Saturday, April 30, 2016

Peep Eye Popeye

Don't you sometimes get annoyed when a quilting blogger rattles on about personal issues and illnesses? Me too. BUT, I'm happy to say that since my last post, I've had very successful cataract surgery in both eyes. I cannot say it was a piece of cake, though. I really stressed out with the first one - they didn't give me enough joy-juice. The second went much better - she gave me a double dose! And don't you love the fashion statement I make in my haute couture eye patch that I wear at night (thankfully for only a week after surgery)?

Update on the Birdhouse

Since my last post, I've had a few people ask about the birdhouse. The spunky Swallow Family has decided to move in. The Mrs. has finished with nest-building, and is now confined to the nest, hopefully keeping the eggs warm. The Mr. comes and goes and joins her inside, presumably after a trip to the bug-food store.  The DH has found no more wasps.  I checked online, and the reports are that Swallows win in a good wasp-fight. The old nests often include uneaten body parts of both wasps and bees!

News From the Studio

Rippling Star

Here's Jolene's finished Rippling Star. Wow, I love it on the bed! Only the green border is a stand-alone border. The rest of them are a printed border fabric! What a happy quilt. All of the quilting is free-motion.

Christmas Joy

My, my, my. Isn't this one beautiful? My dear friend Marian made this delightful curvy Log Cabin. It reminds me of home and family. We used the new Trumpet Vine pantograph (see below).

Sticks and Stones by Jenny Doan

The DH and I visited with his cousin last September. He is a bachelor so his decor reflects his own tastes. the house
is a fabulous, well kept, big home filled with brown leather and not a lot of color. I just couldn't help myself. He needed some color in that beautiful home. So I made him a lap quilt / throw especially for his brown leather living room. . I used my go-to guy pantograph, Bolero.

New Pantos in the Studio 

I have 2 new pantographs to show you.

Hot Cocoa
Trumpet Vine.

Hot Cocoa is great for casual, fun quilts.Very versatile.

Trumpet Vine: This one has a sort of French flair to it. Lovely on classy quilts.

Tips and Techniques


Backing Preparation

1. Use the highest quality fabric you can afford. Inexpensive fabric, even if bought at a quilt store, is often weak, made with low quality threads, easy to tear, ravels badly, and often forms unsightly needle holes.

Not so fun fact about fabric: Believe it or not, the longarm needle will form unsightly holes in even high quality fabric - if it's a wide backing fabric, and it's some shade of RED. Really, I'm not kidding! Probably something to do with the red dyes...

2. Make the FINISHED backing at least 10" wider and 10" longer than the quilt top. Your longarmer needs room to load the backing onto the rollers, and have room on the sides for the clamps and for testing tension. Remember, seams, removing selvedges, and squaring will eat up fabric. You want the FINISHED backing to be 10" wider and longer than the top.

3. DON'T RIP the backing fabric, cut it. Ripping fabric never makes the pieces square. Fabric is almost always twisted on the bolt, so ripping it won't correct the already out of square grain. Wash the fabric (preferred but optional), press the fabric (always), get it hanging square, then cut it.

4. Remove ALL selvedges before piecing the backing.  Selvedges do not "give" and fabric does. You want all of the backing to have the same response to the tension it is under when loaded on the longarm.

5. Press ALL backing seams OPEN. This will be easy to do if you use 3/8" to 1/2" seams.

6. Think about seam DIRECTION. Seams that run perpendicular to the rollers pile on top of themselves as the backing is rolled onto the roller. This causes the backing not to advance evenly. Seams that are parallel to the rollers do not cause any issues, especially when pressed open.

7. SQUARE up the FINISHED backing. Always check for square when you have finished the backing. Have you ever seen this situation? You sew 2 backing pieces together and one of them winds up sticking out from the other, even though you cut them exactly the same length? That's because, without pinning, the presser foot of your sewing machine will "push" the top fabric toward you as the feed dogs are drawing the bottom fabric back. Solution: pin the seam all the way, and only remove the pins as you sew right up to them.

Y'all have a wonderful week! Now, go quilt something!