Category Archives: Machine Quilting

Machine Quilting

Win One of My Favorite Things for Quilters this Christmas 2010

Oprah isn’t the only one who likes to gift her favorite things every year! Here’s your chance to watch and win one of my four favorite things for quilters this Christmas. Be sure to watch the video all the way to the end so you know how to enter and win one of the best quilting products of 2010!

Vote over at the Color Mastery Facebook page to win one of these best products of 2010.

Blessings Tree Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Blessings Tree, the November edition of our year-long color-of-the-month enhanced e-pattern series:

Every Thanksgiving I long for a way to permanently record our blessings.  As often as I teach my children the lesson of gratitude and try to practice it myself, the daily carpool, school, work, dinner, and errands tend to take over, and we forget.  Here is a simple way to remember, record, and reflect.

The tree starts out bare, just branches, trunk, and buttons.  During our Thanksgiving day with extended family, we’ll catch up with stories of loved ones lost, children who’ve sprouted so tall you barely recognize them, and hugs and kisses all around.  As we cook, catch up, and enjoy time with those we love so much, we’ll begin adding leaves to the tree.

We’ll each write down on a leaf, with a gold metallic marker, what we’re grateful for this sign, sign and date it.  As more and more family members add their blessings, the leaves begin to accumulate.

Then, before we all sit down to the meal, everyone will add their gratitude leaf to the tree, until it’s overflowing with blessings.

Enjoy your loved ones this Thanksgiving holiday.  Cherish the time together, and continue to remember how richly you’ve been blessed with November’s Blessing Tree pattern.

Here’s a hint for next month:  count the branches on the tree.  Hhhmm, would be great for December, too, wouldn’t it?  Stay tuned and I’ll show you how to turn the Blessings Tree into an Advent Tree for Christmas.

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Orange: September’s Color of the Month

Orange is a bit of a conundrum:  it harkens fall like no other color, yet quilters have a love/hate relationship with it.  More than any other, orange is the most challenging and disliked of all colors when I survey my workshop students.  However, those quilters who love orange do so with an unwavering commitment to it and find a way to use it in almost every quilt they make.

So here’s something for quilters on both sides of the orange fence:  if you have a passion for orange, you’re really going to enjoy this month’s show, which features stunning and innovative uses of it in quilt projects both large and small.  If orange is not your favorite and you tend to stay away from it, you’ll be surprised by what you see:  one of the quilters in the show felt the same way and unexpectedly found herself relying on it for her designs.

Get advice from the pros and see their quilt designs and fabrics using orange.  This month I host Edyta Sitar, Betty Alofs, Pat Sloan, Sarah Whitney, Geri Richardson, Faith Wellman, and Laura Berringer of Marcus Fabrics.  To view the show in Full Screen mode or to embed this slideshow in your blog, just click the Menu link.  Remember to support these wonderfully creative designers by asking for their patterns and fabrics in your local quilt shops!

Autumn Antlers Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Autumn Antlers, the September edition of our year-long color-of-the-month enhanced e-pattern series:

September’s featured color is orange, a perennial challenge for most quilters.  Orange, more than any other color, pops up as quilters’ least favorite color in my workshops.  Well, no more.  I show you, in Autumn Antlers, how to work with orange and make it one of your favorite colors in your quilt’s color palette.

Orange is one of the brightest colors in the quilt shop, and many only think of it for halloween, pumpkins, and garish college football team colors.  That’s about to change, because I give you artist’s tips on how to work with a challenging color and make it your own.  Eric Carle, author and illustrator of gorgeous children’s books, did this with colors he didn’t like, and they became his favorites.  Orange can become one of yours too.  Trust me.

Autumn Antlers design is fun, funky, and sophisticated, and evokes fall without limiting its place on your table to only the fall months.  This runner would be welcome in any season, any month, in any home.  Timeless design, innovative color, all in one stunning runner.

Autumn Antlers Pattern Update:  $5.95 (delivered early and automatically to pattern series subscribers – keep reading!)  Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering an Autumn Antlers kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Autumn Antlers Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

In addition to learning how to coordinate a fresh autumn color palette, you’ll also discover how to:

  • cut and place applique motifs
  • learn the best stitches to use for machine applique, including optimal stitch length and width
  • improve your machine applique skills by watching two step-by-step videos (COM Subscribers only)
  • quilt a freemotion flame design to harmonize with the antler design

So not only do you get a sophisticated and new original design, you update your skills as well.

