"machine quilting"

All The Sundays

Sunday Morning Quilts A Month of Sundays Denyse Schmidt

All The Sundays

70'' x 70''

An oh so special quilt is finally finished. I wasn't impatient or anything, but as soon as the last stitches went in the other day I realized how much I wanted this quilt to be done. Only so that it could be real, that it could be a thing I used and loved.

The first bits of piecing in this quilt started years ago. I was teaching a Slab class, the technique popularized in my book with Amanda Jean, Sunday Morning Quilts. In my prep for the class I grabbed a bunch of scraps from making the quilts in A Month of Sundays. They were handy, that's all. I had no specific plan. So I made my samples for the class and that was that. A bit later I was reading Denyse Schmidt's book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspirations. Her Shoeman's Puzzle quilt grabbed me immediately.

I'm not sure when the moment was that I decided to combine all these influences into one quilt, but it happened. And it was love at first sight.

Slabs and Low Volume and Shoeman's Puzzle

It wasn't an easy quilt to make. I made freezer paper templates to keep me on track. Those didn't come into play until after I'd made slabs though. The templates were totally necessary to keep lines as they should be, especially important with all those angles and bias edges. Of course, then there is the removing of the paper. Thankfully there are only 3 seams in each block, about the easiest paper piecing you can do.

The quilt top sat for a year and a half in the closet, keeping a dozen other quilt tops company. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do to quilt it and was willing to wait until the right idea hit me. Or, the right person to do it for me. 

Last summer I met Dara from Stitched Quilting Co. Turns out her MIL lives a few blocks away from me. We had a few visits and chatted quilting, dogs, and mothering. Well a couple of months ago Dara messaged to say she had an opening in her long arm schedule and delivery ready, if I had a quilt to go. Seeing as my Quilts Under Construction list is quite long I wasn't about to turn down the opportunity! This quilt made the cut precisely because I didn't have a plan for it and I already had a wide back purchased and ready to go. After a frantic evening of pulling papers and a few repairs I got it to Dara.

Stitched Quilting Co Free Motion Quilting

With so much solid expanse in the whites/creams of the quilt top this needed a special touch. Dara gave it just that! Such custom, detailed work. So much attention to detail. There are secondary and tertiary patterns in this quilt top and her quilting highlighted them. I'm thrilled with the outcome.

For the backing and binding I chose to go back to my dear friend Amanda Jean's fabric, Good Neighbors. She had a wide back fabric in that collection. And the orange dot was absolutely perfect for the binding. Conveniently I'd just ordered a half yard of it, the perfect amount. And lucky for me, because neither are available anymore!

Good Neighbors Fabric Crazy Mom Quilts

My husband will happily tell anyone that we have a ridiculous amount of quilts in our house. He is very obliging if we are asked for donations or gifts. Little does he know that this quilt will never leave my hands. It represents so much to me, not to mention that I think it is absolutely beautiful. I will always think of friendships, how my career has grown, and the history contained in some beautiful fabric. 

Samsquanch - A Bigfoot Quilt

Bigfoot Quilt in the Wild


90'' x 90''

Take one Legendary pattern, multiply it by five, add in a family of five sewing, and you get one crazy quilt.

Our family winter project is finally finished. We took a jaunt to the mountains yesterday to capture the quilt in the wild, in some truly squatchy country. It's already made a debut at a local quilt show and is in good use on the odd chilly night in the basement. 

I quilted it with a combination of thread and techniques. The white background is done with a walking foot and using a white Aurifil 50wt. The trees are straight line with the magical olive green from Aurifil. The Bigfoot herself (we decided she was female while making her) is done with a brown variagated in 40wt from Signature. She needed fur and a face so my free motion skills got a lot of practice - once my BSR was replaced!

To make the face my husband and I spent far too much time researching Bigfoot art and representations. Then we compared them to primates and sketched and resized. Total nerds. I gave myself a chalk outline and went at it contour drawing style. Thank you Melissa Averinos for teaching me that!

Bigfoot Face in Quilt
Bigfoot in the Mountains

The backing is a mishmash of greens and leftover browns from my stash. The only fabric we bought for this quilt was the binding. I simply had nothing at home that worked so the girls picked this ombre and it's perfect. 

It really was an incredible project to work on together. From picking fabric to sewing together I had fun. It's easy to get annoyed or stressed when the kids are sewing, but we learned to go with the flow - and their enthusiasm. I gave in to all the requests when my little guy wanted to help, including having him on my lap while doing some FMQ! We had fun stomping through the trees for photos, complete with photo bombs and blurry pictures from laughing. 

