Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Wish List Items for Your New Year's FMQ Resolution

So you plan to do more free motion quilting in 2017?  Here are some items that make it much easier, just in time for that last minute shopping list.

1.  Gidget table

Yes an inset table for your machine is a must if you are serious about fmq.  You can go out and buy a big fancy setup.  But this little table is sturdy and easy to move around.  I find myself rearranging my sewing room quite often.  This little table can fit in small alcoves, in front of the window, and even be toted to your next retreat.  I love this table.  I bought my first one fifteen years ago.  I bought another recently with wheels which brought up the cost a little.  And frankly, the wheels aren't that convenient. So if price is an issue, forget the wheels.  The Gidget table can be found here with free shipping.  Just a note, the price does not include the insert which has to be custom made for each machine.
   I only got proficient with fmq after I got an inset table.  I had one of those acrylic extension tables, but the drag of a medium to large quilt quickly got tiring. Then I made excuses not to quilt.  With the ease of quilting on an inset machine, it was fun and I practiced more.  Get one, you'll see.
     I also have a SewEZ table for retreats and workshops.    I keep my SewEZ table in the trunk of my car.  It is very nice, but I personally wouldn't use it as my every day table.  The Gidget is just a little sturdier for the sewing room.

2.   Magna-Glide pre-wound bobbins!  These are so easy and foolproof.  I never have tension problems with these little gems.  I buy them from Bobbin Central. The thread is 60 wt. and leaves very little lint and rarely breaks.  I love it so much I bought many colors.  I even bought the little ones for my Bernina. They are a little full for my Bernina bobbin case, so I just unwind it a little so it fits.  A little waste, but hell, I'm the type of person who buys pre-wound bobbins, so you can tell I'm not that frugal.

I bought them in white, ecru, black, cloud blue, light green, light purple and gold.  This covers most of my colors I use to quilt with.  

3.  Saddle stool - ooh a great find.  I saw Andrea Brokenshire quilting at a show on a sitdown machine with her saddle stool.  She recommended using one so I bought one and love it.  Believe it or not, I can sew for hours without pain on this chair!!  I was using an office chair with pillows and back supports for achy back.  Now, I sit upright with the saddle stool.  It makes me keep my posture, but not in a bad way.  I feel badass sitting astride my saddle, yeehaw.  

 I bought it for my longarm (it goes up and down), but I love using it for both sitdown and longarm quilting.  Just a warning, my shorter friends are not liking it for the longarm, since they can't reach the floor when it is up high.  

4.  silicone mat for the machine - like Supreme Slider or Sew Slip.  It makes it so easy to slide your quilt around the bed making little pebbles, grids, and feathers...  I have one of each of these.  And yes, one of the first generation sliders didn't stick as well as the newer ones and I ended up sewing through it several times.  I gave up on them for a while because of that, but tried them again a few years ago and can't fmq without one now.  

And now for stocking stuffers

Thread snips - you gotta have these, they make it so easy to snip those threads right down to the fabric without cutting the fabric.  These curvy snips are the ones I'm talking about.  I have a pair for every machine. 

Blue Line Eraser - especially this tool.  

It's small and can erase small portions of erasable blue marking pens without saturating the whole quilt (and possibly causing bleeding).  Caution, the cap screws on the wrong way (so weird).  Instead of righty tighty, it's righty loosy...  I buy the big bottle and fill this little pen up with that.  

Superior Titanium top stitch needles - read about them here.  They really are excellent long-lasting needles.  I love them and bet if Santa puts them in your stocking, you will too.  

I hope Santa is good to you and when January rolls around, you will be ready to fmq with your handy dandy new tools.  Karen

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thanksgiving quilt painted

My friend has a Gammill Statler longarm and she used this computerized design to make this top.  She asked me for help painting the leaves and pumpkins and we had so much fun painting this together.   Our skills are novice at best, but I think it came out pretty.

We used Inktense pencils and Linda Poole's textile medium to keep the paint from bleeding all over the quilt.  We used up all of Linda Poole's textile medium and went to her website to get some more, but couldn't find it anywhere.  I got it from a class with her last Spring.  So if anyone knows where to get more, please let me know.  

I went almost all summer without making a portrait quilt, just too many other projects to do.  I have been wanting to make a quilt with this photo of my granddaughter Kiara for two years.

This was taken at the Phoenix Wildlife park on Christmas Eve 2 yrs ago.  We were in the petting zoo when this male turtle started loudly humping this female.  I want to call this quilt, "Gigi, What Are They Doing?"

