Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pumpkin Light

Peter likes using power tools.

Rosie made masks out of leaves.

Ellie carved an owl and a pussy cat.

We wish you all joy in your pumpkins! Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pumpkin Day approaches

I've been collecting lots of great pumpkin ideas on my pumpkins etc pinterest board.

All kinds of things from quilty pumpkin carving to kitty costumes to fun food. If you're looking for some pumpkin inspiration for tomorrow follow the link to my pinterest board.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

monster patches

I thought this was a brilliant idea when I saw it on pinterest several weeks ago. So I saved it to one of my boards. Today when my son, Peter told me that all his trousers had holes in the knees I decided that it would be a good time to try it out.

I have lots of fleece scraps in many colours left over from my quilting projects,

which served as the mouth, teeth and eyes. One of the great features about fleece is that it won't unravel so these trousers should go through the wash just fine.

I used the sewing macine, a JUKI Exceed 600, to sew the teeth and the mouth.

I used buttons and fleece

to hand sew the eyes.

Here's one leg done.

And now both modelled by Pete. A double barrelled monster
all ready for Halloween.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Christmas is coming

Christmas will be here before we know it! So check and see if you've got the threads you need to complete those Christmas projects. We're putting a Superior Threads order through next Monday. The machinequilter shop site is getting a re-make so use the Stateside site: as a shop window and phone or email your order. We'lll collect payment when we ship your order. 

Here's an updated UK price list:

King Tut  100% extra-long staple really grown in Egypt cotton
2,000 yd cone   £17.95

Masterpiece a fine thin 100% extra long staple Egyptian  cotton thread ideal for piecing
2,000 yd cone £17.95

Kimono Silk stunning, gorgeous yet easy to machine quilt with
1,090 yd mini cone £13.95

Rainbows light reflecting tri-lobal polyester, this one inch colour change variegated thread won't give the strippy look 2,000 yd cone £13.95

Metallics they work we promise or your money back! put some bling in your Christmas projects
1,090 yd mini cones £10.95

Bottom Line ideal for the bobbin but great for appliqué and sewing the binding
3,000 yd cone £10.95

The New Magnifico 3,000 yd glorious light reflecting Tri-lobal polyester for the amazing price of £9.99

Make sure you're using the right needle! The right needle does make all the difference. For FMQ use a 100/16 Topstitch needle. We offer the stays-sharp-for-longer Titanium coated version here in the UK for £4.99 per 5/pack.

We are the original Superior Threads Distributor here in the UK.
We specialise in the larger cones.  
We offer the best prices in Europe. 
All our prices include VAT.
Auditioning King Tut Malachite and Gold Metallic
For even better prices take advantage of our 
bulk buy discounts.
buy 10 cones get 8% discount
buy 20 cones and get a 12% discount
ideal for long arm quilters, teachers and busy quilters

Threads make great presents for your quilting friends, we'll wrap and post them directly for you!

ring: 01526 378057

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cuddly Quilt Tips

it doesn't get better than this!
 Someone posted a question on Leah Day's blog about density. Cheri was concerned that her quilt's were too stiff and cardboard-like. She wanted to be able to create something more cuddly. I posted a comment but there's only so much you can say in a tiny comment box. So I'm going to expand my comments here and go into a little more depth on how to achieve cuddly quilts. 

Materials and Methods for cuddly quilts:

1. Use fleece! I'm a bit of a last minute person. I don't have the time to spend years of washing to get a quilt soft and supple. When I make a quilt for someone I usually needed it 'yesterday' not next year. So here's tip #1: if you want a cuddly quilt begin by choosing soft and cuddly materials - like fleece or even minky. You need good quality non pill fleece. This costs a bit more than the cheap stuff but it's worth every penny. Good quality anti pil fleece washes beautifully. It also shows off your stitching.  Fleece is very economical, because it serves as backing AND wadding. That's two jobs for the price of one. 

a fleece backed quilt on the 6 foot Art Quilter frame

Here in the UK I can get lovely fleece from the haberdashery department of Boyes. Another fantastic source is fabric-online they offer a huge selection of 49 colours for £5.95 per meter! Do the math and you'll see this is a much more affordable option than the cost of backing fabric and wadding/batting combined.

click to see the quilting and notice how the fleece shows up the quilting pattern

The first time I ever saw fleece used in a quilt, was at a local quilt exhibition.  A woman had made this teddy bear themed quilt for her grandson. It had flannel on top and fleece underneath. It was the softest, cuddliest quilt I'd ever felt. I was inspired to give fleece a try and I've been using fleece for drag-around-the-house-kiddie-quilts ever since.

