Ruler Quilting – A New Approach to FMQ

This week I held the first of my new Ruler Quilting Classes. I was really excited to show the five ladies all about how rulers can be used on a domestic sewing machine to create fabulous free motion designs.  Ruler quilting offers the opportunity to switch the way you think about free motion quilting.  By using rulers you are able to create smaller, manageable structures which are great to look at on their own, or you can embellish them with more traditional free motion designs, like pebbles, ribbons, figures of eights, feathers and zig zags. During the class, there is lots of practice in the morning (or on the first evening), and in the afternoon (or second evening) the class focusing on marking and making the cushion sampler below.

In the class, we learnt about ruler feet. The ruler foot looks exactly like your darning foot, except it is thicker. It doesn’t have the bar that fits over the needle screw and it doesn’t hop. instead, it will just glide over the material. Setting the ruler foot to the correct height is critical so that the fabric moves easily, but the height of the foot is not so great such that the stitches don’t complete properly or the ruler is able to slip under.

It is now possible to spend your life savings on rulers for use with a domestic machine – however, if you buy just a few, but good ones, then that is really all you need to get started. Rulers with good markings are equivalent to extra rulers, as you can use that one ruler in more dimensions with great accuracy. Before you buy any ruler, have a good look at it and see if there are options for you to use them in different ways, for example

  • Do they have markings so that you can echo the lines you have drawn at ¼” or ½” or more
  • Do they have degree marking at 45’ or 60’ so that you can accurately create a triangle or circle of your ruler work
  • Do they have clear starting and end points that mark ¼” from the needle or have a lip to stop you going past the point
  • Do they have both horizontal and vertical lines so that you can use the ruler at 90 degrees to your work with just as much accuracy without having to twist the quilt

There is more to the ruler than just the shape of the outside edge!

I buy Handiquilter rulers and have built up a little stock now. They are beautiful but expensive. In the class, each person can use my Handiquilter Rulers, but each pupil in the class had access to all four of the rulers that Angela Walters brought out earlier this year. They are versatile, the right size for domestic quilting and all four retail at around £90 in the UK, which is much less of an investment to make to continue with ruler quilting after the class.

As with everything, it is practising that makes us proficient. Ruler quilting is definitely something for you to try – for many people, I expect this to be the breakthrough in free motion quilting that they have been looking for.

For details of further information on my Ruer Classes 1 & 2  and other GillyMac class click here.

Keeping You Organised : Free Document Wallet

Before I go on holiday (or travel for business – when I used to do that regularly), I frequently had a really vivid dream.  It was one of those dreams that you wake up from all upset and worried and it takes you a moment to work out that actually it is all ok and it is just a dream – whew! The dream involves me trying really really hard to get to the airport and every mode of travel I try fails along the way. This leads to me being hideously late. Normally when I get close to the airport, I also realise that I haven’t got my passport with me and have to return home to collect it.  I feel stressed writing this down!

I have put these dreams down to my husband who is perpetually late for everything – except the airport. In normal everyday life, he doesn’t believe he is late until it is past the time he needs to be somewhere. So he can plan to go into Putney to coach rowing at 11am – which is a journey of about 30-40 minutes, so he should leave by 10.20am. However, in his mind, he isn’t late until it’s after 11am – even if he is still at home at 10.55am. Conversely, when we go to the airport we have to get there super early – hours earlier than is necessary – which then involves a ridiculous amount of hanging about and shopping!!  So let’s just blame him for my dreams! 

Before I went to New York in April, I did ponder my dream and thought it may help to make myself a document wallet so I knew exactly where the passports, travel documents, insurance papers etc., were. It was a huge success. It was small enough not to be bulky but big enough not to get lost. The zip, which is part way down the front didn’t get snagged on the content. All in all, I was really pleased with it. I made another one a couple of weeks ago for my daughter who was off to Slovenia on holiday with her pal… again it was a success. So I have written up the pattern to share with you all.

I hope you enjoy it – and your husband isn’t as funny and crazy as mine. 🙂

GillyMac Document Wallet

ps. We’ve been married 15 years today and he is the best!!

 

 

 

Book Review ~ WALK by Jacquie Gering

I buy alot (ALOT) of patchwork and quilting books. I am embarrassed to share with you that I often flip through them.. think ‘meeeehhhhhh’ and that is it. Another mildly expensive mistake. After buying another ‘meeehhhhh’ book a couple of weeks ago I decided that I should review and promote the really good ones I have. The ones that stand out as being well written (by someone who understands our art) and have something really informative to offer. So on the first Friday of each month from now on, I’ll be doing a book review under the hashtag #fridayreads. My blogs come out weekly on Thursdays, so for that week it will appear on a Friday (or late on Thursday Night) and will have my take on the book I am reviewing.


