Friday, May 26, 2017

Color Dash

I'm not a huge fan of rail fence quilts, but turns out I like rail fence inspired quilts. I made Snail Mail which is a rail fence pattern with a twist, and now this quilt is another rail fence variation. What makes this quilt interesting and striking to me, of course, is the play of the negative space with the colors. The pattern is Sweden by Brigitte Heitland, in her book Zen Chic Inspired.

The fabric bundle I used is Color Dash by Heather Jones. I'm a fan of Heather Jones, whose style is simple but striking, and her debut fabric collection did not disappoint. As soon as I saw Sweden and realized I wanted to make it, Color Dash flew to my mind, and I knew it was the perfect marriage.

I seem incapable of making strip sets without severely warping them, so what really helped in this case was pressing and coaxing the strip set straight with every seam I sew. I'm a steam fanatic! I wouldn't have been able to coax the blocks into shape without a lot of steam. And I mean, a lot.

I quilted this quilt with piano keys in the sashing, and I threw tons of linear designs on the blocks. I have to say my favorite design on this quilt is the square chain.

I also love my ribbon candies. Out of all of the designs I threw on there, ribbon candy is one I struggle with the most, especially this non-overlapping version. But when I step back, it looks much better. It's the magic of distance.

I meant to do one particular design, but somehow quilted something else. So I just went with it, and it ended up being another one of my favorites on this quilt. I will name it ... monster teeth. That's just what it reminded me of.

This is the first quilt I finished on my longarm, and I'm so happy with the way it turned out. Quilting on a longarm is even more fun than I imagined. Not having to baste is great, being able to use a ruler is awesome, but the best part ... no more drag!

***

This post joined in the link parties at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Slice of Pi Quilts, Busy Hands Quilts, Cooking Up Quilts, and Crazy Mom Quilts. Link up and join the fun!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Starlight Symphony ~ Ready to Quilt

I used to say that I haven't met a batik I didn't like. And for a long time, that was true. But then I got into machine-quilting, and realized that my love of batiks started to wane a bit. I'm not really sure why, but it might have to do with batiks being more difficult to quilt over. However, after I watched the Scrappy Stars Quilt of the Midnight Quilt Show, I just loved the beauty of the batiks Angela used, and just like that, my batik fever is back.

Fabric audition is one of my favorite parts of quilting, second only to machine quilting, but boy, do I find it a challenge. For this particular quilt, I decided to dig into my batik stash. Luckily, I have a huge one due to my batik fever last year. I came up with the the same groups of colors Angela used: dark blues / purples, light blues / greens, and yellows / reds.

This is a paper piecing project, which means loads of printing / pre-perforating. I know a lot of people don't pre-perforate, but I picked up that habit early on and just prefer it, even if it's slower, because it makes folding and tearing off the paper so easy. Plus, there's something really satisfying about pre-perforating!

After that, it's time to piece this. Even though paper piecing is slow, I actually quite enjoy it. The beautiful batiks keep me happy throughout the process, and the usual problem I run into with paper piecing, ultra-bulky seams to quilt over, isn't much of an issue with this pattern, as Angela specifically designed it for easy quilting later. This is my 3rd paper piecing project, and it's actually by far the easiest. The most common mistake I make during paper piecing is getting the sides mixed up and having to rip, but with batiks, there is no wrong side, so that's great!

Until now, I didn't know I could keep the paper in during assembly. In the past, I always tore it off after I'm done with a block, and the bias edges usually mean it can be a pain to assemble. But keeping the paper in means assembly is just a tad easier.

I really like this top, and now it's ready to quilt!

***

This post participated in the link party at Cooking Up Quilts. Link up and join the fun!

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Lenni Chronicles

I've spent a week with my APQS Lenni now, and even completed a quilt on her. The first day was horrible, but then things got a lot better. I started to trust that she wasn't going to flip out on me randomly, and she started to behave better with me.

Day 0:

Arrival day was awful. I ran into a multitude of problems (repeated thread breakage, shredding, skipped stitches, loops, threads cut on the bottom), but I've since figured out the cause of almost all of them:

  • The needle wasn't completely facing forward. It was at a slight angle.
  • The bobbin tension was far too loose.
  • The extended ruler base attachment wasn't on properly (I think).
  • The top thread wasn't threaded properly and missed a guide.

    After the dealer left, I collapsed in mental exhaustion. I was terrified that I had gotten a lemon. It would be one thing if the machine just didn't work at all, as that's something I can get replaced under warranty. It's another if it works mostly, but just has little issues here and there that make quilting a lot less fun, but can't be considered truly broken. But I decided to start on a real quilt. When I first started, I was so paranoid I checked the tension on the back of the quilt every 30 seconds (which quickly gave me a headache). After awhile though, I got more confident that she wasn't going to just break randomly.

