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.
I 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.
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.
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.)
Hmm. 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.
I 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.
I think its pretty good. It’ll be very interesting when I turn some blocks sideways later.
My friend, Layne, posts all kinds of wonderful pictures on her Facebook account. She shared a wonderful hummingbird feeding from a flower last week. I decided today, my first full day off in six weeks that I’d do it up in fabric.
I like how it turned out though there are some things I would redo a little differently. I learn a little from each piece that I create. I would cut my layers of fabric more carefully and closer to,the stitching line. I would also take more time during the couching step. I would also,use a more appropriate foot for my machine. I left my two favorite couching feet at the shop. So, I made do ny using a 3/8 inch rolled hemmer foot instead. It worked great for guiding the yarn and thread, but it would have worked better with fuzzier or thicker yarn.
So, I learned that a hemmer foot will,work for couching. It doesn’t turn corners well. It needs to have its channel filled up. And, I had fun anyway and made a pretty geegaw for my sewing room.
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. 😊
I wish i remembered whose blog I saw an example of this technique on… I read about it and tried it during some design exploration exercises. Basically you use a very near color to create a feeling of motion and or depth. I used a slightly lighter blue and a slightly paler yellow for the swoop of air across the top. The batting has been added at this point too. It’ll help hold any Hans stitching I’m gonna do.
I took a picture of the freezer paper drawing with my ipad. Then I tried out some ideas by coloring in the sketch on my ipad. I liked the look of this one and decided that I’d go with it, if I had the fabrics for it in my stash.
The middle of the night sketch was really rough, but it was enough to remind me of my thought image. So I improved upon it. I drew this on freezer paper. The kind of freezer paper that is plastic on one side and rough bright white paper on the other. I like the size of the freezer paper and I can tear off as short or long a piece as I want. Plus it’s great for foundation paper peicing. I use it to cover countertops to keep them clean from wet messes. Truly freezer paper is probably the most versatile tool for any kind of crafter or artist. And it’s pretty cheap too!
About the same time I drew this idea out, I found a book which really lit up my world. The book was Rose Hughe’s Dream Landscape book about art quilts and her methods. I thought it was the perfect thing to try to make my idea a reality. I modified my sketch and also made a copy of it at full size to match the exact size of the window based on her book.
I had procrastinated with that window and had it in a closet. About a week before this ‘sketching moment’ I had finally hung that window frame up. Now I had to look at it several times a day since it was stationed right above the loo.
In the middle of the night I often wake from a dream and think I’d like to remember it. Sometimes ideas are so strong that I can’t really get back to sleep sometimes. Sometimes the ideas that wake me are solutions to difficult technical problems I was wrestling with during the previous day. My subconscious often solved problems while I slept. So, years ago, I started keeping a notepad by the bed to write them down. I found it’s much easier to get back to sleep this way. I don’t worry that I might ‘forget’ before morning if I fall asleep again.
My husband and I had been talking about our wedding under a large oak tree before sleeping that night. This simple sketch was an idea that struck me for the window on the wall in the wee hours of the next morning.
This interestingly shaped arched window was purchased at a garden center in the heart of Gruene, Texas, about two years go. I thought it would look magnificent in my bathroom where I had a vertical blank spot. Actually all the walls were quite barren as I hadn’t decided what to decorate with in that bathroom. I couldn’t stand the idea of sea shells or a water related theme. It seems so mundane and overdone to me for a bathroom. I wanted something else. At the time I found this frame, I thought it was unique and one of a kind. Since then, I have seen this window and some that are very similar at different gardens and nurseries in Texas. They are really interesting to me though. I love the idea of a window and the concept of framing things in the imagination. With a blank window on a wall, you can put anything you imagine in your mind into that window. Being a romantic and a reader, I would imagine all kinds of things in that window each time I looked at it.