Sunday, April 24

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting - a Book Review

Book cover, for which photo credit goes to Brent Kane & Martingale 

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting is an inspiring and unusual book.  It is co-written by two of Quilting Blogland's most beloved teachers and authors: Christa Watson and Angela Walters.  Their book skyrocketed to the top of the quilting book genre almost immediately upon publication.   Some of this incredible popularity might be because of who they are and their stellar reputations, but the rest of it has to do with the excellence of the book.  I'd like to share with you what makes me love this book. 

Inside cover, for which photo credit goes to Brent Kane & Martingale 

The tagline sums it up perfectly: "Learn When, Where, Why, and How to Finish Your Quilts"   (By the way, that white, wholecloth quilt is Angela's version of "Swirling Butterflies".)

The way the book is divided between Angela and Christa is so interesting. Christa focuses on quilting with your home sewing machine and Angela focuses on quilting with a long arm sewing machine. Every page is information packed and I learned so much while reading it!  They both explain in helpful detail how quilting differs between long arm and domestic sewing machines and they go into the advantages and challenges of each method.  Right from the start, Christa and Angela talk about their favorite tools, marking aids and threads.  Some of these are specific to their types of machines and some of it is transferable from method to method.  

Which brings me to something that took me by surprise:  I had this preconceived notion that I'd mostly be focusing on Christa's domestic sewing machine half of the book as I read.  I'm not a long arm sewing machine quilter, so thought that Angela's sections of the book wouldn't have as much information that I could use.  This was not at all the case!  All of their design ideas and techniques are incredibly helpful and interesting, no matter how you choose to quilt.  

One of my favorite aspects of the book is how Angela and Christa take turns teaching throughout each chapter.  When I got to where they each made their own version of each project I was in Reader Heaven.  They created modern quilts with patterns they designed especially to illustrate their lessons for quilting, so you, the reader, get to see two versions of every quilt!   For every project, each author discussed and showed how they decided what to quilt on the quilt.  Then they went about teaching the reader how to achieve these results.  It was very exciting to see how differently Angela and Christa approached each quilt pattern.  

Here's a photo of the opening pages for the "Directionally Challenged" project (a favorite!) to give you a glimpse of how the authors switch back and forth:

Chapter opening for "Directionally Challenged", for which photo credit goes to Brent Kane & Martingale

I think The Ultimate Guide for Machine Quilting is a "must have" book for anyone interested in learning how to quilt their own quilts or improve their quilting skills.  If you practice and master a few of the designs in this book and try a project or two, you will find that you have a really great go-to repertoire at your fingertips!   

After taking Christina Cameli's Wild Quilting class on Craftsy and now reading The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting, I'm more excited than ever to practice my machine quilting!  

My only "problem" with the book is that my bucket list just got longer.  I think my favorite project in the book, which is the whole cloth quilt you saw above, called "Swirling Butterflies" might be something I'd like to try.  This weekend got a little out of hand, so I only have just this one butterfly to show you. I traced the butterfly onto the fabric and then tried quilting it on my trusty Singer 301, because I needed to follow the lines.  I have better control over my speed on that sewing machine.

One little "Swirling Butterfly" - waiting for some background quilting

I love how Christa's butterfly design has a Davinci-esque flying machine look to it!  :)  Just that pattern alone made me thrilled to have bought the book. 

I highly recommend The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting!  You can purchase your own copy of the book, signed by both authors, at either Christa's or Angela's blog shops.  I did!  (These are not affiliate links.  I just loved the book.)


Two last things to share:

My own book Crafted Appliqué... New Possibilities has been doing really well in the Amazon sales rankings too.  I peeked at the numbers on Sunday and the book had reached #62 in the Quilts and Quilting category and was #48 in Needlework!  I know that is due to all of you who have purchased books and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your interest!  Thank you, too, to those of you who have left such wonderful feedback for Crafted Appliqué on Amazon!  It means so much to me!

The Crafted Appliqué Blog Hop will begin on Monday, May 2nd!   I hope you will stop by often, because throughout the month of May (and a little into June) there'll be a whole lineup of terrific bloggers sharing their reviews of Crafted Appliqué and showing off amazing appliqué projects.  Plus...we'll be giving away a lot of really fun prizes too!

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Monday, April 18

Wild Quilting Review

When Christina Cameli, of A Few Scraps, first announced that she had just filmed her third class with Craftsy, I was so excited!  I had gotten a glimpse of the free spirited, improvisational direction she was taking lately with her quilting and so hoped that was what her class was going to be about. Much to my delight, it was! 

