It’s finally out, the post March A long Report, plus some discussion of my projects, a tiny bit of paper piecing advice in addition to the project.
*quick warning, I play with the mic stand in this episode – not terribly loud, but occasionally distracting. whoops. not taking this out of the audio.*
During the month of March, we try to quilt for 15 minutes, building our ‘quilting muscles’.
If you listen to the podcast, the first 20 minutes or so I recap some of the achievements we accomplished in the month of March. Here are the links to the past March A Long posts where people reported their progress.
I am currently listening to the Ender’s Series on Audible by Orson Scott Card through audible. There are many books to listen to, the story is science fiction, also somewhat political (one story arc), some are older books, some are newer - great audio drama due to multiple people reading the story!
I am working on my Quilters Healthy Choices #QHC by doing more exercise in the last 5 months than the previous number of years combined.
I recently went to a local arboretum. Beauty for ‘early spring’.
Then I discuss about how I work on paper piecing. I really mean foundation piecing. Some tips below:
I glue the first piece down.
I cut my strips into sizes that I may try to use later, such as 5″ by width of fabric, 3.5″ inch strips by width of fabric. Especially when I am deciding the size needed for the rest of the pattern.
I don’t trim off the quarter inch or eighth of an inch in between seams. Unless there is a seam ending in the middle somewhere. Or unless you plan ultra bulky amount of quilting on the piece.
I prefold my paper before sewing. And I prefold all the way down the length of the paper.
After I fold the pattern, the piece that I am going to fill up next has to match up with the fabric behind or it won’t fit very well. This eliminates the need to have an “extra large” piece of fabric that all gets cut off and discarded. (see picture below)
Make decisions that make sense for you to help you stay organized. Do things that may help you out in the long run. Always put the dark fabric in a specific place if it doesn’t matter to the design.
Make one copy of one block before moving on to chain piecing or cutting all of them, you may save on fabric if you try out something first.
I pin down the other side of longer seams to help it stay in place, but I don’t pin the whole seam unless I fear it shifting around too much.
Carol Doak’s paper piecing is wonderful, use it for times when you have either intricate or small patterns when pulling out paper will be a pain in the bu*t later. Regular paper also works okay.
Incompotec.com graph paper of all kinds, shapes, & sizes. You print off what you need in handy 8.5 X 11 pieces, downloads to PDF files.
The love it / hate it / love it / hate it block for the hexadaisy with stripes.
I bugged about everyone I knew online to see what they liked better, but shows my decision in making the design. I picked the 5th option not shown below – combines the left half with the right half of the mosaic below – which was always intended (some people didn’t know that).
I ultimately decided (finally) to use grey swirls instead. I love the stripes and striped pattern will work on it’s own in a different quilt. But NOW the stripes are gone for this project as they were TOO DEMANDING of my attention.
The version is going to the quilt guild auction in July. When it’s quilted.
A completely random couple of notes tacked on.
Be careful at a quilt show in case of emergency. See if your quilt guild has insurance in case expensive sewing machines become damaged. A guild close to mine had a problem at a local show recently.
Also don’t forget to finish making blocks for other quilters if you signed up to do them.
I have been starting to research and gather and organize my thoughts on a 50th episode of the podcast, but nothing I have done so far stands out as “right” yet. Things still seem rather disorganized and I have to settle down to figure out how I want to say what I want to say.
So I have been waiting to blog until that’s ready. Silly me.
And so I have news.
1st, the winner of the silly giveaway for the men without shirts and with quilts and burrito calendar was Engineer Sandi! One of the regular podcast listeners and blog readers and twitterers and stuff.
Seriously, this thing wasn’t rigged. Random.org picked the 2nd entry, and hers was 2nd.
Sandi wanted this for her friend. I contacted her, sent her the calendar, and she said she received it just before her friend came over, and they all had some good laughs over it, including some “you’re embarassing” type of comments from a daughter.
So that’s really good.
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I hosted a giveaway for a 2013 calendar for quilters, put together by Megan of the Bitchy Stitcher. For those of you that did not win (that’s all 76 of you actually), you can go order one and help support Megan in her cause for her brother’s cancer.
And what was also nice is that Megan posted on facebook about the whole thing, well she commented on my post anyway, which is just as good!
And I’m ready and waiting for January! Coming soon!
