Thursday, 30 June 2011

Custom Job

Sometimes we get asked to do a custom job. A quilter in Canada needed a frame for her Handi-Quilter Sweet 16 sewing machine. But she was short on space and only had room for a 6 foot table. Our challenge was to create a frame big enough to accommodate the 16 inches on the arm of that whopper sewing machine and strong enough to bear the weight yet small enough to fit comfortably in her home.

To give some perspective, I put the JUKI TL98 P on the carriage to show just how big this carriage is. It has been reinforced to bear the weight of the 53 lb sewing machine! But it still glides effortlessly along the tracks at the touch of a finger. The carriage has enough front to back movement to take advantage of those 16 inches of throat space.

This frame is heading off to Canada but we'll be making more. I think we're going to be needing bigger frames over here too. There's a rumour that stretch JUKI's are coming to the UK!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

July Retreat!

Fancy a weekend away to learn some new line designs? Come to our July Machine Quilting Retreat!

The Retreat venue is the Chaplin House converted barn - a lovely venue with lots of light and good working space. The retreats are a new venture for us, and they've been brilliant.This July retreat will be our third this year. The food and the fellowship are excellent and a worthwhile part of the whole experience.No materials are required for the sessions. We talk about care of the JUKI, thread options, creating line designs and gaining fluency on the frame.

The participants are a good mix between new and experienced quilters.The retreats are small and hosted by Martha Milne and Trudi Wood - so there is plenty of one on one instruction. I've found it quite inspiring to see ideas bounce off a group of diverse but like minded people. Let me know if you're interested or have any questions:

Thursday, 23 June 2011

NEQ2 Launch!

It sounds like an ocean liner and it is designed to cross the Atlantic! The NEQ2 is the updated version of our original New English Quilter.

We’ve made some changes. The NEQ2 is designed to accommodate larger quilts and larger sewing machines. The poles are sturdier in order to limit bowing, the track joins are seamless to eliminate ‘the bump’ and the arms have been redesigned so you can work from either side! The carriages are bigger too, to handle the larger sewing machines.

We've kept all the great features of the Original New English Quilter. It's still easy to assemble, simple to use, and handcrafted to be beautiful AND useful. We still offer the very best service before and after our sales.

The NEQ2 comes in 2 standard sizes: 8 foot and 10 1/2 feet. We also offer a custom service to your specific requirements. For more information, visit our website. Forget the cruise get the Quilter!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Home from Rome

A view from the bridge, looking across the Tiber to St Peter's Basilica. Rome was warm and wonderful. Coming originally from America, England has always seemed 'old' to me. But Rome takes 'old' to a new level.

Our three youngest are sitting outside St Paul's Basilica.

What has most surprised me is the sheer scale of the buildings, inside and out!

It was so hot we needed to stop and play in the fountains.

It was fun to be together as a family in such a memorable place.

Friday, 10 June 2011

New English

I just finished piecing the top and hung it up in the window to let the sun shine through. I'm going to call it 'New English.' Emily will be machine quilting it in our new 'Beyond the Sea' DVD. The design was inspired by the 'asterisk blocks' featured in the Selvage blog last year. I needed an English flag design and extending the asterisk gave me the Union Jack.

Something interesting happens when a quilt top goes vertical. My family has seen this quilt all over the front room floor while I've been auditioning fabric and figuring out the block placement. But as soon as I hang it up everyone goes "Wow!"

I began with a series of small blocks with 1930's style fabrics which I called 'Best of British'. But I'd wanted to create much larger blocks using the fresh modern big bold fabrics of the new designers. So I began collecting Amy Butler and Kaffe and Heather Bailey, Philip Jacobs and Michael Miller. I love the play between form and freedom; the contrast between the bold geometrical shapes and the lush floral prints.

It reminds me of the organized chaos of the English cottage garden where criss crossed pathways cut through exuberant riots of colour.

While simple folk were enjoying cottage gardens, the famous 18th century landscape gardener, 'Capability' Brown was creating a new style of garden for the rich and famous.

Once described as the Shakespeare of gardeners, his influence extended to just about every stately home in England. He rejected the rigid geometric style and created gardens with a more natural casual elegance. Interestingly, Capability Brown's style was called 'New English!'

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Body Measurements

All the old measurements are related to the human body. Feet were... well... feet. Inches the distance between knuckles. I discovered the yard measurement myself, when I was trying to quickly estimate the yardage left on a bolt of fabric, holding the fabric from the tip of my nose to the end of my middle finger worked a treat. I've had this picture in my mind of short-armed fabric merchants in the markets of antiquity : ) Noah's Ark was measured in cubits. And Fathoms measure depth of water. They've been in use in England since before 1600, and may be derived from faethm, the Anglo Saxon word for 'to embrace', because it is roughly the distance from one hand to the other if your arms are out-stretched. I guess in all these measurements, it was pretty handy being able to use something you couldn't loose.

Wealthy people were able to commission tools and weapons designed, weighted and balanced to fit the body measurements of the person using them. Perhaps you can see where I'm going here. I'm not sure that bigger is always better. At least not for hand guided machine quilting. I think it is possible for a sewing machine to be too big. There is a built in limit to how far we can comfortably push the sewing machine away from us and pull it back again. I'm hoping to find that window that gives us the space we need to execute our quilting designs yet stay comfortable. This is why I am so interested in getting feedback from people already using longer armed machines. Computer guided quilting is, of course, a completely different matter. Computers are not limited by human body ergonomics. But it is the human element in quilting which most interests me!

I'd like to thank everyone who has posted comments and emailed about the ideal length of your 'dream machine'. We are finding the responses really useful. Please keep them coming!