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Red Heart Quilt – client quilt

I recently had the privilege of quilting this gorgeous quilt for one of my clients.  The piecing is just gorgeous and the quilt was donated to a charity event/fundraiser.  I quilted the quilt with free motion hearts all over the top.  
Quilt Pieced by Debra B.

 This was such a joy to quilt–check out the close up of the free motion hearts 🙂

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Anna Maria Horner Quilt and thinking about quilting design

Ahhhhh!  I’m dying a little bit over those Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent prints.  This is a fabric line that I adore, but never ended up making anything myself with.  So it was a special treat to get to quilt this and ooh and ahhhh over the fabrics and quilt design.  

When I first looked at this quilt, I was literally stumped at what to quilt it with.  I knew it was going to be custom quilted, but couldn’t figure out what to do with all the negative space.  I loaded it on the frame and it sat for a week.  I sketched out ideas in my sketchbook and didn’t really have any great luck with inspiration.  Finally I decided on a simple outlined design with some ruler work, embellished with pebbles and other straight lines to fill in the gaps.  

This picture has a filter on it to try to high light the thread more.  It was quilted with Glide Cloud, so it doesn’t necessarily blend like white thread would have, but it doesn’t starkly stand out from the background, either.  If I could change anything about the quilting, I would go back and double batt the quilt or use a loftier batting.  


You can see here a little better that each print fabric was outlined twice with a small ruler.  Then pebbles were added, along with some straight lines for filler to add more texture.  

I really enjoyed the process this quilt took me through, and I hope to continue to better develop my quilting design.  Usually, I can load a quilt on the frame and I have at least 2 fairly decent ideas by the next day.  This quilt really gave me a run for my money, but all in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the results.    I really love the way a quilt looks finished when ruler work and free motion quilting are combined in the same top.  Sometimes the simplest design can work and really make the fabrics and quilt pop, and other times, it takes some work and elbow grease to figure out the best fillers and accents.  



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Finding time to give back #quiltsforpulse

 In the midst of tragedy, I am relieved that I belong to a group of people that goes out of their way to show love for others.  The group I’m talking about is the Modern Quilt Guild.  And even  more specifically, the San Antonio chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild.  The Orlando MQG organized collections to accept in progress quilts and completed quilts to show support and love for some of the people affected by the Pulse night club shooting.  I hate that I’m even writing a post about this, because it’s so disturbing the amount of violence we hear about on a daily basis on the news…but I want to focus on giving back and showing support for our fellow human beings.  



The SAMQG members are SO giving and generous with their fabric and time, that we’ve had a plethora of blocks constructed (most using the Heart pattern tutorial by Cluck Cluck Sew).  A few charity sew-ins, and we’ve finished (I think) 5 quilts!  



I had the great opportunity to quilt a few of these, and wanted to discuss charity work in this industry.  I’ve done a little bit of charity sewing in the past, but not really donated much of my time or resources prior to getting my longarm.  And once I started donating my quilting, I kind of just rushed through the process, doing a stipple or some quick meandering design to get that top off my frame as quickly as I could.  But one night, I started thinking about the recipients of these rushed through pieces I had worked on.  Was I proud of the work I was doing on them?  No.  Absolutely not.  I was just FINISHING THEM.  There was nothing special or generous about what I was doing to add to the quilt.  And maybe those recipients don’t even look at the quilting.  But it really got to me that I was doing about 2% of my best work on something that was supposed to be making someone happier.  I decided to start doing my best work on every quilt top.  Whether it was a paying customer or not.  If I’m going to commit to working on something, why would I give anything less than my best?  And besides, if you want to look at it from a really selfish angle, it’s great practice and helps develop your skills even further.  


I really love the graffiti quilting style, and chose to do that on this quilt.  These blocks were pieced together by so many different people, with such love and compassion in their hearts.  It really does give me a little bit of hope for humanity.

Anyway, my two cents for the day is to think about where your heart is when you decide to do charity work.  If it’s in your heart, put your best foot forward and really give all you have.  Otherwise, what are you wasting your time for?  

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Texas Road Trip QAL-Customer quilt

So, today I’m going to share a customer’s quilt that I recently worked on.  It was put together beautifully and I loved that I had the chance to work on this…

I had the awesome opportunity to quilt a very talented quilter’s Texas Road Trip QAL quilt.  The design for the quilting was fairly straight forward and not that complicated, but the impact was really breath taking.  Straight lines and curved lines work separately to really make the quilt pop.  

These are some of the great swirls that this quilter chose for her design.  So gorgeous and free flowing.  I really loved quilting this because there were lots of people in our guild completing this quilt along at the same time, and I enjoyed seeing how differently they were quilted.  In the picture above, you can see a little snippet of a post it that I pinned to the next section as a reminder to stop quilting swirly loops and switch to straight lines 🙂

Another great detail that this quilter chose was to put a heart over the center of San Antonio–in hot pink thread.  It really was so much fun to quilt, and the swirly loops are really relaxing to kind of get lost in.  

