La Passacaglia How To

When starting a quilt of this magnitude, you have to “gain your bearings”, meaning you have to have a method to your madness, have a direction to drive this project!

Choosing the right fabrics is key for the rounds of the rosettes. After only a couple rounds of the rosette, I have figured out one key note that I want to pass on. I also want to share my method to anyone who may be trying to figure out what works. *Disclaimer, what works for me, may not work for you.

Fabric selection. If you really don’t want muddy rosettes you will need contrast between each round. These pieces are small. Here is my start:

These two colors are perfectly porportioned together and contrast just right. But notice the dark teal below. Once I added this, I realized my first mistake. This is the largest piece of the rosette. This becomes very dominate. I highly recommend the hexagon to be fussy cut out of a print that is multicolor that you coordinate throughout the rings of the rosette. I am going to call this a mistake. It will be fine, but it sure is a lot of teal. It overpowers all the other work I done. Contrast is perfect, but too much color. Your eye goes right to it.

See how much this really disrupts the La Passacaglia? The meaning of the word basically translates to harmony of music. That teal OVERPOWERS!. This should have been a print. Where ever I put this in the quilt, it is going to stand out loudly. I like loud, but this volume will be louder than other cogs. Lesson learned.

I have had trouble at the begining trying to match my corners perfectly. The more I have stitched, the more accurate I have become in this. And like someone pointed out to me, once the papers are removed, it will be perfectly stitched together.

My process:

There are two types of cuts, one of which is fussy cutting. I took note on something Tula Pink spoke of in one of her videos. She does not purchase fabric for fussy cutting EPP unless she can get several cuts or the repeats are many. She designs her fabric this way too. I have utilized that technique with the striped fabric. The repeat of the bands was just a hair longer than the star tips.

The second type of cut would be making the most of your fabric. Strips. I cut a strip first.

The great thing about EPP, it is very forgiving, my strips are not perfect and that is ok. These templates have 3/8 seam allowance. When you hand stitch these, the seam allowance is completely lost and therefore that precision becomes irrelevant.

I subcut my strip. I was able to do this with the stripes too. I just cut rectangles with the 3/8 inch seam allowance included where I wanted the paper piece to be set.

Then I glue baste my paper.

The key to this step is rolling the fabric over the piece tight! If your corners are sloppy, it will be harder when all these angles are stitched together.

And it is now ready to stitch.

And then you have little scraps of strip left over. I am trimming those down as I go and adding them to my new bin of 1 1/2 inch scrap squares.

There will probably be more lessons I learn as I proceed. I will share as I go.

And then there is a quilt top, jelly roll race.

I have had this quilt top stitched to this point since July of 2019. I have been in search of the perfect backing. I have found nothing in the past 2 years. I had a thought. The bolt of muslin I have is specially formulated. It is to be used for dying your own fabrics. I have never dyed fabric and and thought about this. I already have the muslin, so no fabric purchase necessary. This would be about 3 yards of fabric at a cost of about $30. But for $3 I can dye my own batch and match this just as good as any solid.

Here is my morning muslin! I washed and dried this last night to prep for this morning.

I am attempting to set the color with vinegar and heat.

And here it is muslin in the morning turned to afternoon sun!

This was relatively easy. I had everything except the dye. I will be washing this later today to see how much of this is retained. I hear rit dye washes out over time. Hmmmm. Any of you textile goddesses out there have a remedy to prevent this let me know. I tried to set the colors with cold water, salt, vinegar and then dry in the heat of the dryer. I presume this will work good enough to keep this from bleeding. Unsure….

In reflection of goals last week,

  • Finish binding the Elizabeth Hartman quilt
  • Gift the Elizabeth Hartman quilt and the churn dash quilt
  • Get one round sewn on the rosette for the La Passacaglia
  • Select fabric for the next round of the orange rosette above

I met and exceeded my goals!!!!! Horah!

My longterm goals are,

  • Work on the last round of the tatted doily
  • Bind the Midnight Alaska quilt
  • Sew the hexagon quilt top
  • Start quilting on the Me and My Sister Designs quilt top
  • Work some on my 365 Quilt Block Challenge

All of these would be nice to cross off my list, they are still my long standing list.

My goals for this week:

  • Finish one rosette for La Passacaglia
  • Sew backing for the yellow jelly roll race quilt
  • Start quilting the jelly roll race quilt with a pantograph

My UFO piles shrink, my WIP piles grow, I smile with finishes!!!

Thanks for stopping in and reading my blog!

Scrap Happy April

Can you believe we are already halfway through April! I must be having fun with my scraps, time sure is flying!

What have I been up to in the last month?

This is quilted, bound, washed, and on a bed!

This is bound and gifted to new parents of a baby girl!

I had this quilted some time ago and never got around to finishing. It is also bound and gifted!

Both of these quilts were completely from my stash, no purchase necessary!

Gosh, I think I should be called Scrap Maven (maybe without the S) hahahahahaha!

The rosette round was finished on my tatted doily!

