Quilting with Claudia Pfiel

On May 14-15, 2018 I attended my first-ever quilting class.  It was held at Over the Top Quilting (OTTQ) in Cedar Park, Texas (west Austin).  I found out about the class late last year from one of the quilting FB groups I belong to and scheduled immediately to save myself a seat.  Good thing too because it sold out quickly.  The instructor was Claudia Pfiel from Germany.
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I had never heard of Claudia.  Turns out she teaches at the International Festival in Houston and her quilts have won ribbons around the world.  Like 1st place-in-Dubai around-the-world.  Wow.  This lady is truly an artist.

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For the benefit of you locals, I took the 130 toll road and the stupid GPS on my car brought me out in South Austin at 8:30am.  Fortunately I was really early and made it in plenty of time for the 10:00 class.  For you non-locals, Austin traffic is HORRENDOUS during rush hour – or any hour for that matter.  IH-35 even has multiple levels and traffic just comes to a complete stop on the highway as you come into the city limits from either direction and you just creep.  You better have well-planned bathroom breaks!  Once I got through the traffic jam, the rest of my trip was done almost completely on toll roads.  I switched over to the GPS direction lady on Google Maps on my phone and she gets me exactly where I need to go every time.  She even tells me which lane to be in.  Love her!

There were a total of 30 ladies in the class of all skill levels.  Some quilted for money and some don’t have a machine yet.  I detected one “quilt police” lady and promptly avoided her.  The sweet lady that sat next to me had a sit down mid-arm machine and was just a beginner.  I think the farthest distance went to a lady from Colorado and I did talk to several from the Houston area.  That’s my arm in the red shirt in the bottom left corner at the end of the table.
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I was in the office area during a break and I overhead one student talking to the co-owner Chris asking about advice having to do with leaders.  She said, “My cousin has this STUPID Tin Lizzie and I can’t understand whether to pin or do a zipper.”  You know I couldn’t let THAT go!  LOL  So I chimed in smiling with, “Well I have not ONE but TWO of those stupid Tin Lizzies and they have nothing to do with the leaders!”  Chris was like, “WHOA! I’m not getting in the middle of this!” LOL  Another student was standing there and burst into a belly laugh at the faux paux.  I gotta stand my ground you know?  No worries, it was all in good fun.  The lady sitting next to me said her neighbor has a Tin Lizzie and loves it.  In fact, two of the ladies there with the same high-end machine (I won’t mention which one but it’s initials are HQ) both complained of having performance issues with theirs and were complaining about the lack of local tech support, etc.  Just goes to show that spending a lot of money doesn’t necessarily guarantee not having issues. Both of my girls are running just fine thank you very much!  My frame is another story but I’ve covered that ad nauseum in previous posts.

 Sisters Susan and Chris, the owners of OTTQ were wonderful hostesses.  They are both so nice!
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They had set up a large TV screen and Susan did a wonderful job of manning the camera both days so we could see up-close what Claudia was doing.  The classroom was bright and had lots of space.  There were two restrooms so if you timed it right, there was little to no line.
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The classroom was beautifully decorated with quilts made by Irene Rodrick, the featured quilt artist of the month at OTTQ.  She has a very modern style.
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We had lunch brought in both days of sandwiches, chips, fruit, and sodas/water and Susan and Chris even scheduled a dinner at Texas Land and Cattle restaurant the first night.  I went to dinner with them since I was staying at the Holiday Inn Express overnight.  There was no way I was driving 4 hours home and back between the days.  About 8 of us went to dinner and had a great time.
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 Now for the meat of the class.

The first hour, Claudia explained her theory and basic inspirations, shapes, and styles.  It’s funny how overwhelming FMQ can be but when it’s broken down into baby-steps, it becomes so simplistic and certainly less intimidating.  Of course, that’s in theory.  Once you get behind the handles, it’s another story.  Her first rule was P-P-P!  Practice, practice, practice!
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We were told to bring a sketch book and pencils and I used about 6 of the gridded pages in my Scrappy Project Planner.  This is the same book I log my daily sewing activities in.  Claudia had six bound booklets that we purchased that showed the basics of her designs too.