Bigfoot Quilt Ombre Binding

It's summer now so there isn't much couch snuggling going on. And Hubby rightly pointed out that the white background is more wintery. I had hoped to shoot this in the snow, hence that white background. But believers know, Sasquatch is always out there...

And one word on the name. My husband is a wildly sarcastic man with a unique sense of humour. He likes to make up words and stories to mess with people, the kids especially. So in our house it isn't Sasquatch or Bigfoot, it is Samsquanch. 

Bigfoot in the Wild - Quilt

More Long Arm Time

I want to quilt ALL the quilts.

My home machine is awesome, but after 9 years of heavy use the tension is completely buggered when I drop the feed dogs and try to free motion quilt. Despite repeated trips for tune-ups, extra cleanings and some repair work, it just won't work. The Pfaff rep tells me I probably blew a bearing and it won't work well again. Of course, he is also the Janome rep and he may have been trying to sell me a new machine. And he very nearly succeeded. If I'd had the cash that day...

So when the

chance to learn on the long arm

came, I took it. When the rental studio moved 5 minutes away from my home I started to book time. 

First quilt: followed a pantograph with a laser guide. Fun, but a bit boring. Good for getting used to how the machine moves in your hand.

Second quilt: a large, random stipple. Couldn't face another pantograph and decided playing would be more fun. And so much easier (and faster).

Third Quilt: moved in for a tight, squared off pattern on a precious quilt. No point wasting time building up to it.

Did I mention I want to quilt ALL the quilts now?

Renting out time on the long arm is a lot of fun and a sure fire way to make some progress through the last of the Just One Slab quilts and the stack of my own quilt tops. It is not, however, an inexpensive option. If I keep up with this I will spend the money on that instead of my new machine for home!

But it is fantastic to have another skill in my kit. There are times when the long arm will be the exact right option for what I'm doing. And sometimes it won't be. For now, however, I think it is perfect. And makes for a nice change from all the walking foot work I've been doing.

Long Arm Lesson

A few weeks ago the chance came up to have a long arm lesson at the recently opened Sparrows Studioz here in Calgary. Matt Sparrow, also known as the Man Quilter, is the APQS rep for this part of the world. He has a big studio in Edmonton from which he sells, quilts, leases space, and rents long arm machines. And now he has a smaller version here in Calgary. Joanne Flamand, who is running the place down here is making sure all the local guilds get their chance to play and learn.

So one night a handful of us from the Calgary Modern Quilt Guild went up to the Wonderfil Threaducation Centre for a night of learning and play. So. Much. Fun.

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I would ever long arm my own quilts. I really enjoy the quilting part and when the tops pile up or a deadline looms I have an excellent long arm friend, not to mention a handful of others. But I did think it would at least be interesting. And now I would totally do my own quilts.

The long arms at Sparrows Studioz here are not computer guided. That means the quilter is still doing the work - whether it is entirely free motion or pantographs. There are certainly tools that make it easier, like guides, but it is still always up to the quilter to move the machine over the quilt.

And let me tell you, it is not as easy as you think it is! The machines move really well, which means it is easy to get it going in the wrong direction quickly. It requires standing and shifting your weight all while finding a rhythm to your movements. And it means that a lot of control is required, especially for the free motion or custom work.

Here are my observations and lessons.

1. When a long armer asks for 4'' extra backing fabric on the top and bottom they really need it. They aren't out to get you to waste fabric, they use that to load the backing and keep it in place when quilting. Don't scrimp and there will never be puckers.

2. Custom long arming is worth every penny, and probably more than what you are paying. It takes a lot of skill and time to do that work so don't ever feel like you are paying too much for it.

3. Pantographs are totally okay to use.

4. This is not the kind of sewing that you would do in bare feet. You need good shoes to support yourself.

5. Almost anything is possible on a long arm, but that doesn't mean everything is easy.

During our lesson we played with pantographs, a bit of free motion, some guides, as well as loading and unloading quilts. In theory, we could go and rent the machines now to quilt our own quilts. (I'm not sure I will get to that, although I would really like to.)

And it was total coincidence that a Just One Slab quilt got loaded up on the machine for us that night! But I may get more up there. I am trying to get the last of the quilts finished and in for distribution prior to the one year anniversary of the Flood and that is coming up in a little over a month.