The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting

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Recently I received a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting for review. I’m not sure if you noticed but I really like to machine quilt! That is my favourite part of quilting . So not only was I super excited to have a chance to read this book, it was written by two of my favourite quilting authors.

I have known Angela Walters online for what seems like a long time. I first met her when helping her out with her blog way back in the early days before she even had any books. I soon became a fan. I now own most of the books she has written. Christa Watson came on my radar in the last year or so, but I quickly became a fan of her style as well.

Both ladies are wonderfully engaging and friendly. This comes across very well in their book. I love how they both tackle the same quilt top in different ways. I always wonder when I see a longarm quilt design how I might adapt it to domestic machine quilting, and this book can help with that. I really enjoyed reading their thought processes on why they both chose to quilt certain designs in certain areas.

There is an extensive section at the front of the book about tools and rulers, plus how and why to use them. There is also a section on the advantages of quilting on either a long arm or a domestic machine. I really appreciated this section, since I have been thinking about a long arm purchase in the future.

While this book does have quilt patterns, they are light on directions (two pages each quilt) for piecing and assume you have a knowledge of the basics. That was fine with me, because I need to get down to the quilting part! They go over how to do any markings needed and where they started on each particular quilt.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 8.08.08 AM

They even include a design for a wholecloth quilt. I was excited to see this, as a wholecloth quilt is on my bucket list. I will probably do this project from the book first, and combine techniques from both quilters to make it my own.

I would probably not recommend this book for a real beginner, only if you had some fmq under your belt and were very confident. I would recommend this for anyone who has been machine quilting and is bored with the same old thing. If you are wondering how to get those drool worthy designs on your quilt that you see everywhere online this book will help get you started.

I was provided an e-book copy of this book entirely free for the purposes of review. I like this book enough that I’m going to buy the print version so I can reference it more easily.

September, and back to guilds

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As I sat here trying to schedule the next couple weeks, and figure out when guild meetings where, I realized that I barely had any total finishes I could share with the guilds I am in. I also realized how far behind I am in posting any finishes (just tops or even complete quilts) to this here blog. And I really should – not for any audience, but to make sure the quilts to get catalogued somewhere.

I post pictures to my Instagram and Flickr and tweet about them, but that seems so temporary and scrolls by very quickly. I’ve always seen my blog as a digital archive – a place I can go back to and dig around my faulty memory.

So here I go again!

I’m a member of two guilds in the area, the Fredericton quilt guild (I started going in early spring) and the Keswick Ridge guild, since it is near my new house. Both groups have a great bunch of ladies and both put on great quilt shows this spring. I even helped out with the Fredericton guild show and totally did not blog it. Bad me!

I do have a list of all the quilt tops and finishes I really should write about. They are all in a draft post. The list has 36 items, but I figure I can combine a few.

Not like I can stop sewing to catch up, right? Even last night, I entered my sewing cave later than usual, partly because it was still hot upstairs, I hadn’t played with fabric in two days, and hubby was still out.

So I grabbed one of my project bags – a bag with all the fabric needed and directions for a specific quilt – and I started just cutting out the pieces needed. I’m also on the Lori Holt bandwagon, but I just got her first book, Quilty Fun, and started the apple quilt from there. I’ll have pics when I get closer.

It’s super relaxing for me to do something like just cut and prep fabric. It’s my happy place. I spent maybe just over an hour, but it was enough.

Pillows everywhere

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For some reason, it took me ages to realize maybe I should work on smaller quilted projects.


I also have 2 grown daughters that love extra pillows on their single lady beds. Thus, I got a couple pillow forms and armed with some patterns (of course I had plenty already), I hit my flannel stash.

Meaghan gets the crazy hedgehog, and Sarah gets the sedate fox.

Pillows for my two big girls.

Both pillow have envelop backs.

Since my WordPress tshirt quilts have been met with overwhleming amounts of orders to keep me busy till Christmas, I started to think of smaller items.

Hello WordPress pillow!

#wordpress pillow #fmq #quilting #feathers

I also got in some all over free motion feathers. Dang, I love me some feathers.

I must say, I was trying for small, but I just have to let those feathers fly! I did restrain myself and leave some un-quilted areas. It was difficult.

This pillow cover closes with a zipper insertion at the bottom edge. The knit fabric gave more issues in sewing the cover than in the quilting.

On a bag making kick

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I don’t just quilt; I sew all manner of things and one I really like is making bags.

Before my trip to Miami last month, I had just finished THREE tshirt quilts in three weeks. I needed a break, so I dug out a yard of some fabric I bought waiting for something special, decided a bag was a great way to showcase it and cut it up using the Ethel pattern.

Oops. Started making another bag.

Yay for solids in my stash that co-ordinate.

While I did finish it in time for my trip, I didn’t take it because my laptop doesn’t fit in it, so I used a different bag.

The Ethel bag, free pattern from Swoon patterns.

After I got back, I used another Swoon pattern, the Rosie cross body bag, to make this one from a gorgeous border print. With careful cutting I was able to use the accent pieces from one section of the print and the rest for the floral sections. Everyone who sees it says I did such a great job in matching fabrics. This tickles me since it was one piece of fabric!

