Monthly Archives: May 2014

On the pinwheel quilt.  I’m using the handi quilter II frame, and my Pfaff GrandQuilter Hobby 1200.  I’m not sure why this is coming out so bad.  The lines are wobbly; I keep hitting the seams in the rails and the machine will jerk from side to side. I didn’t have this problem the last time I set it up, on a different table (wood vs plastic) and I’m wondering if the plastic table is just not able to sustain the weight of the Pfaff, causing it to bend and the rails to become off.  It’s driving me nuts.  And of course ALL I can think about is the new Long Arm Quilting Machine that is just waiting for me (once I figure out which one I’m going to buy).  It’s hard to think about quilting as a BUSINESS when I’m doing such a ridiculously poor job on my own quilts.


So I spent some time on other quilts and crafts.  Nearly done with the binding on the pinwheel baby quilt.  Got 4 blocks of the “snakes trail” done for the Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog tails quilt.  Talk about a time consuming block.  I like the way it looks though.  The perfectionist in me is really struggling with getting the placement exactly right for the curves.  We’ll see how it turns out.


I also went to Mary Jo’s and Sew Much Fun and picked up a pattern for a jelly roll quilt.  My friend Robin gave me the jelly roll after she came back from Paducah! I love it, but hadn’t ever used a jelly roll before, so I thought a pattern might be a good idea this time.  I really like it, can’t wait to show it to you guys.

Also in the works, two more pairs of pants.  Just need to lengthen the leg on the patterns first.

Made a couple of coffee cozies, and that wrist rest.  And finally working on an afghan for a baby gift.

So that’s all keeping me busy when I get so frustrated with the quilting I can’t stand it.  I’m so far into the process I hate to rip out all the stitches so far.  And I hate to continue the way it is.  It’s infuriating.  I might have to switch tables to keep this from driving me crazy

Ok, back to the studio!

Other Craft Projects:

I made a little mouse wrist rest, because my arm started to hurt with the new setup at work.  I saw one at Joann’s of all places, for $7.00.  “I can make that!” I thought.  Only this one had nice little rubber dots on the back to keep it from sliding all over the desk.  Hmmm. Ok, I’ll live without that part, I thought.

Well, lo and behold, I’m at Mary Jo’s today and there is the fabric with little rubber dots on it.  I got half a yard ($3.75), in case I decide to make more, or there is a national emergency that requires duct tape and fabric with little rubber dots on it.  I’m covered on both accounts.

Anyway, I sought out some cute sewing themed fabric and found a bolt of the “Keep Calm and _____ On” print.  It’s pretty cute, there’s a lot of sayings, but the size of the wrist rest, only the one showed up perfectly…So of course I had to make it the quilting one. 😀  I also got 1/2 a yard of that, also $3.75.  So By now I could have bought the one at Joann’s. 😀  None the less, I was all in by this point. At home I had the little plastic beads that go in bean bags left over from another project.  So I just used some of those leftovers.

Here’s a pic of the finished product.  If you would like the pattern, drop me a note in the comments and I’ll come back and add it here.


Other Craft Projects:

Saw a cute pattern for a baby blanket and knew I had to make it.  It was kind of a flatter popcorn stitch, great texture, and I knew the exact yarn I’d use…just needed a baby to make it for.

Well, lo and behold my boss announced he’s going to be a grandpa, and the project was off and running.

I started the instructions, which had me yarn over, insert hook, yarn over, pull through, yarn over, insert hook, yarn over pull through, then yarn over and pull through all the loops on the hook.  EVERY SINGLE STITCH was a pain in the derrier.  The YO loops were so tight, even though I’d made them as loose as possible, I couldn’t get the head of the hook through!  I got about 20 “clusters” in and was on the verge of tears.  Suddenly it dawned on me that popcorn clusters are made differently, and that by simply making half the loops of a popcorn cluster (4 instead of 7, so sue me, my math isn’t great), I’d have semi flat popcorn clusters, without the terrible frustration.

