Sunday, 30 December 2012

White Christmas

8 foot NEQ2 on the 8 foot table
I decided to call Kate's quilt White Christmas.        Here in England our weather is mainly wet so if we wanted a white Christmas we needed to make it ourselves. I loaded the quilt sandwich on the 8 foot New English Quilter 2 frame. You can see the 6 foot Table painted with Blackboard paint and the two foot extension in the regular pale-wood-finish. The extension transforms the 6 foot table to an 8 foot to accommodate the 8 foot NEQ2 frame.This is just the right size for a double bed quilt.

marking the scalloped border
I wanted a scalloped border to give some definition to the top. But I decided to do the marking once the quilt was already loaded on the frame as the frame holds the fabric straight and steady creating a perfect writing surface. I used a ceramic mug lid for a template as it was the perfect size. You can just see the bit of tape I put across to mark the middle. This helped me to align it correctly along the end lines marked on the top of the quilt. I used the wash-away-blue-marker to trace around the template. These became guidelines that were echoed and scalloped to form the border.

machine quilting detail showing the echoed scalloped border
The line design in the middle of the quilt is my take on a pattern that Emily designed with Trudi after a retreat last year. It's fun to see how patterns change when different people quilt them. This design uses a central swirl with a quill and feather shape that is scalloped. It's a wonderful overall pattern because each shape dovetails so easily into the next. We'll be featuring this pattern in our January Retreat coming up soon.

Emily's line design for the central panel scalloping was added to the stitching
central panel quilting detail
My thread choice was the NEW Magnifico from Superior Threads, a creamy white called Elegante #2169 

the NEW Magnifico from Superior Threads #2169 Elegante

Magnifico is a beautiful light reflecting tri-lobal polyester with unusual fibre strength which makes it perfect for long arm machine quilting. It's available in 300 colours so it was easy to find a match to the Oakshot fabric I'd chosen for the top. This good match enabled me to create a subtle texture which was the kind of look that Kate wanted in her quilt. We used Bottom Line pre-wounds in Ivory for the bobbins. I hate winding bobbins so I love using the pre-wounds from Superior. With all the shades of white in this project the quilting was lovely!

Juki TL98P on the 8 foot NEQ2 frame with Magnifico from Superior Threads
Finally the layers were quilted using the JUKI TL98P. Notice how, even here at the end of the project, I still have plenty of room for the roll of fabric under the arm of the machine! Emily and I took turns quilting. We wanted to mix up our personal styles. We loaded the quilt on the Friday before Christmas. We took turns quilting on Saturday and finished up on the Sunday. Emily and I were really pleased. This was a project that took us way outside our comfort zones. Now Emily is keen to do it again using a more traditional pattern. Kate was very happy too! She's promised to send pictures of her White Christmas quilt in her Paris flat.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Winter in Paris

Rooftops Under Snow by Gustave Caillebotte 1878
My daughter Kate, is spending this year au pairing in Paris, working as an English  Nanny for a lovely family with  two young boys who live in the centre of Paris. She lives in a garret apartment over the family home. It all sounds rather romantic but perhaps a bit drafty and cold. So I thought it might be a good opportunity to make a quilt.

Kate's fond of neutrals and she wanted a white quilt. She suggested that perhaps I get lots of different kinds of white fabric and piece a quilt with it. As I'm very fond of colour myself I struggled with the idea. It seemed pointless to spend lots of time cutting and piecing white fabrics. Then I got a brilliant idea. Forget the piecing. Do a wholecloth quilt but in a modern style. Keep it simple and use wonderful materials.

I wanted the fabric to be special so I ordered 4 meters of a 'snowy white' from Oakshot Fabrics. I'd looked them up online and then rang to ask about what was in stock. They were so helpful! I mentioned that it was for a Christmas present and they posted it right away so it arrived the next day. Impressive service. Gorgeous fabric! I'm really looking forward to getting some Oakshot fabrics in colours for a future project.

