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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Longarm Quilting With Minky Fabric

I'm going to write another post about longarm quilting on minky fabric since it can be tricky and a few tips might help.  I have worked with minky quite a few times over many years and it can be a headache!
First of all, there is a big difference from one kind of minky fabric to another.  You can find cheap, stretchy, minky.  It will not work as a quilt backing.  Do not buy it or try to use it if a customer brings you a cheap, stretchy minky.  How do you know what is good quality?  It should feel thick and it should have a 25% stretch or less when you pull on the stretchy side.  The cheap fabric is more like swimwear and has a lot of stretch.  I know from experience that it does not work to quilt with this kind as a quilt backing.  It just keeps stretching and stretching and when you take the quilt off the machine, it looks like a puffy, wrinkly mess.
When loading minky on the machine, load so the stretchy part is going cross wise (vertical).  You will have much better control on how much or how little stretch you are getting when the stretch is only happening from the side clamps.  If you place the stretch horizontally, the rollers will be causing the minky to stretch and you may not realize how much it's stretching until you take it off and it all bunches up as it returns to it's orginal size.
I will only quilt a large overall pattern on a quilt that is backed with minky.  If you try something tightly space, or try stitch in the ditch, it will shift and you most likely will end up with tucks in the minky.  So I highly recommend you keep the spacing a minimum of 1" apart.
Minky is heavy so it needs a very lightweight batting.  I have quilted with no batting using minky but my preference is to use a very light batting.  In the quilt pictured, I used Dream Wool.  It is very light and worked perfectly with this quilt.  I was doing a T-Shirt quilt and if I would have used a cotton batt, it would have been too heavy.  The way it was, since it was such a large quilt, the finished project weighed well over 15 pounds!
By the way, just a plug for Dream Batting.  It's my favorite.  I love the way their blend batt feels.  They have wonderful batting in every type.  My only issue is that it's on the east coast and they keep pretty much normal business hours, so if I don't remember to call them in the morning, I usually have to wait until the next day.  You can purchase Dream Batting at quite a few quilt shops, but I buy it on large rolls.
After I load the minky on the machine and the batting, it's time to get the top on.  I float all my tops.  I do this, because I don't want any stretch on the top (not on the back either).

This quilt pictured was a challenge.  It was a well-done T-Shirt quilt but it was pretty thick in places and some of the T-shirts had things you could not quilt over.  I choose a large pattern and one I do a lot so I could avoid these places easily without making the pattern look like it was interrupted.  This is a pattern that I can do with one hand too.  When doing a T-shirt quilt, many times I have to use one hand to make sure the fabric is not stretching or running ahead of the foot.  With one hand I guide the machine, and with the other I smooth the fabric as it's stitching.  It takes a little practice to do this but it can be helpful with T-shirt quilts, especially when you come to an especially stretchy t-shirt.
The final picture is of the quilt off the machine.  It turned out really well.  And the minky on the back looks great.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm Still Alive!!

No I haven't died nor has anything bad happened to me.  I am still alive and still quilting.  You would not think so by looking at the last post on my blog.  So let me explain!
Last February I took a part-time job as a secretary/bookkeeper at my church.  I now work Monday through Thursday 8 or 9 until noon and sometimes even in the afternoon.  That has been a huge change for me and a pretty big learning curve especially in the bookkeeping area.  But I have really enjoyed this new adventure.
So I quilt less than before and this year am on a mission to do less customer quilts and more of my own quilting, especially some of those show quilts I have rattling around in my head.
At the end of last summer, I finished up an embroidery quilt called Farm Fresh Produce by Crabapple Hill. This was a quilt I had to make.  My own yard has become a bit of a farm over the last years with a huge garden and chickens pecking around the place.  I also manage a community garden and teach gardening and canning classes.  So this quilt fit right in with my life.  And it won a 3rd place ribbon at the NW Quilt Expo in September!



Friday, January 18, 2013

Beaver or Duck?


Here in Oregon there is a huge rivalry between the 2 big universities; Oregon State - Beavers and University of Oregon - Ducks.  This last week I quilted two quilts for a high school raffle that are identical patterns but representing each school.  The race is on to see which quilt will win with raffle ticket sales.  So which do you choose?  (Black and Orange are the Beaver colors; Green and Yellow are Duck colors)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cat Quilt

I love cats and one of my customers loves cats too.  So I got to quilt the cat quilt that she made.  It turned out really well.  I like the scrappy look.  Lots of civil war fabrics and beautiful colors.  It seems like I'm seeing fewer and fewer scrappy looking quilts and much more art quilts and quilts with big blocks and very contemporary fabrics.  So I enjoyed quilting this quilt.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Health -- this has nothing to do with quilting



Dear Family & Friends
I thought I would send out an email with the update on my health.  First of all let me say, thank you, thank you, for all the encouragement, prayer, support and concern that has been showered on me this week.  I have really felt God’s presence and strength daily. 

