September 19, 2018

End-to-End Headaches with the Bernina Q-Matic after Advancing the Quilt

No - there's nothing wrong with the machine.  It's me.

Shelly, the dealer who sold me the system, is also the one who is teaching me how to use it.  One of the first things she showed me was how to do end-to-end quilting with the Q-Matic, and keep the rows lined up properly.

Well... it's just a little tricky and my brain didn't absorb the lesson well.  I had to ask her to show me again, which she did, but again I just didn't get it.

I hate to have to confess to her that I need yet a 3rd go and learning this - but thankfully I found a video on YouTube which shows how to tell the Q-Matic that the quilt has been advanced on the frame, and the starting point for the next row needs to be calculated.

Here's a link to the video: "BERNINA Q-matic Video Tutorial: Realign Safe Area"

So I played with it... and I can do the "adjust on screen", but "snap to point" isn't working.  Oh well... at least one of them works....

Stay tuned...

September 12, 2018

No Post this Week

I've been a little under the weather and have gotten behind on my quilting - so there's not much to post about this week. 

Hopefully next week will be better!

Stay tuned!

September 5, 2018

Quilt 112: "Oriental Traditions" Kit (Disappearing 9-Patch) - DONE!

This project came together beautifully. 

After auditioning the threads for quitling, I opted for a gold thread, as it would fade into the background on most of hte prints in this quilt.

The kit designer instructions included the recommendation to place the fabrics randomly - but instead I opted to make them uniform.  So if you look at the cream colour prints, you'll notice they are all in the same relative position as the gold/brown positioned diagonally from them.

Here's one completed block:

And here is the finished quilt:
(51" x 68" - quilted on the longarm free-motion nested "C"'s - cotton batting)
I did this, feeling a more "organized" quilt than the designer intended would look just fine and would be less bothersome to make than "random" placement of the fabrics (which means having to worry about having 2 of the same fabrics end up side by side).

The backing and binding are solid black homespun.  Here's the backing with my free-motion quilting stitches in gold:
(I do wish my camera captured colours better - this backing is superb in real life)

I thoroughly enjoyed making this quilt, and will definitely do another "disappearing 9-patch" quilt using some different prints!

August 29, 2018

Quilt 112: "Oriental Traditions" Kit (Disappearing 9-Patch)

At the April 2017 Australasian Quilt Convention, I saw a quilt kit that I fell in love with.  A simple quilt, the design involves a "disappearing 9-patch" block using oriental-inspired prints.  I've not done a "disappearing 9-patch" block before, so I was pretty sure it would be fun and easy.

First, I cut the fabrics in the kit into 6.5" blocks, and sewed them into a 9-patch block:
 Then I quartered the block:
And rotated the upper left and lower right squares:
 And stitched them together.
And there you have it: disappearing 9-patch!

I loved making this block and was simply amazed at how fast it came together.  Now to make the other 11 blocks for the quilt - it sure won't take long!

August 22, 2018

Quilt 111: "Queen of the Ranch" - DONE!

(Here it is.. my 400th post on this blog!!!!)
Another Moda charm square pack!  This one is all about horses and flowers.

It's feminine but not sugary.  The images are like the ones below - girls on horseback, horse shoes, roses and saddles.  The colours are muted pinks, blues and variations of tan/brown.
 And, as these simple charm square quilts always do, it came together in a flash.  The only thing that was a tad tricky was deciding what to border it with.  But I got lucky, finding a solid ash-rose muslin that marries well with the pinks (for the inner border and backing), and I had just the right amount of a coordinating blue in my stash of offcuts.
58" x 64" - quilted on the longarm ("shells" groovy boards) - cotton batting
I used the "shells"groovy boards, and a soft dove-grey thread which pretty much dissappears on the front - but you can see it on the backing.

August 16, 2018

A Milestone Approaches

I was just looking at my blog statistics and saw that yesterday's post was my 399th post on this blog.  That means next Wednesday's post will be my 400th!  Wow!

Full Steam ahead!

