Monday, August 25, 2014

Free Motion Quilting Tool - Super Slider

Recently I showed you my quilting machine, so I thought I would add to that by highlighting another tool that helps make the free motion quilting experience easier,  a "Super Slider".

A Super Slider is a mat the you place under the needle plate area of your machine. The mat is made of Teflon, I think, and it allows your fabric to smoothly slide over the surface. It has a hole where the needle enters the bobbin case area. I rinse it under water once or twice a year to remove dust and thread bits. I don't use soap, just water. I dry it and place it back down. It's good as new each time.

I also place a layer of clear plastic over the entire sewing machine area where the fabric slides. I use a thicker plastic, similar to the weight of a clear shower curtain. In fact, you could use a clear shower curtain for this. I cut a hole/circle where the needle goes, and place the Super Slider over the plastic. I also rub the plastic with waxed paper to reduce friction even more. Every little bit helps to prevent hang ups when you’re stitching. Instead of waxed paper you could spray a product like Glide on a cloth and rub it on the plastic. Whatever you prefer. Slippery is good!

In this photo you can see that I secure the plastic to the table top with a PVC clamp. The clamp is part of a PVC rectangular quilt frame used for hand quilting. The photo below shows the in-tact frame and the clamp section.

Here you see the clamp section on the front of the table. 

This clamp helps the fabric move smoothly across the edge and holds the plastic in place too. In the corners I use a couple of clothes pins to secure the plastic.It's a simple, inexpensive set up that works well.

Hopefully you are getting some ideas from these tips. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Another Indispensible Tool - Pressing Sheets

With the increasing use of fusibles to make art quilts, someone had to come up with a way to prevent your iron and ironing board cover from becoming "gunky" (technical term). Fortunately, iron pressing sheets came on the market and have saved many an iron and cover from this horrible fate! 

My Pressing Sheets

Above you see a photo of my two pressing sheets. These sheets are used to prevent adhesives or sticky stuff from adhering to the iron bottom or ironing board cover. By adhesives I mean anything from fusibles to glue to Bo Nash powder to paint.  If you don’t want it on the iron or board, place a pressing sheet in between. 

You can place your fabric with adhesive on the sheet, fold the sheet over the fabric and iron. It’s a nice little sandwich and nothing sticky gets on the iron or board. You may want to get two of these, like I have, to allow for a large bit of fabric to be ironed. Each sheet is about 11" x 17", which is adequate for most of my needs. 


All the pressing sheets I have seen are slightly opaque, so you can see through them to view the positioning of the fabric. I also use them to press sheers that may melt if given direct heat from the iron.  I keep mine at the ironing board area at all times so they are handy to pull out.

To clean adhesive from them just wipe them with a damp cloth. So far I haven't had paint stick to them, but I haven't tested that to a great extent. I can't promise it won't stick or stain. 

Parchment paper can be used as an alternate to pressing sheets. I keep a roll of parchment paper the length of my ironing board in my sewing area so I can completely cover the board for really messy jobs. 

Parchment roll

I hope you find this information helpful. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Putting a Small Quilt to Good Use - Machine Cover

I have a few wall hanging sized quilts that I don't hang up because they don't go with my decor. They just hang in the closet and wait to see the light of day. I love to find a way to take something I am not using and fill a need with it. So, my need was a cover for my Handi-Quilter HQ Sweet Sixteen Machine.

This machine needs to be covered in two directions: One direction is the harp to the needle end, and the other is the back of the machine where the thread spools stand. They align perpendicular to each other, so instead of doing something in one piece, I decided to make two separate covers for each of these sections.

I had an "I Spy" quilt in the closet, not being used for anything at all, and cut it in two pieces to go over these two machine sections.  I used my serger to sew the edges together and finish cut edges. The front cover is the lower section shown in the photo below.

HQ Sweet Sixteen Cover

 It is open on two sides and sewn closed on two sides. I put a magnet in the open corner to help hold the cover in place. The corner with the magnet is the one where the edge angles up. You can see in the photo below how I folded the edges up to secure the magnets and fit better over the machine.

The back cover is the upper one in the photo above. It is closed on three sides and open on one side. I cut a square shape out of  the bottom to allow it to go over the end of the machine better.

It was a fast project and I've been happy with it since I made it.

Don't be afraid to cut up a quilt that isn't being used and re-purpose it. They are much more happy being out in the world than locked up in a stuffy old closet!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Favorite Quilting Tool - Handi-Quilter HQ Sweet Sixteen

Today’s post is dedicated to my favorite art quilting tool – my HQ Sweet Sixteen sit down machine. This is it:

I have had this machine about 3 or 4 years now and it has greatly improved the quality of my machine quilting. I used to be very stressed out when I did machine quilting, but not any more. The whole experience improved for me. I guess I should not credit the machine for improving my machine quilting, but instead say that it allows me to more closely create on fabric what I have in my head! 

The machine has a large harp, which allows me to move the bulk of the quilt around and still smoothly move the quilt under the needle. I also love the foot pedal speed adjustments. They prevent you from going faster than the set speed no matter how hard you push on the pedal. You still can adjust the speed, but its an upper limit. 

This machine only does free motion quilting. It was expensive ($5K) and I realize that not everyone wants to spend that kind of money for a machine that only does free motion quilting. I found a deal where I could buy it on credit with no interest at an affordable monthly pay rate.  My husband said, "I don't want you to be the kind of wife that only after her husband dies, goes out and gets the things she really wants. So get it now." I love him for that!  For me it was well worth the money, and I have never regretted the purchase. 

I have seen many people do beautiful machine quilting on a standard sewing machine, so there is no doubt that it can be done. But for me, this machine made a huge difference and I unabashedly admit that I love it. J 

And no, I am not being paid for this post by Handi-quilter! Thanks for visiting my blog!