Friday, March 30, 2018

TGIFF, Good Friday Edition!

First of all, if you're a newcomer to Cheeky Cognoscenti via the Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday (TGIFF) linky party, WELCOME!  I'm so glad you're here!  I rarely -- VERY rarely -- am able to link up with TGIFF because my finishes are so few and far between, but it's one of my favorite linky parties nevertheless.  I just love seeing everyone else's brand new, beautiful finishes every week!  It's so inspiring!

Okay, so here's my most recent finished quilt to share with you:


"Math Is Beautiful," 51" x 51", Teacher Gift Based On My Son's Design
 I saw this doodle in my son's math notebook and immediately thought "QUILT!"  I used my EQ Electric Quilt design software to create a quilt design based on the drawing, found the perfect black fabric that had actual math printed on it -- like what SHOULD have been in Lars's notebook -- and paired it with some bright and cheerful girly Kaffe Fassett prints that reminded me of his teacher.  


My Son Holding Up the Quilt He Designed While Doodling In Math Class
This quilt is the first real quilt (other than practice muslin) that I completed on my new APQS Millennium longarm machine, and it was my first shot at pantograph quilting.  But I have a confession -- I completed this quilt back in JANUARY.  You can read more about it here.  

After finishing Math Is Beautiful, I discovered Tula Pink's Tabby Mountain quilt pattern showcasing her Tabby Road fabric collection for Free Spirit Fabrics, and I thought it would be a great "quick and easy" project to whip up for more quilting practice on my longarm machine.  Ah, but NOTHING I do is every quick OR easy!

Completed Tabby Mountain Quilt Top On My Design Wall
I finished piecing Tabby Mountain on March 4th, and I was really pushing myself to get it finished so I could show it off for today's TGIFF.  I mean, the photo below was taken last night at 3 AM when I was so tired that I didn't feel safe to operate machinery anymore and had to go to bed!  The path to hell is paved with good intentions just like mine...


I Finished the Ruler Work Quilting On This Row!  Does That Count?
Because I'm a new long arm owner and this is just my second quilt with this machine -- and my very first try at custom quilting with rulers -- everything has a huge learning curve, even simple things like winding bobbins and loading the quilt on the frame required checking the owner's manual and seeking out online tutorial videos.  We had scheduled a tour for my son (the one who doodles in math class) at Davidson College today and then I had Maundy Thursday worship service tonight with choir warmups ahead of time, so when I finally turned off the lights in my studio and went to bed on Wednesday night Thursday morning, I knew I was admitting defeat.  My time was up, it was over, and I had failed. I was exhausted, disappointed that my quilt isn't done yet, topped off with a dollop of guilt/shame/embarrassment that I committed to hosting this linky celebrating finishes and was not able to cross my own finish line in time to share it with you. I felt like I was letting everyone down.


Late Night Quilting Tools: Purple Marking Pen, Rulers, TOWA Bobbin Gauge, Scented Candle, Red Wine
And then I got to church today and spent a couple of hours reflecting on the Last Supper in Maundy Thursday worship and rehearsing the music for Good Friday -- and for Easter Sunday as well.  And it hit me -- Good Friday was the PERFECT day for me to host with my Failed Finish!  According to the Gospel of John, Jesus' last words were "it is finished," but that Good Friday wasn't a happy-feel-good kind of finish.  I'll bet his disciples were feeling grief, disappointment that the Messiah didn't come to overthrow Rome and establish a kingdom on Earth, guilt and shame for betraying and denying him and for falling asleep when they asked him to sit up with him while he prayed...  Maybe they felt foolish for throwing their lives and careers away to follow this man they thought was the Messiah, and on Good Friday they may have been doubting themselves and thinking this discipleship thing they committed themselves to might have been a huge mistake.



-- BUT-- even though Christ's last words were "it is finished," the story does not end with death on a cross.  The trumpets and hallelujahs are coming on Easter Sunday; we just have to be patient and wait three more days.  And you know what?  My Tabby Mountain quilt is coming along really nicely and I'm learning SO much.  I just need a little more time with it.  Maybe not three whole days, but at least one more day!  I'm publishing this post at the stroke of midnight EST on Thursday evening/Friday morning, and I know I'll have several hours of quilting time during the day tomorrow  today as well as some time on Saturday afternoon if I need it.  I'm definitely going to be finished with this quilt soon, perhaps in time for Easter, and I'll update this blog post again later today to show my additional progress.  In MY time zone, I still have 24 hours left in order to qualify for "finished by Friday!"