August 15, 2018

Quilt 110: Moda "Frolic" - and using the Q-Matic - DONE!

Because it's a small project (and less of a financial investment than most of my projects), I decided the "Frolic" quilt should be the first one I quilt using the new Bernina "Q-Matic" computerized quilting accessory.

So here's the quilt mounted on the fram and ready to go.

I selected this pattern to quilt inside each of the square blocks on the quilt:

There are actually quite a few steps required for the Q-Matic.  First I have to tell the computer the overall dimensions of the project on the frame, then mark a "safe area" (a concept I'll cover in a later post).  Then I select the pattern I want and tell the Q-Matic where to stitch it.  There are actually a couple of different ways of doing that.  The method I chose is to "mark" the corners of the block by moving the sewing head to the corner and entering the command to mark that point.

In the photo below, I've positioned the sewing head and am using the needle laser (which tells me exactly where the needle will go if I start stitching) - so I know precisely where I'm marking.
Then I mark the next corner the same way....
And so on all the way around the block I'm stitching.

Once the corners are "marked", the computer can calculate the size of the design, and handle any adjustments to the design if the space I'm quilting doesn't have the same proportions as the design I selected.  Finally I press the start and the sewing head glides to the design's designated starting position.  The head pauses so I can pull up the bobbin thread, and once I've done that, it stitches away!  Here's a photo of the head doing the stitching:
And here's the final design.  Just PERFECT!  One block down, 41 to go!
Here's the finished quilt!

It turned out really well - although I did have just a little trouble with the Q-Matic when, about 2/3 of the way through the bobbin thread ran out.  I had to stop, change the bobbin, and then get the Q-Matic to pick up right where it left off.  Well... I had trouble with that and ended up finishing the stitching in that block using free-motion instead of the Q-Matic.  Thankfully, this design is so simple that it wasn't hard to finish.  But I'll have to play with the machine and practice starting/stopping properly.

That's OK.  I knew when I started there'd be a learning curve.
(36" x 42" - quilted on the Q-Matic - cotton batting)
doubleclick the photo above to see a larger image

Here's the back - taken with a bit of side-lighting so you can see the quilt design.
Here's another photo of the quilt back, taken so you can see the print.  It has dolls and teddies and text saying "cute babe cute babe" and "sweet baby girl".
I thoroughly enjoyed making this quilt - and "multitasking" - because as Q-Matic was chugging along, I was at my sewing machine putting together another quilt top.

August 8, 2018

Quilt 110: Moda "Frolic" - and keeping blocks organized during top assembly

When I was in Florida last year, I visited my favorite quilt shop - "The Quilt Place", and stocked up on charm squares.  But I messed up - I don't know what I was thinking.  I should always buy at least 2 packs of any charm squares, as I so love making simple block quilts, and 1 pack of 42 squares just doesn't go very far.

So when I got this one:

I only bought one!   Well... I guess I was thinking "baby quilt".  But even so - going to a small baby quilt.

Here are some of the prints - very bright, cheery colours!
I decided I'd frame all the squares in a snow-white 1.5"lattice.  But before putting the lattice together, it's important to know how I want the squares arranged.  So here's the grouping I decided on.

In order to keep everything straight - I always pin the blocks together in strips (as you'll see above if you doubleclick the photo and get the larger version of that picture).  Pinning the blocks just makes the most sense to me.  As I sew them together, I remove the pin holding 2 blocks and sew them.  Then I pick up another strip of blocks and sew 2 blocks from that strip together.  A kind of "chain piecing".  I do get japped once in a while with the pins, but this is the fastest and easiest way I've seen of doing it.

To keep the rows straight, I put pins on the top blocks.  One pin for the first row, two in the second, 3 ind the third (as you see in the photo below) and so on.
Doing it this way, I can power through the top pretty quickly and never lose track of where the rows go, etc.

I'm kinda proud of my technique.  Nobody showed me this, I just came up with it on my own.

August 1, 2018

Quilt 109 - "Old Fashioned Charm" Baby Quilt - Done!

