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Posts Tagged ‘Bernina’

Last summer, I met a new client who told me an old story. She had stuff in a box and didn’t want to move that box around anymore. She wanted to do something with the contents of that box that she could enjoy and that would honor the former owners of the artifacts in the box. Does that sound familiar?

Wedding Gown from 1910

1910 Wedding Gown

So, what was in the box? Three generations of wedding gowns, carefully wrapped in tissue: my client’s wedding gown from the 1970’s, her mother’s wedding gown from the 1940’s, and her grandmother’s gown from around 1910.

About the Design
Working within the confines of a 24″ wide by 36″ long size for the quilt, I needed to use the wedding gowns in a way that would visually feature and honor all three in some way. My client told me it wasn’t immensely important for her to be able to see her 1970’s gown in the finished quilt, but she really did like her braided belt. We agreed that her grandmother’s gown was the most interesting and should be showcased. Her mother’s gown was lovely and handmade, and had features I wanted to highlight.

Wedding Gown from the 1970's

1970’s Wedding Gown in the Box

To design this quilt, I used my Celebration Quilt worksheet to determine color, pattern, materials, techniques, and to make other design decisions. (If you own my book Creating Celebration Quilts or have taken this workshop, you have this worksheet.) While we quilters often think of quilts in terms of strips or blocks, I approached this quilt with layers as my goal. Each generation would have its own layer.

Layer One: Foundation from 1970’s Gown
My client’s wedding gown was made of a white knit, which gave me the additional challenge of stretchy fabric. To create a base layer for this quilt, I found an appropriate backing, added batting, and basted fabric from the skirt of the 1970’s gown to this quilt sandwich as if this gown were the quilt top. I grid-quilted it on my BERNINA 820 at 1 1/2″ intervals to keep the knit stable. Everything else in this quilt would be appliqued to this foundation.

Let me just pause for a moment and say how very hard it is to cut — yes, CUT — vintage garments. Here’s what I tell myself: This garment is beautiful. It lived a wonderful life and is now in a box where it gets no use, has no exposure, brings no joy. If I cut this garment and make it part of something else, it will have a new life where it will be seen and appreciated every day.

Layer Two: Background from 1940’s Gown

1940's Wedding Gown

1940’s Wedding Gown in the Box

My client’s mother’s gown was really special. It was hand sewn from silk and lots of really lovely lace. I wanted to include it so that you could see it was still a dress, but there wasn’t enough real estate in this quilt to highlight both the 1910 gown and the 1940’s gown. I removed the lining from the 1940’s gown and auditioned several layouts that would show the bodice clearly. I also wanted to highlight the points at the cuffs.

Layer Three: Foreground from 1910 Gown
My client’s grandmother was tiny. Her wedding gown looks child-size. Every detail was well-preserved and, well, beautiful. I couldn’t fit the whole gown on the quilt (If I could have changed the quilt size at this point, I would have.) and I hated to lose any of the gorgeous lace detail. I started by removing the lining and then I positioned the dress on the quilt without cutting away anything. I tried placing it vertically, parallel with the sides of the quilt, but that made for a really boring composition. Then, I tried angling the dress to the right and to the left. The diagonal line made the quilt much more interesting and it left some room to the right to show off the 1940’s lace bodice.

Construction

Couching by hand

Couched Floss in the Binding Ditch

Once I knew where everything would go, I pinned things firmly in place and then hand-appliqued everything to the base layer. Where there where big expanses of gown between the stitched edges, I followed the lines of the lace or construction and added more hand-stitching to keep things flat and secure.  Once everything was in place, I trimmed the quilt to size and bound it. To add a little contrast between the binding and the quilt itself, I added a line of Aurifil’s new cotton floss hand-couched in the ditch. It’s subtle, but I think it was an important addition. Finally, I added my client’s braided silk belt. This was what she loved about her gown and I wanted it to show. I handstitched it across the top and left the ends to hang free, framing the other two gowns.