2 PM EST Update: Two More Rows of Solid Triangles Quilted!
I Am SO PROUD of the SID Between the Green and Yellow Fabrics!
I am learning SO MUCH with this quilt.  I can already tell that I'm getting much better at controlling the ruler so nothing slides and the presser foot doesn't stray from the edge I'm trying to follow.  Marking those long, straight diagonal lines is a huge help, definitely worth the extra time it's taking, and I am seeing significant improvement in my SID (stitching in the ditch) since I started at the top of the quilt, too.

You know, singing in several different choirs at multiple church services and shuttling my kids back and forth to their youth events definitely eats up a lot of my time every week, but it feeds my soul, reminds me again and again of what really matters versus what is trivial, and I walk out of worship feeling restored, renewed, forgiven and redeemed -- and ready to take on the world!  To all of you who are celebrating Easter with me this weekend, to those of you who will be celebrating Passover seder this Saturday, and to those of other faiths whose holidays fall on other dates, may we all feel the power of God's love, mercy, and redemption in our lives not just on holy days, but for all of our days (especially the days of disappointment, failure and despair).



And now, without further ado, it's YOUR turn!  What have YOU finished -- or partially finished -- this week?  Link up your fabulous finishes here (be sure to use the direct URL of your post) and don't forget to visit and comment on the other finishes, because the comment love is what makes this a party! Please include a text link in your post and/or a button for TGIFF so your visitors can come back here to discover other people's finishes as well.

I'm also linking up with Finished Or Not Friday and with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

YAY!!! I DID IT!! I WOUND MY OWN BOBBIN with my APQS Turbo Terror!

This is going to be one of those posts where you all get to shake your heads and have a chuckle at my expense.  When I brought my APQS Millenium home in early April of last year, I stocked up on a variety of colors of Fil-Tec Glide thread cones and Magna Glide magnetic prewound bobbins to get me started, and there was a Magna Glide prewound already in the bobbin case on Day One.  Of course you don't HAVE to use prewound bobbins in APQS machines -- in fact, the Millenium and Freedom models both come standard with a stand alone, $325 industrial Turbo Bobbin Winder for winding your own bobbins.  And I have been so afraid of that contraption that I've just been limiting myself to prewound bobbins for the past year... That's right -- I'm not afraid of the long arm quilting machine.  I'm afraid of the BOBBIN WINDER!


I Cannot Begin to Tell You How Proud I Am of This Bobbin (But I Will Try Anyway)
Until Tabby Mountain...  I have thread colors that I want to use on the top of this quilt, but I do not have prewound magnetic bobbins in those thread colors, and I don't have prewound bobbins in a shade that would match the backing for this quilt, either.  I don't know of any local retailer where I can bring in my fabric swatches and match up the colors I need, either.  It was time to wind a bobbin.

Now OF COURSE my APQS dealer demonstrated how to use this intimidating beast of a bobbin winder at my new owner class, but that was a year ago and all I remembered was the tip about plugging the bobbin winder into a power strip with an on/off switch to control the machine without having to stick your fingers near moving parts.  I went to the Internet, to the trusty APQS blog and YouTube channel, and found only ONE video demonstrating how to use the Turbo Bobbin Winder:



The only problem I had with this video is that Angela's fingers are in the way when she's threading around the tensioner and through those little guides, so I wasn't 100% sure of the thread path.  I went back to the Internet, this time to the APQS Facebook group for tips, suggestions, and moral support.  Armed with my newfound courage, I faced off with the Turbo Terror and found...


They Left a Thread Trail For Me, Like In Hansel and Gretel!
...That the nice folks at APQS had already wound a bobbin for me and taped the thread tail down at the factory before they shipped my Turbo Terror, so I would know EXACTLY where the thread was supposed to go!  Isn't that sweet?!


