Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lars and Megan's wedding

We are off to our son's wedding in Scranton PA.
Lars and Megan will be married on Saturday February 28, 2009.
Send them a happy thought and a silent good luck.

Deckle Leaves


This is one of the quilts that I made for the QA TV show. It is called Deckle Leaves. I have used the Deckle decorative blade from Fiskars to cut out the leaf shapes from "wicked" fabric and placed on a violet background surrounded by a mottled "Frieda" green border. It has a pillow case finish and is mounted on 1/4" clear plexiglass. I have used velcro dots to attach it to the plexiglass.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quilting Arts TV

Yesterday Laura Wasilowski and I were outside Cleveland OH, filming for the upcoming season of Quilting Arts TV. We had a great time with Pokey and the crew making fun and informitive segments for the quilters of all levels to enjoy.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Keeping your machine clean

No matter the size of the quilt the way I hold the "sandwich" is the same. You want to use your left hand to hold all the scrunched up fabric and guide it where you want it to go, and use your right hand to keep the area flat and smooth. I recently lectured at the Ottawa IL guild and was asked a very familiar question -"How do you get your stitches so even?" There is a very simple answer and you all know the answer to it - PRACTICE! The more you do something the better you get at it and the more you understand how something works best for you. So get in there and practice. I keep a stack of quilt sandwichs next to my machine and before I start in quilting on anything I do a practice warm up.
I also test out my thread and design to make sure that is what I want to put on that quilt surface. And I always try to start with a new needle on every new project.
I also make sure that I clean out my bobbin area. Even if you are using polyester thread you are still using cotton fabric and batting and alot of lint builds up in a quick amount of time inside the bobbin area. So I take off the throat plate and clean out the bobbin area with every new project as well. And on a very big project I clean the bobbin area in the middle of the project.
Remember our sewing machines are the tools we use and a good clean machine is going to work better than a beat up dirty one.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Packaging your large quilt

Now that you have the quilt all pinned and ready to quilt, it is important to "package" it correctly so you can fit it in your sewing machine. The first thing I do is roll it on two sides to make it smaller.
Then I roll it into an even smaller "package to start quilting.
I work from the center out to the edges, stitching in the ditch any elements that will help stabilize the whole sandwich.
It is very important to have a large work surface to support all of the quilt while you are working on it.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Basting a large quilt

I was at my PAQA (Professional Art Quilters Alliance)meeting last week and a discussion came up about basting a large quilt. So I thought I would share with you guys how I do it.

First thing I do is set up two or three large plastic molded tables that I have, you can get these at Home Depot or Menards, I have lots of them and use them for all sorts of stuff. I put these in my living room, because is is light and warm and easy to do it here, rather than a dark or dank garage or basement.
Then I roll out my batting and let it rest. I also iron it flat on top of the two or three tables that are pushed together. I like to iron it so it gets all the wrinkles out of the batting.

Next I iron out my backing fabric. I use a spray sizing when I am ironing it so that the back of the batting is kinda slick and slides around easier on my surface when I am quilting.

After the batting and backing have been ironed I tape the backing to the top of the tables. I use packing tape to do this so it holds firm to the tables. I stretch the backing fabric so it is nice and smooth. Then I place the batting on top of the backing and smooth it out.

Finally I place the quilt top on the batting and iron it smooth from the center out to the edges.

I use 1.5 size safety pins to pin it every 4-5 inches across the whole top. I start in the center and work my self out to the edges. I pin a large X across the center and then go back and fill in each quarter from the center out.

Once it is all pinned I cut the sandwich off of the table leaving a good 2-3 inches all around the edges. Then I take my sandwich to a comfortable chair and sit in front of the TV and while I am watching some thing interesting on TV I close all the pins. I am always looking for things to do in front of the TV so that I don't feel like I am wasting time watching the tube.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day


Warm Hearts
Over the course of my quilting career I have made many heart pieces. As I've mentioned before I love the heart shape and was attracted to it early as a teenager. All of these pieces are pieced rather than fused. Sometimes it is just nice to sit and piece a quilt. Piecing gives the surface of the quilt such a different appearance.
Red Hot Lovers
Hearts in a square

Emily's Heart
Love and kisses to all of you out there!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Machine Quilting

My sewing table set up. The table is from Tracey's Tables in Wisconsin. He will deliver anywhere in the US.

