No Fear FMQ (or, just TRY, dammit!)

fave-pic-2Angela Walters is one of my heroes. Her quilting is to die for. I recently signed up for her “Machine Quilting Negative Spaces” on Craftsy, and decided to give it a whirl. I love her teaching style. She’s calm and makes you feel like you can do anything. And I did!

I’ve had this quilt in my UFO pile for 5 years, never finishing it because I just didn’t care for the fabrics. They must have jumped in my cart when I was fabric shopping. But it was the perfect pattern for giving FMQ a go.

Closeup1A different pattern was used in every single block, digging through books (including her book Shape by Shape Quilting) and Pinterest to find designs interested me. I used both FMQ and ruler designs. It really helped me figure out what designs I could do quickly and easily, and which ones were just too dang difficult. And I didn’t care if I made mistakes. Just kept right on going. Taking the fear out of FMQ made all the difference for me. Angela was great at encouraging me to just….well….try, dammit! Yes, I’ve got a long way to go, but I think I did a pretty good job that I’m proud of!
foldedI found the original teal, and had just enough for the binding.

BindingThe back even looks amazing :)

the-backThere are too many mistakes on this to even count, and I don’t give a horse’s patoot! It’s gorgeous as far as I’m concerned. I think I used about a dozen bobbins on this, and it’s the most intricate quilting I’ve ever done. This quilt may be going up on the wall behind “Laverne and Shirley” (my LA machine) as my sample quilt so I can refer to it when I’m looking for designs. Thanks, Angela, for such a great class!

Cindi 100

The Great Signature Pen Debate – the final decision

After many weeks and many washings, I finally chose the pen that I felt would be the best for Kylee’s wedding quilt. Remember this picture from my previous post?

Signatures-parchmentWell, here’s those same signatures, sewn together and washed 15 times.

signatures-on-fabricYes, I said 15 times. In cold water, hot water, with fabric softener and without, on about every setting on my washer and dryer, and in 4 different kinds of detergent. Like I said, you never really know how a quilt will be washed once it’s out of your hands! I was a little annoyed that I didn’t sew the samples together in order and right-side up, but it actually worked better for me. With the signatures all jumbled up I looked at the ink, and not at what was written. As an FYI, I also heat-set all of the signatures with a hot iron for at least 15-30 seconds before I threw them in the washer.

These were the pens I used:


The Sharpie Fine was the first to go, after the first wash. Why is it that Sharpies never come out of my clothes, but disappear after the first wash on scrap fabric?

The Sharpie Medium and PrismaColor Premiere pens stayed black, but ran. Gone.

The Microns turned a sort of purple-black and faded quite a bit after all the washings.

The clear winner:

Nano-pensThe Nano-Liner by Royal Langnickel was da bomb in my experiment. It stayed black, my testees said it was a smooth pen on the fabric, and did not fade. And, surprisingly, it was the least expensive of all the pens, at $1.98/pen at Hobby Lobby!

I bought 5 pens in nib sizes 5 and 7. I thought the size 4 nib was a bit “thin”, and wouldn’t be seen at a distance as well as thicker nibs. I failed to get a picture of the signing table (hey! I was too busy decorating the reception halls and tables!), but here’s a pic of the sign I made:

SignI had to laugh when I asked Kylee to add their signatures to the sign. I figured more people would be apt to sign them if it had their John Hancock on the sign. I left plenty of room for a large signature, and what does she do? Well, you could probably fit that signature on a check. ROFL!

So, after a wedding in Florida, a reception in Ohio and chasing people down at both to make sure everyone signed a block, I’ve got about 120 blocks ready to go.

Signed-blocksI think I may add a few nice “marriage” sayings to some of the leftover blocks as fillers. The next couple of weeks will be filled with pulling off the blue painter’s tape (which held up very nicely over 3 weeks, a plane ride and tumbling around in a trunk!), trimming up the blocks and deciding how I want to lay them out!

As a disclaimer, these pens worked for me in my experiment. I hope this information helps in YOUR search and experimentation for signature pens!