And viola!

10269464_10152377938684854_742813755124901239_nIt came out perfect.  I yo, insert hook, yo, drawn through two loops on hook, yo, insert hook, yo, draw through two, then one last time, YO, Insert Hook, YO, draw through two. Until I have 4 loops on hook, then YO and draw through all four loops on hook. Viola! half popcorns.

Looks great!


Other Craft Projects:

So I began quilting my daughter’s pinwheel quilt, using the Pfaff GrandQuilter Hobby 1200, and the Handiquilter II fram.

Here’s a picture of it set up:

1981867_10152300198344854_4890780438178564550_nThis set up works OK. There’s not a lot of throat space, so you end up rolling the  quilt every couple of minutes to finish the blocks.  Also, there are little rails that you tape to the table, they have seams in them, which you hit and that causes bumps in your quilting lines. Talk about frustrating.  Oh here’s the whole quilt top before:

1897763_10152299413279854_3388219386853177767_nI chose a couple of heart quilting patterns, which look beautiful when I can do them well, which is more rare than I would like.  But here’s a couple close up shots of my quilting:


10172836_10152300243609854_6111191558902601459_nI went back and put in tighter meandering (stipple) quilting, to try to make the hearts pop a bit more.  Anyway, all of this quilting brought me back to about 10 years ago when I bought the Pfaff…I had been considering a long arm quilting machine, but couldn’t justify the expense or the room it would take up.  Good thing I didn’t buy it, I’ve moved a dozen times in the intervening years…what a pain that would have been to haul around.

But now I’m settled in the new place, I plan on being here for 8 years at least.  And I have the dedicated sewing palace…and I can afford it.  And I just so happen to have a friend who let me come over and test drive hers. OMG it was fantastic.

Like the HandiQuilter II frame, a great deal of effort goes into preparing the quilt to be quilted.  You don’t just throw it up on the frame and go to town.

You spend a good deal of time ironing the top and back, then pinning them to the leaders, making sure the leaders are on straight, etc, etc.  There is a lot of precision that goes into it simply because if you are crooked, your quilt will roll up uneven, you will get wrinkles, and then puckers, or you’ll end up with a top that goes off the backing.  So yeah, it’s better than spending an evening on the floor with safety pins, but it’s still a lot of effort.

Wow, though. The difference in control and execution, soooooo huge.  I immediately fell in love with long arm quilting machines all over again.

Then I began the research for the one I would buy.

I’m cheap (have I mentioned that before?), so I immediately started out at the low end of the spectrum. But before I knew it I was eying $15K machines and thinking “that’s a good deal!”  GAH!  I went round and round and I keep coming back to A-1 quilting machines.  I have yet to try them out, hoping to do that in June after the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo, which I’ll be attending.  Gonna take a class on pant-making.  😀  Looking forward to that.

Well, just as I had resigned myself to waiting a month, trying all the machines, and THEN picking the one I wanted, a used A-1 came to my attention…for a really decent price. Omgosh, I might not be able to hold off until the show!  Everything keeps pointing back to the A-1, but I know I should test drive all the machines before I buy one.  Unfortunately the machine is 10 hours away, so I won’t be able to test drive that one before machine a decision about it.  Once I leave the house with the Uhaul, I’m kinda all in, ya know?

Anyway – during the process of this, it dawned on me that should I get good enough, yes, like many others before me, I could start finishing tops for others.  This would be interesting, since I’m pretty nervous to take on work for other people.  But more to the point, starting a small business doing this in the evenings would help me pay off the machine faster!  So…Quilting the Carolinas was born!  I have my business plan, and the social media phase is pretty well under foot.  Have the website, have the facebook page, have the twitter account, have the email account.  I’m pretty good to go. Oh, got the EIN and registered the name with the gov’t.  Just have to finish the paperwork with the state (Tuesday).  I’m pretty excited.

