DIME Stitch Lab 2018 Haul

I just took a fun little overnight road trip to The Woodlands (just north of Houston) to attend a Designs in Machine Embroidery (DIME) Stitch Lab.  I’d never been to one and wanted to check it out.  It was held at the Homewood Suites and that’s where I stayed the night as well.  I think there were about 45 in attendance and it was sponsored by the Sewing & Vacuum Warehouse.  They did a great job of hosting and feeding the herd for two days.  They even took into consideration my low carb diet and had specialty meals for me.  Nice huh?

The room was set up with nine sets of three 4 ft tables in U-shape groupings for 3 to sit at each table – total of up to nine folks on each table set.  On each table was the brand new Brother Luminaire sewing and embroidery machine (comparable to the Baby Lock Solaris I believe).  This thing is a beauty and it lights up like a runway!  It has a whole host of very cool features like the ability to edit your designs right on the iPad-sized screen and project your design onto the stitching field so you know exactly where the design will go and what it will look like when it’s finished.  I think it has a camera in it too so you can take a picture of what you want and it will show up on the screen so you can edit it.  This thing is pretty high tech.  They sold 5 or 6 of them at the event, but not to me.  lol
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This seminar was not a Brother demo though so we didn’t get schooled in all the cool features of the machine, but was instead an opportunity to try out all of the DIME products on the machine.  They had fabric and stabilizer for us to make six projects:  a dog bandana with 3-D raised foam lettering, a hot pad trivet, a giraffe Embroider Buddy, a wall hanging, a t-shirt, and a burp cloth.  All things were donated to local charities and the giraffes and burp clothes went to a children’s hospital.  Nice huh? 🙂  This is my table partner Terri.
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The bottom line of this event (while incredibly fun) is that it is a sales pitch.  And what stitcher doesn’t love a good sales pitch where you get to test drive fun goodies?  I know I do.  They had little paddles with numbers on them for each of us and our shopping bags were all lined up against the back wall.  When they were finished doing a product demo, Cheryl the head DIME Educator, would ask who wanted one and we’d all raise our paddles and she’d call out our numbers like an auctioneer.  The girls in the back would stuff our bags and in the end it was like Christmas!  Shopping while sitting down in front of a gorgeous toy and making friends along the way.  I loved it!  Here is Cheryl.  She was awesome!
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Note:  The links to the products below are affiliate links so if you use that link to buy something, I get paid by the vendor so I can buy more stuff.  Win win!

