Archive of ‘Quilting’ category

I Should Know Better!

Often, I have very large and complex projects to design, digitize, test, photograph and write the instructions.  These tasks are intense, highly-technical and deadline-oriented. Now don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I’ve been doing it for a long time, a realllllly llllllong time. So I know what I’m doing. And I relish digging into a big project. Recently, I set aside a whole day to work at home (way less interruptions!) to tackle this new project.

I was pumped because I was at the testing stage. All designs were digitized and critiqued in software. It was time to stitch the designs on fabric before moving to the actual project – a full size quilt. I’m never satisfied until I actually stitch the design on fabric.  I see results during the stitch out that I never catch in software. So I grabbed a quilt sandwich for testing and popped it into a Snap Hoop Monster.  And pressed Start. Thirty stitches later and I see skipped stitches. And again, and again.

Then the thread breaks.  I rethread. Same result.

I check the bobbin and reinsert it. Same result.

I change the needle. Same result.

I put the thread on a vertical thread stand. Same result.

I call my sister Marie and complain. She listens and laughs. I’m not laughing, good thing she’s 1200 miles away.

I start the machine again. Same result.

I change the bobbin. Same result.

I change the thread. Same result.

I CHANGE DESIGNS. Same result. By now, you can imagine, I am F U R I O U S.

I exhale, several times. And then I call Scott Goodman, author of the Great Scott column in Designs, and explain the situation. Scott is like a good therapist; he listens intently and asks thought-provoking questions.  But this time, none of his questions provide the answer I need – how to make the machine work!  So he gently suggests that I have my dealer take a look at the machine.  That’s the kiss of death. Now I love dealers and totally respect all technician’s abilities but I DON’T HAVE TIME TO GO TO THE DEALER today. So I thank Scotty and just when we are about to hang up, he says, “Well, flagging can cause that.” I said, “Flagging?”

He responded, “Flagging, when the fabric is not secure in the hoop, the needle can lift the fabric off the bed and the needle and bobbin threads do not connect to make the stitch.”

I turned 10 shades of pink. I was so glad Scott wasn’t actually in my sewing room because I know what flagging is and what causes it. You see, in my haste, I grabbed a quilt sandwich that did not FILL the hoop. And I know that the fabric should fill the hoop but I did it anyway.  Then when disaster struck I didn’t connect my mistake with the skipped stitches. I blamed every variable except the user.

Shame on me!  Scott and I had a good chuckle over that. The fix was so easy – I hooped another quilt sandwich – larger than the hoop – and it stitched perfectly!

I’m grateful for Scott’s long-distance diagnosis – he’s a gem. Connect with him on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GreatScottSews/

I’d love to know if you’ve ever had an experience like this. What do you do when you ‘hit the wall’ with an embroidery project?

What Can You Learn in 60 Minutes?

In 60 minutes, you can learn everything you need to know about quilting with your embroidery machine. When can you do that? Tomorrow’s the big day!  if you’ve been wanting to learn how to quilt with your machine, register for my webcast with Sulky on Thursday evening (March 23, 2017) at 9:00 PM EDT, 8:00 PM CDT and 7:00 PM PDT.

You’ll learn everything from raw edge applique to custom quilting to overall quilting. I’ll give you three options for handling the quilt bulk while achieving perfect placement on every hooping.  Plus, you’ll learn what type of designs work on blocks and large negative spaces.

Included in this hour of education, is a downloadable continuous line design for 6” x 10” hoops*, a downloadable guide to my secrets of continuous line quilting on an embroidery machine plus a question and answer period at the end of the webcast.

Michelle Umlauf, Sulky National Educator, will be our webcast coordinator (which means she’s been keeping me on track for several weeks). She’s a stitch wizard herself as you can see if you visit her blog at http://www.SewingMachineArtistry.com.  She’ll be joined by Sulky veterans Patti Lee, Ellen Osten  and Kelly Negal (like I can teach them anything!).

I conned, I mean asked, my Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, to help with questions during the webcast. So if you’re on the webcast and know Marie, give her a shout out. And while you’re at it, ask her a trick question – like how many inches of thread are on a Sulky 820 meter spool!  Oh boy, am I going to pay for that!

Today, we had a run through to make sure your experience is educational, comfortable and informative. It went very well with a ‘mock’ audience of 5 or 6 attendees. Intentionally, mock questions were sent and fielded by Patti, Kelly, Marie and Michelle. At one point, I had a vision of the infamous Lucy & Ethel episode at the chocolate factory.  You remember the one, the chocolates fly down the conveyor belt so fast, Lucy and Ethel can’t keep up with it. That was my vision today and hopefully, it won’t be like that tomorrow night.

