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#2017FALQ3-PowerToolsWithThread

I have a lot of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) and I’m very happy I found the 2017 Finish-a-long even if the year is half over.  It will give me the motivation to finish a few of them.  These are NOT WIPs.  They have been put down and walked away from for months…years and still need to be completed.

UFO #1 – Dinosaur QAYG from ShinyHappyWorld.com.  I’ve got the blocks cut, background batiks applies, and some of the blocks are quilted.  Some of the applique pieces have been cut by hand but I’m no where near even halfway through.  It’s been sitting for months and I want it done for Christmas.  I have a Cameo Silhouette and what I REALLY want to do is some serious magic with this.  Not only do I want to cut out the dinosaurs in fabric on the Silhouette, but I want to load the image into my Embrilliance embroidery software and then machine embroider the applique onto the squares in the hoop.  I’ve seen it done on YouTube and I really want to figure that out because I HATE to applique on the sewing machine.  I’m seriously wondering why I took this project on.  Probably because it’s such an adorable quilt and I’d had too much wine when I ordered it.  Hey, don’t judge.

#2017fal

#2 A Starry Night Quilt.  I started this before Christmas in 2015 with the full intention of finishing it before the holiday.  It’s one of those where you punch out the stars and add a little light pack behind it so the wall hanging lights up.  I got the wild idea that I’d do a small meander all around the outside of the tree.  I got about half way finished before I got bored.  You can see where I outlined the tree shape to meander around.  I started the meander on my sit down.

#2017fal - Starry Night

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#3  Lap size pink quilt.  This is a Villa Rosa Designs pattern but I’m not sure which one.  I didn’t think it was going to be THIS pink but it will make a nice gift for a young girl.  I still need to get backing fabric.  I made this top in summer of 2016.

#2017fal - Pink Villa Rosa Quilt

#4  Another Villa Rosa Designs – lap size.  This was a kit and the backing for it is around here somewhere.  This one I put together in Spring of 17.  I thought it would look good in my living room.

#2017fal - Villa Rosa Living Room Quilt

That’s enough UFO’s for this quarter.  I hope to get just one done but I’m glad to have finally put thoughts-to-blog in this #2017FAL to get me going on them.

Link up your UFOs.  I’d love to see them!

 

BOM Getting to Know Hue – Red

Another month has gone by and so goes another block of the month. This is a pattern by Nancy Rink and her quilt Getting to Know Hue.  This is Getting to Know Red. 

This month’s block really challenged my piecing skills. I learned new techniques to create blocks I’ve never done before. I absolutely love the intricacy of this quilt and all of its designs. Y’all, this is probably some of the best piecing I’ve ever done this month. Check out those points and joins. I have to say I’m very proud. 😊 It is a bit wobbly on the sides where I aimed for the center but I’m hoping that disappears in the quilting. 

A new technique I added to my piecing skills is this little trick with painters tape. I drew one-quarter inch lines from needle center on the painters tape so no matter which side I stitched from, my stitch lines were accurate. It really helped to have the line a little longer then would seem necessary because it helped me to hold the fabric straight as it went through the feed dogs and I could eyeball the exact 1/4″ just before the needle. And using this presser foot was just the thing to hold the fabric exactly in place as it stitched. From now on, this will be the only way I piece my blocks. Obviously, the SewSteady table helps. 

Next month is Orange. Can’t wait for the fabric to get here!

#GettingToKnowHue : Getting to Know Yellow-Green

I’m in a Block of the Month (BOM) put on by #LoneStarQuiltWorks and it’s a gorgeous Nancy Rink pattern called Getting To Know Hue.  In addition to designing the pattern, she also designed the fabrics.  All colors have the same hue and the same dots and weave prints even though they are all different colors.  April’s BOM is Getting to Know Yellow Green.

This entire quilt is really pushing my piecing skills.  It seems like everything is on the bias so I’m learning to starch all fabrics on the wrong side before cutting.  My favorite is Faultless with the blue cap.  No flakes.  I learned that trick from Amy Gibson at StitcheryDickoryDock.com Love her!  If you pop over to her site, she has a free Paper Piecing cheat sheet she is sharing if you’re interested.

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When I know I’m going to be cutting bias cuts, I never push the iron over the fabric, rather I place it top to bottom and use plenty of steam.

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When I turn it over (above) I run the iron over it by barely touching the fabric until all the iron marks are gone.  That’s better.

