Saturday, October 30, 2010

I love you guys!! Seriously.

I've got to say thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you that took the time to send me some great tips for free motion quilting and to commiserate with me also.   I was getting so discouraged and felt like the lone quilter with no one to turn to and here all of you just spent your time and energy to connect with me.  Wow!  I feel like I'm really a part of community even though it's virtual.   Not only that but I received a great present from Julie just because she's nice and she wanted to spread her bounty.  Flora and Fauna!!!  That really knocked my socks off.

I was doing the happy dance when I saw these fat quarters! 

Things are turning around here.  I've got my teeth saga wrapping up soon, I'm finishing up a pretty cool quilt that I'm excited about, and I got all of you guys to help me out when I get in a jam.  Next weekend I'm heading to Boston to visit my honey so if anyone knows of any cool quilt or fabric shops in or around Boston let me know.  Maybe I could find something exciting for my first giveaway .....

A dark and grainy glimpse with my cell phone camera 

Quilt Festival

I just love Amy's Quilt Festival so much I decided that I'd showcase a quilt I made with The Amy herself!  This zig zag quilt was the second "real" quilt I ever made and I have a special affection for her. 

My first quilt was a hurry up and get going deal because I'd found the first Old Red Barn quilt-a-long already one week in the works.  I rushed to the fabric store and bought hurriedly and came home to start cutting.  I learned a tremendous amount from that first quilt, not only about sewing but also about the comradery and generosity of the virtual quilting community.

This zig zag quilt was the second one our group did and was led by Amy.  This time around I really took time to come up with a vision and carefully picked out the fabrics accordingly.  I'm sure the women at Joanne Fabrics thought I was having some sort of breakdown the way I wheeled the cart of fabric around the store putting some back, picking some up, putting some back, picking more up, etc.  I was still so new I hadn't even discovered on-line fabric stores yet.   Can you imagine!?

Lots of cutting and measuring for a newbie
I don't know if I had realized going in how many tiny half square triangles there would be to cut, sew, cut, trim and sew again if I would have jumped right into it.  This quilt-a-long happened during the humid months of summer and I was ready to call it quits many times.  I persevered and have been extremely proud of my second quilt of all times.  I love the turquoise and brown fabrics and the striped binding. 

What a great present ....
 This is also the first quilt I made on my new sewing machine that my oldest son bought me for my birthday.  He saw how much I enjoyed quilting and so generously wanted to get me a better machine. Lots of firsts associated with this quilt and she will always be one of my very favorites.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

FMQ Failure. Is is me ... or is it my machine?

Let me start right off by saying it's probably me.  I  have tried free motion quilting many times and I just can't get my stitches to come out anything but too loose and large and sometimes loopy.  I've read and watched all sorts of tutorials and many times just started fresh with a whole new attitude.  But I just can't get it.  Here are the stitches from my latest attempt.

Wish I had practiced on a solid now ...
I've tried a million variations and combinations of settings not limited to the following:

-tension dial up
-tension dial down
-feed dogs up
-feed dogs down
-stitch length at every possible length (I only have slider bar so I can't set it to zero)
-cleaned machine
-new needle
-sewing fast and moving practice piece fast
-sewing slow and moving practice piece fast
-sewing fast and moving practice piece slow
-sewing slow and moving practice piece slow

I get the movement but my stitches are just way too loose to be quilting.  Even with washing and drying they don't tighten up enough to be quilting on a quilt.  You can almost take your fingernails and pull out the stitches.  I can do straight lines with my walking foot and am getting better with some practice. 

Here's my questions that I'm sending out into the blogosphere:

Can one of you come over to my house and try out my machine so I know if I should keep practicing or give it up?  Or .... Can I come over to your house and try it on your machine? 

OK ... I know this isn't possible unless one of you lives in Western New York (hint, hint).  This is just one of those times I wish I had a real, live quilting community near me.  I love the internet and my blogs but sometimes I just need ten minutes with a real, live person. 

Has anyone has gone from a basic machine to a higher end machine and what sort of differences did you notice when sewing?  And how did you buy one if you didn't live near a sewing machine dealer? 

I've had a rough couple of weeks having some extensive (and expensive) dental procedures that are kind of freaking me out.   Sewing in the evenings has been a pleasant way to take my mind off of my mouth.  So here's a little sneak peak at some of newest star blocks.  Hopefully these will be turned into a quilt in time for Amy's Fall Quilt Festival.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What to do next?

I'm a finish-up-a-project before I start a new one type girl.  I know lots of quilters have tons of different quilts in different stages but I just can't seem to work that way.  I need get one at least on the path to total finish before I can even think about fabric or design for my next one.  I even need to clean the house to clear my mind a little and get all the scraps of the old one out of the way.

My mind is just full of ideas and I have drawings and print-outs and books with sticky notes everywhere.  When I'm finally ready to start a new one I freeze for a while afraid I'll wish I had started a different one first. 

I just ordered a couple kona solids in beautiful fall colors and last night I sat down and started making some stars. I love making stars.  They have so much personality and each one is special and different from the next one.  They make me happy when I see them emerge from the fabric.  I made a big one and a tiny one last night and I can't wait to make a some mediums and and teeny tiny one too.  I can't go wrong just making stars.  I'm not even sure what my final outcome will be yet but I'm sure it will be a Christmas present for somebody special. 
Look at that cute little guy in the middle
I finally got my sampler quilt top all sashed and sewn and the binding is all made.  After a trip to the fabric store for batting I can finally get this big girl quilted.

I cringe even posting these pictures with the giant shadows and all but decided I'm not getting a better picture in the near future.  I contemplated getting my son out of bed to hold up a lamp but decided against it.  The boys think I'm crazy enough as it is and they love to mock my blawwwwwg.  Sooooo .... this is my  quilt top in it's shadowy glory.  She is still hanging on the china cabinet (I took this last night) and she may be there for a while.  I like looking at her there. 

Shells from my vacation.  That seems like so long ago!

I've been wanting to practice my quilting so I made a little patchwork runner to sit on my coffee table.  I love to make the house look cozy this time of year.
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