Category Archives: Machine Quilting

SkETchBOoks & dOOdLiNg

This is the latest book I read, I’ve had it for a couple years and sometimes, you just have to stop and make time to read. I started it a couple weeks ago, the beginning is interesting and the end was informative, it also included lots of websites to research (YEAH!!).  The book is about the different ways textile artists, collage artists, etc. use their sketch books and the different information a sketch book may contain.  Sketches as varied as, how to diagrams with notes, to sketches alone, to sketches with notes to enhance the memory of the sketch.

Long class sketch with notes

I started using sketch books after I purchased Ellie, my long arm quilting machine. I was not a doodler prior to Ellie, I liked playing with fonts like calligraphy and other odd styles for lettering but not doodling.  Learning to long arm quilt has a lot to do with muscle memory so doodling became a must if I wanted to pay my business loan for Ellie.  That said, I doodled all the time – from TV time to business meetings, I doodled anything from loops and hearts, to feathers, to ferns and any other shape I could come up with.  I didn’t  go anywhere without a sketch pad and a pen.

All kinds of random long arm practice doodling

Pens are the recommended practice tool in long arm classes because a pencil makes it too tempting to erase and perfect your shape. When it comes to machine quilting, you really don’t want to be ripping stitches to fix a shape.  Essentially, practice doodling with pen is a commitment from the initial movement of your hand.

Lately (the last year or two) I’ve been way too busy with my real world job and somehow my sketch book found its way out of my daily work bag. So this book was inspiration to add a little weight to my bag and carry, simply, a spiral bound sketch book (65 lb. paper) and slide a black pen into the ringed spine(black against the white paper is always impactful).

Quick sketch from the lake

I went to my family’s cottage on Sunday to do some yard work, a little real world work and sketch for a little bit. If you’ve been to one of my lectures you know – I am not skilled at drawing and my doodles look much better in stitch than pen.  Well although it was a beautiful day, I forgot my house keys and ended up doing yard work the whole time except for the last 15 minutes when I sketched.

Sometimes it doesn’t have to be the best book you’ve ever read, as long as you learn something new or in this case, I was reassured by knowing my sketchbook processes are similar to what a lot of other people are doing. In this case, discovering all the different sketchbook processes from the book reminded and motivated me to return to a process that definitely enhances my creativity, I thank the author for that.

They Liked Me – yeahhh!!

The Threaded Forest – a no stress free motion quilting opportunity!


Last weekend was the 87th Lost Acres Quilt Happening My Mom and I have been attending about 17 years, and my Aunt and Grandmother have since joined in on the excursion!  There are three Happenings per year and the summer Happening has a wonderful buffet of fresh, homemade foods to sample that shouldn’t be missed!!  There are also items for sale: quilts, quilt tops, blocks, fabric and more – I purchased a hand quilted pillow this time (Thanks Mary!)

The day consists of:

  • A little socializing and shopping
  • A lecture
  • Food with more socializing and the ongoing opportunity to shop

The lectures are usually historical or quilt specific (applique, sampler, etc) in nature but for a change, Ginny decided to cover some of the ways quilting has changed with time. One woman covered her methods for completing a multitude of baby quilts for donation, two other women covered their different approach to a town green (with surrounding town buildings) style quilt.

Quick Quilts with Hand Dyes – 4 Patch Stars – if you only have to cut big pieces, are you less afraid to cut hand dyes?

This is the first time Ginny has asked me to speak, and I was honored. I talked about how I moved into hand dying fabrics and the different lines I’ve come to carry: print, tone on tone, trees, landscape, starburst and snowflakes series of fabrics.  I also showed some of my new – Quick Quilts with Hand Dyes pattern samples.  That was the highlight, from their we covered in depth, the different opportunities the hand dyes offered for feed dogs up and feed dogs down machine quilting, specifically LOW STRESS introductions to MACHINE QUILTING, for example:

  • Baby Quilt in 8 hours, including binding with the feed dogs up on the Snowflake fabric

    Baby Quilt in Eight – feed dogs up machine quilting, 8 hrs includes the binding YEAH!!
  • Renegade Hawaiian Quilting with feed dogs up (quick table runner) Quilt As You Go & feed dogs down
  • The beauty of hand dyed Velvet as a doodle practice piece for free motion quilting
  • Beginner free motion & thread painting on the Threaded Forest (tree fabric)

Of course I included a trunk show. All was quiet while I spoke so I think it’s safe to assume it was entertaining or informative or both.  Actually, based on the compliments (thank you everyone) later, I think I’ll add this topic to my lecture listing – who knew there was so much interest in stress free ways to explore machine quilting.