Last Opportunity to Subscribe and Buy Patterns

September is the last month you can buy a Color-of-the-Month subscription or individual patterns.  Why?  Because these beauties will be offered in a book, along with a bed quilt using the monthly blocks, that will be available in 2011.  I’ll still be sharing the monthly table runner projects for the rest of the year, but they won’t be available for purchase:  you’ll have to wait for the book!

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Petite Pineapples Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Petite Pineapples, the August edition of our year-long color-of-the-month enhanced e-pattern series:

August’s featured color is blue-green, the hottest color of 2010.  Petite Pineapples combines tradition with trend, juxtaposing 19th century-style hand applique with trendy blue-greens of 2010.  This sweet runner uses a clean color palette of teal, aqua, brown, and cream, and bids a fond farewell to summer.  Not a hand-applique fan?  Happy for you, this project is machine-applique friendly.

Petite Pineapples also shows you how easy it is to get a completely different look by changing just one color.  This runner uses exactly the same fabrics as July’s Christmas Cabin, only I’ve exchanged teal for red.  By making one small change, I completely transformed this color scheme, and you can too.  I show you how.

The dogtooth border is a classic hand-applique treatment, and I show you an easy way to cut and applique it, getting perfectly sharp points without any worries.  Subscribers to the pattern series get exclusive access to a video on how make this border, so you can follow along with me.   The freemotion wavy echo quilting design is simple to execute but impressive in the final runner, and I outline exactly how to do it.

Petite Pineapples Pattern Update:  $5.95 (delivered early and automatically to pattern series subscribers – keep reading!)  Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering a Petite Pineapples kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Petite Pineapples Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

In addition to learning how to applique the Petite Pineapples block and coordinate a fresh color palette, you’ll also discover how to:

  • cut and place applique motifs improvisationally, 19th century-style
  • make the applique process effortless with my Applique Checklist
  • make an impressive dogtooth border with my step-by-step instructions and video
  • quilt a freemotion wavy echo design for stunning results

So not only do you get a sophisticated and new original design, you update your skills as well.

Learn New Techniques

Improvisational cutting and placement are new to many quilters who rely on 21-century techniques that focus on precision, precision, precision.  This approach allows you the freedom and flexibility to give each block it’s own unique charm and eccentricities.

If you’ve only relied on freezer paper or fabric glue, let me introduce you to the world of needle turn applique by eye.  It’s a wonderfully relaxing technique that gives each applique motif an exceptional look while harmonizing with the project as a whole.

If you’ve been intimidated by dogtooth borders in the past, or always wanted to try one, this is your chance.  I give you a no-fail technique that details the process, step-by-step.

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Red: July’s Color-of-the-Month

Welcome to the July Color-of-the-Month slideshow, offering tips on using red in your quilt palette.  This month’s show features Red in traditional, spare, summertime, and Christmas color palettes!   This month I host Buggy Barn, Henry Glass Fabrics, Debbie Grifka, Benita Skinner, and more, sharing fabric designs and gorgeous quilts.  Get inspired to create a fabulous quilting project and remember to support the participants of each month’s show! (If the text is too tiny in the presentation, click on the Fullscreen link to view it Full Screen.)

5 Fabulous Ways to Use Red in a Color Palette

Christmas Cabin Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Christmas Cabin, the July edition of our year-long color-of-the-month enhanced e-pattern series.

July’s featured color is red, in a festive Christmas table runner, as requested by my loyal Color-of-the-Month e-pattern subscribers. They wanted plenty of time to complete their Christmas runner so they could enjoy it for the entire holiday season.  Christmas Cabin uses the traditional red as its main color, but the aqua and cream are anything but expected.  I was inspired by the retro Christmas villages of my childhood, complete with the chapel and town buildings my Mom lovingly placed under our tree every year.

Pantone has declared turquoise as the 2010’s color-of-the-year, and you’ll discover the difference between it and it’s cousins aqua, teal, jade, and other related blue-green colors and which is appropriate for your next quilt palette.  It’s easy to get these closely related colors confused, but not after you make this sweet holiday treat.

