Several people have asked which embroidery software I am using. My machine is a Viking Topaz, but I chose not to purchase software other than what came with the machine as it was so expensive, and I wanted to get to know the machine first. After minimal investigation, I decided to purchase the Embird software. At my level of expertise, that is more than adequate to do what I want to do. More recently, I purchased the Studio module to go with the basic Embird software–and Studio is what I am using for digitizing.
Learning to use software is a very individual process. For me it consists of installing the software, reading the help files very, very briefly and then beginning by pushing all the buttons to see what they do. Then I tackle a project – like drawing a leaf or an outline. When I can’t make it do what I want it to do, then I search the help files for the answers. With the Embird software, there are nice videos that take you through the process of each type of drawing. After jumping without a net, then searching for answers–I watched the videos. That is what works for me. If I read the instructions all the way through or even follow a tutorial, I still won’t remember what to do until I’ve done it on my own.
This was a weekend “off.” That means there were no grandchildren around– I didn’t work a shift at the Womancraft cooperative– I didn’t do any housework–well, maybe a little laundry. But I did do something completely new and different, so it was like a vacation. After long thought, I purchased the software for digitizing designs on my embroidery machine. It is really unfortunate that this software is not compatible with my CAD software for digitizing for quilting machines. However, many of the principles are the same. And I had a glorious time.
I started out just digitizing some small quilting designs that would work for things like bag pockets, mug rugs, and placemats. Then I tried the applique feature using the satin stitch. Having been successful with those ventures, I was emboldened to try traditional “blanket” stitch applique on the Accuquilt dies. And that’s when I hit the jackpot. I scanned and traced the die shapes, added the stitches in the software, and spent a huge amount of time tweaking them to just the way I like them. And this is what I got for the Rose of Sharon flower. It stitches out perfectly and looks as if I did it by hand. I’m probably hopelessly addicted to embroidery digitizing now.
You will see the button on the upper left of my post for the Barn Quilt Design Contest. Just design a quilt and send it to Accuquilt to enter. The winning entry will be on the Accuquilt Headquarters building for all the world to see. Remember the deadline is APRIL 10, so get that creative energy going and enter the contest. There are some wonderful prizes including a trip to Nebraska for the unveiling as well as a $1000 shopping spree at Accuquilt.
Now, here are a couple of things I’ve been doing. I finished my niece’s bug quilt. It turned out quite well. I used the faux piped binding tutorial for the binding and you can see what a beautiful binding it made. Lately, I have had problems with my binding being too tight or too loose and this one was just right.
These are some wild animal door hangers that I made with the embroidery machine for the Womancraft store. The designs are from Embroidery Library.
And here’s Ezri on a sunny day, having fun with her sister. They love the swingset their Grandpa built for them. And don’t you love that Carolina blue sky. Even when before the leaves come out in the Spring, that sky is a gorgeous.
Just wanted to give you all a heads up that there are some new dies available for a short time at Accuquilt. These will be offered for a short time and the most popular ones will be added to the regular lineup of Accuquilt GO dies. I’m excited about some of these – like the 8.5 inch single and the 2 inch finished triangle multiples as well as the 3 inch strip cutter. My Mom really loves cutting at 3 inches and then she has finished blocks of 5, 7.5 or 10 inches, so the 3 inch strip cutter would be a treat for me.
Square 8.5 inch single
Square 4.5 inch multiples
Square 2.5 inch multiples
Half square 2 inch finished triangle multiples
Carefree alphabet set (2 die set all 26 letters)
Carefree numbers (0-9)
Rag rectangle 5.25 x 8.5 inch
Rag flower and circle
Rag heart and start
Hexagon 9 inch
Strip cutter 3 inch
I don’t have a lot to tell you today because I worked at Womancraft all afternoon Friday and all day Saturday. One exciting thing for me is that one of my quilts sold and will be making it’s way to Sweden as a gift from grandmom to a little boy.
Now, for the main purpose of this post: I would encourage you to go to SewCalGal’s website and vote for her Golden Quilter Awards before March 31. She has put a lot of work into these nominations and every one of these nominations is someone or something that will benefit you as a quilter. So drop by, browse, and vote.
Have been working on this “bug” quilt for my grandnephew for the last few weeks. It is designed to be similar to one I made a dozen years ago for my daughter. My grandsons enjoy the one I made so much that my niece wanted one like it for her sons.
