Archives for June 2015

Quick Advice

Hi Quilters,

I am at a teaching engagement in the beautiful city of La Crosse WI. along the Mississippi River. Since I want to give my full attention to my students, this post will include a quick tip and an assignment for you.

aRobert_7-4-11-IMG_6131

Get your book out!

I always include the owner’s manual on the supply list for each class machine quilting I teach. When students have a question about a setting for machine quilting on their specific machine, rather than just showing them how to make the adjustment, I direct them to find the answers in their book so they learn how to find them after class. This is a good habit to continue for the rest of their lives.

If you haven’t read it lately, get out your owner’s manual and read all of the information about machine quilting.  This should help you increase expectations for  your work. Expect more from yourself each time you sew and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing your best effort. 

Your Assignment

I have been writing this blog for 2 months now. Take a few minutes to go back and review the past posts. There are many helpful ideas and tips that you might have missed. Remember, when you learn one new concept, a light will go off allowing you to learn another, then another.

I will have a full blog post for you next week with more helpful advice, please share it with others.

madison, WII hope you are making plans to visit Madison, WI for Quilt Expo this Sept 10 – 12. There will be quilts and vendors from around the world. I have been invited to display my quilts in a Special Exhibit. I am extending my personal invitation for you to come and see all of my refined free-motion artwork from the past 15 years, talk about the quilts and ask any questions.

 

What Machine do you use? Part 1

Question: What machine do you use?

Answer: Its not what machine but Why do I quilt on a regular size domestic machine?

Today I am beginning to answer the question that I am asked more than any other when viewers are looking at my quilts at guilds or shows; “What machine do you use?”  I am so happy to have this opportunity to address this topic at length that I have planned at least three blog posts in the upcoming weeks.  

Sweet Dreams by Joanie Zeier Poole, 2005

Fais de beaux reves! or Sweet Dreams by Joanie Zeier Poole, 2005

Often viewers assume that a large quilt can only be quilted on a large longarm machine. I have solved the issues related to the size and weight of the quilt bundle when working on a smaller machine and will write about that in a later post. Today I will focus on why I use a regular machine not a longarm and why that has been the best choice for me. As you read it will become apparent that I surely hold no ill will for people who quilt on a longarm or for those who hire a longarm quilter to complete their quilts. There is plenty of room in the industry for both choices. What follows are the reasons I choose to use a regular size domestic machine.

Herstory:

In 2000, I had the good fortune of taking three days of machine quilting classes from master quilter, Diane Gaudynski. Because of that experience I made changes to my life that have lead to the career that I built around this knowledge. (READ ABOUT JOANIE) In those 3 uninterrupted days, I learned the basic operation for straight-line and free-motion quilting. (I feel so strongly that the three day format was  so instrumental to “getting it” that I offer my own 3-day comprehensive Seminar)

Joanie Zeier Poole with hteacher, Diane Gaudynski

Diane Gaudynski with Joanie Zeier Poole, 2006

My motivation for learning refined-free-motion quilting and dedicating my creativity to it has always been about stitching beautiful, elegant quilting designs. My goal was never to finish a stack of patchwork tops. Don’t get me wrong, that is a fantastic goal, it just was not my goal. Even as a hand quilter I was drawing my own quilting designs. The problem was I liked such an elaborate, sophisticated style that took too much time to quilt by hand. With machine quilting I can produce much more in much less time.

I have spent the past 15 years experimenting and perfecting techniques for all aspects of machine quilting; preparing the bundle, basting, machine set-up and practicing machine skills  (all topics for future blog posts). I have trained my brain to be thinking of how to navigate the design as I draw then to be stitches easily, with as few starts and stops possible. All of my creative energy (I have a lot of that!) has focused on drawing quilting designs collections to fill all areas of your quilts with coordinating motifs and developing really imaginative patterns to teach specific techniques for my classes. I hope that you will take the time to read the descriptions of the patterns of the techniques I teach (available for you to download).

Lea design

But lets get back on topic, what you want to know about why I have chosen to use a domestic machine and how you can learn to be successful using one too.

Accessibility to the entire top.

