Monday, October 08, 2012

Bernina Training Fun!

Tech training at Bernina

All this week I'm in Technical training with the Bernina people.

How much fun is that?! We all have a table full of tools and our own 830s to take apart. Later in the week we move down to their simpler machines and then to surgers.

Super cool meeting all the other people in the morning - I live only 10 minutes away, but everybody else has us nearly covering the ends of the continental US.  Right now I can recall: southern Indiana, Devner, Boston, West Virgina, Washington State, Texas, Michigan, Alaska.....Wow!

Ice cream snack!

I joked that we're on the training class cruise.  They feed us 4 times in the 9 hours we're there, with crazy amounts of food.

Just had to snap a picture of the ice cream cart that was a part of our afternoon snack choices.  I must brag on today's will power to avoid eating any of them. (Because I can't promise I'll last the whole week, and we won't talk about the big piece of fudge chocolate cake I had at lunch.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Hexagon Bee Block.....

A little it was a September block.

I am so loving this block!

But I am having the best time making this one.

Never saw that pink print before. It's a wonderful collection of dandelion puffs. I thought the hexagons could echo that feeling and move from one corner to the other.

How long do you wait for your bee-mates' fabric to speak to you before you finally get their blocks made? I'm usually on-time-to-early, but late this month! So glad I waited. This idea just struck me a few days ago.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hidden Treasure

I'm finishing up all kinds of quilts, but have added a tad of knitting into the mix.

I have a few friends who are homeschooling children this year, and they asked if I would do a knitting class for them.

It has been all kinds of fun, and keep forgetting to take a quick picture to share. But one big plus to come of it is that I've enjoyed picking up my needles after a long break.

I totally laughed this morning as I passed a few minutes' wait with a ball of yarn in the van. I noticed a little white spot as I knit along and thought they had just missed a patch with the dye.

Hidden treasure!  Knit half way into the ball and have uncovered a Lego.

Suddenly the treasure appeared.

 A few more rows after this picture, two more lego pieces fell out.

Looks like Becket thought this was a good place to stash some important lego bits - pushed deep into the ball of yarn!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FMQ on my Janome Horizon 7700

I did a happy dance last night, completing quilting on my largest quilt to date - so I must share with you :)

I also think that I will most surely remember whatever important thing I have figured out, but learned that it's way easier to just note the details down so I don't have to experiment again the next month.

First full - done!

Last night I started and finished free motion stipple on a large full, 3 hours total! - it's about 82" x 92" (that's the back of the quilt - can't show you the front)

The largest I had done in the past was about 75x75 and that had seemed super, super hard on my old Brother. I actually got my ruler out and measured that there are exactly 11 flat inches to the right of the needle on the 7700. The point at which I was quilting in the exact middle of this one, the only trick was keeping the weight from catching on the outside lip of the extension table.

Hurray that I didn't have to WILL the time/space continuum to compress my quilt as I squashed it into the machine!

Table just for quilting

Knowing that I would need to wrestle the weight of this quilt a bit, I dragged a Lifetime table up from the basement. It's a perfect size for the space I normally have open.

Quilting area all set

At 4 feet long, I just pushed it all the way against the window and up to the lip of my dining room table.

And as much as I love sitting at the dining room table, I'm going to look into getting the Gidget 2. I'll probably rearrange the room a little bit so I have just my ironing and cutting on the table and then set my machine down into the Gidget. It got pretty annoying every time the quilt bound up by getting caught on one of the Horizon's extension table edges.

Janome Horizon FMQ settings

These are my machine settings for Free Motion Quilting. Leah Day's information was a fabulous place to start! I tried the D3S stitch, which makes a nice knot at the start and end for you, but found that whatever the machine does to make that knot, while nice and strong, was a little tricky to bury.

Stitch length = 0. You can't see it here, but I changed my thread tension off of the Auto setting (which is about a 4, I found out) and set it at about 5. I always do a quick practice sandwich and that tension is where I got the most wonderful stitch on both the top and bottom. My feed dogs are still UP, and I didn't change the presser foot pressure, as both of those things are compensated for ......

FMQ on the Janome Horizon

...... by the Supreme Slider - which I honestly didn't expect to be SO HUGE a difference. Seriously. If you haven't tried one yet, get one! Besides that super awesome, slippery surface, it covers those feed dogs.

The choice of stitch D1S automatically gives me the single hole plate. I found the single hole made a big difference during FMQ. With the regular slot, the thread would sometimes catch or break down inside the machine.

The green bit on my needle is the nice color that Schmetz gives to their Stipple Quilting needles. I make sure to use a new one for every quilt.

If you haven't seen the quilting foot on a Horizon yet, that huge thing is it! The little open-toe on the bottom can be swapped out for 2 other choices, but I like the open toe best. And that big double spring contraption on the right is actually super awesome. You can twist the rightmost one to raise or lower the hover height of the foot, so that it perfectly skims your quilt top. No need to change the machine's foot pressure.