The class is called "Wild Quilting" and it is a joy to take!  In Wild Quilting, Christina teaches you how to get creative with free-motion quilting and how to quilt in a freer, more organic way.  You don't have to be an experienced quilter to benefit from the class.  Christina takes what look like the most complicated designs and breaks them down into very doable steps. 

Christina in the Craftsy Studio - courtesy of Christina Cameli

Take it from me: I was the biggest free-motion quilting scaredy cat before Christina came along.  Her free-motion quilting lessons, through her books and classes, have made me so much more confident!  Christina has a gift for teaching quilting in a very encouraging and easygoing way.  She fills you with a "Can do!" spirit!

I loved all of Christina's Craftsy classes, but most especially Wild Quilting!  It's my favorite Craftsy class yet.  She does such a great job communicating and showing us how to put together what look like incredibly complex designs, by building on skills and knowledge step-by-step.  My husband Jim even came in and sat and watched part of the class.  He thought is was really cool!

A sample of Christina's Wild Quilting - courtesy of Christina Cameli

It seems so much more natural and fun to quilt this way.  By learning how to divide and conquer a space, quilting becomes less intimidating and much more manageable.  The only problem I had is that it got so exciting at times that I had a hard time sitting still and learning, because I wanted to jump up and go give it a try.  But that is part of the beauty of taking a Craftsy class.  You can hit "pause" and go try out what you just learned and then come back and watch anything you want all over again.   

When I was a student I used to cover my folders in designs like this, so I hoped to be able to do that with a sewing machine and fabric instead.  Thanks to Christina, I now can do that! 

Usually I free-motion quilt with one my vintage Singer sewing machines, but this time I was determined to learn to do it with my modern Janome.  I'm going to show you the down and dirty practice piece I did first, to get myself used to the machine and the flow of movement and designs.  When I am practicing, I don't much care what it looks like.  To save on fabric and from having to make more practice quilt sandwiches, I usually do the first layer of practice stitching in dark thread.  Then when I want more practice, I re-use the same sandwich and use light colored thread right over what I did before.  Okay, brace yourselves, 'cause this ain't pretty:

My first Wild Quilting practice sandwich - Messy, but fun!

From there, I started getting more serious with my practice pieces.  I try to set those up so that I might actually use them to make something when I'm done.  I wanted to try a layered design with Charles Rennie Mackintosh style roses:

Charles Rennie Mackintosh style rose design Wild Quilting

It looks a bit too structured and that is probably because I drew the roses on with chalk first.  (Which is perfectly fine to do.)  One thing that Christina teaches, which I should have done around the leaves, is to echo quilt around your design to give it more emphasis before filling in the background.  My rose practice piece isn't perfect: my designs are wobbly and my stitches are not nearly all a uniform length, but I like it a lot!  I think I might make this panel into a small zippered case, by folding it down the middle, with roses on each side of the case.  

Next I wanted to try layering designs again, combined with what Christina calls a "showboat" motif.  Since I have an ocean themed quilt in the works, I thought it would be a good idea to practice with ocean themed motifs:

Ocean scene Wild Quilting

This piece was a lot of fun to create.  Again, you can see that it isn't perfect, but I like it a lot anyway.  After taking Wild Quilting, I'm a braver and more confident free-motion quilter.  Wow - I just wrote that I'm a free-motion quilter, which is the first time I've ever thought of myself like that.  It's pretty exciting to realize that and to think I can handle quilting some fancier designs now!  

Christina teaches so many important skills in Wild Quilting.  Some of the things you will learn are:
  • How to create stitching combinations that fill the space organically.
  • How to sew a travel stitch to take you where you want to go next.
  • How to echo stitch your designs to give them greater impact.
  • How to vary the density of your quilting to make the various parts of the design stand out.
  • How to divide a space and fill it with motifs.
  • How to handle awkward spaces.
  • How to combine motifs in clusters and choose motifs that compliment each other.
  • How to choose the right scale.
  • How to create focal points, or "showboats".
  • How to create layered designs.
  • Tips for creating your own unique quilting motif "recipes".

If you would like to know more about all of Christina Cameli's Craftsy classes on Free Motion Quilting, here they are:

Free Motion Quilting Essentials

The Secrets of Free Motion Quilting 

Wild Quilting

I highly recommend every one of them!  