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She is a wonderful instructor and checks with the class frequently to make sure we understand what she is doing and how.  It’s mesmerizing to watch her work.  She lets you ask questions as she goes and then even allows you to come up close and personal to see exactly what she’s seeing in the foot.  Her English is very good and she has a great sense of humor.  On the second day she showed how she colors on silk to create appliques for use on her quilts.
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It was great to watch her do borders, corners, and circles.

20180514_114119870335359.jpgShe demonstrated a use of pounced stencils I’d never considered.
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How does she make her feathers look so effortless?
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A fascinating thing – she always floats her quilts.  They are loose and floppy on the machine because she doesn’t even use side clips.  There’s so much give in her quilts, she takes her index finger and pushes it up from the underside to pinch a bit in the top with her other hand.  Then she knows the tension on the frame is right.  After she takes the quilt off the longarm, she soaks them down with buckets of water to block them, and then cuts them after they have dried for 5 days.  Of course, she’s over in Germany and doesn’t have AC.  Our quilts here would just mildew!
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A real treat happened on the second day when a quilt she had sent away to be judged was FedEx’d to the store and she shared the judge’s comments with us.  It had not won, (she knew it wouldn’t), and to me, it gave great insight into the mentality of not beating yourself up if you don’t win.  All of the comments were “Excellent”, “Great”, “Very good” with no improvement areas and yet she didn’t win.  However one of the ladies in the class stated that had happened to her too but when she saw the competition, then she understood.  Claudia says the birth of this quilt was from a frustrating time with a family member and she just went into the studio and started sewing scraps together.  As you can see, she quilts with silk most of the time.
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Look at her binding method.  She sews a strip of fabric around the quilt and then folds it over and hand stitches it.
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Here is the back of her quilt.  It is just as beautiful as the front!
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She had several samples on display and to pass around.
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In all, I’m very glad I attended this class.  Even though it was more lecture than actual time on a longarm machine, I learned a great deal and can’t wait to put those new lessons into practical skills!
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WIPs Mother’s Day Weekend 2018

Just a short note to share the latest things recently under my needles.  We just came back from the coast with my step-mom for Mother’s Day Weekend 2018 and we had an absolute ball.  My mom is so much fun and early every morning while hubs was still sleeping and the  house was quiet, we had our coffee and she and I would chat and I’d work on quilt piecing while she kept one eye on FB and shared videos of adorable lab pups.  Really…does it get any better than that?  Mom, coffee, quilting, and cute puppies?  I think not!  🙂  My latest is a Riley Blake design called The Corner of 5th and Fun.  This little gem is so adorable!  I’m making it for a little tot across the street from us at the coast who is just as adorable.  Her mom designed her room in neutrals and I thought this would be perfect.

Corner of 5th and Fun Quilt

This weekend I finished the pinwheels and made it halfway through the 2.5″ squares around the border.  The images are from a panel.  Once I get the border squares finished, it will go together in no time.  I ordered the 4 yards of backing material when we got home.

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Last Thursday we had an office picnic and I was asked to bring our grill.  Of course I needed a cute apron so I hopped over to Emblibrary.com and found “Smokin’ Hot”.  Gotta love it!  The apron is a blank I bought in a pack of 3 from Sam’s Club for like $12 – that is the BEST place to buy white and black apron blanks. They are good quality at a great price.  I used a single layer of black cut away stabilizer and floated the apron in my jumbo hoop.  It stitched out beautifully and wasn’t too dense.  Here are my co-workers and I:  Juan, moi’, Kenny, and Tabitha who was born and raised in New Orleans.  I let her admire my BBQ pit (inside joke) and she shared a killer gumbo recipe with me.  This was Kenny’s 2nd time to cook with me so he got to wear an official team apron – we are Nice Rack BBQ.  Last March, I took 4th place chicken out of 26 teams at a BBQ sanctioned by the International BBQ Cook-off Association.  It’s kind of a big deal around here and I’m fairly serious about grilling my chickens.

