Karen’s Quilt Shop has moved

One of the shops where I teach classes is Karen’s in Sequim, Washington.  Karen Kester owns the shop and she is the Bernina dealer on the Olympic Peninsula, in addition to having a great selection of fabrics and other items. In order to provide even better service and selection, she has moved – just a little ways — to a bigger and nicer space.

I stopped by this week to check it out.  The new place is at 271 South 7th Ave, #26.  It is just west of her previous location.  I think of it as west (behind) the Rodda Paint Store and diagonally behind the McDonalds at Washington Avenue and 7th Avenue.  The mapping information on the internet is still a little confusing because it isn’t all updated yet, so don’t panic.  Just call the shop at 360-681-0820 and they will help you find it.

Here are a couple of photos I took while there:

First, the outside of the building

Karens Quilt Shop exterior (2)

Then, the main inside area

Karens Quilt Shop interior (2)And finally, the expanded sewing machine area.

IMG_5841 (2)

There’s a nice big classroom also. They have just moved so are still getting settled in.  There will be more signs on the street soon — these things all take time!  But do stop by and check out the new location next time you are in Sequim.

Clamshell quilting with template

Well — here they are.  My very first blog videos!  These are REALLY rough — totally unedited .  Just me talking and demonstrating.  Bear in mind, not only are these my first videos, they are basically unrehearsed.  And I am just learning how to use these templates, so there are some glitches along the way.   I could have waited to post these until I got better at this and had them carefully  edited, but decided not to.  Perhaps it will be helpful to you to see the glitches and know that I am just beginning to learn how to use these tools.   Maybe later I will make some better videos and replace these.

If you have come directly to this post and not read the previous one from a few days ago, please go back and read it.  Lots of information there that I am not repeating here.

I really must get my hands on some sticky tape to put on the back of these templates.  As you will see in the videos, I am having some trouble with the templates sliding around.  The sticky tape is supposed to help solve that problem.

In the videos, I called the special presser foot a “hopping foot”.  I think that is not a good name to use, because it doesn’t really “hop”.  I think “ruler foot” is a better term and I will try to use it in the future.

But here goes with the videos.  The first two are really just two parts of the same one;  I got a little stuck with positioning and had to stop and regroup until I figured out what to do next!

Video one – large clamshells, starting row

Video two – large clamshells, second and third rows

Video three – small clamshells

And I have discovered another blogger, Amy Johnson,  who has been using  these templates way longer than me so has lots of expertise to share:

http://www.freemotionquiltingadventures.com/p/blog-page_18.html

Domestic Machine Ruler Templates for Free Motion Quilting

Long-arm quilters have been using templates for many years and getting beautiful results. It is possible to use the long-arm templates on a domestic sewing machine if you are very careful, but you risk damaging your machine because of the thickness of the templates.

A clever quilter in Australia, Leonie West, has developed a series of templates for domestic sewing machines that are thinner and make it easy to quilt a wide variety of patterns. Her website is www.westalee.com.au . Sew Steady, the Eugene Oregon company that manufacturers acrylic sewing machine extension tables, is the exclusive US licensee and manufacturer for these templates. Their website is www.sewsteady.com .

These templates are a new hot trend for quilters. I have seen them advertised a few times and wanted to try them. This week I purchased the hopper foot and an assortment of templates from Quality Sewing and Vacuum in Silverdale. Brace yourself for the price of these things—even on sale, they were not cheap!

The hopper foot comes in high shank and low shank versions. The low shank can also be used on high shank machines with an adapter. I already had the adapter so purchased the low shank version.

Here is what the hopper foot looks like mounted on my Brother machine.

Low shank hopping foot installed on Brother Dreamweaver 3000

Low shank hopping foot installed on Brother Dreamweaver 3000

There are online videos showing how to install the foot on your machine, and how to use some of the templates. Be sure to watch them; the written instructions that come with the foot and templates are very brief. You can find links to the videos at both the websites I listed above.

In general, these things work by lining up the hopper foot on the edge of the template, and then moving the template and the quilt sandwich under the needle. The hopper foot is ½ inch across, so the needle is always stitching ¼ inch away from the template.

Here is a photo of one of the templates – just a plain circle- in place and with part of the design stitched out.

circle template in place for stitching

circle template in place for stitching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found the templates quite easy to use and was very pleased with the results. The quilting goes quickly and the marking needed is very minimal.   Of course I am an experienced free motion quilter, but I think the templates might make free motion quilting easier for less experienced FM quilters also.

