I Broke the (Quilting) RULES! And I like It.

Quilting on my domestic sewing machine using standard only the standard foot. No freemotion quilting. No walking foot.

Using my domestic sewing machine (it’s an older Juki TL98E straight stitch only machine) and it’s regular foot, I quilted my Twister Pillows with an orange slice design in each blade of the pinwheel.

Why did I choose to use my regular foot instead of freemotion quilting or walking foot?

Because I could and I wanted to see how they would turn out.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to view all pictures as the 4th pic shows the quilting from the back side. Surprisingly, it turned out pretty great. At least I think think it is and since it’s my quilt (pillows), my opinion is the only one that matters on this project!

ALSO…while I was doing quilting, I started thinking all this might be good to share publicly. Especially for new quilters, very young quilters or those who can’t afford or don’t want to spend big bucks on fancy machines or even purchasing a walking foot or an old machine. You see, I remember having absolutely NO budget for these things when I first started machine quilting and had little babies at home. That didn’t mean I couldn’t make nice things. It just meant I needed to be a little more aware and take my time if I wanted things to turn out right. For example, I needed to have the quilt sandwich basted really well (another blog article will be coming shortly on that). I decreased the pressure of my presser foot so there was less drag. I realize not all machines offer that option and you can still do this even if your machine doesn’t have that feature, but if yours does you may want to play with that a bit.

Pillow #4 quilted!

This design was very easy to stitch continuously. By that I mean I had no need to stop, cut threads and tie off anywhere unless a thread broke or the bobbin ran out. Simple stop/pivots were the only slowdowns.

Sew…how did I actually DO it? By the numbers, of course.

Quilting By The Numbers!

Using the picture above, imagine sewing toward the next ascending number, as follows: #1. Start at center of the pillow’s center most pinwheel secure a few stitches. From there stitch a gentle arc up the long edge of one blade of the pinwheel. #2. Stop. Needle down, lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a deeper arc returning back to the center stopping at #3. Needle down. Lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a gentle arc to #4. Stop. Needle down, lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a deeper arc returning back to the center at #5. Repeat this on the remaining two blades of the pinwheel (i.e., follow the quilting lines to #6, #7, #8 and return to very center for the last time #9).

Once each blade of the pinwheel has been stitched, put needle down in the very center again. Lift presser foot, turn quilt to aim for the next pinwheel block and #10 carefully stitch in the ditch to the center of the next pinwheel. If you do this correctly, you will be able to travel to the next pinwheel without needing to remove the quilt from your machine.

After I finished quilting each of the pinwheels, I simply did a wonky echo spiraling around the outside of the pinwheel design until the entire quilt was quilted (relatively) evenly.

Are you wondering how the back turned out?

The back side of quilted Twister Pillow #4

I was pleasantly shocked at how nice the back of the quilt top looks! In the end it doesn’t matter at all for this project because this is a pillow top and this back will be inside of the pillow and completely unseen.

You know, I never seem to be able to follow a pattern’s instructions 100%. I always end up having to add my own twist. This project is no exception when it came to finishing. I chose the zippered pillow back option. The pattern instructions are well written and the results are really professional looking. So I did follow the instructions on that part, but I decided to take it a step further this time. Instead of turning, I decided to apply a scrappy binding. I pieced random fabrics from the top to make the binding. Yes, it took more time. But I just LOVE the results!

Any why not?! It is MY quilt (my quilted Twister Pillow), after all!

What do you think? Have you ever quilted using just your regular foot? How did it turn out? I genuinely welcome all related, constructive thoughts, ideas and comments below.

Top 10 Troubleshooting Tips for Skipped Stitches

  1. Incorrect Threading of Machine
  2. Worn or Bent Needle
  3. Incorrect Needle Type
  4. Incorrect Needle Size for thread and/or materials being sewn
  5. Incorrect Top Thread Tension
  6. Incorrect Bobbin Thread Tension
  7. Incorrect Thread Type for the Project
  8. Too much tension or tugging on the project under needle (sewing or quilting)
  9. Sewing machine needs cleaning and/or lubricating
  10. Sewing machine needs servicing (deeper mechanical issues)

Number 1. The first–and easiest–thing you want to check is your thread path. Maybe you don’t think that could possibly be “it”. I get it. You may know how to thread your machine blindfolded in the dark and it might have worked just fine yesterday using the same thread you’re using now. BUT…but…but sometimes things get bumped or knocked out of place. Hey. It happens. So, simply double check your thread path. Better yet. Completely start over. Unthread it and carefully re-thread your machine according your your sewing machine manual. Check it. Has the problem been solved? If not, proceed down the list.

