Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Yes, that is Oliver on his dad's laptop, trying to update my blog as he knows I have been way too busy!  He wanted to tell you all to take some time to enjoy the weekend, and remember those who have served our country so well, so bravely.  He tried really hard to post this comment but somehow he only changed all of the settings on the computer, much to Dad's dismay.

Was it fate, irony, or Oliver's doing that right after this event the laptop died a fast and furious death, and we had to pick out and set up a new one, shiny blue and oh so wonderful for poor Dad.  He is happy.  He remembers to close the lid now when he is not using it.  Note his coupon magazine nearby.  You will get an idea of life at our house while I am busy upstairs at my machine.

Above, the center portion of the Mega Hoop design in my new OESD collection.  I did a small wall quilt with the new designs, but of course they are quilted free motion from the traced designs.  The center is a Cherrywood bright mustard fabric, really lovely to work on.   I used gold silk thread for the quilting and quilted it as it will look in the digitized version.  I can't wait to get mine and try these out.  We are hoping for a September '10 release.

Above, the sleeping cat design with lovely wings on each side, in a 7" border, so you can get an idea of size. The designs can be resized and the computer will compensate, add or subtract stitches, etc.  They will look great quilted with fine thread as I do, or used as outline embroidery in a heavier colored thread.  For example, the cat on the bib of a child's overalls.  I would have loved it, maybe stitched in soft rose embroidery thread.....

Thanks to everyone who signed up for my 2011 Empty Spools classes - you do know how to put the pressure on a teacher!  There are many fabulous classes available so take a look at all the offerings at

And for this year's June class, please email me if you have questions or concerns.  I am getting things organized for it over this weekend.  I like to sleep at night, so try to have things ready.  I do have my plane ticket and a new suitcase.

I have two new books to review soon, so stay tuned.  I was planning on writing another book on machine quilting but have a hunch there are so many out there now it would be a moot point, so we'll have to see about that.

Also, please email questions for me for my column in American Quilter, the aqs magazine, at  I've been getting some very interesting ones, so it really helps the column if you all participate.  And if you are not a member, you should join aqs, as this is a quality quilting magazine.

Meanwhile plant some flowers, enjoy the weekend.  Do a little quilting just to keep your machine happy.

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quilting Whimsy

My new collection of quilting designs for embroidery sewing machines is moving along very quickly.  Here are some of the stitched out samples, including two large Mega Hoop designs, small designs, borders, and even some contemporary fun things.  Above, my own version of the large design done free motion in the center of a new wall quilt that will showcase the designs like the chickadee, sleeping cat, fronds, rabbit in feathers, formal medallion, pod flower, angel wings, and more.

I've been "off the grid" for two weeks, traveling to help with a family emergency, but am home now and working on my quilt.  One thing I really love about quilting is it helps ease anxiety and gives you a peaceful time to let your mind calm, your body concentrate on the task at hand.

Oliver is glad to see me back home, back in routine, at my machine and doing all my typical daily things. 

I'll try and check the comments and questions you have left and answer all of them, in the posts where you commented.

It's Quilt Market right now so many exciting things are happening in quilting.  I will have a few new products for my June session at Empty Spools (Asilomar) coming up, and I've got some new ideas for this class to try. 

Hope your spring is wonderful, and busy, and full of flowers and sun.

Keep quilting, your work gets better every day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Empty Spools Info

Monterey coastline near Asilomar, California

I have been getting questions about the upcoming June class at Asilomar, as well as those wondering about the 2011 classes with registration opening May 10 (tomorrow!).  And this info applies to most of my classes, so Paducah people, you too.....!

For the pieced project you will prepare for class, if you want to add a square or two with piecing or applique or whatever, go right ahead.  If you want to add sashing between the 6" squares, that is terrific too. Choose a size and proportion that works with your design, and allows space for some quilting.

In fact, my original instructions did have sashing but some did not like the extra piecing and felt it was too traditional of a setting, and the piece became too large for them in class.  I will leave it up to you to decide.  Again, feel free to email me with your questions so you feel confident about what you are preparing for class.

Consider this project a class quilting piece, to really use and have in the future for reference.  Bring a permanent marker like a Pigma pen or fine tip Sharpie so you can add notes to the back about anything and everything and the info will be right there on your piece.  It will be your library.  You will have the info on what thread, even the color #, on the quilt itself.  Sign it, it's a collectible.  :-)

Also, bring paper and pencil for sketching and drawing and doodling.  For many, the drawing of a design helps so much.  For me, I like to do it at the machine, but we are all different.  I can quilt better than I can draw.

