Inspiration Secret! (but it's not really a secret. LOL!) May 27 2016, 0 Comments
How do you get inspired when you are trying to create something?
If you've ever played soothing music to help put a baby to sleep, or upbeat music to get you up and moving when you work out or clean up, you are already doing it, too!
Simply put, music is a great inspiration for activities, especially creative ones. Even my quilting gets better with the right music to accompany my efforts.
I listen to whatever strikes my fancy and my tastes vary greatly. I've used music for inspiration for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until college art classes that it made more sense to me than ever before.
One of my professors suggested listening to music that matched the colors I used in painting. Soft and soothing for blue, loud and brassy for red and yellow, nature sounds for green, soft flowing spiritual music for white and purple, and downbeat for dull or dark colors, etc. (It also helps to match the music to the mood you're trying to capture, but that's another subject we won't cover at this time.)
Guess what - it worked! The watercolor painting I entered into the senior art exhibit actually took top prize, much to my surprise. It was simply flowing shapes in bright purple, green and gold, which are Mardi Gras colors.
Another professor admired my painting and said, "The shapes and colors all flow together in tune. It just sings!" The college even bought the painting from me for $475, a huge amount of money to an 80's college kid (and it still is). Sad to say, I let the painting go without getting a photograph of it. Oh well .....
It still works like a charm!
Today I apply this same technique to my quilting. The embroidered quilt on my frame at present has wispy and feminine curliques with a lot of movement.
The hard part is to stick to the quilting and resist dancing my hands and arms through the air like twinkling fairies and butterflies. But if I do, I hope no one sees me or they'll think I'm totally off my rocker!
How about you - what do you use for inspiration? Leave a comment below and tell us what you find most helpful to stimulate your own sewing and quilting. We want to know!
When all else fails ... October 19 2015, 1 Comment
When all else fails ... read the directions. And if the directions aren't clear enough, write or call for more information.
From the very beginning, we knew that our Baptist Fan template would be more challenging for some quilters than for others, even some who were experienced with quilting rulers and templates.
Knowing this in advance, TopAnchor Quilting Tools has gone to great lengths to help quilters get the best results by providing videos and printed instructions, plus email and phone support (our contact information is on the instruction sheet and website).
Taking the time to read and follow the instructions is necessary for using any new tool, and especially for one that is so different. With some comments we recently saw on a blog, we realize that more clarity is needed.
“Have to go underneath to fasten the pins.”
One of the primary features of TopAnchor Quilting Tools' unique anchor post & pin is that it can be fastened to the top of the quilt without needing to reach underneath. This is shown quite clearly in the directions (with diagrams) included with every template. We will soon be posting a video showing in great detail how this is done.
The following two screen shots are from our video TopAnchor Quilting - Baptist Fan rotating template demonstration, which can be found on our website and youTube (or by just clicking on the link).
The picture below shows both hands on top of the quilt while fastening the anchor post in place.
By the way, the prong does not have to go completely through all the layers of the quilt. Simply going through the top and part of the batting is just fine. The stabilizer pin is what holds the anchor post in place and as long as the pin is snug against the prong, the anchor post won't move until the pin is removed.“Have to cut my thread every time I move to the next pivot point.”
The directions (including a detailed diagram) in the package with the template show how to move to the next set of arcs for continuous sewing without cutting the thread. (“Walk to the starting point of the next arc.”) This 'walking' action is also shown clearly in the videos posted on our website and youTube.
“Pivot point is not stable enough.”
While any quilting ruler or template is rigid, the quilt is very flexible and can stretch in any direction. That’s why it’s important to hold the ruler or template in place with one hand while quilting, usually with the hand resting on the template and the tips of a few fingertips resting on the quilt. This is a standard technique and usually one of the first learned when beginning to machine quilt with rulers.
Our Baptist Fan template is different in that it is moved with one hand while the machine is moved with the other. It takes practice to move both hands in different directions at the same time, but most people can learn to control both and get beautiful results. Practice is the key.
Although we can't really do much to control the flexibility of the quilt itself, we were able to design a small wafer to place underneath the anchor post and give the template a more stable base to rest and move on. The wafer also tightens the anchor post and helps prevent wiggle of the template. It makes the template more stable but unfortunately can't make the quilt less flexible.
