Friday, October 26, 2012

Know Thy Machine Blog Hop!

Hi everyone! I'm happy to be participating in Shruti's Know Thy Machine blog hop and sharing a bit about my sewing machine. Hopefully with all the participants (I think it's going for over a month) this blog hop will be a good resource for people shopping for sewing machines.

1. What machine(s) do you have? 
My main sewing machine is a Janome 4900 Quilter's Companion. (I also have a serger, a coverstitcher, and a small Hello Kitty Janome machine.)
sewing machine ready to quilt
This is my machine set up with the extension table, my (dull) clippers, and my $2.50 gardening/machine quilting gloves. Ready to machine quilt!

2. When and where did you buy it? What were the reasons for selecting this particular model?
I've had it for almost 3 years now; I got it in December 2009. This model wasn't my first choice; when I bought it I had decided on another Janome model and then when I went to the sewing machine store they were no longer selling that model. (Looking back now, I think it was when they were first getting ready to sell the Janome Horizon.) I went back online to do more research and decided on the 4800. Turns out that the place I bought the machine from no longer had the 4800 in stock so they sent me the 4900 instead. I bought it online from a sew/vac place that I think was in Texas. I can't remember for sure.  

3. What do you like about your machine? Have you named it? Have you made a cover for it? 
I like my sewing machine a lot. It is pretty sturdy and I haven't really had any problems with it at all. It is good at basic sewing, great at machine quilting (I just have to adjust the top tension to about 6 for the best results) and does fine with heavy duty sewing although I don't do a lot of that type of sewing these days. I have not made a cover for my machine yet. Someday I will, though.

4. Does your machine give you any problems? Could you tell us a few?
Nope, no problems really.

5. What do you sew on it mainly? Quilts, Clothes, Bags etc. How much time do you spend sewing on it? What are the features of the machine that help you improve your work? 
My sewing consists of mostly working on quilts, household items, and the occasional clothing item (or Halloween costume.) I sew probably between 5-8 hours each week, but I don't really keep track. My sewing machine came with a walking foot and a free-motion quilting foot and those are both really helpful with my quilting. Otherwise I really appreciate that it's a good reliable machine that can handle whatever I want it to do. It has a bunch of specialty stitches and I don't use those very often but I appreciate them when I need them. I also like the speed adjustment for when my kids want to have a turn sewing. I can set it so the machine doesn't go too fast and my boys feel more comfortable sewing that way. A couple other features I like a lot are the needle-down feature (although I wish I didn't have to set it every time I want to use it) and the adjustable presser foot pressure dial, which makes straight line quilting work out a lot better.

6. What advice would you give others when deciding about which machine to buy? 
Go on and check out reviews there. Most people include the price they paid for their machine so you can get a basic idea of cost, since sewing machine manufacturers don't typically include prices on their websites.

7. Will you share with us a special memory associated with your machine?
I don't really have any specific memories of this machine but I do have fond memories of sewing at the kitchen table in my old house in Kansas in the sunny (and usually warm) kitchen. I do a lot of my machine quilting at the kitchen table here, but it's not quite as sunny!

8. If you had unlimited resources in the world, which machine would you choose to buy and why?
I'm pretty happy with my sewing machine and not planning on buying a new one any time soon. If I had to decide on another domestic (table top) sewing machine I would probably get a Janome Horizon or some kind of Bernina. I have recently started thinking about getting a longarm quilting machine; that's something I feel like I need to research a lot though before I commit to actually going through with it.

Thanks for reading! You can read about more people's experiences with their sewing machines (and enter to win prizes!) on Shruti's blog, 13 Woodhouse Road.

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side

Hi everyone! Welcome to Sew Inspired. If you haven't visited before I hope you take a minute to look around, or come back later on to check out my tutorials and recent projects if you're busy looking at quilts right now.

For Blogger's Quilt Festival I decided to share my supernova quilt again. I made this quilt for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary which was this past May.

finished supernova quilt
It is one of my favorite quilts I've ever made. I love how the colors turned out, and the quilting, and the back.
supernova quilt back
(That's my dad's and mom's names.) One day I want to make another one to keep.

