Search Results for: stitch lab

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!

Brother Scan-N-Cut 650W and Allbrands.com

As mentioned in a previous post, several years ago I purchased a Cameo Silhouette (or Silhouette Cameo…I can never get that right) from Woot.com and had no idea what to do with it.  It was a deal that was too good to pass up at the time and I figured I’d use it one day.  Actually I forgot about it and it sat in a box for almost two years before it came to me that I could use it to cut out fabric applique pieces for quilts.  Once I had that in my head I tried and tried to work with it but to be honest, the learning curve on the software for that machine was too steep.  I ended up selling it.

On a Facebook page for Machine Embroidery Help I asked the question, “What can I use to cut out fabric applique pieces from a printed pattern, and then turn those images into machine embroidery files to applique to a quilt block?” The responses were numerous but one lady said, “Use a Brother Scan-N-Cut and Brother Simply Applique software”.  The software is designed to be a companion to the cutting machine.  Bingo.  I was on a mission to figure out how that might work.

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November 7th, I purchased a Brother Scan-N-Cut 650W from Allbrands.com.  Today is Cyber Monday – check them out!  They are a major retailer of all-things-sewing here in the southern US.  They are headquartered out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and just recently bought the Creative Sewing Center in nearby San Antonio where I went to a sewing class with Angela Wolf on Nov 17.  I’ll blog that amazing experience in another post.  I called the Allbrands 800 number for sales and purchased the machine and the software over the phone. I purchased a “seminar” model so I saved quite a bit from the regular retail price.  I’ve never been too proud for a floor model.  🙂

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The machine arrived in no time and I got everything all set up.  The only thing missing was the Wireless Activation Card which is included with the 650W model but not the 350 in case you are considering a purchase.  Go big.  Anyway, I called Allbrands the next business day and they sent a new Wireless Activation Card to me right away.  The wireless card is key because it’s what connects the machine to the Brother ScanNCut Canvas cloud that allows you to upload scanned image files directly from the machine.  The Canvas cloud allows you to save those files into a format that can be read by the Simply Applique software to turn that file into a machine embroidery file.  The Canvas cloud does a ton of other creative stuff too but I haven’t explored all that yet.  Brother has all this locked down pretty tight so you can’t go around scanning in proprietary images and embroidering them for profit.  “Cloud” means that you don’t have the powerful Canvas software locally on your own computer.  You do all editing online.  Here’s how it works.  I made this graphic to show you how it all works.  At least I think this is how it works.

AutoApplique Process with SNC 650

So…as I attempted to get the Canvas cloud to recognize the machine, I was never prompted to put in the 16-digit PIN on the new wireless card to associate the machine with my account in the cloud.  I ended up having to call Brother USA to see if they could disassociate the previous PIN used in the seminar demo so I would use my own PIN.  They were very nice and sent the trouble ticket up the chain and said they’d call me back.

The very next day, I received an email from the president of Allbrands.com, Mr. John Douthat (yeah right, like HE actually sent the email to me LOL) and it contained a survey asking about my satisfaction with my purchase.  I was nearly 3 weeks into this now with no direct connectivity yet to the SNC Canvas so my patience was dwindling.  I responded to the survey and in the comment box I wrote my story.  Well you won’t BELIEVE what happened!  About two hours after I hit “Send” my phone rang and it was a nice lady from Allbrands.com.  She told me that they were sending me another machine and a return shipping label for the other one.  Wow!  And in my email Inbox was an email from none other than Mr. Douthat himself instructing this lady to send me another machine.  I was cc’d on his email to her.  Now HOW NICE IS THAT??

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The new machine arrived this weekend and it connected to the Canvas cloud lickety-split.  Allbrands.com also tossed in a couple of other accessories like a pen holder (retail $15.99), a roll of high tack fabric support sheets (retail $19.99), and a Brother Scanning Mat (retail $22.99).  I couldn’t be happier!  Honestly, in this day and age, customer service like that is hard to find.  Maybe it’s just Southern Hospitality but I’ll continue to shop from them and sing their praises.  If you are ever considering an online purchase, please think of them first.

Here’s my first go at cutting out some dinosaurs.  They turned out great.  I haven’t had time yet to play with the download part back into Simply Applique and the subsequent stitching onto the blocks in my embroidery machine.  I’ll be tackling that this week.

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My goal is to fully automate applique quilts.  I’m loving this adventure!

 

 

Blouse Pattern Hack

I recently ordered a knit border-print top from a catalog.  Total cost including shipping was about $50.  It fits great and I’d like some more tops just like it for work.  When it arrived, I noticed it’s only two pieces of fabric joined at the shoulders and sides.  TWO…that’s it…for $40 plus shipping.  My cheapness crept in.

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I bounced over to MoodFabrics.com and did some searching and came up with a pretty navy and lime green knit patterned fabric on sale for $5.95 a yard.  Now we’re talking.

I turned the original blouse inside out, folded it in half, and then rough-traced around the top making sure to add notes of where extra fabric allowance would be needed for a hem.  The paper is a roll of special velum I got from Sure Fit Designs but any old paper will do.  I’ve been known to raid the printer now and again armed with a roll of scotch tape.