    Day 1:

    Shortly after I started for the day, my thread broke. I figured it might be a fluke. After rethreading and restarting, things started going badly. Really badly.

    I panicked, but then I remembered the words of Leah Day: "If things were working fine and then started going wrong, think about what you changed." The only thing I "changed" was I rethreaded the needle. I looked at the thread path, and sure enough, when the thread broke the thread jumped out of a guide, and I didn't put it back in the thread guide. I rethreaded it correctly, and after that, things were smooth.

    Day 2:

    Since I couldn't fit my 12-foot Lenni in my sewing room, she's placed in the unfinished storage room in the basement. That means she's far removed from my sewing supplies, so I had to figure out some solutions for storage. Well, the area under the frame is not used at all, so it's the perfect place for some stacking bins!

    I also got a pretty little rolling caddy, which is perfect for holding my seam ripper, my drink, my ruler, and my phone. When not in use, it tucks away perfectly under the frame as well.

    Day 3:

    Today was smooth sailing. I'm having so much fun quilting. Dare I say ... the most fun I've had machine quilting yet? In some ways, my stitching looks better than it did on my midarm, because I don't have funny stitches resulting from dealing with drag. On the other hand, it's harder to control. In my mind, I know where I want to go, but I can't always get the machine to go there. Even though Lenni is one of the lightest machines I test drove, it still has a fair amount of inertia, especially in stitch regulation mode. I know it's something I will be able to control in due course, but it will take time.

    Day 4:

    I decided to float my quilt tops, because really, who needs extra pinning? This means I find the top roller bar wholly unnecessary. One of the features I read about that I should look for in my machine is easy access to batting while quilting, and well, my machine doesn't have that feature. However, with the top roller removed, I'll be able to access it if I need to much more easily.

    So, as soon as I get my Texas Hold'em Bracket (an accessory by APQS for people who remove their top rollers so that the brakes still work) I'm removing the top roller!

    Day 5:

    My eyes hurt. I always knew the storage area where the longarm is kept doesn't have great lighting, but I figured I don't need great lighting because the LED light on the sewing head is strong enough, and I can see exactly where I'm stitching, right?

    Turns out ... the contrast between the strong LED light and the weak overall lighting in the rest of the room is causing some serious eye strain. So ... I'll have to get more lights.

    Day 6:

    On my midarm it's easy to check the back of the quilt ... I just flip the back up. On a longarm, I have to crawl around under the quilt. Doing that too much gets exhausting quick, and it really gives me a headache. I realize the solution is one of those nifty cameras that get attached to the sewing head so it shines on the back of the quilt, and I'll get to see the back of the quilt on a display somewhere. Something like this. However, I do not want to mount a big display on top of my machine, as any weight on the sewing head equals extra momentum I have to manage. So, I'm going to build my own solution.

    Day 7:

    And ... voila, a finished quilt! (minus the binding) I'm pretty happy with it. There are a few issues (varicose veins, sigh) but I learned a lot for my next quilt.

    ***

    I can say it now ... I love longarming, and I'm ecstatic I have Lenni now! It is so fun, and so much faster than my midarm, and I'm no longer afraid of doing big quilts. The beds in my house might finally get some quilts!

  • Sunday, May 7, 2017

    She's Here. She's Looking At Me!

    Oh. My. Gosh. I realize I should be excited. But what I'm feeling now, is utter terror!

    Lenni arrived over the weekend, and it was delivered and assembled by my local APQS dealer, Quilt Barn Studio. After teaching the usual including loading, bobbin, maintenance, threading, and tension adjustment, we turned her on to test her out. That's when everything went up in flames.

    I ran into a whole gamut of problems right away. First there were a lot of tension issues, then, lots of skipped stitches. After that, the top thread broke repeatedly, followed by loops on the top and a whole mess on the bottom every 30 stitches or so. After a lot of troubleshooting and fixing most of those issues, something really strange started to crop up. My top thread broke every once in awhile, but only after the stitch is formed. The top looked perfect and continuous, but the bottom had top thread tails hanging out. We couldn't figure it out, and it eventually went away, but now I'm afraid it'll come back with a vengeance. In fact, I was so paranoid that I find myself checking the bottom of the quilt every 30 seconds!

    I placed the machine in my basement storage area, for that's the only place it'll really fit. It's a bit distanced from my sewing room where all my supplies are kept, so I'll have to figure something out in terms of storing thread and other supplies.

    I figured the best way to get better at quilting on a longarm is to ... quilt on a longarm. As soon as the dealer left, I unloaded the practice top, and loaded a real quilt. I then did some simple piano key ruler work.