I love Moda's charm square collections.  They are just so lovely and easy to work with. Like this one: "Old Fashioned Charm":

Here's a photo of some of the prints in the pack:

I had scraps left over from previous projects that worked extremely well for the borders.  A soft powder blue (solid) and a peachy flower print which, although the fabric isn't a Moda print, it marries well.  There isn't actually any peach coloured flowers in the Moda pack, but with the blue border to seperate the squares from the peach border, it more-or-less fools your eye.
48" x 56" - quilted on the longarm ("Butterflies" groovy boards) - cotton batting
I used a new groovy board set on this one: "Butterflies".  This was the easiest and fastest groovy board I've worked with.  Easy because there just no measuring or adjusting to advance the quilt - just line up along the bottom of the board and go.  And fast because the quilting on this is nowhere near as dense as any other machine quilting designs I've used, so it whipped up in no time!
The backing is plain peach solid - looks great and you can really see the stylized
butterflies and swirls from the groovy boards.
This one goes to "Inspirational Quilts".

July 27, 2018

Bernie's Back In Business!

Many thanks to Brad and Shelly (of Shepparton Sewing Centre - the dealer I bought my Bernina longarm from). I contacted Shelly right away and she was just an angel, arranging for Brad to come here this past week and fix up "Bernie" for me.

As it turned out, the problem was caused by my not pulling through the bottom thread before stitching.  Now, I've done that many times when just playing around and experimenting, never had a problem.  Brad assured me it's rare, but sometimes the bottom thread can get jammed up in the bobbin mechanism and cause a timing issue.  And that's what happened to me.

Well - you can bet I'll never make THAT mistake again.

It turned out for the best, because Bernie was due for periodic maintenance anyway, so Brad went ahead and did that while he was here (it only took 10 minutes to clear the thread jam).

So the thread jam is cleared, I've learned an important (if somewhat expensive) lesson, and Bernie got herself a lube job.

All good!

July 25, 2018

Quilt 108: "Flight of Fancy" - DONE!

This one is a kit quilt from Patchwork With Gail B.  I bought it in April, at t he Australasian Quilt Convention.  It's a little larger than some of the other projects I've been doing lately.  Hubby Stephen is holding it for me, and the corner on the upper right is flopping back in this photo because it's so wide.  (doubleclick the photo below to see a larger image)
72" x 69" - quilted on the longarm (free motion nested C's) - cotton batting
It's made up of two panels (the dragonfly/butterfly print) and rectangular blocks made up of coordinating prints.  Here's a closeup:

I love the rich teals and turquoises - and the fabric has little flecks of metallic gold as well.  I used a soft dove grey thread for the quilting, and am very pleased at how well the stitches fade into the prints.

Here's a closeup of the back:

I'm getting quite comfortable with the "nested C's" freemotion quilting pattern.  It's easy to do and is the fastest stitch pattern I've used so far.

July 20, 2018

Oh, No! Bernie's Busted!

(I also thought about titling this post "The Ecstasy and the Agony")

I'm very excited to say that I decided to take the "plunge" and get the Q-Matic computerization accessories for "Bernie" (my longarm).  The dealer delivered it yesterday, hooked it up, and spent about 3 hours with me teaching me the basics.

The user interface is more than a little daunting, and not terribly intuitive.  But I was doing pretty well.  I'd planned to stitch a few practice bits and then blog about it, showing examples of what it can do... but... something went terribly wrong.

I was doing end-to-end patterns and had just advanced the practice quilt to get the next row.  Just as I started up, there was a horrible grinding sound and the machine just froze!

The screen on the head of the longarm showed this message:

I pulled off the switchplate to find that the bobbin mechanism is frozen.  There's a small metal tab, which is blocking it from rotating (photo below with an orange arrow drawn in to point to the metal tab).

I rang the dealer, and she's sending a repairman next week. 

Disappointing, but it'll be OK.  I'll just get busy and whip up some more quilt tops while I'm waiting.

July 11, 2018

Quilt 107: Orange Mocha (Sonnet Collection) - DONE!