Finished quilt: Three Generation of Wedding Gowns

Out of the Box: Three Generations of Wedding Gowns

A Few Final Thoughts
When I make a Celebration Quilt for a client, I try very hard to use only the materials they supply. Everything in the quilt should be infused with meaning and memories. The only fabrics I added to this quilt were the binding, the backing, and the fabric for the printed labels.

Don’t forget the back of the quilt! When I have artifacts or leftovers that would not fit on the front of a Celebration Quilt, I try to make them work on the back. In this case, I used the lace points from the 1910 gown to highlight the labels. Because the quilt was somewhat unbalanced weight-wise, I added a second sleeve at the bottom for a thin metal slat or drapery weights to help the quilt hang perfectly.

Three labels

This quilt needed three labels to tell the whole story.

This quilt has three labels. One includes the name of the quilt and information about how it came to be. The second label includes pictures of all three brides, including names and dates. The third label includes the anatomy of the quilt, showing a picture of the quilt with arrows identifying what artifacts are where. This is a good idea any time the artifacts may not be obvious or the quilt may eventually go to someone who would not recognize the contents.

This quilt may not be for everyone; it’s not supposed to be. My client is happy. She has hung this quilt in her new home where she can enjoy it every day. An effective Celebration Quilt is personal and meaningful — and designed as a one-of-a-kind piece of art. If you are interested in learning how to make Celebration Quilts, you can buy my book or come to one of my workshops. If you bring the seed of an idea, I’ll help you make a plan. If you want to talk with me about making a Celebration Quilt for you, e-mail me and let’s start the conversation.

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I am a lucky quilter. I readily acknowledge this. I am a Bernina National Artisan and the happy recipient of a loaner machine — an artista 730e. I love the things it does that my Bernina 820 does not.

As a quilter, I spend my sewing time working on quilts and quilt-related projects. Yes, I learned to sew by making garments, but who has time to hem pants and replace buttons, much less learn machine embroidery? Me, apparently.

Eric on his BMW

My Husband on his Bike

The Project
My husband loves to camp. Recently, when he realized a lifelong dream and purchased a motorcycle, he began looking at his camping gear in a new way. He began to attend BMW rallies with his brother, toting all of his gear on his bike. He traded his folding camp chair for a Kermit chair, well-known to motorcycle camping enthusiasts. He exchanged his camp towel (an old bath towel) for a new high-tech microfiber towel. Then came the request. “My chair and towel look like everyone else’s. Could you put my name on them for me?” I thought quickly. Sharpie pen? Fabric paint and a hand-cut stencil? Ahhh. I could use my 730e to machine embroider whatever he needed. I could use machine embroidery to help him farkle.

I learned some important things through this process and I want to share them along with a few project details.

The Design
After much discussion, we decided to embroider my husband’s first name. I wanted to use my monogram designs, and so I campaigned for three simple letters. However, many of the campers don’t know his last name; they just know him as Eric. And the font was important, of course. After much back-and-forth with e-mail, PDF font samples, and help from patient and generous friends, we settled on a design.

Bernina 730e with embroidered towel

My 730e with Embroidered Microfiber Towel

Project Details
Font
: The Bernina embroidery software I used allowed me to import True Type fonts. I went to ITCFonts.com and found the perfect fonts: ITC Rennie Mackintosh Std Bold and ITC Rennie Mackintosh Ornaments. Click, purchase, download. Check. By rotating and resizing, I was able to lay out the design exactly as we wanted it to look.

Thread: Both the chair and the towel are dark blue. We entertained yellow, white, and green for thread colors, but we settled on grey. I used Isacord thread. Great stuff!

Stabilizer: I used a tear-away for both the chair back and the towel. The towel had no real loops, and so I did not need that clear topping to prevent the loops from being caught and the design from sinking too far down.

