Sunday, November 30, 2014

Long Arm Quilting Experience

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I went back and used the long arm quilting machine (HQ Avante) at the LQS that rents them out. It was quite a different experience from having an instructor beside me all the time. From 10 paces on a fast horse, the quilt looks fine (if you don't look too hard at the bottom left corner).

Below are my mistakes. First the close-ups that show the funky quilting pattern and the wrinkles.

Now for the specifics: 
  1. Loaded machine backwards, despite instructions I wrote and photos I took during the lesson.
  2. Had a terrible time with the basting stitch designed to hold top of quilt in place, so I have some very wrinkled quilting near that basting stitch. I am going to assume that washing will make the quilt all wrinkly.
  3. Had a mess on the back of the quilt from a bobbin issue that I didn't see until I got the quilt off the machine. Thank the gods it was only a small part of the quilting. I had to rip that part out. Ripping out thread after you have quilted is TIME-CONSUMING!
  4. Shop did not have the color thread I needed, so used a color I am not that enthused about, but I am living with it.
  5. My quilting pattern is funky to say the least, but functional (see above photo). I was trying for waves and ended up with sort of waves and circles.
  6. Quilting when you are renting a machine is tiring. No time outs for tea or to think about what to do. Just quilt, quilt, quilt. I was dead tired at the end of the session - 4 hours to do a lap-sized quilt. It took so long because I had to wait to get help because I kept making mistakes. LOL.
  7. I have decided to quilt the red section in red, so I am in the process ripping out thread because the contrasting color just looks tacky. While quilting I thought I needed to do red, but then thought, but I will never finish it, so went back and quilted it in same color as the rest. Big mistake! You can really see the funky quilting pattern here. Looks horrific. The other is somewhat hidden because of the thread color.
Will I rent the machine again?
Probably. I would prefer to have my own midsize quilter, like an HQ 16. However, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon because of cost and space, so I am going to have to get better at free motion quilting without a stitch regulator or get creative with straight line stitching.

Lessons Learned
  1. Use thread color that matches. 
  2. Don't try new patterns on a quilt you are giving to someone :-).
  3. Take matching thread with you.
  4. Take a quilt to practice on that you will keep and abuse.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Baby Vests

Our quilting guild (Music City Modern Quilt Guild) makes vests for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital twice a year. This year we brought some home to work on after our sewathon a week ago Saturday.

On this cold, rainy Sunday I decided to work on some of the vests, despite the looming mass of presents to make/complete for Christmas. The vests are just so sweet that it is a pleasure to work on them. A friend at a baby in a NICU unit, and she would have enjoyed seeing her little one in a colorful vest.

It takes as long to turn the vests inside out as it does to sew them - the little shoulders are so tiny.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Silly Cat!

Willow update: She will sit on flannel, but not quilting cotton. Comfort over beauty. A cat after my own heart!

Silly Willow refused, absolutely refused, to sit on her new window seat cover today. Now, it could be because it is wicked cold outside for Tennessee and the air from the window is cold. It could also be that she is just picky. I vote for the latter.

So, I am going to make a her new cover in flannel with wool batting. This is one spoiled cat.


First, however, Tallulah gets her cat pad with wool batting. She sleeps in the basement because she attacks Jaspyrr, and it is a little chilly down there. No worries though, she has her own little house that is also covered with blankets. The cats have us trained!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thermal Cat Pads for this Cold, Cold Winter

It is too cold for November in Tennessee. I am freezing; my cats are freezing. So...I decided I could do something for the cats. Thinking about how to make something that would keep them warm and was not electric, I remembered the mylar rescue blankets I had seen used in the Alps while I was living in Switzerland--light weight and heat reflecting. Suddenly a light bulb went off. I have hoarded  collected various quilting supplies as I was figuring out what I wanted to do with quilting. At one point, in a fit of insanity during a Joann's sale about a year ago, I bought way too much Insul-Bright. I thought I was going to make oven mitts. That never happened. Insul-Bright is also heat reflecting and, best of all, quiltable! Yes! 

So today, when I realized that I had to leave the ugly cat window seat as I was rearranging my quilting space from an office with quilting to quilting room with a laptop, I though AH HA - now is the time to test the thermal cat pad.  

Below is the UGLY and DIRTY cat window seat that Willow loves. I swear to you I vacuum it, but the cover, due to installer (me) error, is not removable. 

To make the thermal cover, I pieced together some Christmas charms I won at my quilt guild meeting  yesterday. Added the batting and just quilted the middle part--two rows of charms--(with fabric that is not my favorite as the backing with Insul-Bright as the batting). Found a baby crib tutorial on YouTube, cut 2 1/2 inch corner pieces out of the sides to made it rounded--watch the tutorial--it will make sense then, sewed a channel, added elastic and VOILA!--non-electric thermal cat pad.

I used it to practice free motion quilting. The cats won't care. Here is the back - the Insul-Bright is under the quilted part.

The front before putting over the old dirty cat bed. Yes, I know the dirt is just hidden, but it looks so much nicer.

In the interests of full disclosure, Willow refuses to sit on the thermal cat pad. She just doesn't know how warm it will be. She is upset by the entire furniture-moving-around day, so I will see what tomorrow brings.