I will give myself 6 months of practicing on the machine before I start taking on clients work, and if I’m not doing top of the line quality work, I won’t take anyone’s money.  I’m struggling with my perfectionism with the quilt on the HandiQuilter II right now, so I can’t imagine how out of control I’ll be if I’m working for other people.

Anyway, that’s my huge news.  I’ve started a business doing something I love, part time, on the side.  Still have my day job, which I adore and won’t be quitting any time soon.  Wish me luck! I’ll need it!


Other Craft Projects:

So I am working on a new quilt. This is for my boy and is titled Snakes and Snakes and Puppy Dog Tails.  I’m using Snakes Trail and Snails Trail blocks, with appliqued doggies. It’ll be cute when it’s done.  Which probably won’t be for 20 years or so, so here are some pictures now.  I’ll have to get with hubby to figure out how to make these medium sized thumbnails (I uploaded them with the wordpress Iphone app and haven’t quite figured it out yet).

Snails Trail Block Centers

These are two centers of the snails trail blocks.

Foundation Piecing Snails Trail Block

I’m foundation piecing the Snails Trail – Here I’m adding the triangles to the center (ah but they aren’t triangles yet!).

Paper Piecing Snails Trail Block

Here’s the next “round” of triangles going on, see how it’s making triangles out of the previous rectangles?

Snails Trail Block

Here it is almost done. Have to trim up the edges better (square it up) and take the paper off the back.

Appliqued Snakes Trail

This is out of order, but here I’m pinning the arc of the Snakes Trail Block.

Dueling Sewing Machines

Here’s just a picture of my workspace, I have my Pfaff and my Brother going at the same time. To my left is a small cutting board, and behind me is the iron and pressing board. Oh and notice the mess.

Snake's Trail Pieces Parts

Here’s a look at my stacks of rotary cut Snake’s Trail pieces. I used the dresden plate acrylic ruler to cut the pieces.

Chain piecing

Chain piecing

Chain Piecing Pennant

String of pairs

Iron's only use

Press press press press press!!! THE secret to piecing good quilt tops.

Arcs for Snake's Trail

I finish a couple before I turn under the edges.

Turning under raw edges

Here I’m turning under the raw edge 1/4″ to machine applique the arc on to the back ground. There are other options with the Snakes Trail (and Dresden Plate’s, which this is based off of). I could piece the entire block…but I’ve actually only machine appliqued once before so I thought I would give it a shot for this. I’ve done a Grandmother’s Fan quilt before, and pieced the curves before, so this was a nice alternative.

Machine Applique

Here the machine appliqueing is under way. Not sure if I spelled that right…


This should actually be first…this is the general mock up of the quilt. Snails trail will be the border, with Snake’s Trail in the middle. I’ll have appliqued doggies here and there. It’ll be cute…really. I think so anyway. :D

Fabric stash

Ok, this should be second…This is my fabric selection prior to some minor changes. First, the “background” fabric got replaced with two different back grounds. One was too cute to pass up; it has little snails on it. The other is kind of a confetti. Both are more yellow than the background fabric I originally picked.

Machine Appliqued edge

Here’s my machine appliqued edge. Looks pretty neat! Notice the snail? Love it!


Looks like slices of cheesecake...

Gosh these are really out of order. Here’s the stacks of pieces after rotary cutting them.





Swatch sheet

Oh so this last photo should be one of the beginning ones as well. I like to do a swatch sheet when I hit the fabric stores. It helps with picking out compatible fabrics. In the blank space is where I draw the sketch of the quilt layout (seen earlier).


So there you have it, a little photo experience of my latest quilt.  I love the colors, browns, yellows, deep blues and maroon. Fun stuff.  I’ve only made like 4 blocks so far. Tons more to make.  I hope I don’t run out of the background snail fabric. It’s my favorite.

Other Craft Projects: