Monthly Archives: March 2009


Published / by Mary / 20 Comments on Drab?

This is NOT a great photo but Keith is calling this Boxed Squares version drab (maybe it has to do with the olive?) I’m liking it more as I add blocks but the jury is still out — obviously, there are blocks that will be moved around as I make more of them.
A new postcard from Deb – she’s having fun with her new die cutter.
Someone wants me off the computer don’t you think?
I spent time both quilting and piecing today – how did you celebrate National Quilting Day?

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#4 is in progress

Published / by Mary / 6 Comments on #4 is in progress

I thought I might stay up late tonight quilting but it’s midnight and I’m ready to head to bed with a good book — not so much sleepy as just tired. I’ve been a little sluggish all week and while I’ve been marking some things off my to do list, haven’t felt like I’ve made much real progress.

Tonight I did get this gorgeous basketweave strings top pieced by Sharon loaded and have a good start on the quilting. I’m using the Wandering Daisies pantograph again but I probably could have used anything, the quilting is not showing up but I know the texture will come to life once I take it off the machine.

We’re expecting rain this weekend so we’re planning a quiet one around here — some work, some Scrabble, some relaxing. I should be able to finish this one up by working on it on and off Saturday and Sunday.

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If it wasn’t for the mail

Published / by Mary / 3 Comments on If it wasn’t for the mail

I wouldn’t have anything to show you today if not for the mail. This gorgeous postcard came from Jan. The photo doesn’t really capture it’s sparkled beauty! Take a look at some of the her other postcards on her blog — these caught my eye the other day.
And look, 3 more Happy Block tops sent to me by Liz. They were made by her and her weekly quilting group The Quilting Broads. Thanks Liz, Sally, Ann, and Lynda. I think the Happy Blocks have been one of my favorite HeartStrings Projects.

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Published / by Mary / Leave a Comment

I did manage to get a little work done tonight while I was playing with the new machine but no photos.

I started out making some QAYG blocks – what better way to get used to a new machine than with forgiving blocks like these string ones. I’ve got 33 made – I just do a couple here and there before starting to work on whatever my current project is.

Speaking of my current project – I’ve got a white/black/green version of my Boxed Squares in progress. I used the Go Cutter to cut a bunch of 2.5 inch strips – so quick and easy! I’m not sure I’m thrilled about the colors but I’m going to continue on.

I pieced binding leftovers together and sewed it onto the 2nd of 3 quilts done so far this month. I like the start and stop button on the new machine for piecing but I found it easier to use the foot pedal for binding.

Tomorrow I need to get another top loaded and start the quilting.

Deb’s a bad influence

Published / by Mary / 21 Comments on Deb’s a bad influence

I took my Elna to get serviced today and came home with a new machine. It’s all Deb’s fault. If she hadn’t just bought a new machine when hers crashed I would have never thought about it. It was even on sale!

I haven’t owned a Brother before but Deb and Mom have had good luck with them so that’s what I got. It’s got a knee lift, a thread cutter, and it has an extension table….I can get an insert made so it will fit my sewing table but it sits down with just a little gap in the back so I’ll see how this works for now.

They’re going to fix the Elna too….I’d feel bad about having 4 machines (counting the Gammill) but I know many of you have even more than that!

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Baptist Fans — freehand by machine

Published / by Mary / 19 Comments on Baptist Fans — freehand by machine

I’ve had lots of questions about the fans including one from Elaine that had specific questions so I’m going to answer it here for everyone.

First, my inspiration for quilting freehand fans comes from two places. I’ve always LOVED Tanya‘s hand quilted fans but as you know, I don’t do much hand quilting. One day, Helen shared some fan quilting she’d done based on a DVD by Patsy Thompson. I HIGHLY recommend this DVD and even bought one for my Mom for her birthday in December. Patsy quilts on a domestic machine but just like Dawn’s Pajama Quilter DVD that I also love, it doesn’t matter which machine you quilt on — these will work for either.

Patsy has a free handout on her site — but again — I highly recommend you consider buying her DVD. She shows a lot of variations but my favorite and the one I used on this last quilt is the first one shown on the handout.

So, now the answers to Elaine’s questions.

Do they always flow from the same direction?

  • No they don’t! In this quilt, I did them in rows but each row goes in a different direction — I worked my way across the quilt in one direction, and back to the other side. If I’d wanted them to go in one direction, I would have started all my rows from the same side.
  • I’ve also quilted them so that they’re completely random and just filled the space like on Patsy’s handout.
How many ‘swings’ or ‘arcs’ do you usually do? Are they always an odd number?

  • I tend to use 3 “blades”. When I’m quilting in a row like on this quilt — an even number is needed to keep you in a row – in this case mostly 6 swings (2 per blade). When I’m quilting randomly, I’ll use however many I need to fill the space — using an odd number will take you off in a different direction.
  • The more arcs you use, the harder it is to keep them smooth so consider that when you’re first trying this out.
Any right or wrong as to how far apart?

  • Personal preference maybe?? I made mine pleasing to the eye and had to measure this quilt to answer your question. I found that the marjority are 1 inch apart but they do vary from 0.75 inches to as big as 1.25 inches but again most are 1 inch.
Do you use any guidelines for your free-form?

  • Nope, absolutely NONE. This is a great pattern for a string quilt or other free pieced type of project where the randomness or wonkiness of the quilting *goes* with the randomness of the piecing.
Could you show a really close up? See the photos below
Where do you backtrack or ??

  • Backtracking is along the edge of the arc of the next fan. I come about 1/4 of an inch or closer but don’t try to backtrack on the line. You can see that really well in Patsy’s handout linked above and the photo below.

All the photos should enlarge when you click on them.
This set of arcs seems to be particularly wonky – notice the narrower and wider areas in the same arc.
In this quilt I worked my way from left to right and then then next row was worked from right to left. I didn’t really plan that beforehand but was trying to minimize how much I had to roll the quilt back and forth on the longarm. I was able to quilt two rows of fans before having to roll.

Any questions? If so, please make sure you include your email address if you want an answer!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Published / by Mary / 5 Comments on Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Do you guys have any fun plans for the day? Minneapolis has a St. Patrick’s Day parade so I’m going to meet Keith downtown around 6PM. Since I have to go to the post office too, I’m going to take my book and head down a little early.

What I won’t be doing this afternoon is sewing — my Elna froze up last night and won’t sew a stitch for me. I’ve got to see if I can find a dealer here and see if it can be fixed and how much it will cost me. The machine is 7+ years old and I’ve never had any problems with it before. I do have a back up machine – the Janome Gem I bought last year as my carry around machine so at least I won’t be without one.

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#3 of 10 quilted

Published / by Mary / 16 Comments on #3 of 10 quilted

This top was constructed by two male students in a clothing class — it’s not the most precisely constructed quilt and had some challenges but I just love that they chose to make a HeartStrings quilt for their project. It will bring color and warmth into someone’s life when it’s finished and donated.

I quilted freeform Baptist Fans (NO pantograph, template, or marking — all freehand); these are really fun and with their random and uneven arcs really suit a string quilt like this.

Getting a late start

Published / by Mary / 3 Comments on Getting a late start

I’m slow starting today but I’m doing well on my *to do* list this month.

  • Finish gathering my tax info and get it to the accountant by March 16.
  • Quilt 10 tops
      1. San’s QOV # 2 quilted
      2. Carmen’s Zig Zag coins
  • Piece backings — at least 2 — 4 done
  • Assemble the brown/red/pink Happy Blocks into a top
  • Make more QAYG blocks for our HeartStrings Project for Australia — ONGOING
  • Start the 3rd set of Log Cabin String blocks
  • Start blocks for a half log cabin (this one may be for Adam if he likes it)
  • Finish and mail March postcard and 2 thank you postcards
  • Get the stack of finished quilts washed – IN PROGRESS – 2 done
  • Catch up on my Here There Everywhere Journal class — IN PROGRESS — I have a lot I want to include…this will be ongoing.

I’ve got a quilt in the wash and am signing off now to load and quilt another top. Luckily Keith has a business dinner tonight so in a few hours I should be down with top #3. Have a great evening.

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