*** other news ***
And the holidays are good. I am trying to get better fit right now (started during a week I had off work earlier December) and so some of my ‘bumming around time on the internets’ has turned into, ‘how many games of solitaire can I finish while excercising on my ‘stationary-bike-like thing”.
Which is good and bad. Any motivation you can send my way would be helpful. Myfitnesspal as scientificquilter if you haven’t already seen it.
I’m not super confident on this, but maybe one day after walking I won’t be feeling short of breath. Maybe. I also have to teach myself how to do hand weights exercises and body movements like lunges, jumping jacks and other things.
*** other news ***
Anyhow, I finally after 3 weeks got the binding done on my exothermic quilt, for the temperatures have plummeted again (hey it’s winter, so that’s okay).
Which incidentally I finished on the boxing day sew in yesterday, that luckily I had off of work and talked to my long ago twitter friends.
*** other news ***
And then I shared a picture of what followed me home yesterday.
Which is a Bernina that I think I want to call hotlips due to it’s army greenness. It’s a Bernina 540 Favorit and I spent some time yesterday cleaning out some places and trying out a few of the multitude of feet for her.
She is a flywheel belt driven system and I think this means that the girl takes a while to get going. The bobbin is loaded on the back. And took me 6 tries to bring up the bobbin thread without getting her stuck.
So I don’t know if that’s a ‘new to Darla thing,’ a bernina thing, a ‘oops you threaded it wrong thing’, and so once I change to a thread we shall see.
But the tension works WAY better than my necchi which I also like, (I told all you Carlotta was a bit of a drama queen, just after her namesake).
I have only done a few actual stitching samples with this machine, but so far, I love the sound/feel of this machine once it does get going.
Cabinet stayed with the family. Oh and this is my machine, but if I don’t want it, it goes back to the family, not mine to sell. I had offered to give up $ for a bernina if that was important, but in the end, as long as I was taking care of her, I think it’s okay to think about me keeping the bernina with me.
To come and live with me for a while.
This machine started out 3 generations up from me (great grandparents age). And that’s ultra special about it as well!
Anyway, I have to go. Time goes rather quickly these days, and I’m rather glad I’m not using my afternoons still making christmas goodies. Good idea, but bad if they’re left over ready to munch munch away.
Have you ever wanted anyone to talk you through a long arm renting experience from beginning of the class to the end?
Do you want to know what types of things to expect when renting a long arm, how to work the long arm anyway?
Particularly how to load a backing and quilt top and batting in a “half float” method of loading?
The episode I go into details about the things I learned in class, and if you scroll down, you should be able to find my pictures I took during the long arm certification class at Quilted Memories in Overland Park, KS.
The shop carries batting, sells Nolting long arm machines, and provides time renting the long arm provided you took the class.
The podcast and pictures are not meant to represent everyone’s long arm experience and are not meant to ‘side step’ any certification class by any means, but are to provide you with a very good idea of what to expect when renting, the steps involved with loading a quilt (there are many), and I think I even threw in some tips the owner provided us with for starting out (the ones I remembered or wrote down).
First in the podcast though, I talk about quilting and socialization and how I meat Jackie from Sew Excited Quilts.
I sure would have loved to have gotten to spend even more time with her! She mentioned to me how interesting it is that ‘all these introverts’ are getting together and publicly putting themselves out there on twitter and podcasts.
So the class:
First the overview of the quilting frame, parts and quilt loaded
This is the turbo bobbin winder to make tight bobbins (easier for long arm quilting).
Before loading, the back and top have to be pinned to the zippers. The quilt should be squared before pinning. Fold the quilt in the center, mark with a pin, and then line up the center of the quilt with the center of the zippers. If you have your own zippers, mark your own center for the future.
And the machine has to be threaded. There is some tension disks that should not be missed, but for Noltings, the one bar that has the most impact on machine tension is the silly bar that goes downwards on the bottom of the machine. Also no automatic needle threaders here.
The display on the front (and back) of the machine shows on, stitch regulation, the “on mode” (didn’t catch the name), the needle down feature, and turning the laser on and off.
Speaking of the buttons you press, here they are on the front side of the machine (close to the needle). Both the front and the back buttons put the red button on the left. as you’re facing the machine. Red means single stitch and black means ‘turn it on or turn on stitch regulation).
