Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Glow-in-the-Dark Thread

With all the excitement about the new Star Wars, I thought it was a good time to post about NiteLite Extra Glow-in-the-dark threads. Here's a photo taken with a black light (the pink light sabre on the left!) My son's girlfriend Jade is using my JUKI TL98P straight stitch sewing machine on our 6 foot New English Quilter frame.

Follow the link to the Superior Threads education pages to find out how glow-in-the-dark threads work and how you can use them in your projects.

NiteLite Extra Glow glow-in-the-dark threadn my JUKI TL98P straight stitch sewing machine

 NiteLite Extra Glow shows up so well in Black lighting, but it shows up well in natural light too.

NiteLite really comes into it's own during these dark winter nights. I have a feeling that anything remotely related to Star Wars is going to be very popular this season. 500 yd cross-wound cones of NiteLite are available here  in the UK from the Machine Quilter shop.
NiteLite available here in the UK from Machine Quilter

Friday, 18 December 2015

Quilting a Christmas Card

The whole time that my mom was piecing the Christmas Tree card quilt, she and I were discussing how to quilt it. We decided that we wanted to quilt a garland of holly and ivy in the wide red border.

For me, the first step in quilting a new pattern is always to practise it on paper before I even think about approaching the machine. I have a huge long roll of tracing paper that I like to use for practising my quilting designs. I practised the pattern below for a couple hours (the image is slightly grainy because tracing paper doesn't seem to like being photographed!). Mom even brought me in some ivy from the garden so I could try and copy it more accurately!

Then came the actual quilting! We loaded the quilt onto the frame, and then auditioned some threads to see which ones we would use first.  

We ended up using  King Tut #988 Oasis for the garland. The King Tut creates a beautifully bold line, and we really wanted the quilting to stand out. In the image below, you can see the end of the garland. this is actually two layers of thread - I used Twist, and then King Tut #988. The berries were done using Magnifico. 

Next was the Christmas trees themselves! I used King Tut again (this time #981 Cobra) for the branches. It was a very striking effect, and I like how every tree is slightly different - almost like real life! 

Between the Christmas trees, I used Fantastico #5170 Pixie Dust to create curls that looked a little bit like swirling snow. This thread was beautiful to use, and it wasn't a thread that I would have immediately thought to use with a white background. On the cone it looks a lot more colourful! It blended beautifully, leaving behind a wonderful, snowy texture. 

The final quilt looked a LOT like the original Christmas card that mom based her piecing on. We like the quilted version better though! 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

It started with a Christmas card...

It all started with a retro 1950's Christmas card. 

I thought that this 1952 Christmas card by Charley Harper could translate really well into a Christmas quilt so I pinned it on my Christmas pinterest board. I like using pinterest boards as  design boards for various quilts that are percolating in my head. The pinterest board keeps all the ideas in a place that I can actually find when I want to come back to it later.

This year when we were planning a Christmas video clip for our friends at Superior Threads we decided to translate the card into a quilt. Because I love the quilting part best these days, I usually see the pieced top as a 'canvas' for the quilting.  When I piece a quilt I am already thinking about how to quilt it. I was thinking even at the start of the project how fun it would be to draw the branches with the sewing machine needle and thread.

First I raided my green fabric stash and  pieced the trees. I used So Fine #50 for the piecing with Bottom Line pre-wounds in the bobbin. These very fine lint-free threads gave me flat seams and nice sharp points for my triangles.

Then I needed to appliqué my tree-cutter person in the larger white triangle. I used Kimono Silk on top and Bottom Line pre-wounds in the bobbin for the machine appliqué.  

These silk threads blend so well with the fabric! I like how the raw-edge appliqué technique makes the figures seem to pop-up out of the quilt.

Finally we decided to add a wide red border. We were planning to use this border to quilt a holly and ivy garland to frame the trees.

Here's the top all pieced and ready to go on the JUKI QVP 2200 long arm frame. We'll talk more about the quilting in the next post...

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Holly and the Ivy

Here's a special Merry Christmas from Superior Threads.
Martha made the quilt,
Emily quilted it on the JUKI QVP and
Ellie created and performed her original version of the Christmas carols.

We hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your comments. Coming soon is a post about how we made it.

Thursday, 26 November 2015


There is so much to be thankful for!
We at Machine Quilter wish everyone a 
happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!

This year we made 'homemade' pumpkin pie from pumpkins that we picked ourselves.
The little Harlequin Squash pumpkins make great pumpkin pie. 

We sliced then open and took out the seeds. 
Then cooked them in the microwave for a few minutes.
 added a bit of sugar and spice and condensed milk. 

It was fun making the crust pretty.

Then we baked it in the oven until it turned a golden pumpkin colour.

It was beautiful and delicious. We enjoyed every bit. And after the pumpkin pie was all gone we still get to keep on enjoying the pumpkin patch quilt.

The pumpkin patch quilt' hot' off our New English Quilter frame. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Pumpkin Patch

This year we had a pumpkin patch just down the road! 
So we got to see the pumpkins change from flower to fruit.

I thought that this fabric from Dinara Mirtalipova - Mischief Night really did capture the pumpkin patch perfectly. It made just the right border. The pumpkins we so fun to trace around! This variegated Fantastico thread was just what I needed to create beautiful texture.

