Friday, October 24, 2014

Tools I use for long arm quilting

I'm working on some of my '1 year later' newbie long arm quilting posts.   This is one of them -  tools I use.   I am a minimalist when it comes to supplies.  I dislike clutter and lots of 'stuff'.   So far, these are some of the tools that I find I use constantly, in addition to basics like thread, a few rulers, etc.   
Hope this helps anyone who is new to long arm quilting!  

Whiteboard.  This really helps me to practice some designs, doodle a sketch,  or just get a path of a design - something that will fill up a space without gaps or without getting trapped in a corner. 
 An enlarged tall table surface -  I made this with a sheet of plywood, a few layers of batting and some cheap cotton I found at Ikea.  I plunk it over top of my existing table top to make it a larger surface area and it is a perfect pressing surface and cutting table.  It slides around somewhat if I lean on it, but it doesn't flip or slide off.  It is heavy enough to not be a nuisance.  As well, it is a larger space to spread out a quilt to trim threads, remove lint, etc.  
 Saddle Stool -   This is height and tilt adjustable and I use it when I need to do some really finicky dense work or I made a huge error and need to spend 2 hours picking out stitches at my frame.    I love it, and recommend the bottom foot rest as well.   A saddle stool is not for everyone - it takes getting used to as it really is a saddle style.  You have to hike your hip and thighs over the middle section so that takes getting used to.   like a saddle!   I find my posture is excellent using this stool.   
 Television with good speakers.  I watch/listen to tv and music. Keeps things a bit more exciting in my studio! 
 Reading glasses.   After a year of quilting,  I realized that my eyestrain and drooping eyes were caused by the fact that I needed reading glasses -  and in developing news - probably a special prescription JUST for long arm quilting.  sigh.  I know.  It's the aging process.  Take good care of your eyes, and if those cheap readers at costco relax your eyes a bit when you are doing close up work -  use them.  Don't be stubborn and in denial like me. Trust me. 

 I had bobbins everywhere and finally figured out a good storage system for them.  I bought a fishing tackle organizer from Outdoor World for $3.00.  It keeps them perfectly organized. 
 A magnetic pin tray -  this is from an automotive store - it's for mechanics to hold car parts when they are working on vehicles.   This is awesome -  it sticks onto your frame magnetically and you can easily pin without worrying about the container flopping around.
 C- Clamps.  I'm sure you could find similar things at the local hardware store.   They are plastic C clamps which you clip onto your quilt rollers.   I use them to keep the edges of the quilt straight;  line up seams on a quilt, etc so that as I advance the quilt,  I can always line seams and edges up according to where the clamps are.  It really helps keep the quilt top straight.   See how the clamp in the above photo is on the roller?  It lines up with the seam between the taupe/blue fabric: -   so as I advance my quilt top,  I make sure it is always lining up with that seam.    Of course,  sometimes there is a variance if the piecing is way off!  
Cafe Curtain Rods (2)   I use these to hold my side clamps up a little higher.  This is especially helpful if my backing is pieced and floppy and the tension of the backing needs to be adjusted.   Some people use wooden yard sticks for the same purpose.  I will probably be doing the same soon as sometimes the rods roll around and off the frame, and make metal clanging noises as they bounce off the frame and onto the floor. (little annoyances) 
 Basic tools -  straight ruler - I use this one all of the time. It's more than awesome.   Tweezers.  Marking pens and pencils.  Still on the hunt for the perfect marking pen.   
 I've posted about this $1 tool before.  It is so so awesome.   Removes threads from your design wall. Threads from your carpeted floor (I toss on the floor)  and even stray threads from your quilt top after you have frogged for 2 hours.   (frogging means ripping out threads  rip it rip it)
 Snips - I bought these for about $25 or $30 and though I gulped at the price, they are well worth the investment.   They trim very close to the quilt surface and are super easy to use.  Love these!
 Clock - you can lose track of time in the studio!
 I use this side lamp for the majority of my quilting if I am working from the front of my machine.   I quilt in the dark most of the time with this light shining along the surface of the quilt.   I am going to be making this sidelight tutorial from Jamie Wallen as soon as I can find the time. 
 A piece of plexiglass is fabulous for auditioning designs on top of the quilt!
 Gum.  Candy is a no no for me, so gum really helps to keep me going.  
 Garbage bins -  everywhere.  I have 4 in my studio.  
 I haven't needed fuses in a long while, but these are very necessary in your first few months of long arm quilting.
 This tension gauge is probably unnecessary, but it really takes the headache out of figuring thread tension for me.  If I know my bobbin tension is set at my sweet spot, then I only have to worry about adjusting my top thread tension! 

See that little felt circle on the side of my machine?  Best hack ever.  I bought sticky felt furniture/floor protectors pads.   Stuck one onto the side of my machine. Now I have a very convenient spot for my needles when I am burying threads! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Modern Custom Quilting

   before quilting

One of my clients brought this Sarah Fielke Millefiori Mystery Quilt  for quilting. Pattern available on here.
My client is a beginner quilter and my eyes popped out when I saw this photo in my email.   A beginner quilt?   Look at all of those hand applique'd circles!!  