Kermit Chair with Name

Embroidered Kermit Chair

The Back of the Design: I didn’t really care if the back of the name showed on the towel. Who would see it? I cared very much about the wrong side of the stitching showing on the back of the chair. My husband had the perfect solution. He had a patch he saved from one of the two coast-to-coast bicycle trips he made with Wandering Wheels. We both loved the irony of a bicycle patch on a chair used at motorcycle rallies. I sewed the patch on the back of the chair over the wrong side of the embroidery. Problem solved! You can see a faint line of stitching around the name on the chair.

Wandering Wheels PatchThis project took longer than I wanted it to, but I learned a lot about machine embroidery in the process. I loved using the technology I had on hand. I am mesmerized by the 730e as the embroidery module moves the hoop in perfect synchronization with the needle to form a perfect design. I must admit that I’m looking around the house for other things that need to be embroidered. I had fun. Maybe I’ll work on quilts next week.

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Give a Little Gift Bag Cover ImageWhat’s better than a gift? A gift that’s wrapped in a gift!

I love pretty gifts. I appreciate the time it takes to wrap a beautiful gift. All my life, I’ve taken time to wrap pretty gifts, and I’ve gone through a lot of paper. I have nothing against wrapping paper, but it seems like a one trick pony. You buy it, use it once (or more if you’re really careful), and throw it away. Make one simple gift bag, and you’ll realize how quickly you can make a stash of bags large enough to wrap an entire year’s worth of gifts!

Stack of Fabric with Red Thread

Ready to sew!

For years I’ve wrapped holiday gifts in fabric bags. I started small, using the bags only for special gifts and then I ramped up production and started to use the bags exclusively. What started as a whim has become a bit of an obsession, and I want to share that with you. There are lots of benefits to using fabric gift bags for your wrappings:

  • Fabric gift bags are green. These gift bags can last for years, creating traditions among your family as the bags travel back and forth between households. There’s no waste beyond the gift tags and any tissue paper you may choose to use.
  • Fabric gift bags can be really personal. When I shop for gift bag fabric, I watch for fabrics that will appeal to specific family and friends. Dinosaurs and trucks for my great-nephews, cardinals and snow-covered trees for my mother-in-law, anything less froofy for the men in my life.
  • Fabric bags are the perfect canvas for trying out new things. You have lots of special stitches on your sewing machine; why not use them? Are you hoarding variegated thread? Use it up! They’ll make more!

    Bag with Bernina Specialty Stitches

    Pretty Bernina Stitches

  • Fabric bags are convenient. My family has begun to build up their own gift bag supplies as they receive the bags each year. My niece, my mother-in-law, and my husband all commented this year about how easy it was to wrap gifts.
  • The bags are great for travelers who can’t wrap gifts before they clear pre-flight security. Grab a stack of bags and wrap your gifts when you get to your destination. No paper to wrinkle, no shopping for tape or ribbon.  
Miles of Drawstring

Making Miles of Drawstring

The pattern’s a great stashbuster, as you begin to pick through your fabric collection with a new perspective. You know that fabric that you don’t want to cut up because it’s too pretty? Make a bag. Only have a fat quarter? Make a bag. Have over a yard? Make a BIG bag! And don’t forget you can sew your own drawstrings! I use my Bernina binding attachment to fold and sew it closed. Yes, I make miles and miles of the stuff!

I still make a nice supply of simple cotton bags for my gifts every year, but now I’ve started making a few special bags with some very special materials.

Hand Dyed Fabric and Trim

Treasures From Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts creates wonderful hand-dyed collage packs and I have fallen in love with them. I choose a color, pick a collage pack, and then augment the contents with vintage linens, doilies, and trim that Judy Gula (Artistic Artifacts owner) has lovingly collected and then hand-dyed.

Hand-Dyed Gift Bag

2 Doilies, Fabric, Rickrack & Lace, All Hand-dyed

One more thing: don’t keep the bags to yourself. I tried that in the beginning, but it felt selfish. The bags are part of the gift. Give them away and encourage the recipients to do the same. I put labels inside my bags for everyone to sign so that each bag has a record of who has used it. It’s that simple. Give away the bag, get a smile, and save some trees that would have become wrapping paper. Give a Little Gift Bag and help change the world, one gift bag at a time.