And in less scrappy news I started a new project with a jelly roll and some muslin. I am liking where this is going!

I have started on my La Passacaglia Millefiori! Rosette one is LOUD! I am liking the vast contrast. I just want to turn this up even more!

Have you enjoyed other Scrap Happy posts? I encourage you to click the links and see what Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nannette, Ann, Nancy, Noreen, Bear, Carol, Pretti, Edith, and Me are up to.

Thanks for clicking by and visiting my blog!


In last weeks post, I set some goals. Let’s see how I did…

I wanted to start on the last round of the tatted doily. Almost there….

I did complete the rosette round, but have failed to start the last round. Not sure I will get back to this in the coming weeks.

I finished the binding on the churn dash quilt, this will be gifted to a coworker soon.

I have failed to snap a photo of this with binding. (Pretend it is there in a blue)

I have had this jelly roll race quilt lingering for MONTHS….I am so close to calling this one done.

A year ago this was on the longarm, tsk tsk tsk. The binding is on and one side is hand stitched. I aim to finish this over the weekend so I can gift this to a coworker who’s baby is now almost one (I hesitated gifting due to the virus.)

I have started two new projects one of which I excitedly shared with you midweek. I have managed the remaining strip sets transforming them into half hexagons. I have also cut several triangles. This is almost ready to sew all together. I am putting it away for now. Soon enough.

Since I have cut out the triangles, I have decided to go with this layout. The quilt will be in the shape of a large hexagon. I have never made a circular quilt, this will be interesting to the eye.

And while digging around I found a Me and My Sister Designs scrap start. Well, this too has been lingering. This started out as a Moda scrap bag. The scraps were 3 1/2 inch strips. I sewed them together and ended up with about a 3 ft by 5 ft piece of not much,LOL. I visited the quilt shop and bought some fabric I liked. The photo does not do this justice, it really pops before the naked eye.

This has plenty of negative space to have some fun with quilting. But, I will decide and do that later. Probably not happening for a couple of weeks.

I ordered supplies weeks and weeks ago and they all arrived this week. Let the La Passacaglia commence! La Passacaglia is a Millefiori quilt pattern that is all by hand, and has many small pieces. Here is my start. I am going to try to work with much directional fabric. As I have been studying this concept, I am fascinated by the movement of fabrics and fussy cuts. There are many of these that people use the same fabric for the whole rosette. I am going to refrain from doing that. I think it looks muddy. So much work for the eyes not to see from across the room. Yup mine is gonna be loud!

I have the hexi’s ready to sew the next round. I have not thought past this round. I will enjoy figuring that out this week as well.

And my stitches, even though I am only taking two threads worth of fabric with my needle, my stitches still show. A long time English Paper Piecer commented about the stitches. She said “my stitches are lovely and very rhythmic and even. This is a hand project, show off those hand stitched pieces”. I have been reading much about this and have found out, once the papers are removed and you quilt this, those hand stitches that you see now, disappear. I tried to do the ladder back stitch, nope not happening.

Goals for the upcoming week:

  • Finish binding the Elizabeth Hartman quilt
  • Gift the Elizabeth Hartman quilt and the churn dash quilt
  • Get one round sewn on the rosette for the La Passacaglia
  • Select fabric for the next round of the orange rosette above

Long Standing goals before me now and will work in the upcoming month:

  • Work on the last round of the tatted doily
  • Bind the Midnight Alaska quilt
  • Sew the hexagon quilt top
  • Start quilting on the Me and My Sister Designs quilt top
  • Work some on my 365 Quilt Block Challenge

The deeds before me are many. I know I can pull them off. How soon is the question. Weekend, here I come!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!

A WIP Surprise

Happy Easter Readers!

It is a beautifully pleasant day in paradise. Not too hot, not too cold, not too humid. On this perfectly pleasant day, I am indoors doing some household chores. In between washings in the laundry load dept, I have the rosettes done on this round of the doily, one more round to go.

I did not iron this before I snapped the photo, it is a bit unruly in places. That could be because I just plopped it down and snapped the photo not taking care of what was turned which way.

And I am working on the binding on the quilt below. I had to get into the thread bin to match the blue backing/binding I am using.

And there on the shelf, in front of the thread was a quilt kit I was gifted from my Mom and Dad for Christmas. The kit is to make two twins size quilts using the Lust Have and the Basic Grey fabric line.

This is beautiful fabrics! When I opened the pattern, the quilt shop it was purchased at, figured out a way to make a quit twice as big tweaking the directions. Mom was very excited to give this to me. After looking at the instructions, I was a bit flummoxed. Did not like how complicated it was. And technically there were two jelly rolls, and some white grunge as well as 16 more jelly roll strips. Ah-ha, the quilt shop did not really figure out a way to make the pattern with twice the quilt power. It figured out to sell a kit with double the fabric in it. I have the pattern but will probably not ever use their pattern.

A few weeks back MSQC showed a video of a spinning star that I KNEW I wanted to make. I got the template in and when I reached for the thread to do the binding, I thought, there is probably more than enough fabric in the kit, I could make this spinning stars quilt top pretty easy.