FMQ Thread

Finally, the thread - I usually quilted with Gutermann and was super happy with it. But based on Leah Day's rave of Isocord when free motion quilting, I thought I would give it a try. Plus, the store I work at has what seems like a million rainbow rack of colors! Not knowing much about it, I found out that it is used for embroidery - hence the million colors.

I picked eggshell white #101 - it was a perfect match for the Kona snow. One spool has 1000m, and I started with a new spool for this quilt. I didn't use all the bobbins I wound, but you can see about how much thread I used. I did a medium to large stipple, which seemed to fit the scale of the large improv design of the quilt.

Getting bobbins ready

I wound 6 bobbins and only used about 4 1/2! The Janome bobbin is a little bigger - taller - than my old Brother. Plus, the Isocord is fairly fine - so those bobbins went a long way. My quilt retreat friends will remember my neurotic need to know when my bobbin was low, as I always start and stop on an outside edge. But since giving the whole tail-burying thing a try, I've been liberated. Hurray!

Oh, I used 505 to spray baste this huge quilt. So glad I have the large size spray cans. Anyway, happy to report this large-full quilt is completely pucker-free. It's wonderful to be free of unpinning all that basting as you truck along on the quilting.

Between the beautiful stitches, bobbins holding a ton, not worrying about when they would end, and easily pushing all that fabric through my machine, it was a total zen quilt night!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quilt Geek Celebration

A milestone.  The core of my first 40yd roll of batting!  Glad another arrived already!

I reached the core of my first 40 yard roll of 90" Warm and White.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ocean Whirligiggles - Top done!

top done

I'm moving along on the pair of ocean-theme full quilts I'm working on. And I finished up the top of my dolphin whirlygiggles.

design wall

It feels huge! About 84"x92" right now.

I had to push the legos aside and layer the blocks a bit when I planed the layout in my family room.

Munki swimmer

But the big blocks are so awesome for showing off the graphic prints. And even in the small sets of four I randomly placed around, there's plenty of fabric room.

This Heather Ross print is so perfect for the dolphin-loving little boy!

dolphins and octopus

I placed the paper pieced dolphin block so that it will not be covered by pillows at the top of his bed, nor hanging over the edge.

Smack top and center for him to enjoy! Plus his most favorite print is right below it. I waited for the organic Storyboek 2 line to ship for these wonderful bubbles, turtles, and octopi.

Pretty organic

Another print in that Storyboek 2 line has a larger scale underwater kelp forest that is super cool.

All the fabrics in this quilt were so fun to work with. Glad I'm using them all again in a coordinating improv-pieced quilt for their other little boy.

All the boys are in school now! The two older ones started on the 15th, and Becket's first day of 1st grade was Tuesday.

Hurray ;)

Monday, August 13, 2012

I've been super busy - Instagram Update

Things have been nuts, with the summer wrapping up.

I only need to survive 24 more hours, only 24 more hours....the older two start school on Wednesday.

Organic pretty!

I've been waiting on this pretty little Organic bundle.

Ok, I only needed the bottom two Storyboek II prints...but I couldn't pass adding in the adorable Scamper.


I got a few blue and then green hexagons joined during the Olympics.

Pink sparkle

So Fast!

In my wait for the organic prints for my custom order, I started and finished piecing a Sparkling Cider 64x64 quilt top.

Blackberry goodness.  We picked over 10 cups and made jam, cobbler, and froze some.

Our blackberry bush is WAY overflowing. Becket and I picked over 10 cups of berries Saturday night!!!

I made freezer jam, a cobbler, and froze the last couple cups for smoothies.

Lynn's Quilt

A non-instagram photo...I got the borders added to this quilt my sister in-law asked me to make.

I am super happy with how flat and square it all seems.

A LQS where I will be working. Fun!

And finally, a fun new adventure for me. My first paying job since I left Motorola when Kenton was born in 1998.   (Not counting commission quilts I guess....I actually had to fill out a form for Homeland Security and an application.  Boy has it been a long time!)

I'm working at a super cute local quilt shop called Gentler Times Stitching in Naperville (by the Fox Valley mall for any local people). You can read a little about Brenda, the owner, if you click my link.

They have a fun collection of fabrics AND yarn, plus a good selection of other fiber crafty stuff, and they are a Bernina dealer. Right now I'm learning the store - eventually my official position will be an in-house Bernina tech.  I'll get to learn all the machines really well, along with going to an official Bernina tech training class.  Not sure how it all will go, but it's going to be fun!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Dolphin Summer


I have two custom quilts in the works for a pair of little boys.

One of them loves dolphins.

dolphin block

A pattern by Paper Panache with what felt like a billion tiny pieces - but that's why it turns out so awesome.

They're extra tiny because I needed to reduce the size by 15% to get it to fit with the other blocks in the quilt.