“I don't know if the pin holes will go away.”
The anchor post prong and stabilizer pin are just standard 1” T-pins. The holes made in the quilt are no larger or permanent than any regular straight pin would make. In fact, these pins are much smaller than the needles used in a sewing or quilting machine and make smaller holes.
The picture below shows the prong on the bottom of the anchor post. Note the small bend in the middle of the prong. This bend is where the stabilizer pin crosses to hold the anchor post in place.
Bottom of anchor post showing bend in prong
The next picture shows a comparison of the 1" T-pin with a standard No. 16 longarm needle.
Comparison of prong & stabilizer pin with No. 16 longarm needle
The last photo shows the underside of the quilt with the anchor post and stabilizer pin in place; the bottom of the quilt is smooth and flat with nothing sticking out to scratch the machine or interfere with stitching.
Underside of quilt showing how prong & pin fit together to hold anchor post in place.
Would you like more information?
If you still have questions, let us know. We try to be helpful and give the best customer service we can. You can write to me at Betty@TopAnchorQuilting.com or call me at the number listed on the website menu under Contact Us. Our contact information is also on the instruction sheet that is packaged with every template.
Determination! May 11 2015, 1 Comment
Sometimes you just have to admire the tenacity of something to reach higher and be more than it was intended to be. Such is the case with my elderberry bush planted in the back yard at the corner of the house in an old wooden cask. Until I could decide where to plant it in my yard, I just stuck it in the peck-sized cask half full of dirt so the roots wouldn't die before it found its permanent home.
Last year, it made a feeble attempt to grow and actually had about three heads of tiny purple berries on it, but it was still in its temporary home awaiting the fence I'm trying to get put around the back yard to keep my furbabies home.
This year, the 'bush' has decided to take matters into her own hands and expand. Just look at that brown trunk from last year and all those new green stems from this year! Heck, it hasn't even been fertilized and it's already twice as tall and wide as it was last year!
Every single branch has new blooms at the tips that will develop into delicious purple berries that I plan to make into jelly if the birds don't get to them first. The first picture below is bloom on my bush, the other two are what will appear later this year as the blooms develop first into masses of blooms, then a cluster of tiny berries.
Here's what I think she did and the evidence to help prove my case.
See that stem coming up from the ground outside the cask? I think the roots went down into the ground through the hole in the bottom of the cask or through openings in the side of it. In any event, the elderberry has escaped her 'temporary' housing and the roots are now growing in the ground underneath. You have to admire her determination in making herself perfectly at home where she sits.
I'm hoping a name will pop up for her, but nothing suitable has presented itself yet. Any ideas? A living thing that has overcome its surroundings and thrived like this needs a really good one.
Lost in Quiltland April 20 2015, 1 Comment
We recently ran across many vintage quilting magazines and books, most out of print and very old.
I remember seeing many of these great quilting books in years gone by, but none grabbed me like a Kaye Wood self-published book in particular, dated 1969.
1969. Oh my! How I remember those days and my mind took me back there again.
Back in 1969 I was still a new bride and the kiddies didn't start coming for another few years. Having quilted off and on most of my life, I was still doing everything the way I was taught: cut patterns from cereal boxes to mark the fabric and then cut with scissors. I pieced with a treadle sewing machine, and the quilt was mounted on a home made quilting frame and quilted by hand.
Our one local PBS station got it's start a few years prior but with only an antennae (before cable), it was hard to pick up their programs very often. When I was lucky enough, there were one or two sewing and quilting programs I could catch on Saturday morning. Kaye Wood's program was one of them.
Oh my! How great it was to learn about tools & techniques we now take for granted: rotary cutters & mats, cutting rulers, chain sewing & strip piecing techniques, etc.
A whole new world of quilting had opened up for me!
Look at the back page of this book with all these new quilting tools Kaye had for sale in 1969! Most of them are still classics and have a place in nearly every quilting studio.
Books, video tapes, rulers and other things to make quilting super fast!
Fast forward to 2015.
