Monday 16 May 2016

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 and Needles

You can see from my recent posts, I am really into the knitty-gritties of FMQ. No wonder really, I have been freemotion quilting for the last couple of months by now. My Wholecloth is nearing the end...

In-lining of the feathers, one grid left and filling in the circle...yep, I am going to go over all those feathers again to give them a bit of a lift. Honestly, I don't seem to be able to stop on this piece and as painful as it looks, I am really enjoying myself...

I use Schmetz needles for my quilting and I have come across two really good articles recently on the Aurifil blog by Rhonda Pierce of Schmetz needles

Schmetz Needles, Part1
Schmetz Needles, Part 2

Rhonda gives a rundown on the various types of needles that are used for quilting and then goes on to talk about which needle she is using and that caught my attention because she is talking about using a 70/10 Microtex needle for the 50/2 thread. That is of course the needle I have been using for a while for my Aurifil thread and I have always felt that I have been a bit out of sink with quilters around me because most people use an 80/12 needle.

I believe that the 80/12 needle is good when you first start out freemotion quilting. It certainly works and it is obviously a stronger needle...when starting off, this makes sense as you are going to be a tad more uncoordinated and probably rough on the needle with some pushing and shoving going on. As one gets more experience and becomes more coordinated it is time to go down a needle size to a 70/10 Microtex needle. This needle is finer and gives more of a refined stitch. This is particularly useful when doing some of the slower designs like feathers where precision counts.

Part 2 is about changing needles. The rough guide is every 8 hours...having stitched my little heart out with this Wholecloth, I can confirm that I had to change needle much more often, probably more like every 4 hours like Rhonda states. After a while of stitching I start having skipped stitches every now and then and that gives me the clue to change my needle (and take a break!). I probably will have gone through a whole packet of needles by the time this Wholecloth is finished.

For that reason, it is also useful to use Signatures Titanium Topstitch needles...I have got them, however have not used them on this particular reason really, other than that I started off with the normal needles...

If you have an Ipad or Iphone, there is also a free little Schmetz App which you can download with everything you ever wanted to know about Schmetz needles. Quite interesting.

Hopefully the next pictures will be of the finished project...not making a lot of headway with my 2016 FAL goals.


Saturday 14 May 2016

eBook: Step-by-Step Freemotion Quilting by Christina Cameli

Turn 9 Simple Shapes into 80+ Distinctive Designs * Best-selling author of First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting
This is the perfect book for your domestic or long arm machine!
by Christina Cameli #stepbystepFMQ

Look, what I got! I won an e-version of this book in the 2015 FMQ Challenge over at Quiltshopgal!
Very much appreciated. This was actually a book I had my eye on for a while. However, I have got so many books and resources I just had to stop.
An ebook is a great resource to have next to your machine when stitching and a great way to add to your resource list without taking up any physical space.
The book itself has 80+ quilting designs and moves from the basics straight into the designs, one design per page with a little diagram to guide you. This is very handy, love it! I am pretty sure I cannot show pictures of her designs on my blog, but if you head over to C&T Publishing they have a bit of a Google Preview of the book listing its content. In terms of designs they are very much like what I see as Christina's style...simple (but with a twist here and there), uncomplicated and beautiful, as evident on the cover of the book.


Thursday 12 May 2016

Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.2 - Tools of the Trade

While stitching my Wholecloth I realised that I am not following my own good advice...a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

I was starting to stitch some more lines, this time curved ones, in the Twisted Clam grid using my Dynamic 6 D foot. Well, that did not work all that well for me, as it was difficult to see around the foot and my brain did not seem to want to cooperate with following the curves. Tried a few more times and stopped...bizarre, had no problem with the straight lines but could not, for the life of me, follow those gentle lines in a consistent manner. When looking at it, it was obvious that the foot itself obstructed my view, hence I could not really see what I was supposed to be following and just looking at it beforehand did not do the trick.

Yep, I have become a bit lazy and usually just whack on the Dynamic 6D foot and off I go...when in fact I should be having a look at what I am actually stitching and select the foot that would give me the best result. I have got a number of feet for the machine and in order to be able to see better, I used the newer Open Toe Freemotion Spring Foot. So, the shank came off, attached the foot, and set the mode to Spring foot freemotion. The tension for the thread I am using (Aurifil 50/2) remained more or less the same at 3.8

Open Toe Freemotion Spring Foot

It's been a while, so was a bit rusty when starting to stitch with this foot as it behaves slightly different...the foot raises and lowers with each stitch in a much more noticeable manner than the 6D foot, but I soon got the hang of it.

Visibility was very good and I was able to follow the curves of the twisted clam much better because I could actually see the line next to the one I was stitching. As you can see there are a number of wonky lines in there, but I really think that does not matter...this is as good as it gets.
The texture created by the lines looks great

When finished I switched back to the Dynamic 6D foot as I am continuing to fill in some areas with a bit of microstippling, but this time I used the modified ankle.

Again...have this very useful little thing lying around and have been too lazy to put it on and off.

This is the Dynamic 6D foot with the 'normal' shank on

and here it is with the modified ankle attached

The improvement in visibility is obvious! Can't believe that I am not using this regularly.

What about you? Are you using all those useful little bits and pieces that you have for your machine?