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As with any pattern, reading it first is key.  This month, I nearly made a mistake and cut the fat eighth long-ways instead of side ways.  Whew.  It was a narrow miss!

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I love seeing all the neat stacks ready to become something beautiful!

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I swear by my painter’s tape.  The edge is the sewing line and I mark 1/4″ in for making the HSTs (half-square triangles).  However, after the first 4 of these, I gave up and went back and drew the actual sewing lines. With all this bias, I wasn’t taking any chances.

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And a short 6 hours later?  Ta-da!!  Two pretty good looking blocks if I do say so myself.  Please don’t look too closely at my wobbly seams.  I’m hoping they won’t show after it’s all together and quilted. Getting those exact points on the bias…what a chore!  But I’ll take wonky seams over tipping a triangle any day.

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Here are the blocks from Jan (blue), Feb (teal), and March (magenta).

Here’s what it will look like when it’s finished.  What are you working on?  Please reply or post a link.  I’d love to see!

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Projects in-the-works for PTWT

Hi everyone!  I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last blog post.  But I have been very busy on a special secret project I’ll share very soon.  I’m SO excited about it!

So what have I been up to?  I know that has been at the top of everyone’s mind (ya right).  😉  I finished a Villa Rosa quilt top from a kit that I picked up at the Cedar Chest Quilt Shop in El Campo, Texas (SAH-LOOT!!) — a little HeeHaw humor for you U.S. readers of a certain age 🙂 —  It was a stop on the Taste of Texas Shop Hop I did in Feb with one of my junior high besties, Lee Ann.  It’s in the queue to go on my longarm.

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Have ya’ll heard of Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World?  She was a children’s book writer in a former life and now designs quilts.  She has a Craftsy class for Woodland Friends that I’m enrolled in and I’ve made a total of um…one block.  BUT THEN… She came out with this absolutely adorable Dinosaurs pattern and I had to have it!  I purchased the Dots fat quarters and the pattern at the same time.  Look how she includes a Thank You note in every order and she signs it!!  On top of that, you get a coupon code for a future purchase.  Sweet!  Really, how stinkin’ cute is this quilt?  It’s a quilt-as-you-go and she has a ton of videos on YouTube on how to make it all.

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Unfortunately, she was out of the dinosaur skeleton sashing and the batiks for the earth and sky.  So sad…  Not really!  That means a trip to my favorite local quilt shop, The Scrappy Quilter. Seriously, I’m in there so much I should have my own parking spot (hint, hint!)   Look at my haul!  I picked up three blues, three greens and I can’t wait to stitch up that pretty grassy batik.  Wendi uses a lot of the Burlap Brights from Benartex in her quilts for the trees, leaves, and whatnot and Scrappy had a roll of 2.5″ strips with my name on it.  I really didn’t find it but one of the sweet ladies who works there did.  On my last trip to Scrappy, I had earned (another) $25 gift card for them so…why not?  I had this dark gray grunge print in my stash I’ll use for the sashing and I’m thinking the backing will be either a gray or deep blue minky.  I can’t wait to get started!

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She recommends printing the applique pieces on pre-cut printable iron-on fusible web.  Well, I don’t have any that’s pre-sized for the printer however I do have a bunch of Wonder Under on the bolt.  So what’s a girl to do?  Why cut out 8.5″x11″ pieces from the bolt of course!  I got a total of 8 “pages” of printable iron-on from my bolt with 4″ leftover pieces from each cut.

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So being ever-practical as I am, I took those leftover 4″ pieces and taped two of them to a piece of printer paper and ran it through the old HP.  And viola!  Four more pages!  I still need more so there’s another trip to WalMart.

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On another front – I follow a blogger called GoodByeValentino.  Her name is Sarah and she used to buy very expensive RTW (ready to wear) and decided to begin buying designer fabrics to sew them herself.  Her blog says she’s saved thousands.  Ohhh kay??…Obviously, she and I don’t shop in the same locales.  ha ha  Thanks to China, and Kohls, I still can buy cheaper than I can make it most of the time.  But I love her concept.  Well Ms. Sarah put a book out called The Tunic Bible and I’ve always been intrigued because who doesn’t want to sew a top that covers the backside, amiright?  One day I was surfing on FabricMartFabrics.com and you wouldn’t believe it, but I got 4.8 yards of an amazing knit navy blue paisley print for under $5…more than FOUR yards! That stuff just screamed Tunic!  So I bought the fabric, and headed on over to Amazon to buy the book.  I have enough fabric for a muslin and the final garment.  Nice.

