long-arm quilting

By the very act of quilting other people’s quilts, I get to see a lot more quilts than I possibly would otherwise. I can look at the design they’ve used, the colour choices they’ve made and the fabrics they have chosen. This client’s quilt that I recently quilted is a beautiful big quilt, made to cover a queen-sized bed with enough to hang over and cover the edge of the bed. It was also made in one of my favourite colour combinations- blue and brown.
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It had a lovely range of fabrics in it, ranging from creams to browns to blues which made the surface a fairly ‘busy’ one…
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… so the quilting didn’t have to be too elaborate. I decided to use straight lines at an angle around the border area of the quilt and in between the on-point blocks. Those blocks had a curly feathery/paisley type radiating out from the centre.
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This is the back:
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I used a cream thread for the quilting.
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And here is the quilt already bound and on its bed!
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This next quilt was a completely different quilt altogether. This client made a bargello-style quilt using self-striping fabric. Completely opposite in its colours and style..
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It was quilted very simply with wavy lines echoing the peaks and troughs produced by the arrangement of the coloured strips, and the borders in a free-motion loopy pattern.
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It was quilted with a charcoal-coloured thread which also suited the back:
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Have a good quilting week everyone!

checking in…

Holiday time – I’m spending mine like most others, I guess. Little bit of this, little bit of that. I recently visited my sister and brother-in-law and took some photos of their lovely garden. Look at the beautiful rich colour of these dahlias….
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Their garden is beautiful and testament to the time Mark spends on it…
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And they still have some Christmas things around too, its hard to pack it away!
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Since coming back from my trip I have also been busy with longarm quilting. This quilt was completed just before Christmas for the client’s grand-daughter:
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It was quilted with cream thread in an all-over design with a few butterflies and loops and flowers. There was a a lot of applique and hand-stitching, so we wanted the quilting to be a little unobtrusive.
Hope you have a good week with lots of quilting!

long-arm quilting…

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I so love Christmas! I love the trees, all decorated with tinsel and lights, baubles and hand-made ornaments..
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I love families coming together, sharing food and laughs and good times. And I especially love getting out all my hand-made Christmas hangings and stitcheries that have been hidden away for 12 months. So far I have the tree up, the rest will follow soon!
I have been very busy since getting back from my holiday, with lots of long-arm quilting to do. Here are a couple of quilts just recently finished. The first one is made by Lyn, using some unusual fabric that resembles the glaciers.

Lyn

Lyn


The quilting only had to be very simple to echo the ‘mountain-tops’ created by the piecing of the wide strips.
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And this next one is similar to another that I quilted a couple of months ago. It’s an heirloom quilt, made with treasured doileys and lace handkerchiefs..
Wyn

Wyn


This was a tricky quilt to do, with lots of bits and bobs to maneuver around. I tried to avoid stitching on the lace and crocheted pieces but did have to put a few lines through them to avoid having large areas with no quilting. That was probably the trickiest because its hard to see what you are stitching through the crocheted doileys, and even though it doesn’t really show on the top, it still has to look good on the backing.
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It was custom-quilted- each block was different so each quilted to reflect its design.. this one above is the centre block with its lace collar. There were bits of lace and braid and crocheted edges..
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.. feathers and swirls..
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more feathers..
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I still have some more quilts to finish before Christmas, so I better get a move on!
How are your Christmas plans coming about?
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longarm quilting

A quilt that I recently finished longarm quilting for a client, this one is destined to be a raffle prize.
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This quilt also presented some challenges! Anne had utilised some blocks with candlewicking to a lovely effect, combining them with some beautiful Japanese-themed prints. My challenges were to stitch a cohesive pattern across the quilt without encroaching on the candlewicking.
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The majority of my quilting is done free-hand and my machine is hand-guided, but I try to limit any pre-marking on the quilt. I stitched a wavy pattern just on the borders and minimal echo-quilting on the blocks, so that the emphasis rightfully stayed on the candlewick designs.
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The alternating fabric blocks were quilted with the same diamond-with-swirls design in each and the centre panel gave me the chance to highlight some of the elements on the fabric design- outlining a lot but also adding to the design by echoing the bird outlines.
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Here is the quilting from the back:
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The backing was a light cream print, and I quilted it with a cream thread throughout.
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some longarm quilting