Dinara Mirtalipova - Mischief Night brought to life with Fantastico # 5023 Orange Marmalade

The pumpkin patch quilt just off the 6 foot New English Quilter frame machine quilted with the straight stitch JUKI TL98P
  I created pumpkins in all sorts of shapes and sizes for the middle.

 And raw-edge appliquéd them to the black pieced background.

The fun part was adding all the detail with free-motion quilting using lots of gorgeous threads from various Superior Threads ranges. The light-reflecting tri-lobal polyester in the Magnifico and Fantastico ranges really made the pumpkins shine.

While the bold matt line from the King Tut100% extra long staple Egyptian cotton gave just the right texture for the vines and leaves. Of course the Superior Metallic was just super for the spider's web. All these threads were designed to go at high speeds for machine quilting. So I didn't need to worry about thread  shredding or breaking. 

Happy Halloween!
I hope that you enjoy your pumpkins as much as I do mine!
The pumpkin patch down the road has long since been harvested and ploughed under but my pumpkin patch art quilt is still here looking lovely.

This Juki Exceed 600 was brilliant for the piecing, appliqué and binding! 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Double Duty Teacher Quilt

Baby Arthur learning to crawl on the 'Teacher Quilt'
Five years ago, when my youngest son Peter was leaving primary school, his teacher had her first baby. So, of course I had to make her a quilt. Today Mrs Wheatley messaged me to say that she was using the quilt for her second child Arthur. There is something so sweet about babies and quilts! I'm so glad that she gets to use it twice.

I've included the photos added on to the original blog post below.

When my youngest son, Peter's teacher was going to have a baby, I had to make a quilt. The end of term is a useful deadline for this kind of thing. So when the Tuesday of the last week of term came round, I told my friend Allie that I had to finish a quilt I hadn't started yet. I decided to use only what was on hand and gave Peter's teacher the option of brights or pastels. She went for brights.

People who don't quilt think of quilts usually as lots of little squares of fabric sewn together and sometimes it's just best to give people what they want. Tuesday night I sorted through my stash and cut the squares. Wednesday I pieced the top.

Thursday I pieced the back, and the wadding. Yes, I basted leftover pieces of wadding together and it worked just fine in the end. Then I went off task and made a quick table runner for the Headmaster who was also leaving. I called it ' The Writing on the Wall'.

That left Friday for the quilting which was a joy and easily finished in time for a 2:00 leavers service.

I used an overall hearts and loops pattern quilted with a variegated Rainbows thread from Superior Threads #803 Northern Lights and a pre-wound bottom line in the bobbin.

I did keep the quilt over the weekend to put on the binding, which BTW, takes me longer than the quilting!! But it gives me the chance to enjoy the quilt while I'm hand sewing the binding, to glory in the fabric and the texture and be happy to have made something beautiful and useful!

I liked the back almost as much as the front on this one.

Pete's teacher, Mrs Wheatley popped round to collect the quilt yesterday! She was delighted and I'm feeling happy ... and just a bit bereft.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Gail Thomas!

Gail Thomas with her award winning quilt Houston Quilt Festival 2011
Last week, Gail sent me some photos of our 4 foot Art Quilter frame set up in her studio. Before I share the photos, I'd like to share the story of how we met. We met Gail Thomas back in 2011 when we were demonstrating our NEQ frames at the Houston Quilt Festival. We were busy running our JUKI/New English Quilter frames through their paces, when I noticed this amazing woman playing with our Art Quilter frame. She was so striking and looked really familiar. Then I realized that I'd seen her on a quilt!

This is Gail Thomas, one of the 'three sisters' , you'll recognize Gail as the one on the left. The Three Sisters are girls from Canada, America and Australia who met at the 2006 Quilt Show and created this award winning quilt for the following year!

Gail took me over to see her quilt for this year so I could take some photos. 2011 marks the 175th anniversary of Texas' independence from Mexico so there was a section of this year's exhibition dedicated to Texas history. Gail's quilt above called 'Someone Found' tells the story of a girl Cynthia Ann Parker who was captured by the Comanche indians and became the mother of one of the most famous Comanche warriors, Chief Quannah Parker.

In this photo, Gail is showing us the quilting detail. And the quilting is totally awesome but I love the photo for another reason. Gail used her daughter as the model for Cynthia Ann Parker. In this photo looking from Gail to her daughter depicted in the quilt, the pose is so similar that no one could fail to see the resemblance!

Gail loved our frame! She left the Houston Quilt Festival the happy owner of a new 4 foot Art Quilter which is just the right size for her studio.

Our 4 foot New English Quilter Art frame & JUKI 2010 set up in Gail Thomas' studio
Here's a good photo of the Juki 2010 sitting on the Art Quilter frame carraiges. The Juki 2010 straight stitch sewing machine is a classic workhorse with just the right amount of space under the arm. It's simple to tension and has the necessary speed to get a nice flowing line of stitching. 

The speed control Nifty Grip handles allow Gail to bypass the foot pedal
Notice the set of Nifty Grip speed control handles at the far right of the photo. These handles replace the foot pedal! They're ergonomically designed to be comfortable as you guide the sewing machine  every-which-way,  just like the much larger long arm machines.
The 4 foot Art Quilter frame is ideal for smaller projects and fits perfectly in small spaces.
"Thought I would send these as I look like I am relax and chilling.

 They are taken in my small quilting studio.

 Thank you again Martha."

Love Gail
ps. I love the frame ...XXXOOO