I can plan quilting designs that are any size I want, place them anywhere I want and travel anywhere on the quilt top that I desire without limitations. If I was using a machine with the quilt rolled on a frame, only a portion of the quilt is exposed so the work area is limited to working from side to side. I enjoy the freedom to access the entire top at anytime and planning a quilting layout that is not restricted to a specific strip of space.

Extending my capability using a machine I already own

I own several machines that all are used for machine quilting. For the first 8 years I machine quilted on machines built in the 1960’s when machine quilting was not considered a priority when designing the performance of a machine. However, these machines have strong, steady motors with adjustable speed that performs equally well when I choose to stitch slowly for the intricate designs or stitch at high speeds on the open road.

These older machines have all of the adjustments I need for refined machine quilting. I can use the small needles and thread needed to make tiny stitches and still maintain beautiful tension because the bobbin rotation is calibrated to form perfect stitches as small as .05mm in length.

These machine have the capability to have the tension adjusted to run very lightweight thread. There may be manual adjustments for both top and bobbin thread which BOTH need to be adjusted when using differing weights of thread. Note: one of my newer computerized machines has a broken top thread sensor that needed to be disengaged because it was constantly alerting me and interrupting the stitching when I used lightweight thread. I needed to go into the computer (in the tools menu) to turn it off.

Dedicated Space in my house

I do not need to dedicate a huge room of my house for a large machine. My machine and I can fit just about anywhere. I can sit in the house with my family, or in a sunny window on the porch and stitch to my hearts content as long as I have a large table. If the goal is to stitch the layers together to make a quilt, a longarmer still needs to dedicate additional space for the piecing on regular machine,  I can do both operations in one space.

Do you move your machine around your house? There are times it is great to have the solitude of a quiet bedroom. But when I have a long term project, I like to be right in the family room with my Netflix and surround sound.

Cost of the machine and related expenditures

This is not judgement, just comparison. If the goal is to stitch pieced tops into quilts, that can be accomplished with both longarm and domestic machines. Even though I make my living in the quilting industry and have the justification that may expenditures relate directly, I am uncomfortable at the investment of a longarm and the numerous related expenses.  When you add up the machine, the computer, the room addition to have space for it, and a myriad of wonderfully designed sundries, Holy Smoly! Personally, for me, I cannot justify the expense when I can I produce the same results on equipment I already own.

I will mention what I think is the big advantage to a longarm is that with the rolling system basting is not necessary as it is when using a domestic. That was another challenge I had to learn to control, (see later post or attend a lecture on basting for success).

Well, that is it for now. I will probably think of other reasons I like to use my domestic, but I have to get back to quilting. I am working on a new quilt with Pam. It is the fourth collaboration and  I will be posting in-progress photos on my Facebook Page.

Up Next Week: Become a partner with you machine.

sidebar-linePlease share this post with your quilting friends and guild.

Dashed-line-99CC99Read more About Joanie, her Career Highlights, or print Joanie’s Short Bio.
Can’t wait for a blog post of all of this advice? Explore helpful info already on the website: Glossary of Frequently used Machine Quilting Terms, How to Prepare for a Class, Quick Start Guide to Marking and Resizing Quilting Designs, Printable Charts for Quilting Facts, The Tips Page, and announcements of  Upcoming Events.

Dashed-line-99CC99Never miss an issue of this free e-zine, Joanie’s Life Changing Machine Quilting Lessons. Just watch for reminders from Joanie on her Facebook page or to receive a reminder sent to your inbox, use the sign-up form at the top of the sidebar on this page. 

The information, illustrations and photographs on this blog copyright Joanie Zeier Poole unless otherwise noted. No reproduction in any form is permitted without permission. All rights reserved. Please ask permission for using any content and give credit when sharing what you have learned. Heirloom Quilting Designs was founded by Joanie Zeier Poole in 2000, a new millennium with a new dream for the future!

 

Joanie Answers Machine Quilting FAQs

Where do these FAQs and Answers come from?

This article introduces a new series of blog posts discussing the questions I am asked most frequently about machine quilting. It is written for all of the wonderful quilters who have approached me when standing with my quilts at quilt shows. Thanks to all of you for the interaction. Sharing my quilts with you in person is so gratifying and is the part of this entire quilting experience I love almost the most, maybe topped only by having you in the classroom teaching the skill I love. Now that I am reaching out to you with this blog, I finally have a good chance to answer your questions in depth.