Now I should also say that, even though I am sort of a Craftsy affiliate, I have backed off of doing it for now.  I'm reviewing this class purely because I love Christina Cameli.  Therefore, none of the links I've provided are affiliate links.  If you do think you'd like to take "Wild Quilting" it would be really nice if you find one of your other blogging friends who is an active affiliate and click on one of their links and then enroll in Wild Quilting.  That way they can earn a small commision.  You will be so glad you did!

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Tuesday, April 5

Book Release News! Mr. Sunshine, Wandering Camera & One Monthly Goal too!

April Fool's Day turned out to be fun in more ways than one.  I got my husband Jim with a Really Sneaky Prank. This doesn't even begin to catch up for all the times he has scared the wits out of me.  Which, by the way, is not very hard to do when someone is as hard of hearing as I am.  I can't hear him coming and have been trying to train him to walk like an elephant, to no avail LOL.  The kids were texting back and forth all day wondering if he fallen for the prank yet.  It didn't happen until 1:30 in the morning and then his tiredness made it all the more effective.   

Then Judy, who blogs at Quilt Paradigm let me know that April 1st was also the day my book, Crafted Appliqué was made available for purchase on the American Quilter's Society website.  Besides how funny that struck me, it is also cause for celebration!  I can hardly believe that I'll get to see it in print soon!  I began this book writing journey almost three years ago and it hardly seems like it could be real.  I hope you all will stay tuned for the Crafted Appliqué Blog Tour, which begins in May!  There will be lots of great posts and book giveaways from many of your favorite bloggers!

If any of you would like to purchase a signed copy directly from The Author (that would be moi)  I have set up a Big Cartel shop just for that purpose.  Crafted Appliqué is on sale now and available for pre-order.  You can purchase it by clicking on the book photo on the top left sidebar or this one below.  Thank you to all of you for the support and interest you have shown so steadily over the last ... oh... almost two years!

Crafted Appliqué ... New Possibilities


"Mr. Sunshine" - Blood Cancer Research Fundraiser

I'd like to share a really fun mini quilt project with you, which Amy DeCesare (Amy Made That) designed to support her very good friend Dan who has leukemia.  Dan is fighting back with a fundraising drive for blood cancer research, run by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Man and Woman of the Year Campaign  

Amy designed "Mr. Sunshine" in Dan's honor and is donating all the proceeds from the sale of the pattern to his campaign.  It's only $3 on Craftsy - a great bargain for a really good cause!  

I love Amy's "Mr. Sunshine"  pattern.  She is an excellent teacher and her patterns are always a joy to work with.  I learned a new way to sew Dresden blades with this one.  It's fun to try out new techniques on something small and it's also great when you need the instant gratification of a quick project.  For my "Mr. Sunshine", Alison Glass Sun Print fabrics seemed very appropriate.  I love the way Amy edged her mini quilt with ric-rac, but chose plain black binding for these modern fabrics.  

Mr. Sunshine - pattern on Craftsy to support Leukemia and Lymphoma research

One Monthly Goal

Heidi runs the One Monthly Goal linky party at Red Letter Quilts and has lined up some really fun prizes and sponsors for those who link up at the beginning and end of each month.  There are still two days left to link up if you would like to set a goal and share your plans with everyone.  I don't know how well I'll be able to meet my goal, but here it is:

I'm hoping to take these beautiful, hand dyed batiks and make an ocean themed improv mini quilt.  I'll probably only get as far as sewing the quilt top, but am aiming toward making a gift for the midwife who delivered our granddaughter Eden.  Cathi went way above and beyond the call of duty, treating Kait like her own daughter.  She loves everything having to do with the ocean, so I think a mini quilt like that would be a great surprise for her.  

Fabric pull for an ocean themed improv quilt.


Wandering Camera

Thursday is Soma's monthly linky party for Wandering Camera at Whims and Fancies.  It's a great chance to learn more about photography from Soma and practice getting great shots with your camera.  It's also a really fun linky party to hop around because you learn a lot from everyone there, while getting to enjoy beautiful pictures at the same time.   

This last month I didn't get a lot of camera play in.  But I do have a wonderful shot I took of our dog Pip.  I used a fixed zoom lens, which gives the really neat effect of sharpening the focus on your subject, while blurring the background.  Pip's the funniest and klutziest little pup.  We adopted her six years ago after she was confiscated from a puppy mill so terrible that the Humane Society shut it down.  I always say "Who rescued who?"  Pip lightens our hearts and makes us laugh every day:

Pip looking noble - a rare sight

There are always so many wonderful things to share, that my posts can get a bit long.  Thanks for sticking with it through to the end!  

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