You get my original block Mountain Cabin, inspired by the Appalachian foothills of my home, along with the Snow Forest block, which together make a peaceful and charming holiday scene.

Christmas Cabin Pattern Update:  $5.95 (delivered early and automatically to pattern series subscribers – keep reading!) Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering a Christmas Cabin kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Christmas Cabin Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

In addition to learning how to piece the Mountain Cabin block and coordinate a fresh color palette, you’ll also discover how to:

  • make a yo-yo wreath for the cabin front
  • make Flying Geese without bias seams
  • quilt a wood grain design on the cabin walls and roof

So not only do you get a sophisticated and new Christmas design, you update your skills as well.

Learn New Techniques

Flying Geese traditionally have two bias edges that make them difficult to piece accurately, but I show you a technique that eliminates the bias edges for perfect Flying Geese every time.  The yo-yo makes for a decorative wreath, with a button sewn in the middle for a finishing touch.

Forget quilt as desired!  I’ve included quilting designs, the very ones I used in my own project, that give Christmas Cabin wonderful texture. The quilting is the finishing touch that enhances the runner design and gives it a truly sophisticated look.

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Sunflower Summer Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Sunflower Summer, the May pattern update to our year-long color-of-the-month series.

May’s featured color is yellow, which so many quilters find to be challenging and avoid using.  No more!  Sunflower Summer shows you how to make yellow play well with others, giving yellow a chance to mingle and be social with its friends from around the color wheel without overwhelming the quilt and giving it that “oh no!” look.  Yellow can be overwhelming in any project, and Sunflower Summer reveals how you can coordinate yellow in any quilting project.

Sunflower Summer Pattern Update:  $5.95 (free to subscribers – keep reading!) Add to Cart

If you can’t get to the quilt shop to select your own fabrics, no worries.  I’m offering a Sunflower kit as well.  It’s best to choose your own fabrics for your color palettes, but we all have those times when life gets too busy and we just can’t get to it.  I’d rather you be able to do the lesson with a kit than not at all.

Sunflower Summer Kit: $21.95 Add to Cart

Learn by Doing

Yellow is the brightest color in any quilt shop, and using it in your quilt’s color palette takes special care and handling.  Without savvy color skills, your quilt can have an off look, even if you use limited amounts of yellow.  I show you the why behind yellow’s glare and how to avoid yellow overload.

Learn New Techniques

May’s Sunflower Summer pattern uses a modified Dresden Plate block, and you’ll learn how to make perfect points without having to turn them under using hand applique.  All of the sunflower petals are done on the sewing machine!  I also demonstrate how different backgrounds can make a color completely disappear or look too strong, and how you know when your colors have achieve a wonderful harmony.

Forget quilt as desired!  I’ve included quilting designs, the very ones I used in my own project, that make Sunflower Summer really shine.  I created wonderful textures throughout the quilt, and you can too!

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Top Ten Habits Revealed

Look what the post man delivered today to my mailbox!  My Top Ten Habits article is on the cover of the Feb/Mar Quilter’s Newsletter magazine above the masthead.  Woo-hoo.  I’m thrilled, proud, and humbled all at the same time.  My husband and I are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate.  In the meantime, I’m working on a project and not getting nearly enough done.  I know you’ve had those days, so gotta go!

Posted via email from mariapeagler’s posterous

Winners and a Call for Blocks

First, the winners:

Thank you to everyone who visited yesterday during Day 3 of the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks Blog Tour.  I was so moved by your comments I selected not just one winner but two!  Congratulations to:

  • Diane Muska
  • Maeve315

Send me your mailing addresses to maria@colormastery.com and your issue and Old Glory will be on their way to your mailbox and sewing machine.  If you weren’t one of the lucky winners you can still buy your own copy of the special issue by going to the 100 Blocks website.

Thank you for sharing stories of veterans in your families, and the mention of two special organizations:  Quilts of Valor and Soldiers Angels.

I profiled Quilts of Valor in my latest email newsletter as I was so impressed with their mission.  They organize quilters to make tops for wounded soldiers, then match you with a longarm quilter who beautifully quilts it.  They ask you to document the making of the quilt with a journal, make a casing, and sign the quilt.  I heard from many of you who plan to use Old Glory in your Quilts of Valor.

