Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tools and hints

Yesterday I introduced you to Donita Reeve, a quilter whose expertise in tools is laudable.  This handy tool is called the Accuguide, which Donita developed in order to have something other than her fingers to guide the hopping foot of her longarm.  Anyone who has gotten close to a hopping foot in motion understands all too well the possibility of sewing one's finger into the quilt, and this 1/4" thick plexiglass tool helps to prevent that.

Donita says that it can be used to stitch in the ditch around applique or curved shapes, to echo applique, to follow a stencil or to stitch in the ditch along a straight line for short distances.  I tried it out today.

Chances are my technique leaves alot to be desired, but I found the Accuguide to be easy and comfortable to use.  More familiarity with it should produce smooth and pleasing results even though mine were a bit choppy this first time.

As long as I have already displayed the most recent quilt on my frame, let me talk to you a bit about choosing what you want to achieve when you quilt something.  For instance, the quilt above is chock full of batiks, red, white and blue.  It is a Quilt of Valor and will go to a wounded soldier soon.  The piecing is lovely and smooth and well pressed, and the quilt is square.  But the fabric is so busy that any longarm quilting, no matter how fancy, will disappear.

Sue B usually sends me her QOV's and says to "make them sing."  I love to do the unexpected with these quilts, adding lots of custom designs to them to delight the soldiers as well as to pay homage to the tireless people who make these, month after month, by bringing them to life with my designs out of respect for their work.  But this quilt received a pantograph instead, because NOT EVERY QUILT NEEDS FANCY QUILTING.  In this case, pretty much any design would have been lost in the intricate patterns of the fabrics.

I chose a pantograph called "Star Swirl", a capricious blend of wonky stars and fluffy echoes that look like clouds.  The only place you can see this pattern well is in the border, but it's going to be a nice quilt for someone nonetheless.

Lesson three today:  adhesives.  Have you ever seen 404 Adhesive and 505 Adhesive and wondered what the difference was?  Well, I'm going to tell you.  The 404 Adhesive is permanent, so when you spray it on a paper stencil or pattern, it leaves a residue on the paper, but NOT the fabric.  The 505 Adhesive is temporary.  It leaves a residue on the paper AND the fabric.  So, if you want to stick a velum stencil or drawing or whatever on your quilt and quilt through that or around it, make sure you use the 404, because eventually you will have to quilt through all that gunk that's left behind on the fabric if you use the 505, not to mention trying to get it off the quilt when you are finished.  I have used 505 successfully  when making sweatshirt jackets, however, and can thoroughly recommend it for those kinds of projects.

Tomorrow I'll show you a neat trick for keeping the unused sides of the leaders from dangling and folding up in between the two front bars when you're advancing the fabric on the longarm.


  1. WOW. My quilt made your blog. I am honored. I Love what you did. I did not know the name of the pattern you chose till now so it will put on the label also. I think you make all the quilts sing. You take the simplest of patterns and do wonders with them.