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a charm square project I started, but ran into trouble when I found that some of the squares in the back had been incorrectly cut (click here to see that post).  All the squares in the pack were fabrics with plaids or stripes - and several were cut at an angle.

After considering the possibilities, I decided to go ahead and make the quilt - and use the crooked-cut squares as-is.  The results turned out fine:
45" x 62" - quilted on the longarm ("Shells" groovy boards) - cotton batting
Yes, you will still see the crooked squares if you look closely, but they don't really scream.  And, after quilting (I used my new "Shells" groovy boards), it looks lovely, even with the imperfections.
(doubleclick the pictures on this page to see a larger image)
The shop where I bought the squares had a great deal on yardage from the same Moda range, so I opted to back it with one of those prints:
(I really wish my camera caught colours better - the backing is just gorgeous!)
I love the "Shells" groovy board pattern.  It took a couple of practice rows before I got a good feel for how the board should be approached.  My stylus wiggles a little in the grooves, and if I'm not careful, I get wiggles in the stitching.  But I worked out how to do it and the results are great.

And, because the "Shells" grooves aren't as dense/close together, it took very little time to complete the quilt.  For this one, just under 3 hours (and that was with thread that kept breaking on me).  Pretty good!

July 4, 2018

Crooked Charm Squares

The fabric shop was having a sale and they had some charm square packs marked down REALLY low.  I snapped some up in a hurry.  Should'a looked the pack over carefully, however.

Last week's post was about a quilt top I made with one of those sets.  Some of the squares were cut wrong in that pack.  I went ahead and used them anyway and yeah, the quilt looks fine, really.

But I decided to do the other "plaid" charm square packs I bought and oh, no.  Way too many of them are like this:

Ouch.  I got away with crooked squares in the Orange Mocha quilt - but this one?  No.  Too many squares out of alignment and off way too far.

What to do?

  • cut the squares down and get them all evened up? (nope - too much work and I'm not THAT wild about the plaids)
  • use them as they are? (nope - there's just way too many of them and unlike the previous set, these squares are going to SCREAM "crooked!")
  • use just the ones that are OK? (nope - there won't be enough to make anything I'd want to make)
  • throw them away? (Oh, I hate waste...)
The daughter of a friend has been playing with fabric bits - SHE might enjoy playing with these squares - so I'll give them to her.

And from here out, you can bet I'll be looking more closely at charm square packs before I buy them!

June 27, 2018

Quilt 107: Orange Mocha (Sonnet Collection)

More charm squares!

I got three of these charm square sets at a sale at Patchwork With Gail B.  There were only 25 squares in each pack, so I needed all three (plus fabric for borders) to make a single quilt top. 

There were 5 squares cut from fabric like the top square you can see here:
The top 4 squares are solid fabric sewn into little pleats, giving a textured effect.  The rest of the squares were various stripes and plaid prints in chocolate, melon, olive green and turquoise. 
Some of the squares weren't perfectly aligned when they were cut

Quite a few of the squares weren't cut strait, so the plaids and stripes are off a little bit.  Fortunately the slightly "not quite right" squares don't stand out - your eye fools you a bit when you look at the completed top.  In the photo above, it's obvious.  But when you look at quilt overall, they fade into the design.

At the same sale I found a 4-meter package of one of the prints in the charm-square pack.  It is the perfect backing for these charm squares, and with 4 meters to work with, I was able to use some of it on the top to add interest

June 20, 2018

Quilt 106 - Flower Panel - DONE!

I love making panel quilts.  They generally come together very quickly and, although they are simple in design, the results are lovely.  Here's another example:

48" x 66" - quilted on the longarm, cotton batting
The center panel has a splash of summer blossoms on it, with a butterfly and dragonfly near the top.  I simply added borders of solid lavender cotton and two coordinating prints (blue and green) from the same manufacturer that sells the panel.

The quilting was done using my "Baptist Fan" groovy boards.  The backing fabric is a pink-polka dot print, and the binding is the same lavender cotton used in the smaller borders.

Simple but lovely!

