016 - 12" x 15" - quilted on the longarm (free motion wavy lines) - polyester batting
  60. Double Square Star

    2016 - 54" x 66" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  61. Jelly Roll Race

    2016 - 48" x 61" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  62. "Robert Kaufman" placemets

    2016 - 11" x 15" - quilted on the longarm (free motion wavy lines) - polyester batting
  63. Stallion Canyon

    2016 - 52" x 69" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - polyester batting
  64. Squares of Sharon - Blue Delft

    2016 - 48" x 68" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  65. Jelly Roll Race - Bali Sunset

    2016 - 46" x 61" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  66. Squares of Sharon - Lavender and Herbs

    2016 - 58" x 70" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  67. Mystic Purple Garden

    2016 - 51" x 62" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  68. "Grow" Charmsquares

    2016 - 52" x 61" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  69. Aussie Animals in Attic Windows

    2016 - 52" x 76" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - polyester batting
  70. Lecien Floral Collection Charm Squares

    2016 - 50" x 58" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  71. Mystic Purple Garden

    2016 - 51" x 62" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  72. (same as above)
  73. (same as above)
  74. Beth's Yellow Rose of Texas

    2016 - 59" x 72" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  75. Christmas Table Runner

    2016 - 57" x 12" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  76. (same as above)
  77. Moda "Poetry" Charm Squares

    2016 - 50" x 60" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  78. Peek-a-Boo Pinks and Purples

    2016 - 40" x 46" - quilted on the longarm (free-motion Loop-d-Loops), cotton batting
  79. Moda "Pink" Charm Squares

    2016 - 53" x 66" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  80. Hawaiian Surf Boards

    2016 - 55" x 77" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  81. Hawaiian Sea Turtles

    55" x 77" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  82. Robert Kaufman "Spirit Animals"

    2016 - 67" x 78" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  83. Lil's Christmas Tablerunner

    2016 - 15" x 85" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  84. Gail B's "Cross Hatch" Kit

    2017 - 56" x 72" - quilted on the longarm ("Simply Stippling" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  85. Hoffman Fabric's  "Super Nova"

    2017 - 6' x 6' - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  86. Robert Kaufman "Trieste" panel (in jewel tones)

    43" x 61" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze"
    groovy boards) - polyester batting
  87. Another "Trieste" panel (in blue)

    2017 - 50" x 68" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - polyester batting
  88. Yet Another "Trieste" panel (in jewel tones)

    2017 - 48" x 64" -
    quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
  89. Moda's "Summer Breeze IV" Charm Squares

    2017 - 54" x 62" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - bamboo batting
  90. EZ On-Point Charm Squares

    2017 - 54" x 54" -
    quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
  91. Trieste in Blue - (4th time)

    2017 - 50" x 68" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - bamboo batting
  92. Florida Surf and Sun Charm Squares

    2017 - 48" x 61" - quilted on the longarm
    (free motion loop-d-loops) - bamboo batting
  93. Outer Space Attic Windows

    2017 - 48" x 59" - quilted on the longarm (free motion and ruler) - cotton batting