Monday, 30 August 2010

About Brenda

Brenda and Trudi helping at the Festival of Quilts
I met Brenda a couple of months ago when she came up for a visit to see the New English Quilter. Brenda went home with a frame and I gained a friend. Brenda was an accomplished machine quilter long before she ever saw our frame. She's been teaching classes and making amazing quilts for years. In the end she opted for a frame, to take the aggravation out of the machine quilting process. She was fed up with wrestling with all that fabric under the arm of the machine. She wanted a way of quilting that was kinder to her back and neck.

The challenge for Brenda was going to be translating her expertise from off-the-frame to on-the-frame quilting. The photos here are some close up shots of Brenda's practice pieces. You can see pretty clearly that she more than met the challenge! Clicking on the images will give you a better view of the stitching.
Brenda has an enquiring mind of a practical nature. She's always trying to figure out why things work or don't work and how to make it better. While Brenda was getting acquainted with the frame, she began emailing me all sorts of hints and tips for getting the most out of it. She's used the frame in ways I never would have thought of. and come up with solutions to practical issues that I would have just put up with.I'll be sharing more about these tips in future posts.I'll end this one with some shots of Brenda's Baby Trapunto.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Britian's Got Talent!

This post is dedicated to Trudi and Brenda. It was a honour to spend time with them at the show last week. Being around Trudi and Brenda is inspiring. It was a treat just to watch them quilt! I've learned so much from them both and wanted to share the wealth.This first photo is a slice from one of the practice pieces that was loaded on the frame at the show. Trudi quilted a line of feathers. I've sliced this strip off so I can keep it. It inspires me to work on my own feathers! And it's also a wonderful example of what can be achieved working within the limits of a domestic sewing machine.

Trudi did these feathers with a JUKI TL98-P on the New English Quilter. This is a very basic set up, yet the quality of stitching is like the professionals! Trudi's used a thread called Seashell here, it's a trilobal polyester from the Rainbows range of Superior Threads.Click on the images for a better view of the stitching.
Notice how she has created an undulating, wave-like feather. When Trudi comes back the other way, she would nestle the next line into the spaces from the previous line, she would quilt the feathers into the valleys and over the hills of the previous line of feathers. That way, once you stand back, the quilting looks seamless. You would not be able to tell that the quilting was done in strips. I've seen several quilts where Trudi uses these feathers to create an overall pattern.They're gorgeous! You can visit Trudi's blog and see more of her quilts:  I've run out of time, so I'll post about Brenda tomorrow.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Across the Pond!

Yesterday was a red letter day for me. For the very first time, one of our New English Quilting frames has found a new home on the other side of the Atlantic. Jill first saw the New English Quilter while she was watching the La Mer DVD. After a bit of emailing back and forth, Jill placed an order. We shipped the frame on Wednesday and it landed inside Jill's front door Friday morning. That's door to door transatlantic shipping in 3 days! Amazing. The pilgrim fathers would be jealous! 

Jill has a bunch of kids and everyone is keen to have a go. She's started a blog for anyone interested in following her progress, here's the link: They will be setting up and playing around with the frame today and Jill already has some posts up. Anyone in the Ohio area who would like to see the New English Quilter in person can contact Jill through her blog or email me and I'll forward your details on to her. It makes me so happy to have our frame on both sides now!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Festival Feedback

We love going to the Festival of Quilts and 2010 was one of our best shows ever.We've come back exhausted but happy. Although we do personal demonstrations and workshops throughout the year, most of our contact with customers is by email or telephone.  The show gives us the opportunity to put a face to the person on the other end of the email or phone. Each day at the show we meet thousands of quilters. It's so fun to see how people react to our frame. 