June 13, 2018

Quilt 11: Trees - DONE!

It took me a while to get around to this one, but I finally did.  Almost 7 years to the day!  Here's my original post about this project: (click here)

I started it in 2011, a design I put together using "leaf" blocks.  I got the top put together, but then got distracted by other projects and ended setting it aside until just recently.

Here's the design:

And here's the finished quilt, laying on the bed.

The forest image just doesn't show up well like this.  But I decided to hang it on the wall of my "quilting room" - and it's spectacular there!
(doubleclick the picture above to see a larger image)
For batting, I just grabbed leftover bits and pieces from other projects and hand-stitched them together.  It took a little time, but I used up a LOT of leftovers and you'd never know where the joins are; the quilting hides them beautifully.

The quilt stitching was done on the longarm using the "Nested C's" pattern I've been experimenting with.  It only took 3 hours to quilt it!  Amazing!

I'm especially pleased to have this on the wall of my "quilting room".  There's no carpeting in there (just a carpet runner I stand on in front of the quilt machine), so having the quilt on the wall gives a little bit of noise-reduction.

June 6, 2018

Quilting in Space (you can't make this stuff up...)

Oh, this is too good.

Back in 2013, astronaught Karen Nybert, while aboard the International Space Station, made a video about "quilting in space"...

Here's the video: (click here to view)

She really got me laughing when she said "I can say one thing with certainty — it's tricky."

She challenged other quilters to come up with star blocks to be combined with hers into a quilt which she intended to complete and present at the 40th anniversary International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2014.

And did it happen?  It sure did!

Here's the story about the quilt:  (click here to view)

June 3, 2018

Jenny's 3D "North Star" Quilt - Fabulous!

Pauline, my quilting guru, is an avid follower of "Jenny" from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Today she told me about a tutorial that Jenny did last Wednesday.

Jenny's latest is a quilt design she calls "North Star" - and oh, my... it's fascinating.  If you do a Google search for "North Star Quilt", you'll find quite a few different designs under that name - but unless Jenny's tutorial comes up in the search results, you won't see her version.  Her's is a very distinctive quilt with a 3D effect.

I don't have a photo of my own I can share (yet), but the link below will take you to Jenny's tutorial on YouTube.

See Jenny's "North Star" Tutorial.

And am I going to make one of these?  You betcha, baby!

(BTW - The tutorial was added on May 31, 2018.  As of this moment - June 3 - there have been  58,573 views! Yup.  Jenny's worth her weight in gold, that's for sure!)

May 23, 2018

Quilt 105: Half-Square Triangles - Moda "Quilt Pink" - DONE!

It came together SO FAST!  And I love the bright cheery colours.  The charm squares were purchased for this quilt.  The rest of the fabric in the top is leftovers from other quilts.

52" x 64" - quilted on the longarm (free-motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting
The backing fabric is a soft pink print (little flowers in 2 shades - very subtle).  I got it at the big sale I told you about a couple of weeks back.
I'm working on using up my cotton batting, and am switching now to bamboo batting.  The bamboo costs just a little bit more, but it produces so much less lint when I'm quilting that it's worth the extra money.

May 16, 2018

Quilt 105: Half-Square Triangles - Moda "Quilt Pink"

After watching some Missouri Quilts YouTube videos (starring the fabulous Jenny), I decided to grab a pack of charm squares and try my hand at half-square triangle blocks.  I used Moda's "Quilt pink" pack - and got 2 packs of this set, because the "pinwheel" blocks I want will need 2 charm squares (and this set from Moda doesn't have any repeating prints - every print in the pack is different).
And I cut out an equal number of white 5" squares from some leftover fabric I had.  Then I placed one of the prints and one solid white square together (right sides in) and drew diagonal line from one corner  to the other.  I stitched 1/4" out on either side of the pencil line.
Then cut along the line...

Flipped them open, pressed, and then assembled pinwheels:
And here's the finished block.
I've got a bright green solid fabric (leftovers from another quilt), and will frame my blocks in a 2" lattice.  I'll have that to show you next week!