Monday, 24 June 2013

Beginners quilt completed. The New Janome Purple tipped Machine Needles

With all the flu illnesses floating around at the moment, our class was very low on numbers on Saturday.  I just love seeing finished "first" quilts.  Helen finished her quilt and now has quilt number two under production.  Rather than putting piano key blocks around the border, she has used up all her 2 1/2" squares.

I spoke with a woman today who was looking to buy a new sewing machine.  Her family home had been burgled and all their computer gear including portable drives containing years of photographs, ALL her sewing machines and accessories like embroidery disks were stolen.  Sometimes we need to be reminded to back up our files and photos, and document serial numbers. 
My powerhouse Janome Horizon is having its first annual service.  It's been thrashed so I'm using this time to back up all my class notes, quilt and family photographs.

Glen introduced me to Janome's new Purple Tip sewing machine needles which have just been released in New Zealand.

Here's some more info on them.

  • They are specifically designed to effectively prevent skipped stitches when you are sewing with stretch fabrics; multiple layers of fabric e.g. quilts; and when sewing across bulky seams e.g. at a hemline.
  • I have been asked if these are ball point needles?  Yes, it has a ball point tip but also have a COBRA HEAD which opens up the fibres of the fabric allowing the needle to pierce thick layers, tightly woven fabrics or “difficult” stretch fabrics with ease.  The needle actually goes between the fibres.

  • My verdict:  FANTASTIC.  I quilted a queen size quilt in the weekend with the acufeed foot with full speed and free motioned a babies quilt. The needle just flew through the fabric but what impressed me was how it stitched through thick seam layers easily.  They are a little bit more expensive than the other needles.  They retail in NZ for $11.00
    Happy stitching everyone.


    Sunday, 16 June 2013

    A tip from the Past

    During my class yesterday one of my students mentioned that her friend uses special double pins to help achieve the perfect seam.  I couldn't find the product but I remembered being shown a technique years ago by Ronnie Rutter at a club quilting retreat.  No matter how careful I cut and sew my fabrics - there are times where I cannot get the perfect join.
    So I tested it out this afternoon and it worked successfully. 


    Lay your two seams together and place a pin on either side .

    Carefully sew your 1/4" seam right up to the first pin. Do not sew over it.  Gently remove the first pin and sew up to the second pin.  Gently remove it.

    Here is my perfect join.  Try it, it will save you lots of unpicking.


    Apps I have on my Ipad

    I love my Ipad - because I can see the screen and its a very handy quilting reference tool.

    Here is a list of the Apps I use quite often or encourage my beginners to use.  Some are free - others aren't.

     SCHMETZ needles (free).  This app tells you everything you need to know about sewing machine needles - needles by fabric type, needle types, solving problems, needle knowledge.  Very easy to use with their drop down menus and great pictures.

    I should point out though - SCHMETZ will fit most domestic sewing machines and sewing machine companies like Janome, Bernina, Singer have their own needle codes/colours.  When using this app I look for the type of needle I require for the job I intend to do then look through my Janome or Singers (depending on the machine I'm using) needles to see if there is one that matches.  If not - then I use a SCHMETZ.

    While I'm talking about sewing machine needles - Janome have just released their "Purple Tip Needles" for all Janome models.  These effectively prevents  skipped stitches when sewing stretch fabrics, quilt layers and for sewing across the hem.  So I have a packet and I will test drive them when I free motion a quilt later this week.  They are a little more expensive than the standard needles.

    Very easy to use - has a massive quilt block library.  All you do is choose your block, enter required block size,fabrics colours and it calculates your fabric requirement (its in yards).  It also has a layout page which so you can see your chosen block repeated as a quilt.

    I'm a visual girl so when it comes to maths - forget it. 
    This app also known as "The Quilter's Little Helper"  does your fabric calculations for you.  Easy option to change measurements from inches to Metric.

     Keepsake Quilting is a quilt shop in America.  A lot of NZ quilters receive their catalogue.  I find them an interesting reference for new "toys" for quilting.  You choose which catalogue to download.  It does take a while to download.

    Simply the best (my opinion anyway)

    This App is a must for Janome users.  It's not free and you need to be linked to Wi-Fi.  It lists all the different types of feet available for Janome sewing machines.  I should point out that these also fit the majority of Elna machines.
    It includes the new machine models with the 9mm wide feet.

    When you select a foot, you are provided with a part number, description of how it is used and a video demonstration.
    Includes an option to list the feet you own and to create a wish list.

    What about commission work - tracking the hours it takes to make a quilt.
    I've loaded HoursTracker

    This app can be used for any task really - not just for quilting. You set up a job then just click in "Clock in Now" to start your time, then "Clock out Now" to stop.  It tracks your hours - very simple.
    You will be surprised how quickly time mounts up.

    as Bugs Bunny would say - "that's all folks"

    Happy quilting

    Back to Basics

    Can you remember making your first couple of quilts?  How excited you were and you couldn't wait to try something new?  I've really enjoy teaching beginners.  Their enthusiasm is very lifting and rewarding. 

    Yesterday I ran my first Triangle Play class.  This class is a follow on from my Patchwork for Beginners or for quilting "newbies".  It's aim to give students an understanding and confidence to work with triangles.

    As quilters we quite often forget about the blocks we created in our "early days" of quilting.  We are so busy trying to find the next fantastic design with the latest fabrics.

    The pictures below are from one block from three of my enthusiastic students from yesterday's class.  By re-arranging units within a block changes the blocks appearance.

    So back to basics. By turning units around within a block you can make really exciting intricate patterns.  This has inspired me to return to my stash and create another stash buster quilt.

    One of the most fantastic quilting tools for working with triangles within squares is the Tri-Recs Tools designed by Darlene Zimmerman and Joy Hoffman.  I have had my set for over 10 years.  Very hard to find these in NZ but I notice Thimbles n Threads Upper Hutt stock these and Sawmillers in Te Marua can get them as well.  This product is imported directly from Quiltworks Wholesalers in the USA and requires a Business account (this is why only limited shops stock this tool).  Of course if your ordering fabrics from other US shops (i.e. equilter, Keepsake, Fat 1/4 shop etc.) and they stock them - buy a set or two (they make great gift for quilting friends).  In NZ they currently retail for approx. $40.00 (depending on freight)

     Happy quilting.