My haul included Word Art in Stitches software which I bought specifically for the 10 micro-fonts.  My son is a pastor and wants me to embroider scripture on small items and you simply can’t do that with regular software when the smallest font size is 1/2″.  It also digitizes for the puffy letters that is so popular now on ball caps.  This software can be used for any brand embroidery machine and comes with over 140 fonts.  The demo was amazing.  Most of my embroidery includes lettering so this is well worth the expense to me.  I’ll also use it to embroider on quilt backings vs. hand stitching on a separate quilt label.
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I also picked up Perfect Stitch Viewer which allows you to see a preview of your design on your laptop in the file library so know what the heck it is you’re looking at.  When you download design files from any online vendor, it comes with a file name like UT123456 and what the heck is that?  You can’t open it to see without opening your design software and pulling the file in.  Even if you re-name the file to say like “Snowman”, do you know how many snowman files I have?  Scads!  I have the Embrilliance version of this and it works great, but while I can see the preview of the .pes files, I can’t see the preview of the .jef files for the new 7 needle Janome machine we have (I’m not sure why – probably operator error).  AND this software allows me to see a preview of long arm files!  YAY!  That’s what really sold me on this version.  Worth every penny.
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Next is the Bird’s Nest tool.  How this works is when you have a bird’s nest, rather than attempt to remove the hoop – with the nest refusing to let go – and doink up your machine’s timing while you’re at it, you use this long hook to reach under the hoop and lift the stabilizer away from the machine.  Then use the long blade to get under there and slice the nesty threads.  Then you can remove the hoop safely and clean it up.  It comes in a handy zipper case with an extra blade and blade cover.  Of course, I’ve never had a bird’s nest happen to me so I don’t know why I bought it.  HA!  I wish!  Plus, it doubles as a weapon if needed or I can remove my appendix.  Money.
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I’ve wanted these little Hoop Guards for a while.  Have you ever embroidered a newborn Onesie?  Absolute miserable experience.  Nuff said.
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I’ve looked around for an off-brand version of this Print & Stick Target Paper and haven’t found it.  This makes life so much easier when hooping.  I usually print out my design on regular paper and then pin or use spray adhesive to adhere it to the item I’m hooping.  That method has a success factor of like 50% or less for me on hard-to-hoop items because inevitably, the paper comes off or I poke myself.  The tack on this paper is great and it doesn’t leave any residue when you lift it off.  They call it paper but it’s really like a lightweight sticky interfacing that bends along with the item it is stuck to and seriously stays put. You can use the printed paper many times over and over (that’s redundant I know but it’s important so I’m leaving it).  You print your design on this paper using your regular printer, cut it out and then stick it to your item and hoop your item as usual.  Since the paper is stuck firmly to the item, you can be exactly sure you’ve centered your design where you want it in the hoop.  This is especially helpful for big designs that require multiple hoopings like up the leg of a pair of jeans.  Then you load your hoop into the machine, make sure your needle is coming down exactly on center and remove the sticky paper.  Playing with this stuff at the seminar, I really found the value in it for me.
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And last but not least, is the Unicorn Embroider Buddy.  Isn’t she cute?  They had a wall full of these cute cuddly creatures of all kinds, but there was only one unicorn.  I saw her early on the first day and I went to the back of the room and asked the lady to put her in my bag right away.  I knew she’d be gone in an instant.  You can remove the insides from these creatures and then hoop their belly in a 4×4 hoop for any design you like.  On the 2nd day when I was waiting in line to check out, one lady came up to me and asked me if I’d be willing to part with it.  Was she serious??  Fat chance!  She said that the shop could order her one and she hoped that it would come in by the time she went to Ft Worth to see her granddaughter because her granddaughter just LOVES unicorns.  Well what granddaughter doesn’t?  I’ve got one too ya’ know?  You think I’m buying this for myself?  Sheesh! You snooze you lose sister!  I asked if she lived nearby and she said yes.  I said I well I don’t so I’d have to pay shipping if I didn’t get it now.  So she says, “Oh well OK, you should keep it then.”  HA!  Well gee, thanks!  Like it was ever an option that she was going to get this unicorn from me.  I was bigger than her so I’m sure I could take her but you never know about those ladies.
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Because my purchase was over $250 I got a free font.  That was nice I suppose.  Not sure when I’ll use it but hey, it was free!
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So that’s it!  I left a little early to start the 3-hour drive home.  I really had a great time!

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A Game Changer in Sewing Machine Lighting

Sometimes the very best tools we can use in our sewing rooms come from non-sewing places.  I like a lot of very bright light when I sew.  Like daylight-bright-white-light.  I’ve got a couple of those outrageously-priced spot lights for sewing (upwards of $50 each) and while they work OK, sometimes that spotlight is too bright even for me, or the glare off the silver plate around the feed dogs is too much and I don’t use it at all.  I went searching for a better solution and oh boy did I find one in of all places…Home Depot!  This product is $29.99 and it’s on the lighting aisle.

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While there are 4 strips in this package, I only needed one.  The strips have a strong sticky on the back and the packaging says the light will last for 23 years.  I doubt I’ll have need for the spares.  🙂

Here is the before.  Yes, I’m machine binding my quilt.  After I attach it on the front as normal, instead of stitching on the back, I wrap it around and then stitch in the ditch from the front.  Without the light, it’s kind of hard to see the ditch.

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And here is the after!  The picture doesn’t do it justice.  I can see the ditch perfectly.  The reflection of the bulbs on the base of the machine are not a distraction and they don’t bother me at all.

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I held it up with the protective backing on first to see where I wanted to place it and then simply adhered it to the machine with the sticky backing.  I placed it a little to the back of the throat and ended up moving the cord side a little to the backside of the machine so as not to have a direct visible line-of-sight to the lights.

wp-15365130901784941874163189928168.jpg I’m SO happy with this solution!  I can see buying more for my other machines.  🙂  I wish I could just buy the electric part to use the other bulbs from this package on my 18″ sit down machine.