Sounds like a funny moment, right? Well, the spirit at Sulky is one of fun and lightheartedness. I guess they were just trying to ease everyone’s jitters (technical difficulties can really rattle the nerves) because the first question that appeared on the screen was, “Who let the dogs out?”

I howled (no pun intended!). That moment put everyone at ease, now we’re ready and excited!  Sulky has some great product specials that they will announce towards the end of the webcast.  Two coupons (of the many specials they are featuring) will expire at Midnight EDT, Sept. 23, 2017. To take advantage of the specials, register for the webcast now, watch the webcast then make your purchases before Midnight EDT.

We are packing a ton of information into this webcast but don’t worry, after the webcast, you’ll be able to review it whenever you’d like.  Join us for this live webcast and later you can watch at your own pace.  Sign up now because seats are limited!  Just click here: http://www.sulky.com/   You’ll learn a lot in 60 minutes!

*Formats included are C2S, DST, EXP, HQV, HUS, JEF, PCS, PES, QLI, VIP AND VP3.

 

Free Webinar!

I’m so excited to present a live webcast (my first!) with my good friends at Sulky.  They spotted my recent book, Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons, and thought it would be a hot topic for their webcast offerings. I was flattered to be asked, so of course I said yes!

So what should you expect in this webcast? I’ll share my 20 years of quilting with an embroidery machine experience with you.  I’ll cover everything from raw edge applique to custom quilting to overall quilting.  I’ll show you how to manage the quilt bulk while achieving perfect placement on every hooping.  You’ll learn what type of designs work on blocks and large negative spaces.

Included in this hour of education, is a downloadable continuous line design for 6” x 10” hoops*, a downloadable guide to my secrets of continuous line quilting on an embroidery machine plus a question and answer period at the end of the webcast.

You’ll get an in-depth look at my patented quilt and applique as you go technique, the difference between custom quilting and overall quilting. And I’ll cover selecting shape designs, connecting continuous line designs, working with magnetic hoops and three options for handling a full size quilt on a home embroidery machine.

We are packing a ton of information into this webcast but don’t worry, after the webcast, you’ll be able to review it whenever you’d like.  Join us for this live webcast and later you can watch at your own pace.  Sign up now because seats are limited!  Just click here: https://goto.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1138339&sti=eduction_webinar_banner

*Formats included are C2S, DST, EXP, HQV, HUS, JEF, PCS, PES, QLI, VIP AND VP3.

The winner of last week’s blog post answered the following question: 

Leave a comment explaining what quilting project you’re working on right now.  One lucky winner will receive a copy of my latest book, Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons. It’s finally back in stock so I’m happy to give one away.

The winner is: LAURI WINTERFELDT: I just completed a whole cloth quilt to practice quilting on my machine. I have two more lap quilts basted and ready to go.

Thank you, everyone for taking the time to comment.  I love hearing from you and hope to see you in the webcast on March 23, 2017, 9:00 PM EST.

Why Did It Take So Long?

Why did it take 20 years to master the art of quilting with an embroidery machine? Well, 20 years ago, sewing fields were 4″ x 4″, machines had little or no rotation ability and there were no ‘quilting designs’ available for the home embroiderer. Machine embroidery has evolved beyond our wildest dreams (well, almost, I know some very creative people!).

Now, we can quilt king, queen, crib or lap quilts on our embroidery machines.  If you have a big hoop (larger than 6″ x 10″), then it’s a breeze. Many students ask if they can quilt with a 5″ x 7″ hoop.  My response is, “Yes, you can but it’s not the right tool for the job. It’s like painting a dining room with a 1” brush. You can do it, but it will take forever!”

So if you want to quilt with your embroidery machine, buy one with a large sewing field and while you’re looking for a machine, make sure there’s a compatible magnetic hoop available.  Why so?  Magnetic hoops simplify the rehooping process.  A large quilt will take 50 or 60 hoopings, imagine removing the entire hoop and quilt from the machine to rehoop – 50 times!  Too much effort. With a magnetic hoop, you just lift the top frame, advance the quilt, drop the frame in place and stitch.  It’s still 50 hoopings but what a time-saver.

And yes, I am very partial to magnetic hoops because I invented Snap Hoop Monster. Without it, I would have never written three quilting books, designed over a dozen quilting collections and quilted dozens and dozens of quilts.  In fact, I probably would have given up trying to quilt with my embroidery machine years ago.

But that’s not all that’s made the process easier.  I made this short video to show you a couple of other products that really streamline the process.  Take a look.

 

Leave a comment explaining what quilting project you’re working on right now.  One lucky winner will receive a copy of my latest book, Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons. It’s finally back in stock so I’m happy to give one away.  Happy Stitching!