And here’s a picture of the finished quilt:  
I absolutely LOVE the scrappy reds in the Texas shape and the scrappy low volume background.  Normally, I’m not a red person…but this quilt…WOW!  I just had to share one of my favorite quilts that I’ve longarmed for someone else.  I hope you get to enjoy some time sewing, or doing whatever makes you happy this week!  Until next time….
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Shopping for a Longarm-TIPS

Almost a year ago, I was presented with an opportunity to try out a longarm.  I’m not really a traditional quilter, in the sense that my family didn’t pass sewing and quilting along through the generations.  I pretty much just jumped in head first and have been mostly figuring things out on my own.  



I had a preconceived notion that I didn’t like longarm quilters.  I did all my own quilting on a little domestic machine (even King sized quilt!), and kind of scoffed at the idea of anything else.  My first time on a Sweet Sixteen Handiquilter really opened my eyes.  Here are the perks:
1.  NO MORE BASTING on the floor with safety pins. 
     That should be enough to get anyone’s attention.  
2.  And while you do still need to press your tops and backs prior to loading your            quilts, you don’t have to press the hell out of them like you would when hand basting,              since the roller bars keep your fabric fairly taut.  
3.  No more quilt wrestling.
     If you are quilting on a domestic machine to take the place of your arm workout, you
     may want to look into lifting weights.  There won’t be anymore tugging and rearranging 
     and rolling and re-rolling your quilt to fit under the 11″ (or less) throat of your domestic.
4.  SPEED!  
     Since most longarm machines are industrial machines, the stitches per minute is so much
     Faster than a domestic could ever dream of being.  
5.  Ease of quilting
      It’s much easier to plan your stitches, use rulers, channel locks, and other quilting
      tools to make your work easier.  Your quilt is flat and easy to work with, as opposed to
      being rolled up and squished.

So why am I writing this post?  
If you don’t own a longarm, there are lots of issues with using one.  

If you rent time on a community machine, the tension on the bobbin case may need to be adjusted every time you start to quilt (which could be the case anyway, depending on what thread you use).  

The machine height may not be right for you.  If the frame has adjustable capabilities, then no worries, but most of the time, these machines are set at one height and you have to deal with it.  Every quilt I did made me feel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was finished from stooping over so much.  I was sure that if I didn’t purchase my own machine soon that I would develop a hump back!

Then there is the matter of your tools and supplies.  Hauling them around.  Constantly.  I needed a pack mule just to get all my thread, batting, rulers, etc. from point A to point B.  Seriously a pain in the butt.  This highly contributed to me wanting my own machine.

Drive time, machine availability (being at the mercy of open calendar days).  Okay–so if you are just quilting for yourself–no big deal.  But if you start taking client quilts, this is a problem.  If you aren’t able to finish a job in the time you reserve the machine for, you have to take your quilt off the frame and re-load it another time.  No me gusta.  

Basically, I wanted to be spoiled and have a machine at my beck and call.  Since I work a full time job aside from sewing and quilting, availability is a high priority for me.  I want to be able to wake up at 5 AM, crank up the longarm and get in 2 hours of quilting before I go to work.  And if I want to, I would like to quilt until midnight, walk to my bed and go to sleep.  And since I have a full time job, I have the financial means to do this.  

So, above are all the reasons I felt made sense to me to get my own machine.  I knew what things I wanted from a machine.  I knew what I liked and what I hated about the machine I quilted on.


Here are considerations you should think about before making the financial commitment of buying your own longarm (in my opinion):
1.  Set a budget and stick to it.
     Know what you can afford and what you can’t.  Don’t try out a machine you can’t afford.
     Be okay with the amount you’re going to spend.  If you aren’t, keep renting!

2.  Make a list of must haves.
     If you’ve tried other machines, you’ll know what you love and can’t live without.  Make 
     Sure the machine you purchase has EVERYTHING you can’t live without, or has the
     capability to add it later (which most of them do).  
3.  Find a venue where you can try lots of brands at the same time.
      Quilt market.  Just about every longarm manufacturer is represented at Quilt market.  
     Go.  Play.  Try all the machines.  Try them again.  It will be easy for you to cross some 
     brands off your list immediately, and you can narrow down your search between just a 
     few machines.  Then try them all again.  And again.  

4.  Make notes each time you try a machine.
     Write down your experiences.  If you are having issues with a machine at a huge venue
     like quilt market, chances are the machine is going to be nothing but trouble for you at 
     home.  If the manufacturer doesn’t bring a top notch machine to showcase, the product
     you purchase won’t be any better.  

