A Few Updates

Here is the couple I made the T Shirt wedding quilt/guest book for.  They seemed happy with the quilt, and enjoyed pointing to the various shirts and talking about them.T shirt quilt

Neither my submission nor that of my friend Clare will be touring with the Threads of Resistance show, but I’m glad I made the quilt anyway. There were so many interesting entries (550 in all!) that I’m just glad to have submitted something.

You can see the whole range of submissions here, and the ones that were selected for the show here.  I was particularly happy to see several tributes to Senator Elizabeth Warren.

You can see Clare’s submission here, and my favorite submission here. Hint on my favorite: It’s titled “Trumpty Dumpty” 😀  If you want to see mine again, I blogged about it here.

And finally, an update on my project with Jane Sassaman fabrics. Sassaman fabrics I decided on this layout, which sort of swirls the blocks in a spiral.The quilt is to be a queen size for my bed, so it needs to be bigger.  However, I never found a companion fabric that suited me for the borders, so finally I ordered another 4 yards of the original fabric!  More later…

FMQ on a DSM*

*Free Motion Quilting on a Domestic Sewing Machine, that is!

free motion quilting

I started out quilting placemats, because they are a manageable size and not much was lost if I goofed!

I’ve been working on this for years. Here are some things that have helped me, and some that haven’t:

Very Helpful: Taking an in-person class on quilting with a domestic machine. The first class introduced me to the walking foot for relatively straight lines, and to the darning foot for free motion quilting all sorts of shapes. It was helpful to have in-person instruction and feedback.

My most helpful hint: Take some cheater cloth to practice on! That placemat above is one of my original practice pieces.

Very Helpful: After practicing the basics for several years, I took Michele Scott’s advanced machine quilting class at an AQS show.(She teaches elsewhere, too). This covered different types of thread, couching, and bobbin work. She also has a good book and DVD from which one could learn this, but she’s lots of fun in person. And again, the personal feedback was helpful while I was learning. Free motion quilting
Helpful: I got a couple of books on machine quilting and worked through the exercises on my own. After learning the basic skills, it’s mostly practice, practice, practice.

Helpful: Just do it! I found a few free-motion patterns I was comfortable with and quilted whole quilts with them. It went just fine! They turned out waaay better than I expected, so I was encouraged.

Free Motion Quilting domestic sewing machine

Stars and Loops is one of my favorite free motion designs

Helpful: Jacquie Gering’s machine quilting class on Craftsy. It boosted my confidence that what I was doing was just fine.

walking foot quilting

Multi-stitch zigzag stitch is a great way to make interesting quilting lines with the walking foot

Less Helpful: A friend and I spent a lot of money to take a machine quilting class at a well-known craft school. We did not get our money’s worth, but we had a good time because we got to be together.  We should have checked more carefully on the level of the class before we plunked down our money.free motion quilting

Less Helpful: Another class on Craftsy that went through many different free-motion patterns. I got bored with that many slight variations. However, the class itself was just fine and probably would work well for some people.free motion quilting

And finally, I am undecided about the real value of my BSR, the very expensive Bernina Stitch Regulator. I do feel more confident using it because it decreases the problem of toe-catchers, those extra-BIG stitches that are all-too-easy to make when doing FMQ. However, it IS still possible to make uneven stitches if you don’t use the BSR just right.

The BSR’s main value to me is more confidence doing FMQ on things that are really important, when I don’t want to make a mistake.  I continue to use it in preference to going back to quilting without it, so obviously I find it useful.  The leaf designs in this post were quilted with it, and I like the stitching.  The BSR is just not a miracle worker, which I sort of think it should be for the price.

What do you think helps with FMQ on the DSM?

Tidbits: One may be for you

1.  Here is some beautiful fabric that just arrived from the Michael Miller company!  It’s for my next magazine project (for Modern Quilts Unlimited).  I love to use batiks for the “solids” in my quilts because of the texture and highlights they give to the design.

Michael Miller batiks

Michael Miller Batiks

2. Who wants these selvages I’ve been saving? I know the author of one of the blogs I read commented that there is a selvage quilt in her future, and I’m pretty sure there’s none in mine.  Comment or e-mail me if you want them.Selvages

Melanie, whose blog is

Melanie, whose blog is Catbirdquilts.wordpress.com

3.  For those who may want  more traditional lessons on color than the ones I’ve provided in my design series, my friend Melanie in Iowa has some nice posts.  You can find them here and here.  I think you’ll like them!