Bella the Quilting Puppy

Pete (white 90 lbs) & Boopy (fawn 40 lbs)
Pete (white 90 lbs) & Boopy (fawn 40 lbs)



Last New Year’s Eve we adopted Bella the Boxer which quickly slipped into Bella Boo, then to Boo Boo and since we have two boxer they temporarily became Boo Boo and Yogi (sorry Pete). Since the sound of Boo Boo reminded me of Betty Boop – finally, (hopefully) she is now – Bella when she’s in trouble and Boopy the rest of the time.

Boopy January 2015
Boopy January 2015

Boopy is a rescue dog with visible and invisible scars, she’s quite the little singer and although Doggie Daycare loves her they’ve deemed her the Mexican Jumping Bean 😜.  The invisible scars mean she’s also attention needy, thus a quilting puppy:

When I stand at my long arm there is a big dog bed underneath it which both dogs occupy regularly, but Boopy, being a puppy, gets bored rather easily.  When she’s bored Boopy likes to jump (we’re working on this).  The other day I had a quilting deadline and she wouldn’t stop jumping so,… I picked her up like a child and put her on my left hip, her front paws on my shoulder, and proceeded to quilt with my right hand (yes quilting one handed can be done, it’s the only way to “quilt things out”).  She watched the quilting for a while but, as luck would have it, was again bored easily and ready to get down and explore some other adventure.

I forgot how inquisitive Pete was when he came to hone from the Humane Society .  Boopy has broken a stained glass lamp among other things but Pete broke three crystal wine glasses, ate a bag of cookies and loaf of bread all in one day when he was younger – LOL.

Puppydom and quilting – not always the best mix, but an exciting one none the less! – did I tell you she likes to sit on my lap while I piece at the sewing machine???🐶

Halloween House Warmer

Halloween House Warmer
Halloween House Warmer

My friend Donna and her family recently moved into their new home. She’s definitely feeling smothered in boxes which I can completely understand because I’ve moved a bunch of times.  Even though she’s overwhelmed with STUFF – I’ve decided to add to her STUFF with this house warming present – hopefully she likes it!!

It was nice to do some fun for me quilting (where for me = a gift for me to give). Doodling on a panel is always fun, especially when metallics behave nicely, even the Sulky Sliver (a flat metallic thread, like xmas tinsel,that sometimes can be a little temperamental to quilt with ) decided to cooperate.

Whole Cloth Quilts Design Rules???

I primarily quilt freehand designs for myself and customers, no patterns just doodling. This practice really lends itself to developing Custom Quilting skills. I love whole cloth quilts, but, do whole cloth quilts have to be intricately quilted with specific motifs like feathers, vases and wreaths in order to be beautiful?

I’ve made a few whole cloth quilts: one trapunto, one faux trapnuto, one from an antique linen handkerchief, a baby bib and there are a few more hanging around – ALL with stenciled intricate designs. Everyone thinks they look great, but what if you didn’t search for special motifs to quilt?

Recently a customer requested, simple edge to edge quilting on her white polished cotton top fabric and grey solid backing fabric. I ended up making five of these in different edge to edge / overall patterns I offer:

imageSwirls and Feathers

Petal Power

Matisse (which has dancing people and goddesses in it)

Lazy Daisy, and

Swirls with Fancy Feathers

Lazy DaisyI’ve decided that a whole cloth is beautiful no matter what design. A bonus for me, right now I’m really enjoying working with solid fabrics so the solid grey backing gave me a chance to play with thread color. I used a very light yellow thread on the grey and think it looks great! (white thread on top)

My recommendation as a long arm quilter – the most dimension you can achieve in a quilt, aka emphasizing the high and lows, light and shadows, or distinctions in the puffiness in the quilting– is best done with either wool of poly batting. My favorite is Quilter’s Dream Wool.

Flying Geese

Flying Geese, literally

Don’t know about anyone else, but as a newbie quilter it took me a while to see the Geese, in a Flying Geese block. I like the block and am amazed at all the different ways people find to construct them. I think they look great in a row quilt, I like the Dutchman’s Puzzle block and of course, everyone’s favorite, a star block (I especially like wonky star blocks).

Just because I like the way they look does not mean they’re not a challenge when it comes to a quilting design.  Let’s face it, it’s a triangle, and generally not an equilateral triangle, so symmetry and balance are out the window. Here’s my latest take on quilting Flying Geese, there’s definitely no confusion here where the Geese are!  🙂

This design made me laugh every time I quilted it in this quilt!