Friday, 24 August 2012

Road Trip

We're heading south for the weekend to visit some friends. We'll be back on Tuesday. We'll catch up with you then and post reason number 5. Meanwhile, have a great weekend!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Front or Back

Being able to see what you're doing is a big deal! There was so much to post about this 4th reason that I needed to break it up into 3 posts. This post deals with which side of the frame is best to work from and why. That's why it's called Front or Back?

Our smaller 4 and 6 foot Art Quilter frames are designed to work from the back. There are good reasons for this. Long arm quilting machines work from the front. This is because the longer arm positions the needle closer to that end of the frame. Long Arm quilting machines can have arms that range from 18 to 30 inches. That's a long arm! They have better visibility working from the front because their eye-to-needle distance is much closer from that end of the frame.. This eye-to-needle measurement is really important because the closer your eye is to the needle the better you'll see what you're stitching.

On this APQS long arm called Lenni the girls using it can see better working from the front or needle side of the sewing machine.That's because this machine has a whopping 20 inch long by 8 inch tall arm.

Sue Schmieden and Angie Gibbs working from the front 
Choose the side of the frame that puts your eye closer to the needle. It's the length of the sewing machine arm that determines which side of the frame you should work from. If you have a long arm sewing machine, that's an arm between 18 to 30 inches, then work from the front. If you are quilting with an ordinary domestic sewing machine your eye is much closer to the needle working from the back.

Martha working the JUKI TL98P from the back at the Petwood Retreat
My ancient and much beloved Bernina 808 (a great starter machine for FMQ on a frame BTW) has a 7 inch or 17.5 cm arm. My current favourite piecing machine, the JUKI Exceed HZL600, gives me 8 inches or 20cm of under arm space. My straight stitch JUKI TL98 P gives nearly 9 inches or 22 cm of space under the arm. All these machines will operate better from the back, because the distance between your eye and the needle is shorter from that side of the frame. Once your sewing machine arm is more than 15 inches then it becomes better to work from the front.

Emily working from the back on her Uni quilt
Our larger 8 and 10 foot 7 inch NEQ2 frames can work from either the front or the back depending on the size of your sewing machine. The closer your eye is to the needle, the easier it is to see what you're doing. The rule of thumb is as follows: if your arm is less than 15 inches work from the back. If it's more than 15 inches then work from the front.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Back from the Festival

We had such a good time at the show!  We're catching up on emails and still unpacking and sorting. All the new orders are now under way. I'll be contacting everyone next week to let you know about the progress on your Art Quilter and NEQ2 frames, Tables and Nifty Grip speed control Handles.

 Meanwhile here are a few photos. The days seemed to fly by and so I tried to catch a few photos of the stand on Sunday afternoon.

One of our favourite things about the show is watching the faces of people who try our frame for the first time. And this little guy really does capture the astonishment and fun of being able to draw so easily with the needle.

His mum had a try later.

 Emily's keeping up with the paperwork. It's Sunday afternoon, she's been demonstrating for 4 days, taken the Art Quilter frame apart and put it back together over a hundred times and she's still smiling!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Super Show Time Sale

We're heading off to the NEC this morning for the Festival of Quilts.We've just packed our biggest ever selection of Superior Threads. To celebrate Festival of Quilts 2012 we're slashing our Superior threads prices for the duration of the show. All our prices are seriously slashed and there's a discount on top for multiple purchases. Come see us at the JUKI/MachineQuilter stand A46, B36 - 38  and try our JUKI sewing machines with Superior Threads on our New English Quilter and Art Quilter frames. We hope to see you there!

If you can't make the Birmingham Show this year, no worries, you can still take advantage of the show sale.

Simply use the American site:
as a shop window 
make a list and
 email your thread order to:

Put your list and your contact information in the email and we'll give you the show sale prices when we get back. To take advantage of the sale send us your list in an email. The online shop on our machinequilter website will charge the full price. So be sure to send us your order by email. This sale only lasts for the duration of the show. Email us your list, after the show, we'll email you back the Super Show Sale prices and you can decide if you want to purchase the threads at the Sale price. If you do, then we'll process the payments and ship you the threads.This way, everyone can take advantage of the Show Sale.

Have a great week!
Martha and Emily

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


This post is a little aside from our count down. Yesterday, our daughter Ellie turned 14. It was also the day the Pixar/Disney film, Brave opened in in the UK Cinemas near us. 

