Saturday, August 24, 2013

Feather Wreath

Since I'm on a teaching frame of mind, I thought I'd share with you how I accomplished the feather wreath on Paula Ulrey's beautiful Tavern quilt.

I love to put feather wreaths inside blocks like this.  The many small pieces to this block would make it much more time consuming to quilt each little piece with a continuous curve or stitch in the ditch. Also, treating each little star inside this block would disconnect the block (breaking it down into four pieces) and I want the viewer to see the entire block, not just the four components that make up this beautiful block.  I love how the wreath brings the whole block together and gives it some movement. 

A pet peeve of mine is to leave any part of a block unquilted.  My rule is to make sure that I do not have any open area without quilting larger than my palm.  I'm a stickler for balanced quilting and the circle wreath is a good example of the balance.  You may have seen some circle wreaths where the inside circle has no quilting in it.  I don't like the puffy look of that unquilted center. Also, that area will wear differently than if it were quilted.  In time, the batting may pull apart and end up in a lumpy mess.  We can't have that now can we?  So, I placed an inner circle and a diamond inside the center of my wreath.  I could have also stretch my feathers to touch in the center, but I really do not like the way this looks as I can't seem to make my feathers look even and balanced when I do this.  So, the diamond inside was a perfect solution for me.

Here is how I accomplished the circle wreath.  All of the templates used in this project are from The Gadget Girls.

My first step was to stitch around a 3" circle template.

Next, using a 2-1/2 inch circle template I stitched around the circle from point to point of the squares in the block, making the diamond shape.  Tip:  Start your outter circle in a spot where you can then do the point to point diamond without starting and stopping your thread.

Using a 7" circle template, I then stitched an outside circle around the block.

I then stitched the feathers around the outside of the circle I had just stitched.  Without picking up my thread, I stitched the inside feathers of the wreath.  Viola, circle wreath finished and sitting beautifully inside the block.

Now to stitch the sashing diamonds. With my Erasable Marvy Fabric Marker, I marked the center of the sashing.

With the 7" circle template I placed the curve where my stitch will go from the corner stone to the center marking.  This ended up on a dashed line on the template which made it easier to place the template for each curve I made in the sashings.  I used a small continuous curve in the corner stones to help me travel across the quilt without stopping and starting my thread.

I then traveled back across the quilt with the 7" circle template on the other side of the sashing. I love the effect this curve creates in the sashing, like a neat little bow tie.

 And there you have it.  Pretty circle wreath with a diamond. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Taking the Bind out of Binding.

Several years ago, I found someone who sold a tool made specifically to help apply binding onto the quilt top with the longarm machine while the quilt is still on the frame.  Wow, what a concept.  I immediately bought the tool, proceeded to then put bindings on by my longarm machine.  After several times of applying bindings in this fashion with the tool, I pretty much gave up and started doing my bindings back on my domestic.  The tool was not long enough, cumbersome to use, difficult to place over my hopping foot, and ended up getting in the way while I did the top edge of the binding.  What a pain and a half it is to pull a big queen or king sized quilt through a domestic machine to apply binding but I went back to it all because I didn't like the tool that I had purchased just for that purpose. 

The other day, I was watching a video on (a great site with tutorial videos on everything quilting) called Quilt It - the Longarm Quilting Show.  I was watching episode 401 "How to Construct a Quilt on your Longarm From Piecing to Binding".  They showed us how to construct the quilt (very cool I might add) and at the end she explained how she puts on her binding on the machine.  I was mesmerized because I didn't like using that silly special tool and the speaker in the video was simply using a straight edge ruler to place the binding onto the quilt. why didn't I think of that.

So here is my step by step (with pictures) on how I accomplished the task of placing binding onto the quilt top while the quilt is on the longarm frame.  Super Cool.

The only tool you will need is a straight edge ruler.  I use Gadget Girls grided ruler because I love the fact that there are quarter inch grids throughout the tool.  .  Lay your binding on the edge of the quilt just as you would as if you were sewing the binding on your domestic machine.  Make sure you leave a long tail when you start sewing in order to kiss the beginning and end of the bindings together.  The foot on my longarm is a quarter inch thick so I know that I'm getting a good quarter inch seam just by using the edge of the foot as my guide.  But I don't always sew straight, so using a straight ruler is the only way to go for me.  I placed a piece of blue painters tape on the bottom of my ruler along the line where the edge of the binding (on the inside of the quilt) will be to guide me where to place my ruler when I'm sewing.  It's easy peasy and I keep asking myself why didn't I think of this. 

When approaching the corner, I used my gridded ruler to stop my needle a quarter of an inch before the edge of the quilt.  You could mark that spot with a pin or marker if you don't have a quarter inch grid on your straight edge ruler. Then, using my ruler I turned the ruler to the 45 degree angle and sewed at an angle off of the quilt.  Without taking up my threads I sewed around to start at the top of the binding and flipped the binding around the corner to make the miter. 

I followed along the entire binding in this way.  I roll my quilt in the direction I am sewing the binding on so there is a lot of stop and roll going on, but I believe it so much easier than fighting with the quilt on a small machine. Make sure you leave your tail at the end of the binding.  I then take the quilt off of the frame and  kiss the ends of the bindings together as I always do on my domestic. more bind to applying binding.  I'm hooked.  The video did show us how to even accomplish this step on the longarm machine so I will have to try that the next time around.

As a longarm quilting professional, I do charge for this service.  If the customer has already sewn together and ironed their binding strips, and all I am doing is sewing the binding on the front, I charge $.05 per linear inch of binding.  My charges goes up for different methods of binding with the highest being $.20 per linear inch for doing it all.