Piecing the fleece with my JUKI Exceed 600
I wanted the quilt to be warm and soft and cuddley so fleece was my best choice for backing. It's an economical choice too as fleece serves as backing AND wadding. Since I splashed out on the Oakshot fabric for the top it was nice to save a bit of money on the other layers. I purchased some snow white fleece from Boyes for £5.50 a meter. The fleece is 64 inches wide from selvedge to selvedge, which is just perfect for a single bed quilt. But Kate wanted a double so I needed to piece the backing to get it big enough. Piecing fleece is simple; butt the ends together and use a zig zag stitch to join them. This creates a join with no bulk which is perfect for quilting projects. More to follow...

zig zagging to join the fleece

Friday, 21 December 2012

Poinsettia Petal Project

 Episode 3 from our Christmas mini-series is live now on the LineDancing site. It finishes with a quirky see-through-stitching project!

See how lots of different threads play out on a free-motion-embroidered embellished wholecloth project.

Festive designs directly from nature.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

O Christmas Tree

We put our tree up last Sunday. A Christmas tree makes inordinately happy. Especially at night when the glowing lights make it otherworldly. Episode 2 of our Christmas mini-series is now ready. It features a Christmas tree table runner where each tree acts as a machine quilting sampler. It's really just a chance to play with fabric and line designs and threads. Fast! Fun! Festive!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

New Members!

Cover shot of our Christmas mini-series

I wanted to post a big welcome to all our new members to the Line Dancing site. We're thrilled to have the site up and running and even more thrilled to have people joining and viewing the free stuff and classes. Now that the basic structure is in place, we'll be adding new classes and more free stuff every couple of weeks. We would really appreciate any feedback. We'll put it to good use as we tweak the site.

Thread painting detail of Episode 3
LineDancing is totally free to join. Once you join you'll be able to view free stuff and purchase individual classes. One of the best things about this site is that you get to see it right away. There's no waiting around for a DVD to arrive in the post! And there's no time limit either. When you purchase a class, it's available for you to watch as often and as long as you like. We'll be adding new content all the time.

Free-motion-quilting detail from Episode 2
Joining is very easy, just a name, email and password of your choice. Everyone is welcome! Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

LineDancing Goes Live

Christmas Mini-Series film shoot November 2012
We focus on the frames! That's what makes us unique. There is lots of information on machine quilting if you're sitting at your sewing machine. There's lots of information for long arm quilters too. But it's very hard to find any help for people using the more basic machine quilting frames.

Mini series Episode 3 Poinsettia Projects detail

We've been working hard to fill that gap. Over the years we've  created Machine Quilting Handbooks and DVD's, Websites and Blogs. We've hosted Demo's and Workshops and Retreats. All  focused on how to help people to get the most out of their machine quilting frames. Now we're pulling all these resources together in one place, our brand NEW Line Dancing membership site.

Line Dancing is designed to help any machine quilter using any sewing machine on any frame to become fluent at free-motion quilting. It offers instant access to classes, workshops and bite-sized-chunks of our video material. There's downloadable patterns and templates too. Best of all we'll be adding new content every month so that we'll be able to offer on-going inspiration and support for machine quilters everywhere. We've been preparing for months and now we're ready    LineDancing is going live today!

Poinsettia Projects detail from the Line Dancing Christmas Mini-series

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Threads

 Last Call for Christmas Threads.
Email me tonight and I'll get you on my list.

Here's a little teaser from a last minute Christmas project soon to be featured on the NEW Line Dancing Membership Site.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Guess what?

Coming Soon!

A new Line Dancing Machine Quilter Membership Site

We've been busy working on a surprise the past few months.

We live in a little English village, in the back-of-beyond in Lincolnshire. Yet we ship our New English Quilter frames all over the world.

Over the years we've created lots of material to help people using machine quilting frames to become more fluent at free motion quilting. We offer local demonstrations, workshops and retreats. We've also created dvd’s that teach a no mark method for learning line designs, a technique based on ball room dancing. It’s aimed to give machine quilters the necessary confidence to create bold and flowing lines of stitching.  It also teaches the trouble shooting techniques needed to get quilters, frames and sewing machines all working together smoothly.  Despite their popularity here in England, and America, Australia and beyond, we think it isn’t enough.

We need a place where everyone can come together for support and inspiration, where machine quilters can interact with each other, share knowledge and ask questions.  We've discovered from our retreats that learning together is so much more fun than learning alone. So we decided to create an on line community site. A place where classes, workshops and bite sized chunks of our video material can be instantly available to people everywhere. It offers the big added benefit of getting to ask questions and get answers directly from our instructors as well as tips and suggestions from other members.

