Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Getting in the Mood

We have a Christmas themed Retreat coming up at the end of October. Here's a post to get us in the mood. During this Retreat most of the participants are going to bring their own frames and sewing machines. We decided that it would give us more quilting-on-the-frame time. Don't worry if you don't have a frame yet or can't bring yours. We'll have an extra frame or two for you.

Here are some ideas for make-in-advance practice pieces. We'll be learning all sorts of designs but there will definitely be lots of Christmas themed line designs. so when you're making up your practice piece for your frame, it might be fun to stitch together some Christmas fabric from your stash. Choose fun fabric and keep the piecing simple. These are just strips sewn together. They'll make a great 'canvas' to draw on with thread and lovely line designs. 

I'd recommend using some plain black fabric too because the Christmas threads look so pretty against the black.

Some people were keen to piece the Christmas Tree table runner so I'm going to give some basic instructions for that here.

I wanted the table runner to fit on my 6 foot frame so I cut my backing fabric about 50 inches long and 18 inches tall. There are 8 trees. Each tree is a bit more than 5 1/2 inches at the base and almost 11 inches tall. I just folded a piece of computer paper long ways and cut a shape that was pleasing to me, I wasn't following any pattern. I wanted the trees to be big enough to be able to play around with various line designs. 

Once I had a shaped that I liked, I traced the shape on the thinnest Vilene (Vilene Easy Fuse Ultra Soft Light | H180 | Empress Mills) and cut roughly around that tree shape, leaving a bit of space around the line. Then I ironed the Vilene tree shapes to the back of the Christmas tree fabrics. The Vilene backing gives the fabric a bit of extra structure and keeps the edges from fraying too much.  I also found it easier to cut a nice straight line when I was cutting through the Vilene backed fabric. I'd chosen a neutral gold spotty background to look like snow. Lastly sitting at my sewing machine, I raw edge appliqued the trees to the background fabric. 

A note about the tree trunks. I wanted them to look chunky so I folded a bit of fabric so that the raw edges were inside, then folded that in half and slipped the ends under the tree and stitched that down. 

Then I flipped the trunks and pinned them up onto the trees so they would be out of the way when I was quilting the background. Once the background was quilted I stitched them down. We'll be doing all the quilting at the retreat. But here are a few ideas to get you thinking. We'll have lots of fun playing with all sorts of different threads and quilting patterns. If you're wanting to quilt the table runner, stitch it to your other practice piece to save time loading the quilt. You'll be able to rotary cut them apart when we take it off the frame later. Have fun making your practice pieces. 

I've backed most of my practice pieces with Fleece but you can use backing fabric and wadding if you like. To save time you could pin the layers on the fabric poles before you come. If not we'll all be helping each other to load on the day.We're so looking forward to seeing you all at the Retreat! It will be here before we know it. Martha, Emily and Jackie xxx

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Inferior Threads

There is a secret ingredient that makes all these frames work,  The secret ingredient is thread! Thread that is actually designed for machine quilting at high speeds.

The JUKI QVP2200 long arm goes 2200 stitches-per-minute.
The Handi-Quilter Avante goes 1800 stitches-per-minute
The NEW JUKI TL QVP Mini that we use on our smaller machine quilting frames goes 1500 stitches-per-minute
Most ordinary domestic sewing machines go almost 1000 stitches-per-minute.

Many machine quilters really struggle with thread breaking and shredding. Often it comes down to the thread. People are using inferior thread. The high speeds of long arm quilting machines put a lot of stress on the thread. Poor quality thread will shred and break at higher speeds. Inferior threads are fine for slower domestic machines. But fast machines like long and mid arm quilting machines need Superior Threads.
Image result for superior Threads logo
Superior Threads are designed to flow smoothly through your long and mid-arm quilting machines without shredding or breaking whether you're stitching at 2200 stitches-per-minute or almost 1000. Using the right needle is important too.

This year at the 2015 Festival of Quilts our long arm and mid-arm machines were all threaded with various ranges from Superior Threads. We especially like the Magnifico and Fantastico light reflecting tri-lobal polyester threads because they are beautiful AND strong. Designed for long-arm quilting machines, they are happy to stitch at high speeds without shredding or breaking. This makes for happy quilters with less down time.

Our cat Tipsy thinks that this cone of Fantastico is a purrfect match!
 Fantastico comes in variegated colours with a one inch colour change. This creates gorgeous layers of stitching where the colours are evenly spread out through out your quilt.