Cindi 100

Struggling with broderie perse

I am struggling with this new-to-me technique, broderie perse.

applique 1I understand the concept, and I did a bit of online research to see exactly how it’s done.  However, I wasn’t able to find a lot of specific how-to information out there.  It was mostly historical information; it seems that broderie perse has fallen out of vogue.  A post on Barbara Brackman’s blog states that quilters would not cut very close to the actual outline of the shapes, but rather loosely in the background around the shapes.

Well.  That’s not going to work so well with my chosen appliques.  The background, seen here in my previous post, is more of a bluish periwinkle.  That won’t work with the black background of the quilt.

So I decided to try invisible thread; Superior’s MonoPoly in Smoke.  It really is very, very hard to see – so much so that I had to get a magnifying glass to thread my machine.

applique 2But I don’t like the little holes the needle leaves in the applique. I used a size 10 needle, which is the smallest needle I have.  But it was still leaving those ugly holes, and since the appliques are fused, I doubt the holes will close back up after washing or steaming.

applique 3So I switched to Bottom Line, which is a fine (60 wt) thread.  Didn’t care much for that look, either.

Back to brainstorming.  I briefly considered a denser zigzag, but that’s a TON of work, going around all those shapes, and I think in the end, it will detract from and obscure the appliques.

I’m actually considering pulling off all the flowers and doing a different type of applique for the borders, but the perfectionist in me is mentally stamping her foot and pouting because these flowers are so stinkin perfect for the quilt!

So.  Does anybody out there have any ideas, suggestions, or broderie perse resources I could check out?  I would greatly appreciate it!

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Neon Glow part 2: trying something new

Well, it seemed to take a really long time to get all the blocks assembled, but it’s done.

kaffe 4But…  it doesn’t really look done, does it?  It needs something, some kind of border.  Not just a typical plain border, though.

Sometimes daydreaming can be very productive.  I was staring at the quilt, daydreaming, studying the construction, when it hit me – what to do about the border.

bordersAha!  Much better!  I really like how those corner blocks extend the center of the quilt out.  And it’s different.

But.  Hmmm….  it still needs something, doesn’t it?  A bit of applique, perhaps, to soften up all those pointy angles.  Off to my local quilt shop I go, top in hand.

I auditioned teal, purple, and pink solid or read-as-solid fabrics.  The colors matched the ones in the quilt, but the fabrics just did not blend well with the design.  They overwhelmed it instead.

Enter one of the best things a quilter can have in her life: a wonderful, knowledgeable, and creative Local Quilt Shop Owner.  My favorite LQSO is named Cheran Bee, she owns Fiddlesticks Quilt Shop in Vancouver, Washington (Vancouver not B.C., Washington not D.C.), and she’s an absolute gem.  Cheran looked at the top, agreed that the borders needed something, and she didn’t like the pink and teal fabrics either.  She thought a minute, disappeared into the depths of her shop, and reappeared with this:

philip jacobs anne marie in blueWow – I know where she’s going with this.  I gasped and blurted out “Broderie perse!”  It was PERFECT.  I bought a couple of yards and ran straight home, did not pass Go, did not collect $200.

Confession time.  I’ve never tried broderie perse, and to be honest, I’ve never really liked it when I’ve seen it in magazines and quilt shows.  But I realize that’s probably because when I have seen it, it looks like a still-life painting to me.  Boring, yawn, Ho with a capital Hum.

But it’s a challenge and I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so I did some research.  I learned that broderie perse was quite a popular technique back in the day, whatever day that was. Quilters would loosely cut around floral prints, then applique (needle-turn or buttonhole stitch) the shape onto the background.  According to Barbara Brackman, “traditional broderie perse is harder today because large-scale florals with white backgrounds are rare” and it’s harder to match backgrounds.  However, quilters can solve that problem by cutting the entire background away from the print.

People, that kind of detail work is right up my alley!

I ironed some fusible web onto the back and started snipping happily away.  I LOVE intricate, detail work.

A few hours later, I have some working pieces to play with:  dahlias and carnations.  I tried the dahlias first.

kaffe 7Hmm.  This doesn’t balance.  I tried placement of the flowers by size, first putting the small ones in the corner, then reversing the order and placing the larger flowers in the corner.  Neither worked.  Okay, let’s try carnations:

kaffe 8I like that better; I like the delicateness of the carnations.  They’re not big and blobby like the dahlias were.  But it’s still not cutting it; the carnations don’t seem to flow with the quilt either.