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One of her posts was for an out of print Vogue pattern #9047.  I love this dress!  I looked on Etsy and I found it from LanetzLiving and it was just $6 with free shipping.  The pattern arrived within a week and the vendor sent along a signed invoice a free little flip flop charm!  Cute!  Don’t you love freebies!  This will go on a necklace I wear at the coast. I will definitely order from her again.

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Back to quilting – Missouri Star Quilt Co had a Daily Deal (that’s how I built/build my stash for pennies on the dollar), and the other day they had a 10″ square pack of the Heritage line and while I didn’t sign up for the deal, I did pick up the coordinating panel, backing, binding, and the Placemats kit.  Two more projects are now in the queue for a patriotic wall hanging and placemats.  Perfect for The 4th of July!

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So that’s it!  Actually, that’s quite enough for now.  Don’t these people know I’m away from my sewing machines for 10 hours a day while I’m at “work”?

More Lessons Learned – Buying a Longarm from a .com

Those who’ve been following my blog for awhile know I bought a longarm quilt machine,  Grace frame, and the Quilt Butler robotics system from #SewingMachinesPlus.com last November.  My friends, what a ride this has been.  Today, JUST TODAY, April 9, 2017, I’ve got it running properly and I’m happy with the robotic quilting results.

I’m a firm believer now that in order to make something work right, you have to almost be as much of an expert as the seller or possibly even more of one.  That’s kind of hard if you are new to the game.  I’ve never owned a longarm on a frame before.  Typical of my personality, I jumped in head first without knowing if there’s water in the pool.  Well, maybe that’s not a good analogy, but I certainly should have worked on a longarm by renting time on a machine somewhere before purchasing one which would have helped me know what’s right in order to know when it’s wrong.  Of course, that wouldn’t have helped with Problem #1.

Problem #1 – The sales associate at #SewingMachinesPlus sold me the wrong frame that works with my robotics.  Today, their website is very specific about the frame type that can work with the Quilt Butler but last November, it wasn’t.  I wanted the Grace GQ vs. the Phoenix that was recommended on the page of their website that sells my King Quilter (made by Tin Lizzie) because the GQ came with free overhead lights and the Phoenix frame didn’t.  The sales associate should have let me know that the Butler doesn’t work with the GQ (yet).  My husband had to do some fabrication to the frame to make it work and QuiltEZ was impressed and asked me if they could use my images of his fix as a prototype.  I must say, the folks at #QuiltEZ who make the Butler have been fabulous this entire time.  The guy who owns the company actually called me personally and spent nearly an hour on the phone troubleshooting my issues.  Turns out:  1) I had the wrong frame style; and 2) the Y-axis belt was on inside out.  Apparently that’s kind of a thing.  The Y-axis belt makes the machine go front-to-back. And during this troubleshooting, I pointed out how their tech manuals were wrong.  It was a win for both of us.  Also I must add, SewingMachinesPlus.com made everything right by sending me an entirely new machine and tablet.  And they sent a free box of 84 spools of Madiera Rayon embroidery thread as compensation for my troubles.  Steve from their technical customer service has been exceptional.

Problem #2.  Putting the frame together correctly is key.  And when it is a DIY job, there’s always room for user error.  I’ve been dealing with this…

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It’s difficult to see but there are long, dragging, skipped, horizontal stitches which accompany a gazillion thread breaks.  You cannot begin to imagine my frustration.  On the bright side, I’m a master at resetting the start spot if the thread breaks.  🙂  These long, dragging stitches always seem to happen on the horizontal plane (X-axis) on the frame’s left side.  Odd.  I searched and searched on the internet and all that was out there were posts and articles about tension issues.  It’s definitely not a tension issue.  So last week while I was in my favorite quilt shop, a lady who is an experienced longarmer was there and I asked her about it.  After I described the problem, she said, “it’s probably the frame and/or carriage” (carriage = the platform the machine sits on that travels on the frame).   Huh…  Really…   She said to look for lint balls around the wheels and to make sure the frame is level.  That’s legit because I am guilty of shoving the frame around lately while getting the quilt studio set up.  She said the horizontal issue is something between the carriage on the frame and the stitch regulator in the Quilt Butler.  The robotics unit knows what it’s supposed to do, but it can’t get the carriage to go along with the plan.  OK, so then what is going on?  And how do I fix it?

