Today's post is for the longarmers, especially the new longarmers starting to use zippered leaders. I posted last month about how I use a stapler to load my quilts to the longarm leaders.
When I teach at Virginia Longarm I have to bring practice quilt sandwiches. At the end of class I take the practice pieces off the zippers for the students to take home. Removing staples takes a bit of time but, more importantly, they aren't particularly thrilled to have staples loose in the showroom. There's a risk that one finds it's way in the middle of a customer quilt.
I needed to come up with a better way. I remembered that my serger has a chain stitch and that would be perfect. Today I posted a little tutorial for how I use the serger (or a regular sewing machine) to stitch a quilt back to leaders. Press the button to read the tutorial if you are interested.
I've gotten 2 more veterans quilts do and that brings my total to 23 for the year. This one was made by Peg. She trying to work through a bin of charm squares from an exchange she participated in years ago.
I quilted this in an arrow cross-hatch. This is usually a very fast quilt motif but FloMo "broke" right in the middle of the quilt. I'm lucky that I leave so close to Virginia Longarm so Greg was able to come out the next day and fix it. It was simple. The needle bar was gunked up and now I know how to fix it myself the next time.
I immediately got the top quilt finished and then quilted this one with all-over swirls. Mom cut out this quilt when she was here in June for her cataract surgery that went haywire. She was back again 2 weeks ago for a follow up surgery on the same eye to insert a stent. No surprise that surgery also went a bit haywire so she stayed with me a little over a week. Once she felt a little better I put her to work and she put the binding on this one. I really love this quilt.
Here's a close up of the quilting.
Both quilts have this blue-purple hand dyed fabric for the backing.
As a general rule I don't make any of the veterans quilts that Country School donates, I just quilt them. But occasionally I have just the right amount of leftovers to put one together and that's the case with this one. Some of you may remember my Crossing The Drunkard's Path quilt-along that I hosted in 2015. I made a few DP quilts and one of them was in every shade of brown hand dyed that I had in my stash. You can see the original quilt top on the old blog. I had spent a lot of time making all of these DP blocks and I wasn't going to waste them. There weren't enough by themselves for a veteran's size quilt so I dyed a gradient for a border and even had a 4-patch for the top corner. I really love how this one turned out. I love the big one too and will quilt it soon.
My rule is that veterans quilts get simple quilting and that's what I wanted with this. But I also wanted something that would at least reference the curves in the block. Baptist Fans came immediately to mind but that is not a fast quilting motif. Then I remembered a filler design that I learned from Leah Day's book. She calls it Echo Shortcut. I use it a lot in tiny fill quilting but is there any reason it can't be done big?
Any fill pattern can be done big and I know I'll use this one again and again.
Here's a photo of it on the frame. The only thing the least bit fiddly about this is that I worked each row left to right. I quilted the whole thing in about an hour and a half.
The back of this one is a nice bit of serendipity. I custom dyed a back for a customer and, once done, realized that I had mixed one color wrong. I made another for her and got the nice one to keep for myself. It worked out perfect for this quilt.
Since I teach some beginner longarm classes at The Longarm Network I use the veterans quilts to practice and develop new quilting patterns that will be easy for beginner longarmers. The one I have today is an even simpler version of the Wavy Crosshatch, my favorite go-to quilting motif.
It's so simple that you can figure it out from this photo.
This quilt is made from 4-patches and that's usually a direct call for the Wavy Crosshatch but I wanted something even simpler. This is just a free-motion option to ruler work straight lines. Quilting a curved diagonal line is much easier than quilting a straight diagonal line. In this case I curved the lines down on left to right passes and curved the lines up on right to left passes.
For a beginner quilter you are building 2 skills here:
1 - Quilting smooth curves. The nice thing about this pattern is that a couple of wonky curves aren't going to stand out but by the time you get to the end of the quilt your curves will be pretty smooth.
2 - More importantly, you will be practicing stopping at specific points. Ideally you want your points on each row to touch so that anyone looking at the quilt can't be sure how you quilted it.You only learn to do that with practice and this is a perfect practice pattern.
When you are done you are better at both of those skills AND you have a quilt quilted!
Oh, but what if you have rectangles instead of squares?