And so last night and some of today, I made that happen. An unplanned work in progress (WIP).

I cut and sewed my strip sets last night. And then subcut into 10 inch squares, and then subcut two more times how the video said. Here is their clever video explaining this in detail.

And As much as I like the pattern, I am a bit disappointed by the waste.

Each strip set I can get 8 sections of the pie. This leaves two sections not matching up. I suppose you can make this scrappy. And now wish I would have slowed down a bit and pondered that extra un-needed pie section 10 inch subcut.

A few tips for those of you who do make this. Two thirds of the cuts are on the bias, so either use starch or be careful not to stretch your seams. I learned when sewing the pie wedges, if you place the non bias edge on the bottom when making the seams, it eliminates some stretch. When you press, have the non bias edge on the top and press towards it. This helped my piecing all come together better at the center point.

Here is the stack of left over stuff. The triangle blocks themselves can be made into another quilt, no biggie on those, but that 3 to 6 inch pieces….not liking that. And not a fan of the pieced back.

I especially do not like the gob of cutaway on the right. But I suppose the geometry of the design negates this waste. It is a quick thing to make. Time is money, fabric is money. That scale I suppose balances itself.

This is the layout in MSQC video.

I am liking the second layout better. I will have to cut some muslin triangles. And I will make this a hexagon shape quilt, kind of round like. I certainly have enough of these strips left I could do some kind of strippy triangle accent in the center of those. I am currently brainstorming. The ruler certainly would do that trick easily enough.

If I use the second layout I will need to make 4 more blocks. I have those strip sets made, I just need to start subcutting. But I am afraid I have ran out of time this weekend. It just wasn’t in the stars.

I am off to do more laundry and get supper going.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!

Must Haves for the New Longarm Quilter

Readers, I have learned a few things along the journey of Longarm ownership. This post will contain some pointers for anyone about to purchase a longarm or a new longarm owner.

Things the longarm industry does not tell you before you buy your machine. This list is important and highly un-communicated.

1.). Protect your investment!

  • Whether you are hobbying or gaining an income from your longarm, protect that machine. How do you protect your machine? Purchase a surge protector. Are all surge protectors the same, NO. Find a surge protector that has a high rating for Joules. Joules is the measurement for energy, not electricity. Energy can be in the form of lightening. After spending thousands of dollars on your machine, please spend $50 on a highly rated Joules surge protector. Not only are you protecting from a spike in current, you are also protecting in a spike in energy. Two somewhat different things.
  • You may want to contact your insurance company and get the policy that will cover your machine. Because these can cost the amount of a car, it would be a good idea to ensure you have coverage if something were to happen.

