Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sweet surprises

It's the second Saturday of the month, which means just one thing around here - St Mark's Quilters!

Every month a happy little bunch of quilters arrives, but sometimes the 'bunch' is smaller than we'd hoped for, always for very good reasons, and today was one of those days.

However Di B and I have learnt that a St Mark's Quilters workshop is never without its delights, no matter how disappointing it might initially seem, and today brought enough sweet surprises to make it a beauty! 

Our first surprise was that, being able to fit around a single large table, instead of scattered around the room, we could all enjoy sharing the one big conversation as we sewed. That conversation, of course, included how much we missed our absent friends traveling in far-flung destinations like France, New Guinea and New Zealand, others celebrating special occasions with family, and Michelle in hospital recovering from a major operation.

We love droppers-in, and today brought a brief surprise visit from Robyn, who used to sew with us. Then trainee pastry chef, and graduate of our 2009 Stitchin Mission, Michaela, popped in to stitch for an hour or so, bringing cake and her latest kindy quilt!

It was almost tag-team quilting as, soon after she left, Perdita arrived for the afternoon and brought this sweet little Blanket of Love.

With so much going on we were still a productive lot. Some, like Margaret, were more productive than others. She managed a spot of machine quilting...

... before moving on to an afternoon of knitting squares for a blanket.

Barb and Di C were binding like busy bees

Liz was preparing to pin her latest Blanket of Love.

And we all admired Di B's Milky Way quilt, another version of modern hexagons, using 1 inch hexies and laying them out a little differently. Just look at that quilted grid!

Susan and Sophie (the "S Team") pulled fabrics from our St Mark's Quilters stash for borders and backing on this cute outer space themed panel.

While Sophie wasted no time in cutting out the borders, Susan got to work on the machine stitching. I love watching quilty teamwork! 

Matching up coordinates from our stash of both purchased and donated fabrics isn't always as easy as this, and a piece of fabric can languish in the box for months waiting for the right person to see its potential.

That person is usually our clever Di C, and today she took some quite muted strips of country-themed prints, fashionable a few years ago, and after much rummaging found some lovely rich reds and golden yellows that will turn them into a bright, sunny kindy quilt to be treasured.

The sweet surprises just kept coming when we broke open a rather ordinary looking jelly roll and found a magnificent flower garden of fabrics. Sadly, no pics as I was busy admiring the fabrics, but hopefully by next time "The S Team" might be working on transforming them into a little girl's quilt.

Life, and our Lord, is full of unexpected beauty and blessings if we just learn to see them. Don't you agree? :-)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Free Motion Quilting: Ruler Work on a Bernina 1230

Making a Blanket of Love for RPA Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit is the perfect way to try out a new piecing or quilting technique. My latest finish, Hello Little Sailor, had plenty of both, and was quite a challenge.

My quiltmaking Wish List has, for a long time, included a plan to tackle the making of a Double Wedding Ring quilt, but frankly it's just been in my dreams. 

Enter those clever Sew Kind of Wonderful girls, with their Quick Curve Ruler and Metro Rings pattern. It's a Double Wedding Ring style quilt 'for dummies', so it was perfect for this one!

A single Metro Rings block, with a small border, was large enough for a baby quilt, and a Moda jelly roll of the "Celebration" range made it perfect for a baby boy.

I have a great deal to learn about using the Quick Curve Ruler ruler accurately, but this little quilt is all about overall effect!

Next I tackled the quilting.

I've shared glimpses of my domestic machine quilting progress on Instagram, and I know enquiring minds would like to know how I did this, so here are the tools I used.

The QCR Sidekick, companion to the Quick Curve Ruler, was designed for longarmers, but with a little practice I found it easy to create curved cross hatching, and unmarked straight lines. 

For the last 6 months I've been experimenting with using quilting rulers on both my domestic, sit-down machines, a 10 year old Elna 6004 and a 20 year old (at least) Bernina 1230, and if you want to do this a ruler foot is essential. 

Amy of Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures has been a wonderful source of technical information.

This is what works for me. To set myself up on the Elna initially I bought the Janome Convertible Free Motion Quilting Foot Set.

The 1/4 inch ruler foot that comes with the Janome Free Motion Frame Quilting Feet Set for 1600P is going to be your friend for ruler work.

(There's also a rather nice little open toe quilting foot.)

Either of these feet screws onto the convertible unit with a tiny screw at the rear. Then this entire unit screws onto the shank of the machine like many other feet do.

So, in summary, this is the set-up for free motion quilting on my Elna, using the ruler foot for ruler work.

Sometimes, though, I like to use my Bernina 1230, and once I've screwed on the #75 Low shank adaptor to the Janome set above it just latches on to the machine in the usual way Bernina feet do.

This is the combo for ruler work on my Bernina 1230.

So in this way I can easily move between sewing machines using the same quilting feet.

I used my Bernina very happily for all the quilting on this little quilt, but will certainly be looking out for the Bernina ruler foot due to be released this month!

Back to the progress pics. Remember, overall effect! I have so much to learn.

After parallel quilting those scrappy sections on the top right hand arcs I later changed my mind and unpicked it all. Not a happy experience ;-(

I came up with the name, Hello Little Sailor, from the nautical favour of this cute fabric range.

This is the little label we attach to each of our Blankets of Love.

Will there be a full- sized Metro Rings quilt in my future? 

Maybe :-)