Single hole throat plate.
I machine quilt all my pieces on a domestic home sewing machine, I don't have a long arm quilting machine, I don't have any place to put one. So everything I do is on my 6600 Janome, which I LOVE.
I have found that it helps with machine quilting as well as with piecing to have a single hole throat plate on my machine instead of the double whole throat plate that comes standard on all zigzag type machines. The single hole keeps the fabric on the surface of the sole plate better than a double hole plate does. So if you have the option of buying one for your brand machine I recommend doing so.
Double hole throat plate.
I also advise getting an adjustable padding chair to work in. This is the one I have right now. I recommend finding one without arms if possible. It is better on your circulation and back to have a comfortable chair. Ideally you should be sitting up high and looking down on your work while you are machine quilting. It saves stress on your back, shoulders and arms if you can rest your arms on your sewing surface and not strain your body in anyway while you are working.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

February is the month of LOVE


I grew up loving hearts. When I was a young teenager I used to embroider hearts all over everything. I still collect them and have them all over the house the month of February. Some say they are the universal image of the female form from the waist to our curvy bottoms.

This month with every order from my website over $20 I will include directions on how to make the hearts above as well as free form pieced hearts below. It's a twofer for the twofer month.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009


We all have obsessions. My husband's is stoneware, specifically Illinois advertising 10 lb butter crocks. You say to yourself, oh there can't be that much, but you would be wrong. Right now we are in Iowa at a Red Wing convention. This is a national group that meets twice a year where people buy and sell stoneware ie; "crocks" made by a company in Minnesota called Red Wing. A very famous company. You all probably have something or had something made from this company, they produced dinnerware as well.
This is just a small sampling of the stoneware that we have in our house. Just like my quilting and fabric it sneaks into every room of the house. There are small and large crocks everywhere. Every time I turn around one appears somewhere there wasn't one before.
I don't mind, just like he doesn't mind about my fabric and quilting. We all have obsessions. Today after breakfast we will go from room to room here at the hotel looking at stoneware people have for sale, hoping to find that one thing that eludes his collection. Then on the drive back to Illinois we will stop at every antique mall we pass and some that are alittle out of the way to look for more. I will also get to look for hankies. We all have our obsessions.
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Matching bobbin thread

One of the things I find really helpful in my machine quilting, is to match the bobbin thread color to the thread color I am using in the needle. This means I have 100's of thread colors, both in top color and bobbin weight thread. As I mentioned before I like to use a heavier weight top thread when quilting, I figure if I am going to do all that work I want to be able to see the quilting. So the rayon #30 weight thread is my favorite, I also particularly like the bright shiny colors. This means I have to also have an assortment of bottom weight thread. I like to use a #50 0r #60 weight thread in the bobbin. This does two things, one it helps keep the bobbin thread on the back of the quilt, because it is lighter weight and so less likely to come through to the top of the quilt, and two by matching the color of the treads, if there are any thread tension issues, the color will not show on the front. but rather blend with the top color.

I like cotton thread for my bobbin the best, but I also use Bottom Line, which is a polyester thread by Superior. It is soft and comes in lots of colors.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I have a favor to ask

Isn't this a happy and cheerful little abstract. I thought it might brighten your day here in the middle of a very cold winter. I made it several years ago and it sold right away. But I like the colors and the composition.

I have a favor to ask any one who stops by the blog. I received this comment from a customer.

HOWEVER, for every listing and hit that comes up on google with your company name with friestyle as the search name, we get the following warning from google: This site may harm your computer. We can not access your website at all from the google links. It is blocked from here by google.
Perhaps you may want to look at the issue as I am quite certain that it is costing you business and is clearly hurting your reputation

When I google myself it all comes up just fine, and I can access my website from the links that appear. My favor is the following, will you please google my business name FRIESTYLE and see if you get a similiar warning and then please let me know. I would greatly appreciate it.
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Needles and Thread

I am getting ready to go out on the road for the spring season. I will be teaching alot of classes on machine quilting. I am still so amazed at how little quilters understand the relationship between the needles in their sewing machines and the quality of work that they produce. One of the key ingredients to being successful with machine quilting is using the right needle for the right thread. I have taken a picture of some of the different needles I use depending on the kind of thread I am working with.
On the left are cotton #30 and #40 weight threads. When I use a cotton thread I always use a quilting needle.
In the middle are Superior Polyester Thread and YLI silk. I use Sharp or Microtex needles when I am using either of these threads, and I adjust the size of the needle to the size of the thread. So if the polyester is a #40 I use an 80 0r 90 size needle. With the silk it is a much thinner weight thread #50# or #100 and I use a smaller needle. That only makes common sense. The last thread on the left is my favorite thread, a #30 weight Rayon thread. I sell this on my website , in the notions section. When I use rayon I use an embroidery needle. All of the needles I have mentioned are sharps, they have a very sharp shaft for puncturing through multiple layers. This makes my machine quilting so much better, and I don't have any issues with my threads breaking or fraying because I am using the correct needle with the kind of thread I am quilting with.
I get a great newsletter about thread from Superior Threads and now they have a new blog, I hope you check it out.
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