WALK – Mastering Machine Quilting with Your Walking Foot, by Jacquie Gering, first caught my eye because I teach a lot of ladies who seem to feel they have failed with quilting because they don’t enjoy free motion quilting (FMQ) and would dearly love to whip up one of the professional FMQ designs we see at shows or in books. This book really resets the view on Walking Foot Quilting and by the end of it you are buoyed by the fact you need never HAVE to FMQ again. 🙂 Alternatively, if like me, you do enjoy FMQ, it has taught me some excellent lessons which I will apply to my pieces nevertheless. In fact, I am itching to make book covers with my Junior Sewing Bee when they are back on Monday.

Do you skip the introduction pages of a book? I do.  I want to immediately get into the body of the book, however, this book starts with a chapter called Walking Foot 101. It shows you how to test your foot, and also how either utilise the markings and spacings on your foot or how to mark it up for success. After reading this section I immediately got out my seam guide and started measuring all over my foot – and what a difference that made to the samples I was about to work on !!!!! For me, this chapter was worth the price of the book alone. The picture here is not only of my thumb .. it is of me checking the distance from where my need would be coming down to the internal edge of the walking foot – which is precisely 1/4″.  I went on to mark my 1/4″ and 1/2″ turning points (something I’d guessed at in the past) and also create a mark to help me with curves – genius!

The book is really well produced. It is full of helpful diagrams to follow and many many pictures of Jacquie’s gorgeous quilts. The book takes you through quilting lines, curves, quilting decorative stitches as well as quilting in reverse (who knew!!) and provides designs which are achieved by turning the quilt. It concludes with a gallery of quilts made by Jacquie herself.

Curved crosshatching was one of my favourite designs  – super simple but super effective. My sample was made by marking 2 lines only. (Ta Dahhhhhh)

I also created a fan and then added some zigzags within the fan. This took a bit more marking, but the effect is great. This could be used or adapted to be used in any shape. I think it would look amazing within a set of semi-circles.

 

The tutorial for the nested diamond involved drawing a grid and then marking the turning points in the grid. I drew my grid really carefully and was a little slapdash with the turning marks, but I like the effect and can think of multiple uses for it. This design also pops the quilt, really defining the areas quilted and not quilted.

My final sample for this review was to use matchstick quilting to write a name.. Jacquie recommends this for smaller projects as it does take time and lots of thread. That said it was worth all the effort. I went off-piste here and used lock stitches at the start and end of each letter. I should have used Jacquie’s small stitch method as I think it would have been neater. I put this small error down to the excitement of making this work!

WALK is by Jacquie Gering and is published by Lucky Spool. I loved it – can you tell ?? If you are on Instagram, you can follow Jacquie via @jacquietps. In addition,  you may also want to follow @sarahashfordstudio who is also making samples and videos of lessons from this gorgeous book.

 

 

Off To The Beach

I loved this bag from the moment I saw the pattern. It was smart,  big and had the opportunity to use some really fun fabrics. In May half term my older daughter is off to find some sun in Slovakia, so hopefully, she will like the bag as much as I do and want to take it on holiday with her. The pattern is by Swoon Patterns. I enjoy making Swoon Pattern bags. The instructions are clear and reliable and the results are always really professional.

I used fabric from Sophie Allport. Sophie Allport isn’t your normal ‘go-to’ fabric store, her collection of canvas/homeware curated fabrics is great. I don’t have a little boy … but if I did, the Dinosaur fabric would be on my wishlist … in fact I love it so much, I may buy some anyhow!  Just a note on the Sophie Allport fabric – it is expensive at £25/m, but it is 150cm wide… that is super wide and so it is much better value than it may appear at first.

This bag is a little different as the handles are not sewn down on to the bag front, instead, they are threaded in a continuous loop around and through the bag. This makes the bag really different. I decided to buy handles ready made. I find that bought handles can often make a big difference to the professional look of the final bag. I recently found that U-Handbag is selling pleather handles on a roll. They are 1 1/4″ wide, backed with hessian. and come in 3 colours.  They are also beautifully edge stitched. They are too thick to easily sew onto a bag but could be attached with Chicago screws or something similar.

Although I used pleather for the handles, for the base piece of the bag I had a piece of real leather big enough – just. It also wasn’t too thick. The thickness of the base of this bag is important to consider as to make the bag corners you will be sewing through, the outer thicker fabric, your equivalent to the flamingo fabric and the fleece interfacing  all doubled over on itself… and my machine was fine with this except over the (already created) seams, where I needed to hand crank the machine through those bits carefully – and I won’t lie .. I broke several needles.

By comparison, making the buttonholes for the handles was much easier. This involved creating buttonholes through the flamingo fabric, fleece interfacing, lining and light/medium woven interfacing was easily enough after a few practise goes!

