Frog Mini

We finished school last week and my son decided to make a mug rug for his teacher, who shares his love of frogs.  We used a pattern from Sew Fresh Quilts and changed the dimensions slightly to make it the shape we wanted.  My son chose the fabrics.  I did the cutting.  I helped him with the pinning and reminded him how to use the sewing machine.  I stitched around the eyes and he did the mouth.  He did all the pressing.  Turns out he loves to use the iron.  He for sure didn't get that from me.  I only do it because it is necessary!
He did the outline quilting around the frog.  I marked lines for the background at his direction and he did the stitching.  He insisted that we use orange fabric for the backing and binding.  I set up the binding for him and again, he did all the stitching.  I think he did a pretty good job.  This is only the second thing he's ever made.  Hopefully his teacher appreciated it, but who knows?

I chose a quilting design for my Primrose Cottage Quilts Vintage Picnic mini.  The design was actually a block design that I set up as a pantograph.  It lined up pretty well and I like how it looks.
I have a huge pile of binding to do, which is unusual for me.  I really enjoy binding but I just haven't really been feeling like it lately.  So I have half of my Coral Queen of the Seas left to do, all of the 365 Challenge, and the Vintage Picnic mini.  I also need to finish machine binding the two Quilts for Kids quilts from last week.

Other than that, not much is going on around here.  I have plenty to do and am accomplishing nothing. Enjoy a few pretty garden pictures, and I'll see you next week.

Linking with My Quilt Infatuation.

Getting Started with Quilter's Creative Touch with Juki Long Arm

A useful way to try out quilting software is to make and quilt charity quilts.  I decided to make some for Quilts for Kids.  While you can request kits, I chose to use my own fabrics this time because I wanted to get started right away.  They offer many free patterns on their website and I picked Alternate Squares and Rail Fence this time. The quilts finish at around 38 x 44 and each top takes me about an hour to sew.

For the first quilt, Alternate Squares, I decided to try out a free pattern, Lisa's Raindrops, that I got from Urban Elementz. It took me a lot of time to try to figure out how to use the software and make a layout that I thought would work.  While Juki does not offer any tutorials (shocking, right?), I watched several APQS videos on YouTube and also found this video from Quilted Angel extremely helpful in walking me through how to set up a quilt. Other places to help get started with the software are videos by dfgeorge (using a Grace machine) on YouTube and tutorials by Thread Waggle Quilting (APQS).  There is also a Facebook group for the software that is loaded with information.  I recommend watching the videos and taking step by step notes to help you.

Anyway, it took me forever to figure out how to baste my layers together to get started.  In order to use the Juki long arm without the software, you turn on the machine but not the tablet.  Then you can baste the layers.  Alternately, if the tablet is on, you click on the red toolbox in the software and hit the release carriage and release machine buttons to baste (don't click the ok button until after you are done basting).

After I got the basting figured out, it took me forever to figure out how to get the design into the safe area. Once we figured out that you can click on the quilt measurement buttons and type in your quilt dimensions, it was quite easy.  The recommended overage is adding two inches to each measurement, but I am finding that an inch is more than enough for me so far.  Another tip:  make sure you ALWAYS optimize each row!

So we finally got the design into the safe area and started stitching out the first row.  It took like 20 minutes. For a 38 inch wide quilt.  I wanted to cry.  I thought this was supposed to speed things up for me.  For all the time I'd spent trying to figure out the software and setting everything up and then the 20 minute stitch out, I could have custom quilted the thing four or five times over.  Then the software completely froze.  And I didn't know what to do and was near meltdown.  We just shut everything off and I walked away for the day.

In the morning I watched the APQS video about restarting after an unplanned shutdown.  I went through the steps and found out that my pattern had somehow corrupted because when I reloaded the pattern, instead of five inch high rows spread over the entire top, I had two .8" high rows for my entire quilt.  Maybe that's why it was so slow the first time?  So I had to start completely over.  I enlisted my daughter's help to rip out the row of stitching.  Even thought that was frustrating, I was okay with it because some of the stitches were super long in our first stitch out and I didn't quite have it placed correctly to start.

I reprogrammed the design, started over, and the entire quilt was stitched out in under an hour.  That included changing a bobbin and figuring out how to advance the quilt and line up the pattern correctly.  I didn't have weird, random long stitches either.  Each row only took a few minutes, not 20.  

I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, though I would make the pattern a bit smaller and not so spaced out if I quilted it again.