I personally love to see the penny drop, when a quilter frustrated with the limits of quilting off a frame suddenly realizes the potential of a table top frame. The carriage moves so freely, there is no need to pin bast or tack a quilt, the frame really fits into English sized houses and its affordable. People who thought that they could never master free-motion quilting suddenly discover that they could. My favourite comment this year was from a gal who stopped by our stand near the end of the day. She said, "You know, I've been around the whole show and of everything I've seen, this frame is the most exciting! This frame gives me possibilities I've never dreamed of."
There are four features that really surprise people. The first is the freedom of movement as the sewing machine glides over the top of the quilt. I urge people to actually glide the sewing machine -this is an experience that watching the video can't give. The second is that the frame totally eliminates the need to baste, pin,  tack, or spray glue a quilt sandwich together. Again this is much easier to get in person.The third is how simple the frame comes together and apart.We spend all day taking the frame apart and putting it back together.People always say don't bother but it only takes a minute and it really gives people vision for just how the frame could fit in their homes. Finally, people are surprised and pleased that the frames are made in England. This means that we are on hand to offer continuing support and service.There are lots of American made frames available here but they are geared to the 'Bigger is Better' American market. Here in the UK Small is Beautiful!
Emma, Trudi, Brenda, Emily and Martha
These are the gals who made this year so fun! I'll be posting more about them in the next few days.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

On Our Way

We're on our way to the Festival of Quilts today! Come visit us at Stand D 50 -52. We have lots of fun people helping out at the stand this year.We'll be away from the computer and phone until Monday the 23rd. If you've ordered a La Mer DVD, we will get it posted on the Monday.Have a great week and hope to see you at the show

Monday, 16 August 2010

Sewing Machine Savvy

The Festival of Quilts is a great place to try out all the latest sewing machines. By all means take advantage of the opportunity and shop around. If you are looking for an ideal sewing machine for machine quilting, I'd  like to suggest some features to consider:
  • length - a longer arm makes a huge difference, because it gives you more room to quilt. Ordinary domestic sewing machines have a 7 inch wide harp. The JUKI TL 98-P and the Janome 6500 and 6600 have a 9 inch wide harp. The new Janome Horizon has an 11 inch wide harp(arm)
  • height - several machines have gone longer, but once you put the sewing machine on a frame, the height becomes important too. On a frame, with the fabric bar under the arm of the sewing machine, you really need the height also. You can see this in the photo above. It's a shame that many of the sewing machine companies have not taken this into consideration. On a frame, as you progress though a quilt, the fabric on the bar becomes wider and higher as you roll the quilt. Because the fabric bar is under the arm of the sewing machine, this means that the height of the arm is just as important as the width. If the height of the arm of the sewing machine is only 4 or 5 inches, it is not going to accommodate the size of the roll of a King sized quilt.
  • speed- here we're talking about stitches per minute. The speed helps to create a flowing line of stitching. Machine quilting is a bit like riding a bike, too slow and you'll fall off. You need a steady fast speed to create a flowing line of stitching. The JUKI TL98-P has a speed of 1500 stitches per minute. The Janome Memory Craft 6600 has a speed of 1200 stitches per minute. The new Janome Horizon has a speed of 1000 stitches per minute. Bear in mind here, the faster the speed, the smoother the line of stitching.
  • simplicity- for free-motion quilting, simplicity is the key. The more complicated your sewing machine the more difficult it is to tension. For free-motion machine quilting on a frame, the simpler the better. Once you drop the feed dogs, you loose those special stitches. On a frame, all you need is a good straight stitch. Save the fancy machines with all the 'whistles and bells' for off the frame stitching. 
  • other features-I find the needle up/down feature really helpful. Being able to leave the needle down and walk away, lets you begin again just where you left off. The thread cutter is very helpful too. 
  • service- lots of people will sell you cheap sewing machines, especially at the shows. But you want someone willing to give you good service even after you make the sale. If you are purchasing a sewing machine from America, make sure that there is someone on this side of the pond willing to give you service. All machines break sometime or other. Be sure that you have someone over here able to give you the service and advice you need. 
Hope this helps. See you at the show - Stand D 50 -52

Sunday, 15 August 2010

ice cream and cake

Our daughter Ellie turned 12 on Friday. She wanted cheesecake this year so we put some berries on top. We already ate the cake with the # 1.  I wanted a picture because once they were finished they reminded me of those tests for colour know the ones with the different coloured circles. Everybody thought that was a hoot!