No problem! In this case I used a purple air erasable pen to draw a line through the middle of the row. That gave me my stopping points. But I could have also simply made very long skinny diamonds and that would have looked good too.
Once you have this mastered you can come back and add all kinds of elements to dress it up:
It really is the simplest of simple patterns but it has a lovely overall effect.
Betty B. from my quilt club made this pretty quilt. I think it's manly but still calming and soothing.
This is the first quilt that I got to add our new quilt labels to! One of our members has been printing labels for the back of the quilts. Of course no one really likes sewing on quilt labels and I found these at Ikaprint on France. They are small but you can't beat 200 labels for less than $30 (including shipping). It's a lot less expensive than what Becky was paying for printer-ready fabric. The labels arrived quickly and now Terry and I can sew on the labels as we quilt the quilts. it's one less step for the binders to do!
If anyone looks on the back they will see this message.
I quilted this quilt on the 4th of July. It seemed only appropriate to quilt a quilt on our birthday.
I'm dedicating July to doing lots of quilting and finishing. This isn't going to be about exhibit quilts. This is about getting some blankets done. I started by attaching 5 backs to zippers so that the quilts will be ready to load.
I don't know if I've ever shared this but I attach my quilt backs to the zippers with this curved-bottom stapler. This think has to be 50 years old. Mom gave it to me and it came from the doctor's office that she worked in from the time I was little. The doctor she worked for was our doctor. I was in college before I realized that people had to wait in a waiting room to see the doctor. We always went in the back door!
A stack of quilts ready to go!
First up is the wedding quilt and I quilted it with a flurry of feathers and hearts.
Even though it's quilted as a all-over I did take a little extra time to quilt a heart in the center.
I was so happy quilting this one until I saw this on the back! Someone did a poor job of basting.
I shared this photo on Facebook to see how many people would rip out the stitching and how many would leave it. The results were about 50/50. I wasn't about to rip the stitching out. Remember, this is a "blanket". I hand stitched the pleat down.
Can you see it on the back?
After it was quilted I cut the binding and was putting the leftover fabric away. I realized I had a lot of leftover fabric so instead of binding the quilt I made pillowcases to go with it. Fortunately I wrote a pillowcase tutorial almost 10 years ago so I could get to the instructions easily. The binding will get done soon.
Next up is the second Rainbow quilt. This one is going to quilt up fast!
I haven't gotten a ton of things done since we got back from the beach. My Mom had cataract surgery Tuesday and it hasn't gone as expected. Her vision is still blurry. She had hoped to be able to drive home by Thursday but she's still forced to stay here with me. With her vision janked up she really can't do much so I loaded an old MP3 player with books and she's been listening to a couple of books. We are both looking forward to her follow up visit Tuesday for some serious answers.
I had a few veterans quilts that needed to be quilted and I loaded 2 to see if she could quilt them. She was fine until the thread broke and she couldn't track back the thread because it blended so well with the fabric. So she gave up on that task. I figured that since they were loaded I'd go ahead and quilt the 4 that I have available to quilt.
I actually have 2 more quilts but I don't have a backing that will work for both. They will have to wait until I can get some other quilts to pair with them. Here are the 4 that I finished this weekend.
I don't know what this block is called but I like it a lot.
I quilted this one with an overall leaf and hook meander.
You know I love any half square triangle quilt and this one is no exception. It's a great scrap quilt with a very controlled palette of scraps.
This one quilted up really fast with a wavy line following the zig zag. I did the zig zag seams and then went back and did another line in the middle of each row. I just eyeball the placement. There's no marking here! I even took the zig zag out into the border.
This is the quilt that I tried to get Mom to quilt. I picked an overlapping wavy line motif to keep it easy. Since she got a few rows done I kept on with that pattern. This is one of those quilting patterns that looks like a complete disaster when you start but looks a lot better when done. It creates some really nice texture and keeps the quilt soft and cuddly.
This is a cool pattern. Its really simple but very nice. In this palette it's very manly and that's what we are going for. We have very few female patients at the VA hospital. I quilted this one with a meander.
I think this brings me to 16 for the year so I'm almost halfway to my goal of 40.
I worked on Rainbow Quilts all weekend.