It Worked!  And It Was Easy!
I didn't have a cone of Glide in a color that I liked for my top row of pink triangles on Tabby Mountain, but I did have exactly the right shade of pink in a Mini King cone of Isacord polyester embroidery thread -- which looks and feels a lot like Glide.  Since it's made to withstand high speed embroidery, I anticipate that it will behave just fine with my longarm machine. 

So, my final assessment of the APQS Turbo Terror Bobbin Winder is that it is a lot like the Rottweiler in my sewing room -- he might LOOK ferocious and intimidating, but he's actually pretty sweet!  :-)  I feel foolish for avoiding it for so long!!


I Might Look Scary, But I Am Really Just a Sweet Baboo
Up next for me today: Now that I've wound a pink bobbin, I need to change back to a size 4.0 needle (I went down to size 3.5 for the monofilament thread) and readjust my tension (which I had loosened A LOT for the invisible thread) until I get a nice stitch with my pink Isacord thread.  I did a lot of research yesterday on quilting designs for the pink triangles.  I was planning some "simple" ruler work in all the solid triangles using straight lines and a couple of circles here and there, but now I'm getting nervous because the quilting is really going to show up on the solid fabrics, even with matching thread colors.  Can I really execute my design well enough to be happy with the results once I'm finished?


Original Quilting Plan
Late last night, I curled up in bed with both of Judi Madsen's quilting books.  Judi Madsen, a.k.a. the Green Fairy Quilter, is my hands-down, all-time favorite longarm quilter and I have been following her work for years.  Judi inspired me to buy the longarm machine in the first place, and I aspire to develop the ability to do custom quilting similar to what she does.  


Judi Madsen's Quilting Books, available on Amazon here
I have to confess that, as much as I adore Judi's quilting style, her piecing designs for her personal projects are not as appealing to me as the more traditional pieced and appliqued quilts that she has quilted for many of her customers.  Both of her books are project based, and I am fairly unlikely to want to recreate any of her very modern projects.  They are gorgeous; they just are not "me," if you know what I mean.  However, since Judi is a master quilter, she includes very detailed, step-by-step instructions for her quilting process with each project rather than the dreaded phrase "quilt as desired" that you see in most books.  And that information is GOLD to me as a new longarm quilter who dreams of someday quilting like Judi!  She tells you exactly what kind of batting and threads she used, which quilts have double batting and how she does that, where and when she stabilizes, how and why she marks her quilts...  As you read through her quilting directions for all of the projects, you will discover a wealth of information about Judi's custom quilting process that can be applied to ANY quilt project.  I would love to see a process based book from Judi rather than another project-based book next time, where she walks you through the quilting process from start (loading) to finish (trimming) and incorporates photos of lots of different types of projects (including customer quilts) to explain which methods she prefers for the whole gamut of quilt tops she has encountered throughout her quilting career.


Judi's Wide Open Borders Class Sample on Left, Judi's Quilting on Traditional Client's Quilt on Right
See what I mean?  Both are jaw-dropping gorgeous, and the one on the left has a very cool Art Deco vibe that would translate well to my triangles (if I actually had the skill to execute it, that is!).  But the one on the right, on Judi's client's pieced and hand stitched applique quilt called "Sweet Surrender,"  I just drool over!  You can salivate over even more photos of this gorgeous quilt on Judi's blog here.  

So, in a Quilter's Quandary about my proposed ruler work for Tabby Mountain, I asked myself "WWJD?"  (That's "What Would JUDI Do" -- Jesus wasn't a quilter!).  And it turns out that what Judi would do is mark references for the ruler work designs with a purple temporary fabric marker rather than relying on the etched lines on her rulers for spacing.  Hmmm...  That WOULD make it less intimidating, wouldn't it?