Rainbows light reflecting tri-lobal polyester thread keeps a quilt soft

2. Use polyester thread! The kind of thread you use makes a huge difference in the feel of your quilt. Cotton thread, especially densely quilted cotton thread will give your quilt a stiff cardboard like quality. Yes, it will soften up over time with repeated washing, but if you want your quilt to start out soft, use polyester at the very least in the bobbin. Even if you use cotton on the top, pairing it with a polyester in the bobbin like Bottom Line by Superior Threads will keep the quilt softer and more supple.

My favourite top threads for cuddly quilts are trilobal polyesters like the one-inch-colour-change variegated Rainbows line or the new Magnifico range from Superior. These lint-free gorgeous light reflecting threads are beautiful to look at and soft to touch. Because they're made for machine quilting they run through my sewing machine like butter. Bottom Line comes in lots of colours and is available in pre-wound bobbins or 3,000 yd crosswound cones. I like to match my bobbin thread to the fleece colour. This creates gorgeous texture on the back of my quilts. All these threads are available here in the UK from the machinequilter website.

a paisley whole cloth quilt

3. Loosen up! This final tip has to do with method. Think of a quilt as a combination of quilted lines and un-quilted spaces. The quilted lines hold the quilt together and the un-quilted spaces give you the fluffiness. Both are necessary and good. No matter what materials you use, if you quilt too many lines you will quilt out all the fluffiness. If you want a soft and cuddly quilt then use a soft and flowing line design for the quilting and leave some un-quilted negative space. This will create a quilt that drapes well and is soft and fluffy.

Perhaps the tendency towards over-quilting comes from the methods and tools we use. Sitting at the sewing machine to free-motion-quilt small sections at a time, lends itself to dense quilting. Lots of people like this look. It's great for wall hangings, table runners and gorgeous award winning bed quilts. But not for soft cuddly kid quilts. Soft cuddly quilts need a looser, less dense quilting style. 

Gypsy,  our cat thinks it's cuddly even on the frame
I think it is easier to achieve a looser quilting style standing up at a frame. A machine quilting frame gives you a much larger section of the quilt to work on.  Frame quilting allows a free-er more open quilting style because it's so much easier to free-motion quilt when the frame is holding the quilt sandwich nice and steady. It's also much easier to create bigger flowing lines by using the sewing machine needle like a pen as you glide your sewing machine over the top of your quilt. 

The tools we use do shape the kind of projects we make. I find it much easier to create larger more flowing lines standing up at a machine quilting frame rather than sitting at the sewing machine and wrestling with my quilt under the arm. Perhaps this has something to do with my body tension. I'm up-tight sitting at the machine and I'm much more relaxed standing at the frame. Being relaxed translates into a looser more flowing quilting style, which of course creates a softer more cuddly quilt.

If working with fleece is a new idea for you and you'd like a sample, email me your postal address and I'll send you a  little machine quilting sample. The samples are machine quilted on a New English Quilter frame with tri-lobal polyester threads on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin. The quilt sandwich has cotton fabric on top and anti pil fleece underneath. You'll be able to feel the difference for yourself.


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Test Drive a New English Quilter

 Maggie wanted a test drive. She'd seen our New English Quilter frames online and liked them better than any of the others. But she still needed to try them for herself. So Maggie came for a demo with her friend Jenny. It's always a good idea to bring a friend or husband along. Maggie brought both! Men and women see the frame quite differently. Men tend to notice the thought that went into the design and especially just how well the frame has been put together. Men wax lyrical about the ratchets and the screws and they love that it's made here in the UK.