New Addition to the Power Tool Arsenal, Brother PQ1500SL & Flutter Glow Quilt Sample

Yep!  I have a new quilting machine!  I know, some of you are like, “Yawn, what else is new?”, because I seem to collect sewing machines like some women acquire shoes.  This new doll was on sale $100 off on Amazon Prime Day and I’ve been wanting one forever.  Meet my new Brother PQ1500SL!  Ain’t she purdy???  🙂  Just look at those sleek lines, the minimalist gadgetry, and large harp space to accommodate bulky quilts.  Ahhh, she’s like the perfect model with curves in all the right places.  Simply stunning.
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She is absolutely identical in every way to the Baby Lock Jane but hundreds less because she’s marketed under the Brother name.  And y’all know I LOVE my Brother machines.  Somebody actually said on a FB comment that Brother was the low-end of Baby Lock.  Well if you’re a snob, then yes.  For the identical machine, it’s like purchasing a Lincoln MKX vs. a Ford Edge (same car/company with different packaging & prices).  But if you’re smart, then you know your wallet is happier to go Brother.  Now you BL owners, don’t get all bent out of shape.  I have a BL Ellegante 2 embroidery machine and love her, and to the poster’s credit, Brother does make very inexpensive machines that sell for less than $100 at Wal-Mart for beginners.  So in that respect, the poster was correct.  However, the parts and mechanics inside are identical – the cheaper machines just have less bells and whistles.  Oh speaking of Baby Lock, did you see their new Solaris Embroidery Machine?  $19k is what I heard my friends – for a single needle machine.  Holy Moly.  It should drive me to work because I can buy a car for less than that.  I wonder how it compares to the Brother Dream Machine.  woops!  I digress…

The first thing you’ll notice about the 1500 is that it is NOT what I would call a regular domestic sewing machine.  It cannot zig-zag, do button holes, do decorative stitching, or do a blind hem stitch, etc.  It does straight line stitching only.  So you might be thinking, “How limiting is that?”  Well, this machine, much like the serger and the coverstitch machines, is designed to compliment your sewing machine arsenal, vs. replace a regular sewing machine.  While it only does one thing, it does that one thing exceptionally well…much better than a regular domestic sewing machine.  This machine has limited computerized functionality with only a needle up-down feature.  Every other aspect of stitch length, reverse, speed, etc. is all manual.  Pretty close to old school.