Here are some examples:

Spinning Wheel Pattern—completed pattern, and the template placed on top of the pattern showing its position during the stitching.   As each petal of the flower is completed, the template is rotated to the position for the next petal. The stitching is continuous and the template is well marked. Be sure to watch the online video of this one before you start.   It is easy to do but the video shows you the overall process which won’t be obvious before you have done one of these rotating patterns.

 

spinning wheel pattern completed

spinning wheel pattern completed

spinning wheel template placed over stitched out design

spinning wheel template placed over stitched out design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clamshell pattern- again, the completed pattern and the template placed on top of the pattern. The little rounded “hook” at the end of the template is great for positioning the hopper foot when you need to move the template after stitching a couple of clamshells. The lower edge of the template is used for tiny clamshells, which I haven’t stitched out yet.

Completed clamshell quilting

Completed clamshell quilting

 

clamshell template placed on completed stitching

clamshell template placed on completed stitching

 

 

Feathers – my sample here is pretty good but one of the feathers came out too short. It can be picked out and replaced with a better one, so it’s not a fatal mistake. Still not sure exactly how I made that mistake! There is a good online video that shows many variations on the feather pattern. Several sizes of feather templates are available and they can be used within the same design to make smaller and larger feathers.

 

feather pattern stitched out

feather pattern stitched out

feather template placed on stitched out design

feather template placed on stitched out design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiral – this is a very simple use of this 6 inch spiral template. This design could be enhanced by adding free motion work either inside or outside the design. Lots of other variations possible also but I couldn’t find an online video explaining how to use this tool effectively so I still need to learn more.

 

Simple pattern using spiral template

Simple pattern using spiral template

6inch spiral template on top of completed design

6inch spiral template on top of completed design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another quilter who has done some interesting work with templates is Patsy Thompson. She has a couple of good videos on her website: www.patsythompsondesigns.com . I think she is working with the thicker long arm templates, but the methods should be the same.

I encourage you to ask your local quilt shop about these templates, or your local sewing machine store.  I purchased the Domestic Ruler Foot – which includes a couple of templates – and also the 6 piece sampler set.  This is enough to get your started and explore this new kind of quilting.

 

Cutting your fabric to achieve accurate ¼ inch seams

One of the common problems all quilters have is achieving an accurate ¼ inch seam allowance. Using the ¼ inch piecing foot or a ¼ inch mark on our sewing machines is not enough. Depending upon the thickness of our fabric and thread, folding the seam over “takes up” a little width. Most of us try to compensate by sewing a “scant” 1/4 inch seam.

Of course it also depends upon how many seams are going to exist in a block. For a simple block like a four patch, there is only one seam in each direction so it doesn’t matter so much if the seam takes up a little extra. But for blocks with many seams, it can be a major problem.

Here’s an alternate approach: cut the strips or pieces in your quilt slightly larger. And I do mean slightly. You can use the lines on your rulers to do this.

Here is an example. I am using an old ruler I own manufactured by Quilter’s Rule. It has rather wide lines. For newer rulers with narrow lines, you will have to develop your own method and run tests to figure out the amount of adjustment needed.

For the purposes of this test, I cut six 1 ½ inch wide strips, each about 6 inches long. First, I cut them aligning the fabric edge with the middle of the 1 ½ inch line, as shown in this photo.  Ignore the fact that the ruler line shown is the 1 inch line; I took the photos after completing the test and placed the wrong line on the fabric edge.  Just pretend it is the 1 1/2 inch line!

Cutting with half of the line thickness

Cutting with half of the line thickness

I then sewed these six strips together using my ¼ inch presser foot and being careful to sew accurate seams. Afterward I pressed the seams carefully, using “Best Press” to get the “block” nice and flat. The resulting block is shown below. The extra fabric taken up in the five seams results in a block that is too small – 6 ¼ inches instead of 6 ½.

Finished test block using half the line thickness is too small

Finished test block using half the line thickness is too small

The second test was done aligning the fabric with the left edge of the line, shown here.

Cutting using all of the line thickness

Cutting using all of the line thickness

Again the six strips were cut and sewn together. Now the block is 6 5/8 inches, slightly oversized. But it can easily be cut down to 6 ½ inches if needed.