2.). Points to know before purchasing your longarm

  • Test Drive All different kinds of set ups.
    • Questions to ask while test driving
      • How does this handle and steer? Is this smooth or bumpy? Is it easy or hard? Is it heavy or lightweight?
      • How are my ergonomics and comfort? Does this hurt my shoulders? Does this hurt my back? Do I have the stamina to do this all day?
      • How is the durability? Will this withstand for what I will be using it for?
        • Commerical grade for working everyday
        • Hobby grade for pleasure
      • Does the machine fit in my house/room?
        • I have heard stories of ladies just wanting one so bad (I can relate!), and the the day of delivery to find out that it has to hang out the doorway of the room and the only way to access to back of the machine is to crawl under the table.
      • Do I need to upgrade to a new dedicated circuit
        • This somewhat happened to me. If I chose to run the freezer (which kicks on with no notice) and the heater at the same time while running my machine it would trip the breaker. Research out expense. Ask your dealer how many amps does your machine pull, they will have answers. If they cannot answer this question, you may need to eliminate them as an “expert” in this field and move onto another company.
      • What kind of thread investment will I need to make
        • I regret not asking this question before I bought my machine. Two purchases were made and became useless because I did not do my research. Find out by asking the dealer what thread the machine loves. Learn with the thread the machine loves otherwise the learning curve becomes kind of overwhelming. Control that with the known. Venture out later with different thread.
      • Ask your dealer how long they have had their machine. A lot of the traveling salesmen at quilt shows do NOT EVEN OWN THEIR OWN BRAND. Would you trust they really know the machine? They are there to make a sale. If you ask this question your trust relationship can flourish, you must be able to trust your dealer/saleman.
      • When test driving pay attention to durability. The more durable machines and frames are engineered to last and last. Some of the more recent commercialized machines are kind of whimpy. If you are like me and have a tummy, and you lean on that belly bar, does it give? This will push in the quilt top you are quilting and cause it to be quilted in a less than square environment.
      • Ask the dealer where a good place to purchase thread and batting. If they have been in the business they are going to know sources that may not be online and may be cheaper.
  • Know yourself
    • Many personality types in life. Know yourself. If you are confident you will not be too afraid to run this machine, purchase it knowing! I have read many things out there where a person buys one of these machines. And then all of a sudden is having to go to the doctor because they are experiencing fainting spells while using it. Yes, it can happen to any of us. This particular person was so nervous and scared she was forgetting to breath and fainting at the machine. If you are intimidated by using a drill, woodworking equipment, or even you are afraid to clean and take out a couple of screws on your daily sewing machine. A longarm is probably not for you.
    • Time. This will take a good chunk of free time out of your schedule. Do not buy one if you can only quilt on holidays. Your muscle memory in training has to train regularly for you to be any good at this free motion or even pantograph stitching.
  • Needed supplies
    • Ask your dealer beside batting and thread what tools will help you most
      • Play with your machine and get to know it. This will prevent you from stitching a whole row of pantograph with incorrect stitches or non-existant stitches. Yes, ghost quilting is part of the learning process. You will learn the difference in sound when you are stitching and your bobbin runs out. You will also learn and see the difference in the quality of stitch you are producing and your machine sound can alert you to what you cannot see under the quilt.
        • After that initial learning curve, start seeking out the toys for the machine
          • Acrylic templates
            • These require a special foot. Do not assume the foot installed on your machine is the right foot. I had to purchase a new foot.
              • The special foot also required an adjustment for the hopping mechanism. Do not assume, always ask the right questions when you are driving your machine down a different path
            • Acrylic templates size is key
              • Do not go on a buying frenzy. I know too many women who own oodles of these templates and do not use but a few. When purchasing a template get the template that is the work horse. Find one that will stitch in the ditch or stitch straight lines. Find one with measurement increments for those straight lines. Find a template that also has an arc or a curve or preferably both. The more the template does, the more you will use it
              • Templates that are bigger than your hand are hard to use. Your bars at the rear and front of your machine become problematic for moveability with a larger ruler. Anything longer than 10 inches I would not recommend. Large rulers tend to fall off the base. This causes kick, which can make you accidentally feed your acrylic template over your hopping foot and damage your machine.
              • With acrylic templates also has the cost of a ruler base. You will need to get a ruler base before you can use any templates.
                • I leave my base on my machine full time whether I am using templates or not. Travel of the machine may be impeded by this device. It may hit the bar at the front of the machine. Know this before hand
  • Do NOT compare your apples to someone elses’ oranges.
    • We are our own worst critic. Quilting takes practice. You WILL make mistakes along the way. You WILL figure out how to overcome those mistakes. Your learning journey is different from everyone elses’. If you are looking repeatedly at design inspiration on pinterest from Angela Walters, Natalia Bonner, or Judy Madsen, keep in mind they have perfected their craft and have been doing it for YEARS. Think about when you started to learn cursive writing. Was it pretty in the begining? No it was purely mechanical. It took about 6 months of using it everyday to be really better at it. And now you have been steering that pen or pencil for 20+ years you are really good at it eh? Unless you are a doctor LOL. But that is something to consider too. Doctors are always in a hurry. That is why their penmanship is so illegible. Speedy may not work as pretty. You may want to practice speed vs slow. See how your garlands change and in what direction they look off. I have learned there are certain swoops I can make fast, and in a different direction I have to take that same fast swoop slower.
      • The speed thing also needs to be researched when purchasing your longarm. When you test drive one and make your loop-de-loops how fast can you go? Find out your stitches per minute on each machine. Usually the higher stitch counts the machine can go, the faster you will be able to quilt eventually. If you are one of those people at your regular sewing machine who can not piece your tops with your foot to the floor on speed, perhaps a longarm is not for you. The right speed is key in making the muscle memory leap from shaky to smooth. I sew and quilt like I drive with the petal to the floor and go as fast as I can.
  • A quilting tool holder
    • When I began longarming I found a use for my extra 24 inch ruler. It was perfect to lay across my bars and acted like a try where I could keep some tools. I know of people using curtain rods that hook over the bars and then place cardboard or wood over those which also make a nice portable table to work from while at the machine. This method failed for me. It would cause those to fall off during the advancement of the quilt top.
    • The tool thing put lots of extra legwork into my day. If I was at the back of the machine, I was constantly setting the tools down back there. I would then walk to the front of the machine to work and find the tool I needed was at the back. My solution was an apron. I have templates, cleaning brushes, chalk, extra bobbins, and my good cutting scissors all in that apron. So many steps saved from these tired feet.
  • If you wear glasses but dont wear them regularly, probably a good idea to keep a pair at the machine. Because mine is offiste this was a big deal. My distance vision is good, my reading vision is poor. It never failed to go and quilt and forget my glasses and then I could not even thread the needle.

3.). Lighting

  • One of the most important tools for your machine is lighting. Yes, you can purchase expensive lighting. What ever works for you. This did not work with my budget. This tip I learned from observation of the famous quilters. They either are near daylight (window) or have a nice overhead track lighting system. I find that daylight can be a curse. If you are near an east or west window, this can be blinding at certain times of the day. Light is best from a north or south window.
  • Utilize all the light you have by installing a wall of mirrors. Mirrors do three things, they reflect light, prevent shadows, and they allow you to see the image you quilted in reverse. Notice in Angela Walters Studio, she has a whole mirror of wall that she faces while at the front of her machine. This is one of those helpful things that costs little but the impact it can have is tremendous.