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Then I cleaned up the rough sketch using a French curve ruler for the curvy parts and labeled the pieces so I can use them again.

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The top went together in an afternoon.  I did an overlock stitch on the shoulders and sides. I unnecessarily did the neck and sleeves too on this piece.  What was I thinking?

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And then my darling Janome Coverstitch Pro did her thing on the neckline, sleeves and lower hems.  That machine does the nice double row of stitching on the top and covers the raw edge on the back all at the same time just like ready-to-wear.  The success here is pressing up the hems first and using Steam-a-Seam to glue them in place.  That trick prevents ripples and stretches where they are not wanted and encourages the hem to lay perfectly flat as it goes through the machine.

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I got lazy and just coverstitched over my label as I added it in.  Bad girl.

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In all, I love this top!  It fits just like the other one and was so simple to make.  You should give a try to a pattern hack sometime.  If you’re new to it, I do not advise anything with set in sleeves, woven fabric, darts, or heaven forbid Princess seams.  Keep it simple.

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Design Ideas Needed-Patio Retrofit for a Quilt Studio

OK guys, I did it.  I completely lost my mind and went whole hog and invested in the King Quilter 18″ Special Edition long arm quilting machine with a 10″ Android tablet, the Grace GQ Frame, and the Quilt Butler robotics.   The whole mess was on sale and came with free Luminess lighting to go over the frame.

I say “invested” because I could buy a new car for what I paid for this thing.  Hubs said, “Are you going to get another job to pay for this?”  I said, “This IS the other job!”  We’re still not finished with the install because the wrong carriage hardware was sent.  The new will be here next week sometime.  This is about 5 hours of labor here and it took 45 minutes just to unpack the frame.  It’s 10 feet long and in this image it’s still not finished.

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“So what is that thing?”  I’ve had so many non-quilters ask me that.  In layman’s terms, this is the frame and machine that sandwiches together a quilt top, the fluffy batting in the middle, and the backing together into a one-piece blanket with fancy stitching designs.  The robotics will do the sewing for me automatically – I simply tell it where the four corners are, choose a design, and press Go.  When it’s finished, I manually roll the quilt forward to the next blank space and repeat until the quilt is finished.  I should be able to finish a quilt in a day.  And believe me, with the recent explosion in home quilting, there’s a ton of work out there.  I have 5-6 quilt tops myself that need finished and it would cost me anywhere between $150 and $300 each to send them out to have them quilted.  The nearest quilt shop has 30+ quilts in the queue and it’s 25 miles away.  There’s a demand for this and I’m here now to support it.

The room that will become my new quilting/sewing studio and will house my 9 (yes, nine…as in 1 less than 10) machines, has been affectionately named The Sweat Shop by a Hispanic coworker (ha ha – thanks Juan!), and is a screened-in porch – like what some call a Florida room.  We like to sit outside in the evenings, so in 2008 we enlarged our back patio to 15′ x 20′ and fully enclosed it to include extending the roof line of our house.  From above, you cannot tell there was an addition.  The point then was not to have windows but instead have a bug free outdoor zone to hang out in.  Well, that never happened.  Hubs moved further outside to the new uncovered back patio extension and the screened-in patio became a glorified dog room.  A little story…there’s a storm door between the original house and the back patio with a doggie door in it.  There are two screen doors on the back patio and I’ve taped over the latches so they don’t latch.  One door can be pushed out and the other door can be pushed in.  Some coaxing with a leash and bologna, and the dogs learned the in/out process and now I never have to let them out.  They have a full-360 degree run.  THAT’s what I call Master Sergeant thinking!  lol

In 2011 when my first grandchild arrived, I began quilting in earnest.  I modified a rarely used guest bedroom into my sewing room and designated the RV as our guest house.  As my power tool arsenal expanded, I moved my 18″ sit down quilt machine into the game room.  I tried to get hubs to allow me to take over the game room completely (the pool table was perfect for cutting out fabric), but he wasn’t having it.  Then HE started making custom fishing rods and took over the pool table in the game room himself.  Our hobbies (and my future retirement home business) had us bursting at the seams.  The thread on that stand is not for sewing, it’s to wrap guides onto fishing poles.  This is his mess, not mine.  There’s a pool table under there somewhere.

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Then it hit me.  Why not retrofit the back patio into a quilting studio, hubs can have my old sewing room for his fishing poles, and we can get our game room back?  WIN!!  The next stop was to Lowe’s to order custom windows and real storm doors for the Sweat Shop.  They will be here Dec 14th.  In consideration for the dogs, the new doors have doggie doors in them.  This also allows me another exterior entrance into the Sweat Shop for customers to drop off quilt tops.  I love that.  I will strategically place floor pillows for the dogs away from the quilting area – I’m obsessed about not having dog fur everywhere.  We also are going to duct air conditioning & heat into the room.  The sun screens will be taken down with the new windows so the light into the room will be much brighter too.  I’m so sick of the dark, but in a very hot South Texas you have to sacrifice light to save on the electric bill which was usually upwards of $400 a month in the summer.  Hopefully, the new AC we installed this year will help with that too.