The pattern is available on my website: www.MoonlightingQuilts.com or click here to go directly to the Pattern Page. Send me pictures of your gift bags…Thanks!

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It’s that time of year again. We’re counting down until it’s time to open gifts in the Souder household. Do you celebrate your holiday with stocking stuffers? When I was little, we didn’t have much. Our stocking stuffers were practical gifts with a few chocolate coins and a tangerine. I think practicality when I buy stocking stuffers. And so, how would you fill a quilter’s Christmas stocking?

  1. Christmas TreeCotton swabs — for cleaning our sewing machines
  2. Bobbins — for the sewing machine we use the most (yes, we have more than one); I could use some for my Bernina 820
  3. That Purple Thang — really; it’s just purple plastic, but it’s a surprisingly useful tool
  4. Clover seam ripper — no one wants to rip out stitching, but I think this is the best ripper on the market
  5. Bobbin thread — in neutral colors; I’m a big fan of Wonderfil‘s Invisifil bobbin thread
  6. Machine needles — Microtex or Denim needles in size 80 or 90 would be wonderful
  7. Rotary cutter blades — sneak into the studio and check the cutter size, but don’t look for any gifts we might be making
  8. Something fun and inspirational — this will be different for each quilter; for me, something hand-dyed from Artistic Artifacts might be just the thing
  9. Subscription (or extension to a current subscription) to your quilter’s favorite magazine — in my house, that’s Quilting Arts, but Machine Quilting Unlimited would be good, too
  10. Gift certificate from the family — good for one full weekend of quilting time with no other responsibilities

From Moonlighting Quilts and the Souder family, we wish you all the best for this holiday season. See you next year! (Don’t forget to print this list and leave it where Santa will find it.)

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Recently, I received an intriguing e-mail from the folks who bring us the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I’m teaching there again this year and they were asking their teachers to send their top five tips for quilting or whatever our specialties are. Here’s what I sent them. You may see these tips on their website, but why wait?

  1. Technique counts! If the points are supposed to match, then take your time and make the points match. If you’re adding a traditional binding, take the few extra minutes to make sure your binding is full and tight with nicely mitered corners. And “Art Quilt” is not code for sloppy and haphazard – unless you are intentionally going for a sloppy and haphazard effect in your work. Whatever you’re doing, do it well.
  2. When you’re choosing fabric to represent something, think outside the box. For my Trees workshop, students often show up with fabric that has bark printed on it to use for tree trunks. While that may seem logical, the scale of these prints is almost always off. Instead, look at your stash and think color and feel. You may be really surprised by what works best!
  3. Use your thread! As quilters, we collect pretty thread and then stash it in boxes or line it up on shelves and racks for display. Why do we do that? Instead, go ahead and use it. They’ll make more!
  4. Be purposeful in your work. Sometimes we all need to throw together a quick quilt from a kit or our favorite fabrics, but it’s important to also make the time to create purposefully. Think through your decisions as you choose fabric, thread, paint. Are you adding those beads because they move the quilt forward or because you just took a beading class and everything suddenly looks like it needs a few beads? Do you really want that focal point in the absolute center of the quilt? Maybe you do, but you might want to consider the effect of that bull’s-eye before you commit to it. Be present in your work and consider what you are doing.
  5. Teach someone to quilt. Share your knowledge and your love of the art. Pay it forward. You may never know the good you’ve done, and that is perfectly fine.

If you’re going to the Quilt Festival in Houston, I hope to see you there. My trees class is Friday night and I’d love to see you at my lecture, The Anatomy of a Commission, on Thursday at 10am. And I’ll be in the Bernina booth on Saturday trying to create change in the world one gift bag at a time.

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Awhile back, I shared with you that I drank the Bernina Kool-Aid. Well, a few weeks ago, I visited Orlando, FL, to attend Bernina University. What an experience! And more Kool-Aid!