In all of sewing and quilting, there are almost as many ways of doing things as there are quilters.  Whether you're looking for help at your local guild, from books and magazines, or in online forums, you're going to find quilters who are advocating wildly different methods and it can be difficult to know who to listen to when you're a newbie like me!  I've found the most success when I follow how-to advice from the quilters who excel at the kind of quilts I most aspire to make, since what works well enough for one style of quilting does not necessarily yield the best results for EVERY style of quilting.  With that in mind, even though I've never really been much of a class person, let alone online video class person (still have not watched the Craftsy class that I purchased 2 years ago!), I am seriously considering purchasing AND WATCHING Judi's online quilting classes to learn more about how she does her Green Fairy magic.  Incidentally, Judi will be teaching her classes IN PERSON at MQX in April.  I wish I was going!  Maybe next time.

Computer time is over!  Back to my studio!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

To-Do Tuesday: Monofilament Stitching In the Ditches With the Disco Kitties

Quilting Away on Tabby Mountain
And now it is Tuesday.  Does anyone remember Once Upon a Time, A Long, Long Time Ago, the last time I posted weekly goals for the To-Do On Tuesday linky party?  Some of you may not be old enough to remember back that far, all the way back to March 6th when I posted the following goals that I was planning and fully expecting to finish in ONE week:
  1. I need to design and embroider a quilt label and decide whether it goes on the front of the quilt or on the back.
  2. I need to dig around in my studio to see if I have a package of batting the right size for Tabby Mountain.  If not, I need to purchase batting.  
  3. Then I need to get all the dog fur and stray threads off my quilt top and give it a final pressing.  
  4. Next, my extra-wide backing fabric needs to be cut to size, pressed and squared
  5. Then I can load Tabby Mountain on my quilting frame!
  6. It would be nice if I could baste my horizontal seam lines and outer edges of the quilt before the end of the week... 
  7. -- Oh, one more thing: Now that Tabby Mountain is out from under my Bernina, I'd like to finish that pineapple log cabin quilt block this week.
Well, darlings, I've finally crossed all of those items off my list, but it ended up taking me THREE weeks instead of just one.  As you know if you saw yesterday's post, my month-end goal for March is taking on extra-special urgency since I've also committed to hosting TGIFF, "Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday" this week, and in order to host the party, I need to have a finish to show for myself!


Look At Me, Stitching In the Ditch Like a Real Quilter!!!
I did spend a lot of time on Tabby Mountain today, but since I'm very much a beginner longarm quilter everything takes me a REALLY LONG TIME.  It took me two hours just to switch over to monofilament and figure out how to get the tension looking nice.  I used Superior MonoPoly Reduced Sheen Clear thread and went down to a smaller size 3.5 needle and changed up my thread path to put less drag and twist on the monofilament, but was able to leave the bobbin tension alone since I'm using gray Fil-Tec Magna Glide prewound bobbins.  Those little prewound bobbins are so convenient and easy to use that I have yet to even try winding my own bobbins for my longarm machine!


Monofilament Tension Sample, Top Side
Same Sample, Backing Side Showing Gray Bobbin Thread
I just love the way that monofilament thread looks like a perfect color match to whatever fabric it's on -- that's why it was worth fiddling around until I got it to play nicely.  Monofilament thread can hide a multitude of sins!  You know, my original plan was to use lots of different thread colors in this quilt, but the MonoPoly thread looks so good on every fabric that I'm tempted to just quilt the whole thing with monofilament!  


SID With My HandiQuilter Versa Tool Ruler
I started out with the standard ruler foot that came on my APQS machine, but soon switched to the high profile, open-toe clog foot instead.  I need to see where my needle is landing for SID, and the regular ruler foot blocks my view.


MUCH Better Visibility With the Ninja Foot!
Angela Huffman calls her clog foot  "the Ninja foot."  I have no idea why it reminds her of a ninja, but I definitely preferred it for SID!  


Exhibit A: Oopsy Wobble Away From Seamline
See how the monofilament thread blends into every color of my kitty cat's fur when my ruler slipped and I wobbled away from the seam line?  That would be so much more obvious if I was using pretty much any color of ordinary thread.


Barely Noticeable Even From Reasonably Close Up
I am happy to report that I have now completed all of the SID (Stitch In the Ditch) quilting, because it took me forever.  I did get better at it as I went along, but I still find that I need to go very slowly in order to keep those stitches right next to the seam hump where I want them to land.  As with my list of goals from three weeks ago, the SID quilting took about three times as long as I expected it to take.