How about combining both types of flowers?   I really didn’t think that would work well, which is why I separated them in the first place.

kaffe 9Wow, I really like that!  I like how it starts off large in the corner and tapers out toward the center of the quilt.  I like how the carnation stems give some flow and continuity. I like how the small, delicate carnations balance the big blobby dahlias.

Yes, I think this will work!  Off I go to cut more flowers for the opposite corner.

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Neon glow

A couple of months ago, I got a wild hair.

kaffe 1I picked up an assortment of Kaffe prints and started slicing and dicing without much of a plan.

kaffe 2

A very simple, basic 1-patch block.

kaffe 3 I love how it seems to glow, so the working title for it is “Neon Glow”.

peg large sig

I LOVE THIS! It seems to float on top of the black :) Can’t wait to see how the blocks intertwine when you make more!

Cindi 100 small



Shoe doodling. Took me a year to get up the nerve to draw on these Vans. Nobody wants to ruin a perfectly good pair of Vans! But once I got started, it went really quick. It was a nice break. Love Pinterest for all the ideas. I used Sharpie medium and fine markers, and sprayed them with waterproofing. Don’t think I’ll ever wear them in the rain – I don’t want to find out the hard way that these markers aren’t “permanent” enough, lol….



The great signature quilt pen debate (Part 1)

As I prepare to make a wedding quilt for my niece, I’ve searched high and low for information as to the best pen to use for the signature blocks, but decided to do my own experiment. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for me! Kylee wants to actually use the quilt, and I WANT her to use the quilt. I don’t make quilts so they can sit in a drawer, dammit. I’m making snowball blocks, and the writing area will be about 2×4.5″. I’m having guests sign the blocks before I sew the quilt together, so I paper-pieced them, allowing for easier signing.

Snowball-BlocksI decided to cut several squares of the white fabric and take them to “Sunday Dinner”, where a gaggle of friends gather at my sister’s house. I thought it would be best to get several different types of signatures with several different pens. Everyone writes differently. Some have a light touch, some press harder. This would result in different results when washed. I wanted to try to get 2 different signatures of each pen. Since I’m a doodler, I have tons of great pens hanging around. Here are the four pens I used for the experiment:

PensSharpie Ultra Fine Point, Sharpie Pen Fine & Medium, Prismacolor Premiere 05 & 08, Micron 03, 05, & 08, Nano-Liner 04 & 06. Yes, I used several sizes of each pen, if possible, to see what wasn’t bold enough and what was too bold for a signature. Kinda like the three bears. One’s gonna be juuuuuust right…..

I am using Kona cotton, Snow White color. I washed it in warm water with Tide (no fabric softener), and pressed it (no starch).

We had a signature party at dinner, and these are the samples I collected:

Signatures-parchmentI pressed the signatures with a hot iron to set the ink (hopefully!), quickly zig-zagged them together and threw them in the wash. Warm water with a load of towels. I figured if anything was going to scrub off the ink, it would be towels! Plus, worried about bleeding with the first wash, I wanted something okay to ruin. The first thing I realized is that I sewed them every which way. I’m a dork! But, as you can see, right off the bat the Sharpie Ultra Fine Point is out. It faded away in the first washing. It may be permanent, but not on fabric!

Pen-sample-wash-1The others held up well, with no bleeding and little to no fading. I’m leaning towards the Prismacolor Premiere pens at first glance. The black is truly black, while the Micron pens are a sort of brown-black.

This sample is going to be thrown in every single load of wash for the next 30 days. Hot water, warm water, cold water. Whatever the temp of the rest of the load, this will be added. Because you never know what temp a quilt will be washed in once it’s out of your hands. I’ll report back on my findings, and hopefully we’ll have a clear winner!

What is YOUR pen of choice?