Fantastico is available on 2,000 yd cones here in the UK from Machine Quilter for £13.45

Magnifico comes in plain colours on 3,000 yd cones for £9.95. That's a lot of joy for under a tenner!

This quilt used 2 different cones of Fantastico; # 5024 and #5025 to match the flowers in the border fabric.

Don't forget the BACK!

Image result for superior Threads logo
Here's the quilt back. Isn't the texture lovely! We used Bottom Line pre-wounds #607 Light Purple for the back. Also available here in the UK from Machine Quilter.

Finally, here's the finished quilt on show at our stand at the Festival of Quilts 2015. It's looking lovely with the back peeking through in the bottom right hand corner. We kept the piecing simple to show that gorgeous quilting is all about the threads.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Perfectly Tensioned Layers

Reason Number 1: A machine quilting frame perfectly tensions the layers of your quilt so you NEVER have to baste, pin, glue or tack again. Ever! When I was machine quilting sitting at the sewing machine, I hated trying to get all the layers of the quilt sandwich to stay together, steady enough to machine quilt without shifting while I was stitching. No matter how many hours I spent on my hands and knees and no matter how many safety pins I used, it was never quite right. Despite my best efforts, there were always some rucks and wrinkles on the back.

Our Machine Quilting frames tension each layer of the quilt separately so that the quilt sandwich is perfectly tensioned without all that hassle. No more hours pinning or tacking, no clouds of asphyxiating spray glue, no money wasted on gadgets that punch price tag plastic through your quilt. No more hours of doing something I really hate! A machine quilting frame is worth every penny just for this!

Brit Flag Quilt on our frame with the JUKI TL98 straight stitch
Loading the quilt on the frame just takes 20 minutes and when I'm finished, I know the layers will be perfectly tensioned and the back of the quilt will look gorgeous when I take it off the frame, with no rucks or wrinkles - even the first time! I hated the pinning part. My Machine Quilter frame lets me skip it!  By taking care of the parts I hate, machine quilting frames let me focus on the parts that I love...that would be the quilting!

If you're still wondering just how a frame tensions the layers of a quilt sandwich have a look at these links.
Come see for yourself at the Festival of Quilts.It all makes sense in person. We're with the JUKI sewing machine guys at Stand A46.

p.s. I just found this pie graph and I had to add it to the post. It's a response to an American quilter's survey. I'm happy to say that I'm in the blue on this one! Having a quilting frame is brilliant because I never have to baste or pin or glue. EVER! Get happy and join the blue team!

How do you baste your quilts? Poll results

Friday, 8 July 2016

Saving for a Long Arm?

Annette had been saving up for a long arm quilting machine. It was going to take a long time.  Then she stumbled across our website and realized that there was a simpler more affordable alternative. Annette already runs a business. She just wanted to quilt for fun,  for family and friends. After a look at our website, Annette ordered a copy of our Line Dancing DVD called La Mer

DVD Watching the DVD she realized that this was just the frame for her. Our Machine Quilter frames would be simple and quick to set up and easy to use. She'd have many of the benefits of a long arm for a fraction of the cost.

Annette ordered an 8 foot frame because she wanted the option of quilting larger bed sized quilts. She ordered the tabl Then she went to Franklin's  and ordered a JUKI TL98P and we made her a set of Nifty Grip speed control handles so she wouldn't have to kick her foot pedal across the floor. Annette was heading up to Nottingham so she decided to book a free demonstration and collect her frame the same day. It saved on the shipping cost and got her off to a good start.

After a lovely day sharing quilts and quilting designs and playing around with the JUKI on the machine quilting frame,  it was time for Annette to head back to Bristol. Fortunately, our frames are designed to be portable, so the 8 foot NEQ2 frame and JUKI Nifty Grip speed control handles fit easily into the car. Annette left a happy lady, excited to go home and get started on the new frame. She made a big savings too. Like the rest of us, she'd much rather spend the money on fabric!
Dear Martha

Last night I dreamt of bobbins …..and King Tut…. and patterns and shapes and chalkboard paint. Thank goodness it’s the weekend. I’ll be quilting on my frame in no time!

I’ve argued with myself for over a year now about WANTING versus NEEDING a long arm quilting machine and I had settled on and had started saving for a Gammill. So much money and the need for so much space combined with the calculations of how many quilts I would need to quilt commercially to make a long arm pay for itself began to erode my plans……and then I found www.machinequilter.co.uk . The perfect solution as all I really really want is to make beautiful quilts, at my leisure, for family and friends, with no pressure.