So...  I'm kind of rethinking my quilting plan.  The ruler work I had initially planned to do might require marking and might end up taking a lot more time than I have available if I am going to finish this quilt in time for my self-imposed deadline.  But that's my goal, people -- there is only ONE item on my list for To-Do Tuesday this time:


  1. FINISH QUILTING TABBY MOUNTAIN
  2. Photograph finished quilt
  3. Write blog post for TGIFF and March OMG Linkies

I said only one thing, but once I'm finished of course I'm going to want to share it with all of you!

Okay, that's enough computer time for me.  I'm headed up to my studio to start quilting!  Just as soon as I link up with Esther's WIPs On Wednesday and with To-Do Tuesday, that is...  



Monday, March 26, 2018

HEY, YOU GUYS! I Am Hosting the TGIFF Linky Party This Friday! Finish Up So You Can Link Up!

So are we all familiar with the TGIFF -- "Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday" -- Linky Party?  It's a floating linky party that is hosted by different bloggers each week, and I get a chance to be the Hostess With the Mostest right here at Cheeky Cognoscenti this coming Friday, March 30th!  Woo hoo!!  


I am so excited, I just might vomit.  You see, the TGIFF Linky Hostess has to write a post about his or her OWN finish to kick off the party, and as my longtime readers can attest, I am so much better at starting than I am at finishing...  There is nothing like a looming deadline to light a fire under the hostess's tushy, don't you agree?  


Tabby Mountain is OFF My Wall and ON My Frame, FINALLY!
Naturally, I'm hoping that my Friday finish will be my February March OMG, my Tabby Mountain quilt that you see in the photo above.  After much deliberation, research, and extensive Internet forum consultations, I loaded Tabby Mountain on my APQS Millenium frame as a full float and then proceeded to baste the WHOLE thing, top to bottom, just the outer edges of the quilt and the horizontal seam lines between rows.  Then I rolled the quilt back to the beginning, with all three basted layers wrapped around the backing roller and nothing hanging down in front of my frame.  Why did I decide to do it this way?


  • The quilt top is very straight and square to begin with, so no need for the additional control and fudgeability of a partial float to ease out fullness
  • My first step in quilting is going to be SID (stitching in the ditch), but only the bias diagonal seams of the triangles -- not the horizontal seams.  I wanted to ensure that those seams remained straight throughout quilting, and basting them straight up front seemed like a good way to do that
  • When I SID, I'm going to use Mono Poly invisible monofilament thread to blend with all of these different fabric and to hide any little oopsies since this is, after all, my first attempt at SID on a long arm quilting machine.  Invisible thread requires major tension adjustments, so I want to complete all of the SID with that thread at once rather than change threads two or three times with every advance of the quilt top.
  • Although there are nearly as many different "right" ways to load and quilt as there are quilters, several people recommended a video tutorial demonstrating "Loading Lori's Way," and Lori bastes the entire quilt first before doing any other quilting.  That gave me the confidence boost I needed to get started -- knowing that someone else who knows what she's doing has done it this way with success!

GIANT Tacking Basting Stitch, Using Horizontal Channel Lock
I basted those horizontal seams using my horizontal channel lock and BIG tacking stitches that will be easy to remove, as you can see in the above photo.  You can also see that I'm overdue for a manicure but that's not happening until these kitties have been quilted!
Painter's Tape Reference Keeps the Sides Straight Throughout the Basting Process
I used strips of painter's tape on my quilt top roller as reference points to make sure the sides of my quilt were perfectly straight from top to bottom.  That was another great tip I gleaned from the Internet from longarm quilters who prefer to fully float their quilt tops.


Nice, Straight Sides, All the Way to the Bottom
One more thing I want to show -- and remind myself of for next time, if I ever decide to baste the whole quilt first again:


See the Bulging Wrinkle at Each Basted Seam?  Lori Says That's Normal!
That bulge of fabric above the basting line as I'm rolling up the basted quilt would totally freak me out if I hadn't watched Lori's loading tutorial.  She says that's totally normal, no cause for alarm, and the layers will all lay nice and flat when you roll it back down to do the real quilting.  So I'm going to trust Lori, whomever this Lori may be, and just go with it.  This project is all about trying new things and learning what works for me and what doesn't, after all.  I'm trying it Lori's way this time.  