    Yowza. It's tough work. I'm hurting all over just from that little bit! (Partially caused by excessive crawling around checking the tension on the back of the quilt.) But I'm not going to give up.

    My first day of longarming certainly didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped. But I tell myself that this was the hardest day. From now on, things can only get better, right?

    Friday, May 5, 2017

    Aviatrix Medallion ~ Part Three: Borders 4 to 6

    Aviatrix Medallion is a quilt that really rewards patience and concentration. I was rather concerned that the patchwork would be beyond my ability, but I'm happy to say that the top is finally done ... and it's even mostly square!

    In previous posts, I worked up to Border 3. Border 4 is a scrappy border made of all gray fabrics, and because I messed up the center medallion's size previously and had to substitute Border 1, which was supposed to be half-square triangles, with a much skinnier scrappy border, it means Border 1 and Border 4 are nearly identical. But I think it looks pretty good, all things considered!

    Border 5 is one of my favorite things to piece: log cabins! I just love building it out from the center, and the chain piecing involved means it's very efficient.

    And finally, Border 6 is what I call the butterfly block. This was probably the hardest border to put on! My initial borders were far too long, so I had to do a fair bit of ripping, re-sewing, fudging, and easing, and in the end it managed to fit, barely.

    Whew! This is probably the most difficult thing I've ever pieced. I'm excited to quilt this, but it won't be for awhile, as I want to wait until I'm sufficiently comfortable on my longarm (which I don't even have yet). After all ... I spent a lot of effort on this quilt top, so I want to make sure the quilting is worthy of it!

    Previous posts on this quilt:

  • Part Zero
  • Part One: Center Star + Border 1
  • Part Two: Border 2 + Border 3
  • Sunday, April 30, 2017

    New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop

    Welcome to my introduction post for the 2017 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop! I started this blog in March of 2016 with the sole goal of documenting my finishes (quilting and non-quilting). But when I saw the opportunity to join the blog hop, I jumped in with both feet. It's been a wonderful experience connecting with other quilters. Thanks so much to Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl, Leanne @ she can quilt, and Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts for organizing this! Thanks also to my critique group of Laura @ Slice of Pi Quilts and Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting for their valuable critique and advice.

    From The Beginning

    I have been quilting for a little over a year. Although I've loved making things since I was a child, I never ever imagined I'd get into quilting. I associated quilts with antique and vintage, and it just wasn't my style.

    My impression of quilts changed when I saw some contemporary quilts. I was immediately attracted to the fabrics, and it was for that reason that I began making quilts: to play with the fabrics. I started with hand-tied baby quilts, but didn't really love it. My 3rd quilt was a machine quilted table runner, and it was from that point on that I fell madly in love with quilting. However ... it didn't love me back. Fabric didn't obey me, I couldn't achieve the quarter-inch seam consistently, and my walking foot defied me at every turn. I felt like I was chasing after a new lover who just wasn't that into me.

    A few months after I began, I ran across the amazing work of Angela Walters. Something about her easy and relaxing attitude clicked with me. Even though I was terrified, I began to learn to free-motion quilt. I quickly discovered to my delight that it came more easily to me than piecing did, and it wasn't long before machine quilting became my absolute favorite part of making a quilt. After chasing after quilting like some kind of unrequited love, I was delighted to have it finally love me back!

    Savor Every Stitch

    I thought for a long time about what I wanted to name my blog, but the day I decide to get my own domain name, I came up with Savor Every Stitch.

    Even though I spend most of my crafty time quilting, I also knit and crochet some, and I wanted a blog name that can reflect all of these pursuits. More than that, I really really enjoy the process of making, and I don't rush through it. It is soothing, therapeutic, and as for the beautiful items that result? That's just the icing on the cake!

    Favorite Quilts

    And here's my favorite part: sharing my favorite quilts with you! I've only made a handful of quilts, yet already it's really hard to pick favorites. But I've narrowed it down to my 3 favorite quilts (so far).

    Dare To Be

    Dare To Be is a very recent finish, and I love it for the beautiful criss-cross effect and all the feathers I threw on there. Feathers are my favorite thing to quilt, but it's also the scariest thing to quilt. The pattern is by Jeni Baker.

    Starstruck

    Starstruck is the first quilt from the Midnight Quilt Show hosted by Angela Walters. I loved the fabric, the interesting placement of the stars, and of course, the quilting.

    Tokyo Subway Map

    Tokyo Subway Map has been on my make list for quite some time but I was really intimidated by the sheer number of small pieces (1600) in the quilt. However, once I made it, I realize it's not as hard as it looks and it's definitely one of my favorite quilts, with the beautiful scrappy fabrics and the improv graffiti-style quilting. The pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman.