Stitch regulation won’t start sewing until the machine moves. Then the faster the machine is moved (by you) the faster the machine stitches – matching your speed!
When you want to stitch vertically or horizontally you can ‘channel lock’ the machine so it only moves one direction at a time.
You have three sets of zippers, two for the back and then you roll the back onto the bottom front bar (1st picture), then you zip and roll the top to the top bar (belly bar). Then you place the batting in the middle (loose, but droopy).
Then you baste the batting to the back (using channel lock). And then you baste the top to the back and along the sides.
Once all the basting is completed, you take the clamps from the side of the long arm and clamp it to the backing fabric only. The white section is all a velcro so that you can adjust this correctly. This should be tight but not stretching out of shape.
Then you can set up the pantograph on the back of the quilt. You can move the frame around and set up sticky notes to help you figure out where to start and where to stop quilting.
A view of the laser set up next to the thread spool.
And here’s a fuzzy picture of the laser engaged.
Once one pass through of the panto, you need to find your starting point on the pantograph again, move the machine down to the end again, and secure the threads, locking them in place.
Then you have to move the laser again back to the same point over the pantograph. For some reason this is hard to wrap my head around just a little bit still. Probably because the laser wouldn’t behave all that well. Next time I’ll put the spool on the other side away from the laser and that may help a bit.
As far as what we did in the class itself
Lyn was helpful in letting us see the batting choices with sample Hobbs battings. We felt the bobbin, and several different weights of thread during the class. We discussed tension issues and how much threading the machine matters to help the tension in the machine.
Thread recommendation to start if you want to quilt a lot of different quilts with minimal thread purchase (at first) 1) off white, 2) grey 3) dusty rose
We took the zippers and pinned them to the ‘beautiful nine patch that a customer did’ (ie the whole cloth muslin that was squared up prior to coming to class).
To square it up, she said to fold it lengthwise, then keep folding it carefully with one edge always to the outside to get it on your cutting mat, then use the rotary cutter. Then unfold it, refold it shortwise (the other way) and then keep folding it until the uncut edge can fit on the cutting mat, and keeping everything square with the previously cut edge, rotary cutter the new edge.
The zippers were marked in the center and the squared up quilt top was marked in the center and we pinned from the center outwards.
We wound a bobbin with the turbo bobbin winder.
We each threaded the machine, even though she encourages us to leave an end for the next person to tie up to (similar for leaving thread in sergers).
We helped zip up the quilt back to the leaders on the machine. We each rolled up sections of the back and pushed out from the center, smoothing the quilt to each edge so that it was square on the machine.
We zipped up and rolled up the top in the same way as the back. Lyn inserted the batting up next to the backing.
We each helped baste the batting to the backing using the horizontal channel lock (moves sideways only).
We pinned the top to the batting and backing.
We freehand basted the top horizontally (no channel lock) and Lyn said that to help get waves out sometimes she zig zags when she bastes the top to help get the fullness in, zigging up and down, while the direction we basted was still to the right.
We basted the sides down over the section we could see unrolled.
We put the clamps on the quilt backing on both sides.
We put the ratchet down and belly bar moved to be in line with the bottom bar.
We repositioned the laser on the panto, marked the beginning and end of the quilt with sticky notes.
Each of us got a turn at moving the quilt with the pantograph, quilting on the back side. We would stop and see how we were doing on each section. We rotated a few times for this part.
We discussed how to move to the next pantograph, but did not get to practice it due to time (we were late getting started).
Then we went to the front of the machine, and our group was having issues remembering the sequence we used for starting and stopping the stitching, so we each practiced four times (using two long arm machines) pulling up the bobbin thread, then locking the stitches, then moving an inch or so, then locking the stitches and then pulling up the bobbin and cutting off at the end.
While we were practicing this, she was drawing on the other side of the ‘quilt’ with frixion marker (not pen, but same difference) some ‘free hand designs to try.
One was an ‘l’s and e’s’ design a cursive l followed by a cursive e, then repeated.
The next design was a circle looping clockwise next to a circle looping counter clockwise.
I think the last design was ocean waves.