Women tend to focus more on what the frame will do, how it can be used to complete quilts more quickly and comfortably and to a much higher standard. Two heads are better than one, and three are better yet. Jenny was a brilliant person for Maggie to bring. As an experienced long arm quilter, Jenny knew what to look for in a frame. She could compare it to her Gammill and confirm that yes, the New English Quilter did move just as smoothly for a fraction of the cost. It was much much easier to set up and take down and was just the right size to fit into Maggie's available space at home.

Coming for a test drive helped Maggie decide that the 8 foot NEQ2 was just the right frame for her. This size frame would enable to to complete bed sized quilts up to queen and smaller projects too. She's ordered a JUKI TL98P sewing machine as well as the table and the Nifty Grip speed control handles that replace the foot pedal. Maggie will come again to collect her frame is a couple of weeks time. She'll enjoy the next demo even more. Then we'll pack her new 8 foot NEQ2 frame, table and Juki TL98P Nifty Grips in the car and she'll head off home. With two free demo's under her belt she'll be definitely ready to roll when she get's home!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

No place like home

Source: via Martha on Pinterest

Last week,  two sets of gals came for a demo visit from different parts of the country. Lynda purchased the 8 foot New English Quilter 2 at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. She came to visit with her mum, Doreen to collect her new frame and get a personal tutorial. Shows like the Festival of Quilts are so exciting and they provide the perfect opportunity to try and compare all the frames on offer. But sometimes people are so focused on purchasing the frame that they don't remember what to do with it once they've got it.

our stand at Festival of  Quilts 2012
 Shows are busy and crowded.  In all the commotion it can be hard to see and remember all the information that you need to get a new machine quilting frame up and running. Coming to collect the frame is the perfect solution. In the comfort of home with just a few people you have time to think. You can ask all the questions you like,  try the frame again,  play with various threads, and see how to load a quilt sandwich. We take the frame and table apart and put it back together, and look at lots and lots of quilts. And yes, we do have cups of tea and coffee and cakes to keep us going!

On a personal note, these collection demo's give us a chance to get to know our customers better. It's lovely to have the time for conversation over a cup of coffee or tea and a nice slice of cake. This works both ways. Our customers also enjoy the personal touch. People like knowing the Lincolnshire village where our frames are made. Once we've spent a few hours playing with the frame and sewing machine and talking shop, customers feel much more confident that they'll be able to get everything up and running smoothly when they get home.

Little Houses in the Big Woods machine quilted by Martha Milne

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Free Demo's

a sideways stack of quilts
 One of the best ways to see our New English Quilting frames is to come for a demo. They're free! And they're fun and they can last as long as you like.We're based in Lincolnshire, right in the middle of the country. For people coming any distance there is a cosy B&B right across the street and the charming Petwood Hotel in the next village.

loading the Maple Leaf on the 8 foot NEQ2 frame
We'll start with tea or coffee and cakes. We have the New English Quilter frame set up with the JUKI TL98P sewing machine and a variety of Superior Threads all ready for you to try. Then there is my stack of quilts and sample pieces to give you an idea of the kind of quilting projects that are possible. 

finding the centre of the backing
We'll take the frame and table apart and put it back together again. And we'll demonstrate how to load a quilt sandwich on the frame. There is plenty of time for questions. There is no queue or audience and no pressure.  

pinning the backing fabric to the first leader
Many people come for a demo because they're thinking about buying a machine quilting frame and want the chance to try it first. It's the ideal way to get a proper view of the frame, how it works and all the possibilities that this kind of tool opens up. Shows like the Festival of Quilts are exciting and give the opportunity for thousand of people to see and try it out. But a personal demonstration is much more peaceful and thorough!

backing, wadding and top pinned to the first leader
We also offer free demo's for people who are coming to collect a frame they have already purchased. We spend a couple of hours going through the set up and quilt loading options. We talk about sewing machines and how to get the best performance using them on a frame. We look at lots of quilts and talk about how to execute all sorts of quilting designs. We try out lots of threads and finally we spend a bit of time with pen and paper modelling how to become more fluent with new line designs.

Auditioning thread Seashell #807 Rainbows  from Superior Threads
We pack a lot of information into a couple of hours. But it is well worth the effort because the new owners leave confident and happy with heads buzzing with all sorts of new ideas. The demo helps them to get up and running when they get home.We're having a demo tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.

lots of inspiration