My three kiddies are now in their 40's and have made me a proud grandma seven times over. After my hubby and I parted ways a few decades ago, I returned to school and got a BS degree in Graphics/Fine Arts. I moved west to work in Seattle for 20 years, then moved back home to West Virginia when I retired.
A few years ago, I got a longarm machine and started a new quilting business, then started designing and producing a line of rotating quilting templates.
So much has changed since 1969!
Today, Kaye Wood is still going strong and is a true inspiration.
She has more than 70 books currently listed for sale on her website (but no word on how many are already out of print and not available). Kaye still does classes and speaking tours, and events like the quilting cruise.
WOW! Is she impressive or what!
(And no, I'm not acquainted or affiliated with her, just a long-time admirer and wish I really did know her!)
WOW! Just WOW!
New Product - the WAFER March 29 2015, 7 Comments
If you have recently purchased templates from TopAnchor Quilting Tools, you are already aware of our newest improvement.
This is the first change to the anchor post system since our unique rotating templates were introduced way back in 2012.
The wafer fits directly underneath the anchor post and overtop of the quilt and pins.
The wafer has three main functions:
- It provides a solid platform for the template to rest on, thus steadying the anchor post,
- helps keep the anchor post from tilting, and
- takes up some of the space between the anchor post and the quilt,making the anchor post more stable and secure.
A wafer is included with each new template.
Artists and Tools February 03 2015, 1 Comment
If you gather together the elements of art (paints, brushes, a canvas, etc.), what do you have? Easy - a pile of artist's tools and materials . But when you add the talent and experience of the artist, the results are something else entirely. The most important element to any artwork is the artist.
Vincent Van Gogh is a prime example of this. With simple paints and tools he created magic on his canvases.
Think about all the great works of art that are found all over the world - they would not exist without the artists who created them. That art doesn't happen by itself.
The same is true of quilting. Most quilters have many of the elements of quilting: fabric, thread, patterns, needles, cutters, and just about anything anyone could possibly use to make a quilt. But without the quilter to put it all together, it's just a lot of sewing stuff.
One of our favorite and most famous quilters from the past was Jane Stickle. Her Dear Jane quilt hangs in a museum where we can look at and admire her stunning artwork, a creation of her talent. It wasn't her tools and materials that made her quilt, she designed made it herself.
It's possible to create a great quilt even if we only have a needle and thread to sew our pieces of fabric together. Rooms full of the latest products like stabilizers, markers, cutters, rulers, templates, patterns, fabrics, videos, DVDs, books and everything else we quilters use are amazing things but they are only stuff until you - the quilter - add your talents and abilities to the mix.
Even the most sophisticated computer software won't do anything but sit there unless someone with knowledge and expertise starts hitting those keys, inputting the right information to making it work the way it should. The computer artist still has to make creative decisions about thread, patterns, designs, type of stitching, etc. Each new decision will change the end result in some way. Without the quilter and their creative genius, that computerized system is just a chunk of expensive electronics and all those materials are just .... stuff.
Without YOU - the quilt artist - your work of art won't get made.
There are so many great tools on the market today to help quilters in our craft, but the real artistry comes from the quilter. There's no doubt that the tools make it easier to make a great quilt, but those tools will do nothing until the artist picks them up and puts them to use.
We quilters today are blessed with just about anything any quilter could ask for so we can make that next quilt. There's nothing wrong with keeping your sewing room well stocked with sewing and quilting materials and supplies. Taking advantage of all the information sources available to help us learn to quilt better makes good sense. Attend classes, buy books and DVDs, join sewing and quilting groups, shop for machines and tools that do what you want them to do. It's all good!
Great supplies make quilting so much easier than before, but don't get hung up thinking that it's the materials and tools that are the most important because they aren't.
YOU and your talent are the most important part of making a great quilt happen.
Tables for Templates! October 17 2014, 1 Comment
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 like that 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.
The template shown in the photos above is our rotating Dahlia template. Videos of the Dahlia and all our other templates and pricing information for them can be found on our website www.TopAnchorQuilting.com.
Ancient UFOs - the Quilty Kind August 04 2014, 2 Comments
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.
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!
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.
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