(And I wish I had gotten a picture at this point – but no)
We had discussed but did not get a chance to practice moving the quilt on the bar to reposition it. But by this time, I wasn’t taking it in. The ratchet system still seemed unfamiliar to me, and part of it may have been the late start and the fact that the family of one of the ladies was there to pick her up during the last 20 minutes or so we were out on the floor. And the rest of it may have been it was near the end of my normal day and I typically stop paying as much attention the later it gets, and the fact that there was so much to think about during the class too.
So this was the one area that I wish I had gotten to practice myself, the moving of the quilt after a section is quilted, and how to handle and practice moving the pantograph to the next section of the quilt.
Otherwise this class prepared me for actually renting the long arm. I bought my zippers and two generic threads – off white and black (for me this seemed more useful than grey) and signed up for 4 days after the class (which I changed to 6 days).
This is all the pictures taken from the long arm class itself, to see what I did on my own quilt during the first rental time, go to part 2 of this post.
This post is not intended to be a sidestep from you completing your own long arm certification class, but is supposed to help you understand what all you’ll have to do and learn once you get there, and potentially get a leg-up on your experience.
*end of note*
The Rental Time
I was lucky enough to be able to rent time on the long arm at Quilted Memories in Overland Park. They charge you for the class and then you pay to rent. You bring your own quilt, batting (or buy it there), backing (or buy it there, but quilt and backing should both be squared up first), thread cone, I got Superior threads’ Omni brand from suggestion in class. You also bring your own designs (pantograph OR marked quilt or stencil or freehand it)
You bring scissors, and pins and a pin cushion, just in case you make a mistake with how you pin or forget to pin.
You can wind your bobbins during the time you’re renting or buy prewound bobbins. For this machine, you use their bobbins, but if you take any you can purchase each bobbin for a dollar. At the end of my session I ended up buying three bobbins from them after winding it up. I suggest for the sake of time (learn from my mistake) that you go prewound or get there early to wind bobbins. If you’re densely quilting then even for a small quilt (lap sized), you’ll go through 4-5 bobbins.
So my first quilt, the one that I knew I was going to make “all these mistakes on” was one from all of you! Well one from my partners from the first swap bot swap we did back in December of 2010.
The strip twist quilt.
Well the backing wasn’t made, and by suggestion I used 1/2 inch seams and pressed to the middle. If I wanted to, I could have also used a slight zig zag stitch in making the backing. I STRESSED about completing this in time for the quick turn around needed to take my class.
But after pushing back the time two days, I did finish this and square it up and put the zippers on before my class.
I put the zippers on the longest two sides of the backing fabric, putting the words to the left.
But somehow before class, I had the top put on wrong because I was confusing top bottom front back around.
While I didn’t get every step on my camera, this is after I have rolled up the bottom and the top and put the batting in place.
Here’s actually one of the first pictures of me putting the quilt on the machine. I pinned the top down to the batting so I could baste it. Aside from the crazy pins and pinning the zippers wrong, long arm loading, while slightly long sure BEATS pin basting a quilt. Smoothing also to be found
And so when I got the quilt basted down, it’s so pretty on the machine (took quite a long time to get to this point due to unfamiliararity)! I couldn’t remember at what point I needed to put the clamps on, it’s done after the whole thing is basted down.
I also needed reminding about how tight this quilt needed to be in terms of the tension (I had it a little bit loose). She commented that when the machine is under the quilt, it should ‘show up’ underneath it a little bit, which you can see faintly below.
So I chose to do one of the three pantographs that I had purchased for myself. This one is called Chantilly lace I believe.
I just set up the pantograph right over top of the shop’s meander one. Three loops up, curve, then three loops down. Easy enough.
So I started stitching.
I started pretty close to the edge of the quilt because this quilt has no borders, which I suppose is almost a mistake in that some of the points will be taken up by the binding after the quilting.
Two rows in and I was mesmerized!
The only really big problem was when my bobbin thread ran out faster than I was expecting. Tension before the bobbin and then right at the bobbin change there was tightness.
I should have ripped it out under the machine or something, I think I got the bobbin stuck and then wasn’t comfortable with pulling it up. if I do rip, it will only be this very very small section. The rest of the tension looks good. See the backing on the red below.
I was told by the owner that she thought I did a wonderful job. She was impressed at the speed I went during the stitching and didn’t hear the motor rev up too fast at any one time to try to catch up to me. This is about 8 stitches per inch.