Finished test block using all the line thickness produces a big enough block

Finished test block using all the line thickness produces a big enough block

I have also done this test with a newer “thin line” ruler and learned to judge where to line up the fabric edge to make the strips slightly wider.

I really like the idea of solving this size problem in the cutting of the strips, rather than trying to solve it later in the sewing. I am going to try to make it a habit in the future, especially when constructing pieced blocks with many seams. Maybe you will find this a useful tip also.

Techie’s Gadget Roll pattern available

I am pleased to announce that I have published a new pattern.  I designed this one to hold all those cables, memory cards, batteries, etc.  that are so necessary when you are travelling — or for that matter, when you are using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone at home.

Last year when we drove to Alaska I misplaced one of my cables somewhere in the car.  So we had to search all over in Canada to find a similar cable that would do the job.  Of course, when we got home and I unpacked, there was the original cable!

So this year I vowed to avoid that problem by making myself a special bag to hold everything I needed travelling in Europe with my digital camera and tablet.  By the time I gathered everything in one spot and started designing my “gadget roll”, I was amazed at how much stuff there was. Of course I went overboard by having duplicates and backups for most everything!

Now I use this gadget roll all the time at home, and I am going to design more of them for use for other applications.  Here are a couple of photos of the open and closed roll:

Open, loaded with all my gear:

Gadget roll open_1 blog version

And rolled up and tied for easy packing and storage:

Gadget roll closed_1 blog version

Now I just have to make a bunch of these for Christmas gifts this year — as soon as I find some “guy” fabric — and I won’t have to do any other shopping at all!

Pattern is available on Patternspot.com — see my pattern page for the link to my Patternspot “store”.  There isn’t a specific description and photo of this pattern on my pattern page yet — a few technical difficulties are stopping me- but the pattern is at my Patternspot store.

Here is the gadget roll in red.

red gadget roll 2 (2)

 

 

red gadget roll tied (2)

And while I was working on these I learned that Velcro has made a change to their product.  I don’t know how new this is, but it was new to me so  I am going to pass it on.  At my local store (JoAnn’s}  Velcro™ is sold both by the yard and in a package.  On the roll, it is the traditional product — one side of “hook” tape and one side of “loop” tape.  So when you buy a yard, you get a yard worth of fastening length.

Alongside the traditional product were pre-packaged products that look like this: Velcro package (2)

It says on the package that it is one yard of product.  And it is, but they have  redesigned the product so that it is both hook and loop together.  So one yard of product now only gives you 1/2 yard of actual fastening, because you use the same product for both sides.  The package says this in the fine print on the back — if you take the time to read it before you buy.  I don’t think the fastening is quite as good as it used to be, either.  It feels a lot easier to pull the two sides apart on the new product.

Contemporary Swiss and European Patchwork

A major part of my recent trip to Europe was participation in a family reunion in Neuchatel, Switzerland.  While there I had a discussion with Caroline Junier, a cousin (I think we have the same great-grandfather, if I have kept my family history straight), who until recently worked for the Neuchatel Museum of Art and History.

Naturally we discussed quilting and I showed Caroline some photos of my quilts.  She explained that there is a very active quilting (they call it Patchwork in Europe) community in and around Neuchatel.  In fact she believes it is the largest such community in Switzerland.  In her capacity at the Museum, she was very involved in putting together a number of quilt exhibitions.  She offered to provide me with the catalogs from three of the exhibitions, and delivered them to me at my hotel the next day.

I was very impressed with the quality of both the quilts and the catalogs, which are beautifully done.  Funding support for the exhibitions and the catalogs (if I am translating the French correctly) was provided by Bernina (our sewing machine friends), Loterie Romande (I don’t know who they are but it sounds like a Lottery), and Migros (big grocery store chain in Switzerland).

I have shown the catalogs to several members of my quilt guild and they enjoyed seeing them very much.  I wish I could show you photos here, but of course the images are copyrighted.  I include some web links and names below where you can see some of the work.

The following is a translation of the introduction to the catalog by some of the organizers.  I first used Google translate to get this from the original French to English, and did some fairly loose intrepretation so that it would make sense.  My apologies to anyone I may offend by my errors in translation!