For my second quilt I used another of the Quilts for Kids patterns, Rail Fence.  I decided to purchase a pattern, Malachite, from Urban Elementz for this one.  Malachite is such a great pattern.  It was super easy for me to lay out in the software.  I think it took under five minutes and just nested together so nicely.  It stitched out really well.  I need to be super careful when advancing the rows to ensure even spacing. While I love how this looks, I could perhaps make the pattern a bit larger, especially for a kids' quilt. This one had 704 inches of stitching for each row of the pattern.  There were six rows of pattern.  That's a lot of stitching!

I still need to bind these.  Quilts for Kids requires that the tops are machine quilted and machine bound because they need to stand up to heavy washing.  I'm hoping that my math was correct when I was trying to figure out yardage.  Oh, and they do need to be washed in scent-free detergent before shipping as well.  No problems there since I use scent-free anyway.  

Now that I've figured out the software, I'm ready to quilt for you.  I can quilt virtually any digital pantograph you find online.  Good places to find digital designs are Urban Elementz, Intelligent Quilting, My Creative Stitches, Quilts Complete, and Willow Leaf Studio. Check out my long arm quilting service tab for more details.  I'm waiting to hear from you!  :)

In other news, we are enjoying the heavy blooms of the iris and clematis this spring.
Caesar's Brother Iris
Clematis--can you see all the buds?
Another Clematis.  It's so pretty!
I can't remember what this purple plant is, maybe a Penstemon, but it looks outstanding this year!
Some of our vegetables are coming along nicely.  The lettuce is still really struggling.  I'm sad about that because there is nothing better than fresh lettuce from the garden.

We are nearing the end of our school year, just a few days left now.  I am just done with this year and looking forward to the official end.  Our summer is going to be a busy one with lots of appointments, three different weeks of camp for the kids, and three different trips to Michigan since we couldn't work out the timing any better.  I'm still looking forward to it.

I'll leave this today with a funny paper my son brought home from school.  He made a note on the paper about what they were supposed to wear.  I think he needs to pay better attention!!
In case you're wondering, it was supposed to say clothes for the woods.  Big difference!

Linking with My Quilt Infatuation.

Quilter's Creative Touch for Juki

Over the weekend my husband got the computer hooked up to my long arm.  I have figured out how to turn on the tablet, though it took me a bit to figure out how to unlock the screen (thanks, Google). You should know that you have to call Grace to actually register the program.  No code comes with it.  I have imported design files, but haven't quite mastered how to set up a pantograph.  I've joined a Facebook group and watched lots of video tutorials.  I think I'm going to sew up a few Quilts for Kids  quilts and then practice the quilting on those before I tackle anything fancier.
In case you're wondering, here are the designs that come preloaded on the software.  The first group of pictures are all block designs.

Check out "Kevin" in the upper right.  When would you use this on a quilt!!!???
 These are the continuous line/pantographs that are preloaded.

 These are the triangle blocks.

These are the border sets.
My husband finished setting up my ironing board.  It's nice not to have to move all my cutting stuff any time I want to press something.
I started and finished quilting the hand-pieced bowtie quilt for a customer.  

I'm enjoying lots of flowers still.  I guess all this rain we've been getting is good for something.

So many milkweeds!

Quilts, the Sewing Room, & Quilting!

Wow, I really didn't think I'd have much to write about this week, but as it turns out, I've quite a bit.  First, I got the binding sewn down on my Sewcial Bee Sampler quilt. I really liked the quilting pattern, Alfalfa, that I used on this one.  I went with a flanged binding.  It finished off around 70" x 70".  I don't have any great pictures of this one yet since I don't have any quilt holders available.  I'm planning to try to sell this quilt.  

Second, we got the design wall made and hung over the weekend.  We used two 4' x 8' sheets of 1" thick foam that we bought at Lowe's.  They are each covered with Warm & White batting.  It took three yards of by-the-yard batting, or a queen size batting, for each.  We taped the batting to the back of each board with ultra-strong tape we found at Menards.  We then affixed the sheets to the wall using Command picture hanging strips.  We used 24 pairs total, which was an entire package from Sam's Club.  So far, so good.  And maybe I should finally make the last few blocks for the quilt on there--it's been hanging out for several years. Alas, the last few blocks all have hand-stitching of some type and that's why it's been in limbo.