Friday 6 May 2016

Mandala Challenge

Our Guild is running a Mandala Challenge  for the 2016 Festival of Quilts. The quilt must be circular with a diameter of between 50 - 60cm. Any quilting technique is allowed!

Well, how hard could it be to design a Mandala for FMQ?  So I started to consult the internet for ideas and also looked a lots of those popular colouring books and soon was completely overwhelmed with ideas to the point of not being able to get anything much on paper. In the end, I went back to basics...what would I like to do? I had a basic design in my head that had to be in the center, so I started there...

The first attempt was promising, but fell short of any ideas on how to finish it off. Also felt that it needed to be more intricate and creative...
Well, that created another month of utter confusion and inactivity. However, in the end I went back to the original idea and expanded on that and finally finished the design.

Final design...ready for tracing onto fabric
This was incredibly challenging! Not only did you need some sort of idea for design, but you also had to think ahead of how would that play out quilted in terms of areas being flattened or raised. Also, easy enough to do multiple designs in a row when drawing a Mandala, but again, how would that look quilted going from one design to the next. Many a times, I spend more time thinking about this than drawing.
The drawing itself was also tricky as you want symmetry. I used a number of tools for this, starting of with Cindy Needham's Ultimate Circular Stencil. As the stencil is 12.5in, I had to extend it outwards to make it the required size. Now here was the first to make a circle of that size! In the end I used a string attached to a pencil and carefully made my way around it, holding it firmly in place at the exact center.

A few of the other tools I used
June Tailor's petal and heart shapes in 6 sizes...shapes brilliantly aligned themselves into the Ultimate Stencil which has 0.5in markings and allowed me to create the center motif with some precision. Similarly, the bottom of the heart shape gave me that lovely outer ring of petals.

Apart from that I used round and oval templates that we had lying around the house for various things within my Mandala and also used the Anita Shackleford 'Infinite Feather Template' to draw the outside feathers. Looking at the picture now, I feel that they could have been bigger and more lavish (like in the first freehand attempt), however I had run out of room and there was no way  I was going to change this design again. Maybe next time...this feather border will be a bit understated. If anybody asks, then it was meant to be like that:)

I am very curious how this will look stitched out...still not sure whether to use different coloured thread in sections. Again, this seems simple, but if I am going to fill sections or maybe even in-line some feathers, then I will need to backtrack over stitches and doing this with different colours would look messy. The trick would be to think this through and have the stitching you need to backtrack on in the same colour as the filler. Will ponder more on this...


Wednesday 4 May 2016


I did participate in Quiltshopgal's March Bee Creative - A #StitchAlong #FMQAlong, #DoodleAlong Linky Party and won 2 prizes!

THANK YOU QUILTSHOPGALfor hosting this Charity Fundraiser Event

First, and to my utter amazement I won another Aurifil box which arrived the other day
The box is called 'Small Wonders' and the colours have been put together by Mary Fons. As you can see a selection of basic colours ...very, very happy with that.


My second prize was  two patterns from the Wooden Bear. 
Basically one is for making this really cool little pouch where you print a saying (I chose 'Quilting keeps me stitching' onto a printable fabric sheet to use for constructing your pouch...

...and the other one is from their Applique Epatterns...I chose a snowman and son image. These patterns were emailed to me and now I only have to find the time to use them. I think I want to start with the pouch.

THANK YOU KELLY from Wooden Bear

By the way, as I was looking around at the Wooden Bear web site, I discovered that they have really cute Free Downloads under their Popular Links tab. Actually they have some really lovely products on their web site in general. Well worth checking out.


Sunday 1 May 2016

WIP: Wholecloth - Grid work

Well, I don't think I am going to get much done for the June FAL 2016. Had a long list of things, but the Wholecloth is taking a long time. That is the problem with don't seem to be able to produce a lot of quilts if you are immersed in this level of detail. Always struggle with that...however, I have a plan for the next two month which should see me finish this project and the Mandala Mini quilt that I had planned.

Anyway...finally got to the stage of filling the grids...was really looking forward to this.

Stitched out the Cathedral Window design. Love this relaxing!
Stitched this over a couple of nights using Aurifil 50/2 (#2000) thread. Really like the texture this has produced.

Next I tackled the diamonds. Here I am using a repetitive line design and a bit of a loop to get from one spot to the next.
You would think that this is enough to drive you around the bend, however I did not mind it too much as there was a fair bit of variation, i.e. the lines change direction in every triangle. Bit of concentration needed for that one and by no means all perfect. Lots of wonky lines and 'close enough is good enough' which I am really happy about...I think I am finally at a point where I can just let that go... (to an extent, of course!). If you are ever looking for a design that really flattens the surrounds, this is certainly a good one for that.

Looking at the whole piece I am realising that I had not thought the grid work through that well
I now have the tight and flattening design in the right corner next to the twisted clams grid. If I now do more repetitive lines in the Twisted Clams grid, I will have the whole bottom part really tight and flat. In comparison, on top in the left corner I have the Cathedral Window which looks relatively open...then there is the Twisted Grid in the top right corner...not really sure what to fill that with...
Decisions, decisions!

Anyway, on with the show...I have got so much more to fill!


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