Soldiers Angels is a tremendous organization that offers an incredible number of ways to support our soldiers.  Here are just a few ways:

  • adopting a soldier
  • baking homemade treats
  • making blankets
  • letter writing

And that’s just a sample.  You really need to visit their website to see all the ways we can serve our troops.  This war has been so hard on so few in our country – I know I will be sitting down with my own family and discussing how we would like to support a soldier through Soldiers Angels.

Now the Call for Blocks:

I would like to make a Quilt of Valor for a wounded soldier from the Old Glory blocks, so here’s the call.  Make your own Old Glory block (you will need the issue for instructions), sign it with your name, city, and state, and I’ll put together in a quilt.  I’ll make sure it gets beautiful longarm quilting, will make a journal (if you’d like to include your own letter or note please do). Send me a message at maria@colormastery.com telling me you’ll be making the block, and I’ll send you the mailing address.  Deadline for blocks:  Dec. 11.  Quilts of Valor has long been on my heart, and it will be so meaningful for a soldier to receive a message of support and love from a group.  Thank You!

Do I Need an Excuse to Visit a Quilt Shop?

More photos from my trip to Athens and Dragonfly Quilt Shop.  As you walk in the shop you’re surrounded by gorgeous fabrics and samples that you can’t wait to make!  Love the beautiful white armoire filled with goodies.  The shop had a Kaffe Fassett table to get quilters excited about his workshop at Dragonfly.  Deb stands next to her quilt made with Kaffe fabrics.  I loved the Dresden Plate quilt – it looked totally vintage.

After I gave Annette her color consultation and we recorded the video, the Cotton Patch Quilters and I went to dinner at Loco’s, which started in Athens.  The moose tells their story.  Later I gave my Creative Quilter’s Guide to Color lecture, but no photos:  it was a whirlwind to end by 9p.m.!

Last, but not least, my Machine Quilting students at Sew Memorable Quilt Shop in Dawsonville.  We had a full house and ladies came with all-metal Singer sewing machines to the latest new Viking, and you know what?  They were all successful!  Can’t wait to see those quilts, girls!

Georgia Quilt Council’s Fall Convention

Quilts on the Square

Last weekend I attended the fall convention of the Georgia Quilt Council in Carrollton, GA.  After all the years I’ve been quilting, this was my first time attending the council’s meeting, and I was impressed.  These ladies know quilting and know Georgia.  I met many wonderful quilters, appraisers, shop owners, historians, guild officers, and teachers.  It was a “who’s who” of quilters in Georgia.  I was so busy in my booth I didn’t take photos of the speakers, but here’s peek at one of the quilts displayed at the convention:

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Carrollton welcomed us with quilts hung in the shop windows on the town square:

Carrollton GQC Quilts

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Quilts Hung in Bookstore

Next was a tour of the facility that will house the new Southeast Quilt and Textile Museum:

Southeast Quilt and Textile Museum facility

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The above photo is of an interior wall of the facility, which used to house cotton bales for GoldKist.  The building was badly burned in a fire in the early 1900’s, and you can still see the outline of the hay bales on the walls.

I had a lovely time at the fall convention, and here’s a quick bulletin of events coming up and an invitation to join me.  If you can’t, hop on over to my Color Mastery blog and enjoy the resources there until you can attend one my lectures or workshops:

Oct. 13, Creative Quilter’s Guide to Color, Cotton Patch Quilters, Athens, GA

Oct. 17, Machine Quilting Mastery, Sew Memorable, Dawsonville, GA

Nov. 7, Color Mastery for Any Quilter, Quilt Shop on the Square, Ellijay, GA

Nov. 23, Simple Color, Stunning Quilts, Scrappy Quilt Guild, Calhoun, GA

Hope to see you soon in one of my workshops – let’s make a colorful quilt together!

Quilt Camp at Willow Ridge Press Studios

Quilt Camp at Willow Ridge Press Studios

This week I hosted six children in my quilt studio to make Quillows.  They were practically giddy they were so excited! We planted the seeds of lifelong sewers and quilters, and they were beaming with pride and tightly hugging their Quillows when they left.

