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My First Ruler Work on a Quilt

I’ve been itching to try out the latest trend in machine quilting on a longarm and that’s using a ruler to make designs.  You can do this on a regular sewing machine too.  The concept is to run the foot of the machine along the edge of the ruler and you always have to take into account for the 1/4″ of the diameter of the hopping foot while doing this.  I plan on doing ruler work on my BIL Marc’s t-shirt quilt in the sashing but my skills aren’t there yet so I figured I’d give it a try on a panel.  Cute bunnies!  Happy Easter!

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There are several challenges I have when deciding on what to do on a quilt.
1.  I have absolutely no idea what design to choose.
2.  I usually decide on something WAY over my skillset and screw it up.
3.  I don’t get the math right to make the design equal and balanced.

To fix #1 & 2, I decided to keep it really simple for my first go and settled on a single crisscross stitch.  I had ideas of making it more complex right out of the gate but forced myself to KISS it.  (Keep it simple stupid).  Believe me, it was a challenge!  As far as #3, last summer I saw a YouTube video where this lady used a strip of paper the length of the quilting area and she folded it into equal parts to create measuring guides.  It’s an incredibly simple technique that up until then had escaped me.

I accounted for the 1/4″ SA on the binding and knew I wanted the X’s to start at the outer corner of the inner blue border.  So those points are #1.  I used the ruler to STID around the outside of the blue border and you can see where it got away from me a bit because there’s a wobble up into the green about an inch to the left of the corner.  Focus!  I probably won’t pick that out.  I’m going to leave it so I can look back one day and see how far I’ve come.

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I marked all the points top and bottom, and then created the X’s with a blue marking pen.  The #1’s are the outer corners at the blue border, #2 is the center fold, #3’s are the inner folds.

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My ruler has a little 1/4″ toe that you’re supposed to place at the point where you want to land.  Once I got the hang of this, it was pretty fun!

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If I’d thought about it, (and I did initially and then got caught up in finding a backing and subsequently forgot…SQUIRREL! ), I’d of loaded the panel sideways to get fewer passes out of it.  I still may unload/re-load…we’ll see.  My total quilting space with the ruler table attached is about 14″.

I need to remove the markings a bit more, but here’s the final outcome of a simple crisscross design in the upper border.  I’m thinking about doing some echo lines and will probably do that before I roll it up to do the sides.  I’m so glad I kept it simple so I could have success on my initial attempt at ruler work.  I plan on using the computer to quilt the interior of the panel.  Lots of fun!

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Short While Storage and Sewing

We’re opening a business!  This is serious stuff ya’ll.  My dad and step mom bought 2.5 acres about a mile from a ginormous high school back in the 90’s…even before Steele HS was there in fact.  And since then, the surrounding area has grown by leaps and bounds with rooftops everywhere that used to be grazing pastures.  Dad passed in ’14 and in ’16 mom realized she couldn’t keep up with the house and land any longer by herself.  We purchased the property from her and happily she now lives about a mile from us (as the crow flies).  There is still a doublewide on the property and finally we have some good tenants in there.  Even back when I first met my husband, I told him I’d always dreamed of opening an RV and boat storage on the back of the property.  Once we bought the property, that’s exactly what we’ve done!  Welcome to Short While Storage, LLC.  🙂

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It’s not much to look at now, but that’s about $25,000 worth of 7′ high commercial grade chain link fence with a 24′ wide automatic gate.  There will eventually be 45 covered RV stalls with open storage across the back.  We’re planning to open our doors on April 1st, 2018!  Contracts are in the works for construction. Here’s what our retirement plan will look like.

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Yes, this is a sewing blog so let’s chat about sewing.  I finished the mountain man and a row of “Legendary” by Elizabeth Hartman and hope to finish the entire top this week.  All trees are complete and I just need to add the sashing and get it all together.

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I bought a coordinating backing and put a top I finished in early ’17 on the longarm.  It’s coming along nicely.

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I made a top from a Craftsy Class by Meg McElwee – Sewing with Knits, 5 Wardrobe Essentials.

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I’m making another top from the same pattern but with long sleeves.  Yesterday I saw this video from Angela Wolf on how to make thumb cuffs/hand warmers so I whipped those up from the same fabric and I’ll add those to the sleeves.  I’ll be needing them tonight at our friend’s Superbowl party.  We’re usually outside the entire time.

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I wore that light gray top to a meeting I had at the Pentagon in Washington DC last week.  It worked perfectly with the blazer.  It’s not in this photo but I think the pic is pretty cool so I wanted to show it to you.  🙂  I wanted to share my philosophy of “Now why can’t we all just get along?” with the powers-that-be at the Pentagon but they wouldn’t let me down that hallway.  LOL

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I went up a day early to sight see in our nation’s capital.  Loved every freezing windy moment of it!  The State of the Union was going to be televised that night so security was pretty tight.

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I finished a beanie for my son who lives in Colorado Springs.  We’re all cursed with larger than normal heads so I had to enlarge a pattern 140% from a Craftsy class I got for sewing with fleece.  That’s $25 a yard PolarTec 100% wind-proof something or other and I’ll sew it into a PolarTec 200 fleece shell.  Then it ‘s off in the mail.  I should get this to him next week.