I had the most wonderful day on Wednesday. Thank you very much for all your time! I’ve learnt so much but most of all I came home with lots of new ideas like…..starting small…. lots of mini sessions….on mini quilts… trial and error borders on either side of my quilt tops….It was so inspirational to see all of your quilts. Thank you for sharing those with me.

I’ve read through the handbook you gave me. So helpful! I’ve drooled over the colour cards and put together a mega order – which I now need to pare down.  I’ve pulled out some odd fat quarters that suit some of the free Superior Threads you put in my goody bag and I’ll be piecing late into the night. I’ll send you some photos when I have something nice to show.

All in all – I’m so excited about my new toy and I’m so pleased that I met you.

I look forward to coming to one of your retreats in the future so I can build on whatever I learn between then and now. See you at the Quilt Festival in August.

Lots of love

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Bulk Buys - Big Discounts

We offer  big discounts for bulk purchases. Buy 50 cones or more and get wholesale prices.  Ideal for long arm quilters!

The discounts are a huge savings and make the best threads in the world more affordable. Anyone can take advantage of the discount. You don't have to own a shop or be a world famous teacher. It's just about the numbers! We put a new order through at least each month. We can offer advice about which sorts of threads work best with your particular long arm. We can help with tension issues too.

Email or ring to get the discounts:

01526 553366

Friday, 18 March 2016

Easter Baskets for Quilters

Wouldn't you love one of these for an Easter Basket?! Surprise your quilting friends and family with an Easter Basket full of threads and bobbins in gorgeous pastel colours. Superior Threads have so many ranges to choose from you're certain to find the perfect treat. When everyone else has finished the chocolate, these beautiful threads will still be giving months of stitching pleasure. 
 Here's an egg-cellent idea for an Easter gift. Wrap a cone or spool of thread in pretty pastel tulle and tie it with a ribbon. Little May in the photo above has a lovely cone of Kimono Silk. 

Eye candy with no calories! Hop to our shop and fill your basket!

Easter Baskets from Superior Threads - better than chocolate! 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

St Patrick's Day TREAT!

Happy St Patrick's Day!
Here's a little treat to celebrate the wearing of the green. Buy any cone of thread today and get 3 free pre-wound bobbins. Buy Green thread from any of the Superior Thread ranges and get 4 pre-wound bobbins at no extra charge. We think that pre-wound bobbins are the best thing since sliced bread. If you've never tried them before, today you can try for free. 

Visit our  machinequilter website today. We've got all the colours in the rainbow to choose from!

Find our more about pre-wound bobbins here.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Tulle skirts: a tulle-torial!

Here's Emily making a pink tulle skirt with little May, Annie and Teresa

Making a tulle skirt couldn't be simpler! For this project we used the Tulle Circle Skirt DIY instructions found on A Beautiful Mess blog post - it has very clear pictures, which is a must for any good tutorial! We used So Fine #50 for stitching the skirts with Bottom Line pre-wounds in the bobbin. While making the skirts was fairly easy, I did find that it got even easier when I kept the following in mind:

  • When cutting out the tulle, make sure you're using your sharpest scissors! You want the lines to be clean and smooth, not jagged.
  • When you cut out your elastic, always make it an inch shorter than the waist size you want. The elastic stretches, and the tulle doesn't, so if you need to slip the skirt over your hips to your waist, make sure there's some give!
  • Before sewing the elastic onto the layers of tulle, I found it helpful to actually sew the layers together, rather than just pinning them. This way, you know that all the layers are together, and you won't have to unpick if you accidentally miss a layer while sewing the elastic on. 
  • Really pull the elastic taut while you are stitching the tulle to it! 
  • SoFine! #50 with Bottom Line in the bobbin is the perfect combination for clothing projects! 

Little May was so curious! She loved watching the sewing machine!
We used a serger, and the new Superior Threads line Sergin' General, to make the linings for the tulle skirts.

The Sergin' General blended beautifully and  gave a professional finish to the skirts.

Sergin' General is a Poly-wrapped poly core thread  specifically designed for Serging or overlocking. It's the cleanest serger/overlocker thread available with excellent strength and elongation for smooth stitches with less puckering. Sergin' General is available in 50 solid colours specifically chosen for their blending tones so you can easily find a perfect match. It's wound on convenient, 3,000 yd. cones and will fit on your serger/overlocker comfortably. 

Sergin' General is now available here in the UK from Machine Quilter. Use the American site as a shop window and email Martha with your order.