I recently quilted this lovely quilt for some new clients. This quilt obviously exhibited lots of care and attention in its creation. A group of ladies had collaborated to make a quilt for raffling. The quilt top was made with lots of crocheted doileys and lace, which the ladies wanted the quilting to highlight and not overwhelm.
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It took quite some time thinking and time to work out what would be best in the way of a quilting design. I had to take some factors into account which I hadn’t encountered before, such as a cohesive design which could make its way around the doileys without encroaching on them but also not leaving those areas entirely stitch free…
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I also had to be mindful of what the back would look like, and stitching with cream thread on cream fabric was also a little tricky..
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I couldn’t have some areas more heavily quilted than others and there were some blocks that had more free area to stitch in than others. I quilted a free-hand feather design in and around the embellishments in the wide borders, with smaller-scale feathers in the sashing and some back-ground stippling in the centre blocks.
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Just a little postscript: I hope this blog post is readable as I’m practising writing it on my 8″ tablet in preparation for when I’m travelling next month. I can’t easily edit the photos so they may be larger in size than normal. I hope to be able to still post while I’m away, especially when I visit the Houston Quilt Festival (I can’t wait!!!)

it’s finished!

What do you think of this quilt? It’s my improvisational medallion quilt that I started in a Gwen Marston workshop in mid-2013, and it’s finally finished!

Karen Mundt- medallion quilt

Karen Mundt- medallion quilt


I’ve written here a few times about the progress, and about how it proved to be a real challenge.
In the Gwen Marston class, we started with a centre block and then started adding onto it, a border at a time. I only got the hour-glass border on during the class, and made up the rest of it myself. Decisions had to be made for each border- what techniques to use, which fabrics, which colours. There are obvious borders out to the half-square triangle border, but then after that it was made up as I went. I wanted to make mine as scrappy as possible, and while I did buy a lot of the fabric to use for it, I also used a lot of left-over fabric from past projects.
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I experimented with lots of different block designs, made up some of my own and made wonky versions of blocks. As I made endless blocks, I would put them up on my design wall and move them around. It was this middle stage where I often felt that I wasn’t moving along, so I started to make decisions on a section at a time. I would work out which blocks could go together to make up a large section and piece them all together.
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I had started with thinking that I would use a pale green or cream as the calming fabric and filler in between the colourful blocks, but soon realised that wasn’t going to work. So I switched to using red as the filler and that became the constant colour to draw the eye around the quilt. The filler strips and pieces were necessary to ‘fill in’ where some blocks were a little shorter than others or not quite fitting together and made it much easier to piece the sections.
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I would work on just making decisions on one section at a time, put that up on the design board and move onto the next. Eventually it got there, after countless re-arranging, contemplation and fiddling!
But once the quilt top was together, I then had to work out how to quilt it. As there weren’t any regular seam lines going all through the top, no large spaces to fill in with a quilting design but lots of seams everywhere, and the fact that it was so busy to look at anyway meant I had to keep the quilting fairly minimal.
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I ended up just quilting a quarter-inch echo around most of the blocks and seams.
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For the back I used some pink striped fabric and pieced it with bits left from the front..
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Isn’t it good when it all comes together!
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seasons

I made this little quilt recently, to the theme of “Seasons”. Seasons could have meant anything from portraying a particular season, or all 4 seasons, or anything at all related to seasons in some way. My quilt is called ‘Winter Winds’.
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I haven’t been able to get a good photo of it, so hope these will do. The white is a little hard to see too, so it would be better seeing it in person!
My idea was to do a whole-cloth quilt in white, with free-hand quilted writing to give it texture. I came up with the idea of writing a poem on it so went searching for one to fit my criteria of being an Australian poem, on the topic of a season, only a few lines long, and which I could add a little hand-sewn embellishment of some sort.
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This poem by the renowned Australian poet Les Murray fit the bill exactly. The poem was published in 2006 in the book ‘The Biplane Houses’. It talks of bougainvillea petals scattering in the wind:

Like applique on nothingness
like adjectives in hype
fallen bracts of the bougain-
magenta-and-faded- villea
eddy round the lee verandah
like flowers still partying
when their dress has gone home.

I drew the bougainvillea flowers myself after studying them for quite awhile to get the shape of their petals, and made little freezer paper templates to cut them and the leaves from silk, to applique. I then free-hand machine-sketched an outline with black thread, using my domestic sewing machine. I was looking for the effect of a water-colour drawing.
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The quilted writing was done on my long-arm machine. I bound the edges with silk sari ribbon- lengths joined together to make a continuous piece and sewn on like regular binding but without turning it over, intead leaving the raw edges on show.
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It has turned out how I planned it, but in hindsight I probably would have made it a little smaller, and therefore the writing a little closer. I only used a soft cotton batting, which is what I like to use in regular quilts. However, because of its size I think this would have benefitted from a thicker batting to give it a little more firmness for hanging.
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This one is finished just in time for our (Gatton Quilters) quilt exhibition we have coming up in July. Quilts from the group will be on display at the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre Art Gallery from 19 July for one month. Lots of lovely work will be on displa, including other’s interpretation of Seasons!
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a modern DWR on the long-arm