Martin Favre Welcome at BU 2010

Martin Favre Welcoming Us to BU

The kick-off meeting was a huge multi-media event hosted by Martin Favre, Bernina of America’s president. The opening was filled with audio, video, dancers, showcases, entertainment, education, and, of course, sewing machines. You’re seeing pictures of the screens, since they photographed more clearly than the people on stage. 

Jennifer Gigas and a 380

Jennifer Gigas Introduces the 380

Before we went to Bernina University, we kept hearing about the new 3 Series machines: 330, 350, and 380. It was worth the wait to see these machines in action. They are wonderful machines for sewers of all kinds. I can easily imagine these machines being snapped up by young moms wanting to sew for their children and homes, by sewers who are becoming a little more serious about their work and want to upgrade from their beginner machines, and by sewers who want a second (Or third or fourth – you know who you are!) machine to take to retreats or classes or travel. The Quilt Patch, where I teach and manage the Bernina department, is planning a 3 Series event in late August. If you’re interested, you’ll have to reserve your spot. Look for the announcement on the Quilt Patch website in the next week.

Of course, Bernina University is about more than ceremonies. I took classes and learned until my head was full. My classes included machine embroidery, the CutWork tool software (OMG, too cool!), information about the 820 and the 830, and using online resources like websites and social networking. I saw amazing art-to-wear done as I prefer it – to personalize and augment your look, not to announce your entrance. It was inspirational.
View from the Window

The View from our Hotel Window

I wasn’t looking forward to Orlando in the summer, but northern Virginia was actually hotter than Orlando. Amazing. It felt odd to go all the way to the Land of Disney without actually visiting Mickey, but we had a tremendous view from our window of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. In the evenings, we watched amazing sunsets and then caught the 9:00 fireworks. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I came back with my head full of ideas and projects. Now, if I only had more time…

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I had a wonderful day today. I spent the work portion of the day at the local quilt shop where I am the Bernina manager and then I came home and worked on a very old Bernina for a neighbor.

Picture of Bernina 820

My 820

Let me start with this afternoon, when I was able to play with new machines. I worked with our Bernina tech on a client’s 820 (yes, I have an 820 at home), smoothing out some operational kinks. For those of you with 8 Series machines, a few tips: [Disclaimer: I am not a Bernina tech. These tips work for me, but they are not official Bernina recommendations.]

  • Don’t be afraid of bigger needles. I had a client who was repairing a microtex jacket using a satin stitch. She had tension and stitch width issues with an 80 universal needle, but all was wonderful with a 100 jeans needle.  Match the needle to the job. Keep in mind the needle may be larger than you would expect.
  • If your top thread is wound on the spool in flat rows, like Superior, Signature, or Sulky, you may run into some top tension issues. To avoid this, swing the multi spool holder out to the right and hook the thread on to an arm of the telescoping wand that is not directly above the spool. This should ensure that the thread pulls away from the spool rather than directly up where it can catch on the end of the spool and get hung up.
  • If you are freemotion quilting without your BSR, consider using a #15 foot. My tech just recommended this to me and I really like it. The opening is bigger and the front end is curved up ever so slightly. It makes all the difference.
  • If you are quilting with your BSR (8 Series machines only) and you are experiencing skipped stitches, you may need to have your spring replaced. Ask your tech; it’s an easy fix. My BSR functions beautifully now with the new spring.
Bernina 707 Minimatic

Neighbor's Bernina 707 Minimatic

When I got home tonight, I worked on an ancient Bernina for my neighbor. I should be careful who I call “ancient!” The machine was born in the 60’s and so was, well, never mind. My neighbor asked me to look at the tension because she was having trouble adjusting it. The machine is a gem! It’s a 707 Minimatic that was purchased in Africa. The manual is in Dutch, which my neighbor speaks, but I had to rely on the pictures. After a thorough cleaning and some oil, the machine is working again and the tension is perfect.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

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