Working on another bag.

In the picture, the bag is not yet finished. I used webbing for handles, grabbed from an older laptop bag I made we rarely used. I was also not happy with the lining and how it fit. I have persistent issues where the lining winds up baggy, so I turned the back wrong side out again, slimmed the lining seams down by 1/8″ for both, flipped it back right way round, and FINALLY I could press it and the lining lays smooth inside. The opening is still open so I can add a magnetic snap when it finally comes in the mail. The bag really needs a way to close the flap.

Even though the Rosie bag is not quite finished (needs some fasteners) I continued on and made matching wallets for both bags, using the wallet trio pattern from Sew Sweetness.

Two wallets for two bags  #sewsweetness patterns

Let me tell you – there are barely enough scraps from either fabric to do anything other than put in a scrap quilt. Since I had loads of the border print and it was in my stash for ages, I also cut out a Vivian travel bag in the largest size. It is… large. I haven’t started it yet, though. I just have all the pieces cut, the directions printed and everything in a bag waiting.

I must say, I have really stepped up my bag making game. With each one they get better and I’m learning more about what interfacings I like. I cleaned my sewing room yesterday, found a couple of early bags I made and started taking them apart to rework. They are just too floppy now.

Finishes for the year

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And now the wrap up for the finishes of the year:

Finished quilts –
29, including 16 runners or minis.
northern lights rainbow mini quilt
2 rock candy toppers
1 heart topper
floral sampler quilt
the bee quilt
scrapper’s delight
mariner’s compas
30’s jitterbug
2 sticks and stones toppers
starry runner
diamonds runner
mini bunny quilt
grey tula pink
big log cabin for kids
fast forward brown quilt
2 baby blankies & 2 quilted small ones (Noah’s ark panels)
pink.aqua & green girl’s quilt
scrappy green yellow brick road
biege feathered quilt
christmas cross
pine tree table runner
wp tshirt quilt
rainbow stripes quilt
navy and white snowman quilt
mini charm pack sewing machine cover
ink bottle mini quilt

not including panels & quilts for mom (9, quilting only)
rainbow strings
julia’s quilt
pink baby quilt
scrappy squares
2 Christmas small quilts
fall wall hanging
sunbonnet sam panel
Christmas panel

Other sewing I finished – FORTY ITEMS
40’s green dress
headbands for girls , wine bottle cover
blue knit dress I haven’t worn which is now too big
2 draped cardigans
baby sleep sacks
knit kids undies, not sure how many pairs
a WP bow tie
ipad stand
amy butler purse & wallet
2 kid’s ties
blue;s clues dress
3 orange ruffled dresses
4 swimsuits
3 more shoulder tie dresses
mommy & two daughter smocked pull on dresses from remnant
red polar fleece coat for fall
happy birthday bunting
thread catcher
2 change purses
smaller wallet
downton abbey purse and wallet
elas, Anna and Olaf costumes
Knight hoodie

Quilts in progress
16 in planning stages, not cut
12 in various stages & ages

I expect a lot of finished over the next couple months, since I’m trying to finish long standing projects I got bored of before I head on to yet another project.Any new projects I’m trying to limit to commissions (a.k.a someone paid me to make it).

I was going to try and link to each one, but that is a HUGE list. I had no idea.

Year of Making

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So this week I bought Kim Werker’s ebook, the Year of Making. It wasn’t completely impulsive. I try and do something creative every day. I usually fail and it bunches up, with nothing Mon-Wed and a complete immersion for Fri-Sat.

For optimal happiness and sanity I really need to do something every single day. So I got the ebook, because it advertised worksheets and I really need something to help organize my thoughts. So. Many. Thoughts. And the ideas… they just keep coming.

I’ve started already, not waiting for the new year, and am up to day… 5? I think? I realized the 2-3 days before I purchased the ebook, I also did something creative each day but I didn’t “cheat” and write them down and backdate.

The other thing, not entirely a resolution, is I really need to get back to blogging more. I have too many sites. Sometimes I want to write something and get stopped simply because I’m not sure which blog to use for it. To that end, expect more non-quilting talk here. It should still be quilt / sewing craft related though. Another reason I need to do this more is because I was thinking about the lists of finishes of the year and pretty sure I can’t remember ALL the things I made that were not quilts. I might have taken pictures but haven’t posted anything anywhere.

I need to do this more for me, not for reading audiences, simply because my memory is that bad. It’s just good for me to catalogue these things. And it’s not just doing something creative / artsy / crafty just for the sake of doing something. I have actual skills I want to expand.

The challenging bit is, figuring out what those are, what I want to improve on, what things my fuzzy memory said at one time “Ooo that’d be cool to try!”. I’m not a new crafter myself, and I had a (small, tiny) retail craft store (in my home and fledgling online) in the mid to late 90’s. I also taught classes, so there’s a HECK of a lot of basic common crafting topics and things and skills that I’ve already tried. (I actually wrote down glass making and blacksmithing for things I’d like to try.)

