Posts Tagged ‘fmq’


30.8 I understand why Carlotta was kicked out of the opera

July 7, 2013

First off, many thanks for those of you who responded to my last post where I decided to step away from podcasting.

I have listened to many of you, and I know that a lot of what I said in the episode I posted was about (my) hurt feelings and that is a portion of the reason to step away. There was a little something else though. A constant feeling of “oh you’re not recording this week, why not?” that was constantly playing in my head.  A solution to that monologue would be to record every week, but the time & effort I wanted to take to do that would have been too great.

I was very calm when I recorded, but by the end of the day last Sunday I was sad & weepy about the whole thing.  I have listened to myself in the episode and the calm reassurance is there that it was the right decision at this time.

What’s funny is that since last sunday, I’ve been really wanting to “audio journal” things, say them outl0ud, get myself sorted through. And I think I am going to do that anyway, and just journal them for myself and keep them for myself. Strange how that happened that I want to go back to the mic to get away from the mic.

I’ve purposefully waited until the (virtual) dust has settled before posting a new post (this one!)

***** sweeping away the dust for now *****

Okay, the title of the post is about Carlotta. My sewing machine.


Now this is totally my fault for not getting it taken care of sooner, I had a whole two months where I wasn’t quilting anything at all, just sitting around playing Sims video game.

So during THAT time (middle of May until end of June) I should have either taken Carlotta in to get serviced, or the hand-me-down Bernina that I have had since Christmas time which is old & has all the parts, but I haven’t wanted to use until I get a nice cleaning and good bill of health for.

Did I do either of these? NO. Of course not.

And guess what is coming up, slamming itself faster and faster towards me?  The biannual quilt show.

For which I should have gotten a few more of my larger projects done, but I also HAVE to finish my charity quilt to give away.

There is something wrong with the sewing machine’s take-up lever.  The part that has a spring on it that lets the thread travel back toward the top of the machine. This helps to balance the tension on it, I would assume that the spring allows the thread to be able to handle a change of tension on the bottom and can help the thread adjust accordingly by reducing tension through the spring in the lever.

Well the take up lever is not really moving or acting very springlike anymore.  For the life of me I don’t know what it looked like before I noticed it, but now it’s either stuck too low or stuck too high and nothing about the whole thing is very springy.

So the top which I already had to set the tension to pretty much zero BEFORE the tightening spring problem is way too tight on the top now.

Sometimes it works. Carlotta is temperamental. Like the opera star in the Phantom of the Opera. Very beautiful voice when working, but otherwise, just good at being a B@TCH, and being stubborn.

Which is why I named her what I did.

So I was on the path to microstippling the auction quilt.

I finally had a plan. Last weekend through the 4th of July I worked on the middle section. I put Carlotta in time-out and got out Molly, my original machine that I haven’t touched in the last two years.

And Molly is gone. Her motor started up “okay” when I started and within 3 minutes the motor was not running at all.  I need to properly ‘bury’ Molly (aka throw her away somehow), and as you can see she can be easily & cheaply replaced.


I got Carlotta back out & swore I could deal with the broken needles (broke 4 just trying to slowly microstipple before putting Carlotta in time out).

And on the 4th I was able to sew straight lines (with my darning foot, pretty straight and great practice for control I might add) on the outside of the quilt for the auction.

hexadaisy quilted inside outside one sectionAnd Carlotta cooperated long enough to sew the microstippling in the middle of the quilt.

microstippling in the middle hexadaisy

And I wanted so badly to continue this look of microstippling bands on the outside of the quilt, to mimic the center and the outside to tie the thing together. So I got these three lines done with only minimal birds nests (3 I think).

microstippling in corner on hexadaisy

Yesterday morning (saturday morning) I sat down to do this on all the other corners of the quilt, in addition to the two sides one section of microstippling.

And NO was the answer I got back from Carlotta. Not only NO but “H@LL NO”. Birds nest after birds nest. Rethread after rethread, cleaning out the bobbin area after recleaning, switching types of needles, switching bobbins, putting the magic genie washers in the bobbin area, taking them out of the bobbin area.  Broken needle after broken needle.

I went on an hour walk to calm myself, came back and still the thing wasn’t cooperating. Still, still, still.

So I decided to rip. Rip Rip Rip. I wanted some good break up songs to break up with my stitches.

But you know how long it takes to rip out microstippling? Or how long it takes ME to rip out microstippling? An hour a strip. To get all the threads off the thing, and catch everything. And I had to rip out 3 sections of good microstippling, and one section of bird nest microstippling.

stupid birds nest could not get rid of these

The bird nest parts did not take an hour, they took less time since there was so much mess. But I had to come back off and on to the quilt, it made me so frustrated!  If it would have worked the way it was supposed to, I would have done the original design by 8 or 9 in the morning, not taken me until 4PM to remove all the hard work that I had liked that I had done.