Zippy Star quilt by Mary J Puckett

Zippy Star I, which was sold at the Asheville Quilt Show

4. Woo!  I recently sold a quilt at the Asheville Quilt show!  And it’s a good thing, because–

5. My digital camera somehow got a little piece of lint inside (at a quilt show, of course) and I can’t get it out!  Any recommendations for a good replacement?

6.  I aim for a blog length of around 350 words.  I figure my attention span is short, so yours may be too 😀

7. And the more pictures in the blog, the better. So here’s my October finish, another quilt for Ronald McDonald House.  I quilted it on my new Bernina 530QE. There’s definitely a learning curve to that BSR, but I’m pleased with the result.

free motion quilting

Free motion quilting with my new Bernina





3 Lessons from an Older Quilt

I recently got to borrow a quilt I made for our daughter when she left for college 12 years ago, and I learned several things from looking it over.

patchwork quilt

The Cheerful Child Quilt

First, it was much softer than when I made it.  This is notable because when I gave it to her, she wondered, “When will it be soft like Granny’s?”  Many of the quilts she grew up with were made by my grandmother (her great-grandmother).  Those quilts, made from the 1930s through the 1950s, were soft by the time our daughter slept under them in the 1990s.  She was happy to get the quilt but was disappointed with the stiffness of new fabric.  Having learned that lesson, I subsequently backed quilts for her with minky, which is very soft from Day 1.

patchwork quilt

“Punch bugs” were popular cars when our daughter was in high school

Second, some fabrics have held up better than others, and the price of the fabric does NOT seem to be as important as other factors.  Pastels have not held their brightness well over time, and “sparkles” on some of the fabrics have worn off.  On the other hand, the car and child prints in the photo at left were inexpensive novelty prints but have held up well.

Third, and most gratifying, my work has kept the quilt intact.  There are no ripped seams, loose binding, or quilting that has come undone.  I pieced this quilt on my old faithful Bernina and quilted free-motion stars on the same machine.  (That’s when I learned that sending a quilt to a longarm quilter is worth every penny–my shoulders ached for days!)  I backed it with a sheet, which was my practice for years despite all the dire threats that sheets are inappropriate for quilt backing, and that worked out fine.

My quilting style has changed a lot since I made this quilt, and I certainly am much more technically adept now.  It was great to see that an earlier quilt has survived our daughter’s college and young adulthood intact, even if it isn’t as bright as it once was.

5 Silly Things I Won’t Do Again Next Year…

batik quilt back

This is the back of one of my bright batik quilts–it was fun!

‘Tis the season to make resolutions, and I’m not big on those, but there are a few things I don’t plan to repeat. And to go with the list, a few of my quilts.

1.  I won’t put a cup of hot coffee on my cutting mat.  Turns out that little sucker is VERY heat sensitive and warps locally just from having a cup of coffee on it for a few minutes!  Of course I knew not to leave it in a hot car, but I really didn’t think the bottom of a coffee cup got that hot.

2.  I won’t drink red wine while free-motion quilting (FMQ).  Yes, wine does help with FMQ, but white would be easier to get out of fabric 😉

3.  I won’t “wait until later” when I see a really

batik quilt

Another batik quilt! I love batiks and straightforward designs.

terrific fabric I “need”.  It can be WAY too difficult to find it again, let alone to find the coordinates to go with it.

4.  I won’t assume a marker will come out of my fabric just because the manufacturer says it will.  The manufacturer also said to “test on an inconspicuous area” before using, and that WOULD have been a good idea!

5.  I won’t set the piecing foot from my machine in a box of binding clips when I need a safe place for it “just for a few minutes” while I use another foot!  That foot walked off with the binding clips and was lost for 2 weeks.

And of course, there are a few things I will plan to repeat:

T shirt quilt

A T shirt quilt for a friend

1.  I’m going on retreat with my best quilty friends.  At least twice next year.

2.  I’m going to at least one big national quilt show.

3.  I’m going to submit at least four of my quilts to shows or contests.

4.  I’m going to take at least one workshop to learn a new technique or get some new ideas.

5.  I’m going to have lots of fun.  I hope you are too!  Happy new year!

baby quilt

A very important baby quilt!