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I’m still having a bit of trouble with my longarm giving me long stitches but I’ve discovered it’s not the machine at all – it’s the frame.  Right where the two halves of the frame come together, a couple of the front wheels on the lower carriage don’t touch the rail.  It causes the carriage not to know exactly what to do.  I end up getting long dragging stitches and usually a thread break to boot.  It happens in the same location on every pass regardless of whether the carriage is moving right to left or left to right.  I took the frame nearly apart last month to figure it out and I was able to solve almost all the issues.  But that one spot has me frazzled.  Is there an engineer out there who can come over to help?  It’s totally level, the rails are parallel, and the frame is square.  I simply cannot figure it out and it’s preventing me from finishing my BILs t-shirt quilt.  I’m terrified to snag the nylon in the t-shirts and create runs that cannot be repaired.  Can you see the long stitches?  I was able to push down slightly on the base of the machine right near the needle at this spot to prevent a thread break but wasn’t so lucky on the next pass.  I still have to fix this even though the thread didn’t break.  The Grace Frame company is going to be getting a call from me soon.

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I’m stitching the Sasquatch Quilt with a computerized design – Ebb and Flow from Intelligent Quilting.  I really like it.

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Tomorrow I leave for a two day trip to Austin for a Master’s in Quilting Degree with Claudia Pfiel who is from Germany.  I booked this class at Over the Top Quilting last December and I’m spending the night in Austin (Cedar Park actually) tomorrow night so I don’t have to make the 2 hour trip back and forth between the days.  I’m SO excited!  It was my Christmas and Mother’s Day gift to myself.  I’m a very, very beginner in FMQ and I’m sure I will be a trial to her.  She teaches at the International Quilt Fest in Houston so she’s one of the best in the world and I’m certain I’m totally out of my league.  I’m determined to do my best though and hopefully I gain some confidence on the longarm while I’m there.  I’ll be sure to blog my experience!

Easy Furry Animal Tails

I got a text from my son last week that said, “Are you able and willing to make Callie another white tail with Velcro for her pj’s?  It broke about an inch below the Velcro and she is very sad. 🙂  ”   Callie is my 3.5 year old granddaughter.

What is he talking about?  OK, so I made something and it broke.  I asked him to send a photo and when I got it I laughed.

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I had totally forgotten about this.  I literally cut a piece of furry yarn I picked up at Wal-Mart and stitched it to Velcro.  Apparently she’s been wearing it to death and was sad when it broke.  Well!  We can’t have that can we?  Isn’t it amazing what kids love?  It’s like watching a child play with the wrapping paper vs. the gift.

I went digging around in my sweat shop and located the furry yarn.  Apparently I’d bought some brown too.

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This time instead of just cutting a piece of it, I actually did a crochet loop to create a tail that’s a bit fluffier.  And in the spirit of loving my son and DIL that much, I made two more for the boys to prevent a screaming match.  Aiden isn’t quite two, but he would realize that the other two have something he doesn’t so Grammy to the rescue.

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This time instead of Velcro, I doubled up the end to create a solid piece to stitch on and zigzagged it to a scrap of 80/20 Warm and Natural.  I sacrificed three of my quilting safety pins so they can attach the tails to garments.

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Now I just need to get these into the mail.  No, I’m not modeling them.  I’ll post an update when I get a photo back.  🙂   This is a perfect thing to put in a goody bag for a young one’s birthday party.  This fur comes in all kinds of colors and is really inexpensive.  You’d have a house full of long-tailed critters who can make great fun of it!

Scrap Management, Make Your Own Pre-Cuts

This is just a short post to show everyone how I manage my scraps when I’m finished making a quilt.

I use the sides of the extra backing and trim them up as neatly as possible to make my own pre-cuts. I make a clean cut as close as possible to the rough edge.

