Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Little This, A Little That - Time to Ramble Again!

But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. Psalm 94:22

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation, let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. Psalm 95:1-2

Surly God has refreshed me during my time of "hibernation." I wish I could say that I just laid around the house watching old movies and eating chocolate ice cream, but I have been busy. Taking a little time away from my online chatter (in various forms) has freed me to complete much needed projects so I can again get "back to work" (tomorrow, I promise!)

It's taken most of the week to dig out from the neglect inflicted upon my house and studio during the weeks involved with the Houston International Quilt Market and Quilt Festival. If you've been following for a while you know that I was CRAZY and somehow talked my good natured hubby into helping me rearrange my studio and paint a corner of it..... Much improved I might add, and truly making me long for a few more days that I can commandeer him into painting the other three corners!

Okay, once again the lighting isn't the best, but bear in mind I'm taking photos at 7 PM at night! This is the NEW corner!

The cutting table, ironing table and ClosetMaid drawer system isn't new, just moved to a new wall. The ClosetMaid shelving IS new - finally a place to display all my finished quilts (top shelf) as well as a little more room for my bolts of fabric neatly folded on my Fabric Organizers. So how do you like the newly painted corner?

This is the other corner that got rearranged - you can see above the quilted curtains at the window (behind the couch) where the painting stopped for "round one". My sewing table and computer table, as well as the little couch were moved to this side of the room. The other ClosetMaid drawer system was slightly rearranged too, from the corner of the room to this area. Easier access.

The A-1 Quilting Machine still reigns in its usual place. I did however make a few changes to the area behind the machine. If you look back at the prep for painting post you'll remember that I had a tall bookcase in the corner near my sewing table with project boxes and fabric organizers...this was moved behind the longarm and I was able to add some additional ClosetMaid solid drawers.

Originally these were stacked only two high and I had bolts of fabric on top. Decided to double stack and add a few more - these house my threads, rulers, and other longarm toys.

Here's a better shot of the shelf along with my original work of art by my son Jake...

As we continue around the room you can see the area I re-did earlier this year. I am really enjoying having all my books in one cabinet, however, I did hear a crash earlier today and just discovered that one of the shelves caved in from too much weight. SIGH. Another honey-do project for tomorrow after work. Here again you can see where the painting ended - or actually where it began (grin). Can't tell you how happy I am to know that the flying geese, deer, and hunters in the john boat will soon be a thing of the past (whoever invented printed paneling in the first place?)

It's been way too long since any fabric has graced my frame. And being Sunday, my day off, I wasn't about to load a customer quilt! Decided instead to play.

While at Market I focused on purse and tote bag patterns. One of the books I purchased called for pre-quilted fabric and I thought, hey, I can do that! Hum, why not test out the new thread I picked up as well as a new batting sample? Why not indeed! And when I'm finished, I'll have some quilted fabric to make into a purse (on my next day off, sigh).

So that's what I did.

One of the thread companies I visited with earlier this month was Fil-Tec. I purchased a few cones of their Trilobal Polyester called Glide. Naturally I had to get a purple, but I was somewhat sensible too and purchased a golden color as well (and a blue and a white because I was out at home as well as two yummy variegated poly called Affinity that I can't wait to try). I was familiar with this company because of their magna-glide bobbins .... A-1 had been given a few Magna-Glide and Magna-Quilt prewound bobbins that I used at the Dallas Show in the booth earlier this year in March.

I'll digress here a bit to explain their bobbins... a truly unique design in a pre-wound that has a magnetic core built into the center of the bobbin that eliminates that ugly backlash bird's nest effect caused by the backward spin on the bobbin casing when we change directions or stop and start suddenly with these fabulous industrial machines (which by the way do what we ask despite the physics that says they shouldn't be able to - but that's another story). They work best if the metal check spring (or as I call it, the anti-backlash spring) is removed - for those unfamiliar, this spring is suppose to eliminate these problems but in time becomes worn out - or sprung - and generally that fact goes unnoticed and we longarm quilters don't always know to check for this so we keep on keeping on and wonder why we have tension blobbers on the back of our quilts.