Several years ago I made a cake and ice cream quilt. I was relatively new to machine quilting and I was enjoying piecing stripy quilts using fabric chosen around a common theme.  I cut and pieced the fabric in simple stripes and quilted each stripe differently and in keeping with the theme.

 It ended up being like a machine quilting sampler. It was a fun excuse to try new things and find out what worked and what didn't. I learned a lot and the kids still enjoy snuggling under it, particularly on special days.If you click on the photos you'll get a better view of the stitching.  It's been  machine quilted on fleece and looks pretty good considering that its been well loved for at least 5 years.

Friday, 13 August 2010

New Toy!

There's a new search feature powered by Google which allows you to search through my blog for particular information. Wow! My very own personal search engine! Now we can search for particular information about themes, people or products without having to scroll through all the old posts. My husband told me about it last night and we had a fun 20 minutes typing  various topics in the search box. It's on the right at the top. Have a play and see what you find out.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Last Orders

This weekend I'm putting together a really BIG order of Superior Threads for the Festival of Quilts. This is an interesting process. I go through my stock and try to think of threads that people will want, how many and what kind, it's mind boggling! It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to ask instead of just guessing. So if anyone was hoping to purchase particular threads, needles, or real thread colour cards at the show, email me before noon on Monday with your list and I'll have it all ready for you to collect and pay for at the NEC show. Don't worry,  I don't mind if you change your mind when you get there. Any emails will simply help me to come up with a good order.

So if there is anything particular you would like reserved just for you to collect at the Festival of Quilts, email me at: 
before noon on Monday. Thanks for helping and see you at the Show.

Bob Purcell, from Superior Threads, Paul Hayes from Dorcas Designs and Martha Milne from Machine Quilter. Festival of Quilts 2008

Friday, 6 August 2010

Progress Down Under

It’s always a pleasure getting feedback from exciting places. I’ve blogged about Brenda in Australia before. Brenda’s the one whose husband can’t stop singing La Mer! Here’s a photo of Brenda’s stunning Australian Flag Quilt. As I’m busy beavering away on my English flag blocks for the next DVD, I was really keen to see how this flag quilt turned out. I love it! And I think it’s a brilliant idea to make it double-sided. I've included parts of an email from Brenda and another photo which shows the ripple stipple stitching close up.Thanks for sharing Brenda. I think your quilt is gorgeous! I can’t wait to see what you do next!

Hello Martha,

I thought you might be interested in my progress. WOW, what a great time quilting I’ve been having! Thanks to you and your DVD, I’ve completed several of my projects, including Ben’s Flag Quilt. Ben lives with us and is so pleased to finally have his quilt. Ben just turned 21 and when he requested a flag quilt, for his 21st, my dilemma was how to make a flag quilt that he could continue to enjoy as he got older.

The result was a double-sided quilt, flag one side and stars the other. The next problem was solved with your DVD, I used the Ripple pattern. It was ideal, for me, and the project. I am looking forward to your next DVD, when can I expect to see it??? The best news of all is, Dick has stopped singing La Mer!

Thanks once again,
Brenda XXX

By the way Brenda, you need to prepare yourself! The theme tune for the next DVD in the Line Dancing Series, is a song by Bobby Darin called Beyond the Sea. Your husband's going to love it!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Festival of Quilts

It's that time again. We're busy gearing up for our favourite quilt show - the Festival of Quilts! The dates are Thursday 19 August until Sunday 22 August. Our stand is in a new location this year, diagonally across the hall near the European Quilters Cafe at Stand D 50-52. Click on the map for a better view so you can find us more easily.

Come visit and see the New English Quilter, JUKI TL-98P sewing machine and the Nifty Grip Speed control handles in action. We'll also have the new range of JUKI Exceed sewing machines available to try and buy and, of course a great selection of Superior Threads. As I mentioned in the last post, we're going to have some exciting people helping out at our stand this year. We'll post more details and links as the date approaches and look forward to seeing you there.