Here are the fused pieces where I am trying out backgrounds.  I went for a different bkgd, I will share it soon.  Her hair is from two pieces of wood fabric that I had in my stash.   

I was amazed at how joyous I was to get back into portrait quilting.  I was excited for days to see the outcome.  If you haven't tried this, you'll be amazed at how fun and fulfilling it is. 

The pieces are lifesized, approximately anyway.  And they will come to life a lot more when I thread sketch and quilt them.  I can't wait to get to the stitching.  I think I'll add some grass and boulders first (oh yes and shadows), even though there weren't any in the original photo.  

I think I need to keep doing these projects on the side of my free motion quilting projects all the time.  I have several other photos that I want to create pictorial quilts out of.

My new Innova is awaiting the Lightning stitch upgrade that I bought in Houston last week.  I am eagerly awaiting that plus the new hook and training session  that I will take while there.  Have a great day, Karen

"I always believed no matter where you are, as long as you're doing what you love doing, you're going to be happy. "Roberto Alomar
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Friday, October 28, 2016

vintage top quilted

I found this top at an antique store in Cibolo, TX, right next to a wonderful bbq joint called Harmon's.  What a winning day, bbq and quilt tops on our road trip.  This top was hand pieced and was in a pile of tops, smoky smelling and dirty.  I gently soaked it in Retro Clean before I layered and quilted it.

Some may think that I should have hand quilted this, but I feel as though I rescued it, therefore, I had the right to quilt it however I pleased.  My opinion is that there are not enough hand quilters in the world to rescue all the unfinished tops!

So I layered this with wool and cotton (2 batts) and played with different designs.  I wanted to do an overall design instead of putting the same motif in each white snowball block.  So I divided it up and played.  Really, this was so fun (and not monotonous at all).  

I started in the center with a feather design, then finished with feathers in the outer half snowball blocks.  

I even put this on my longarm for the section with the pumpkin seed designs.  But my skills aren't so great on the longarm, so I finished it up on my sitdown machine.  

I hope you enjoy this quilt, it is going to live at my house and keep me warm this winter.  

"It is easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new." Tony Visconti

Have a great day, Karen

Saturday, October 22, 2016


My husband has been asking me for a leaf quilt for years and years.  This year I finally made him one.  It was a very quick project (for me).  I found this pattern in the Autumn issue of Quilter's World magazine. It was designed by Julie Weaver.  Hers had an ecru background, but I wanted mine to look like that New Mexico sky that I remember so well.  The leaves look so pretty against the blue.

I quilted this on my new Innova longarm.  It quilted so fast and mostly pretty.  I had a little trouble with my feathers in the outer border. 

But I used a ruler to guide me around the ditches and for those border lines.  I had fun and my hubby loves it.  I used Glide thread and Matilda's Own poly/wool batting.

Below is a bundle of hankies and table runners that I bought from ebay.  25 pieces for $8, yea!  Some are really pretty with handmade lace and pretty embroidery.  I plan to do some of that vintage, Cindy Needham type quilting on these.  

Then I won this pretty lone star quilt at my guild's chinese auction.  So another project that needs quilting, it will be good practice for my Innova.  It is well-made and will be very pretty quilted up.

I am sharing a photo of my confederate rose bush.  It's a type of hibiscus, but it only blooms in October and November.  The blooms are huge.  

I better get back to work.  I have a ton of projects to quilt.  I will try and be better about sharing and even make a couple of videos of my process.  Thanks for viewing.  


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Austin quilt show

I went to the Austin, TX quilt show on Sunday, and wow was it great!  Here are some of my favorites:

Little Ruby Jubiliation

A red and white tradition of fifty miniature quilts created by sisters Ellen Carter and Andrea Blackhurst inspired by the 2011 Red and White Quilt Exhibit - "Infinity Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts" held in New York City. 

I loved this one and the border was little pieced lone stars!  It was made by Margery Hedges and is called Beauty of the Beast.

Below is a fun quilt that I think my bee should try someday!  It was made by the Tuesday Floozies, so cute...

 I loved this architectural piece by MaryAnn Vaca-Lambert.  It is a depiction of San Antonio's Mission Espada walkway. (below)

and I honestly did not realize this was three elephants until just now.  Sometimes you can see these kinds of pieces better through the camera.  Another by Margery Hedges called Wrapped in Love. (above)

Isn't he marvelous?  What a stare...  this Eagle Eyes quilt was made by Margery Hedges also....  she had some fantastic art pieces.  Ooh look I found her website:
I'm going there to look after I post this!

oh boy, this depicts our daily routine!  The squirrels tease my dogs mercilessly, but the pooches get a lot of exercise and fun at the same time.  I loved the perspective of this quilt.  It's called The One That Got Away and was made by the Bee Cave Bee of Austin.

