A Place to Share Sewing & Quilting Experiences

Posts tagged ‘Bernina quilt frame’

Graduation – A Year Later

Wow, the time has flown since my daughter graduated from high school.  I still have projects from that time that I haven’t posted yet, so shame on me.  Life has been a little crazy recently.  We just returned from a 8 day vacation to sunny (and yes very hot) Florida.  For our 25th wedding anniversary (June 16th), we decided to take a family trip to Disney World and Universal Studios.  We are big Harry Potter fans so we had to see the Harry Potter World at Universal Studios.  I had two misconceptions – #1 it will be nice weather in Florida in May.  Yikes, it was mid 90’s most of the trip.  #2 – It won’t be as crowded since school-aged children should still be in school.  Wrong again, Disney had tons of little kids too young for school and Universal Studios had tons of school groups.  Lots of crowds and very hot temperatures, but it was still a fun trip.  We walked our feet off.  We did 3 days at Disney and 3 days at Universal Studios without a break in between.  Yes, that was my ambitious scheduling.  Here’s a fun photo of me and the hubby having fun at Disney. Chip and Mel at Disney


At Disney we stayed in a Royal room at the Port Orleans Riverside resort.  That was a great place to stay and we had so much fun.  Here’s a photo of my daughter and her best friend in the princess-themed room.

Abby and Casey at Disney

We moved my daughter home from James Madison University where she completed her freshman year as a music education major just three days before leaving for our vacation.  The boxes are still all over the house.  Not sure where they will go until she moves back in August.  I’m so proud of her…she made the Dean’s List both semesters.  She’s going to be working at a local grocery store as a bakery-deli clerk and taking 7 credit hours at the local community college.

OK, now back to the business of sewing and quilting.  I have a lot of projects to catch you up on.  I had been having trouble with my Bernina 830 and broke down and took it in for an overhaul.  I’m happy to report after replacing a few small parts and a thorough take apart/cleaning my baby is doing very well.  I haven’t put her back on the quilt frame yet, but plan on doing that once the excitement of moving my daughter home from college and vacation wear off.  Can’t remember if I shared this or not, but in November 2014, I became the proud owner of a Bernina 750.  I absolutely love it!  I haven’t found anything it can’t do yet (except the dishes…darn!).  I traded in my work horse Bernina 440 which made me sad, but it was time to move on.

These projects are from last May, so here goes.  I did a Bernina retreat at my local quilt shop, Cottonwood called Sew-A-Palooza.  It was so much fun and we got an embroidery design to make these little in the hoop wristlet bags.  I have made close to if not more than 30 of them.  I used them as gifts for my guests at my daughter’s graduation party last May.  Here are some of the bags.  I finally start making some for myself and have made a bag for every month October through May (yes I really need to get started on my June one since it is coming very fast).  It is fun finding cool fabrics, ribbons, etc. to make these.  I also made two JMU ones for my daughter and her first year college roommate.

Wristlet In the Hoop BagsMore Writslet In the hoop bags Halloween wristlet bag

Last project for this post was a gift for my daughter’s best friend.  She loves to bake and always wears my Girl Scout Cookie apron I made a few years back when she bakes at my house.  I made her a similar one and embroidered her name on it for her graduation gift.  It was such a fun project and she really liked it.  Love that Girl Scout cookie fabric!

Casey apron close upCasey apronUntil next time (and hope it isn’t so long from now), happy sewing & quilting!




Spring Garden Path Quilt – A Positive Frame Experience

I spent Saturday quilting one of my many unfinished tops on my Bernina quilt frame.  I took my time and didn’t rush through things.  I also read my old notes, and made new ones.  I think the key to having success using the frame, Quilt Motion and my Bernina 830 is to do it on a regular basis.  Each time I finish another quilt, I learn something new.  I should be an expert by now don’t you think?  No, really I have not had as much experience as many of you out there.  Please chime in if you have something that has or hasn’t worked for you.  We would love to hear from you.

Here are some of the preparatory steps I took this time around that I feel helped it be a successful venture.  I made sure all the lint and thread remnants were gone from the bobbin area. I oiled the machine and I slowed the speed in the software down to slow (instead of medium). I found my perfect tension was 3.0 in the software. It didn’t seem to make a difference what I set the machine on. I also used a high quality thread in the bobbin (which goes against my cheap nature). I used Superior’s Masterpiece in the bobbin and King Tut for the top thread.

I was quite pleased with the results.  I did experiment a little between the first couple of rows with the tension.  I originally had it set to 3.5, but could see a tiny bit of the bobbin coming up to the top.