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I also finished an embroidered towel for a couple in our camping crew.  I did two others last December but didn’t get pics and have already delivered them.

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I also completed one row of my brother-in-law’s t-shirt quilt and stabilized and cut out all the cornerstones from logos off the sleeves. I should be able to finish it up this month or next.  My frame isn’t large enough for a king size so my friend Lisa is going to let me quilt it on her longarm.

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That’s it for now.  I need to get out into the sweat shop and work on that long sleeved T for tonight.  Adios!

1st Pantograph on the Longarm, a.k.a. Two New Dog Blankets

A couple of months ago, my local quilt shop was having a season clearance and they had an entire bolt of “cheater cloth” up for grabs.  Not only was it on clearance, I talked the owner into another 10% off the sale price if I bought the entire bolt because I’m pretty sure I’m making her car payment.  Cheater cloth’s sole purpose in life is to help new longarm quilters such as myself, gain the necessary motor skills for following a pantograph.  It is pre-printed with a quilting design that washes away in the laundry.   I bought my longarm last November and up to this point, I’ve been making quilts using the Quilt Butler that is an auto-stitching computer.  All I have to do on the Butler is set the stitching boundary box, choose a pattern, make sure the needle is threaded right, and press start.  Well…there’s a little more to it…but not much.

My main reason for the cheater cloth was to become more familiar with the mechanics of the quilting process itself.  Since I began longarming, I have suffered numerous newbie mistakes (still am), and the machine still intimidates me.  After I got it, I remember staring at my Baby Lock Ellegante 2 sewing & embroidery machine (which I whiz around on) and thinking, “I can’t wait until I feel as comfortable on the longarm as I do on this.”  In my corner of the world as a quilter/seamstress, I love the zen feel with my machines that I “know” them.  We know each other.  I know how they behave, what type of thread they like, how they perform on different fabrics, and most importantly, what to do when something goes wonky.  Maybe that all sounds silly, but I believe it’s the same as how a mechanic feels about his/her car.  You know how it’s supposed to sound, it shouldn’t “chug” as my dad used to say, and know just what makes it purr.  Same goes with my machines.

Well, the only way to get comfortable with the longarm was to use the dang thing.  I watched video after video on how to load a quilt, videos on longarm tips and tricks, and pretty much anything else I could do to procrastinate learn as much as possible.  Finally, the purchase of the cheater cloth pushed me over the edge to actually load it and get going on it.  I think I figured the cheater cloth allowed me to make mistakes which I knew I would do without spending an arm and a leg on fabric or ruining a preciously pieced quilt top.

For the backing, the Fat Quarter Shop had one of their daily sales months ago where they were selling 5 yards of dark star fabric from a Moda Christmas line for like $5 or something stupid cheap like that.  I have no idea what that weird purple filter is on the left of this pic.

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First off, watching the video in the link below by Jamie Wallen made a collossal improvement in my quilting.  Correct tension – just that simple.  Someone on a blog somewhere mentioned this video so of course I had to check it out.  Jamie locked down the video so I can’t imbed it to my blog, but here is the link.  Changed my world.  I intentionally used black thread on the back of this project to see how the tension was doing.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM 

So how did it go with the cheater cloth?  Good thing I don’t drive like I quilt or I’d be arrested on the spot for a suspected DWI. At the bottom of this pic, you can see the tension improved.

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I had another newbie mistake moment where I forgot to lower the presser foot.  Look what the back looks like when THAT happens!  Yikes!  My sewing machine doesn’t do that on the back.  In fact, it never allows me to do that because it beeps at me when I forget to lower the foot.  Love technology.  Wups.

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After two rows of using the cheater cloth lines, I opted to go to the back of the machine for some pantograph action.  Not much better but I did improve as I went.  My goal is to get the rounds to be actually round without flat sides.  This will take me some time.  I’m still working on the body mechanics of  “do I use one hand or two?”, how best to stand or do I sit on a chair?  The smoothness of the designs will come with practice…or so I have been told by every professional quilter from here to the internet.  My goal is to be as good as Alice as my local quilt shop.  She knocks out 2-3 quilts a day at work.  She’s awesome.

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In a Whut the ??? moment when I tried to remove the quilt from the frame, it wouldn’t come off the top bar.  Then I noticed that somehow I got the top end of the batting in between the top and backing and managed to sew the quilt together around the back bar!  LOL  I had to cut it out to get the quilt off the frame.  Good grief!  LOL

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I put in about a total of 4 hours of practice on this particular piece.  I’m not sure I got better as time went on (which is why I have the Butler) but I really do enjoy the task of the pantograph.  I can already tell that at 5’9”, I need hubs to raise the frame 4-6” to prevent my now aching back.

Ugly though it may be, it passed quality inspection by my Australian Cattle Dog, Blue.  And my husband said, “Aren’t you going to put the ends [binding] around it?”  I literally laughed at him.

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I’m going to look for more clearance backing fabric this week to get back at it.