This bag doesn’t have many pattern pieces, so cutting out took me around 50 minutes and making the bag took 3 hours (max).  I have added to the bag by installing a meshed zipped pocket in it – for my daughter’s suncream and bits and pieces she needs regularly. I have also made a document wallet for her and a make-up bag to. I used the pattern from the Grainline Portside bag for the document wallet and winged it a little bit for the make up bag.

Metro Rings: Using the Quick Curve Rulers (with free quilting plan)

Deborah and I made this stunning quilt together. She did the hard work in the patchwork piecing and I got to quilt it, and whilst I wanted the background to be a brilliant white, she chose the wonderful colours that make up the rings.

It was made using the Mini Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. At the end of last year, I invested in a number of both the mini and full-size rulers for my classes. I really like working with rulers and teaching using good rulers. The best rulers are the really versatile ones. By that, I mean ruler with good markings on them so you can move them increments of partial inches and lines on so you can cut with the ‘on point’. These rulers have all those features AND they have matching quilting rulers which are excellent for identically matching the curves, inside and outside of your piecing work.

This quilt can be made using the larger ruler, but we chose to use the smaller one as I wanted to check out the suitability of this pattern for a cot size quilt – and it doesn’t disappoint. It is built using 2″ x 10″ strips, (for the larger quilt jelly roll strips are suggested). Although the pattern suggests using 20 10″ squares, in fact, we would recommend not bothering with this and just cutting up scraps, which are 10″ long, into 2″ slices. We found that the more colour tones we used and patterns we incorporated the more interesting the final quilt became. Fabric with smaller prints work best with this quilt as larger prints would get chopped up and lost. The strips are sewn together in batches and then cut cross-ways using the ruler.

As with all our rulers, we added Handi Quilter gripper to the back of them to stop them slipping as we cut out the fabric. This is essential and the Handi-Grip product is the best one that I’ve found (and a little goes a long way).  The rulers have a slot in them that you place the rotary cutter in and move it along. We did think the slot was quite wide, but if you are consistent with how you place your cutter then this isn’t a problem.

More of an issue with the mini version Deborah was making, was that the pieces were small and partly bias cut, so were quite unstable. This meant that if you didn’t iron them they would curl slightly and not sew together well, but if you ironed them, even a little too vigorously, they would stretch and be useless.  When you test out a quilt pattern, you are most often halfway through the patchworking build before the penny drops and we see how to get it working well. This quilt was no different and after a number of goes building the curved block only to find that they were too small, we tweaked the pattern to make it ‘full proof’.

The choice of the colours used in the blocks joining the rings is really important. If you decide to make this quilt yourself, consider carefully what colour and pattern to use for these pieces. Deborah chose a Dashwood Twist in smoke and a Kona grey.

Below I have attached a free quick reference guide for quilting this piece. The correct quilting rulers make the job much easier and I enjoyed filling in the shapes I made with very basic designs. This was not a hard quilt to make look good.

 I am thrilled with this quilt. It would make a stunning baby gift or maybe one day I will get around to making the larger one for my bed! Sew Kind of Wonderful has lots of patterns using the quick curve rulers. The rulers themselves can be bought from Creative Grids, though I did have to buy the matching quilting rulers from Sew Kind of Wonderful in the USA.

 

GillyMac Metro Rings Quilting Plan

There are two classes this year to make this quilt… 20th June and 6th November, both classes are at my studio in Maidenhead and run from 10am -3.30pm – with lots of tea and homemade cakes – of course! Every student gets an original copy of the pattern to go home with.

 

My Latest Adventure with Aneela Hoey – The All-In-One Box Pouch

I’m a HUGE fan of Aneela Hoey, her patterns and the way she can create such fun mini projects, most of which can be achieved in an evening. This time I wanted to make the All-In-One Box Pouch. The standalone pattern has been recently updated, but a version of it can also be found in Aneela’s book – Stitched Sewing Organisers.

I have to admit to having a tendency to be distracted by sparkly things and for a long time now I have been loving working with Robert Kauffman Metallic Essex Linen. I find that for these boxes, the added firmness of the linen fabric is really helpful and of course, like a child, I love the way it sparkles in the light! For this project, I have used Ebony Essex Linen with Gold Metallic Threads and twined it with Tula Pink’s Tabby Road Fur Ball Fabric in the Strawberry Fields colorway.

I enjoy evenings making things much better when I have previously got myself all prepared. As well as fabric, for this project, you will also need fusible interfacing (I used light-medium Vilene F220/304), fusible fleece (I used Legacy Extra Lofty Fusible Fleece) and also clear vinyl (I used sparkly vinyl – obviously:-)). The day before I spent an hour cutting out, fusing on and ironing binding strips – all ready for my solo #saturdaynightcraftalong.