Here are a couple of photos of the quilting.  I guess I don’t know if the cleaning and oiling did the trick, or the slowing down the machine speed or the different thread.  All I know it is worked and I’m going with the same setup next time which is going to be very soon.  I’ve had a king-sized quilt top that needs to be quilted for a dear friend and I must get to it.  I am hoping the quilt isn’t too large for the frame.  I think it will just fit.  I’d hate to have to do it just on the 830 even with the large quilting space it has.

"Spring Garden Path Quilting"


"Close Up Quilting"

I’m so happy with the back that I’ll share the quilting with you.  Since I used the same color as the backing as the thread, it is a little hard to see the quilting.  I played around with the levels in Photoshop so hopefully you can see how nice it came out.  I did have an issue when the bobbin ran out.  I haven’t come up with a good way to change the bobbin without having to cancel the design so I can move the machine out to get to the bobbin.  When it ran out at the end.  I just left it in its locked position, and reached way in, changed the bobbin although it was painful and was able to retrace the design and get it lined up perfectly.  If any of you have tips on bobbin changing, I’d love to hear them.

"Back Quilting"

I have to mention a great new class I’m taking on Craftsy.com (love that website).  I’m taking Mimi Dietrich’s Finishing School:  Edges and Bindings.  Sure, I know how to bind a quilt, but I’ve never quite gotten the technique of that last joining of the binding ends.  I’ve always straight sewed them and never liked it.  Mimi shared her technique which is super easy (I got it right the first time) and I had a great seamless looking binding.  I love learning something new.  She has a lot of fun ways to add edging and such to a quilt binding to dress it up.  I also learned how to use the backing of the quilt as binding (haven’t tried it yet) but she made it look really easy.

Here’s the finished Spring Garden Path quilt.  I finished hand sewing the hanging sleeve just moments ago and it is ready to be displayed somewhere…just where is the question of the day.

"Spring Garden Path Quilt"

Until next time, Happy Sewing & Quilting,


Another Quilt Frame Adventure

I’ve been meaning to share my last quilting experience on the quilt frame.  Since I have another one loaded and ready to start today, I wanted to get this one documented before I have more information to get confused with.  Thanks so much to all of you who have shared your experiences, tips and what works and doesn’t work.  That’s the best way we can all learn to use our equipment and have the most fun and progress with it.  I only share my “bad” experiences not to degrade the product in any way, but to share with others in case you have frustrations too.  I love Bernina products and will continue to be a Bernina girl always!

The good news at the beginning is the quilt looks good from the front and will be a wall hanging so the back really won’t be seen.  I know it is there but I won’t let anybody go “back there”.

Here’s and up close of the front quilting.  I chose a bat design for this fun Halloween quilt.  I used YLI thread in the top and a basic cotton black thread in the bobbin.

"Halloween Quilt Front Quilting"

During quilting the first row the machine was making a terrible noise, but the top looked good.  Once the first row finished, I rolled the quilt and looked at the back.  Ugh!  Yikes!  It is horrible.  Here’s an up close photo of all those loops and such.

"Halloween Quilt Back Nesting"

I continued on row by row changing one variable at a time and making notes.  I changed needles, re-threaded both the bobbin and the top thread to no avail.  Here’s another close-up of a row further down the quilt.

"Halloween Quilt Back Nesting"

By the time I got to the last two rows, I hit the “sweet spot” in the tension.  I first changed the tension directly on the 830 to 4.5.  That didn’t help at all.  Not sure if the machine tension matters when using quilt motion.  I know the software takes over a lot of the functions.  Does anybody know if the machine tension matters?  Second, I tried changing the tension in the software to 4.5.  BINGO!  Perfect results on top and bottom of quilt.  Wow, wish I’d tried that earlier so half of my quilt back looked OK.

Here’s a photo of the finished quilt and thankfully very few will see the mess and nests on the back.  I did get my machine serviced after this quilt and the tech said it had a lot of lint and thread build up in the bobbin area which could definitely affect the tension and the back quilting.  I had just had the machine serviced 6 months ago, so it wasn’t like I had been neglecting it.  I do a lot of machine embroidery which does affect how often it needs to be serviced.

"Finished Halloween Quilt"

I’m getting psyched up for my next attempt.  I hope to have good results to share with you soon.  I have a box full of quilt tops ready to test out.

Until next time, happy sewing & quilting,


Bee Quilt

Finally, I have completed another project on the Bernina quilt frame and using Quilt Motion.  I truly believe my struggles with this set up are 90% due to the length of time between projects.  So many things take up time these days which brings me to the latest diversion.  We have a new family member.  Pippa joined our family this past weekend.  We are now officially a two white cat family.  Here’s our new little sweetie.