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On Monday we started by making a mini-Quillow.  This turned out to be quite important to understand the whole process.  The real Quillows were so large it was easy for the campers to get lost in the fabric and what step we were doing, and they really liked doing the smaller sample first.

L. topstitching her Quillow.

Overheard at Quilt Camp this week:

  • “Duh!” – a lot
  • “I don’t want to sew through my dog’s eye/nose/mouth!”
  • “The machine came unthreaded . . again!”

Mini-Quillow

Here’s our Quilt Camp by the numbers:

  • 5 girls
  • 1 boy
  • 3 homeschoolers
  • 3 private schooled
  • 1 horse fabric
  • 1 chick fabric
  • 1 dog fabric
  • 1 floral fabric
  • 1 plaid fabric
  • 1 motorcycles & baseball fabric
  • 6 pincushions
  • 250+ pins
  • 24 yards of fabric
  • 12 yards of batting
  • Priceless memories and confidence.  These campers completed a long quilting project and have the skills to tackle any sewing project they want in the future!

A big Happy Birthday wish to Camper E. who turns 12 next week and had her rock-climbing birthday party today!  A rock-climber and a quilter – you go girl!

Anatomy of an Art Quilt

My lecture at Ann Litrel’s gallery last Friday was delightful – thank you to so many of my friends, readers, and students who came out and supported me.  I talked to gallery visitors as they stopped in and then my lecture was at 7p.m.  I talked for only a short time about each art quilt, the inspiration behind it, and how I approached color in each.  I’ll be premiering a new video from the lecture each week, and this week’s is about my spiritual art quilt, Redemption.

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit, one of the inspirations I mention in the video, says of their facility:

What matters most about the monastery is precisely that it is radically different from the world…
In a world of noise, confusion and conflict it is necessary that there be places of silence, inner discipline and peace.
– Thomas Merton

Woodstock is a delightful town with so many great shops and restaurants.  After my lecture we headed over to a great burger place that had the best black bean burger ever (I don’t do red meat).

New Season, New Look

Easter Egg Cake

What is it about spring that makes me want to throw open the windows and swap out the winter pillows and fabrics for brighter, more light colors?  Same goes for the blog.  I’ve photographed a new header image and am trying a new WordPress theme that’s easier on the eyes.  Larger fonts, wider sidebars.  I do so much reading online now (our daily newspaper no longer delivers to our county) that I appreciate any site that gives my eyes a break.

Let’s catch up, shall we?

Girls Lunch.  Had lunch last week in Dahlonega with Jean (JeanAnnQuilts at Twitter) and her friend Julie.  We shopped at Magical Threads, savored the Tomato Bisque at Crossroads Cafe, and chatted about quilting, market, writing, and teaching.

Georgia Book Tour.  The shop owners are so excited and promoting it to their customers.  Savannah’s shop, Colonial Quilts, told three television stations and their daily newspaper!  I’m gathering the last minute details, the family is preparing to be without mom for a while.

Kay’s Book-A-Round.  Still blogging across the U.S.  Great posts and a variety of perspectives.

Easter.  Time to rejoice, reflect, and be so grateful for all the things that are important that don’t show up in the daily newspaper.

Book Swap.  Just discovered Paperbackswap.com and Bookmooch.com through my friend Malissa.  I sent three books out yesterday and I’m getting The Thirteenth Tale, hopefully in time for our Spring Break.

Facebook.  Yes, I’ve cautiously joined Facebook.  My sister uses it a lot and I decided to finally plunge in after some friends decided it was the best way to post updates of their son’s journey across the Appalachian Trail.  I’ve actually avoided Facebook for a long time, but my goal is not to get entirely sucked in.

Twitter.  I love this tool.  If you’re not using it, you really should be.  I can keep up with other quilters, UGA coach Mark Richt, NPR’s weekend anchor Scott Simon, and other really interesting people.  I’m Colormaster.  Follow me!

Birthdays.  Happy Birthday to my good friend Pat.  We share a love of family, friendship, quilting, and gardening.  Pat just got a longarm quilting machine and has returned from classes ready to take on big quilts!

Committees.  PTO.  Church.  PAC.  School.  Guild.  Yikes!  Too many meetings, too little time.  May be time to cut back.

Soon it’ll be carpool time for school, and life as author/publisher today will be done, and I’ll be mom and wife for the rest.  It’s a lovely mix, isn’t it?