Well, first make sure the frame is level.  It wasn’t.  You cannot do this with a small level like on your phone or one the size of your finger.  You need one that will stretch across both sides of the frame front-to-back and you have to level it left, right, and middle.  I had to lower the right front foot and the rear center foot.  Once that was done, it still didn’t work right (more thread breaks).  Wait, maybe if the frame was put together properly it might help.  This sounds like a ‘no duh’ concept, but I didn’t put it together so I blindly accepted the premise when I got home that day from work that hubs had put it together correctly.  (He was so proud!) Hey, stuff happens right?  I mean, he’s good with construction and mechanics so why would I question it?  Well, it turns out, the left and right front brackets that allow the height of the belly bar to change were on the wrong sides.  Now, I only discovered this today so I’m totally taking the hit for this myself too.  How long have I been staring at the L on the right front bracket (since November) and not noticing the one behind and below it was an R?  Again, ‘duh’.  Not to hurt hubs’ feelings, I took it apart myself and swapped them.  Now they look like this.  I started stitching again, and more thread breaks.  (See?  I’m REAL good at those.)

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Problem #3.  Make sure all the wheels on the lower carriage are rolling on the tracks and connecting with the frame.  Again, a ‘no duh’ concept.  But hey, I’m new.  Apparently, if all the wheels aren’t touching the frame, the carriage doesn’t do what the stitch regulator tells it to do.   As my mom would say, “No sh*t Sherlock.”  When we built the frame initially, all the wheels touched the tracks and it was all good.  But when we put the weight of the machine on the frame, there were times that that poor carriage was only on 5 wheels vs. the required 8…with two of them spinning freely on the left side of the frame.  Eureka!  One must loosen all 4 wheel screws on the lower carriage to get them to balance properly on the tracks, WHILE the weight of the machine is on the carriage.  I did this one-quarter turn at a time on all four wheel set screws.  That right back wheel below was spinning freely before the adjustment, as was the left front wheel on the other side and the left rear inside wheel as well.  NO FREAKING WONDER!!   And I did all these adjustments with a quilt on the frame.  Genius.  I’m not entirely sure this single issue would have resolved my problems because if the frame was torqued or not level, the wheels won’t level out.  Leveling order is frame, carriage, wheels.

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Once I got these issues fixed…Zen.  This beauty is so good I’m even using a different lighter color in the bobbin thread in the border and the stitches are perfectly balanced so you can’t see it.  The bobbin thread in the blue border is the same as what’s in the lighter-colored 1st border below. I started this blue border after all the adjustments were made and I didn’t have a single issue.  It worked perfectly.  I’m absolutely tickled!

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Last Lesson: Read ALL the Instructions, not just the ones you think you should.  Again, a ‘no duh’ moment but since hubs put the frame together, why would I read the instructions for the frame?  In a previous post, I lamented that there’s not a thing out there to tell me how to load the leaders or which way the rails should rotate.  In my defense, I did look at the instructions on how to load the little ratchet wheels on the ends of the frame rails, but it didn’t specify one way or the other.  So then today, while going through the instructions to reverse the previously mentioned backwards brackets, lo and behold, what do I come across?  In the back of the booklet, there are instructions on how to load a quilt onto the frame and they tell me which way the rails should turn!  YAY!  It should be noted that this frame does not use the ‘biblical scroll’ method like a Handi-Quilter frame does.  Not all frames are the same so that is a lesson learned as well. And now that the brackets are on correctly, the frame rolls and advances the way it should.

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I’m a junkie of this YouTuber, Jennifer Alexander, who publishes detailed vids on how to work the Butler.  And this lovely lady from #SederQuilts shows how to fix oopsies that happen on a longarm.  I be using these techniques on this quilt to fix the long stitch issue I had throughout the body of the quilt…on the left side.

So in summary, I think I have all the kinks worked out and now I know enough about the mechanics of this thing to troubleshoot any future issues.  It’s been frustrating, it’s been painful, and at times it’s been the War of the Roses here at home.   But by buying online, I saved over $14,000 which is a TON of cash y’all.  My final cost was $13,365 compared to my friend who bought an APQS and a Quilt Path last year that she got from a dealer for over $27,000.  Believe me, buying from a dealer isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.  There are plenty of horror stories out there about crappy customer service, training, delivery, installation, etc., etc., etc.  Looking back, my experience was totally worth it.  Would I do it again?  You bet.  But I wish I’d of read this post in my blog first.  To anyone who is considering it, I say go for it.  Any troubles are worth the money saved.