OK, back to the purpose of this post.   Introducing the Bee quilt.  A friend at church asked if I would make a quilt for his wife for Christmas.  It was originally going to be king-sized, but became queen-sized one the planning began.  His request was that it have a bee theme.  I found some interesting bee fabric that he liked and we chose 4 other coordinating 1 yard pieces and made the Turning Twenty pattern (the original).  Instead of 20 fat quarters, I used 5 yard pieces.  It wasn’t as scrappy but there were enough fabrics to make an interesting pattern.  The piecing went well and quickly.

Here’s a shot of the finished quilt.


Next came the loading on the quilt frame.  This is by far the largest quilt I’ve had on the frame and there was one obstacle I’m not sure how to get around for the next big quilt.  When the frame traveled the length of the frame, the cords from the machine and quilt motion would get caught on the center leg.  I had to keep running between the front and back of the frame each pass to make sure it wasn’t hung up each time.

Since the couple were married last year, they are still newlyweds in my book.  I chose an intertwining heart pattern for the quilt design.  Here’s a close up.  I used my favorite matching King Tut thread.

When I got to the bottom, there wasn’t enough room for another row of the same pattern, so I did a smaller border pattern for the bottom.  Here’s a close up of it.  You can see the fun honeycomb fabric we found for the borders.

"Bee Quilt Border Close Up"

Here are a couple lessons learned that I’d like to share with this project.  I decided to try a Schmetz 90 quilting needle.  That did not work well…thread kept breaking.  I went back to my Organ titanium 80 sharp needle and it worked beautifully.

Only other big issue was one of the rows I didn’t have the safe zone set well enough and the machine got too close to the quilt on the back rail and freaked out the machine and broke the needle.  Unfortunately my 830 was out of whack after the project and needs some TLC from my Bernina dealer.

Here’s another close up of the quilting.

"Bee Quilt Close Up"

One of my biggest issues still is how to handle when the machine runs out of bobbin.  I don’t want to cancel the design so the machine is unlocked and can move freely on the frame.  I have a hard time lining back up the project.  I’ve been reaching under and changing the bobbin blindly.  If anybody has a solution/tip, I’d love to hear it.

In the past I have had looping issues with the front thread to the back.  This time I had it in a few places but it wasn’t consistent.  That’s frustrating to the perfectionist in me.  I did watch and interesting on-line video about tension on long-arms, so I want to try a few of the tips next time I have a quilt on the frame (and preferably one I’m keeping instead of giving away).

The quilting for this queen-sized quilt took about 5 hours (and yes I did it straight through).  I had a deadline of Christmas, so there wasn’t any time to take a break.  I figured if I was on a roll…keep going.  Here’s a shot of the quilt so you can see the quilting.

"Bee Quilt Overall Quilting"

Yes, another good learning experience on the frame.  I sure hope it isn’t as long until the next project.  My box of quilt tops is growing and I got a king-sized one to do for a neighbor of my mom’s.

Until next time, Happy Sewing & Quilting…


Rainbow of Colors and 240 Pieces

That about sums up my latest quilt top piecing project.  I found this kit at my local quilt shop and fell in love.  I had to buy it on the spot even though it wasn’t on sale (which isn’t like me at all).  What is telling is that when I bought it, it didn’t go into the closet or stash black hole.    I went to work on it immediately.  I realized going in there were going to be a lot of pieces.  Thankfully the kit came with the Batik fabrics already cut into 2 1/2 strips.  Then I had to cut my braid pieces from the template–8 each of 30 different colors for a total of 240 pieces.   24o pieces don’t make a quilt overnight, so I’ve been enjoying constructing the 336 inch braid over the last two weeks.  I loved watching the colors come together.  For some reason my block size was larger than the kit instructions, so I had to get creative with my blocks and the final layout.  The pattern had a nice symmetrical layout which I was not able to duplicate.  So just to shake things up even further, I rotated some of the braids to point in the opposite direction.  With all these beautiful Batik colors, I didn’t think I could go wrong with any layout.  Of course I had to put my own touch on it.

This afternoon we had severe thunderstorms, so I raced to get the borders added on before the storms started.  I wanted to share at “show and tell” at my guild meeting tomorrow night.  I don’t operate my Bernina babies when there is an electrical storm…too much risk.  The pattern – Rainbow Connection designed by Osie Lebowitz features the Timeless Treasures Tonga Confetti line of fabrics.  These fabric are stunning.  You can download the free pattern here http://www.ttfabrics.net/cgi-bin/fabricshop/patterns.cgi?patternID=314

Here’s the finished top.

