Finally quilting again!

It’s been MONTHS since I’ve been quilting.  There have been so many distractions since right before the holidays 2008.   No more excuses, today is the day.

I picked my panto:  Meandering Daisy from Urban Elementz

Urban Elementz Meandering Daisy Panto
Urban Elementz Meandering Daisy Panto

I loaded my top fabric, muslin backing & wool batting.

The longarm is locked & loaded--ready to quilt!
The longarm is locked & loaded--ready to quilt!

Full frontal view:

loadedquiltandreadytogo

I selected a gorgeous Fil-Tec Glide Thread and started quilting…yahoo!

Close-up of Meandering Daisy quilting
Close-up of Meandering Daisy quilting

I’ve completed 5 passes…just about 4 more to go. I haven’t had many problems with breakage or tension.  However, thanks to Ginger’s antics (50 pounds of English Bulldog slamming into me) I did need to stop and pick out a couple of times.

My favorite gadget for this is still the Superior Snippers.  This tool is fantastic for digging in to carefully isolate just the right thread to pick out and then snip–if desired–all in one smooth movement.

Stay tuned. I have plans to add some “over” quilting using at least one different thread color for increased dimension.  If all goes well I’ll have pictures of that to share with you next week.

Happy sewing & quilting!!

A quilt for Nick…

Nick is my eldest son and he turned 23 this month.  He is active duty in the US Coast Guard.  I haven’t made him a quilt since he was about 14, so it was time to practice my “fast” quilt method again.

I used the Dave Hudson Lighthouse 11″ panto, Glide Thread, Magna Glide Bobbins and Wide Quilt Back Fabric to make this quilt super FAST.  The top fabric (shown below) was a dark/navy blue mottled slash texture. The thread was a light turquoise/teal.

Panto review: I really liked using a Dave Hudson panto.  He includes periodic arrow marks which makes it easier for newbies to keep track of direction.  I would rate this design difficulty in the confident advanced beginner to intermediate skill level category.  Lots of straight lines, tight points, several areas where the lines pass within a 1/4″ of each other mean you need to have a bit of experience/confidence (or be ready to practice frogstitching) for success.

Here are some close-ups – click image to view larger picture in a pop-up window.
Lighthouse1

Lighthouse2

Lighthouse3

It was after dark when I took these pictures so there were serious lighting issues.  I am NOT an expert in photography but I’m doing my best.  In this case, when I got the thread to show close to the right color, the quilt fabric was off.  When I got the fabric close to the correct color the thread was off.  Oh well…you get the idea.  In the end, I am very pleased with how the quilt turned out.  This was my largest quilt yet at approx. 112″ x 108″.

Nick’s been out to sea on a mission but is expected to be back in port today.  Hopefully he’ll like his present.

Dawn Cavanaugh shows you couching with your longarm quilting machine

If you are a longarm quilter, you won’t want to miss this YouTube video by Dawn Cavanaugh.  She shows you very quickly just how easy it is to use your longarm quilting machine to couch fibers, yarns & more on your quilts.


Frog Stitch practice…

As I mentioned in my last post on Panto Progress, I had to spend some time frog stitching (rip it, rip it) because I learned lesson #1 the hard way (NEVER take your eyes off the panto design line…and when you do, make sure your needle is DOWN).

So, learning how to rip the stitching out was a good (notice I didn’t say FUN) experience for me.  I have a new favorite tool…my Superior SnippersThey are PERFECT for handling this job. The very sharp, fine point is fantastic for getting under those tiny stitches and popping them out (always use care when using a seam ripper or sharp instrument on your quilt top).

FrogStitchingWithSuperiorSnippersHow do I frog stitch? I discovered that “for me” if I just pop about every 5th – 6th stitch and then reach underneath and PULL that bobbin thread out it goes the fastes.  For any straggling top thread bits, I use a lint roller (or a piece of packing tape works great too)…swipe across and they’re gone.  Quick spritz…let it dry and I’m ready to quilt again.

I finished the panto…but changed to a different top thread, a Superior LAVA thread; I used Magna-Glide bobbins on the whole thing…they are AWESOME!  Then I decided to “use” the quilted panto design (my rendition wasn’t that great) and “shadow quilt” over it again from the front (freehand style).  When I ran out of the blue LAVA thread, I decided to test a new thread (it’s the yellow one) which I really like.

Doing freehand quilting over the previously quilted panto design was a great way to practice the controls and movement on both sides of the machine…a sort of 2fer.  Oh yeah…I didn’t like how my points turned out inside the flowers on the panto quilting…so I filled them in with thread.  YAY!

This practice piece is small and very simple (I just used muslin)…but I’ll put a simple binding on it and use it as a lap cover this fall/winter when the weather turns cool again.  It will be fun to pull it out then and see how much I’ve learned over the summer.

Wanna see?

firstPantoPLUS

Pantos, pantos, pantos!

I recently received an email requesting more information about my experience with pantos–which ones I’ve tried and which ones I liked.  This is a GREAT QUESTION.  Thank you so much for asking…but please try not to be too disappointed in my answer.

Truthfully, in the last 3 weeks or so since I’ve gotten my longarm (aka Max), I have not had a lot of “extra” time to practice.  With the little time that I have had, I’ve been focusing on the freehand side of the machine.  Perhaps my reason for this is because it is seems less intimidating and I feel more in control . I can see what is happening and I can get a feel for the machine while trying out the (new to me) features like the stitch regulator, channel locks and thread cutter. Also, when I work from the front there just seems to be less fussing with getting ready.  Once I’ve got my sandwich loaded I can just go…kinda like jumping into the sandbox with bare feet.  I don’t have to figure out how to line up the panto and space it and coordinate everything (…oops…sounds like I’m s-c-a-r-e-d!). 

Well…maybe I am…was…am…a little.  But, I’m not one to let my fears control me for very long.  So it’s now time to start working on building panto experience.  Honestly, I do LOVE panto designs and the “quilting” design (thread on fabric) is my favorite part of the quilt.  So, no more procrastinating!  Starting this week I’m going to start working from the back (panto side).  So stay tuned for more on my adventures in pantos.  Successes, failures…I’ll let it all hang out…it is what it is during the learning process.

One more thing…  There’s not a lot of readily available free information on specifically *how* to use a panto floating around on the internet.  I understand the concept, but when you go to put in practice a LOT of issues come up.  Following is a You Tube video I found for one woman’s (Penny Bubar) method of stitching a panto.  She is very clear that her method is only her method — not necessarily the *best or the right for you method*.  But, if you’ve been putting off trying pantos on your longarm because you’re not sure where to begin, take a look and see if she offers any insights that help you.  I know she’s given me a couple of ideas. THANKS Penny!

As always, comments are welcome.  Simply click the purple “Comments” text link under the “Pantos, pantos, pantos!” article title above.  After you click the link, there will be a way for you to leave anonymous comments (without setting up an account) if you wish.