So we decided to celebrate both events with a trip to the Kinema in the Woods.The Kinema is the last remaining back projection Movie theatre. We've used it as a set for one of the scenes in our Beyond the Sea DVD.So when I mentioned to the owner that Ellie looked just like the main character he invited her to the opening day showing.

 Ellie already had the hair and Pauline Loven from Crow's Eye Productions provided the costume. Now this is the really neat part, Pauline just re-dyed one of the costumes from the Luttrell Psalter DVD. Pauline's costumes are historically accurate. They're copied from the illustrated borders of this amazing manuscript which gives us a window into the life of medieval England.

When we realized that the Brave film had the same costume as those we used in the Lutrell Psalter film, we were impressed. It meant that Pixar/Disney had done their homework. It was nice to know that the animators had taken the trouble to be historically accurate too.

Wealthy and Royal people could afford to have servants to dress them, so their dresses laced up the back. Ellie is having to make do with me here.

Ordinary people had to dress themselves so their dresses laced up the front. You can see both types modelled by Kate and Emily in the photo above taken during the Luttrell Psalter film shoot.

We had a great day.
and we all thought

that Ellie did look truly amazing!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Kate's Ohio Star

All quilted!
Kate sent a photo of her finished quilt. It's lovely! What the photo doesn't show is just how quickly she finished this project. Kate was heading off to Sweden last week to visit her brother's family in their new home. She wanted the quilt as a house warming present. But the flight was for Saturday.

setting up Kate's 8 foot NEQ2
 On Wednesday she had the frame all set up, but realized that she needed a spring loaded hopping foot for her sewing machine. Unfortunately, the local sewing machine shop shuts on Wednesday afternoons. So we had to wait till Thursday. The last time I saw Kate it was Thursday evening. She'd just finished a little practice piece. She'd added some side strips to the quilt top and was loading it on the frame. 

Kate's un-quilted Ohio Star top
Kate said;"Quilting took no time at all - had it finished that evening! Very excited to get more finished now. Got a few planned..."
 Kate used a scalloped mussel shell pattern, the same line design she used last September, when she's been finishing some quilts to take to University.

The great thing about getting a line design in your head is that it all comes back when you need it again.The scalloped mussel shell pattern is a quick and forgiving pattern, easy to maneuver every-which-way around your quilt top. The light travels beautifully across the quilted surface and mistakes just seem to disappear! Kate used a King Tut thread #920 Sands of Time and a 100/16 Topstitch needle. She quilted a present she can really be proud of in just a couple of hours.Not bad after a gap of 10 months. Well done Kate! What a difference the quilting makes!

scalloped mussel shell quilting detail

Thursday, 2 August 2012

side stage sashing

True confession time. Despite free-motion machine quilting since 2003, I still get a bit nervous each time I begin to quilt a new project. There's that moment of near panic just before I hit the start button on the handles. "Am I going I mess up?" "Will the thread tension be OK?" "Do I remember the pattern?" Usually I just take a deep breath and jump in. But recently I've found a better way.

This is a great tip and we're featuring it in our next Line Dancing DVD Beyond the Sea. We started with the idea that if you sew an extra strip of fabric along one side of your quilt, you'll have a 'side stage' place to get the machine tension sorted, and do a bit of last minute practising. Once everything is running smoothly then you can gracefully enter the main quilt Any starting off mistakes can be kept to the 'side stage' and then sliced off with a rotary cutter once the quilt is taken off the frame. We tried it with this wall hanging project and it worked a treat! Having a safe place to go and get everything running smoothly took lots of the pressure off. It was a perfect solution my starting up jitters.

Sand Sea and Sky Art Quilt by Martha Milne

Then we took a little break to work on Uncle Jeremy's wedding stole. I needed both sides to match so I loaded the project on the Art Quilter frame so that Emily could stitch across both panels at the same time. I stitched the stole panels together with 'sashing strips' on either side and in-between. This allowed Emily to keep the quilting pattern consistent across both panels. They also provided the 'side stages'; places to work through any tensioning, thread or line design hiccups before stitching on the main project. Here, we discovered that it was really good to have the side stages on BOTH sides.

 The sashing on the left side helps me to start confidently.

The sashing on the right side gives me a smooth exit.

Sea Green Art Quilt by Martha Milne

At the end, once I've taken the project off the frame, I can slice off the side stage sashing pieces with my rotary cutter, leaving the good stitches in the middle.When you stop to think about it, the entrance and the exit stitches of a project are usually the most troublesome. I'll be including the 'side stage sashing' on both sides now!