I hear the same questions asked time and time again, often by people who have little knowledge of machine quilting who are making the same assumptions that we all make before we really learn about the skill. I will answer these questions and redirect you to the more important information that you actually need to know to become successful at machine quilting.

The answers I will share over this series of blog posts are what I have learned and why I do what I do. This is the same insight you would have gained if it was your job to think of little else for the past 15 years. These are solutions for many aspects of machine quilting because I use the information for so may purposes.

  • As a quilter I need to elevate my skill to a level that my work is accepted into competition at major quilt shows and passes the scrutiny of the judges to earn awards
  • As an author I have to verbalize my methods into written words.
  • As a teacher I create projects that guide students step-by-step through each concept of this process.
  • As a designer I draw collections of quilting motifs to stitch in a logical order with continuous lines.
  • As an illustrator and photo stylist I translate my training messages into educational images. 

What follows is a typical conversation I have had hundreds of times as I talk to crowds of quilters. Many of the questions I am asked are repeated with each new group of viewers. My intention is to answer each of these questions in a series of posts. I will choose a topic each week and offer my insight. Please invite your quilting friends, shops and guilds to join in by signing up for the blog, this should be FUN!To Have and To Hold by Joanie Zeier Poole

Picture yourself in this setting: a large national quilt show with literally a thousand gorgeous quilts to admire. I stand to the side of my quilt as a group approaches. There are smiles on all of their faces as they stare at all of the entries in my row until they get to my quilt. Someone gasps and says:

“Oh girls, look at this one!

I smile and indicate that I am the maker. Is this yours? As the group moves in for a closer look. Someone asks, Did you quilt it yourself?”

The artist in me is silent. (The images and textures that I have quilted are as important to the design of the quilt as whether I would use patchwork or appliqué. I cannot imagine relinquishing the joy and satisfaction I gain from developing that portion of my layout). As I stand there I am thinking “How could anyone else know what designs would complete my artwork?” But I reply

“Yes, I quilted it on my home sewing machine.”

Then they ask, “What machine do you use?”  I answer:

“This work can be done on most machines, it is the driver’s skill that is more important than the machine.”  

Then someone insists, “Yes, but what machine do YOU use?”

When I admit that until recently all of my quilts were constructed and quilted on 45-year old machines, I hear several disappointed groans. After a moment they begin to understand that I am not going to reveal the manufacturer of a specific machine.  Some are wishing they could use the excuse that if they don’t have my machine they cannot do what I do. Others think that if they buy the same machine it will do the work for them.

Someone else was too distracted to hear the last answer so her thoughts go back to when I said that I quilted it on my home machine and she asks for clarification of the term “Home”, is that a brand name of a longarm machine?”

“No” I answer. “I use a regular size domestic machine.”

Smiles turn to suspicious frowns, the unspoken comment reflects back at me on their faces, they are all thinking: “You mean we are supposed to believe you quilted that big quilt on a home sewing machine?”

This is where the line is drawn in the sand. Skeptics take a step toward the quilt, peering in for a closer examination before THEY will be taken in by this improbability, not in front of their quilt guild homies.

How could she get that big thing under the arm of a regular machine?

The viewers who send their tops out to be quilted, who quilt by hand or those who quilt only small pieces, quietly walk away satisfied that for their life, those solutions are good enough for their needs.

Is THIS free-motion quilting? Someone will ask in an unbelieving voice. “I can’t believe it, it is so perfect. How could anyone stitch so perfectly with free-motion quilting?”

Others who have never experienced the freedom that free-motion quilting allows may assume the process is much harder than it really is, they meander on to the next quilt, but always with a glance back to see that big quilt that someone said was possible to quilt on a regular machine.

How do you get such tiny stitches?”

machine quiltingAnd as the crowd clears, I am typically left to chat with two groups; the longarmers who quilt large quilts everyday on huge machines and domestic quilters with genuine interest in knowing how to complete their own quilts on a machine they already own.  They stay to delve into the important questions, those that require solutions that unlock the freedom of free-motion quilting. They are standing in front of the proof that with proper preparation for this new adventure, thy will be armed with information needed to be successful.