About up with my 2 hour slot, I asked to pay for another hour of time and was granted it. I completely underestimated the number of bobbins to wind and mid way through what I stitched had to wind some and then at the very end decided to wind two more for next time.
I did not complete this quilt. it’s about a yard and a half long by a yard wide, and I’ve made it two thirds of the way at this time. If I was using the generic meandering pantograph that we used in class, I would have been done by the time I left.
I suppose part of my ‘slowness’ is in the fact that I was trying to remember all the details myself before asking for help on things. This meant several times looking and staring at the machine, trying to visualize how it was during the class itself.
I know now that I can get the zippers done correctly for next time because I have a much better visual picture in my mind of how they’re pinned on. We discussed it and practiced it in the class itself, but I did not visualize the direction of the zippers at the time of the class which is why it was forgotton.
I also spent time taking lovely pictures for all of you! I was trying to be aware that my rental time was precious and costing me $, but after finding myself a true blogger, I really couldn’t go without documenting the process.
Next time, I’ll probably get pictures of the ratchet system although that’s less of an issue for me to remember (the one part of the class I completely blanked out on for certain) now that I’ve had to do it once. And maybe because I failed to take pictures and notes about that part of the process. Both times.
So my “lack of progress” is from
remembering first (trying to think it through)
lack of familiarity (a little scared I’d hurt the machine)
zipper being backwards
stopping to take pictures
getting the bobbin caught and not fixing it right
stopping to wind bobbins (actually twice – so wind enough before starting)
trying to ‘slow and steady’ while quilting
completely blanking out on how to move the quilt once the flat section is quilting
I’m a slow quilter anyway – rushes just make me panic
I agree that this is a large investment. I invested $ in the class itself, two large cones of thread, three pantographs (2 more for the future), three bobbins, the rental zippers, and probably more. I invested time in learning it, time in trying it out, and time in figuring it out.
But in the end I learned a new skill, which is invaluable to me! I love learning skills and how quilting teaches all of us something new ALL THE TIME!
So even though I am slow, and I did not finish, I know this:
I now know a new skill
I have pride in completing a quilt itself from start to stop without wrestling too much under a tiny machine
I have three new quilting designs I could even use on my domestic machine that I could scale down if I desired
If I didn’t enjoy the process (I did – greatly) I could always use the thread elsewhere and would have thread for like ever for other projects
I learned that I get grouchy when I don’t give myself enough time to adequately complete a deadline for making the bottom, quilting has to be much less deadline oriented!
I was slightly sore but mainly in my feet, and mainly because I was on them for 8+ hours prior to my class
I didn’t have to baste the quilt
I didn’t have to mark the quilt
The time loading was high the first time, but will be less the 2nd time
I love the quilting on this, how it looks, usually great tension, and I only have a one inch area to be concerned with the back
I have decided I am working on my very own ‘inhome’ retreat. I have been relocated to the kitchen for some other sewing, and in the meantime, my normal sewing machine table has been ‘more useful’ elsewhere.
So I have all my sewing stuff in the kitchen, my make shift ironing board, my tiny twisting cutting mat.
I am working on my lovely block for a black & white block swap for the month of november.
Paper pieced. I really want this block for myself, but I never got around to making this block yet, and these things take time.
So my swap partner (different one this time) will get the same block that I made before.
Anyway, because when i resat down I noticed I couldn’t find my seam ripper anywhere.
Found on amazon.com but instead of buying amazon, I’m going to wait for a couple of days & buy at LQS.
Yes, this seam ripper is not really that ergonomic, but I really like the blade at the end.
I was given a similar style one by a lady at the retreat I was at, but the blade catches too much I don’t know what the difference is, but I can feel the difference.
Speaking of tools that I lost & replaced:
I had a small magnetic extending tool that I haven’t found anywhere for a while.
So I was at “bargain depot” (a bargain home-improvement type store), and I found something similar.
This one is much heavier duty & I like the handle, and the piece on the end is much bigger than the similar tool I lost.
A light to help you see all that far down on the floor.
Strong enough to pick up scissors.
Well these are my medium sized scissors anyway.
Cheap replacement, and better.
So, I ask you, any of you tried the gingher seam ripper?
Is it worth the cost? Found on amazon.com for twice the price of the ultra pro. Retracts. Looks comfy.
Don’t think LQS has one so I’ll have to shop online for it.