Friday, October 17, 2014

Tables for Templates!

Thinking about getting a longarm quilting machine? Congratulations!
Do you wonder what the longarm table extension is used for and why you might need it?
If you use a regular sewing machine for machine quilting it already has a bed to support the item you are working on.
With a longarm quilting machine there is only a small area where all the action takes place. The needle only goes up and down (never sideways), and since the design is created by moving the machine instead of the quilt, there are no feed dogs. 
You can see in the photo below that the needle plate on a longarm has only that one small round hole for the needle to pass through and no feed dogs. (By the way, this is my Innova 22" longarm, which I dearly love!)
This is all the work area you have to pay attention to when doing freehand work like meandering scrolls, loops, pantographs or using a computer program to guide the machine.
This small sample quilt shows just how much area is supported when stitching. (These photos are just to demonstration the amount of support in the area around the hopping foot - a full quilt would be mounted in the frame and not sag that much on the sides.) 
When you use rulers and templates, there is not enough flat area to support them properly and you can run into all sorts of problems. This is where the extended base table becomes an essential part of your machine.
Pop on your extended base table and look at all that support area now for your work! 
And there you are! All ready to stitch-in-the-ditch, sew piano keys, crosshatch areas, and do all sorts of other designs with rulers and templates.
Have fun!
The template shown in the photos above is our new rotating Dahlia template. Videos of the  Dahlia and all our other templates and pricing information for them can be found on our website
Happy Stitching!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ancient UFOs - the Quilty Kind

What's your oldest UFO?

(That's quilting shorthand for UnFinished Object or quilt.)

Without counting, my guess is that I have around thirty or so ranging in age from just started this week to ones I started in the 1960s.

My grandmother ordered the iron-on pattern for the state flower blocks when Alaska and Hawaii were still territories so that tells you how old it is. I've been working on embroidering it and have 27 done, barely more than half of the blocks. These blocks were with me through my teen years, through marriage and three kids (now grown), and have moved with me from one side of the country to the other and back again. I wonder if I will ever see them finished and sewn into a top.

Everything has been kept in a 1950's tin.
It had contained a delicious fruit cake that was a gift from my father's boss in the coal mines.
With all the moves, it's no wonder that poor tin has gotten a bit battered!

The embroidery thread has seldom been exposed to light and is still as bright and strong as when I bought it.  Check out the thread photo; some of it only cost five cents a skein.

The pattern is crumbling with age and needs to be scanned and preserved as a pdf or at least photocopied. It's amazing that it's still readable. The red ink is stamping ink and a few years ago I tested it to see if it would still stamp. It did. Amazing!

These are just a few of the blocks I embroidered. I have to wonder if I'll ever get another one done or even the whole quilt. Guess it gives me something to plan to do - sometime.

From time to time we read about a family inheriting such treasures and not knowing what to do with them. Way too often they end up on craigslist or eBay. I'm determined that this won't happen to any of my UFOs or even my fabrics, tools and sewing machines. Everything is in my will so that I know someone will get them who will take care of them and not dump them at a yard sale. I am also making a list of everything to tell my family what to do with it all.

So what is your most ancient UFO? Share your comment below and on our Facebook page where you can include pictures. We want to see them!

Happy quilting!


PS: Your comment might not appear immediately because we've had to start moderating to weed out all the spam. If you are not a spammer, your comment will be posted.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Finding Free Quilting Patterns

So many beautiful blocks and free quilt patterns are available today it's often hard to choose which one to use in our next quilt. One that I especially love is the Lady of the Lake quilt block. It's a very old and popular quilt block and can easily be found among the many free quilting patterns on the internet. I think my next quilt will be one in red and pale pink and I'll call it the Red Lady.
Note that in the Lady of the Lake quilt block all of the dark pieces
point in one direction and the light pieces point the opposite direction.
There are many variations and those all have (or should have) different names.

"History has it that the Lady of the Lake Quilt Block was named after a poem by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1810. The pioneer men and women loved the heroic tales of Sir Walter Scott, and the women honored him in their most practiced method of artistic expression by naming a patchwork block after the poem. The Lady of the Lake quilt block appeared shortly after publication of the poem, one showing up in Vermont some time before 1820." QuiltingCoach Penny

For the last 100 years or so I’ve been quilting. Well, maybe not quite a hundred, but let’s just say my grandmothers taught me to cut the patterns out of cardboard, trace them onto the fabric with a pencil, then cut the pieces out with scissors. Yes, we had many of the standard sewing implements like needles, thimbles and sewing machines, but marvels like rotary cutters and cutting mats were years away from being invented.

Folks often passed around to each other their own versions of free quilt patterns with handmade cardboard templates. Sometimes they just looked at a quilt, sketched out the design and made their own patterns. It was a rewarding and creative effort to make a quilt for which there were no printed patterns or directions. Today most sewing and quilt shops (including those on the internet) have a large selection of patterns, kits and instruction books for blocks and quilted items. Such convenience!

With another great invention, the internet, finding both new and old quilting patterns has gotten easier than ever. If the name of the block is known, a search often turns up tons of places to find the pattern. I often take a shortcut and check out Marcia Hohn's Quilter's Cache website first because the block I want is probably already there. Another great feature of their website (and there are many!) is the Missing Quilts page.

Use your favorite search engine to find “Lady of the Lake quilt” and hundreds of links will pop up. Of course, you can use any block name in place of Lady of the Lake. Check out the links until you find the block or quilt design you want.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of websites I found when looking for the Lady of the Lake quilt pattern. Check them out!

Quilter's Cache
McCall's Quilting
Facebook group from Lake City, Florida:

If you chose to visit any of the websites listed here, please pay attention to their copyrights and other permissions before sharing their patterns and instructions with others. By linking to their pages instead of sharing only the pattern or instructions, we are attributing their work to them and that’s important because creators need to be recognized for their efforts. (Before anyone asks, the Lady of the Lake quilt pattern has been around for a very long time and no one can copyright the pattern itself. However, if a person writes or draws the pattern or quilt, those writings and artwork are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.)

So keep on looking until you find that free quilting pattern you want - it's out there!

Happy quilting!

Disclaimer: Neither TopAnchor Quilting nor Betty Bland is associated with any of the internet sites mentioned above other than for researching and information for personal use.
[Mirror from]

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hero Veterans

Most families had relatives who served in the military to protect this great land and help preserve our freedoms. Today I want to write about two of them, my father and one of my brothers.

Ruth & Arthur Fridley on wedding day 1938
Arthur Fridley 1969
Dad served during World War II in Europe as an Army medic. When asked about his time there he would only say, "I peeled a lot of potatoes."

After I grew up, I realized that he must have seen and experienced many horrors while in France, Italy and Germany. He paced the floors during thunder and lightning storms and often made us go into rooms in the center of the house for our safety. He was also very much a pacifist who disliked seeing people fight for any reason, especially us kids who seemed to tease and fight each other all the time.

After the war, he worked in the coal mines to keep his huge family (10 kids) clothed and fed. He passed away in 1976 at the too young age of 54 from the complications of black lung, emphysema and bone cancer from being exposed to coal dust in the mines.

My oldest brother, Lewis, followed in Dad's footsteps and served two tours of duty in Vietnam during the heaviest of the fighting. He was in the Army's artillery division and lost his hearing because of the constant noise.

Lewis Fridley 2006
Lewis posed for sculptor Barry Snyder for this statue of a helicopter gunner. It is part of the Vietnam Memorial in Fairmont, West Virginia.


These two brave men are a small part of the millions who have served our country. I'm very proud of them both and that they are part of my family.

Monday, May 5, 2014

How We've Grown!

From our humble beginning with just one template 17 months ago, we are now awaiting the shipment of our newest templates!

After the Baptist Fan template came the Feather Wreath template, followed by Five-point Star templates in two sizes, an Eight-point Star template, a Multishape template, and now the Dahlia template in two sizes. 

 We have videos posted on our website showing how to use these innovative tools to make great designs on your quilts with the least effort!

Here are some of the shapes you can make with them:

(The temporary Dahlia template demonstration is currently only posted on our Facebook page and a better one will be posted with the others soon.) 

We owe our continued success to our supporters, many of whom are repeat customers as each new template comes out. Many thanks to you for telling your friends about our templates and helping to spread the word.

God is good!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

We have a new website!

My how time flies!  

 Look how much has happened since our first template in December 2012!

We now have six templates in our product lineup 

plus three more being released in a few weeks


Plus a brand spanking new website!
Click on this link to see it: 
Look around the site and check out all the 
demonstration videos and everything else! 
Sign up for our free newsletter! 

Let us know what you think about the new website.

If you plan on attending the MQX in Manchester NE in two weeks, stop by Booth 231 Armory to see us! We are excited about attending this year.

Many, many thanks for your support as we are continuing to produce more templates and tools, and now we have our very own website. It's hard to believe it was only 16 months ago that our first template (the Baptist Fan template) was introduced to the public. Life is good!

Betty Bland

By the way, if you need someone to build a website for you, let me know and I'll put you in touch with my Rock Star developer, David. He did a great job and was fast to respond to my every concern.