2008 Best Craft/Hobby Books

I adore books.  Really.  I would buy books before food and clothes, and when I go into a quilt shop I always look at what the new books are.  So I was excited to see USABookNews.com’s picks for best Craft/Hobbies books.  Take a peek and see how many quilting and sewing-related titles are here.

Looking for a gift for a fellow quilter?  Here’s the list:

Winner:

The Color Book of Beaded Jewelry

by Genevieve A. Sterbenz
Creative Homeowner
978-1-58011-348-9

Finalist:
Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth by Ryana Gillman
C & T Publishing
978-1571204394

Finalist:
Knitbook: The basics & beyond by the Editors at Landauer
Landauer Corporation
978-0980068832

Finalist:
Machine Quilting: The basics & beyond – The Complete Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Successful Machine Quilting by Lynn Witzenburg
978-0-9793711-3-4

Finalist:
Oh Sew Easy Life Style by Valori Wells & Carolyn Spencer
C & T Publishing
978-157120-444-8

Finalist:
Simply Stunning Woven Quilts by Anna Faustino
C & T Publishing
978-1571204-523

Finalist:
The Games of War: A Treasury of Rules for Battles with Toy Soldiers, Ships and Planes by John Bobek
AuthorHouse
978-1-4343-3028-4

Finalist:
The Siblings’ Busy Book by Lisa Hanson & Heather Kempskie
Meadowbrook Press
978-0-684-05785-9

USABookNews.com – Covering what’s Hot, New, & Noteworthy in the World of Books

Holiday Goodies in My November Newsletter

The November issue is out, and I included some incredible articles:

  • how to keep a color journal
  • how to orchestrate the colors in a “blended-type” quilt
  • a fabulous source for free machine quilting patterns
  • my favorite cranberry sauce recipe
  • details on my Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway

You are on the email list, right?  Well, if not, you can sign up here.  Really.  Great stuff this month.  Hope you don’t miss it.

Quilt Project Runway: Color Mastery’s Photo Man


Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Ok, so he’s The Photo Man for The Quilt Show too.  Gregory took all the gorgeous photos of the quilts in Color Mastery, and he is a large part of why the book turned out so beautifully.  After all, the colors in the quilts had to be not just lovely to look at, but accurate as well in a book on color for quilters.  And Gregory and his wife Elena Morena worked diligently to bring you gorgeous color, page-after-page.

They have their own book they’ve just published, written by Gwen Marston, called Ideas and Inspirations:  Abstract Quilts in Solids:

They had a copy at Market and it was pure Gwen – gorgeously designed quilts, all done in solids, and hand-quilted.  I’ll be ordering my own autographed copy.  My Christmas wish list is getting bigger and bigger!

A Quilt with a View

All quilted and ready for facing. Sometimes I love the backs of my quilts even more than the front, because I can see the quilting so much better. I don’t want the quilting to overwhelm the design and colors on the front, but I sure do love the machine quilting detail you can see in the back.

Hmm, sounds like series potential there, doesn’t it?

Avoiding “The Wave” in Machine Quilting

Dense quilting causes the wave

Dense quilting causes "the wave"

If you ever get wavy quilts after machine quilting them, you’ve probably got some really dense quilting designs that aren’t balanced throughout the quilt.  My latest quilt is almost done:  I’ve densely quilted the interior, but not the frame, thus the rolls and waves you see here.  Once I quilt the frame portion the entire quilt will lie flat.

Dense machine quilting

Dense machine quilting

I see this mostly in borders.  Quilters often do stippling or some other tightly-spaced quilting design in the body of the quilt, but use a widely-spaced quilting design in the border, only to have the quilt roll on them.  Try this next time and see if you get flatter results.

The Ultimate Stitch Sampler

Stitch Sampler Quilt

This is the ultimate stitch sampler. First, let me make clear this is not my quilt. I took this photograph over 10 years ago at a local quilt show when photography was not nearly as far along as it is now. This isn’t a great photo, but it will serve the purpose for this post.

This is a fantastic utility quilt, made by a wise woman. The quiltmaker had just bought a new machine with a myriad of stitches she had no idea how to use. So she set out to learn how to use them by making a crazy quilt. She used up her scraps, and used every stitch on that machine over, and over, and over again.