5.  Make notes on the frame.
     The frame can be just as important as the machine that sits on it.  Some have hydraulics
     that allow you to adjust the height at the push of a button.  

6.  Ask LOTS of questions.
     Now is the time to ask the vendors.  Ask questions until you are confident that you have 
     all the answers you want and need.

7.  Ask about customer service/upkeep/troubleshooting.
     Will someone be able to come to your house?  Do they have a phone hotline?  What are 
     the hours it’s available?  Web chat?  Will you be able to deal with someone local?  How
    much will a service call in person cost you?  What is the amount of time you’ll have to 
    wait if you have a serious problem?  Is the customer service phone line outsourced, or will 
     you be able to talk to someone in your country?

8.  Ask for the BEST possible deal. 
     The price may be set, but you won’t know unless you try.  Quilt market may be the best 
     place for you to get a show special.  Ask for discounts.  Ask if they sell refurbished machi-
     nes at a discounted rate.  

9.  Training/delivery/setup
     Does the manufacturer provide delivery and installation?  Do you have to pay separately
     for that ?  Is there any kind of training or orientation offered for the machine?

10.  Think about the ability to sell your machine.
     (Should you ever have to…).  You want to have the option to sell your machine.  Even if
     you aren’t interested in computerized programs (which can cost as much, if not more,
     than the machine and frame), other people might be.  Try to purchase a machine that
     has the capability to add this later.  Who knows?  You may want it yourself!

11.  Research before you go.
      Do as much online research as you can.  This will save you a lot of time prior to being at         the venue.

12.  Know about space requirements.
       Not just of the machine, but the frame.  Ask about different frame lengths, various 
       throat depths of different models.  

13.  Ask how long before you’ll get your machine.
       For some reason, I thought I would be loading my longarm up at quilt market and 
       driving it home.  LOL.  4-6 weeks before potential delivery.  That may just be the time
       it takes for the manufacturer I bought from, but ASK.

I’m sure there are lots of other questions and things to ask, but these were the main considerations that I had.  I went to quilt market knowing exactly what I needed and wanted, and what things were not important to me.  Number 1 on my list was to stick to a budget, which I did not do.  I had every intention of buying a much cheaper machine, but when I tried it out, the thread broke several times, and then the machine froze.  It was worth it to me to spend more after thinking about dealing with those problems constantly.  

I ended up purchasing an Innova-22″ machine on a 12′ frame.  One thing I didn’t quite understand was that most of the people who own Innova’s rave about the “Lightning Stitch” stitch regulator (that comes with a whopping $4000 price tag).  I opted to not add that option, but may add it later.  The Innova machines come standard with, from what I understand, a lesser version of this stitch regulator.  I just couldn’t justify a 4 grand price tag on an upgraded stitch regulator (I stitch mostly in manual mode–but for those who stitch mostly in regulated…)  I will say…this machine stitches like a dream and I can’t wait to get that sucker in my house.  

Best of luck to you on your search for your personal longarm quilting machine!





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Longarming…my Love!

Since the last time I posted (I know…it’s been a while!), I have taken up long arm quilting.  Somewhere along the line, I had this idea in my head that long arm quilting was “cheating”, and if a quilt was quilted on a long arm, then it wasn’t really “your” work.  I could not have been MORE wrong.  

The time and skill that go into this type of quilting is ridiculous!  I also had no idea that there were multiple types of long arm quilting.  I just assumed that all “long arm” quilting was a computer program that you just pressed play, and BOOM! it’s done.  Once I realized there was a niche of long arm quilting that I would absolutely adore, I’ve been hooked ever since.  (And plus…there’s no more basting with safety pins on your living room floor!  You can’t beat that!!!)  

The category of quilting that I specialize in is free motion quilting.  That means no pantographs, no computer programs…just you and the machine.  Your hands and brain putting the thread and needle to work to create something magical that can’t be duplicated. 

Ruler work can also be seriously fulfilling, and there’s no limit to the  
amount of different designs you can create with straight lines. (collaboration quilt
for Janome)
Free motion quilting on a customer’s quilt (Valerie M.)

Free motion quilting on a customer’s quilt (Sarah J.) 
that was donated to a local charity fundraiser.

If you have any preconceived notions about long arm quilting, I would really encourage you to re-think them.  All it took was one time for me to know it was something that I would want to do for the rest of my life, and it’s really nice to have a break from piecing your own quilts to see the awesome talents your long arm clients have and the diversity of their work.  I never cease to be amazed by the quilts my customers bring me, and dreaming up designs to put into their quilts really challenges you to think outside the box.  I’m so glad I’ve started my FMQ long arm journey, and I really relish every moment I spend doing what I love.