This image will show you the very simple quilting that I'm doing on the king size quilt. It's all ruler work but you know that I love ruler work even more than free motion. The blocks are 6" square finished so I'm using a 6" circle ruler to make a half circle on all 4 sides of each block. Simple chevron lines in the outer triangles are helping me tame a little bit of stretching that happened in some of the black edge blocks.
I like how the grayed purple thread is working. Black would have been way to stark. Patty commented about the "magic" of grayed purple thread in Saturday's post comments. I think there are 2 magical colors of thread and those are grayed purple and a sage or mossy green. They seem to work with everything. It took me years to get up the nerve to use any sort of contrasting thread. I used to make sure my quilting disappeared but I felt this quilt really did need a little extra focus.
What I didn't need was a giant pin caught in the quilt. Last night I reached the halfway point and as I was quilting the next row I stitched over this pin. Fortunately I stitched over the shaft and not the pin head. It only took a few minutes to open the seam, get the pin out and restitch the seam but that seemed like a good place to stop for the night. I'm very please to have this half quilted.
I spent Friday and Saturday sewing with my Country School Quilters buddies and I got the second Rainbow Quilt top together. This one will be a large lap quilt. I had 20 blocks left plus a bag of scraps so I started a baby quilt with a 3" border made of 1" strips. I'll finish that and decide what to do with the scraps (placemats, scrappy blocks, give them away) next month.
If you want to make a Rainbow Quilt for yourself my free pattern is here. I used Stash Packs of fat eighths to make mine but this would also be a great scrap quilt from your stash.
I'm mentally ready and anxious to load some of my own quilts so I spent the weekend finishing off some veterans quilts. I'm caught up with them, for now, so I won't feel any pressure to quilt more for a couple of months. The two I'm sharing today are the last 2 of the 4 that Patty The Quilt Lady sent me.
On one of them I quilted my "Chain of Diamonds" pattern. This is a motif that I teach new longarm owners. When you start longarm quilting it's really important to learn step by step. I encourage them to quilt their first quilt with straight lines so that they have time to get familiar with the feel and sounds of the machine and adjusting tension. Straight line quilting looks great and they get a quilt done instead of a bunch of dog beds from practice pieces.
After straight lines I recommend adding motifs to the lines to start practicing starts and stops, points and pattern development. Chain of Diamonds is one of the linear motifs that I recommend.
It's a great motif for a second quilt. It's also great for the 200th quilt!
When you are longarm quilting you try to load the quilt along the longest edge. This quilt was perfect for a linear based design like Chain of Diamonds because I was able to use the strips as guidelines.
In this quilt the diamonds are spaced out in a random order. I think it's a cool effect.
The second quilt was pieced horizontally and for this one I quilted it with straight lines using my channel locks.
It might be simple quilting but I love the effect. The secret to making straight lines easy is to make the distance between lines random. Otherwise you will wind up doing a lot of measuring which will double the time it will take to quilt it.
You can't really see it here but I got Laura started quilting her quilt. She's never used the longarm before so we picked something really simple. This is what I try to teach the new longarm owners.
When you practice on muslin you have 2 things working against you. First, it's boring so it's hard to motivate yourself to quilt on something that's not going to actually be anything. Secondly, and more importantly, you can see every mistake.
When you start quilting it's important to spent time getting comfortable with the machine but you also want to quilt and you can do both!
Laura is quilting easy overlapping wavy lines. The consistent inconsistency makes patterns like this work well. But the thing that really makes it work is the blending thread color. Once this quilt is washed and on the bed you will just see the pretty softness of the colors. No one will be looking at the individual wavy lines.
It was a great way to get her on the machine and comfortable quilting alone. This is exactly how all new owners should approach quilting. Start simple and add a skill with each new quilt. Leave the muslin for later when you want to practice a specific motif.
Two more veterans quilts are done! Estelle made this one. I always love her autumnal color palettes.
It took 3 passes to do each row of blocks but they were very fast with a wavy line. Can you figure out the travel path?
Maybe a look at the back will help to figure it out. Seriously, I quilted this in about an hour and a half.
This one was pieced by Miriam from blocks submitted by other members. I used the border as inspiration for the quilting.
Straight lines with circles worked out really well.
Looks good from the back too.
Our friends from the UK are here for about 8 weeks so my posting might be intermittent for October.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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