Open Line Friday

Machine Quilting, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters and Birders (seems a lot of you share my interest in birds!)

My Sun or Rain, Little Bird quilt seemed to do the trick–the sun came out yesterday!  –always notable here in Minnesota, where the forsythia bush is just starting to turn yellow and the grass is barely green.  The sunny day gave me a burst of energy so I spent the day cleaning and purging and pulling out NEW COLORS–like this vase quilt.


OPEN LINE FRIDAY–Everyone Asks, Everyone Answers!

Ipad Woes

Some readers are still having trouble with their iPads–small photo sizes.  I haven’t changed anything here…

Can anyone shed light on this problem or how they fixed it on their iPad?

Popping the Thread

One reader is having trouble popping the thread to the top when beginning to stitch…Here’s my method

  • Place quilt under the needle
  • Hold top thread taut
  • Needle down (either push button or hand wheel)
  • Needle up (either push button or hand wheel)
  • Quickly pull up on top thread–that should do it!
  • If not, check to see that both the top and bobbin are threaded properly

Favorite Solids

I use Kona solids for most of my quilts, but even though they have 303 choices, I still want more choices…

Kona Color Card

I purchased some ten inch squares (See the Little Bird Quilt) and a package of fat quarters from Craftsy’s new Boundless collection–and I really like the look and feel of them as well!  If you are interested, use my affiliate link HERE (I get a little something toward my “Tuesday Tutorial” fund that way.)

Boundless Solids

Photographing Quilts

I’ve had several questions about the best way to photograph quilts, so I thought I would highlight that information whenever I can.

First, I always use natural light from a window and add overhead lights if necessary.

Focal point is important…Notice in the photo above, I focused on the flowers and the quilt is blurry.

In the photo below, the focal point is on the quilt, and the flowers are blurry.

Machine Quilting, Lori Kennedy

What about YOU?  Do YOU have any questions?  any Answers?  Any Comments?

What do YOU do when Spring arrives?  Do you quilt as often?

We’d LOVE to hear!


PS…Just a few days left of the 50% offer on  my new Craftsy class-Free Motion Techniques:  From Doodle to Design.  It’s loaded with ideas, tips, motifs, techniques, patterns…..

–It’s received ONE review and it’s FIVE STARS!!!  LOL

50 thoughts on “Open Line Friday

  1. I do find it more difficult to stay in my sewing room once Spring arrives. I try to sew like the wind in the winter months.

  2. I tend to slow down during spring and summer but always have a quilting project going on for those small spaces of time I can squeeze in to quilt!

  3. Popping bobbin thread – I find the quirk on my machine is to stop with the needle headed back down into the fabric – but not down – this seems to make it easier to pull up the bobbin thread – trial and error to discover this!

    • Thank you! You make a good point –that all of our machines have little quirks like that!

  4. The temperature is so nice that is hard to start sewing.I ‘m going to set my machine to practice some of your doodles.Hope you have a great weekend.Thank you for sharing your ideas and projects.

  5. For popping the bobbin thread, try putting the presser foot down. My machine won’t always catch the bobbin thread when the foot is up.

  6. What are the benefits of using spray starch, when do you use it, and how? Are there any possible bad side affects from using it (such as staining the material)? I’ve quilted many, many quilts and have never used it.

    • I use Best Press (a pump spray starch & sizing product) throughout the quilting process; from fabric prep prior to cutting, pressing seams and preparing quilt top and back for FMQ. I love how it stabilizes my fabric, makes it slicker for FMQ and helps my seams stay the way I press them. I have made tube quilting projects and it really helped stabilize the bias edges.

      • I agree. Starch is a quilter’s friend. I spray my fabric, front and back, fold it up, put it in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. The starch really saturates the fabric. I learned this from Sharon Schamber who makes beautiful award winning quilts.

      • I love Best Press and I use nothing else for my quilting fabrics. I, too, liberally starch my fabrics, finding the they behave better that way. Of course, I also prewash everything, so I need the starch to add sizing back to the fabric. I also wash all of my quilts (better for me to find out if there is a problem than the recipient), so any starch left after all is done gets washed away.

    • I don’t use starch but sizing instead…I find it is “kinder” to fabric and also the iron…less chance of residue. I either use Best Press or any store brand is fine too, like Faultless. I was taught many years ago that sizing is better, so that is what I’ve always used.