I am certain there is more I am forgetting. I will save what I have forgotten for a post in the distant future. Please if you have any questions I would be delighted to try to help you out.

And now for the textile part of the post….

You know, much of a blog post is an amalgamation of a weeks worth or more of what has transpired under the needle. Because I had a migraine last week, it directly affected what I can post about this week. There was stuff happening this week, but not much.

Did you know that April 1st was National Tatting Day? I tatted a bit. I have about two chains and two clover leafs to tat and then I can move onto the next round of my doily. Sorry, no new pictures. And this thing has grown to the size of trying to figure out where to take that picture. This is a goal of mine for the weekend.

And back at the end of December I joined a quilt along called Holiday Mystery Seclusion Quilt Along hosted by The top has been finished since then with the goal of the end of January to quilt. Well, it was just too cold in January and February. But I finally have it quilted. I tried one of the newly purchased pantographs. Because I was unsure of the spread of my machine, I now know it is 13.75 inches. I have learned if I use this panto, it will have to be on a small project and I cannot use my red snappers.

This was a fun sew-a-long and ended up being cute! Lots of texture! I enjoyed this whole process immensely. I look forward to more of this kind of stuff. It is now all quilted and ready for me to bind. I will probably work on this in the next week.

Looks a bit wonky doesn’t it? Sorry, need to mow the grass for even appearing edges. This was about 6 blocks shy of using a floral charm pack that I purchased a while back for a bargain price. I whipped out the bolt of muslin for the accent. No purchase necessary at all for this little gem. Found some blue floral backing in my stash too.

If I ever start quilting for income, this will be a panto saved to the 3 cents per square inch category. It is a very easy pattern, but the amount of time it takes is less than stellar as far as dollars per hour are concerned. I cannot remember how big this is, but I did not have to piece a backing for it. I am thinking this is 36 inches square. One M bobbin pass for every 36 inches in the row. Massive thread drop!

The quilt above was quilted last year in April, I have yet to bind it. This hopefully will happen as well.

My supplies have not showed up for working the La Passacaglia. Dang covid slowing it down. My anticipation of starting this is very HIGH…..soon enough I guess.

Well, this wraps up this post. Thanks for reading along! Please subscribe!

New to Longarm Quilting Post 2

The things we learn as we go eh? What scenario plays out at my house is going to be completely different than what goes on anywhere else. This post is a secondary post to help new longarm quilters with issues they may have.

In my last post I covered quilt scootch and keeping the top true. Today I will discuss some more tidbits that helped me tremendously.

The above quilt was on my longarm about a year ago. I took several videos of how a quilted this beast and uploaded those to youtube. One thing led to another, and this photo is probably my first photo missing one of my belly bars.

Last year for my birthday, my mom and dad purchased red snappers for my leaders. A huge amount of time can be just pining quilt tops and backs to the three bars. The two bars in the picture above both have red snappers installed. It takes me about half as much time to load a quilt. A red snapper is a plastic channel that feeds through the leader cloth which is attached to the bars. Then there are grove pieces that you just push on over the fabrics when loading the backing. The way my frame is different from many of yours, my belly bar that the quilt top is supposed to roll up on would be laying just above the half square triangle edge in the photo. I learned that if I had the red snappers installed on one of the bars, I could not install it on the second belly bar. The bars would come into a bind when progressing the quilt. They would touch. So I stopped attaching my quilt tops to that bar and just floated them from that point on.

A quick note to help trueness when loading a quilt, do it using the burrito method. This works and keeps stuff off the garage floor where I quilt

This got me to thinking, at the time I watched oodles of videos by Natalia Bonner and noticed even though she had a different frame/machine, she did not have this secondary belly bar in view. And then when I started making a few quilting videos, that bar was really in the way of the camera if I had the camera on the tripod making a movie. So I just TOOK THE BAR OFF. I later called the dealer and asked if I took the bar off, if it would hurt anything in my set up. She informed me, she (has the same frame and machine as I have) took her bar off years ago and was glad she did. (I do now question why some machines have this bar below the belly bar. I would find this impossible to get to your bobbin area to change your bobbin??)

That extra bar that I could not use was in the way for the camera. It was in the way for loading the batting. It was in the way for ruler work. So that bar now resides on the floor below the machine. Problem solved. I have never regretted this new and improved set up for me. There are those who would never float a top. I on the other hand found this a shortcut for time. For those of you who earn a living with your machine, this was a huge time saver for me.

Two more things that can help your top stay taught especially when you get to the point there is very little gravity holding the quilt taught when you float.

Here is another quilt quilted before I removed the front belly bar. If you do use the bar and do not float or even if you do float, there are two tools that can help you keep things from getting wonky or to keep stability and trueness when quilting.

One you can purchase the snap on devices that help cinch the quilt top a little tighter.