Okay, Fil-Tech has these prewounds in both cotton and poly. I used the cotton ones in the A-1 booth in Dallas without any problem but they were acting up on me in Houston and I traded out our samples for the poly ones. Perhaps its because I prefer poly - less thread breakage and that's what you need when you are demo-ing machines to the masses (grin).

So, here's a look at the fabric sample I did with Glide - purple on top and gold on the bottom...

Which in itself was a test. Primarily I like to use matching thread color top and bottom to assist with tension issues (who wants pokies of bobbin thread color messing up a pretty top). For this sample I wound my own bobbin because my sample Magna-Glide was in white... If you look closely you'll see that I did some pretty dense quilting (sorta my calling card). In fact, this was a full yard of fabric and I used two full M sized bobbins. I'm not sure how many yards that is, but I'm thinking at least 200 yards each! That's a lot of thread, top and bottom and guess what - No thread breakage! Using matching thread it did sort of disappear into the fabric, but again, that's the effect I was looking for. The yardage took me about an hour and a half to quilt, so we are talking some heavy duty testing here my friends. Not once did I have to adjust the tension (top or bottom) nor did I have to stop and lint dust. I'm likin' this thread!

Since I am wanting to make a purse out of this pre-quilted fabric I needed a little bit of contrasting fabric so here I did a denser design and switched to the white magna-glide prewound - it blended in with my backing fabric really well and again, perfect tension so no bobbin thread poking up to the top.

And yes, life is short, eat your chocolate! Dark preferably! This just shows you how dense the quilting was.

So with about 600 yards of top thread, two self-wound bobbins and one pre-wound later I've decided that this thread is a keeper. Another benefit is it is American made. On one of the longarm lists a fellow quilter shared that that was an important factor in her purchases - so now I've found an American made poly that I can recommend!

Don't you think this is going to make a nice purse? The fabric is from P&B called Enchantment. I have a quilt top and pieced back from this line - one day it will make it on my frame and grow up to be a real quilt (grin)

I also want to mention that while testing out Fil-Tec's Glide and Magna Glide I was also testing out FiberCo Super Soft Cotton 50/50 batting. This is a bleached cotton/slick polyester that is "quilter friendly" because it's strong yet soft to the touch. It's needle punched to enhance strength and durability. What I liked is that a scrim is added on one side to discourage fiber migration through the fabric -- take a look at the photo of the back above -- no bearding! I've used several of FiberCo's products this past year and am pleased to announce that I am beginning a new business relationship with them as a distributor. Information will soon be on my website concerning how you can purchase and try for yourself their wonderful products. I was sold on them last year when I tried their 50/50 Bamboo Blend as well as their 80/20 - much softer and cleaner than other battings I've used in the past.

Stay tuned for more reviews on this batting as well as other products I picked up at Market...for now it's time to finish the vacuuming of the studio and load a quilt to begin my work week in the morning. Gosh, it seems like it's been a month since I've quilted for hire. Oh, I guess it almost has been! With the time off to be with family during my grandmother's birthday and then a week later her funeral, plus 10 days in the George R. Brown convention center and a week off to recover I am going to be really glad to 'punch in' and get back to the normality of being a professional longarm quilter!

Thanks for taking time to catch up with a little of this and a little of that!


Vicki W said...

You have an awesome studio!!!

Quilts on Bastings said...

Your studio is looking amazingly organised!

Muddling Through said...

Wow! That's a lot of information. You studio is really beautiful, Karen! Makes my little sewing room look like a closet. :)

Judy said...

Your room looks wonderful and inviting. I want to move right in. ;-) Thanks for the tour. I'll be going into my room now and getting to work.

Nancy said...

Oh,Wow...... that looks so fantastic. Congratulations on the"new" studio.

Millie said...

Wow, your new corner is amazing...which I had all that cabinets to put quilts or fabric in. And as always, your quilting is so good. Love visitng your blog and have a great quilting week.