As for that special tool I bought years ago?  It has a nice view over my quilt room in the ruler holder gathering dust and feeling lonely.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Favorite Tools

Last night I had the privilege of traveling down to Dickinson for the Clearlake Longarm Bee meeting at Pinwheels and Posies.  This group of longarmers are so very welcoming and ready to learn from and teach each other everything there is to know about longarm quilting.  It's such a pleasure going to this group meeting as I have fun and learn something every time I go.

The topic for the meeting this month was "Your favorite tool". Many of the ladies brought and spoke about which tool they used and enjoyed the most.  Templates and rulers were the popular tool of the night with some things like DeLoa Jones' Appliguide, or the small six inch ruler guide that fits perfectly in your hand while you do straightline ruler work on your quilting. 

I chose to bring a tool that I find I can't live without.  It is Quilters View Film which is a roll of see through cellophane made by Dritz Longarm.  I use this film by laying it across an unquilted area and then using a dry erase marker I draw patterns to preview them on the quilt.  Once i have an idea of what i would like to quilt on the top, I can erase it with a small piece of batting.  It's not like I have enough betting around to do this with.  Hehe. 

Most often I will take a picture of my preview drawings to remember what I drew.  I tend to be super forgetful so having a reference to look back at is very helpful.  

Here is a sample of how I would use the quilters film.

I have drawn a feather in red inside the setting triangle to show how that element could work there.  The film has a black mark on both edges to give you a warning that you are about to mark on the quilt.  Something like this is needed in my case since I can get carried away and then, opps, you're feeling horrible for marking on the quilt (unfortunately speaking from experience).  So, I always pay very close attention to that little warning.  

Now I could probably go to Walmart at buy a cheaper version of this but let me tell you the problems with that from my experiences.

1.  It's cheap and flimsy and after one or two uses can tear easily.  Yes, I've accidentally marked on a quilt because the cellophane has torn a hole and yes, I will never ever buy that stuff again because of it.  I have enough stress in my life so I'd rather not have to worry with how do I get marker out of this beautiful quilt someone has worked so long and hard to finish.
2.  There is only one side that you will be able to draw on and erase it later.  The Quilters View Film is erasable on both sides.  
3.  Its wrapped on a tube that's long and cumbersome.  The Quilters View Film is 20 inches wide which fits perfectly across the quilt while its on my quilt frame.  No wielding the tube like a sword like you did with wrapping paper when you were a kid.  
4. And did I mention it was cheap and flimsy?  With only one or two uses I was ready to throw it away. With the Quilters View Film, I've had a roll for over a year and have never cut any of it off. It still looks and works great.  

So go grab you some at your local quilt shop and start designing away.  If your LQS does not carry it, ask them to. It's well worth it.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Mother as an Inspiration

My mom, Janet Watson, is a huge inspiration to me and I can attribute my passion for quilting to her influences.  She is the reason why I quilt today.  She amazes me with her artistic insight and design.  Oh, she will tell you that she isn't good at all, but that is her humble nature and I love that about her.  She isn't a show off so I get to be the show off for her. 

The header picture for this blog is a quilt I finished for her this past June.  As she always states, every quilt should have an applique. Most of her quilts from the past two or three years does include some sort of applique.  Even if it's just a little bird in the corner.   She came up with this design to teach a group she hosts how to make the Delectable Mountains as the border (A Debbie Caffrey inspiration)  There in the middle, her beautiful applique. 

I used double batting on this one.  Warm and Natural 100% cotton on bottom and Hobbs Wool on top.  The wool gives such excellent definition to the quilting and just melts into the quilt nicely when the piece is quilted tightly.  I used King Tut cotton thread as my top thread and So Fine poly thread in the bobbin (my usual combination).

I tend to play with my quilting more on Mom's quilts more than my customers.  I guess because I feel comfortable doing something new with her pieces.  Plus, I don't have many of my own quilts that I've pieced to play with.  Having her as my muse is the best ever.  We tell each other all the time that we make a good team. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Joining the Blogging World

Hello all,
I have been contemplating on creating a blog to share my quilting experiences with the world for quite some time now.  There are some wonderful quilters out there who I admire and respect and it's amazing how much I learn from them on their blogs.  I would hope that what I post regarding the quilting I do will help inspire someone the way I've been inspired.  So, here I go.  Joining the blogging community, sharing my  knowledge and ideas, and hopefully entertaining a few of you at the same time.  I truly adore what I do for a living even though deadlines and pressure sometimes get me to wondering what in the world I got myself into.  I'm thinking that writing things down can help with my frustrations as well as my accomplishments and celebrations. A little internet therapy, if you will.

So for those of you who don't know who I am and are just now discovering A Busy Bobbin here is a short description.

My name is Kim Norton, I own two ABM Innova long-arm quilting machines.  Molly Monster is an 18" workhorse that sets pretty on a 10' frame.  The newest addition is Betty Beast, a big boned 26" which sets on a 12' frame. I adore what I do for a living...quilting for others as a business, and for myself and family for fun. 

I’ve been sewing since I was nine years old.  My mother sat me down in front of the sewing machine and over the years, she’s taught me all I know.  We started with clothing in the 4-H home economics program and eventually moved on to quilting.  I’m still learning from her today and believe she is the best quilter out there.  I am biased since she is my Momma, but her passion for quilting is contagious and I strive to be like her.

My husband has recently retired from 23 years in the Navy.  He and I and our two sons have lived in many places throughout his Naval career but the latest and greatest was three and a half years in Naples, Italy.  What an experience!  So, it’s back home to Texas and we are now settled in the Humble, Texas area (a northern suburb of Houston).  We’re living a civilian life and striving for the American dream. 

Join me as I travel along in the machine quilting ride along.  Enjoy!