When I tell people that I will teach them, some ask where and when, and say “Sign me up!” But the comment that saddens me to my core is “I could never do this”, I tell them that if they really want to learn this,  come to class and let me help you try.

I get that that my quilts look intimidating, they have to be designed and constructed to the highest quality in order to be on display in these venues. But it is difficult for me to know that that discourages some viewers. Please believe me when I ask you to consider that machine quilting is a skill you can learn and it is not dependent on being great at accurately piecing a billion flying geese.

I have heard “I tried it once and didn’t get it.” Just because you tried it in one afternoon don’t convince yourself you will never do it. I surely didn’t achieve this level the first day. Or “I need to practice for five years before I come to class.”  What are you going to practice for five years? Why don’t you open your mind to the possibility that YOU can learn; just imagine the satisfaction you could have if you just approached this with a positive attitude, that you will learn all you can and if you encounter a problem you will find a solution.  and if you took the class and then practiced for five years you might be standing along side me in the next quilt show.

Here are the FAQ topics we will cover!

  • What machine  do you use? Why I don’t reveal the manufacturer of a specific machine.
  • The discoveries made when a 5’2″ gal yearned to complete large quilts on a regular size machine, some of these are quite different from what others teach.
  • How could I get that big thing under the arm of a regular machine?
  • Why you should not wait for 5 years of practice before you come to class.
  • How could anyone stitch so perfectly with free-motion quilting?
  • What I stitch first, last and why this helps you handle a big quilt bundle
  • My concept of navigating an individual design: developed as I created the quilting design collections so that you don’t have to struggle to find designs that are easy to stitch.

When you read all this, you will discover that machine quilting may just be much simpler than you expect!

Bookcover and Framed Heart patterns from Elegant Machine Quilting by Joanie Zeier Poole

Book cover and Framed Heart patterns from Elegant Machine Quilting by Joanie Zeier Poole

sidebar-linePlease share this post with your quilting friends and guild.

Read more About Joanie, her Career Highlights, or print Joanie’s Short Bio.
Can’t wait for a blog post of all of this advice? Explore helpful info already on the website: Glossary of Frequently used Machine Quilting Terms, How to Prepare for a Class, Quick Start Guide to Marking and Resizing Quilting Designs, Printable Charts for Quilting Facts, The Tips Page, and announcements of  Upcoming Events.

Dashed-line-99CC99Never miss an issue of this free e-zine, Joanie’s Life Changing Machine Quilting Lessons. Just watch for reminders from Joanie on her Facebook page or to receive a reminder sent to your inbox, use the sign-up form at the top of the sidebar on this page. 

The information, illustrations and photographs on this blog copyright Joanie Zeier Poole unless otherwise noted. No reproduction in any form is permitted without permission. All rights reserved. Please ask permission for using any content and give credit when sharing what you have learned. Heirloom Quilting Designs was founded by Joanie Zeier Poole in 2000, a new millennium with a new dream for the future!

 

Joanie’s Favorite Machine Quilting Technique

Heirloom Machine Quilting

Heirloom Machine Quilting or as I call it Refined Free-motion Quilting

used in my chosen style – Elegant and Sophisticated.

I did not feel that I should move on from the lessons on the techniques and styles of machine quilting without sharing what I have learned about the quilting style that is so recognizable in my work. Here is an introduction to”refined free-motion quilting” so that you can do this too if you want the “look” for some or all of your quits.

The what I do is to use a regular sewing machine set up for the free-motion technique

but I refine my focus and supplies to achieve the why I do it,

to give my quilts an elegant and sophisticated style.

Detail images:

What is Heirloom Machine Quilting?

First, the name was coined by Harriet Hargrave who pioneered the use of home sewing machine for replicating the look of hand quilting of antique quilts. This technique is based on the look of the heirloom quilts of the past, yet differs significantly because most of those beautiful older sisters were quilted entirely by hand. Combining lightweight thread, a tiny needle and a bit of practice with the  free-motion technique increases your ability to easily stitch advanced designs.