I have a set of these, and my poles are too big for either size. Downer, these were also a birthday present and I am sick that I cannot use them. If anyone is interested, I can get the info for you if you would like to buy them at a discount.

Anyway, these would certainly help out any of us who longarm quilt. Great invention! But I cannot use it, so to improvise…..go to the hardware store and find long tool magnets. And just install them at points on your belly bar and cinch them to make the job a little tighter. These are relatively inexpensive if you purchase them from the right place. You can buy them from quilt shops and pay an inflated price. Or you can go to the hardware store and get these magnetic tool bars which work great for about 6 dollars.

You can get these from home depot or Harbor Freight. And they work great on the longarm and are very budget friendly from these stores.

And then there is the tip about tension. I cannot tell you about tension on your machine. I know I struggled with this for many months even with the Towa tension gauge.

The way tension works, it is either too loose or too tight.

When your stitches are too loopy on the bottom, it means you need to tighten the top tension. If you basically have lines with the bottom stitches coming to the top that means it is too tight on the top, so loosen on the top.

After playing around with my own stuff and doodling out off to the side of my quilt always checking tension, I figured out it was cheapo batting. That was a downer. When I figured this out, I had two and half rolls of 20 yards each. What was my solution to save time and quit fiddling with my tension so much? I doubled my batting. Yup, that is right. I think this is something the famous quilters like Natalia Bonner and Judy Madsen do not tell you. This gives great texture and it really pops.

For any of you who have played and doodled your quilts to death, it really flattens out standard cotton batting. And this creates a very flat quilt. Doubling your batting is twice as expensive, do what is right for you. This is a time saver for me, and at the price I paid for the cotton Toasty batting, I can afford this. Most of my tension is just a smidge out between bobbins. No ripping of quilting, very little adjustment, win win!

Here is a picture of my first quilt with double batting, wowsa!

This leads me to discuss bobbins. I was buying bobbins from my dealer at $30 for ten, and then I came across the brand Cutex. I could buy a box of 100 for that price. So I tried it out, and by golly they worked. Do not feel compelled to throw money at your hobby for fear of a bobbin not fitting. For longarm quilting machines, most are either L bobbins, or M bobbins. This is a standard. If your dealer says your machine is an L bobbin, you can venture out and try bobbins they may look different than yours but are still L size for a better bargain.

Here is a link for all different prices of M bobbins on Amazon. Way cheaper than the $30 for ten.

If there is something you would like to see as a tutorial on the longarm, just leave a comment and I will do my best to help out this lovely community!

Onto the project side of things. I have my Millefiori quilt book out. I am waiting for the paper pieces to be in the mailbox.

I have some fabrics on the drying rack pressed and ready to be a rosette. I have an old wooden clothes dryer that I picked up from the thrift store. This is a great place to starch and press the fabrics before I can get to them. I have used this method for about 4 years. There are a few occasions that this was a mess more than a help. But those instances will probably not repeat themselves and probably not worth mentioning.

I am looking forward to learning this process called La Passacaglia. You pronounce this will the G being silent. La Passacaglia is defined as “an instrumental musical composition consisting of variations usually on a ground bass in moderately slow triple time

Or…”an old dance performed to a passacaglia

So this new project that will be starting soon is all about the dance of fabrics and the melody in the cogs. That is my definition. I am looking forward to the play and direction of fabric and where it will take me while making these rosettes pictured on the book’s cover.

The migraine is almost gone, that one was a doozy. I will enjoy each day for what it is worth, and hope you enjoyed my post. Thank you for reading my blog!

Scratching That Itch

In Dec of 2019 I started work on the 365 Quilt Block Challenge which is offered yearly by Katherine Kerr. It is a skill builder. Not only do you figure out volume and value, you really get good at piecing those tiny pieces. If I compare my first blocks to my last one I did, there is no comparison. You can definitely tell I am a better piecer because of this challenge.

The 365 Quilt Block Challenge was the PERFECT quilt to work on during the pandemic. And work I did. But I also churned out other projects in the midst, and I am almost back to the 365.

First Blocks:

And some of my latest during my Christmas break:

These are certainly more accurate, and a whole lot more complicated to build, with a nice variety of scrappiness, less loud.

And some of these combined:

I estimated on my goals for the year I would be done with this already. And because this project is for the long haul, I think I got the 7 year itch or something??? I do not know what it is called, but I have this sudden urge throughout its build to do something else.

Let me count the quilts done while I was doing this challenge:

So, in summary, this past year and 4 months, I have made 10 quilts(*disclaimer 3 of these are tiny), plus got 3/4 of the way done with the 365 Quilt Block Challenge.

No wonder I have put the brakes on this lovely project! More on this in a bit….

This week I got two bound, and by golly the migraine thing happened again. So the 3rd of 4 is still on my table.

I have one side done. Three more sides to bind. Amazingly enough, this layer cake I used to make this quilt (church ladies) was an exact match to fabric of 2006 and a line by Eleanor Burns which I acquired in the past couple of years at the thrift store. The pinks, the reds, the oranges, and the blues all match this print, whoa. Shop the stash ladies, you will surprise yourself!