    Blogging Tip

    I'm a fairly new blogger and I have tons to learn, but the most valuable thing I did for my blog was to get social. I had been blogging for about 7 months, with only my sister-in-law and myself as readers, before I decided to finally join a link party hosted by Crazy Mom Quilts. I couldn't believe how much traffic I got that day! Since then, I've joined link parties whenever possible.

    Quilting Tip

    My number one quilting tip is geared towards Quilter's Paralysis. You've heard of it. It's that paralyzing fear of ruining our quilt tops with the "wrong" design, so we procrastinate for hours, days, weeks, years, wondering what the perfect design is. Here's the thing ... there is no such thing as one perfect design. There are lots of perfect designs. I used to stare at my quilt tops for a long time, pondering the right design, but I've discovered that if I just pick something and get started, I've always been happy with the result at the end anyway, because it's done.

    What if you have no idea where to start picking from? I have a little prompt-sheet that I keep next to my machine of designs I know and am comfortable with, as well as newer designs that I want to try. Then, when I'm stumped, I'll look through that list, and usually I get some ideas fairly quickly.

    Random Facts About Me

    .

  • I'm a die-hard Harry Potter fan. I suppose the word is "Potterhead."
  • I have a 7-inch scar shaped like a giant centipede on my left arm from a hang-gliding accident. To this day, I don't remember the actual crash, just the few seconds before and after.
  • I've been coding since I was 12, and was a software engineer for Google for awhile. I still get pretty excited about coding, especially when I combine coding with quilting.
  • I'm a total Japan-o-phile! The food, the culture, anime, the style, you name it, I love it.
  • I'm addicted to roller coasters, in particular the feeling of that negative G-force during a drop. Bliss!

    A Quilting Confession

    I'm a total fangirl of Angela Walters. I've absorbed everything she has done (books, Craftsy classes, YouTube videos, Midnight Quilt Show) but I've yet to have the chance to meet her in person. I once had a dream where I actually met her in person! But hopefully one day.

    Hop Onwards!

    Thanks for reading my journey, and for your support of my blog! I've been amazed at how lovely and encouraging the online quilting community is. Now, tell me a quilting confession of yours. Then, go visit the other great blogs in my hop group:

    Round 1: April 10th

  • Sew Jess Handmade
  • Making a Beautiful Life
  • Quiltologie
  • Cut & Alter
  • Something Rose Made

  • Round 2: April 17th

  • Cocoa Quilts
  • 9658 Textiles
  • Finding Myself as an Artist
  • Quilt in Piece
  • Sparkle On

  • Round 3: May 1st

  • Powered by Quilting
  • Cwilt
  • Savor Every Stitch (You're here!)
  • Sandra Healy Designs

  • Round 4: May 8th

  • Sevenoaks Street Quilts
  • Dizzy Quilter
  • Quiltersstash
  • Quilted Blooms

  • Last but not least, don't forget to visit our blog hop hosts for some fun giveaways:
  • Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts
  • Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
  • Leanne @ she can quilt

    Have fun and I hope to see you back soon!

  • AQS Paducah Spring 2017

    I went to AQS Paducah on Friday, and wow, was it a big show! I think it's the biggest show I've ever attended. This is not surprising, since Paducah is sort of considered quilt city, USA. There were so many vendors that they couldn't even fit in one building, and we had to shuttle around.

    The last quilt show I went to a few weeks ago, I concentrated on playing with all the longarms, so I really didn't do much shopping. This time, with my longarm decision made, I relaxed and checked out the quilts and vendors.

    Some of my favorite quilts I saw today I already recognized from online, so it was great to see them in person. I'm forever amazed by how creative quilters are!

    Left: Modern Nine-Patch by Susan Mogan
    Right: Equilateral Sampler by Rebecca Bryan

    Left: Feathered Chevrons by Christa Watson
    Right: Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer

    Left: Skylights by Hope Wilmarth
    Right: Art Deco Sun by Robbi Joy Eklow

    Left: Technicolor Deco by Shirley Gisi
    Right: Flowered & Feathered Frenzy by Susan K. Cleveland

    ***

    Although I already decided on a longarm, I certainly couldn't resist playing with them again. Mainly, I played with the Handi Quilter Avante and the APQS Lenni, because those were my top contenders, and until now I didn't have a chance to compare them side-by-side. Well ... I'm really glad I picked the Lenni, because it really felt the best in my hands!

    Of course, no quilt show is ever complete without some delicious shopping. I worked hard to rein myself in ...

    It will be quite awhile before the next quilt show, which probably won't be until fall. Time to actually go make quilts with all the stuff I've hoarded!

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