But what I have found, because of my impatience, I dive right in and skip some details of things I’ve tried previously. I have some skills, but some are… to be frank.. sloppy. And this also leads me to over-thinking about perfectionism and that very fine teetering knife edge of being a perfectionist versus refining existing skills so you are better.


See? It’s all Kim’s fault for making me think this deep. 😀

Still with the feathers

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I am almost done Kaytlyn’s quilt. At least the quilting part. I ran out of yellow thread *again*. That’s two spools if you are counting, plus a spool each of pink, purple and orange that still have lots left, but I need the yellow for the back. This quilt is using a LOT of thread.

I read another tutorial from Diane Gaudynski, and I swear this is the one I was looking for before, but someone forgot I read it. This time I clicked. Diane Gaudynski “Echo Feather Plume”

Here’s what I did the other day.

This was the third block I did, nice and relaxed and happy with the results. I’m not quite done the quilting because as I said above, I ran out of thread! And my local quilt shop is moving so it has been closed for a few days.

Here’s a nice shot showing how the quilt will look when done.

I need to find where I put the rest of the hot pink fabric so I can use it for the binding. One more row of feathers to go and two more of loops.

And just so Kaytlyn is not the only person I am tormenting with quilting previews, I did some work on a wall hanging for my mom. Mom has picked out a panel to hang in her stairwell, and since I am now her quilter, this is my first project and she said to do whatever I liked.

If you think that looks good, wait till you see the front. 😉 Some days I wish I had the whole day to quilt. So far, I have to keep stopping for one reason or another.

More quilting progress and how to get out of a boo boo

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So I’ve worked on Kaytlyn’s quilt a few more times, after I unpicked the last screw up and worked on something else instead. Here’s what that same block looks like now, all done properly.

I went swimmingly, until I flipped the quilt over and realized I made yet another boo boo. But this one was more recoverable and did not involved taking out stitches. It turns out if you are near the edge and don’t pay attention to the backing fabric, you get this:

It flips over and you wind up quilting it. Uh-oh. But then you just find your tiny scissors, turns on some bright lights, get comfy and snip the fabric off from around the stitching. Like this:

Any of those stray threads will wash right out. I always try and wash my quilts before I send them off. This way I know they will hold up for the user and if anything comes undone (it happens) then I have a chance to fix it.

I also figured out how to quilts the skinny blocks and thanks to some advice from Angela Walters, decided *not* to quilt the hot pink sashing. It looks SO much better leaving it unquilted. It really does help frame the blocks, don’t you think?

Here’s the back, where you can see the effect really well.

In the skinnier blocks I decided to do a loop-de-loo, or a bunch of Laverne L’s. Sometimes when doing these bits I hummed the Laverne and Shirley theme song because I am a dork like that.

Two more big rows to go! I have to draw out the feathers on these ones, since I’m doing them all in the same direction and they are basically upside down because of the way I have to feed it through my machine.

A goof up and a quick break

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I had a migraine yesterday. It woke me up, that;s how it hurt. I think it was from sleeping hard in the same position for hours.

So I muddled through as best I could,and after the second round of strong tea and Advil, plus protein, it lessened enough I could move my head. I set aside my laptop (one can still do minimal support when one’s head is settled amongst pillows) and shuffled down the hall to go play with fabric.

Face it – I needed the break anyway. 😀

I tried to quilt a bit and screwed up two feather blocks. Well, screwed up one and tried a different method on another. I’m not doing each block exactly the same, trying out a few different things every so often.

But the orange thread on the plain pink square? Upside down? Post-migraine?

Yeah. Not a good idea.

I did, however, take pictures for you to point and laugh at. Today I attacked it with a seam ripper.

Also shown: I did a small disappearing 9 patch baby quilt and laid out another, all from the same line of “Giddy” fabric. Nice and springy and Valentine’s in one.

Feather quilting

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Since I’ve finished up Meaghan’s quilt I moved on to Kaytlyn’s, getting it all layered and basted this weekend. I also had a chance to quilt three of the large blocks.

I had always planned to do big feather plumes in these blocks, as it just screamed at me to do so. Problem was when I started the quilt, I’d never done them. So I drew and I practised and I did some samples.

Today I actually dug out all the thread and took the plunge. I’m using yellow thread on the back and in some places on the front will be changing thread colors. This not only blends in better (to hide potential goofs 😛 ) it also helps me use up much of my half-empty spools of thread. OF which there are plenty.

I’ll do all the large blocks on this quilt first and yes – I am stopping and starting on each block, snipping the thread entirely and not stitching over to the next one. I also did not draw on most of the quilt top for a template. Some I just drew the spine, some blocks nothing at all. They will be almost entirely freehand.

I’ve also been picking up some tips from Diane Gaudynski and her upcoming free motion quilt along. The topic for February? Feather plumes! 😀 Mine don’t look near as nice as hers, but like she says – just keep on practising!

By the time I get to the last block, I should be pretty good. They are fun to do, if maddening in parts. I definitely like the look of going back and outlining the whole thing until the block fills. It definitely hides my turn backs.

I also chose poly batting because of the loft, and to see how my Bernina handles it. So far, I still don’t like working with it.