A few years back, I made this:

And I stalled. This is from the Millefiori book by Hammerstein. This pattern in particular is La Passacaglia. These papers I had to cut by hand for the english paper piecing pattern, and it deterred me from progressing. I hate cutting fabric, let alone the paper to construct it. So, it has been a dream of mine for quite sometime. This is an all by hand project. Recently I made this one:

This was hand stitched with the same papers, but again, I did not want to cut out all these papers. So I managed a pot holder out of it. I was scratching that itch.

And when I work the 365 quilt block challenge, I get the urge to do different color! I crave something other than red! I am an adult, and suppose I am spoiling my inner child who is begging for color and fun/whimzy/shifting of gears. So, that being said, I have taken the plunge on my next big project before this one is even done! My logic, I can have one at the sewing machine and one in the hand. On the evenings I am too tired to stand and sew, I can stitch by hand these small shapes and make the Millefiori quilt.

Be looking for posts of this project coming in the next few weeks. I am excited! I hope I have the stamina for this hand project. Any La Passacaglia piecers out there can give any advice at all, I will certainly take it! I feel the need to scratch that itch, I have a dream!

And on a lively note, I have pictures of the kittens! They are getting to the cuttoff date of being kicked outside, but gosh they are so cute!

And how about a video? Their mews are so cute! Not all cats personalities are tolerable to this cat lover. Certain ones will grow on me. One of these tiger stripe babies is so quiet, and not the cry baby like most. A couple of these babies are quite adventurous! Their little personalities are forming, and we are all getting attached to them. The future quilters’ cat(s)!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!

Helping New Longarm Quilters

The purchase and ownership of a longarm can be quite the experience. You learn what works and what doesn’t. The crash coarse you get from the company is a few hours worth of info that you may or may not retain. I know when I purchased mine, I was totally focused at the front of the machine with free motion quilting, and could careless about what goes on at the back of the machine. Those details were either told to me and discarded, forgotten, or never spoken of. I know not. It is pretty exciting to do those first stitches. Everything else (experience included) comes with time.

There are wonderful videos out there which helped me. Here are two by others. I am sharing because some of this you may not know.

These two videos were a game changer for me! This seems relatively logical, but sometimes we go through life and do things the hard way. Thank goodness for those that think smarter not harder, eh?

So, I am now more proficient in pantos. I shied away from pantos because the thought of trying to align things up perfectly bum-fuzzled me to the point of not wanting to try. And when I did, I scooted the panto all over the back area trying to get it to line up, not knowing that I was fouling up making things way harder.

On the longarm this weekend was my Crazy quilt, using Lori Holt papers, urbanelementz free panto. My machine has been rejecting the last part of the roll of 100% toasty cotton batting that came from Joann’s. So to beat the batting at its own game, I have started doubling the batting to just get rid of it and use it up. Surprisingly, it has created a new nice deep texture and weighted the quilt, like an old quilt.

I had someone ask on my last post if I could share how I manage to keep the quilt from scootching. All my previous quilts scootched to the right. But I have since started ironing. You would think I would iron the quilt before I load it, but I am in a garage, I do not have an ironing board, and the floor is dirty. So ironing for me was basically loading it fresh out of the bag and making the most of the few wrinkles I had. This was the issue all along, that with the fact I float my tops. I think floating the top causes the seam allowances to flip, which would then cause everything to scootch and not be true. Here is me ironing my quilt top. Forgive me and I mis-poke while I was ironing and called it quilting. The quilt did advance correctly, but because I moved the needle and the head of the machine, I got confused.

Here is the actually quilting using the Heatwave free panto from urbanelementz.

And it was a blooper reel kind of day. This took me three tries. First one I rambled and then ran out of thread during quilting. Second the tension messed up and had to rip out. 3rd times a charm.

Here is a link to the free pattern called heatwave by urbanelementz.

And quilter’s, I am shocked at the number of quilt police that are running amuck on social media. I posted about my success with the ironing stage while ON the longarm. I was told I should not do that, the fabric could bleed. I was told by others they make a spray of part fabric softener and water and helps the quilt and quilting of it. I had other comment about customers “b!@tching about spraying said softener on the top”. YIKES. I was successful with something and shared and all the quilt weirdos commented putting their two cents worth in, not knowing the whole. I quilt my own quilts so if they bleed they bleed. But I would think if I ironed while I was making the top with steam it would not bleed then, why would it bleed after the fact. Has anyone actually had this happen? The idea of putting fabric softener on someone else’s quilt would be a no no for me, who would do that? There are so many perfumes in that stuff, but I am not in their shoes, so I am not gonna judge. I will embrace all of the quilting community, each comment was looking out for my best interest I suppose.

If I failed to explain things clearly or you need a translator for because I sound waaaaay too southern, just ask, I did not plan out what I was going to say, I just said what came to mind at the time. I have a sense of humor and laughed when I watched the first video as I sound like such a hick. That’s what I get for living in Texas for 32 years, eh?