"Tonga Confetti - Rainbow Connection"

Thought you might like to see a close up of one of the blocks to see the brilliant colors.  I’m becoming more smitten with Batiks ever time I piece a top with them.

"Rainbow Block Close Up"

What will be next?  I really haven’t thought that far.  Oh yeah, I must get all these tops on my quilt frame and finish something soon!  Piecing is so much fun though.

Until next time, happy sewing & quilting…

Totes, Purses & Bags Oh My

I have to admit an addiction I have.  Yes, I’m a purse and tote bag kit addict.  I flock right to them in quilt shops and the quilt shows I attend.  I probably have over 20 kits in my stash right now.  I love the way they look, or their functionality or just the cool fabrics they will be made from.  Then I make them mine.  Here’s the problem.  I get them home, open them in anticipation, then read the instructions.  Ugh…don’t know if it is laziness or just my frame of mind at the time, but they 95% of the time go right back in their bag, and go hide in my sewing closet.

Earlier this summer, I vowed to make some of the elusive bags before I allowed myself back to my quilt top sewing frenzy.  I picked a couple I really liked and dove right in.  I refused to let the instructions intimidate me this time.  I am an educated woman that can follow instructions, right?  I first picked the Phat Cats Jazz Tote Bag kit that I bought at a quilt show a couple summers ago.  I love the fun fabrics and since my daughter is in our high school Jazz Ensemble, it made sense to start with this one.  Wow, it was fun and went together pretty quickly.  If I had it to make again, I’d add  pockets to the inside.  You can never have enough pockets.  Here’s the finished Phat Cat bag.

"Phat Cat Jazz Tote"

Here’s a close up of the fabric.  Love those cute jammin’ kitties & the color combinations.

"Phat Cat Jazz Tote Close Up"

Next I decided I wanted to make one of those cute little “Potato Chip Bags” designed by Paula Hughes.  The size is not one I’d ever be able to use on a regular basis as a purse…I just have to carry around too much stuff, but I thought my teenage daughter would like it.  Plus it has a musical theme and a couple of her favorite colors to boot.  It went together pretty easily too.  Wow, I can do this.  Two down.  Here’s the Musical Potato Chip Bag.  I will most likely make this one again.  It only took 3 fat quarters and who doesn’t have tons of them lying around in their stash right?

"Musical Potato Chip Bag"

Bag #3 was a bit more challenging, but it is my favorite and I am now using it as my purse and I’ve gone over two weeks without complaining about stuff getting lost in the bottom or not having enough pockets.  Rather than give up, I took it one step at a time.  The pattern is “Hamptons Handbag” by Pink Sand Beach Designs.  I have several more of their purse kits and will probably do them next time I get the hankering for “bagging”.  I chose the Moda “Twirl” fabric line for this one…love the bright summer colors.  It used lots of fusible fleece, decorbond and interfacing, but it is worth it.  The bag has good stability and is quite functional.

Here’s the finished bag.

"Hamptons Handbag"

Yes, I have overcome my bag phobia and can go back to piecing quilt tops.   I’m still trying to work a week into my schedule to do nothing but quilt my huge tops stash info finished quilts with my Bernina quilt frame and Quilt Motion.

I bought another new addition for my sewing studio this weekend (not counting the new computer and desk…that counts mostly for work).  I have been keeping my eyes on the Bernina Cutwork tool and software for a while now.  I went to a Sewing Celebration at my local dealer this weekend and decided it is a must have for my collection.  For those of you not familiar with the product, the “tool” replaces the needle on my embroidery machine and will cut out applique shapes, do traditional cutwork and more.  The demonstrator cut out 60 hexagon blocks in 6 minutes using the tool & software.  Oh yea, I could definitely get into that.  I got the software installed but will have to wait to use it because my dealer had to special order the throat plate that works with the tool.  Hopefully I’ll be up and running with this new toy in the next week.  Bernina also just came out with two new additional pieces to their design software that they unveiled at Bernina University this past week.  PaintWorks and CrystalWorks.  Oh my have to start saving up for those.  The PaintWorks tool allows you to paint on fabric using a special pen and your embroidery machine.  The CrystalWorks tool punches out a crystal pattern for you, then you apply to your fabric, pour on the crystals, brush them, place a template over them and iron on.  Sure beats adding them one at a time with the little wand.  I never got the hang of that anyway.

Until next time, happy sewing & quilting!