Cindi 100

Avery’s Challenging Quilt

It seems that every year I have that one quilt which just gives me absolute fits. This quilt took on a life of its own, throwing curve balls at me nearly every step of the way. Why, I don’t know. It was a simple pattern! It dared me to finish it. Hopefully it’s my “rebellious” quilt for the year, and it’ll be smooth sailing until next year, lol. My dear niece, Stephanie, asked me to make a quilt for her daughter, Avery, for her new room. I’m always humbled when someone in my family thinks highly of my quilting skills and trusts me to make one for them. Of course I will!

Steph and avery3

Stephanie and Avery

Avery is 8 years old, and wanted a chevron quilt. A queen-sized quilt. The biggest quilt I’ve made to this point (I like lap-size quilts!). She also wanted to pick out her own fabrics. Mom and Avery went shopping at Hobby Lobby, and this is what I received:

IMG_2449_edited-2Kids pick out the darndest things, don’t they?? However, I learned long ago that kids have no color filter, no preconcieved notions, and don’t have a clue as to what “color theory” is. What they choose usually comes together beautifully! The only fabric that concerned me was the multi-stripe, as I was afraid that it was so bold and might overpower the other fabrics in a large bed quilt – and the other fabrics pretty much read as solids. I talked to Stephanie, and we agreed the multi-stripe would look best as a bias binding on the quilt. A little of this fabric will go a long way in the look of the quilt.

I worked up the quilt in EQ, sent several pics to them and together they picked out a layout. I blanch at the thought of triangles (man, how I despise all those bias edges!) and opted to use a pattern that used rectangles on-point instead. Let’s just leave it at it’s always a good thing to measure twice, cut once. With every cut, lol.

IMG_2681_edited-1After sewing several blocks together backwards (how does that happen with rectangles??), I finished the quilt top. It looks great! Avery did a fantastic job picking out fabric. I laid the entire thing out on the backing to prepare for loading on the frame:



Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Now, I had made the top larger than necessary on the sides so I had plenty of trimming room, but only an inch or two on the top and bottom. Peggi and I commiserated on what to do about this problem. Do I chance it? Once that backing was on the frame it would stretch a bit, but what if it didn’t work? She asked several other LA quilters she knew for ideas (which were all great, mind you!). One of her friends said it would be no problem – she’d worked with less before! Are you kidding me???? I’d be hyperventilating the entire time I was quilting if I had even less to work with! But when all was said and done I decided to just order another longer backing. I’d already had enough angst and didn’t treasure the thought of trying to add backing when it came up short on the frame. Plus, I found a small flaw in the fabric. Heck. I’ll just keep that piece for one of my quilts. Peggi, I don’t know what I’d do without you to talk things through. It was definitely a Cap’n Morgan and 7-Up evening….

****And may I just interject here that quilt shops in Columbus leave much to be desired. The shops are small, they all have the same fabrics, and barely carry any widebacks (usually no more than 5 or 6 per store, and usually traditional paisley stuff),  I had to order backing online, which I hated because I want to see and feel the fabric. Sigh. I SO miss Shipshewana!

So, after another 5 day wait for the backing, I finally loaded it on the frame:

IMG_2780_edited-1Yikes! I knew it was gonna be a big quilt! My frame is only 9′, and it barely fit. Changing bobbins was a gymastic exercise. I wasn’t able to use my ruler base because of the width of the quilt. Which made quilting those straight lines tricky. I tried to keep the quilting simple because I was space-restricted. I couldn’t use my end clamps, and at one point ended up with this mess:

IMG_3887 editedLuckily, it was in part of the edge that would be trimmed off. I was extremely careful quilting the rest of the quilt! The quilting went quite well – the longarm gods were with me. I used Quilter’s Dream Cotton Select batting and Glide thread, and that thread is an absolute dream to work with. Trimmed it up, rounded the corners and sat in my favorite chair with needle, thread and several movies to keep me company.

IMG_2785_edited-1Finished up that bad boy in two days. I wanted it done – I was terrified something else was going to happen to it! I can finally say it’s finished, and it looks absolutely wonderful! That striped binding adds a pop of color to it, but isn’t overwhelming.