 

Skip the Numbers in My Block Piecer

Welcome Software Saturday readers!  Recently, I was creating a Flying Geese border in My Block Piecer. I stitched 16 repeats and after the third or fourth one, I knew the patch sequence by heart. Since I’m always on a mission to find time-saving steps, I figured if I omitted stitching the actual numbers in each patch, I would save some precious time. Here’s how to do it.

Open a new file in My Block Piecer. Click on the Block Libraby icon and enter Flying Geese #7 in the box. Click the green down arrow to jump to Flying Geese #7.  Click OK.N1BL

Select the block, right mouse click and select Ungroup.  Delete both side panels. N2BL

Select the remaining patches and click on the Workflow icon and Autobuild. Click Preview.  There are 12 patches in this unit.  Click Save and close. N3BL

Copy and paste the unit to stitch two in one hooping.N5BL

Select all and Ungroup. Now click on each individual letter and delete it.N6BL

You’ll be left with everything but the numbers.N7BL

But don’t worry, when you saved the design earlier, a PDF was created with a visual guide to the block. The first image includes the numbers on each patch.N8BL

The second shows an image of the design with the numbers.N9BL

And finally, there’s an instruction sheet which guides you through each patch.N10BL

Save this edited design with a new name and use it to stitch the block. Don’t you just love this software? It gives you so much freedom when creating blocks to piece in the hoop!

Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons

I’m excited to announce (and give away a copy to one lucky reader) my new book: Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons.  This book has been the culmination of over 20 years of quilting with an embroidery machine. I’ve done everything from embroidered quilt tops to quilt as you as go to quilting king size quilts on an embroidery machine.  I’ve learned an awful lot on this journey and I’m happy to share it with you on Sewing with Nancy.  You can watch it online at http://wpt.org/SewingWithNancy/ or check your local TV listings to watch on PBS.

This book teaches you several different methods for quilting with an embroidery machine: quilting and appliqueing in one step; custom quilting and allover quilting.  Quilting and appliqueing in one step is a patented process that I designed in 2008.  Since then, I’ve created 16 Stipple Collections, and in this book you’ll find two projects that incorporate that revolutionary technique.

Custom quilting is no doubt the type of quilting that makes your jaw drop at quilt show competitions.  The quilting is designed to specifically enhance and fill a shape (block), applique or area. To be honest, custom quilting is probably best achieved through expert free motion quilting. When custom quilting is done on an embroidery machine, you do not have the ‘freedom’ to move the needle as you do in free motion quilting so the results are not as ‘customized.’  However, custom quilting is how many of us want to finish our tops. I show you how to do it in the Patriotic Pillow and Diamond table runner.

Allover quilting is often the result you get when you ‘quilt by check’. Quilt by check mean you pay someone else to quilt your quilt. When you send your quilt to a longarmer, they select an allover pattern that complements your quilt top unless you have specifically requested (and agreed to pay for) custom quilting.  There are two types of allover quilting: nesting and linking. You’ll learn the difference between the methods with two projects.

You’ll discover three different ways to handle the quilt during the stitching process: furniture you have on hand, the shortE and the Weightless Quilter.  My goal for this book is to help you expand your embroidery skills into the world of quilting and get more out of your machine.  I hope you find quilting with an embroidery machine as rewarding as I do. 

Want to win a copy of Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons?  Just leave a comment and tell me if have any quilt tops that need to be quilted.  Do you have one, two, three or more?  One lucky winner will be selected to win the book and the accompanying collection of 20 embroidery designs.

 

Want to order your copy now?  This week you’ll find free shipping on all autographed copies of Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons.  Click here to order.

Quilting Your Row by Row – Part 2

Part Two

Last week, Rebecca Robinson, owner of Sew Suite Studio, a DIME Authorized Dealer in Lexington, SC, showed you how to quilt your Row By Row quilt strips. She used Inspiration’s My Quilt Embellisher to create the stippling.blog1

 

This week, Rebecca kicks it up a notch by changing the quilting to a star-shaped echo. Open My Quilt Embellisher and load the quilt row image as a backdrop. Select the stipple design and click on the Shape Echo tool. Choose #17, the five-point star. Click OK. Change the Density to 35mm in the Properties box.blog2

 

Customize the star a bit further by re-positioning the center point of the star. Click the Shape tool and drag the pink circle to a new location on the striped fabric section; click Apply.blog3

 

These auditions certainly assist in the design process. If you have a large enough hoop, you can save the design in the format for your machine. Or if you like to free-motion quilt, you can print a template of the design and use it as a pattern.  Either way, My Quilt Embellisher makes quilting fun!

 

Tow Your Own Banner

Beach7BL

Our newest Stipple Collection, Life’s a Beach, can easily portray a message that’s dear to your heart, not mine.  Instead of the Life’s a Beach message, use Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro or Word Art in Stitches to write Happy Birthday, It’s a Lake Life, Summer Fun or any short phrase.  Here’s how.