Let’s get into the weeds.  First there is the 1/4″ line on the plate of the machine.  This is extremely accurate.  I kind of wish they’d put a stitch continuation line in the housing and extension table like I created with my piece of wall-tape.  The first thing I noticed about this machine when sewing is that when the feed dogs pull the fabric through, they pull it through completely straight – there is no wobble at all.  When you get to the end of a piece of fabric, it doesn’t pull one direction or the other.  It’s a thing of beauty for quilters.  And see the horizontal 1/4″ line?  Perfect for seam join accuracy.
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The no wobble can probably be attributed to not only the feed dogs, but also the single needle hole which you can see directly under the needle.  The fabric cannot be pulled left or right by a wide set of feed dogs like on a regular sewing machine.  The accuracy of the seam allowance is incredible as is the symmetry of the stitch length.
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Did you notice the eye of the needle goes left to right vs. front to back?  So let’s talk about the needle threader.  Every review of this machine will tell you that it sucks and they are right.  Totally right.  Hey Brother / Baby Lock, the needle threader sucks.  I’ve figured out a fairly good method of doing it because my eyes aren’t that good anymore to thread it manually, but it normally takes me a couple of tries to get it threaded.  Honestly, that’s the only gripe I have with this machine.  Oh that, and the thread cutter could leave more than 1/2″ of thread on the backside of the needle…which frequently comes unthreaded because it’s so stinking short and then I have to doink with the sucky needle threader again.
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I mentioned old-school.  This machine needs to be oiled.  The last several machines I’ve purchased have not required any oiling.  The gears and mechanics of today’s domestic sewing machines are made of high quality plastics and do not have the metal-on-metal parts like machines of yester year.  Well this machine has metal-on-metal and it requires oiling twice a month if you sew daily like I do.  I’ve already added oil to all the points shown in the manual even though it probably had it done in the factory.  Doors open on the extension table and into the machine so you can get to the bobbin case.
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The bobbin case and the housings are metal vs. plastic like the drop in bobbins in a regular Brother machine.
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Also metal are the bobbins.  This machine uses the L bobbin vs. the M that normal sewing machines use.  They hold more than a regular bobbin and you can’t find them in Walmart so if you get this machine, be sure to order some from Amazon.  I think this pack of 50 was like $15.
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The bobbin maker is amazing.  This machine can do 1,500 stitches per minute which then creates a bobbin in 23 seconds flat.  Seriously.  I timed it and I couldn’t believe it.  The result was a perfectly wound bobbin without any hills or valleys in the wind like you get on a regular machine.  My first couple of attempts (without reading the manual) didn’t work because I discovered that the groove in the metal bobbin actually snaps into place on the bobbin spindle.
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If the red light is illuminated on the front of the machine then it is in needle-down position which means that the machine will always stop with the needle down.  This is very handy for quilters and it acts like an extra hand to hold things in place when you get started.  I will do a single stitch or two at the start of a piecing set while the needle is down, then I line everything up down to the bottom of the set (intersections, ends, etc.)
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The position of the feed dogs is scalable based on the thickness of the fabric.  I WILL be using this machine to sew denim jeans/shorts/capris/skirts and do topstitching on them.  The fact that this machine is mostly metal means that it can handle multiple thicknesses of denim unlike my other machines.  In the photo above, do you see the pink line where there is a little point that sticks up above the needle plate?  That is a pin that comes up to secure everything in place for shifty fabrics like finished leather…for a new purse!  Hmmm, maybe I need to review that leather purse making class I bought on Craftsy a couple of years ago.  🙂  Tandy Leather, here I come!  HA!

There is a double spool stand and thread tree in the back.  I prefer a vertical spool thread discharge as opposed to a horizontal.  It seems to get less tangles and the tree helps to support the high speed of the machine.
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Oh speaking of high speed, yesterday I accidentally pushed the presser foot down to hard and scared myself silly.  My heart was racing and I had to check the tip of my index finger to make sure it wasn’t stitched into the fabric and the pain just hadn’t hit yet.  It was like ZOOM!!  ACK!  It happened that fast.  This machine will take some getting used to.  Last night I literally (and I mean “literally”) whizzed through binding a quilt in half the time of what it used to take me on my regular machines.  I sew a binding strip to the front of the quilt, iron the binding out flat, and then fold it over to cover the stitching line on the back and then stitch-in-the-ditch from the front.  Normally I have to pin the part that is folded over so it doesn’t slide around and get missed from the top, but not this time.  I was able to completely omit this step except for the corners where the miter is finicky.  This quilt is a gift for my granddaughter so I can’t show the whole thing, but you can see the stich quality here on both the front and back.  No STID foot required…the accuracy is THAT good and I was finished in less than an hour on this 68″ x 74″ quilt holding everything in place with just my fingers.
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So in all, I’m THRILLED with this machine and the new level it has taken my quilting accuracy.  Right now I’m in the home stretch of a sample quilt for my local quilt shop, Scrappy Quilter, called Flutter Glow.  They are offering the purple version.  The fabric is absolutely stunning!
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The pattern states right up front that 1/4″ seam accuracy is a must and it’s not kidding.  This thing is what I would say would be good for the intermediate quilter.  Even though the pattern is based on a panel, there’s a ton of bias cuts and if you don’t have the seam allowances correct, the points won’t match up in all the parts around the panel.  I’m SO happy I have this new machine to help me.
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Here is the finished product!
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The quilt top will be hanging in the store for other quilters to purchase the kits.  Isn’t that cool?  I’m published!  lol  Honestly, my skills are diminished by the beautiful samples they have hanging in the store and I was just honored to be asked.  I hope the finished product lives up to Jo’s expectations.