All Basting Completed, Rolled Back to the Top and Ready for Quilting!
...And see?  Here's what my quilt looks like this morning, with all the basting completed, excess batting trimmed away from the bottom edge of the quilt, and the whole thing -- all 3 layers -- rolled back onto the backing roller so I can start my ditch stitching at the top of the quilt.  I must say, one fringe benefit of Lori's baste-it-all-first method is that I no longer have ANYTHING hanging down at the front of my frame.  When you have two big black dogs and even if you've just vacuumed your own CLOTHING is covered with dog fur, this is a good way of limiting opportunities for pet fur to get stuck to the batting, to the quilt top, or inside the layers of the quilt.  So it might be a good way to do my upcoming Paint Me a Story quilt, since it would be a major bummer to have little black dog hairs showing through the white background fabric.  We'll see how this one goes.

Today I'm hoping to get all of the SID completed and at least make a start on the ruler work that I've planned.  You probably won't be seeing other posts from me this week, as I'll be frantically quilting away every chance I get in order to have a finish to show for myself on Friday.  

But in order to be the Hostess With the Mostest (the mostest posts linked up to my party), I need all of YOU to finish something this week, too, so you can link up with me here on Friday.  Pretty please, come to my linky party!  (Does that sound too needy??)

Here's the deal:

If you have a finished project to share by the end of the week, link up and pop a TGIFF button on your blog. Your finish can be anything you've made out of fabric and thread, as long as you've finished it within the past week.  Quilts, dolls, costumes, clothing, pot holders...  Anything goes!  Even if you don't have a finish of your own to show off, please plan to sip your coffee on Friday morning while admiring and commenting on the fabulous finishes of others. I'll be posting the TGIFF linky right here on my blog by 6 PM EST on Thursday, March 29th, to ensure that it's live by the time Friday morning arrives in other parts of the world.  

Meanwhile, today I'm linking up with:



Have a fabulous week, everyone -- see you Friday!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pineapple Log Cabin Block 35 of 42: This Is What Six Hours In the Studio Looks Like

NO, I did not meet the weekly goals that I posted about last time.  NO, I have not loaded Tabby Mountain onto my quilting frame yet, let alone started quilting it.  However, I did manage to complete one more 17 3/4" paper pieced pineapple log cabin block for the California King sized bed quilt that I've been working on "off and on" over the past few years.  This one makes 35 blocks completed out of the 42 blocks I need for my quilt.  And, because I used a timer to carve out one-hour increments of sewing time from my crazy busy schedule this week, I can tell you that piecing this ONE block took me a whopping SIX HOURS.  That's just piecing time, since I've already cut all the strips for this quilt.  


Pineapple Log Cabin Block 35 of 42
So, at six hours per block, that means I already have 210 hours into this quilt, in addition to the hours I spent cutting up approximately a bazillion 1 1/2" strips of assorted blue, green, and neutral fabrics before I started piecing.  


It Feels SO GOOD to Sew On the Final Corner Triangles!
And, with seven blocks remaining to be pieced, that means I'm still about 42 hours away from having my blocks finished and ready to be sewn into a quilt top.  And there are 97 pieces in every block, so there will be a total of 4,074 pieces in this quilt once it's finally finished.  Uff da!


Finished Block On Wall, Beside Neglected Tabby Mountain Quilt Top
One thing I am enjoying about these pineapple blocks is how different they look up close versus viewed from a distance.  As I'm selecting fabrics for each block, I worry that it's getting too busy and I don't have enough value contrast for that secondary design to show up.  Then I pin the finished block to the design wall, step back, and it's amazing how that cool windmill with blue and green blade pops out at me!  Love it!

So, it's not like Tabby Mountain has been totally abandoned.  I designed a quilt label in my Bernina v8 Designer Plus digitizing software and stitched it out on leftover solid magenta fabric.  