This AM I have worked on getting the binding pressed.  A light binding, but a fun one.

hexadaisy before binding

And now before I sew it down, I am going to make two sleeves, one for the side and one for the top, so it can be hung either way by the recipient, as the recipient chooses.

And yes I am giving this away to our guild, I have another version of this that is larger that I am keeping for myself, but I do not want to touch until Carlotta or my other machine has been in the shop. And I am NOT going to do either until after this week is over, I have TOO MUCH other things to do before the show.

If I get my act together, I may reintroduce you to the quilts I am hanging in the show at the end of this week (friday & saturday).


28.2 Bloggers Quilt Festival Fall 2012 – Black Baltimore Beauty

October 27, 2012

It’s that time again to sign up for the bloggers fall quilt festival.

The quilt I am entering is a recent finish, but not a recent start.

This was my first ever applique quilt learned from an applique class. The pattern is in Mimi Didrich’s Favorite Applique book, and I didn’t have much of a stash at the time. I added the birds on the sides from the pattern she has later in her book.

It was never my intention to “make a balitmore album quilt”, but this was the pattern I needed for the class I took, so here it is.

So so glad I put the background as black instead of white.  I think my colors pop, but I do sort of wish I had a little variation in the flowers or even the swag.  But I still love this little quilt.

Here’s a photoshopped version of this quilt (not true colors).

Our class was to applique every week a different block or two or 3. I don’t remember exactly the class pacing, but I do remember doing all the borders at once, and there was only 4 class meeting times and the end was the quilt construction & mitered borders (which are appliqued over).

The teacher was really wonderful putting tons of tips & tricks about applique or other items (notions junkie – but that’s GOOD in a teacher, I got to see the stuff in use!).

This was supposed to be hand quilted, but when it took 2 years to just have desire to get the center of one wreath done, I decided that I finally needed to quilt this by machine this summer.  So I worked with the classic clamshell pattern freehand.

A little close up of the border quilting would be good to see too.

No quilting over any of the applique here.
And here’s a good picture of the progress I was making when I was working on this little quilt.

And here’s a flickr mosaic of these blocks that I made and put together.

1. black baltimore block 1, 2. black baltimore block 2, 3. black baltimore block 3, 4. black baltimore block 4

This is for the Bloggers Quilt Festival from Amy’s Creative Side


27.9 Little Feather Fibonacci

October 17, 2012

This last little quilt of my “three little quilt series” is a second Fibonacci quilt, made with the same green Fibonacci fabric, but this is with a different border.

I am less in love with this little border than the cute bubble border on the last Fibonacci quilt but I am leaving it, I quilted it up a little more.

This is also the quilt that on these little borders, I unquilted what I had done, and I had also learned a valuable lesson about bobbin thread.

I am going to show you backwards, the “finished quilting picture” and then move back to show the changes and details.

I call this quilt Feather Fibonacci.

Lets look at the inside fibonacci feather first.

I have been taking the class “beyond the basics” over on craftsy.  And Ann Peterson has you do a ton of feathers.

Well I watched all through the video, of them drawing the feathers, and then quilting them, and I decided the spiral arm looks like a feather spine.

I actually have drawn a couple of times some feathers on my little graph paper notebook some feathers, working out how to move from one feather to the next without always going back to the spine the way Ann does.

And after seeing some close up posts on feathers, I decided to use the method – Start one feather, branch that from the spine, connect to the first feather, then travel the tip of the 2nd feather. then branch off the feather end.

And continue in this way, feather, spine, trace over feather, feather, spine, trace over feather….

Which is an efficient way to quilt but takes some getting used to if you want plump feathers coming off instead of long skinny ones.

Not too terrible for my attempt.

Valuable lesson on this quilt #1.

You don’t have to match the backing fabric to the front, but don’t use a contrasting thread  in the bobbin from the front of the quilt.

Unless your tension is A-100% perfect and can always control your needle, that bobbin thread is going to show through.

Now I admit I wasn’t as ‘analytical’ (read the shortened version of the word) on getting the tension perfect before-hand, so I am not surprised. But I did it and kept going, even when I saw the red thread piling up on the green fabric.

Here’s the back.

Why I chose red thread for the back?  I don’t know.

Probably had more to do with the fact that I had red thread on the bobbin already and I did not have a dark blue on another bobbin.

You can see that for the pebbling practice (aka practice from Craftsy Quilting Negative Spaces with Angela Walters), I chose blue bobbin thread and this was no problem at all.