I'm going to be sad to see them swim away when the quilt is done.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Quilting

Opening ceremony tonight!

I LOVE the Olympics. (and I'm thinking about my quilty anglophile friends, all of whom must be super excited today)

runner backing

I'm trying to decide if I should work on some of my hexagons, or set up a table in the family room and move my machine.

The boys' computers are also on a desk right next to my sewing space, and my cable package allows me to log onto the all-Olympics-all the time, real time web broadcasts. So I may watch and sew that way as well.

How are you going to do the Olympics and sew at the same time?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Perfect Points

You know when you were little, or even today :) and you get to have a surprise trip to the ice cream shop?

And you're so giddy you could bust?

perfect points

That's the feeling when I open seams and get rows and rows of perfect points.

The teen boys in the house were not appropriately impressed, so I had to post them.

Definitely loving my new Horizon!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wristlet Pattern Testing

I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for Caroline at Trillium Design.

Just in time to take to the water park!

Her Cell Phone Wristlet was super fun to make! And I finished just in time to take it to a water park birthday party.

Once I got the pieces cut and ready, it took me almost exactly 2 hours start to finish.


Love that it has a spot for some money and credit cards.

lined zipper

Even that pocket is lined! And the zipper bit is quite easy, if you're new to that kind of thing.

back open

That's the back open - look at all those Park Slope pebbles.

 I'm getting tot he end of my pieces of it. I was so brave to cut into it!

my camera fits!

My little camera also fits inside.

 So lots of uses for this in the summer when I don't want to carry much with me.

fun hardware

One last look at the fun hardware and pretty Park Slope.  Pre-disaster.

I'm super bummed. I was using it when making a stop at an ice cream shop. They were having a bad day I think....the double dark chocolate cone I got was kind of mushy and blopped right over on me when she handed it across the counter. I instinctively tried to catch the ice cream ball, which ended up mushing into the zipper and all over my little wristlet.

My Park Slope!!

I gave it a soak and wash and it seemed like the chocolate came out. But it's still stained in the zipper. Also, didn't want to dry it and make it all lumpy, so I set it out to air dry. That led to the teal print lining bleeding to the front over the pebbles. I should have known how dangerous it is to leave wet fabric touching each other.

So, besides the fabric bleeding caution, I have a dream sewing machine buying cautionary tale to add in a couple of days.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fabric Stash



Well, addition seems a little bit of an understatement. I gained a wonderful rainbow.

Blue #1

Some more low volume blues.

Blue #2

A few more.

grays for Halloween

Grays for my Ghastlies quilt.


Neutral prints and Essex.

fun stuff

Some random fun stuff!


Especially this fun one - not sure what I'll do with it but I love it!

And finally, 8 yards of Kona snow to go with this awesome Munki Munki print.


I have a custom order for two awesome, ocean blue, full size bed quilts.

This is the stack I've gathered for them so far! See, I needed a lot of fabric :)

luke's fabric

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


In the back of my van!

A Horizon 7700 in the back of my van! Well, actually, in my sewing space now.

Just a tad excited.

Monday, July 09, 2012

New Whirlygiggles

whirly test

A little late, but I worked on a 4th of July table runner this weekend.

I cut a bunch of whirlygiggles in large and small sizes. I wanted to test out my quilt math - I have two full size commission quilts to make.

(I may have gone on a bit of a fabric binge, getting just the right prints for those quilts. Fabric mail arrival to confess/document this week.)

project notes

I use this blank, bound book to record all my quilt plans and designs.

To get my quilt to end up as close to a traditional full size, without any borders or sashing, I had to adjust my whirlygiggle to about 13.75" square.

I thought a quick table runner for myself would be a good way to make sure my numbers were perfect.


Ooops - I was off by 1/4" across the joining of the four small whirlygiggles. Just an 1/8th on each end, so not a big deal for my table runner. But I'll adjust those for the large quilt. Glad I did a test run!

Nooooooo!   This should be cut with an xtra 1"  Going to try to zigzag it back on.

I was really happy with myself and thought I had an awesome plan to quickly back and bind this. Not so much! An anguished scream was heard when I cut the edge right along my quilting, as I always do, instead of 1" out for a quick turned binding.

I need to recover from it for a couple more days before I post the end result.

Evenly lit

In the meantime, I'm finishing up the diamond quilt being made for my sister inlaw. I wanted to make sure she was good with how all the fabrics were playing together. So we took an overhead photo using two synced bounce flashes and my aqua painted ladder. It was fun!


This is what the floor next to my sewing table looks like. I swipe the trimmed bits right off the edge as I go through all 52 of my diamonds.

start and end

Finally, Becket bought me a new sewing machine this weekend.

It's even aqua with red gingham!

becket's kingdom

Kirby's Yarn is a super cute Wii game if you haven't seen it yet.

The little yarn guy has adventures in sewing notions and patchwork or knit worlds.