I need help with decorating ideas for shelving and fabric storage for the Sweat Shop.  I don’t want to block the light from the windows with big cabinets and I have very limited wall space because of the brick.  We’re not opposed to mounting things on the brick, but I want to maintain the brick look.  Possibly paint it a brighter color?  Hmmm.  The TV is staying.  I don’t want it to look half-assed thrown together, but instead a happy professional looking studio where quilters want to be.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

New Quilt Project! 2016 Sugar Block Club

One of the best things about a new year is a new Block of the Month (BOM) project.  For quilting newbies, a BOM is a great way to make your first quilt.  You get a new block each month from the hoster of the project and you have a whole month to finish the block.  You buy your own fabric and by signing up, you’ll get a new block pattern every month.  Near the end of the year, you’ll get instructions on how to put your quilt together too.  Most BOMs have a monthly fee or monthly financial obligation but the one I’m in is FREE!  Yay!  Making one block at a time definitely de-stresses the entire quilting process.  Nothing overwhelming here!
Sugar Block ClubAmy Gibson is an amazing quilter up in Colorado and she’s hosting her 2016 Sugar Block Club.  This is a BOM project that only uses 4 yards of fabric so one of my layer cake precuts will work.  This is my third season with Amy and not only is she an amazing quilter, she’s an amazing instructor!  Her directions are tested and clear and very easy to understand.  In a previous year, she challenged me with paper piecing and I’m still not good at it but if it weren’t for her, I’d of never attempted it.

My fabric is The Boathouse by Sweetwater for Moda.  This is a beautiful fabric line that I thought would make a great quilt to keep on a guest bed at the coast.
BoathouseLabelMy layer cake has several pieces of each fabric in the line.  Aren’t they great?!
boathouseAllSo if you’re new to quilting, I encourage you to join Amy’s SBC and get started.  I linked to her site above – just sign up and you’ll get an email notice each month.   Too simple!  I know you’ll love it.  Here’s my completed January block.  The center of my block is screaming for an embroidered boat wheel don’t you think?  😉
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Super Stash-Busting Baby Quilt

Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope your beer is cold and the grill is hot!

A male coworker that Keith and I have known for over 10 years has just been smacked by Karma straight in the face! Last week his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. His first child was a boy and now everyone who knew this gent when he was single is having a great laugh that God is going to make him suffer to see what all those fathers went through when he was running loose. That said, what better excuse to make a quilt right?

I had actually started this quilt a couple of years ago when my dad was in the hospital. I drug my rolling sewing machine caddy, fabric and all, into his hospital room and made piles of lights, darks, and whites on his bed.  I knew I’d be there for several hours that day so I set up shop using his bedside table for my machine. He got such a kick handing me the squares I needed to put the blocks together. It was a very comforting memory as I stitched this up and it made me smile.  I can’t believe he’s already been gone over a year and it warms my heart that a man who recently passed had a hand in making this quilt for a new little life.

I used 2.5” strips from Windham’s Basics Pastels that I had grabbed from a Missouri Star Quilt Company daily deal some time ago.Windham Basic Pastels

I also had some pink yardage in my stash I used for sashing. One of the unique features of this quilt is that I had to piece the batting. If you’ve never done that, it’s a fairly simple process that makes you feel like a quilting super hero by using up those scraps. I begin by steam ironing the pieces to flatten them out and then trim the edges to even up the sides and create a straight stitching seam.WP_20150904_08_52_38_Pro

Most modern machines have a Joining Stitch.  If you can’t find it or have an older machine, you can use a large, wide zigzag stitch.  To begin, place both pieces side-by-side with no overlap under the presser foot with the seam just a hair to the right of the center mark on the foot. I recommend testing this with scraps first to determine where the join will be on your machine before doing this on the actually batting to be used in a quilt.WP_20150904_08_42_45_Pro This completed batting is actually 4 pieces. Perfect!WP_20150904_09_05_28_Pro

I got all high-tech and used dinner and salad plates to create the quilting pattern. I used a Frixion pen to draw the design and it disappears within a split second of hitting it with an iron.WP_20150905_08_25_48_Pro Then I ran a decorative wavy stitch through the center of the sashing.WP_20150905_10_53_34_Pro

This project was a real stash-buster by using up fabric I had on hand for the blocks and sashing, I created the batting from scraps and I had the cuddle bubble for the backing from some Quillow project I made for Keith’s granddaughter about 4 years ago. What could make this the Ultimate Stash-Busting Quilt? Why using left-over binding from my granddaughter’s nursery of course! And get this, I had just enough of the strips already pieced together! Yay!

I sewed the 2.5” strips to the front, pinned the back side just over the seam line and then stitched-in-the-ditch on the front using my blind hem foot. Finished!WP_20150905_11_36_34_Pro I’m pretty happy with how this turned out and I’m proud to give it to the new baby girl. I think I might machine embroider her initials on the corner. I hope this quilt is well loved and she drags it around everywhere until it falls apart.WP_20150905_11_59_15_Pro