Thursday, 31 March 2011


A few weeks ago, Dario Belloli, the GM of JUKI Italia Spa, invited us to go to a Patchwork & Quilting Event in northern Italy! The International Forum of Textile Creativity will feature embroidery, lace, patchwork, quilting, felt, cross stitch, weaving, crochet and knitting. The patchwork & quilting theme will be Herbaruim - a systematically arranged collection of plants. While the embroiderers and lace makers competition centres around flags. We'll be demonstrating our new Art Quilter frame with the JUKI TL98-P sewing machine.

I can't think of a better place to introduce our art frame! The Art Quilter was designed with the textile artist in mind - it's smaller and Oh so portable, so it can go anywhere your inspiration takes you. Add the JUKI TL98-P and you've got the dream team!

Emily and I are very excited! We're even brushing up on our Italian! "Fantastico! Splendido! Bellissimo!

Speaking of Italian, this video clip is a hoot! Perhaps it could be used as a doodling warm up activity...

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

New Tracks!

Meet Emma. Emma works and teaches quilting classes in a sewing machine shop in Salisbury. She bought a New English Quilter a couple of years ago and uses a JUKI TL98-P on her frame. We thought that Emma would be an ideal person to try out our new tracks. So when she came up for the workshop last month, we sent her home with the very first set of our new tracking system. Here's what she thought:
"Hi Martha,
Just a very quick note to say that I have just done two runs with the newtracks. OMG what a difference!! Don't forget that I had a complete nightmare just before Christmas and I was very worried that it was me! Well, I am happy to report - it isn't!! Yay! Early days with the quilt on the frame but looking good so far!!!

By the way I did a post on the retreat on my blog
if you want to check it out.
Hope you are well.
Emma xx"
Now Emma is happy because when she slides the carriage over the join in the tracks, she doesn't feel it. Not one little bit!

Are you bothered by the bump? If you own the original New English Quilter and have been bothered by the bump when you extend your frame to 8 or 10 feet you can upgrade to the new tracks. We are now offering the New 8 foot tracks for £99 and 10 foot tracks for £129. All our new frames will have the new tracking system included.

To purchase the new tracks you can ring us on
01526 378057 with your credit or debit card details.
Or you can purchase through PayPal using the buttons below.
Please note that you do not have to have a PayPal account to purchase through PayPal. PayPal merely processes your card details securely and quickly. You'll receive confirmation from us by e-mail.

8 foot New Seamless Tracks - £99
P&P - £4.99

10 foot New Seamless Tracks - £129
P&P - £4.99

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

About the bump...

Here is a photo of our old track extender system at the top of the photo with the new track, labelled 'B' underneath. I'm going to tell you a story about how we came up with the new track.

Our original tracking system was an innovation at the time because they were amazingly smooth! The tracks were also continuous at the 6 foot size and extendable to 8 and 10 feet. But with the extensions, there was a bump at the join. And this proved frustrating when you were working on a larger quilt. In an effort to get round this we did make a continuous 8 foot track. But the larger size was unwieldy and awkward to transport. Couriers would not accept anything over 6 feet in length and it was difficult to fit the long 8 foot tracks in many cars.

Paul, our innovative genius designer, likes to get things right. And he wasn't happy about the bump! So Paul has been trying to figure out a better way to extend the tracks for some time.

Paul uses wood for the tracks because the wood helps to absorb the vibration of the sewing machine. Metal tracks magnify the vibrations and the vibrations of the metal carriage wheels make small marks in the metal tracks, especially a light weight metal like aluminium. Over time, these indentations affect the smoothness of the carriage as it rides over the tracks. The natural elasticity of wood absorbs the vibrations. Over time the wooden track actually becomes smoother. So Paul definitely wanted to continue using wood. The challenge was how to create a seamless join, so the tracks could be extendible and portable.

Sometimes the answer to a puzzle is so simple you just wonder why you didn't think of it sooner. Paul's friend Phil suggested cutting the join at angle! A simple brilliant solution!

Paul developed a self-aligning fixture in the bottom of the track joint that ensures that the two sections are always exactly level with each other – but it still wasn't quite perfect until Phil (our “Man in Massachusetts” who helps with design and manufacture) suggested cutting the joint at an angle instead of straight across the track. Brilliant! That’s Phil, on the right with Paul, in the photo above.

Wow, what a difference! You can hardly feel the join when you run your finger over it. And with the carriage it's practically seamless. Well done Paul and Phil! Now the track can be extended to any size we like, and we won't feel the join while we're quilting. Not even a little bump!

Monday, 28 March 2011


I just love spending time with other quilters! Trudi has been producing these gorgeous feathers for years now. Last month I decided to give them a go. Trudi gave me a slice of her practice piece for inspiration. You can see it at the top of the photo. I spend a couple of hours of solid doodling the night before. Then just went for it on the frame. This is quilted in a pale blue MasterPiece thread which reads white against the blue but shows up against the white.

Not perfect but not bad! I'd made a table runner for some friends who put me up unexpectedly in a snow storm last December. I thought the blue and white would call to mind the snow and also they have a lovely blue and white kitchen too. I'm really pleased how it turned out. I think that I'm going to have to make one that I can keep!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Mad March

March is a mad month. Four of our 6 children have birthdays. They're all in this photo; left to right, Rosie now 15, Ben and Emily now 19 and Peter now 11. We made lots of cakes. Our best ever ice cream cake for Emily and Ben's 19th. (Ben and Jerry's was on sale.) Emily made a gorgeous carrot cake. And we made a gooey chocolate chip cookie cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce on top. Yum!

We all went bowling for a big party.

Perhaps the best cake was this home made play dough cake. We were celebrating the actual birthday of Annie and Teresa's new baby brother. The play dough kept 5 kids happy for 2 hours!

Sometimes I don't post because there is nothing note worthy. And sometimes there is just too much going on. This month it's definitely been a case of too much! We are bringing out two new frames! Very exciting. And we have been invited to Italy to demonstrate them at an Italian Quilt Show in northern Italy this May. Emily and I are busy brushing up on our Italian! We are scripting and filming the new DVD too. I'll be posting about this in the next few days.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Week After

It's been a week since the Machine Quilters Retreat and I am only just posting! Today I'll give a basic overview and go into more detail in later posts. It was lovely to be able to escape from ordinary life for a weekend. The girls were a real pleasure! Trudi from quilting prolifically was our guest quilter for the weekend.

The Chaplin House converted barn was transformed with many of Trudi's quilts. There were examples of Trudi's very first efforts right down through to her current projects. So we were able to track her progress. We were all inspired!Some girls brought sewing machines and we helped to get them threaded and tensioned properly. Trudi demonstrated the best way to clean and oil a JUKI. She even showed us a secret trap door - a great way to get out the gunk!

We had a couple of New English Quilter frames set up so we could practice various machine quilting line designs and see new designs demonstrated. Emma wanted to learn feathers and made a fantastic start! One of the best things about this part was seeing how different people execute the same line designs differently.

Some girls brought tops and we brainstormed together about possible quilting patterns and auditioned various threads. This is a gorgeous top which Joan made, called storm at sea.

We ended with a 'threaducation' talk where everyone got to touch and compare a variety of machine quilting threads and learn about how best to use them. It was a real bonus to see how these threads played out in Trudi's many quilts!

I left inspired by everyone and looking forward to the next Machine Quilters Retreat in April. The food was so good that I've asked for the same again. With any luck we might be able to take our coffee and tea breaks on the deck overlooking the back garden. Roll on Spring!