I like to call the use of this technique refined free-motion quilting because the scale of the work is reduced. With the machine set up for free-motion quilting (with the feed dogs lowered and a darning foot installed on the machine) this technique can produce a decorative, deeply sculptured quilt surface.
•   With Heirloom Machine Quilting, decorative quilting motifs are drawn on the quilt top.
•   The lines are followed with a row of stitching using very lightweight thread.
•   The background area around the motif is often filled in with patterns that include grids, echo, and stippling.
•   This dense stitching flattens the background space, allowing the motifs to stand out. 

Great intricacy and impressive designs can be achieved in a fraction of the time that it would take to quilt the same piece by hand.

Miniature  with bobbin

This miniature quilt, Miniature Elegance, was a finalist in the 2015 American Quilters Society Show in Paducah. It measures 14″ wide by 17″ tall. It is a replica of a full size quilt in a miniature size.

 

Mini Elegance_2_Close Copy

Here is a close up of the quilting motifs, the string of beads border pattern and grid which is just less than a 1/4″. Extremely tiny stippling flattens the background allowing the motifs to stand out. 

 

mini with bobbin

This is a shot of a practice quilt I made to audition the elements I thought I wanted to use for my quilt, Miniature Elegance. A bobbin is shown in the photo to put the scale of this work in perspective. The outlines of the motifs that I used for the final quilt were drawn slightly farther apart, allowing a bit more puff which helps them stand out from the background.

I know that for some of you, this is not your style, you may feel intimidated by my work, or you might just be happier with much simpler results.  Please stay with me here on my blog, the machine quilting lessons and advice I give can be applied to any project, using much simpler design choices and can be adapted for heavier threads used for more utilitarian quilts. If you like my style, it is just a matter of learning the right stuff, the appropriate supplies and technique.

The fabric I chose for Miniature Elegance is Radiance by Robert Kaufman. It is 45% silk and 55% cotton. I created an original pattern on paper, centered the fabric over the design and marked it with a water soluble blue quilting marker. I used a manufactured embroidered ribbon as the outer border which is quilted around the motifs. The piece is quilted with 100 weight silk thread and I used a size 70 Microtex (sharp) needle.

A few Design suggestions for an “heirloom style” quilt layout:

  • Choose a theme.
  • Coordinate fabric, pattern and quilting designs.
  • Customize images, lettering, and dates.
  • Include background fillers.

Thanks for joining me, I appreciate your interest and hope this may spark your desire to try this technique. There is more information on the topic on my website, in my books and in the DVD workshops. If you feel your friends, family or quilt guild would benefit from this insight please invite them to join.  I’d really appreciate it!

Whats Up for next week?

I begin a series of post on the most Frequently Asked Questions about machine quilting  that I get over and over, and how I have discovered the answers may not be the important solutions you need.

Until then, as I wrote in French using the Heirloom Machine Quilting technique, 

SWEET DREAMS!

Fais de beau reves! or Sweet Dreams by Joanie Zeier Poole 2005

Fais de beau reves! or Sweet Dreams by Joanie Zeier Poole 2005

 

Did you see the page full of machine quilting help in the form of Printable Tips?

Machine Quilting Tips!

Look on this page for printable Machine Quilting Tips!

Dashed-line-99CC99Read more About Joanie, her Career Highlights, or print Joanie’s Short Bio.
Can’t wait for a blog post of all of this advice? Explore helpful info already on the website: Glossary of Frequently used Machine Quilting Terms, How to Prepare for a Class, Quick Start Guide to Marking and Resizing Quilting Designs, Printable Charts for Quilting Facts, The Tips Page, and announcements of  Upcoming Events.

Dashed-line-99CC99Never miss an issue of this free e-zine, Joanie’s Life Changing Machine Quilting Lessons. Just watch for reminders from Joanie on her Facebook page or to receive a reminder sent to your inbox, use the sign-up form at the top of the sidebar on this page. 

The information, illustrations and photographs on this blog copyright Joanie Zeier Poole unless otherwise noted. No reproduction in any form is permitted without permission. All rights reserved. Please ask permission for using any content and give credit when sharing what you have learned. Heirloom Quilting Designs was founded by Joanie Zeier Poole in 2000, a new millennium with a new dream for the future!