I loved the quilting and the colors on this quilt.  See the quilting up close below.
It was made by Mary Mikeska and quilted by Amy Mikeska and is called Elaine's Rosy East Texas Star.

There were lots of Mariners Compasses, but this center star was a doozy.  Called Circles, Circles and More Circles by Emma Krenek, it was quilted by Angela McCorkle (who is an amazing quilter who had lots of work in this show).

Love this Friendship Rings quilt by Liz Porter and the Sew Faster Group members who exchanged these blocks. 

Blueberries and Cream by Dottie May Groves is a quilted tablecloth that Dottie found at a flea market.  She did a marvelous job on this. 

And isn't this an old fashioned beauty?  Made by Harold Groves, it's called Rose of My Heart and is a reproduction of a quilt he found at a flea market.

This little beauty was made by Louise Brown and is called Little Leaves.  Look at the quilting, wow!  The applique was stunning, she was inspired by the work of Sandra Leichner.

This (above)  is called Summer in Montana by Linda Huff.  I love the colors and that gradation is great.  

This is called The Patience of Job and was made after Ellen Cabluck took a Let Me Surprise You class with Charlotte Angotti.  (the quilt above) 

Called Rose You Are Our Sunshine by Mona Corbett.  So creative and happy and fun!  I didn't get a close up, but this is like a snippets quilt, but the snippets are large.  

Called Spirograph by Kim Buchmann.  She took a class with Cindy Needham and this is the result, lovely...

ooh la la, this darling quilt had crocheted sachings and binding.  How beautiful and creative.  Amelai De La Rosa called it Blame It On the Rain.  
That was some fun show, you should try to make it in two years.  


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Learning to free motion again

I have a few finishes to show you.  They were all done on my new (used) Innova longarm.  I believe that I should just jump right in and go for it to learn.  So I chose a donated top that I bought for a song.  I practiced stitching in the ditch, free motion quilting and feathers.  I now have more sympathy for my free motion beginner students.  This is hard!  I can barely remember learning to free motion on a domestic machine - it was so long ago.  But even then, I jumped right in and quilted real projects.  I soon learned that if my quilting didn't look so great, just keep quilting on it (echo echo echo).

I figured out some things while quilting this one above.  I don't really like the stitch regulator.  It's too jerky.  I learned that I can stitch in the ditch free hand IF it is horizontal or vertical.  Diagonal lines will not cooperate without a ruler.  I guess it's because the machine is engaging both sets of wheels when going diagonally.  

My wonderful, giving friend Denice invited me to her home to give me tons of great tips on the Innova.  She bought hers last year and is doing incredible work on it.  She had this quilt top from the guild charity comittee and she told me to quilt it and not worry about perfection.  It's done, but I hope no one looks closely!  fortunately the fabric is so busy, I think I'm safe.  

Now I really got brave to quilt this one on the machine.  I made this Arkansas Razorback quilt for my nephew who just started college last week.  

I had it in my head that it needed a giant spiral quilted on it.  But on the longarm, I can only work on a small section at a time.  So I stopped and started those spirals using a curved ruler. I added smaller swirls on the top and bottom when I got sick of spiralling.  

If there's a will, there's a way.  I did it on the longarm.  And it really does quilt up faster than my domestic machine.  Not sure why???  

So don't cringe, but I did not prewash these red fabrics (duh), so when I washed it I used lots of color catchers.  The first wash yielded pink color catchers, but more color catchers were white after the second wash.  The quilt washed up nice and cozy; and any blips on my quilting were camouflaged by the old fashioned lumpiness of the washed quilt.  

I'm working on this one now.  I started it on my sit down machine, it was already ditched, and the center blocks were quilted.  But this is what I did today on my longarm.  I found this top at an antique shop.  It was dirty and smoky-smelling.  I carefully soaked it in a linen wash and sandwiched it with a muslin back and a double batting of wool and cotton.  I am having fun quilting it in a not too- traditional design.  But I consider it a "rescue" quilt and I have given myself permission to experiment and play.  I will put more pics of the finished quilt next time.  

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."  Walt Disney

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I'm linking up with cooking up quilts