    • When I’m using new, unwashed fabrics, and piecing simpler patterns, I can skip the starch. However, I’ve found that spray starch really helps to restore the crispness, body, and stability that I lose when I’ve prewashed my fabrics. When I don’t use starch, I can’t get a pressed seam to stay all the way open and all the way flat when I stitch the next piece to that unit, and that little bitty smidge of fabric that rolls back over the stitching line negatively affects my accuracy. I have seen the same phenomenon even with paper piecing, and major improvement when I starch my fabric pieces before stitching them to the foundation paper. When I’m sewing strips or adding borders, starch helps to keep everything flat and wave-free, reducing the likelihood that I’ll accidentally stretch things as I’m sewing the borders. When I’m piecing bias edges, I get less stretching and distortion if I’ve starched the pieces ahead of time, and then I go ahead and starch the seam after I’ve pressed it open. My goal with the starch is to make my pieced units and blocks feel like they are made out of a stiff batik fabric even though many of my fabrics (especially those gorgeous Kaffe Fassett prints) started out much softer and slipperier. I use Faultless Heavy Spray Starch.

      Another added benefit of spray starch: A starched finished quilt top is a lot easier to draw quilting lines on, and it’s easier to get the quilt layers smooth and even for basting and pucker-free quilting when both the quilt top and the backing fabric are perfectly pancake-flat and crisp.

      • I like to starch my materials. A very economical homemade starch is diluted Elmer’s school glue–diluted to the strength you want, into a spray bottle. Rinse the nozzle after each use. Washes right out.

        Precaution about starching–if you spray it and some areas don’t get it, there may be an issue. The starched areas shrink a bit and the others don’t. Found out the hard way when doing a One Block wonder. Putting in a bag and letting soak through seems like a good idea.

      • RE : starching…. in the beginning I bought 3 brands of spray starch. I was not happy with results of any of them. I bought a liquid starch. My process: 1. pour full strength starch into a shallow plastic container large enough for my piece of fabric to lie down in container. 2. Put fabric piece into the starch and let soak for few seconds until saturated. 3. Place dripping fabric onto an acrylic box lid and smooth it out. 4. prop one end of lid up a few inches. 5. Use stubby art paint brush and brush excess starch off fabric and let drain to bottom of lid. Repeat with other fabric pieces. 6. Use excess starch on other fabric pieces. 7. Forget about it for couple hours. Check to see when fabric is dry. On my porch in sun, takes short time. LOL..
        I know this creates a very stiff piece of fabric. I consulted with my local sewing machine repairman who was 35 years experienced. He assured me it would not hurt my machine or bobbins or needles to sew right thru the starched pieces to make quilt blocks. He was right, but I do that on my old mechanical machine. A commissioned quilt, made from plaid shirts of her deceased husband, pleased a widow friend. I don’t think I could have gotten all those plaids to line up so nicely without starch.
        Nine of his shirts made 2 double bed quilts from 6 inch squares.

      • That is a lot of work-but I agree-heavy starch makes quilting easier! I took a class from Debra Wagner-one of the early machine quilters and she said you should starch fabric until it breaks when you drop it!

      • Gee whiz… I had not thought of it as a lot of work till I read my note again…. It is so routine for me, I don’t think about it..I rather do that a dozen times, than cook and wash dishes ! 🙂

  7. Popping the thread. If you have an older machine without an automatic needle stop and are turning the hand wheel, make sure the “thread take up lever” is in its highest point before trying to pull up the bobbin thread. The bobbin thread will then be released from the mechanism below and will come up easy. If not, it will not come up or you will have three threads. Always start sewing with the thread take up lever in the uppermost position and you will eliminate a lot of thread nests and unthreaded needles. If you have an automatic needle stop on your machine, it puts the needle in the correct position so the problems with the bobbin thread is eliminated. Hope this helps.

  8. My machine expects me to cut the tail of the bobbin thread short as I put the bobbin cover back on, but I’ve found that for quilting a quilt, that makes it too short to make it all the way to the top of the quilt. I have to leave the tail long for quilting.

    • Exactly! My machine has an auto thread trimmer, but I’ve found that it leaves the bobbin tail way too short so I don’t use the auto thread trimmer when I’m doing FMQ or any other technique where I need to pull up the bobbin thread before beginning to sew.

