Wow! Minky is a Breeze with the Right Tools.

This is the back view of the first full quilt I did on the Innova Longarm.
My first minky backed quilt on the Innova longarm. I used Minky which is a challenge, but it went smoothly. I was amazed.

OMG! My first experience doing a Minky backed lap quilt was awful. I didn’t mind the fuzz or the fact that I had to pin the heck out of to prevent stretching and distorting. I was frustrated with the weight of it, how my machine reacted to it, with all the thread breaks (and I was using strong stuff, full polyester trilobal dragon strength thread). It was NOT fun. And I have this firm belief that quilting should be fun above all else.

This past weekend, it was a totally different experience. I love minky now. Actually I love my Innova longarm even more now! I used the same thread as last time, same minky brand just a different color, same batik fabric and same batting. But this time I used the Innova. Talk about night and day. Only thread problem was when my bobbin ran out. There are no “pills” of thread on the sharp point in the design, the stitching just simply rocks!

I also love love love the serrated edged Teflon coated scissors I got from Havel’s. They are my goto scissors for all big things not rotary cutter possible. And they make minky cut like butter.

Photo of the best scissors I have ever used on minky fabric
Havel’s Pink Handled Teflon Coated Serrated Edge Scissors

My Innova Longarm has arrived!

Last week my long awaited longarm finally arrived. After a year of searching and trying out different brands at quilt shows, after months of lurking on such places as the quilt forum, yahoo groups dedicated to the different brands, after calling support phone numbers posing as a customer with a problem to see how I would be treated, I finally decided on an Innova. I also found that there are three other Innovas in my area, so I wouldn’t be alone. Laurie Shook of Kingsbury, TX (commercial longarmer for hire) referred me to the Texas distributor for Innova, Joanne Gemill. I spent a half day with Joanne at Jo’s Quilt Studio in Richmond, Texas, and was convinced my choice was correct. So, I ordered it.

20130730-133632.jpgI have been nothing but pleased! I quilted up some el cheapo discount store fabric, just to play, test, and goof up. I tried different thread brands, I played w tension. (Thank goodness I have had tension issues on my other machines, so it wasn’t too hard to get it back to where it needed
to be.) I learned the hard way to disconnect the bands that are attached to the computerized motors so I can freehand. If you don’t disconnect them, you can do fabulous horizontal and vertical lines… But curves… Lets say you would have to be Hercules. Once I disconnected the bands, free motion quilting was a dream.

I also learned that they really meant it when they say baste your quilt sandwich. I have to admit, I have done so many smaller art things and its been over a year since I basted anything. I have been saving up my bigger tops until I got the BIG longarm. I put the quilt back on, I laid out and smoothed the batting, I floated the quilt top (small quilt, so didn’t think it needed putting on the roller. ) and I decided to to a digitized pantograph. So it would look nice after binding, I decided to quilt some off the edge. WELL, if you don’t baste… Bad things happen! The all great and powerful Innova Sewing machine head and longarm motors are so strong, that if you are lucky, the only thing that will happen is the machine foot catches the edge of the quilt top and rips your quilt off the leaders. If you are unlucky, and you attached to the leaders in a really strong way, the you rip the quilt top. I was lucky. And I was lucky I decided to use the Red Snappers, for attaching to the leaders. They hold well, but were forgiving enough to let go before my top ripped.

Here is a link to the lady who invented the red snappers, Renae Haddadin, showing how they work.

Jelly Roll Red Black and White Improvisational Quilt Part 1: The Cutting

I’ve had two Princess Mirah batik jelly rolls in her red, white, and black color scheme for a couple of years. I couldn’t decide what to do with them. Next week my Innova longarm is arriving and I have been putting together a bunch of tops in advance because I know I’ll go longarm crazy for a few months. Since I need more tops, these two jelly rolls are going to be used today! I have decided to not follow a pattern and just do whatever comes to mind with these.

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I started by separating out the red strips, and cutting about a quarter of them in half lengthwise. Then I sewed together randomly chosen strips of black and white fabric strips and inset red a skinny red strip randomly. I just used one red per four of the black and white strips.

Now I have a slight problem. I only had enough black and white strips to make six of these long units. I want to cut them into squares and I am going to need way more to have enough for a quilt. What to do? I do have a lot of plain black fabric that I was going to use in another quilt back. I think I can use it for smashing on this top. But I need more blacks. So I’ll do,the same thing with the red jelly roll strips and take my last two black and white strips cut on half to do a reverse scheme. That will get me some more coordinating blocks. (I ended up with three units that were mostly red.)

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20130721-174452.jpgHmm. I think a bunch of square blocks made up of these units might be boring. So lets chop them up and add a slash of red. I do have all those left over half strips to use up. First I need to figure out what size my blocks need to be. The ends of my striped units are jagged because the lengths of the jelly rolls strips were not the same. The shortest strip was 43.5 inches. 43 minus the selvedges. So I think Imcan get 5 eight and a half inch blocks from each unit. Now I’m gonna be adding some to each block since I want to put random slashes of contrast in them so maybe I can get a little more .nah.. Lets go w five. Off the bat they will be a little taller (9.25) than wide (8.5). But I’ll add more with the slashed and I’ll need to square them up. Let’s see what happens.

20130721-180222.jpgI slashed all the blocks randomly at different angles. See the leftover jagged end I trimmed off? Now to sew in some more of the red half strips and see how it looks.

20130721-182517.jpgI think its pretty good. It’ll be very interesting when I turn some blocks sideways later.

[to be continued]

Ink jet printing on freezer paper

Today, I discovered that my HP inkjet printer will print beautifully on the uncoated side of Reynold’s Freezer Paper.

That means an easy way to replicate designs for appliqué. And, an easy way to do multiple copies of a pattern I made. When I use Rose Hughe’s fast piece applique technique sometimes I want to separate out smaller particles or focal objects to layer on top. Making copies of my pattern with the printer will make this really quick!

I’ve been wanting a larger epson pigment based inkjet for a long time. Now I want one that will accommodate 18 inch wide banner paper too. 18 inches happens to be the width of a freezer paper roll. 😊

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