IMG_8493_edited-1Avery's quiltLessons learned: 1) Measure, measure, measure before cutting! 2) Do NOT do another queen-sized quilt on this frame until new poles are added to extend it to 10 feet. Six extra inches on each side would’ve been dreamy. 3) Quilter’s Dream batting wants to “creep” the the center as I’m quilting – be sure to check it with each advance! 4) Kids really do surprise you with their colors. 5) Be persistent (and add alcohol occasionally) – it will all come together in the end!

All in all, while I had a few frustrating moments, it turned out just wonderful. I’m always most proud of the quilts that challenge and push my limits – even when those challenges and limits are my own damn fault. I can’t wait to see it on Avery’s bed. Thanks, Steph, for believing in my talent!

Cindi 100

Weaving finished

Well, it took a while…

weave 2abut I got all the weaving done.

weave 3It was easy but time-consuming.

weave 4

weave 6Done!  Whew!

trimI trimmed it and stitched the raw edges.  The glue holds it together nicely, but since this was so labor-intensive, I didn’t want any risk of the weaving coming undone.

stitching edges Several years ago I made this bag for my laptop.  It’s worked very well, but it’s a hair too small.  It fits just my laptop and nothing else, and the flap should have been longer.

orig bagI want something big enough for my laptop, a binder, a couple of notepads, pens, and other office accoutrements.  I decided this weaving project would be a cool replacement for my original bag.

bag fabricBummer! I started this wild-hair weaving project before I really knew what I wanted to do with it, and I didn’t make it big enough to work as a replacement laptop bag.  So I’ll put the woven fabric aside for a while, until I stumble across a different use for it.

I don’t feel that my efforts were wasted, however.  I learned a lot, had some fun, and will probably make another woven project soon!

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She finally made one…..

IMG_8073_edited-2Back in 2013, I wrote a beginners t-shirt quilt tutorial for a few of my relatives who live far away. My cousin, Tanya, finally made hers! Her daughter is a cheerleader, so she laid Juliet’s t-shirts out in chronological order to “build” her quilt.

We had a blast Facebook messaging back and forth during the process. It was her first quilt, and – understandably – she had a lot of questions. Tanya was SO excited about making it, and would message me every step of the way. And I was determined to teach her as much as I could right from the beginning, even if it was over messaging! Everything from prewashing to the essential supplies she’d need to the binding stitches. Get it right the first time, and there will be no “unlearning”! She did learn the hard way – and early! – about rotary cutters, though….

Tanya's fingerHere’s one of my favorite messages I got from her. She had fun!Screen shot 2015-04-18 at 6.43.43 AM_edited-1

I offered to quilt the quilt for her, so she shipped it off to me. Tanya did a wonderful job for her first quilting experience! She wanted a polka-dot backing, so I placed an order for Riley Blake’s polka dots from Backside Fabrics. What a wonderful company. Extremely friendly and very fast delivery. My order came quickly, and the quilt was soon on the frame.

quilt on frame copyI opted to quilt it quite simply – SID and FMQ:

IMG_8077_edited-2I offered to apply her binding and make her label – but she’ll do it from now on. She was pressed for time as she wanted to give it to Juliet before her next cheer competition. I made an instructional video and sewed about 6″ of the binding so Tanya would know how to do her corners, and sent it on back to her. She spent an entire evening and the next day finishing up the binding, washed it up and was able to give Juliet her new quilt as they were preparing to leave for the competition:

JulietsquiltShe loves it! I also quilted her name into the quilt (a great identifier in case it’s lost or stolen!) and she’s still searching for it, lol.

Still searching for that hidden name....

Still searching for that hidden name….

….and now has a new cuddly “friend”….

Juliet snuggleTanya found a quilt shop just down the street from where she lives that offers “do-it-yourself” quilting on their longarm machines. She excited for the next quilt to be done 100% on her own. She’s a big scrapbooker and crafter, so she likes to do everything herself! It was fun watching a “newbie” learning to quilt – we had a blast together!

Cindi 100Way to go, Taunie!!  It looks great!  It is so much fun sucking new people into our obsession hobby, isn’t it, Cin?

I’m sooooo green that Tanya has a shop nearby where she can rent time on a longarm.  What an awesome way to learn.

peggi small sig