We also started working on the top for my ironing surface.  Unfortunately, it is not complete yet and is on top of my current work surface, so no sewing is currently happening.  We are using a butcher block countertop piece that we got on special at Menards on Black Friday.  We are wrapping it with two layers of Warm & White and two layers of silver ironing board fabric from JoAnn.  My husband tried to use his air stapler on this, but it did not work--the row of staples kept blowing out the back of the gun.  Once he switched to the regular staple gun, things moved along a bit.  We will be mounting this on one 4 x 4 Kallax shelving unit from Ikea.  It will have wheels on the bottom as well.
Once this is done, we have a new countertop that matches my other counters to put on top of my work surface.  I'm looking forward to having it all done.

I have a few customer quilts to work on.  The first one is completely hand-pieced.  I haven't tried long arm quilting a hand-pieced quilt before.  The top has all sorts of interesting fabrics.  I am doing all over loopy meandering on this one and would love to have it done by the weekend, or at least before we start working on the long arm.

Here's a super-brief glance at another one.  My friend brought this to me and she's going to let me use the robotics on it once we get it all hooked up. I can't wait!
Speaking of robotics, look what showed up today!  This box is so much bigger and heavier than I expected! And I am super excited!
 Here's what you see when you open the box.
They included a tablet with our purchase.  I might have a bit of a learning curve because I haven't used anything Windows-based in years.  Side note--I was trying to see what designs come pre-installed with the software.  You can download a free demo on the Grace website--as long as you are using Windows.  So, no go for me.  I haven't found anything online that shows the designs yet.  I may need to rectify this soon.  :)  
Under the first layer is the second layer.  It appears to be a big, heavy carriage for the machine, a power strip, and a box of parts. 

In other news, my washing machine is malfunctioning and filling the bleach container with water as the machine fills.  This in turn makes the container overflow and leak all over the floor.  We have a part coming today that will hopefully fix the issue.  

I wanted to share an odd Etsy purchasing experience with you.  I purchased a fabric layer cake from a new shop (Bee and Cloth/Stassi Armstrong/ bshzuhsns/ on April 15.  They marked it shipped on April 18 but did not enter a tracking number.  I waited a few days and nothing arrived, so I contacted the shop to request a tracking number.  They didn't answer.  I waited a week and sent another message.  They answered by saying they had an issue with their post office and reshipped it via UPS and that it should arrive the next day.  I immediately sent them another message requesting the tracking.  No response, no package.  I had to wait until April 30 before Etsy would let me file a dispute.  

Meanwhile, all sorts of negative feedback started showing up, all pretty much with the same story as what was happening to me.  At first the seller was answering the feedback and saying they did provide tracking multiple times and that people had supposedly signed for their packages.  I figured this was a lie. First, the shop was offering free shipping and it's quite costly to add signature services to a package.  Second, you cannot send a package via USPS without having a tracking number--tracking is put on all packages now. Third, if you sign up for Informed Delivery from USPS (free, but not available in all areas), you can see what packages are coming to you the second the sender generates a shipping label.  Guess what, no tracking number was ever generated for me. 

Then I found someone on Instagram warning people against making purchases from the shop (by this point the person had made over 200 sales and continued to make sales even with all the negative feedback).  We compared some notes--she was the first person to leave negative feedback.  I was the 10th or 11th.  She really went after Etsy, and the shop was thankfully shut down on May 5.  I did get my refund, after having to escalate the dispute since the seller never responded (big surprise).  I really hope all the other 200+ people get refunds too.

What I don't really understand is why the person went to such extreme lengths on this scam.  It takes a lot of time to set up Etsy listings, and it costs $.20 per listing.  Then you incur fees when something sells. Theoretically, they would have made a minimum of $7500 in sales, but would they have actually gotten that?  I really just find the whole thing odd and I guess you really need to examine how long a shop has been in business, what is the feedback, etc. before making a purchase.  A precautionary measure might be to send them a convo before purchasing, although they could easily lie if they respond. Maybe see if they have social media too. Also, why did it take Etsy so long to shut them down?  On the plus side, this is the first time in 12 years of buying on Etsy that I've ever had that happen.  I'd like to believe most people are honest.

Well, anyway.  Here are some of the flowers that are blooming in my gardens.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  And if you've made it this far, thanks for hanging in there with me.  I appreciate every single person who takes the time to read my posts.  Say hi in the comments.  I love to hear from readers.  Totally makes my day. :)
Iris Batik
Iris Immortality
Allium--best they've ever looked.
Iris--this is one of a ton that we got for free from a lady that lives near us.  None of them were marked, so it's always interesting to see what blooms each year.  They are quite varied.  If you live near me and want some Iris or some lamb's ear or some milkweed, let me know.  I have a lot to share!

Linking with Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation.