Saturday, January 5, 2013



Three lucky people will win a free


Watch for contest details January 15, 2013

Happy Stitching!


Friday, January 4, 2013

How Many Ways Can You Quilt A Baptist Fan?

Baptist Fans are one of the most popular and traditional ways to quilt, both by hand and machine. It's the first pattern I learned to quilt way back in my younger years while sitting at a handmade quilting frame with female relatives.

Most of us were right handed and sewing from the upper right to the lower left is a natural movement of the arm and quilting hand. These arcs are easy to stitch, and when sewing concentric circles, they naturally become the Baptist Fan pattern. It's fast, it's easy, and when close stitching was needed to secure the batting, it was the ideal pattern to stitch. We always worked from the right across to the left, and bottom to top. After each row, we rolled the quilt forward and started at the right with a new row.

Batting available today can often be safely quilted up to 10" apart, but 'way back when' folks used carded wool or cotton, or even cotton batting (often still containing the cotton seeds), close stitching was necessary to keep it from separating and migrating to other areas inside the quilt. Very old well-used quilts will often still have little balls or bunches of batting in between the close stitching, but I like to think those are just indications of the age of such a treasure.

Below is a link to Bonnie Hunter's post on hand quilting Baptist Fans with lots of great information.  Bonnie's method uses a hoop, quilting the fan all around the outside of the top and then filling in the center with fans.

I have always thought that machine quilting this pattern would be a bit more difficult so I've never tried it. Some folks mark the entire quilt and freehand over the lines as with any pattern, or use different machine quilting techniques and have beautiful results. My hat is off to them.

Longarmers are blessed in that we have many tools available to help quilt Baptist Fans. Folks lucky enough to have a computer guided system can just tell their computer and longarm machine what to stitch. Some devices work from behind the machine, such as an apparatus to make circles, grooved boards used with a stylus to guide the machine, and pantographs that can be followed with a laser. Many rulers and templates are available that can help in the spacing and formation of the Baptist Fan arcs, and these have the advantage that they are used at the front of the machine.

The newest device on the market that can help make beautiful Baptist Fans is our own Baptist Fan quilting template pictured above. The anchor post fastens to the top of the quilt in the work area, and the notched template fits over and rotates back and forth with the hopping foot to create arcs for designs. At the end of each row, 'walk' over previous stitching up to the next row.

No matter what technique or tool you use, our rotating Baptist Fan template can help make your quilt a wonderful work of art.

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

What IS That!?

Watch for our new feature What IS That!?

We love to look for old and new sewing/quilting-related items and share them here, many of which you will recognize, some that might have you scratching your head. Some items will be sewing machines, some will be attachments, some will be tools, some will be supplies. Ya never know!

Today's post is about my current favorite sewing machine 'Martha' and why I prefer that 60 yr old very heavy metal beauty over any other.

Many 'old' metal machines still exist today as any collector will tell you (and happily show you their herd). It just so happens that my Martha is a Singer 201-2.

There were as many companies making them as there were brands of cars.

It's very sad that so many of these wonderful old machines are only being used for tables and stands, or worse yet, thrown away.

My much loved and often used Singer 201-2, 'born' in the late 1940's, is a workhorse of a sewing machine. (Please don't tell her she's considered to be an antique - she thinks she's still a young chick!) To me, she's worth her weight in gold. She has a horizontal bobbin that just drops into the built-in bobbin case, and sews forward and reverse. That's it, nothing fancy. ;D

But that doesn't mean that this machine only does a straight stitch - oh no, it does much, much more.

Singer and other companies made sure that the home seamstresses had all the help they needed to make their machines do everything they wanted:  darning, embroidery, hems, join seams, lace edging, tucks, bindings, zigzags, ruffles, gathers, decorative cords and braids, buttonholes, zippers, even quilting. Yes, these babies were - and still are - very versatile. The good news is that the attachments needed to do all this are still available.

These machines were meant to last a lifetime, and many have lasted several lifetimes. How many generations might have used a machine made in the late 1800's?

'Martha' sews a perfect seam and has enough power to sew through practically anything you can get under the presser foot. I've sewn as many as eight layers of denim before she bogged down and groaned. Try that with one of the new plastic machines! Can't do it! But she also has a light touch when needed to sew those delicate fabrics. She can sew practically anything and do a great job at it.

Like most other old metal sewing machines, this one is very basic and easy to maintain. Give her a good cleaning (mostly just removing lint with a small paint brush), add a few drops of oil and she is ready to start humming away again. In the 15 plus years I've been using this Singer 201-2, she has never had to go to the shop for anything. I've had to replace the light bulb once ($6.95) and the bobbin winder tire ($.30) once, both of which were very easy to do. That's it!

Check with your Mom or Grandma to see if they still have and might be willing to part with their old machines. You just might strike gold! But please don't thrown them away! If you are desperate to get rid of one, there are tons of collectors that will take them off your hands!

Happy Stitching!


Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! and a Sneak Peek!

New Year, New Beginnings, New Everything. Goodbye 2012!
I'm hoping your new 2013 will be everything you hope for.
It's a new year and lots of great new experiences to look forward to!

To celebrate this new year, I'm giving you a sneak peek at the new feather wreath template that will be available later this month. Not the actual template, but a few things I've done with it.
First up is an actual feather wreath! LOL!
There are actually several wreaths in this photo intertwined with tons of different kinds of background fill. Don’t look too closely or you will see all my mistakes, but yeah, the template works pretty well.

Up next we have the work of a happy gal at play. Wondering what kinds of designs I could make in the individual sections, I decided on scroll loops. Yeah, they are horribly uneven and not at all uniform, but you get the picture.
To get the facing patterns, I simply stitched half the wreath, then flipped the template over and stitched the other half. One of my friends says this is her favorite of all my wreaths.
Can you tell yet how much fun I’m having? LOL!

And the last I’ll show you today is another play design that has great possibilities. I think it looks like a sunflower or chrysanthemum. However, a sunflower would have alternating petals, not stacked ones. Back to the drawing board!
Happy New Year, Everybody!


Out With the Old

The clock is ticking away the last few hours of 2012, and there's nothing we can do about what has happened this year.

In wondering what I could do differently next year to improve my life, I thought about something I probably should have done long ago.

In the new year of 2013, I want to get rid of thoughts and concepts that just haven't worked for me in the past.

In quilting, this means I need to quit being so picky about my own work.

It’s good to be your best and always strive to do better, but at some point you have to say that the work is done and you don’t have to go any further so stop fussing with it.

If you always think there’s something else that you should do to make it better, that means you don’t think your work is finished yet, that it’s not good enough.  That’s not a good feeling, and it sometimes keeps me from starting new projects or even trying to complete old ones.

There are many great quilters that I admire, and they produce some of the most beautiful and perfect quilts anyone can possibly imagine. I could look at those quilts all day long. I seriously doubt that my own work will ever come close to what they do, and that's just fine. My quilts are meant to be used to keep people warm and comfortable, not to be put on display in competitions or museums.

My customers like my work and they are the ones whose opinions count. I like most of my work as well. That doesn't mean that I won't try to get better at quilting, it just means that I'll quit being quite so hard on myself if every square inch of my stitching isn't perfect or if a design doesn’t turn out like I imagined it would.

 There's an old saying, "My house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy." I think I'll adapt that to say, "My quilting is precise enough to be pretty and 'off' enough to be comfortable."

Happy New Year, everyone!

Happy stitching!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Baptist Fans on First Try

Today's spotlight is on another new EZ Arc longarm quilting tool user, Joyce Fratini. On her very first try, she was able to quilt these beautiful Baptist Fans.

The TopAnchor system allows you to move the templates around
and conveniently put your arcs anywhere you want them.

Joyce started at the top left and worked her way to the right. Great results, wouldn't you say!

Joyce also bravely stitched a complete circle using the EZ Arc tool, and did quite well for the first try!

Circles take a lot of practice because you have to control the circular motion of the tool with one hand while moving the hopping foot completely around it. It's almost like rubbing your head and patting your tummy at the same time - you can do it, but it takes practice and concentration. ;D

Thanks for sharing your work with us, Joyce.

Happy Stitching!