Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dream Machine

We are throwing a question out to all machine quilters....
If you could stretch your sewing machine to any size you liked
What would it be???????????
What is the ideal arm length of your dream machine?

If you had a choice between 14 inches, 16 inches or 18 inches
Which one would you pick? and why?
Please let me know where you are, UK, USA, wherever.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Mille Miglia

Here's another story from our Italian trip. When the Textile Show ended, we would drive back to our hotel, collapse for an hour and then meet up and walk through the park into Parma to get an evening meal. One evening as we crossed the bridge into the town center, there were crowds of people lining the streets waving flags and cheering.
Really retro classic cars were zooming up and down the streets. We had stumbled upon the Mille Miglia.

Mille Miglia is a thousand mile endurance race across Italy. The first Mille Miglia races ran from 1927 to 1957. Restarting again in 1977, the drivers always compete in cars from the 1927 to 1957 era, in honour of the original races

Mille Miglia is regarded as the most beautiful automobile race in the world. We watched Alfa Romeos, BMWs, Ferraris, Bugattis, Austin Healys, Bristols, Lamborghinis, Fiats and Mercedes-Benzes mostly driven by eccentric men in goggles and leather caps. This was so cool! Our Italian hosts enjoyed it just as much as we did.

JUKI Italia Spa were our hosts for the Italian trip. They were also one of the main show sponsors, providing sewing machines for the workshops and prizes for the winning quilts. Keen to promote Italian patchwork and quilting, JUKI invited us to demonstrate how the JUKI TL 98-P sewing machine performed on our new Art Quilter frame. In writing about the Mille Migulia, I am struck by what this race has in common with the JUKI sewing machine. These cars are some of the most finely engineered vehicles in the world. Designed for speed and endurance, they are beautiful to watch and a delight to drive. The JUKI TL 98P sewing machine shares these same qualities.

Many people, particularly here in Europe have never heard of JUKI sewing machines. Yet JUKI is one of the most successful industrial sewing machine companies in the world. The JUKI company channels its extensive industrial technology into creating the best domestic sewing machines on the market. The Italian Textile Show provided an opportunity for many people to test drive a JUKI TL 98 P on a machine quilting frame for the very first time. The speed, ease of handling, the simplicity of design that makes it easy to tension, the sweet purr of the powerful engine going 1500 stitches per minute...

These final photos show Dr. Dario Belloli, the CEO of JUKI Italia Spa, test driving his JUKI TL 98 P on our Art Quilter machine quilting frame. He loved it!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Child's Play

Today we set up our 6 foot Art Quilter frame with the JUKI sewing machine at my son's primary school. Peter is in year 6 and his teacher wanted some help with a textile project. She'd asked me to quilt some 'sari' fabric that the class had picked up on a school trip to Leicester.

I suggested that we get the kids to do it. Peter's teacher liked the idea. Kids love machine quilting. They're not afraid to try new things. They thought the JUKI sewing machine was brilliant. The Nifty Grip speed control handles were easy to use. They quickly realized that the needle was like a pen. They loved making the sewing machine go wherever they wanted and really liked the trail the thread left to show where they'd been.

They doodle all the time - so warming up was easy.

We decided to only use one layer of fabric and give everyone a chance to machine embroider their name and any other designs they wanted. Everybody had a couple turns. Then we took the fabric off the frame, sliced it into triangular flag shapes with the rotary cutter, hot glued it to some dowels and made flags.

Start to finish it was just over two hours. The kids really enjoyed the afternoon. The flags were a hit! Everybody liked taking home their very own hand guided textile project. Quilting is cool!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A Piece of the Action

One of my favourite things about shows is watching people's expressions as they try a machine quilting frame for the first time. There is a moment of stunned disbelief as the carriage holding the sewing machine starts to glide effortlessly over the top of the quilt at the touch of a finger. The eyes widen and focus, considering the new potential that this sort of tool opens up.

No more pinning or basting or gluing or tacking! No more frustrating pain in the neck as you try to hold the layers of the quilt together AND move them smoothly round the bed of the sewing machine. Within seconds of guiding the sewing machine over the top of the quilt you are creating a bold and flowing line, the stitch length is already pretty good and you begin to imagine what you could do with a bit of practice. Exciting stuff!

People start with circles and loops. The needle has become a pen and the thread is transformed into gloriously coloured ink. The perfectly tensioned quilt top becomes the paper. As this realization dawns people go on to writing their names and begin drawing flowers and stars, houses and at this show... cats! I'll end with one of my favourite drawing from the Italian show; this lovely woman, trying out our frame for the first time began drawing people holding hands. Just wonderful!

After the show closes for the evening, Emily and I cut out the designs from the show demo quilt sandwich and keep them to hand out as machine quilting samples. Quilters are so tactile! Having watched a demonstration or had a go yourself, it's good to walk away with a sample of what can happen when you put a JUKI TL98-P on an Art Quilter frame. If you would like a 'piece of the action' give us an email and we'll send you a machine quilting sample:


Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Italy was wonderful! The people, the weather, the food, the shops all so delightfully different.

The northern Italian city of Parma was the venue for the Textile Show. Our hotel was within walking distance from the city so we were able to explore it on foot in the evenings. There were these cool yellow trams.

And this one sported an advertisement for our show - the 5th International Forum for Creative Textiles. The show featured lace making and embroidery as well as patchwork and quilting.

The JUKI TL 98P sewing machine on our Art Quilter machine quilting frames generated a lot of interest! Most people asked us where the computer was that was generating the line designs. Our response was "Fantasia!" which means that the lines designs came from our own imagination. This was the first time many of the visitors had ever seen or tried a machine quilting frame.

Emily and I jotted down some of the most popular comments:
"Bellisimo!" - So beautiful!
"Facile" "Semplice"- Easy and simple
"Bello! bello! bello!"
"Mamma mia!" - yes, Italians really do say this, a lot!
"stupendo!" - Great!
"Meraviglioso!" - marvellous
"Ganzo!" - northern Italian slang for cool
"Io lo vuo!" - I want this!

We think they liked it!
I'll post more about Italy tomorrow.