  9. Spring here on Canada’s west coast (or wet coast as it’s often referred to) is heralded not only by crocuses and daffodils, but by the return of the Rufous hummingbirds. The Anna’s have been overwintering here for several years now, but when the Rufous return the skirmishes ensue. I just put out more feeders and watch the wild activity. We had 17 birds at the feeders one evening. Some were at the openings in the feeders and others were hanging in the air waiting a turn, before they all headed off to their nests for the night. An amazing sight.
    I’m still wildly quilting while the spirit persists. Always another project waiting its turn. ?

  10. I’m still learning my new Bernina, which has a great needle up and down button, but I think that having the needle in the center position also helps it catch the bobbin thread to pull it up. Keep tweezers handy to grab any short stub and pull it above the quilt layers. Lifting the pressure foot releases the top tension if you need to pull both threads.

    Spring! I want to do it all – garden, sew beautiful quilts, sit in a chair in the sun and read, listen to the birds,,,,,,,

  11. On a different topic, Lori, do you have or ever used a Sizzix or Accuquilt cutter for your cutting needs? Some quilters wouldn’t be without one and others see no need. The dies used can make it a very expensive item to have. If anyone who has any advice on them I would love to hear it. Thanks.

    • I have an Accuquilt Go! And do use it often. I bought a lot of dies in the beginning but have found I use the same ones over and over. Mostly I use it for cutting scraps into 5 in squares or one of the two tumbler sizes I have. I use these for kid and charity quilts. I toss fabric chunks into a bin and when full pull out my Go! I also have the 2.5 inch strip die but forget about using it for some reason. The 6 inch rectangle is also good for scraps. So I guess for me the value is scrap utilization and making scrap style quilts.

      • I appreciate your input, Delaine. The 2-1/2/” strip is one I was considering but thought maybe just practice cutting skills more. I don’t have Sizzix or Accuquilt but advantage to Sizzix is it can cut all other companies dies including Accuquilt. Do you think a cutting machine is worth the investment? I’m seriously considering getting one. Don’t know which one to get.

      • I’ve not heard of Sizzix, so I can’t offer an opinion on it. I do like my Accuquilt. It was a retirement gift from a group of friends so I didn’t have to make the decision to buy it–but I am a gadget but, so I’m sure it wouldn’t have been long before I did. If you have the money for the purchase and the space for it, I say buy one. And I will definitely remember to use the 2.5 die!!

      • What an awesome retirement gift. I’m hoping for a cutting machine for my birthday/Mother’s Day combination gift this year. Both on the same day & if the 5 kids would go in on it that would be a great help. Thanks again for your input. And yes, USE your 2.5″ strip die!!

      • My birthday is the 12th and often falls on Mother’s Day too!! Years ago I established the rule that it was Mother’s Day until noon after which it became Birthday. Two meals out two sets of cards and gifts! I hope your family will listen to your wants!!

  12. My year in Arizona has fallen into a rhythm of piecing a quilt in the summer and quilting it in the cooler months. When it’s so hot outside (110 degrees!) or I’m traveling around in our motorhome, having a project that doesn’t cover me in quilts and batting is nicer. I bet those of you in colder climates love working on quilts when it’s snowy outside!

  13. I have lots of windows in my studio, so I enjoy sewing and quilting all year round. I find it helpful to take small breaks frequently. Sometimes it’s to put laundry in or out of the washer or dryer, or walk around for a little bit. Other times I just look out the windows and enjoy the view or whatever is happening.

  14. Please, please, please take a photo of your Forsythia bushes. We used to have one when I lived in Ohio, and I loved those yellow blooms. Don’t have them here in Texas. Guess it’s too hot in El Paso for them. Thanks.

  15. When you baste your quilts what type of thread do you use and do you take the basting out or leave it in?

    • The class is designated intermediate because I don’t go through machine set up, but there are a lot of beginner motifs in the class. Also, the emphasis on doodling is a skill every beginner should start with.

  16. I bought your class! I probably won’t be able to watch it until summer. Teaching first graders, caring for 4 horses, chicks, and the rest, quilting, and visiting with my grands every weekend, doesn’t leave enough time to sit and learn. I will though. I have 8 small projects waiting for layering so hope to get some quilting ideas before I start. Fun: we have an albino robin visiting this year! I’d attach a photo, but that can’t be done here. She’s beautiful. I named her Angel.

  17. Congratulations on another wonderful video class! Why are you surprised by the stars? Great tip on photographing quilts. Natural light is the best for nice sharp colors. The fabric colors are awesome! I had no idea there were over 300 of them. Thank you for all you do.

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