“After having organized three exhibitions of contemporary patchwork of national importance in 1986, 1989 and 1993, Neuchatel Museum of Art and History once again wishes to show Patchwork to a wider audience, as well as how the assembly of textile elements has evolved and has become a means of art expression  in its own right in Switzerland and Europe.

Caroline Junier, curator of the department of applied art of the Museum of Art and History in Neuchatel, has organized this new exhibit, EXNA 4 in 2010. For her availability, expertise and usual dynamism, as in 1993, we are very grateful.

We are grateful to the jury who, thanks to their skills and knowledge in the contemporary art world, with impartiality selected fifty-two works from those presented in the contest.

We also thank the forty-one invited artists- among the best in Europe – who responded eagerly to our request and have enabled the exposition to present their works in the unique format selected: 35 by 35 cm.

by Maryline Collioud-Robert, Lucienne Hool, and Zibull Masson”

I have tried to find a good link to photos of the included quilts and failed to find more than a few photos.   You can find them yourself by searching for “EXNA 4 Patchwork Contemporain Suisse & Europeen”.  One of the organizers, Maryline Collioud-Robert, has a web site and blog.  She had three quilts in the show and shows these and others of her quilts at her blog: http://www.marylinecollioudrobert.com/en/Home.html .

Other quilters with multiple quilts in the show and current web presence were :     Beata Keller-Kerchner, Cecile Trentini, and Malou Zryd.  You can find some images of their work by typing their names in to the usual search engines.  Nearly all the work is very contemporary, usually abstract, and visually striking. There is a lot of use of texture in the exhibit, much more so than in the earlier 1986 and 1993 exhibits for which I also have catalogs.

St Gallen Embroidery

 

 

I recently returned from a trip to Switzerland. While there, I visited a textile museum in St. Gallen.

St. Gallen is a town of 75,000 people located east of Zurich in the northeastern part of Switzerland. This area was historically active in textile production. About 200 years ago they also became heavily involved in embroidery, first made by hand, then by machines assisted by hand, and finally by machine. The area is currently known both for the quality of the embroidery they produce for leading fashion designers and also for the design and manufacture of high quality embroidery machines. This is also the same general part of Switzerland where Bernina sewing machines are made.

I didn’t know enough about St Gallen to have any expectations, but had done   internet research to find the textile museum, plus St Gallen also has an ancient baroque library with many books over 1000 years old, a large cathedral that had been part of a former abbey founded around 600 AD, and a large protestant church – St Laurenzen’s. Since I was interested in the textile museum, I decided that it plus the other attractions were enough to justify the one hour train ride from Zurich. I found the town to be beautiful and thoroughly enjoyed the day I spent there.

Now back to the textile museum. The museum was very nice but the explanations for the exhibits were all in German so I didn’t get too many details. There were numerous examples of embroidery. I will include a few photos here to show some of it.

First, some embroidered dresses that I believe were part of an exhibit called “furor floralis” that features floral designs.

embroidered dresses

And a closeup of the one in front. This looks so perfect that I thought it must be  machine embroidery but  may have been done by hand by someone very skilled.

embroidered dress closeup

Many of the embroidery samples were part of an exhibition called Dreams and Realizations, described by the museum as   “From “white gold” linen to the world-famous “St.Gallen lace” to the high-tech textiles of today: the exhibition “Dream & Realisation” covers half a millennium of Eastern Switzerland’s textile history. Magnificent textiles from the Middle Ages to the present day demonstrate the master craftsmanship and innovative strength of this traditional industry, whose turbulent history has been driven by periods of great economic prosperity and global crises alike. ”

And there were many examples of whitework; this one had a lot of texture to it.

whitework embroidery

And some examples of brown embroidery:

brown embroidery

There was a special exhibit showing the work of a mother and son team of artists, Francisca Artigues and Miquel Barceló. He draws on linen with pens or watercolors and she embroiders on top of it by hand. Here are a couple of photos ; these pieces are quite large, seven to ten feet wide. I have included one closeup to show the stitching detail.

seacreatures cropped

seacreatures closeup

seacreatures 2

And because I can’t resist, I am going to break my own blog rule (nothing but quilting related topics!) and include an interior photo of the cathedral, which is really beautiful in an over-the-top way.

St Gallen Cathedral inside

You can find lots more photos about St Gallen on line and see photos of the Abbey library which I was not allowed to photograph – it is even more over the top than the cathedral!