Numbers 2 – 4. The next 3 items on the list involve your needle. So, let’s just cut to the chase. Remove the old needle and replace it with a fresh, new, high quality needle that is the correct type and size for the threads and materials you are using and the type of sewing you are doing. I recommend Superior Needles for domestic machines.

Longarm quilter? Groz Beckert Needles are a good choice if you’re using a longarm, but be sure to choose the right needle for your machine (see machine manual or manufacturer recommendations).

Whether you are on a domestic machine, industrial machine or longarm quilting machine, your machine manual and manufacturer are your go-to sources for the type of needles your machine requires.

OKAY! Once you’ve got your new needle in place, go ahead and stitch another sample. Problem solved? If not, let’s continue down the list.

Number 5 and Number 6. These both involve the tension settings on your machine thread path (top) and bobbin case. PLEASE refer to your sewing machine manual for instructions on how to make these adjustments. If you do not have a manual, you may wish to contact your sewing machine dealer or an authorized repair person for assistance. Additionally–related to thread tension–it’s possible your thread is unwinding too loosely on it’s own before being fed through the machine. To check this, place a test piece of fabric under your needle and observe the thread coming off the spool as you stitch. A Handy Net placed over your thread spool or cone can quickly eliminate this problem.

Number 7. Use a good quality thread that is meant for the materials you are sewing and type of sewing you are doing. For example, a very heavy thread that is made for sewing upholstery is not going to work well on delicate lingerie or quilting fabrics; nor is a very fine thread going to work well on heavy or thick fabrics like denim (though in this case the problem is more likely to be breakage).

Number 8. Are you attempting to pull your project around under the needle? This is often the cause of skipped threads when attempting free-motion quilting at a fast speed. I strongly recommend SLOWING DOWN. Free-motion quilting is kinda like dancing, and your machine is your partner. If you are moving faster than your partner OR you have the pedal to the metal and it is moving faster than you, somebody may get their toes stepped on (or fingers sewn–OUCH!) or stitches may get skipped. Skipped stitches may also occur as a result of sewing a very heavy or large project that places a lot of weight pulling under the needle. Try adding support for your project (perhaps placing support tables or chairs around your machine to hold the weighty bulk of your project).

Number 9. Clean and lubricate your machine from top to bobbin according to your sewing machine manual.

Number 10. If none of the above have worked, the cause may be related to a deeper mechanical or technical issue. Parts wear out from time to time as they age or if they are heavily used. It happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you don’t love your sewing machine. It may just be time to make an appointment for professional servicing.

Got leftover cans of pumpkin? Make DELICIOUS Brunch Pumpkin Pancakes from Scratch

Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, placed into small bowl and loosened with fork until no clumps remain
2 1/4 cups pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups whole milk + 2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup real butter, melted
Optional: 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
First, combine milk with lemon juice in a glass measuring cup or glass bowl. Set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes or so (while you are preparing the other ingredients).

Next, in a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Mix until all ingredients are well evenly distributed. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a whisk or fork, combine pumpkin with beaten eggs. Mix until smooth. Sprinkle the loose brown sugar evenly over the pumpkin/egg mixture and stir in, mixing well. Add the milk/lemon juice mixture (it should be thick and clumpy as you pour it in). Add vanilla and melted butter.

Add the dry ingredients (previously set aside) to the wet ingredients in 3 separate additions, stirring lightly and mixing well but not over-mixing. The batter should remain slightly lumpy. If chocolate chips are desired, add them now and mix until evenly distributed. Hint: I pour about 1/3 of plain batter into small bowl then add chocolate chips to the large bowl so we can both have plain and chocolate chip versions. Set batter aside to rest for approximately 5-10 minutes or so.

Prepare your griddle, preheating it to approximately 350 to 375 degrees. You will know your griddle is hot enough when you finger drip water over the griddle and it immediately sizzles up. I use a cast iron griddle and butter as my lubricant, but you may choose to use your favorite griddle or pan and lubricant (butter, coconut oil, or cooking spray, etc.).

Depending on how large you like your pancakes, pour 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup (or whatever size/amount you prefer) into puddles on the griddle. Allow to cook until golden brown on one side, then flip and allow the other side to cook until golden brown.

The number of pancakes you get will depend on how big you make them. This recipe feeds our family of 2 large and hungry teenage boys + 2 adults and leaves quite a bit of leftovers.

The leftover pancakes freeze beautifully. Simply let them cool then place in freezer bag(s). I use quart size freezer bags and put 4-6 pancakes in each bag so the boys can pull out a bag and finish it the same day. Be sure to remove as much air as possible when you close the bag. Place in freezer. Reheat pancakes in toaster.

And Sew On…Reigniting Passion

Life is funny.

You can love something so much all your life and yet one day you wake up and find yourself in a rut. Tired. Burned out. It’s not that you–and by you, I mean me–hate what you’re doing. You still love it way down deep inside, it’s just not quite the same anymore. What used to hold so much excitement now feels lackluster and dull.