Just a brief history:  In 2009 or 2010 I started having some double vision problems.  Doctor’s wanted me to have an MRI but I put it off until March of 2011.  It was in that MRI that a tumor was found in my cavernous sinus which is located in the center back of our heads.  I probably will never forget that day with the call from a doctor saying I had a ‘large tumor’ and he was sure it would have to be removed.  Shortly after that we found out is was most certainly a benign slow growing tumor called a meningioma.  It does not grow in brain tissue but in the spaces in your head most often between the skull bone and the brain tissue.  After seeing a specialist up at OHSU, I was told that this particular area of the brain is very difficult to remove a tumor from so the best thing to do would be to watch it and have regular MRIs.  I had another MRI about 6 months later and it showed no measurable growth in the tumor but the possibility of a aneurism behind my left eye.  After seeing another specialist up at OHSU they thought a cerebral angiogram would be in order to look at both issues.  So finally just this week I had the cerebral angiogram.  You may be wondering why I’m so slow to do anything – we had to get individual medical insurance coverage a couple years ago and I was denied insurance coverage because of the double vision issue.  Once you’ve been denied, it’s impossible to get normal coverage.  I could get on the high risk state pool but the monthly premium was way too high and we make just slightly over the wage where we were eligible for any financial assistance.  So we have had to wait until our savings account has money in it before we proceed with the next medical thing.

So back to the cerebral angiogram of this week.  It went very well.  My care was wonderful up at OHSU and other then a bruised and sore groin I’m doing just fine.  The angiogram test revealed that the aneurism was small and the doctor told us nothing to be concerned about since most likely it would never be an issue.  He was concerned about the tumor but since it wasn’t his specialty, he said he would see if the doctor at OHSU who specializes in brain tumors would have a look at the study and possible even come and see us before we left.  Well, about 20 minutes later he walked in the room.  He said that if I were 75 and had this tumor he would tell me to go home and forget about it, but since I was still a ‘young woman’ (I loved that part), most likely something would need to be done eventually.  The tumor surrounds the carotid artery on the right side and has blocked it about 80%.  If or when it grows and blocks it more, some action will need to be taken.  There are basically two options:  brain surgery to try and remove some or all of the tumor and a carotid artery bypass or radiation therapy to try and reduce the tumor without damaging the carotid artery.  Both pretty risky and with outcomes that would probably cause some other serious issues.  He recommended that sometime in the future we start looking into these options and consulting with some of the experts who do this kind of thing.  He is a neurologist that could do the first option.  He was also saying that this kind of tumor may stay stable for a long time and then occasionally they have a growth spurt. 


So that is where things are at today.  They were not able to help me with the double vision issues so I will continue to have glasses that help and then sometimes struggle with seeing well.  I will try and have regular MRI’s to check on the tumor and at some point start to gather information from some specialists as to what is the best options down the road if something has to be done.  The doctor who saw me also told me things to look for that would be warning signs that the carotid artery is being too compromised. 
Rick is also looking into possibilities for insurance coverage.  I don’t think there’s any way we could ever proceed with anything without coverage.  We still don’t even know what the cerebral angiogram cost but hopefully we have enough saved with the discount we get from OHSU to cover the cost. 

Now to the spiritual aspect of all this.  God is using this to grow me, to change me, and to encourage others in their own difficulties.  For all of us, only God knows our last breath on this earth.  For all of us, if we know Christ as our Savior, we have such hope for more than this life.  Sometimes things like this help us to sort through our lives and get rid of some of the junk that has no eternal significance.  Wake up calls are always a good thing and a tumor in your head is a definite wake up call!  I totally rest in God’s sovereignty and control over my life.  I trust Him to work out His good purposes in my life and hopefully my days to come will bring Him much glory.  I really have no fear.  How can I when I have a heavenly Father who watches over all of my days.  One of my favorite sayings of recent is from Winnie the Pooh; “What day is it” asked Pooh.  “It’s today” squeaked Piglet.  “My favorite day”, said Pooh.  God’s Word says it best in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”  Let’s live in the moment.
So there’s my thoughts and heart on this whole journey.  Thanks again for caring.
Laurie

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recent Customer Quilts




Here's a couple customer quilts that I have done in the last several weeks.  They turned out really well.  Both had quite a bit of 'blank' space.  Always fun to do quilts like that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

10 Minute Quilt Blocks


I'm normally a skeptic.  If I see a title that says 10 minute quilt blocks, I'm thinking, yeah right, who can make a block in 10 minutes?  But that's exactly what I did this morning.  I sewed 9 blocks using the pattern from the book, '10 Minute Quilt Blocks', in less than 2 hours.  The first couple blocks were slow because the directions and pictures were a little confusing to follow.  Mostly it was something I'd never done the way the blocks were put together.  The center squares that are in gold are folded so it gives it a 3-dimensional look.  I'm going to put a border on the quilt and use it on the twin bed in our spare bedroom.  It felt really good to put a quilt top together in such a short time!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fall is almost here

I could hardly believe when I looked at the last date of my most recent post -- April!  My intention is to post regularly -- but, summer came and life got extremely hectic.  Over the summer my life has been full of gardening, 4-H and fair, canning, grandkids and kids around a lot!  It's been a good summer though.  Needless to say, quilting took a back burner to life for the last few months. 


Here's a customer quilt I finished quite recently that will be shown at the NW Quilt Expo the end of September.  I hope it wins!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Recent Customer Quilts





Here's a couple quilts I finished this week.  I really liked them both but the house quilt was extra fun.  I tried to make the quilts that 'hang' on the outside of the houses look like a miniature quilts.  Lots of small quilting.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Working on one of my own quilts

I spent several days last week working on one of my own quilts.  That's a rare occurrence for me!  This quilt has been complete and ready for quilting for almost 2 years.  Finally it's started.  Unfortunately I didn't get it done and now it needs to come off the machine so I can do a customer quilt.  But my ideas for the quilting are drawn and the basic framework for the quilting is all stitched down.  The quilt was completely stabilized with SID quilting before I put any designs on it.  Hopefully it won't be a year or more until I get back to it.