So that’s it!  I love this new machine and I’m excited to see what we do together in the future.  Have a great week!
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Geckos in Black – Simplicity 1544

This is a repeat shirt pattern I made for hubs for Christmas of 2016. He likes to wear novelty shirts on Casual Friday at work and he asked me for another shirt.  I showed him some fabric options and he chose Geckos in Black from Southwest Fabric, an Etsy shop run by Peggy Baird.  I ordered 3 yards so I’d have plenty for pattern matching.  Sorry for the glare from the lighting.
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Check out the pattern matching on the back yoke.  Steam-a-Seam my friends.
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The pattern was an easy sew and I found that stitching on black hides a multitude of sins like not-so-straight top stitching.  If you’re just starting to learn men’s shirt collars, I highly suggest doing so on black fabric and not using a contrast collar on the first (or second) attempt.
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I modified the pattern to accommodate Keith’s 50″ shoulders and 38″ waist.  If sewn as drafted from the envelope, it would look like a tent around his mid-section.  He’s definitely a sport-cut kind of guy when it comes to menswear.  I also did a short sleeve.  Who wears a novelty shirt with long sleeves?
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After I finished it, I hung it in his closet for him to wear.  The next Casual Friday rolled around and he comes out of the bedroom ready to go to work and he’s not wearing it.  I said, “Hey,  I go to all that work for your new shirt and you’re not going to wear it?”  He said, “There’s no pocket.”  What?  No.  That can’t be.  I went to look and sure enough – no pocket.  Ugh.

Well, that issue can be fixed easy enough…if you still have scraps.  But I didn’t!  I looked at home, I looked at our other house at the coast, I dug through every bin and by some freak of nature, I didn’t keep any of the scraps.  Now this fabric is $12 a yard and shipping is $6.70 so we’re talking another $20 for an 8″ square of fabric.  He said not to worry about it but I know he’d never wear the shirt unless it was the last one in the inventory – which never happens since I do laundry more than once a week.

So I went into my Etsy account and lamented to the seller about my stupidity and the situation hoping she still had some in stock.  I asked if I could buy just 1/4 yd of fabric if that was at all possible.  I mean I would buy a full yard if that was the rule but I was crossing my fingers.  Let me tell you about this wonderful lady.  Not only did she send me 1/4 yard of fabric, she sent it to me for FREE!  I couldn’t believe it!  I just love our sewing community.  They are the most wonderful, giving, and generous souls.  In our emails she said she completely understood the absolute need for a pocket and the fabric was on the way.  She has definitely earned a repeat customer!

Can you see the pocket?  No?
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It’s right here!
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He wore it to work yesterday and he said his buddy wants me to make him one and Keith told him “No, she only makes shirts for me.”   Men…

I just couldn’t let Peggy’s generosity go unacknowledged so I promised this glowing review of Southwest Fabrics on my blog.  I also had a bit left after the pocket so I whipped up a pair of pot holders for her with a thank you note.  I hope she likes them.  🙂  I put them in the mail yesterday.  I DID have a rust colored scrap just big enough for the backing.
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#ChristmasInJuly

Christmas in July?  SERIOUSLY?  Lots of the quilty blogs are featuring Christmas in July posts this month and I get it…really I do.  It’s a gentle reminder to get busy planning and making holiday and Christmas stuff.  The fabric distributors and retailers begin putting out Christmas fabric and it’s the beginning of a full shift for marketers who are aiming to guilt us into feeling like we need to add more to our quilting queue.  Like I need that!

Rather than succumb to the pressure, I decided to do an inventory of my stash and I was certain I’d find something Christmas-y to work on.  I only dug about halfway and I’ve run out of room to display what I’ve found.
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As you can see, I’m a HUGE fan of panels.  They sew up quickly and make great homey decorations.  What I’m missing is backing.  While these panels are high quality quilting cottons, I’m not opposed to getting Christmas fabric from Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s for backings because odds are, they won’t go through the wash.