Open TopRow_Hoop3_BannerLeft and Merge TopRowHoop4_BannerRight (C2S format) into the hoop.  Align the designs as they were intended. Save the design as TopDouble.Beach1BL

Ungroup if they are grouped.  Select and delete Life’s a Beach. Select the Text tool and type Happy in the text field of the Property Box. Select the Hobo font.  Size Happy to fit the vertical space of the banner.Beach2BL

With the Text tool selected, right click, and select Path, right click again and select Edit Baseline.  Use the handles of the nodes to curve the baseline aligning the bottom of the text with the banner.Beach4BL

Type Birthday into the text field in the Properties Box, click Apply.Beach5BL

Repeat the steps above to set Birthday into the banner.  Change the color of Birthday to separate it from Happy.Beach6BL

Change the color sequence order so that it stitches properly. The first color should be the stipple of the left design, the tow line, the placement guide of the banner applique fabric, the tackdown of the applique fabric and the Happy text. Select all five colors, copy and paste into a new file. Save as TopRowHappy.

Go back to the TopDouble file and save it as TopRowBirthday.  Send both designs to your machine in the appropriate format and you’ve got a customized mini-quilt!  Isn’t software fun?

Memories, the threads of time

Isn’t it fun to capture a happy memory in needle and thread? It’s not always easy to achieve but when memories and creative inspiration collide, it’s a heartfelt moment.  That’s the story behind my latest Stipple! Collection, Life’s a Beach.

stipplelifesabeach

You see, when I was ten years old, my father, an avid pilot, restored a World War II open cockpit bi-plane and flew it for thirty years in our tiny seaside resort in New Jersey. He loved that plane and so did all of his daughters. Although it never towed a banner as it is in this quilt, it spiraled through the air crisscrossing the sky over the sparkling blue water of the Atlantic Ocean. He would buzz our house and we would head to the airport to get a ride. If we were on the beach when he flew over, we would wave and jump around on the white sand so he could see us.  A tip of his wing meant he was heading home for dinner.

There are so many stories about that plane– thankfully all with happy landings – I just had to include this memory of my youth spent on the Jersey shore.  Oh what I wouldn’t do to stand on that sand and hear him fly overhead.

eileensdadsplane

Those happy memories include many days spent at the beach and with five sisters, there were always bathing suits drying in the sun on the backyard clothesline.  In fact, I remember coming home from my morning waitress job at a local coffee shop and checking the clothesline to see what suits were left – several of us wore the same size.  My mother used to say, “First one out, best one dressed!”

swimsuits

And then off to the beach it was. With a good book, suntan lotion (OMG probably baby oil, how times have changed!), chair and towel, everything revolved around the beach. Everyone (except my mother) was on the beach: neighbors, tourists (same families, same street every year) and family.  The more the merrier; the bigger the circle of chairs, the better.

The scene depicted in the bottom row on Life’s a Beach shows the end of the day at the beach…one chair, one umbrella, a peaceful quiet time in the shade.

endofdaybeach

I stitched the three panels independently and they hang together with ribbons of raffia looped over wood buttons. Since each row stitches quickly, I finished a row in an afternoon, binding included! Once I had one done, I was motivated to start the next one. If you’d like, piece the three rows together to make one wall quilt.  I had so much fun designing this project and focusing on the simple days of my youth, I hope you enjoy making it as much as I enjoyed designing it.

Stipple_Lifes_a_Beach-CREATIVES_Quilt

Question of the week:  What are your favorite summertime childhood memories?


Visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery website for a limited time special offer on Stipple Life’s a Beach.  Enjoy free US shipping.  Use coupon code:  beach

 

Room for Improvement

Last week, I showed you how to how to draw a simple flower design in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro and turn it into a large applique quilt block. I ended the lesson with this comment: “I’ll stitch a sample before creating the whole block.”  Testing an applique design is the sure-fire way to beautiful quilt blocks.  But you can take some initial steps before stitching a sample in software. Start by critiquing parts of the design by asking yourself some basic questions about the design. Blk1

  1. Can the area where the right and left leaves meet be improved?
  2. Are the leaves elegant? By elegant, I mean do they flow naturally along a curve? I see an awkward spot (the stop/start point) on the bottom of the right leaves.
  3. The leaf ends (corners) look blunt.

These are easy steps to fix before stitching.

First, let’s change the stop/start point from the middle of the right leaf to the center (where the arrow is pointing).QB2Notes3

Now, select the leaf and change the Corner Type to Extended in the Properties Box.QB2

Finally, let’s reshape the curve to remove any unnatural bends. Select the Shape tool and adjust the points on the leaf.Blk2

 

The result is a much more pleasing to the eye. Now it’s time to head to the machine to stitch a sample. Next week, we take a close look at the stitched sample.Blk2A

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