Only because I ripped out 5 pebbles that looked horrendous with red thread.

Speaking of ripping ….

Let’s talk borders.

The borders of this quilt are dark blue with lots of pattern. no issue with the red bleeding out. But I didn’t like the quilting done initially on the borders. It was my design and I did not like.

The long diamonds just didn’t work all that well for me. I couldn’t execute them well. They were sagging in the middle, and it kept feeling very ‘draggy’ making them.

So I picked them out, watching a bit more of the craftsy class. And then decided to remake them. Same design. Each one shorter Blue on both top & bottom.

Looking closely I still have some tension issues, but now I don’t notice them. And the design is tighter, it’s more coherent, and travels better down the quilt.

But it does blend in so much, it’s really providing texture rather than design.

So where do I go from here?  I think I will NOT rip out the feather despite the red thread showing through.  But I will play it up a tiny bit as intentional – provides some interest. The way I’ll do this I think is to have a very thin red line of piping around the side of the binding.

To make the binding dark blue or green (probably blue) and then a tiny bit of red, just a tiny bit, it will be interesting in color just enough, and then I can move on.

But … one issue. I’ve never done piping on a quilt before.  Next thing to learn. Although the kicker binding will give me some practice enough!


27.8 Little Fibonacci Quilt – Minimalist Style

October 15, 2012

So the 2nd quilt of my three mini quilts that I’ve been working on this past week is one quilt in a set of 2.
I took a motif that I loved in a fabric that I really didn’t own a ton of.  I cut up the large portion of the motif and made a mini quilt out of it.

Then I framed the quilt.  I used little borders of coordinating fabrics that I thought I would like in a polka-dot apron.  You can tell these fabrics are part of a set.

I quilted this minimally.

Currently you can see the fold line on the quilt, there is so little quilting on the quilt.

Hopefully for this quilt, the minimal style quilting will win out in the end. The next one, quite similar, is much more heavily quilted.

Here’s a close up of the curve.

This is obviously a quilt where the design influenced the quilting style.  I could make one more spiral a little ways out from the fibonacci curve, but I want this to be simple, simple.

So I decided to do one quick little decorative stitch, all while I had my quilting foot on the machine.  Key is to go steady and you’ll be fine.

This quilt taught me to “hold back” and “go steady.  And that you can still quilt decorative stitches with the darning foot. And it’s simple and I just like it.

Which is all a quilt ever really needs to be. Something somebody liked at one time!

Currently the fabric you see on the back, an olive green with the same dot family, is on tap to be the binding on this quilt. I am joining the binding straight edge, so I’ll see what that process is like since I’m really not all “that experienced” on binding.

And I am considering doing a blog post and/or podcast on TaDa Triangles and kicker bindings since people have been curious about both of those items based off my last podcast.

But before that, the more heavily quilted partner to this quilt, the Feather Fibonacci (to be shown at a later date).


27.7 Little Star Quilt

October 13, 2012

Wednesday I worked on 3 little quilts. I did a little more yesterday afternoon (before everyone else started #gdas) and finished up the last one. Well, maybe finished.

These are little quilts that I already had backing for, I had to match my batting scraps, Frankenstein one batting together (just a tad too short), and stitch them down to sew.

Today I have time to share with you the first little quilt I worked on quilting.  As you may be able to see (over the next several posts), these quilts are even smaller than my “don’t panic” quilt.

The first little quilt I had purchased the block from Fabric Recycles earlier this year, and I had bordered it a while ago.

Now I decided to take my recent ventures into FMQ and go to town on this quilt.

This probably has a little “too much FMQ” all in the same area.  As you can see, I have circles around the circles, and lines of quilting on the X’s (I may just applique a star in the middle of the quilt, don’t like the circle I ended up making).

Here are some better pictures of this little quilt.

Hmm. I can see this better when I zoom out, but I have rows of pearls quilted along the X, but in the middle of the rows I have some “l’s and upsidedown v’s”.  Its the same pattern I have in the borders.

Which is a cute pattern I drew in my notebook a while ago when I wasn’t stitching anything.

Starting to think in FMQ now. 🙂

Good sign.

Here’s a final picture of the little star quilt showing the whole thing.

One of my favorite Craftsy tips on FMQ is from the beyond basics Free Motion quilting class is to give yourself a little area just off the side of the quilt to correct tension issues on the quilt before starting.

This is the little green patch of fabric to the left of my previous picture.  This allowed me to play a lot with my tension before committing the stitches to the quilt.

Like how this turned out. Except the center circle, but again, a yellow/gold applique star will just do the trick there!