Machine Embroidered Quilt Label, Ready to Go

Cute, right?  I love how my little paw prints turned out!  I've preturned the top and right edges of my label because I'm going to applique those to the back of my quilt once it's quilted and trimmed, and then the bottom and left edges will be sewn into the quilt binding.  I included care instructions because I'm going to be using a wool batting that requires a cold wash temperature.

The run stitch fonts I used for this label are built into the digitizing software.  With my software, I was able to lay out and preview all the lettering, and I digitized my kitty paw prints from scratch in about 30 seconds -- just imported the black and white clip art and clicked one button, then positioned them around the lettering the way that I wanted them.  And then I printed out an actual-size template of the label design so I could preview how it would look on my quilt.  This is why, for me personally, the Bernina 750QEE or 770QEE coupled with Bernina Designer Plus digitizing software is a much better way to go for embroidery than buying the 780E, 790E, or even the 790E Plus.  If you paid MSRP for the machine and the software, the current 770QEE machine + Bernina Designer Plus software together costs $1,500 less than the 790 Plus machine.  Although it's true that you can tweak embroidery designs at the machine with the 790 more than you can with the 770, what you can do as far as editing designs right at the machine is and will always be extremely limited compared to what you can do at your computer with digitizing software.  And, with complete control to edit, combine, and even create embroidery designs completely from scratch at your computer, your embroidery design is already exactly the way you want it when you transfer it to the sewing machine -- no further editing required.


Stitching Out My Label On My Bernina 750 QEE Sewing Machine
What's more, technology is constantly changing, at a much faster rate than the mechanics of our sewing and embroidery machines.  Once I've created the quilt label or any other machine embroidery design in my software, it will stitch out exactly the same on a Bernina 700, 750, 770, 780, 790, or even an 880 machine, since they all use exactly the same embroidery module.  When a new and improved sewing machine model is introduced, it typically costs thousands to upgrade machines -- but historically it has only been $500 to upgrade the Bernina embroidery software to the newest version, and you can even skip and upgrade from every other version.  For instance, I went from my version 4 Designer Plus software to version 6 for $500 several years back, and I just recently upgraded from version 6 to the current version 8 for $500 rather than having to repurchase the full $2,500 software package each time.  And of course, upgrading your software is completely optional to get the new features.  There's absolutely no reason why you can't keep using whatever version of the software you are comfortable with regardless of new updates that are available.

Well, I've got a dress rehearsal today at 2:30 and a VOX concert tonight at 7:30 PM.  It's the Verdi Four Sacred Pieces and Poulenc's Stabat Mater -- gorgeous music that was awful to learn, but a joy to sing now that we've got it down.  I can't wait!

Today I'm linking up with:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

To-Do On Tuesday: Press! Load! Quilt! And Piece a Pineapple!

Hello and Happy Tuesday, y'all!  Well, since I'm experimenting with goal-setting now, I may as well go whole hog, don't you think?  I posted yesterday about my One Monthly Goal for March (quilting and binding my Tabby Mountain quilt).  As you know, I failed to reach my OMG for February, so I'm going to try something else this time around.  Today I'm going to try setting some interim goals just for this week in hopes of being more successful in reaching my end-of-month goal.  You know, like when we were in school and we had a big research paper to do, but it was broken down in stages: This week we will choose a topic and find sources, next week we will do 50 notecards, etc.  


Quilting Tabby Mountain Is the Goal!
Since my goal for the month of March is to finish my Tabby Mountain quilt shown above, these are the steps I'd like to take towards that goal for this week:

  1. I need to design and embroider a quilt label and decide whether it goes on the front of the quilt or on the back.
  2. I need to dig around in my studio to see if I have a package of batting the right size for Tabby Mountain.  If not, I need to purchase batting.  
  3. Then I need to get all the dog fur and stray threads off my quilt top and give it a final pressing.  
  4. Next, my extra-wide backing fabric needs to be cut to size, pressed and squared
  5. Then I can load Tabby Mountain on my quilting frame!
  6. It would be nice if I could baste my horizontal seam lines and outer edges of the quilt before the end of the week... 
  7. -- Oh, one more thing: Now that Tabby Mountain is out from under my Bernina, I'd like to finish that pineapple log cabin quilt block this week.