I recently quilted this quilt-top for a friend.
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She had made it as a wedding gift, using the pattern Metro Rings by Sew Kind of Wonderful.
It’s a modern take on the double wedding ring quilt pattern. Barb made it in blue, red and purple Kaffe Fassett fabrics with a white background, and she requested I quilt it as was modelled on the pattern.
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She made a lovely quilt and it was a little daunting for me to quilt it!- a fairly concentrated quilting design necessitating lots of measuring and straight line work as well as curved lines, using various rulers.
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This is the back- Barb used a pale batik fabric for the backing fabric.
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When it was finished, I was very happy and a little relieved it turned out so well.
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Thank you Barb for allowing me to do your quilting!

my hardest quilt to make. ever.

Sometimes, working out the best way to quilt a quilt-top is a long process, fraught with indecision, double-guessing and accompanied by lots of sighs. Such was the case when I put this quilt of my own onto the longarm machine last week. This is the medallion quilt that I have mentioned quite a few times over the last year or so, here and here.
I started it in a workshop with Gwen Marston a couple of years ago, and the inspiration is a medallion quilt from her book Liberated Medallion Quilts. I didn’t use any pattern or instructions. It is made from lots of blocks, all made to different sizes and employing a variety of methods. Improv quilting indeed!
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Once a large supply of blocks are in hand comes the difficult stage of working out how they can all fit together.
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Many a time I was heard to say this is the hardest quilt I’ve ever made! Blocks were put together with strips added in here and there to make up gaps, extra little half-square triangles quickly put together to fill in a space and lots of re-arranging up on the design wall. I used Gwen’s method of ‘liberated quilting’, and made wonky star blocks, lop-sided log cabin blocks and unusual colours together in the hope it would all look okay in the end.
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But once the top was all together, silly me thought it was all plain sailing from here. But how do you machine quilt such a top, with irregular seam lines and so many shapes and sizes?
I started with the decision that I didn’t want to do an all-over design or use my favoured method of free-hand quilting because it was so busy anyway and that style of quilting wouldn’t suit it.
I would use the same cream thread all over because otherwise changing threads would be a nightmare, but try to limit its visibility on darker coloured pieces.
So… I’m going to use straight-line quilting wherever possible, although there won’t be a regular 1/4″ around the blocks and some have strips which aren’t a constant width.
It’s in progress at the moment, so excuse the thread-ends in these photos:
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Some blocks would be just out-line quilted, on some the quilting would be visible but not so on others, I’ll use in-the-ditch to move from one section to another, and as for the wonky blocks with irregular strip widths and star-points- sigh…..
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For the centre square, trying to avoid curvy lines for consistency restricts the options somewhat, so more thinking required here-
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This quilt is turning into the hardest one I’ve ever had to quilt.

getting the Gammill ready to quilt

I spent some of this past weekend quilting a client’s quilt on my long-arm machine, and had the idea that you might like to see a little more of the machine. I have a Gammill Classic Plus long-arm quilting machine, and while it does look fairly big and intimidating when you first look at it, I’ve come around to thinking it is just like a big sewing machine after all.

Before I start every new quilt on it, there are some little jobs to do first. I always give it a good wipe-down to clear any dust – and not just because I’m not a great housekeeper!- but because the smooth movement of the machine requires dust-free tracks.
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I use an old pastry brush to dust along the tracks on the machine bed, as well as it’s own wheels. It’s best to get rid of any fluff or threads that might prevent the machine from moving in any direction that you’ll need while quilting.
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It then has to be oiled, so I use the provided oil to put a drop in all the recommended spots, including the bobbin race.
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I also change the needle after every big quilt or maybe two little quilts, because that needle does a lot of work.
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I have to check whether I have any loaded bobbins with the correct thread, and if not put an empty bobbin on the winder and thread it up.
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The needle thread also has to be threaded on the other side- I used to take a long time to thread the machine, checking the instructions at each step, but it’s like second nature now.
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If I haven’t yet done so, I now load the quilt on the machine, which is done in order of the top first, then the backing and the batting. This can also take awhile to make sure they are loaded straight and firm.
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Once that it is done, I usually do a little test run on some scrap that I pin to the side. This lets me check that the tension is correct and the stitches are being made correctly in the quilt- all threads work uniquely. Plus this is when I might test out a design- I do a lot of free-motion work so its good to test out a design I might have just practised with pen and paper. I try to avoid marking a quilt where possible.
This is a little sneak peek of the quilt I loaded on the weekend- it will have an all-over freehand design. Hope you are having fun with whatever stage of a quilt you are at!
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and not to forget my Dear Jane block: this is one of the very first I made, using the reverse-applique method. This is B1 “Bachelor Buttons”.
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