I generally prefer a 5″ square to start.

Anything I have left over, I will turn into 2.5″ strips.

This particular cut earned me what would be considered a little bit more than a regular Charm Pack and a couple of two and a half inch strips! This is #Moda fabric so I can truly call it a Charm Pack. 😉

If I have big enough pieces, I will make 10″ squares out of those. I rarely have enough left over for a fat quarter.

How do you manage your leftover scraps?

Quilter’s Planner Turned Diary

I bought a Quilter’s Planner late last year when that type of thing usually floats around the interwebs trying to get you organized for the new year. I think I saw a blog on this one and liked it because of the awesome way #LoriHolt organizes her scraps and she shows you how-to inside.  Have I done that yet?  Um, no.

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I’m usually not much for planners. I’m more of a spontaneous quilter that runs after shiny, pretty things than a planner. Actually writing things down that I plan to do over the next year usually ends up making me feel crappy about how much I actually didn’t get done after all.   I wrote these five projects down in January and haven’t touched a one of them.

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However this particular planner has a part for something like a daily log or diary and I thought I’d put it to use to truly capture any little thing I did that pertained to quilting or sewing. There are lots of quilters on FB that say they don’t have time to quilt or sew and I usually try to tell them to do just one little thing a day and then after a couple of weeks, the project is finished…provided a shiny object doesn’t intervene.   Taking my own advice, I decided to log what I had done that day.  I keep the planner on the end table in the living room so I can jot down a short note while watching TV with hubs.  I started on Jan 1st.

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I’m REALLY surprised at how much I actually do every day that pertains to my quilting or sewing when I don’t think I’ve gotten anything done!  I try to make a note for every day if I can, and if I can’t, I try to write why I couldn’t like a conference I attended March 8-11.  See March 13?  I watched quilt ruler videos on YouTube.  It’s not stitching, but it pertains to my learning so I captured the activity.

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I’m feeling much more accomplished than trying to keep up with a planned list.  Have you thought of doing this or do you do it?  How do you stay organized with your stitching time?

Completed Quilt Top #Legendary by Elizabeth Hartman

F-i-n-e-a-l-l-y I finished the top for Legendary by Elizabeth Hartman.  I just love her quilt patterns.  The designs are clean and fun with a touch of whimsy and just make me happy.  I could do nothing but make her quilts from her on out and be completely happy.

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I especially love Flamingos and I have the pattern but not the fabric…yet.  However, I’ve got a lot of irons in the quilt fire pit so I’m holding off on buying the fabric.  So many irons in fact, that I’m out of space and must force myself to finish some and get them out of my life before I can take on any others.  My poor sweat shop is overflowing to the point of the clutter stressing me out.  I hate that.  Clean surfaces and quilting are a contradiction in terms.  I love them both so I have to get busy.

I picked up Legendary as a kit at a quilt store in Denver last August when I went to see my son & his family.  He’s got a sticker of the Mountain Man on the back window of his SUV so I thought he’d like it.  I was right and he’s anxiously waiting for me to finish it up.  Tomorrow I will hit up my fave quilt store for 4.5 yards of backing.   I already have the binding as part of the kit.

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The Alpha-bitties came in handy to keep all the tree branches organized.

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Of course the most fun was the Mountain Man.  He was not paper-pieced at all but instead had odd wonky sewn angles for his hands and head.

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This entire quilt top finishes out at 71″ x 60″.  Once I get the backing the next step is to put it on the longarm.  I want it finished this week.

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Next WIP projects:

  1. My BIL’s t-shirt quilt.  Needs outer border, ruler work in sashing/borders, & bound.
  2. Ocean Friends.  Applique quilt with a ton of work left.
  3. Corner of 5th and Fun.  Easy panel quilt with pinwheel blocks.
  4. Dinosaur applique quilt from Shiny Happy World.
  5. Woodland Critters from Shiny Happy World.

What’s in your queue?

 

 

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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