The quilt was made using the quiltalong information at Freshly Pieced, and my colors were originally based on her color scheme but they ended up a bit different.

If you're interested (and want to see a close-up of the quilting), you can read previous blog posts about this quilt here and here.

Quilt Stats for Blogger's Quilt Festival:
Finished quilt measures about 60" x 60" (I think! I don't have the quilt anymore.)
Pieced and quilted by me
Best category: home machine quilting, throw quilt

Thanks again for stopping by, and thanks so much to Amy for hosting the quilt festival!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Evergreen State Quilt + New Pattern

Hi! I'm excited to show you my new quilt pattern, "Evergreen State." It's available as an instant PDF download in my shop at Craftsy.
I came up with the beginnings of this design earlier this year when someone on a blog was giving away Christmas fabric but you had to describe what you would make if you won the giveaway. I didn't get picked for that giveaway but decided to go ahead with the quilt anyway. I thought about this quilt a lot when I first broke my finger this past summer and couldn't do much of anything at all. I love this fabric line--it's Blitzen by Basic Grey. Their fabrics always make such beautiful quilts.
I went with a gray backing and included some funky scrap strips in the back too. I used almost all the trimmings from the pieced triangle blocks in those three skinny strips. Sometimes I get a little crazy with my scraps. (The pattern only includes instructions for a plain back. If there's interest maybe I can do a pieced quilt back tutorial here on the blog some day.)
I really enjoyed doing the free motion quilting, too! It took a while, as usual, but I am so happy with the results. The teardrop-shaped design is new to me and I don't feel like I can change directions easily while quilting it (most of my shapes go one way) but it was fun to do something new with my quilting.

I did a few different designs in the pieced triangle/tree blocks too. The quilting shows up much better on the quilt back.

A few details:
*The pattern is a PDF download and the cost is $8.50. It's available here.
*Fabric requirements are listed here.
*The quilt is throw-size, 52" x 73"
*The pattern includes photos, diagrams, and printable templates along with instructions for making the quilt. If you want, a 45 degree triangle quilting ruler is useful, but it's not required.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Giveaway winner + stars

I'm finally back to announce the giveaway winner. #103, Kelie, is the winner of a copy of Natalia's book, Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting. Congrats Kelie and thanks to everyone for your comments!


I also wanted to show these star blocks I made over the weekend.

star blocks 10inch

I went to the Seattle MQG sew-in on Friday and got them started. It was fun to meet and talk to new people; everyone was so nice. These blocks are 10" square; the previous ones I've made for this project are just 8". I'm not sure how I'm going to put it all together but there will be a few different sizes of stars. Eventually.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scrap block progress

One of my sewing goals this week was to make 7 quilt blocks. I finished up 8 purple scrap blocks, so I went above and beyond.

8 purple scrap blocks 
I like the blocks with smaller pieces better... but they take more work and thinking. 

Then I decided to lay out all 55 of my completed scrap blocks. Here's the rainbow so far:
These blocks are 6.5" square. I'm planning on making at least 25 more. I need to focus on pink and turquoise next, I think.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finished Hexagon Pillow

It feels great to finish a year-old UFO!

finished hexagon pillow
I started this hand sewing project last year when we were living in corporate housing for almost 2 months. It sat unfinished for a long time, only needing a few more hexagons. I finished it up the other day, machine quilted it yesterday, and made it into a pillow this morning. The continuous curve quilting was inspired by Frankenquilt by Krista Withers (scroll down a bit).

The pillow back is this weird but cool princess/dress up fabric I got from the remnant bin a few months ago.
hexagon pillow back
It's a little overstuffed or in other words, too small for the pillow form. I had a hard time getting those bottom corners filled up correctly. My daughter thinks it needs to go in her room because of the princess fabric. I want to keep it downstairs, for a while at least.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting Blog Tour + Giveaway

Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting 
Hi everyone! I'm excited to take my turn on the blog tour for Natalia's new book, Beginner's Guide to Free Motion Quilting. Natalia is a very talented quilter who blogs at Piece N Quilt where she shares a lot of her quilting along with tutorials and patterns too.