Me Vs. The T-Shirt Quilt & Frame

Today was the big day (well yesterday was really when I got started) that I would do battle with my t-shirt quilt and the quilt frame and get this project well on its way.  I finally (with the help of my very tech savvy hubby) got the pieces in place to upgrade Quilt Motion on my quilt frame.  By Thursday I got the backing on the frame.  I had decided since due to the stretchy nature of this quilt that I would float it on the frame rather than loading it on the front rail.  Even now, I’m not sure if that was wise or not.  I had been so proud of myself for creating the pantographs in advance and putting them on a USB stick to get ready for the quilting.  Then I realized that making a 14″ pantograph was a very silly thing to do since I can only quilt about an 7-8″ height on my machine.  Oops, back to the drawing board.  I measured the length of the quilt and came up with 7″ row height for my pantographs.  I used a simple curly wave design and my favorite variegated King Tut thread.

Now the fun began. I took a deep breath and dove into the quilting.  Row one near the end was a big disaster.  I didn’t pin the quilt top down at the top because I wanted to get the quilting very close up there.  Bad idea.  The foot got caught under the top and ripped the top and broke the needle.  BIG lesson learned.  When I tried the second time to finish the row, I used 505 temporary basting spray and that worked like a charm.  Then in the process of fixing the needle, thread and everything else…my silly laptop decided to reboot due to a Windows 7 update…thank you Microsoft, ugh!  Once I got through my tantrum, I decided to finish the row with two of the motifs.  It didn’t quite line up, but it looks OK.  Of course it had to happen at the top of the quilt rather than hidden in the middle…just my luck.

Before going further, here’s a close up of one of the blocks.  Hopefully you can see the quilting.

"T-Shirt Quilting 1"

After two rows, I stopped working on it yesterday.  I wasn’t completely happy with the look of the back of the quilt either.  I was using that same Gutermann variegated thread I had trouble with on the last quilt.  I have decided it isn’t the same weight as my King Tut I use on the front, so maybe that was some of the issue.  After a row today, I switched to a King Tut in the bobbin and was much happier with the results.  Then issue #2 came on row three.  The bobbin ran out about 3/4 way to the end of the row.  Since the machine didn’t give the out of thread notice (not sure why it usually does) I couldn’t get it out of Quilt Motion without canceling the stitching.  If I canceled I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get back to the same spot.  So, I ran a new bobbin and tried to change the bobbin reaching under the quilt.  This went OK, but the back didn’t look happy.  Once the row finished, I re-threaded the top and the bobbin and had good results.

Here’s a close up of another block.  Unfortunately I didn’t use the camera’s flash, so the coloring on this one is a bit weird.

"T-Shirt Quilting 2"

The rest of the quilt went very well.  When I thought I was getting near the end of the bobbin, I’d run a new one and change before starting a new row…another good lesson learned.  I thought I might have to make the bottom row of the quilt shorter but the spacing worked out well.  I did do some calculations at the beginning, but I really didn’t expect it to turn out.

I was really holding my breath when I took the quilt off the frame.  Due to the stretchy nature of the quilt (even with the blocks interfaced), I was very afraid it wouldn’t hang right.  I wasn’t 100% happy with the left edge of the quilt.  It was a bit wonky since that is where the rows started every time.  Since I have the rip at the top of the quilt (thankfully only about a half inch down), I may just trim off a half to 3/4″ from the outside edge of the quilt to hide the rip and even things up.

OK, I’m a big perfectionist and this wasn’t a perfect quilt, but I have to say I’m pretty happy with it.  It is currently “resting” on my guest bed.  I had the door closed so a certain someone in my household wouldn’t pick it with her claws.  I was in checking on it one last time tonight and taking photos and my little friend decided it was hers to sleep on.  I can’t be mad at her…isn’t she so cute?  She immediately likes to get on any quilt I’m sewing on when it is in her reach.  A few times she’s even tried laying on one while I’m quilting it.

"T-Shirt Quilt Snowy 1"

Well here is one last peek at the quilt.  It was very hard to get a photo of, so with kitty still on it (I think she was giving herself a bath) I took the best shot I could get of it.  Putting the binding on it and creating the label will be a piece of cake.  Here’s “Chautauqua 2001 – 2010”.

"T-Shirt Quilt Snowy 2"

I know this was a long post, but I wanted to share all my “lessons learned” with you all before I forget them.  I know if I used the frame & software on a more regular basis, I wouldn’t have quite the trouble I have.  I may just take a couple months this summer and try to do a bunch of quilting all at once.  I’m stocking up on backings to go with finished tops.  I can dream can’t I?

Until next time, happy sewing & quilting!