If you have feather templates, bring those.  One is Infinite Feathers by Anita Shackelford  -
Another is the collection of individual feather shapes by June Tailor.  These are invaluable if you have not quilted/drawn feather designs, or feel you need to have the correct shape to trace for learning. 

Another great tool we will use in class is Anita's Perfect Spirals.  This tool lets you do all sorts of wonderful things, provides guide lines for your freehand work, is a great basic to own.  Look through the section on Quilting Templates and see if there is anything else you might like, good stuff is on this web site.

Sewing machines!  Any brand is fine, as long as it works properly, is clean, oiled, in tune, has the correct free motion feet and settings, and you are very familiar with it.  If you have a brand spanking new machine, spend a few weeks right before you come to class working with it, experimenting a bit with different threads, etc., and going over and over how to do the basics on it.  If you took lessons when you bought it but haven't used it much, go over it again, practice.

If you have had your machine serviced right before class, try it out before you pack it.  Do some free motion quilting and make sure everything works ok.

If you own more than one model of a brand of machine as many do, or even several machines that are different brands, be very very sure you bring the right feet for the machine, the right throat plate, the correct bobbins.  Accessories get jumbled together, so take the time to double check and bring everything for the machine you choose to use in class.  Don't forget the foot control, and the cords.

Needles, needles, needles.  Bring a selection if you are unsure, but Microtex Sharps #70, #60 (for #100 silk thread), #80 .... just in case.  A #80 Top Stitch needle will handle most of the other threads you might have with you. 

Make sure the opening of the throat plate isn't all gouged up.  If it is, get a new one, or have it filed and smoothed down if possible.

Some students who drive to the event bring an extra, "back up" machine.  It has come in handy more than once.  Definitely a luxury to have that security, and not necessary, but.....

We had one student in March bring her new Bernina 830 because that is the one she plans on using for quilting.  She could have brought another lighter, smaller machine that worked well, but she wanted to use the machine in class she would quilt with in the future.  There were no problems, the table was sturdy enough, and she did great on the machine. 

As long as you can trundle things in to class and set them up, you will be fine.  All machines and work stations stay set up for the duration, doors are locked when we are not in the room.  Two people are present at all times when the doors are open.

A Sew EZ table is a great addition if you have one.  Yes, there is room in the classroom for these tables if we get Kiln or Fred Favre Forum (check your mailings).  I have not yet received my classroom assignment.

One student brought two machines, tried the same technique on both with the same thread and sample quilt, and could see immediately which machine produced the best results. 

Winding a bobbin, replacing a bobbin and putting it in properly and quickly, threading the machine, adjusting tension on top, foot pressure if you have that, feed dogs down--these are things you need to know. 

Bring the right thread delivery equipment - if you have cones of thread, a cone thread holder (metal preferred) is almost a necessity.  Small cones like #100 silk, Aurifil #50, work great on a horizontal spindle on your machine. 

Some older machines like Berninas only have an upright spindle, so for those machines it is helpful to have a separate cone thread holder so the thread feeds easily and with the correct tension.

A "Slider" is a super accessory to invest in for class and for future quilting at home.  I will have some for the class to use/try, but it's one of those things that if you have, you will know how wonderful it is.  If you use one, you don't need gloves, you get smooth movement of the quilt.

Check the plexi surround and make sure it is slippery and clean.  If it is brand new, wash it with hot mild soap and water, buff it dry.  I never add things to my sewing machine bed or plexi insert even though I recently read on a forum that I endorsed using Pledge on this area.  I don't use Pledge; can't use or tolerate any chemicals.  Never used Pledge.  Don't know where that quote ever came from.

A cushion for your chair.  This is really important, you need a bit of extra height, just a bit, so you can see what you are doing in a class with machines on tables. 

The chairs in my classroom don't stack well.  We brought in others that did, but two were two high for many, with shoes dangling, backs aching, we went back to one chair and a cushion.  Find something ahead of time and bring it along.

A small task light for the area.  The high intensity lights attached to your machine are OK but sometimes too intense and it's easier to see without them. 

If you are interested in the '11 classes, sign up right away, don't wait and ponder.  I have a few testimonials on the previous blog posts, but these classes can be life changing.  You learn a new way to think about machine quilting, you learn from other highly talented quilters in class or at the event in other classes.  You see so much wonderful work in all the classrooms there that your mind will be bursting with color and design and quilting when you leave.  This is a great class.

Hope to see you at this terrific event, run by wonderful and talented women who will go out of their way to make it the best for you.

Happy Mother's Day!  And, keep quilting, your work gets better every day.