You can be sure after making this quilt, she knew how to make her machine purrr. I haven’t looked back at this photo since I stored it, but I remember this quilt and how impressed I was at the investment this quiltmaker made in learning how to master her sewing machine. I was also a new mom who was rather envious of the time this woman had to devote to her quilting.

My how the days fly by. I now have two children, who are not so little anymore.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on getting the most out of your sewing machine. Make a date with your machine to get to know it better. Your quilts will improve, I promise.

Practice Specialty Stitches on Your Project Fabric

Mini-Stitch Sampler

Once you’ve created your general mini-stitch samplers, you should be well-prepared for any type of quilting you want to do with your machine. I still, however, create a small sampler before I quilt on a project. I need to see how those stitches will look on the fabric I’m using.

My generic mini-stitch samplers were on mostly solid-colored fabrics, but few of my quilts are that serene. They are alive with print and texture, and I don’t want my quilting competing with it. So I make a mini-quilt sandwich with leftover project fabric and I test my stitches.

The photo above was for a quilted purse I made – the Annabelle bag (click on the link to see the resulting bag and my post on how I made it). On the pattern photo the designer included specialty stitches, and I practiced those on my mini-sandwich. But I decided the stitches competed too much with the fabrics and I did freemotion quilting instead.

I couldn’t have made that decision without experimenting, and that resulted in a better-looking bag.

Last installment: the ultimate stitch sampler.

Experiment with Threads and Stitch Settings

Thread and Stitch Sampler

If you’ve created your first set of mini-stitch samplers, then I recommend you create a sampler experimenting with specialty threads and changing your stitch settings. I like using the thicker machine quilting threads from YLI and Superior, so I experimented with regular straight and zig-zag stitches to see the difference the threads would make.

Thread and Stitch Sampler

Then I put in regular Mettler thread and experimented with stitch widths and lengths. I often do machine applique and and wanted to see what my favorite settings would be. Notice in these photos I meticulously labeled each line of stitching as to what stitch it was, the thread I used, and the width and length settings. Don’t leave it to memory. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.

Next up: Practice on your good fabric!

Create Mini-Stitch Samplers

Mini-Stitch Sampler

Being an instructor, I dutifully took the free classes offered when I bought my sewing machine years ago. Those classes didn’t even scratch the surface of what my machine could do. It came with a manual, but it didn’t really go in-depth either. I was determined to make the most of my sewing machine investment, so here’s what I did:

  1. Gathered my largest scraps and cut them about 5×5″.
  2. Backed each scrap piece with Stitch ‘n Tear so the specialty stitches wouldn’t get buried in the fabric and jam. Stitch ‘n Tear is a thick stabilizer, not a fusible, that many embroiderers use. If your quilt shop doesn’t carry it, your local sewing machine dealer probably does.
  3. Stitched a sample of every single stitch on my sewing machine and labeled each one.

What a process of discovery. You know what I found?

Mini-Stitch Sampler

  • Stitches don’t look the same on fabric as they do on that cute little icon on the machine.
  • Some stitches just didn’t work. They jammed, they were ugly, why where they there?
  • Some stitches were fantastic and held potential far beyond what was in the manual.

I now had a reference that held meaning for me and my machine that went far beyond what any teacher or manual could tell me.

So put on some music, get out the chocolates, and make an evening of it. Then get one of those ring clips and put all your stitch samplers on it and store them with your machine.

You might even take them to class next time. Tell them I sent you.

Next in the series:  Experimenting with stitch settings and threads.

How Many Specialty Stitches Does Your Machine Offer?

Mini-Stitch Sampler

Quilters have fabulous sewing machines that offer more stitches than we’ll ever really use. Let’s face it: most quilters use the straight stitch, zig-zag, feather stitch, buttonhole stitch, and maybe one or two others. But the remaining stitches are lonely, waiting to be remembered and at least acknowledged.

So do it. You never know what promise specialty stitches hold for use in your quilts. I use many stitches most quilters think of only as clothing stitches. I often use the three-step zig-zag stitch to sew on my bindings by machine. It’s a great stitch for baby quilts, as that binding is super secure.

Next up:  Creating mini-stitch samplers.