Finding just the right fabric has been difficult. Fortunately I found a nice bug print at Bugfabric.com, but just haven’t been able to find the other fabrics that I wanted. Styles and fabrics come and go, and the retro style movement has certainly put a bugaboo on the cute cartoon bug fabrics and some of the bright prints I had in mind. Most of the bug fabrics I found were too pastel for a rough and tumble boy.
I put the border on multiple times before I was satisfied. I tried blue and then red for the inner border and then mis-measured the outer border and had to re-do it. After that I used yellow on the outer cornerstones and that wasn’t good, so changed them to red. It’s as good as it will get at this point. It will be much nicer looking once it’s quilted. Hopefully, it can go on the frame today. Here’s a peek:
And while pondering the bug quilt, this cute little wall hanging was quilted. I love this wall hanging, but both my daughter and husband are not happy with the color choice for the outer border. I set it aside for awhile, but when it came out again the decision was made. It speaks to me and that border is one of my favorite prints, and so it’s going to be finished. I see the outer border as a second background – three frames on a sparkly but neutral background. And what little girl doesn’t like riding bikes, swinging, and chasing butterflies?
I spent Thursday and Friday visiting my Mom for the purpose of quilting. The first thing we had to do was to make adjustments to her machine. Something was terribly wrong with it. She has a Bernina 150 Quilting Edition and it’s a great machine when it works. Because of her paralysis and the fact that she always has an assistant with her, there are many people who make adjustments on that machine; and she often calls me to tell me it just won’t sew. I started with the thread and needle. The upper thread on the machine was hand quilting thread, so I immediately changed that and put in a new needle. I made adjustments to the bobbin case tension so that the upper and lower tensions were correct at a setting of 5 on the upper tension wheel. But the machine still sewed as if the feed dogs were not working properly. I got the manual out and started from the beginning checking each possible setting. The presser foot pressure was set to zero, so I increased the pressure and everything was right again. I try to keep bobbins wound and a supply of Aurifil thread for her for sewing, but she is almost out of Aurifil. She has plenty of bobbins, and I will mail her a couple of spools of Aurifil today.
While I was in that part of the state, I stopped in for a visit to Leah Day and a tour of her studio. It was so much fun and so inspiring. Leah has such a fresh outlook on quilting and a great desire to share her knowledge and work with the quilting world. I was privileged to see some of her quilts and they are absolutely breathtaking and original. What I love most about her work is that her quilting is freehand, and her style brings us fresh ideas for heirloom and wholecloth style quilting. You can see her designs at her website, but they are far more spectacular in person.
I made a video on Friday showing the cut-sew-cut tutorial for the four patch blocks. This method works much better for me when working with the Accuquilt GO, and I can cut enough four patches for a whole quilt in 2-3 cuts with my strip die. The video is ten minutes long and it took all day to upload, but I hope it is good information for you. Try this and compare it with the traditional methods of using squares or width of fabric strips and decide what works for you.
I am so behind on answering comments on my posts – please forgive me. But—finally – back with something that you can sink your teeth into. Although there’s been a lot of running around for the past couple of days, here’s what I’ve been doing when quilting is being done in my studio. I am making a quilt for my great nephew. I made a similar quilt for my daughter over 10 years ago and when my niece saw it, she wanted one too. It has been very hard to find just the right fabrics, so I’ve been back and forth to the quilt store multiple times. This quilt is made of “bug” fabrics. The difficulty is that it seems that most of the bug fabrics these days are a bit girlish.
I have a tutorial on making nine patch blocks and the principle is the same for four patch blocks. However, it has been awhile since I’ve pieced anything like this, so when I got started again I had to think about it. I am making six inch four patch blocks for this quilt. Here goes:
Cut strips across the width of both fabrics that are just wider than the blades on your strip die. For example, the 3.5 inch strip die blades are 7.0 inches across. Thus, I usually cut the strip about 7.5 inches across the width of fabric.
Layer the two width of fabric strips with right sides together.
Fanfold the right sides together strips across the blades. Do not exceed six layers. You will have to cut the strips after the third fold.
Add as many width of fabric strips as you can fit on the die and cut.
Run the die through the cutter and you will have 3 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch strips which are ready to be stitched together.
Go ahead and stitch them. When they have been stitched, they are ready to be layered again onto the strip die for the second cut. At this point you can press the strips open or leave them unpressed. The important thing is to line them up very straight across the die. I alternate seam allowances so that the seam allowances are not on top of each other but there is fairly even fabric thickness on the length of the die.
This is what you will have after the second cut. These pieces are now ready to be stitched together into perfect four patch blocks.