21.2 Practicing quilting with paper

December 4, 2011

Sometimes you just have to make your own mistakes and make your own experiments before you believe a result that someone else has already warned you about.

I have been neglecting the FMQ on my giveaway quilt, probably since I haven’t FMQ’d since June. (That’s Free Motion Quilting, for the uninformed)

That and I really just want to piece my (other) quilts in my own room, around my own things, which leads me to procrastinate on this current project.

This quilt was supposed to be a quick quilt to get me to practice the FMQ, and that is starting to serve it’s purpose this early morning.

My experiment & hypothesis: I can FMQ through a freezer paper quilting template and still like the quilting results on the quilt when the freezer paper is removed.

First I took a paper copy of my design (Just ran the freezer paper copy through my printer) and pinned it down to the top of a practice quilt sandwich.

I quilted through that.  First, I locked up & realized how much lint is gathering under my metal plate, so spent a half hour ‘delinting’ my machine.

After all is lint free, I try again with the regular paper. I suppose this was my ‘control’ of my experiment.  To see if freezer paper would be easier than the regular paper.

Regular paper quilts through mostly fine, although at this point, I haven’t removed the regular paper yet, so this data is only halfway done.

Then decided I needed more time getting the rhythm for the design down, so I cut a smaller sandwich for the middle design & quilted it down.

So I took freezer paper and put it on my practice quilt sandwich and FMQ’d away.

I have only removed the paper from one of the flowers and leaves at this point, and although this technique I think would work, I am having reservations at how much this is pulling up the stitches.

One solution: faster foot pedal, slower hands.

This produces smaller stitches that would make it easier to tear away the paper and would prevent large loops coming undone

Another solution: tighten the tension on the top (?)

I am not sure but maybe a tighter tension would produce tighter stitches on the top.

Another solution: get the freezer paper wet with water to help remove the paper.

enough said.

Another solution: get a light weight quilting paper specially designed to dissolve away.

This would help with keeping the stitches close to the actual fabric underneath, perhaps also providing more tension all on it’s own. I don’t own any of this.

Another solution: trace the design from paper to the fabric using dressmaker’s carbon.

This way I don’t have to deal with the paper itself. Of course I don’t OWN any dressmaker’s carbon.

Another solution: trace the design onto tissue paper.

Same as the carbon, and I may actually have some. somewhere. Somewhere.Tissue paper’s thin.  May come with its own set of problems too though.

Another option: leave it – it’s working out ok enough.

I think this may work overall, if I decided to leave the freezer paper & tear it out by hand, I think this could be “good enough” and know that over time, I’ll get better. And hopefully the recipient would understand.

I realized that I never have come to this place before in my stages of quilting.

Which solution / option do you usually chose?  Reasons why?


21.0 Small progress made post TDay

November 27, 2011

I had a great T Day, same as always, great food, cooking it overnight in a smoker (I wasn’t part of it, but was around at the time), games, family, planning black Friday (family was not me) finding out Christmas presents ideas, listening to endless complaints about how T Day is not T Day anymore, but “pre-christmas” – you know, the normal things.

Getting home, having to work & then getting the house back in order has been a little bit of the weekend. I personally prefer to work during black friday, which is okay, but makes the drive to work a little more busy.

Then I got sucked into a new present, which was given to me wednesday morning.  So I went back to tradition. sat down in front of the TV and didn’t surface for much of 2 days.

So I didn’t participate in Sandy’s AntiBlackFridaySewIn either, although I thought it was a cute idea.

I did have a hard deadline on a quilt block, so I did squeak this out.  I was intending to make this pattern for ME, but because of circumstances beyond my control, I haven’t done it yet, and this pattern was all cut out (three times) and so, it became a block for the person who is my partner on swap bot.

It’s called Utah Sparkler and I found it on Quilter’s Cache.

I replaced my seam ripper with a new one of the same (thanks Diane for your comment)

And then today in between laundry loads and food cleaning & prep I got out my book of quilting designs and made the design for the table runner for the giveaway from October.

Here’s my drawings.

And since you can’t see very detailed, here’s a picture of each of the sides, one plain:

And one with a start of a little more detail that I may try to put in the quilt.

I still have to consider the borders, and then I have to practice & transfer this to the fabric (or just iron on and sew through – this is on freezer paper).

Then after the borders are quilted I have to bind it. Then send it on it’s merry way. 🙂

Hopefully I’ll be able to make the quilting look as smooth as this drawing!

Love my book 501 quilting designs, that’s where these ideas come from.

A great starting point, I can’t recommend it enough for a quilting reference book!

Now to be settled on the borders for this quilt.  Something to contemplate before bedtime!  Good night everyone!