Someone once said that quilting is like taking a line for a walk. Put your sewing machine on the carriage of a machine quilting frame and suddenly your line starts dancing. Our goal is to create an on line community, a Line Dancing Machine Quilter Membership Site where people who use machine quilting frames can get on-going inspiration and support, from us and each other.

We’re launching our Line Dancing Membership Site this December. Our introductory Christmas episodes will feature 5 festive Christmas line designs and a few quick and simple last minute projects. We’re offering the Introductory mini-series at a big discount to customers who have already purchased our DVD or attended our retreats. We hope you’ll enjoy the mini sessions and that you’ll give us suggestions and feedback to help us iron out the wrinkles as we learn how to manage the new site. We look forward to starting our new adventure with your help.  More details to follow. Meanwhile, please let us know what you think.

screen grab from the 5 festive line designs film shoot

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Last Look

2 cones of Rainbows  Superior Threads - 832 Rose Garden and  814 Gypsy
I'm handing the quilt over to Jade tomorrow. So here are a few final photos of the quilting detail. The photo above shows my progressive thread choices for the Kaffe rose border. I started with the Rainbows #832 aptly named Rose Garden but had to change to the #814 Gypsy so that I could see what I was quilting.

quilting detail in each section
 I've also used the Gypsy Rainbows to quilt the hearts in the small blue border.

quilting detail Springmaid Persian paisley stripes

The Springmaid Persian Paisley fabric was interesting enough so I used a fine Kimono Silk thread #306 Buttercup to create subtle texture in the central panel. I've just accentuated parts of the paisley pattern.

I used a  bright red Bottom Line pre-wound in the bobbin. It worked well with the trilobal polyester Rainbows and the Kimono Silk. I love how the non-pil fleece that I used as backing shows off the quilting designs on the back. I let Jade choose the backing, she could have opted for the more traditional 3 layers of top, wadding and backing. But Jade wanted her quilt to be soft and cuddly and keep her nice and warm in her attic flat - so it had to be the fleece.

fleece serves as both wadding and backing

Here's the finished quilt thrown across the 8 foot NEQ2 frame. I'm trying to catch the subtle texture of the quilting with the afternoon light from the window. 

Finally here's a shot of the binding. I found this fabric in my stash. I was so pleased because the colours were just right. I cut it on the diagonal so that it would echo the chevron stripe in the central Springmaid Persian paisley panel. Rosie said yesterday, "You know mom, one of the things that I like about this quilt is that the fabric is all patterned. It shouldn't go together, but it does!" Well, I loved making this quilt and I'm glad that it's going to one of my favourite people!

diagonal stripe binding

Monday, 19 November 2012

Eight Maids a 'Missing'

Dutch milkmaid Company logo
Colonel Elliot was a war hero in World War I, a flying ace who inherited several run down cotton mills in South Carolina.  Springs nursed them back to health during the Great Depression and into prosperity during the second World War. In the booming post war economy he manufactured sheets and pillow cases. But his company and brand were unknown. He needed a way to draw attention to his product and the advertising campaign he dreamed up is still the textbook example for how to establish a successful brand.
Elliot Springs Cotton Mill 1931 - the 'Tony Stark' of Textiles
Elliot Springs' factory had an in-house beauty contest and took the winners up to New York where they were sketched by leading illustrators.

James Montgomery Flagg sketching Springmaid beauty queen Billie Etters 1947

Elliot Springs incorporated the sketches into pin-up style style adverts. Springs provocative ad campaign changed the face of marketing. His risqué advertising made Springmaid Textiles famous and sales more than doubled. The ads also provoked considerable disapproval. Springs enjoyed the controversy, as long as people were talking about his company, he didn't care what they said.   

Springmaid  original Persian paisley detail
only the girl on the left remains in the reproduction fabric
In the original fabric, a very large horizontal stripe features 12 girls from the  Springmaid ad campaign.  The bevy of beauties was cut down to only four in the 1990's reproduction of the fabric by  Daisy Kingdom. The provocative poses of the infamous ad campaign were cut and only the four Dutch dairy maids remain.

Now you know why those 'maids went a 'missing!'  I never knew until yesterday, that the fabric in my mother's dress had such a 'colourful' history!  
Late 40's advert - boxer shorts!