Now over to kitted projects.  I found this kit at the Houston Quilt Festival in 2014 and when sewn up, it is strikingly gorgeous.  Yet, it’s been in hiding for 4 years.
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I absolutely love how adorable the Santa wall hanging is with the stuffed chenille mustache and bells.  I think I bought this kit 3 years ago.  Look at those yo-yo’s!  Cute!
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And let’s not forget the Christmas tree that lights up. I got this one going a couple of years ago (pre-2016) and decided to micro-stipple it on the outside of the tree on my sit-down.  After about a half hour, my short attention span kicked in and then packed it up and put it away.  For shame!  I think I will finish this one this year and take it to work.
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What on earth am I going to do with this?  I DON’T color!  I have no idea where this came from or how I got it.  I think the quilt gremlins put it in my stash.
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Wait!  I have an idea. Do you see the lightbulb over my head?  (It’s my ceiling fan but it works LOL)
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I’ll send it to my grandkids with a set of fabric markers!  I’m going to ask DIL to get the panel back to me no later than Halloween and I’ll quilt it up for them and send it in time for Christmas!  How CUTE is THAT?  A keepsake that the kids colored!  Love it!

Now this is not to say I don’t finish Christmas projects.  I bought 2 of the Christmas Pure and Simple panels several years ago and I finished one for us.  I proudly hang it every year.  Those holly leaves in the quilting are from my embroidery machine – from Amilee Scott Designs.  Everything else is FMQ on my sit-down from my early days.
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Do you all remember a few years ago when the Rudolph fabric was all the rage?  I finished that one.  There isn’t any quilting on it other than STID.  But I bring it out every year and it really adds to the kid-feeling of Christmas around here.
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So now for this year’s Christmas in July…  Remember that Christmas Pure and Simple panel I made?  There are small pretty panel pieces on the top and bottom and I still had those from the one I made for here at home.  I decided to make them into mug rugs or coasters.  This is an absolutely perfect project when you have zero time and tons of scraps.
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The backing is left over from the Rudolph quilt and the batting is from an unknown quilt project.
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This is a great opportunity to use those little used decorative stitches on your machine that are never used.  Be sure to test them on a scrap first.  I didn’t like my first choice (small green triangles…I thought they resembled Christmas trees…but no).  The pattern on the farthest left is what I ended up using on the first coaster.  Yes, those are black button hole stitches from another project.  🙂  I ALWAYS test my button holes.
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This took me about 15 minutes to sew up these four panel pieces.  I just made a decorative stitch around the outside of each one and then did a single straight stitch around the circles and squares.
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To avoid binding, I like to pink the edges.  I discovered that pinking shears are very overrated.  This was my first time to use the pinking rotary cutter.  I’ll NEVER go back!
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Here they are!  All finished!  I’ll stitch up the other 4 later this week.  Christmas in July?  Done!
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I challenge you to dig through your stash and get busy!  I’m sure you have a project or two waiting patiently.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solution to Wheelies and Long Dragging Stitches on my Longarm

For those who have been following my blog for any length of time, you know I’ve been griping about having long, dragging stitches in my quilts. This issue has been plaguing me since I bought my longarm back in Nov 16. There have literally been crying tears, screams, stomping, and tantrums as I could NEVER solve the problem. I could kind of solve it somewhat, but never completely. I have the King Quilter 18” (a Tin Lizzie), a Quilt Butler computer, and a Grace GQ frame. $15k worth of quilting equipment that hadn’t worked right since I got it. Faith, my friends. You must have faith. And wine. Wine definitely helps.

One day (a year ago?) in my local quilt shop, I was lamenting about my problem and one of the employees said, “It sounds like your carriage doesn’t understand what your computer is telling it to do.” Hmmm. Interesting. So I got to looking under the carriage and sure enough, there were spots on the frame where the wheels of the lower carriage didn’t touch at all. Like completely free-spinning! And where the wheels weren’t touching the frame, is where the long stitches occurred. Now this sounds like I figured it out that day. No…my life doesn’t work like that. First I fiddled around with the encoders, then I messed with leveling the frame again, then I worked with realigning the tracks to make them parallel by taking the frame completely apart (twice) and putting it back together. I’ve fiddled with the alignment of the wheels on the carriage to make them fit the tracks in the troubled spots – but then they didn’t fit on the other parts. Needless to say, there has been a host of adjustments made to my frame and my carriage over the past 19 months. Everything is level – everything is parallel. SO WHAT THE HECK IS THE PROBLEM??? Grrrr.

