Saturday, 31 December 2011

Photo Finish

cutting gingerbread cookies
Here's a photo finish to 2011. This new version of blogger is giving a good close up view when you click on the images.Celebrating the 12 days of Christmas gives us a chance to spread out the festivities. New Year's Eve falls on the 7th Day and our friends Simon and Angie came to visit with three small children Teresa, Annie and baby Joe.  I managed to get the binding on their table runner just before they arrived!  Since the table runner had a gingerbread theme we got out our favourite cookie cutters and made gingerbread biscuits.

finished products
Christmas table runners
the process start to finish

Pieced on the JUKI Exceed 600, I connected all the runners together with sashing so that I would only need to load the frame once. The sashing came in handy later.
Auditioning various threads
I used the Holly and Ivy thread from the King Tut range on one of the runners.
The Gingerbread runner needed ginger thread! MasterPiece #158 Moccasin
I used this hearts and loops pattern on two of the runners.Here it is in the King Tut 'Holly and Ivy'
All the runners were backed with green fleece.
While the project was on the frame the sashing fabric that joined the runners  was a perfect place to practice stitching and get the tension working right.
Once off the frame, I sliced off the sashing fabric. Now the runners were ready for binding.
Angie loved her present and everybody else enjoyed the ginger biscuits!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Film Shoot

Emily and Thomas dancing to 'Beyond the Sea'
We had a film shoot today for the new Line Dancing DVD. We were really lucky to catch a brilliant dancer, Thomas while he was home for the holidays. We were also delighted to be able to use the Kinema in the Woods as our venue.

The Kinema in Woodhall Spa
The Kinema in Woodhall Spa is the last remaining back projection cinema. Going to the Kinema is like entering a time warp. The amazing 1940's ambiance makes it the perfect backdrop to feature a Line Dancing DVD designed around a Bobby Darin song. We think that the stills are brill! But the moving version is even better.We apply the same techniques that make the dancing fun and fab to machine quilting!

Our new 'Beyond the Sea' Line Dancing DVD uses the repeated movements of scalloping and echoing to maneuver around our available machine quilting space. The curtain captures it all! Beyond the Sea, our next Lind Dancing DVD will be out soon!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Table Runners

My Mom's blue and green table runner on the 8 foot New English Quilter frame
Over the years I've collected a lovely stash of Christmas fabric. Some years I am just so overwhelmed that I get it out, look at it and put it back in the basket. This year I decided to do some really simple stripy table runners for presents. Keeping it simple made it more likely for me to finish in time for Christmas. The stripes work for me as what I really like is the look of the fabrics next to each other. And now, ever since I've been using a frame, it is the machine quilting that gives the magic touch.

My least favourite thing about machine quilting is loading the quilt on the frame. Don't get me wrong, it's way better than being on my hands and knees with hundreds of safety pins or basting or glueing! Anyway, this time I decided to make several runners and sew them together with some strips of fabric. That way I would only need to load the frame once and I could get right to my favourite part - the machine quilting.

Thread auditioning - going for the gold!
Being 'bleak mid winter' it is hard to get enough natural light for a good photo. But here they are all loaded on the frame.This first runner is for my Mom - she loves blue and green. It's fun deciding which threads to use. They're all gorgeous but I decided on the gold metallic from Superior Threads. These metallic threads are a pleasure to sew with! I'm using a Titanium coated 100/16 Topstitch needle, which is, by the way, exactly the same as a Metallic needle! The larger eye gives the thread plenty of room to move through the eye without shredding or breaking.

Filigree scroll work line design
The quilting pattern is a no-mark-hand-guided-free-motion pattern that I call 'filigree scroll work'. I like it because it is so easy to manoeuvre all around the quilting space. More to come...

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Exceeding Expectations

I've been enjoying using this new JUKI Exceed 600 to do piecing. My seams are soooo straight and there is no puckering at all.When we were in Houston the new JUKI 2010 machines were so popular that we were selling the show demo models right off the frames. On the last day we were without a sewing machine so we decided to put the Exceed on the frame just for fun. I didn't expect it to perform very well on the frame. Boy was I surprised!!
The JUKI Exceed 600 just seemed to float over the top of the quilt. The stitching was amazing! I was surprised. It would be a dream to use for  free-motion quilting sitting at the sewing machine.I still prefer the JUKI TL98-P or the 2010 for machine quilting on a frame because of the longer arm. But for someone who wanted one machine to use on AND off the frame I can heartily recommend the Exceed 600.It definitely exceeded my expectations!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Up Close and personal

Practice makes perfect. This is true, but sometimes practice is just not enough. Sometimes we need help that is Up close and Personal. That is exactly what our Machine Quilting Retreats are for. Being around other machine quilters who are using similar tools is really really helpful. And to be honest the other people on the retreat are just as helpful as the teachers!

Our Machine Quilting Retreads have participants of all levels and we find that everyone learns from everyone else. The smallest things can make the biggest difference. Getting to see and ask questions and get answers takes you to a new level. Getting to look over the shoulders of other machine quilters and listen to the questions that they think of asking helps you grow twice as fast.

The Petwood Hotel is a gorgeous setting. A bit of pampering away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life is a perfect way to get the new year off to a good start. Setting aside a weekend to focus on a craft that we're all passionate about creates the opportunity for everyone to grow into the 'loving intelligence' that I was waxing lyrical about it the last post.

There will be lovely food, good company, blazing wood fires and plenty of room to spread out and practice on our frames. The retreats are open to day visitors as well as people staying for the nights. There will be three teachers with different areas of expertise so we will be able to give plenty of up close and personal attention. To find our more drop me an email and or follow the link to the Retreats page on the website. A retreat is a great way to start off the New Year and recover from the busy holiday season. Martha, Anne and Trudi wish you all a joyful Christmas and hope to see you at the January Retreat.

Please email or ring with any questions:
Tel: 01526 378057

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Feast of St Nicholas

Today is Saint Nicholas Day. The kids reminded me when they opened the 6th door of the Advent calendar. I love old fashioned Advent calendars, the kind with the pictures instead of the chocolates! In honour of the day, I got out my Christmas fabric stash and started on some Christmas table runners. I'm going to keep them simple and strippy so I'll finish them fast.

St Nicholas was a real person, a bishop in what we now call Turkey. He was famous for doing kind deeds in secret, like putting gold coins in the stockings of some girls who needed a dowry so they could afford to marry. That's why we have bags of chocolate coins at Christmas time.

Say Saint Nicholas really fast 7 times and you'll get Santa Claus.

If you like old fashioned Advent calendars, follow the link. They ship all over the world.