The first thing to make is the front pouch. I hadn’t made a pouch like this previously  – but having done it, I will certainly be adding it to the techniques I used most frequently. It is created by adding the binding and zips to the vinyl and then casing it in the lining and basting the external fabric on the reverse. If that wasn’t clever enough, the 20″ zip is then sewn around the pouch … then the whole lot has binding applied all around the edges.  I’ve missed out a few steps, as Aneela’s Pattern is her own, but believe me it is super clever and not hard when you take it step-by-step!

After the fervor of making the front pouch it was time for tea and cake and a little hand sewing to finish the binding off. Then I was off again !!!….. making the back pocket and then adding it and the front pouch to the exterior pieces of the main pouch. The pouch is then sewn together and suddenly you are finished. WHEW !

All in all (without cutting out). It took me 2 1/2 hours to make this – so 3 1/2 hours with cutting and fusing.

The important points to highlight about the pattern is that however experienced you are, read it properly and follow it closely. Don’t skip the kick -off steps making up the tabs, adjusting the top of the long zipper or marking up the material as directed. These are all vital to your success. My bag is now filled with my traveling medicine cabinet. You can get a lot of stuff in this pouch!

I so loved making this, I have already cut out the pieces for another one. Once again I am using the Metallic Essex Linen (this time Navy with Silver Metallic threads) but for the lining, I am going to use a Cotton & Steel/Rifle Paper Co.  fabric range called Amalfi. I like the combination of the Sun Girls and Waves fabrics, both in Coral. I thought I would use the Waves fabric for all the binding and the Sun Girls for the linings of both the front and main pouches. I think this combination will be perfect for my older daughter on the beach later on in the summer.

The next class with spaces on it to make the Aneela Hoey All-In-One Box Pouch is on 3rd July (7pm-10pm). Call Gill on 07818 551232 or email on mail@gillymacdesigns.com to book a space.

More information about Aneela and her patterns can be found here.

Happy Sewing …… Gill

 

Guest Blog : The Making of a Baby Quilt by Jessica

Over February half term I decided to make a baby quilt, well more like a throw. I made it as a gift to my form tutor, as his partner has just had a baby. He’s also been my form tutor for the last five years so it’s also as a thank you gift. I go to sewing classes with Gill Towell of Gillymac Designs where I have made three different and unique quilts. We have also entered two quilts as a group for the National Festival of Quilts. We came 2nd with one and got highly commended in the other.

I started by looking for fabric suitable for baby boys and found that there were lots. I then had to work out what size I needed and how many squares I needed. I bought a fat quarter bundle which came with 5 different materials. As I was short of a few squares, I bought another bundle which I thought has colours in it which would bring all the fabric together  – which indeed it did!

I started off by drawing out my pattern and seeing which patterns would work well together. I then assembled it by making blocks of 9, 3 across 3 down. I decided to have 6 squares going across by 9 squares down. Once I had made the patchwork top centre,  I added the borders which I decided to have white so that it would accentuate all of the colours in the main panel. After that, I glued it to the backing using temporary glue. I then quilted the whole thing using a walking foot creating a grid design. I finished the quilt by making my own binding and sewing it around the edge. This gave the quilt a nice finish and made the whole thing come together.

The most challenging bit was adding the binding and trying to make it look neat at the corners. I also found matching the fabrics and making it look nice was quite difficult and took a long time.

My favourite part of the quilt is how it all comes together and how the colours work well. I like how the binding finishes the edges and how it brings it all together. I would definitely make it again as I had so much fun making it. There is so much effort and concentration involved and I have learnt so much from doing it.

I would do it the same way because it’s a great design and I like the way in which it turned out.

I am giving it away sometime next week before my form tutor goes on paternity leave.

STOP PRESS : New Year Delayed until 1st Feb

Twenty eighteen may be well underway, but,  even though the tree is down, the decorations are away and my tax is done (hurrah),  the start of my New Year is on hold until 1st February to allow me to complete more of my  ‘2017 Finishing Off List’.

There is something particularly satisfying about completing projects, and for me, there is a balance between having things on the go that I am enjoying making, which add variety to my week and which can showcase the business and then, on the other hand,  having way too much on my plate of which very little will ever get finished. Apart from in the Summer, when the push to get the girls’ projects finished for the Festival of Quilts consumed my every breath, I’ve not done too bad – thanks in the main to help along the way from Deborah and my lists to keep me focused.

I have just loaded the GillyMac gallery (see tab above) with the final images from 2017 with many of the gorgeous items made here this year. They are just a small sample of the creativity of the GillyMac Pupils.  I know that there is never a time when I will have everything completed and that thought can be overwhelming, but I started sewing to enjoy the journey, not just to complete the task… and when it all gets too much and Annie’s quilt is still not finished, or the PJs for the girls I wanted to make for Christmas are left unmade, or the quilting for the Linus project is not even started…… I need to remember to enjoy every moment of my creative time – as it is precious and important for being what it is… special time.