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.

 

 

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.

Allow Yourself a Bad Idea…

Yesterday I had an extremely rare term time Saturday off from teaching my lovely teen classes and attended a lecture by Tula Pink, a young Amercian textile designer, who now lives just outside Kansas City.

If you don’t know Tula’s work then it is really worth having a look at her Collections.  They are beautiful,  often with the larger designs based on aminals buried within intricate curvy patterns with colour choices stand apart from other designers in the market.

Whilst listening to Tula describe her design process, she said something that really resonated with me – and I know it will resonate with many of my pupils. She said that she has learnt to no longer be afraid of a bad idea, in fact, she encourages a bad idea. When she gets a new journal for her designs, she scrawls over the first page, as now nothing in the book will be as bad as that first page. She explained that, for her, a bad idea is part of the process of having a good idea. She also said that a ‘block’ occurs when you dont give yourself the chance to have a bad idea. She believes her ratio is about 9-1 bad ideas to good ones.

Let us just think about this. So now, if I follow her suggestions,  tomorrow, instead of getting frustrated that I want to come up with an exciting idea for a quilt I need to make for an exhibition this year (and my current ideas are a bit rubbish)… now I can relax .. this is part of the process – a proper, successful professional designer says so. It takes the stress away … I feel better already and more excited about designing a quilt.

Why have I not thought of this before? In some ways I have.  I tell my pupils that I can solve their problems because I have made every single mistake they have made myself. I often make Katie laugh in the car home from school.  telling her about all the mistakes I have made that particular day, as she tells me about a tiny thing that has gone wrong for her… I think these things are similar. However, I see teen and adult pupils getting cross with themselves when they dont get’ that point’ perfect or the quilting design nailed on the first try. So now I will try and remind them (and me) of these words from Tula… Don’t be afraid of a bad idea – it is part of the process.

From Monday 5th Feb 2018 to Monday 12th Feb 2018, GillyMac Designs will be running an Instagram and Facebook competition to win a Tula Pink’s “All Star” Fabric Bundle – available here a whole 5 weeks prior to market launch.

Tula’s Next Range – ” All Stars”

 

Free Motion Fear

 

It’s not just you… it is me too…. !

Just lately I have been backing up things to quilt. Sometimes it just happens. I end up with a number of requests for classes and I get the tops made and then slow down at the point of quilting. Often it is because I am musing about a designs to use, but it is regularly about the ‘will it be good enough’ fairy siting on my shoulder (she sits there quite often). The thing is, as with almost everything I do, if a task is simplified,  broken down into chunks and sometimes even scheduled, it all gets done and most times is great !

Here are the quilts that I am working on. There is the Northern Lights Modern Quilt Group Challenge, there is the Circles Table Runner Project and there is the super Library Quilt. Each had their own challenges

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Northen Lights

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Circles Table Runner

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Library Quilt

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The Northern Lights Quilt was an opportunity to stretch myself and practise new designs, but there was much blank space, with no lines or seams to use as guides. So the challenge was to decide what to do, and to start.. just do it !

The Circles Table Runner was a class sample. It needed to be quilted with clean clear, well executed designs which could be replicated in classes. I wanted this to demonstrated how effective walking foot quilting could be.

The Library Quilt was a large project which was daunting in itself on a domestic machine. I wanted to quilt the books using a walking foot, to define them and make them stand out. This would be simple quilting, but will involve a lot of twisting and jiggling of the quilt through my machine. Then for the background (blue) behind the books I planned to do some stiff free motion work. Maybe a paisley design. This quilt is a wall hanging, not a functional quilt and this lends itself to heavier quilting. The size of the quilt means that FMQ will be easier on the machine.

After a week of work … and a lot of ‘having a go’, oodles of tea , the Northern Lights and Circles quilts are finished and the Library quilt is a ‘looking good’ working progress.

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Northern Lights – Reverse View

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Nothern Lights – Quilted Top

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Up Close Northern Lights

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IMG_5737-110 Circles Table Runner – Quilted !

 

It has been really rewarding to just throw myself into it and not worry about small mistakes. I love the finished effects… Now it is your turn… go on.. have a go !