I hope this helps longarm quilters after me, we call can use a little bit of help from time to time.

I did finish this, it took me about 3 1/2 hours to quilt this. Pleased with the results.

I chose this panto, because there is so much yellow, orange, and red it it. Reminds me of the color of a flame. Delighted to be almost caught up at the quilting machine. I have one two more left, and have no backing selected. So for another nice quilty day.

Happy first day of spring!

And thanks for reading my blog!

Focused on the Quilting

With Spring, comes better temperatures for quilting in the Garage. And as a direct result, more quilting has happened and is still happening. It has energized my soul and made me feel so good.

I guess I was pouting because with all the cold weather this winter, I could NOT QUILT. I was a bit cranky about it too. I can’t wait until I get a house and move the quilting machine in! Without it being here, it creates a flow issue.

I can piece and piece and piece, and those pile up over the winter. With the nice weather window open, I have been able to quilt three, now all at different stages. One has binding applied and is being stitched down by hand. Two need binding cut and sewn. A flow issue, I can only work one project at my table at a time. So, I have focused on quilting this week.

I got some amazing pictures of my Midnight Alaska quilt. Gosh this thing is pretty!

I quilted this in a panto called “Etched Lace” using black thread. I wish I was keeping this one. I can make another, not sure when, but I do have the pattern and templates. This currently measures 61 1/2 square. Midnight Alaska is SOLD!

Here is a closeup of the center.

Beautiful if I do say so myself!

Ready for binding. I am thinking this would be magnificent in a flanged binding. Not sure yet.

And this week I purchased some pantographs from Urban Elementz. I can’t wait for those to arrive! I will probably purge some of the old stock hand-me-downs I have as they are not that great. The bread and butter of the quilting industry, I have been schooled you choose pantos you can make the most money from. Dense or confusing patterns are not quick and therefore not appealing for the quilter’s timeline. I think I have made some wise decisions. We will see when they arrive.

While I was at, they have freebies. And had a freebie that I was looking for. This is currently printed and now being used. An easy quick pattern with very nice texture!

This is what I am using to quilt the crazy patch quilt top.

Getting as much practice as I can in so maybe I can start taking in some revenue. Anyone out there interested, message me and I will try to work on it after my day job.

Again I have learned something on the longarm. All tops I float. There is a way to keep them square, but for some reason, the tops always seemed to scootch. Using my centering tape and everything, still unsuccessful. Frustrating. And then I tried out my cordless steam iron while everything was loaded on the longarm. This is NIGHT AND DAY for squareness. Holy Cow, what a difference the right tool makes. I am loving the invention of a cordless iron!

Now I will be on the hunt for needles. I can get needles from my longarm vendor. But they have to be shipped to me, and I really do not want to pay for shipping. There is Linda’s Electric Quilters in McKinney Texas. I am needing to make a batting purchase soon, so I bet I make it down there to get both. I am ready for that outing. Ain’t happening right away.

Tomorrow the Vacuum gets out of the shop. My floors are grosser than gross. Gosh children are filthy animals! Ready for filth removal…

In the meantime I will be binding away at the pace I can afford. Life is good!

Thank you for reading my blog!

Scrap Happy March

Here it is already the ides of March. That means it is scrap happy day!

Wanna see what everyone is up to? Click on the links below. I would like to thank Kate from for hosting this every month.

Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Nancy, Noreen, Bear, Carol, and me.

Not much production in the sewing department. The tatting department made some progress but not enough to photograph and show. I have two more rosettes to do in the round I am working, and then only one more round to go.

The quilting department has been a bit busy. Last weekend I got this off the frame, and am still in the process of binding. This panel was 108 by 108. The petals are bias that I bloomed after quilting.

The last two weekends I quilted on my scrappy brown ribbon quilt. The quilting is done!

I laid this out on the concrete pad behind the garage. It was around 11:00 a.m. The sun was out but it was pretty cloudy and looked like rain. I am surprised this looks so white, I assume that is the result of the gray concrete it lays upon?

And another is loaded and over halfway done. A view from the back of the machine. I don’t think I have ever taken a photo from behind my machine.

And the view from the front.

And they day is so very lovely. Sunny, temperature in the mid 70s with a light easterly breeze. A perfect day for quilting. But it is also perfect for spring to start showing itself via flowers!

This is a daffodil in the front yard. Interestingly enough I looked back through my previous posts, and this was in full bloom back in on March 15 of 2020. Right on time, in spite of the deep freeze we had back in February.

And during the walk today to the longarm, I walked by an odd tree. It is some sort of magnolia. Sometimes it blooms in February. This year it is blooming in March. This tree blooms its beautiful blooms with narry a leave on it. These blooms make the leaves after the fact. A stick that booms basically!

I have much binding to sew on, and will be working towards finishes. Because these quilts are many and large, it is impossible for my table to be productive. Soon I will get back to the 365 Quilt Block Challenge.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!