NOTE:  The quilt on the frame is for hubs’ birthday so I can’t show the whole thing until it’s finished.  Sorry!

Room is Finished & a Backwards Quilt Butler Fix

Finally!  My old sewing room is empty and everything has been migrated into the new quilting studio!  It has taken weeks…months.  Here is my new lair.  

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I even did my first attempt at quilting with a pantograph.  Let me tell you, that’s MUCH harder (for me) than it looks.  And I can tell you that it is true what they say, “Practice, practice, practice.”  I used my new long arm for the very first time, and did a pantograph for my very first time, and it turned out…well…really bad.  But that’s OK!  At least I know that the machine works, the laser works, and I don’t know how to align a pantograph. 

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 The quilt that’s on the frame now is actually one I made years ago and I’d originally sandwiched by pinning, and then did some freehand and ruler work on my mid-arm sit-down only to reaffirm what I already knew – that I can’t freehand.  Since this quilt was a UFO, I just took the pins out and rolled all three layers onto this new frame to get in some practice.  But what fun!  Even though I’ve made some newbie mistakes (like forgetting to lower the presser foot resulting in horrendous loops on the backside) and my sewing looks like a 4-year-old did it, I’m so excited to have something for me to work on and get better at.   

UPDATE!  After I began this blog post, my MULTI-TALENTED AND FABULOUS husband fabricated new brackets for the frame and got the robotics to work!  This is the Grace GQ frame, one of their newer models that QuiltEZ, who makes the Butler robotics, haven’t worked the kinks out of yet.  Finally, QuiltEZ fessed-up that their installation videos on YouTube show to install the encoder on the wrong side of the upper carriage resulting in the machine moving backwards when it’s supposed to go forwards.  In the photo below, everything is as how the instructions say to install it.   See that black box?  That’s the Quilt Butler robotics unit on the front of the machine – you can tell it’s the front because the sewing needle is above the box.  Note the black belt that runs on that little wheel on top of the box and it only turns one way.  That’s what moves the machine front-to-back.  And in this case, front-to-bassackwards.  There’s a light gray belt directly behind the box that runs from one end of the frame to the other for side-to-side movement.  Note in the 2nd photo how there is not a place to mount the gray belt on the back side of the frame.  You can see how the gray belt is attached with brackets in front of the machine, but there isn’t an extension to install the bracket off the back of the frame.  Here’s where my husband earned his keep yesterday.  (just kidding!)

 

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20170118_154653 I’ve been at my wit’s end because the front-to-back path line on the tablet went the wrong direction.  When I pulled the machine toward me, it went to the back of the quilt and vice versa.  Then they told me that the Butler really needed to be mounted under the machine vs. on the end of it.  That is NOT what the instructions said and that is NOT what I wanted.  Because if we put the robotics unit under the machine, I wouldn’t be able to do pantographs because I couldn’t install the table shelves that the paper will lay on.  So it was one or the other but of course, I wanted BOTH.  So my husband made brackets that extend the left-to-right belt off the back of the frame vs. underneath it, we moved the little encoder wheel on the top carriage from the right side to the left side and flipped the lower carriage around so the box hangs off the back.  I’m sure this is confusing and I’m sorry.  But the end result is that it WORKS!  I pleaded with him to round the corners on those brackets because I was sure to run into them and cause myself an injury.  He’s such a sweetie!  

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Here’s a video of the robotics in action.

I made his favorite dinner tonight of course!   And I think QuiltEZ owes us some money somehow for figuring out their mess.  Patent pending?  Now, no more excuses.  I have to learn how to use the Quilt Butler and pronto!  My freehand is sooo bad that I really need that help!

December #SewSampler is Here!

It’s like Christmas in January!  My #SewSampler from FatQuarterShop.com came in the mail today and it’s so much fun to open one of these.  Where do I start?

1.  A Birds of Liberty Half Roll Up from Robert Kaufman Fabrics.  2.  Six spools of coordinating 1930’s Aurifil applique thread.  3.  Orange Peel Impressions Quilting Templates to be used for applique.  4.  Round Robin Impressions Quilt Pattern to turn the orange peels into a bright and colorful quilt.  And finally,  5.  Sew Cherry Magnet Set to brighten up my kitchen!

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There’s also a Block 9 recipe but I’m not making that quilt.  On the back of the contents card is a nice 2017 Quilt Resolutions form where you can look back at your successes for 2016 and then list your goals for 2017.  I think I’m going to add “Master my new longarm!”  ha  We’ll see about that…