Shhhh….I’m going to tell you a secret. This happened to me with sewing and quilting. YIKES!!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I still love it.  I’m not leaving. I plan to be around for a long, long time.  But the same old stuff just wasn’t lighting me up like before.  I felt like something was missing. I needed something….more.

But…what?  I reflected a long, long time. I resisted an even longer time.  And then…I surrendered. Meet my new best friend, Buelah.

  • B – is for Brave, together we will bravely explore new territory.
  • U – is for (virtually) unbreakable…quite literally, she is an industrial machine.
  • E – is for exquisite stitches sewn, strong and straight.
  • L – is for love, my love for creating beautiful new items out of old stuff that would otherwise go into the trash.
  • A – is for able, because together we are.
  • H – is for happiness and the joy that has been returned!

Buelah is a Juki DU-1181N, single-needle, straight stitch, top and bottom feed industrial sewing machine. She is truly a WORK HORSE! She comes with a high capacity M bobbin, has her own Servo motor, and can sew up to 2,000 stitches a minute (not that we ever get close to that!). She has a max stitch length of 9mm and even has her own sexy knee lifter that can lift her presser foot up to 15mm.

Right about now you’re probably asking what on earth possessed me to purchase this machine. The short answer to that is: Bike Tubes.

As you may–or may not–know, I love recycling UP-cycling old bike tubes (and other things) into useful items. Yes, it’s true. I was able to sew bike tube on my domestic machine…but not without a lot of fiddling, prepping and babying because that machine was NOT made to sew rubber. Buelah? Well…she sews rubber like butter, baby. The truth is that–before I made the decision to get Buelah–I knew I was killing my domestic machine. That made me really sad. So I realized what I was doing was really limiting myself not doing the sewing/work that I crave the most because of course I couldn’t bear to kill my domestic sewing machine. I love her.

What have I created so far?  These are just a couple items. Several more prototypes are in the works.

UP-cycled Bike Tube and UP-cycled Bike Map Cell-Phone Wallet/Pouch gift I made for a dear cycling friend from the southern part of New Mexico
Inside of the UP-cycled Bike Tube/Bike Map Cell-Phone Wallet Pouch.
The patch pocket is an original block print by Tammy Schurr, my very dear friend and Adventure Cycling Event Director/Tour Leader.
Minimalist UP-cycled Bike Tube Zip Pouch
Minimalist Zip Pouch
Lined with UP-cycled DenimJeans

Sew what’s the point of all this?  Here are 3 points I can share right now: 

  • Exploration of my passion to recycle/UP-cycle old materials into something new, useful and beautiful through sewing.
  • Diversification of business for SewThankful. I will be sewing and selling a limited number of finished UP-cycled bike related items. Many bike friends and associates have asked me to sew and SELL my creations. This will be a new adventure and I am excited to see where it takes me.
  • Vehicle for development of new Sew TracyLee Designs patterns. The patterns will be adjusted and written for sewing quilting cottons and traditional fabrics.

What do you think?  I’m interested in your constructive thoughts and comments.  Please feel free to share below but note that in order to prevent spambots and junk I have to moderate each comment so it may take a little while for yours to post.

Magical Malibu Bicycle Bliss Tour – 2017

Tomorrow marks a week since I rode my bicycle into Malibu.

When a very dear cycling friend invited me to accompany her on a road trip to Malibu, CA that culminated in a 60 mile bicycle ride along the Pacific Coast Highway, of course, I enthusiastically accepted the invitation.
 

On Monday, October 2nd, we rode the Magical Malibu Bicycle Bliss Tour: 60 Miles for 60 Years in celebration of my friend’s 60th birthday which was earlier this year (August). For my part, I also rode in celebration of the lives of my sweet younger Sister (Trina) and my beloved Grampa (Earl) who would have celebrated their birthdays on October 2nd had they not been taken so soon. They have been gone for many years now, but I still feel the sad ache in my soul because I dearly miss them. They were good and kind people. They are part of me and that will never change.

 

Over the years I’ve found it helps if I do something significant and  physically challenging to celebrate their lives. This ride was the perfect thing to do this year. Here are a few pictures from our time in Malibu:

This is me just after we finished the 60 miles. Beams of love and thanksgiving shooting into and out of my chest. I am SEW thankful.

 

Last but not least…the video below shows highlights of about 17 of our miles riding into Malibu (shortened into one and a half minutes).  It’s my first attempt at using a trial offer of some new video editing software (thus the watermark…trial offer). I suspect I will end up purchasing the software as it seems much more intuitive than others I’ve tried. I still have a lot to learn but was pleased to be able to put something together without having to spend weeks learning how to use the product.

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