Friday, April 24, 2009

Tools of the Trade - or "Back in the Saddle Again"

As in "back in the longarm SADDLE STOOL" and quilting as desired! I thought it would be fun to take photos and 'document' what I did today as a sort of tutorial or demo of the quilting on this customer quilt. It may give some of you ideas to try something on your own longarm or it might give those of you that send out your quilts to a professional to have an inkling of the behind the scenes.

For whatever it's worth, here's my play by play report on today's progress.

The border of this quilt is to be formal feathers, sometimes referred to as "over the top" feathers. This is a look that is suppose to mimic hand quilted feathers (or so they say -- who are those they sayers anyway?) I have lots and lots of rulers and templates in my longarm tool stash and have found through the years that I really prefer to use them to mark my quilt with instead of actually attaching the extended base and using them to quilt up against. It's not as perfect chalking them as I do tend to get off the lines every now and then, but once the chalk is erased no one knows (tee-hee).

I marked the center of the border with a line and then used one of my rulers to make the soft wave and one of my circle rulers to make the 3/4 corner.

Nothing special or fancy about the start, just a figure 8. Then away I go!

I like to 'go spineless' - a term coined by Lisa Calle. I highly recommend her DVD and workbook Feathers of a New Generation One reason I like this method combined with the chalk spine is that I don't have as much thread in the center spine -- it also allows me to work on both sides of the spine and work my way down instead of doing one side, back tracking, and doing the other line. Let's face it, some days are good back tacking days and some aren't.

I never know exactly how things are going to turn out until I'm done. I use the Cotton Picker to 'erase' the chalk lines and take a look to see if I passed (grin). Like I said, every time I do this it's unique, depends upon my mood, if the dog barks at the UPS man and scares a bump in my quilting or if I'm hitting the back tacking good or not. I know the gals with computers can do this perfectly, but I enjoy the creativivity and individuality of each project. I hope my customers do too.

I don't know if you can see it or not, but the feathers work their way from corner to center meeting in the center. This allows me not to have to worry if the waves work out or not (up, down, up --- do they work out evenly and meet in the middle to form one line or not -- I've eliminated that with this method). This also makes it easy for me to work down the sides and eliminate turning the quilt (sometimes I do have to turn, but not this design). And another benefit of the spineless feathers working both sides is I can stop without a big notice in the break of my stopping. Once I do the interior I'll advance the quilt and take up on the border where I left off until I come to my middle point on the side that I previously marked. Hope this makes sense.

Okay, on to the center. This customer drew out a pomagranate and asked if I would quilt that in a contrasting thread in each snowball block then do some feathers or something around the rest of the setting. I audition designs with a dry erase marker on a sheet of clear plastic that I've lined with purple duck tape (as a visual stopping point so I don't mark on the quilt top - dry erase marker DOES NOT come out, ask me how I know!) Sometimes I do what I draw out and sometimes I don't. Most of my customer give me a general idea of what they want and then allow me to interpret it my own way. I work best that way, as I never know what I want to do until I start doing it, and even then sometimes I change my mind! Fickle female, that's me!

Oh, I wanted to show you something here -- my A-1 Quilting Machine has adjustable handlebars called EurgoGrips. When I am doing ruler work, like this stitch in the ditch around the snowball, I can totally move the left hand control out of my way so I can hold my ruler. Each of the handlebars are indendandly adjustable in countless directions and arrangements assuring me total comfort no matter what I'm doing. A nice feature if you are doing research on longarm features (and there are sooo many more that I love about the A-1 but lets get back to the other tools of the trade). On this quilt I decided that I needed to stabilize the snowball with SID (stitch in the ditch) because I will be ignoring it for a while as I work through one color of thread all the way down the quilt and then re-roll to come back and do the pomegranates in a different color. Without stabilizing it I run the risk of the batting bunching up or the backing puckering. An added step but worth it in the long run.

The SID completed for the amount of quilt area available on my frame I then audition another tool to see if it's something I think I might want to use as a design element. My clear plastic and dry erase marker are one of my most used tools of the trade.

Yep, I think it will do, don't you?

Next I did some longarm feathers, also known as Jamie Wallen's Feather Flurry. His designs have influenced a lot of my quilting and I highly recommend his DVD! He has been a guest teacher in my studio in the past and will be giving workshops again here this summer.

Well, one row is complete, time to advance and start on the next row....but that will be in the morning. It's Friday night -- date night! Looks like tonight it's leftovers with a rented movie, but hey, it's still a date! Hum...maybe there will be popcorn later -- who knows!

Happy Friday night everyone!


Laurie said...

I was just shopping for a chair. Office Depot didn't have any to try out. I don't really want to buy a chair without sitting in it first. :) is this a hint? Can I come over and try out your chair?

Busty LaRue said...

I read your comments on the Quiltropolis longarm board, and had to stop by to see what you did today. Wow those feathers are amazing! I have always used the spine-type, because I didn't know of any other way, but now after reading how you do it I think I will give it a go. They turned out so beautifully! :)

Jackie Russell said...

Thanks for the info on "Tools of the trade. Great feathers! What is the clear plastic that you use? Is this hard plastic or thin like paper?

Karen E. Overton said...

Jackie, the clear plastic I use was given to me by the same friend who is letting me go through her zipper stash for my little zipper bags that Laurie I don't know where to purchase it - it feels and acts like the plastic you'd use in a laminating machine, so perhaps your local office supply store or copy center would have some.

Karen E. Overton said...

Well, now that you've had a chance to sit in my saddle stool what do you think? will it work with your longarm? thanks again for inspiring me with the zipper bags, I have more that I hope to do soon.