Dulce Pom Trim from Samuel and Sons Passementerie
So far today, the only thing I have accomplished is checking email and scouring the Internet for luscious pom pom trim that I could put on the edges of my Tabby Mountain quilt, either in lieu of or incorporated into a traditional double fold fabric binding:.

Wouldn't that be delicious?   The color is Blueberry, a deep, dark blue, and the 1" poms are unbelievably soft because they are made of wool, not that polyester stuff you find in craft stores.  It's from Samuel & Sons Passementerie, one of my favorite high-end interior design resources...  But alas, it retails for $120 per yard and I would need EIGHT yards to go around the edges of this quilt.  So, NO.  Also it is labeled Dry Clean Only, and who wants a quilt that needs to be dry cleaned?! If I could find a reasonably priced alternative with faux fur, Minky type pom poms in the right color, that would be ideal.  If anyone knows of a resource, please let me know in the comments!  

I'm linking up with:
To Do Tuesday Button 200 x 200

Monday, March 5, 2018

OMG, It's Groundhog Day (Again)! This Beast Is Pieced, But She Ain't Been Quilted

Finishing Tabby Mountain is My OMG -- Again!
So, remember that 1993 Bill Murray movie where his character is stuck in a time warp and is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he finally gets it right?  



Well, it's Groundhog Day again for me, because my March OMG (One Monthly Goal) is to relive my February OMG since I didn't get it finished.  My goal was to finish piecing AND quilting my Tabby Mountain quilt, and I didn't even finish assembling the quilt top by February 28th.  


Marking and Pinning These 30 Degree Triangles Slowed Down the Piecing Big Time
I came close -- I had all of the rows of triangles pieced by the evening of the 27th and I COULD have worked on joining all the rows into a completed quilt top on the 28th to at least get the quilt top finished by the end of the month.  But something inside of me rebelled.  There had been too much sewing for me on the 27th, too much pressure to have something to show for myself at the end of month linky party, and it was stressing me out.  So I opted to do no sewing at all on the last day of the month, and instead I finished assembling my quilt top on March 3rd.  


Joining Rows Together
If February had 31 days instead of 28, I would have finished the quilt top by the end of the month even with my day off!


Otto a.k.a. Mister Baby a.k.a. My Sweet Baboo, Supervising Quilt Construction
So anyway, looking forward to March: Apparently I erred on the side of overambition with my February OMG, so for March my OMG is just going to be QUILTING & BINDING TABBY MOUNTAIN.  That will involve:

  1. Removing stray threads and pet fur from the quilt top with a tape roller and giving it a final pressing
  2. Finding or purchasing batting
  3. Pressing my backing fabric and cutting it to size
    Tabby Mountain backing: Free Fall in Orchid by Tula Pink
  4. Loading the quilt on my longarm frame, most likely doing a full float
  5. Selecting thread colors
  6. Basting the horizontal seamlines and quilt edges to ensure they remain nice and straight
  7. SID (Stitch In the Ditch) along all of those diagonal seam lines
  8. Ruler work in the solid fabric patches
    My Quilting Plan for Tabby Mountain
  9. Free motion quilting in the print fabric patches
  10. Trimming the finished quilt
  11. Making and attaching binding (and I haven't selected the binding fabric yet, either)

Of course, I'm really hoping to get a few other things accomplished in the sewing room this month as well.  Is it against the rules of this challenge to set Gold Star Bonus Goals in addition to the OMG?  Because I'd like to finish my Tabby Mountain quilt well before the end of March, and then I also hope to:

  1. Finish the partially-completed pineapple log cabin block that I started last month.  17 strips have been sewn to the foundation paper, and 80 more strips need to be added to finish the block.
  2. Get started and caught up with the new applique BOM project designed by Esther Aliu, Queen's Garden.  Although I've selected and prewashed my fabrics for this project, I have yet to begin Blocks 1 and 2, which were released in January and February, and Block 3 will be released in about a week.  
    My Fabrics for Queen's Garden

There, now -- that should be MORE than enough to keep me busy this month, don't you think?  

And so, despite being unsuccessful the first time I tried this One Monthly Goal thing, I'm linking up again for March.  Wish me luck!



I'm also linking up with:


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