Wonderfil Master Quilter thread in white
Hobbs 80/20 batting

I densely quilted around all of the larger printed circles, and then stitched along the printed curves of the circles so that the 'star' shape popped out someone.  The dense quilting also allowed the circles to pop.   For some reason I love to emphasize the piecing this way, as I did with the little white squares as well. I love the texture that it creates.

 The border was quilted with 1'' lines.
 Sigh.   I could look at this all day.   I love how the circles pop!

 I stitched in the ditch these strip blocks, and they pop even more.  

My clients inspire me.   That's all.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer catch up

Life is getting caught up and back on track.  Thank you for your good wishes and thoughts.   It was a difficult time -  very surreal, and I'm not sure if it has hit me yet.   Not sure how to explain it.  But I'm keeping busy, and that tends to get me through the ups and downs of life. 

I've been behind, very behind in my quilting, and with kids on summer vacation, I'm trying to juggle time with them and time to finish up quilts.    Getting there!   Had a few beauties to share with you.   I always feel so lucky to hear the stories behind the quilts, and also just the creativity of the piecing.
This one is a beautiful wall hanging -  on its way now to Burkina Faso in West Africa.  
I got to play a bit on it, so I added swirls and waves to the background..
and individually quilted each house.   

I adore this one...the colours are striking and I love the centre panel.  The person who pieced this just wanted me to quilt it however I want.  These are dangerous words for me.   I love the freedom, but I do not like not knowing if my quilting represents the taste of the owner. 
I used the outlines and paint strokes of the centre panel to quilt it.
I used continuous curves on the bright squares of the borders, lighter quilting.  
This one was very fun to quilt.  I loved outlining the tree and the leaves to give them some pop!
This one is just so beautiful in person.  You know when the colours and image just 'speak' to you and represent you?   This is one of those for me!
Tree of Life panel quilt

The piecing and colour choices in this next quilt are just stunning.  I love how the flying geese are 3 dimensional.  I auditioned a few designs using Concepts app on my iPad.   This app has been invaluable to me -  you take a photo of the quilt top,  draw on the photo (using any colour you choose), erase, enlarge areas, etc...and then you can email the photo!  Perhaps I will do a post one day on how I use this app. 
Simple diamond/zig zag border.
Curvey triangles with tear drops inside,  and some feathers in other parts.   
I love the brights in this quilt.  

I've done a bunch of other quilts as well,  free hand edge to edge designs which I will post another time.   I always post an 'in progress' photo on instagram if you are interested in what I am working on!   My tag name is urbanquiltworks.  Or just click the button on the top right of this page to take you there!
I find I enjoy the quick photo and post on instagram - it is quick and easy, and I don't have to be as creative in thinking up a blog post!     First world problems, I know.   

Next up is a quilt which I am 'baking'  a design for.   My goal is to get it done in the next 2 weeks, so that I can enjoy some vacation time!  Stay tuned!    

After vacation,  I really need to get that "First Year Longarm Reflection" post done, as well as reprioritize my schedule and get something that fits in fitness (what??) dog walking, quilting,  groceries, cleaning,  errands,  and time for ME quilting!   Any ideas on how to do that?   
I think I know.   Disconnect my cable and internet.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My dad

It was sudden, but peaceful.  He was 82.
I didn't know a lot of his early years, as life in the 30's and 40's in Prague and Germany was not something he wanted to talk about.  

 I learned he was a police officer before he came to Canada.
I learned he traveled by ship on the Neptunia to Canada to start a new life of adventures.

My dad was a very patient and kind man.  A hard worker and a love for the Canadian wilderness.  I remember him taking off on canoe trips and hikes in the middle of nowhere.  I remember camping in canvas tents with rivers of rain flowing through them in the middle of the night.  He taught me to whittle wood and make campfires.   I remember his love of animals and mother nature.  His absolute love of dogs....sometimes we wondered if the pets ruled the house.    Weekly trips to the library with stacks of books in his arms.   He seemed to be able to fix anything and everything.   His artwork, which he never showed off and kept it tucked away.    His love for his family, and his grandchildren.   A skeptic,  a man who questioned everything,  

My dad was a great father and a really great opa.   I am so glad I got to know him in his later years and had lengthy conversations with him - sometimes they drove me nuts, and sometimes they really enlightened me.  I would learn little snippets about him that made me appreciate him more.

Losing a father is never easy.  I take some comfort knowing that it was quick and painless.  That there was no long term suffering or loss of mind. He was still able to drive.  He was planning his next cruise.  He was aging, but he was still able.  

Losing a father is never easy.  I take a little comfort thinking and believing that he is with my mom now.  I miss him.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt

This beauty was made by a first time quilter!
totally honoured to quilt this one.... It is just full of happy and cheer!
 I called it the beast as I was quilting it.   It is approximately queen sized, and because the colours were on the diagonal,  the quilting was requested to be on the diagonal too.   That means, that I had to do a lot of rolling up and down the quilt, back and forth to quilt in those diagonal spaces. Hence,  it was a beast to quilt.  But it sure turned out beautiful!

 I quilted spiral swirls and plumes up each colour way.

The piano key borders were done in a whimsical feather shape.   The small dark border was a simple loop de loop. 

Thread:   Superior Magnifico in Yolk
Batting:  Warm and Natural