Then this week I FINALLY came across a way to definitively identify the root cause of the problem. In a nutshell, it was the tracks not being perfectly parallel, but finding that out was not as easy as it seems. If you only measure the parallel-ness (not a word but you know what I mean) sporadically on the frame like left/right/center, you don’t get the true picture. A laser level is the ONLY way to know and get it right because the tracks may be the EXACT same distance apart at each end of the frame, but in the middle of the frame there may be a tiny point where it twerks to the left or right 1/8” and then 3 feet later, it’s a full 1/2” off, but it’s still parallel to the track across from it. Like the entire frame takes a left turn at center where the two halves come together.

Here’s an example of long stitches in the tan triangles.

Last Sunday, because use of the computer causing long stitches, I decided to use a pantograph to complete a quilt I need to get in the mail next week. So I printed out the pantograph on legal paper and taped the sheets end-to-end and laid them out on the frame table. They didn’t match exactly across the bottom edges but that was probably due to my lousy paper cutting and taping skills. Then I put my plastic grid on top of the pantograph and lo’ and behold, it would not lay straight on the table from one end to the other. If I forced both ends to rest solidly against the inner edge of the track on the frame, the plastic grid bubbled in the middle like a ski slope. Huh? What thuh? (I don’t have time for this – it will be fine.) Famous last words…

So I just let it go and let the grid lay flat wherever it wanted to, attempted to do the panto anyway, and the bobbin tension was so bad I had to rip it all out after 3 minutes. Did I mention screaming earlier? Yes, it was one of those days. No worries, I was alone in the house.

After the panto debacle, I decided to leave that project alone and trim up another quilt that was ready for binding. I laid out my two 36” Olfa green cutting mats on the frame, end-to-end (so I can trim the whole side on one go) and guess what? While each mat was laid straight against the inner edge of the track on the frame, they didn’t meet in the middle exactly – there was a 3/8” gap between them at the bottom edge – the gap formed an upside down V. If I forced them to exactly meet on the short end of each other, the left one didn’t sit flush against the straight edge of the track. Why? WHY? BECAUSE THE FRAME IS WONKY!! That’s why! My husband walked in the door just then and I’m dancing around going, “LOOK! LOOK! THIS IS THE PROBLEM!!”

He got his laser level and look. The laser light device is flush with the edge of the metal track making the laser beam start 1/2″away from the track. However, the ending point of the laser closest to me is touching the edge of the track. Where did that 1/2″ go? Mind you, the measurement between the tracks at the end of the frame show them to be parallel, so the issue kilters near the center of the frame.

Hubs loosened the screws under the frame, made a few bangs of a rubber mallet from the underside of the tracks and then tightened the screws and NIRVANA! We spent about an hour going back and forth, slowly up and down making sure that all wheels touched the frame completely at every inch. And if they didn’t, we gave the tracks a little tap to one side or the other. We did the front track first and then the back track. Here’s the laser showing the correct position.

The moment of truth came last night when I reloaded a quilt I’d removed for long stitches and the machine and computer and frame worked perfectly. Like completely, totally perfectly, PERFECT.

Even the tension looked smoother than it ever had.

I have a happy, happy Longarm quilting machine! And Becky is a happy, happy girl! Remember…faith!

 

Storing WIPs – The ArtBin Box

Someone had asked on a Facebook group that I am in for long arm quilters how we stored our works in progress. Several months ago I found the perfect solution at Sam’s Club. The ArtBin 12″ x 12″ box.

The ArtBin box has been an awesome find! It is a heavy duty plastic that has latches and a handle for easy carrying. I have not noticed any plastic smell inside the ArtBin and there has not been any color transfer from the boxes that I have purchased.

Here is a pic of the label so you can see exactly what it is.

The ones I found at Sam’s Club were tinted in different translucent colors. I love that they are translucent so that I can see my projects inside without having to open the box.

I found them at Joann’s Fabrics online and they are about $10 each. I don’t remember what I paid for the four box bundle at Sam’s Club.

This 12″ x 12″ box holds everything I need to make a quilt. I like using precuts so it even holds a 10″ x 10″ layer cake with no problems. I love that I can put everything together from fabric to thread and pattern and keep it all in one place. Then I can close it up and take it wherever I need to go. It’s also very handy to store everything in one place in between sewing sessions.

How how do you store your works in progress?