Natalia's theme for this blog tour is "It's a Family Affair" and I'd like to share a bit about my family's influence on my sewing and quilting. My mom learned to sew from her grandma, and she taught me to sew clothes and toys starting when I was really little. My Grandma Taylor also taught me and helped me with my sewing, including helping me make my very first quilt when I was 13 years old.

I started quilting 'for real" the year I got married and now my husband and I have been married 15 years and have 3 kids. I've enjoyed making baby quilts for my kids and nieces and nephews and bigger quilts for family members as well. My mom started quilting a few years ago and my kids have done some sewing too. My oldest boy is working on a Minecraft pillow, and just the other day, my nearly 4-year-old daughter started her first hand sewing project. She still needs a lot of help but she's doing a really good job so far!

Now for my thoughts on the book. I think Natalia did a fantastic job with this book. Beginner's Guide to Free Motion Quilting has a good introductory section explaining the tools you need to get started with machine quilting and basic instructions for basting your quilt. Then the main part of the book is full of various free motion quilting designs, complete with step-by-step diagrams and photos showing how to stitch each design. I'm looking forward to working some more on my free motion quilted feathers with this book as my guide.

I did try something new with my quilting after reading Natalia's book. In the center of this photo you can see the quilting I did based on the "clams" design. (This is the back of a quilt I'll be sharing here soon.) I had tried to do something similar to this after just seeing a couple of photos and couldn't figure it out. The diagrams in the book really helped me get it, and I even made my own variations/additions to the design in a few places.
evergreen quilting detail2

Finally, I have to mention the project section of the book; Natalia has included the patterns and quilting suggestions for 6 quilts. The cool part about this for me is... I helped make one of the quilts in the book. :)
Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting

Natalia does a lot of applique in her quilt designs and I helped make this applique quilt top. (I would have made the whole quilt top but my sewing machine ended up needing to be serviced half way through the project.) I love the quilting Natalia did and someday soon I'm going to try out that swirly quilting she did in the negative space.

All right, time for the giveaway. If you'd like to win a copy of Beginner's Guide to Free Motion Quilting, just leave a comment on this blog post. I'd love to hear about a current project you're working on... or tell me something you want to make. If the winner is not a U.S. resident, they will receive the e-book version of the book. Winners will be chosen on October 18.

Check out the other stops on the tour!

Amy Webb - October 6th
Melissa Corry - October 7th
Melissa Mortensen  - October 8th
Stash Books - October 9th
Amy Ellis - October 10th
Kimberly Jolly - October 11th
Vicki Christensen - October 12th
Candy Glendening - October 13th
Angela Yosten - October 14th
Gen Q Magazine - October 15th
Tracey Jacobsen - October 16th
Vickie Eapen - October 17th
Allison Harris – October 18th

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fall's here

How's everyone doing? Things are good here, we are settled into a good routine now that school has been in session for about a month (I'm loving our new "no TV before homework is done" rule!) and I'm working on a few projects.
hex project again
I started this little hexagon patchwork future pillow last year when we first moved to Washington and it has been sitting almost done for a long time. I decided I'm going to work on it a little bit each day until it's finished. I'm not sure what to do with the edges on a hexagon project; I guess part of the hexes on the edges will get cut off. I guess I'll see when I get there.
back of Christmas quilt
And I've been plugging away on the machine quilting for my new Christmas quilt. I have tried some new things and made some mistakes, there's always something to learn right? I'm looking forward to having this done soon!

I also got all the things I need to make a Pirate Fairy Princess costume for my little girl. We have wings and striped leggings, she will get a tiara for her birthday, and I'll be making a pirate skirt and peasant top. I think it will be really cute.

I wanted to let you know about the Color Wheel Swap hosted by Megan of City Stitches. If you're needing to stash build or just like to swap, it looks like it will be a good one. All you have to do is send in 2 yards of one color of fabric (she'll assign colors) and you'll get back a rainbow of fat quarters.Signups are open until the 10th, so check it out!

p.s. I'm on instagram; my username is VickiDJL. You can see some of my pics there if you want... even a sneak peek of the front of my Christmas quilt.