Archive for the ‘sewing space/studio’ Category


Quilt Floating 2

April 1, 2012

Last week’s post explained what quilt floating is and the supplies required. This week’s post is about putting it all together so quilting the quilt can be as much fun as making the top! (for those who missed last week’s post, just scroll down to read all about it)

There are 2 different ways to construct the frame, depending upon your machine/table set up. Both are described here.

Side MountIf your table/cabinet is less than 6’ wide and more than 1½’ deep you’ll want to place the clamps on the sides. To do this clamp the Slide Clamps to the table/cabinet on each side about 1½’ behind the sewing machine.

Attach the aluminum slat to the holes in the clamps with bolts and wing nuts.


Back Mount: If your table/cabinet is more than 60” wide and less than 2 feet deep, you’ll want to place the clamps along the back. To do this clamp the Slide Clamps to the table/cabinet along the back – about   3 1/2’ apart.

Then slide the metal rod through the holes in the clamps (this is shown 2 pictures down).

Attach one chain to each Spring Clamp by opening an end link, inserting it through the hole in the clamp and closing the link.

Place the end of one chain over the top bar and Bull Nose clip the chain to itself so the Spring Clamp is at a good height (this can be easily adjusted depending on the size of the project). Repeat for the other chain/clamp.

Place the quilt under the sewing machine needle in the area you want to begin quilting.  Be sure that you have the bulk of the quilt behind the machine.

Grab a bunch of the quilt even with the right side of the machine and about 3’ back on the quilt, raise it up and grab it with the right clamp.

Repeat behind the left side of the machine with the left clamp and you’re ready to begin quilting. As you progress across your quilt simply unclamp and reclamp as seems necessary.

I hope many of you will find this helpful and will let me know how it works for you. Please feel free to share this information and/or forward my blog to your quilting friends!


Quilt Floating

March 25, 2012

Free Motion machine quilting a large quilt on a home sewing machine can be a bit daunting. A few years ago I developed a system that makes free motioning a bit easier. I’ve been sharing it with my classes, but decided now to share it on my blog so that more quilters might benefit. I call the process Quilt Floating and it’s my way of suspending the weight of the quilt instead of fighting it!

There’s quite a bit of information to share, so I’d like to do it in 2 installments. This week I’ll be sharing the concept, supplies and basic information. Next week’s post will include the specific set up instructions for all who are interested.

Here’s a picture to give you an idea of what Quilt Floating looks like:

Before we get to the actual frame, there’s a few tips I’d like to share. If your sewing machine is in a cabinet – great. It is also helpful to have some support to the left of the machine. If you don’t have any, placing an adjustable ironing board there is a good solution.

If you don’t have a cabinet you will want to find a way to avoid “sewing on a mountain”, ie: with the machine perched on top of a table or desk. Even table extenders don’t solve this problem with a large quilt because pins and folds of quilt get caught on the edges. My best suggestion is to place a card table in an “L” against your kitchen table or a banquet table. Then set the machine on a tv tray in the inside corner with enough magazines to make the bed of the machine flush with the tables.

Now you’re ready to float the quilt. All of the supplies can be purchased at your local hardware store *.

2 Lengths of Chain (approximately 18” long – links should be 1 ½” long)

2 Bull Nose Clips (3/4”)  These can be found with office supplies. They are inexpensive and will clip and unclip the chain together very easily (not in the picture).

2 Slide Clamps (36” long)  Both the old fashioned “C” clamps that screw to tighten or the deluxe new ones that pump tight will work. Choose the best quality clamps you can afford. I took my husband shopping and thus I own the Cadillac of clamps, but at least I waited until they were on sale. They are very easy to use! It’s important to have a hole in the bar at the non-clamp end for a rod or bolt to go through.

2 Spring Clamps (6” long) These are plastic, fairly inexpensive and have holes in the handle ends. They squeeze to open.

1 Top bar 6’ long or long enough to fit the width of your table/cabinet. You’ll want the “Quilt Float” positioned about 1 ½ feet behind the sewing machine. Depending upon your space, you’ll need to choose a “top bar” option:

1. If your table/cabinet is less than 6’ wide and more than 1½’ deep you’ll want to place the clamps on the sides. For this arrangement you’ll need: 2 bolts and 2 wing nuts that will fit through the holes at the ends of the Slide Clamps and a 6’ piece of aluminum slat with holes at even intervals along the length.

2. If your table/cabinet is more than 60” wide and less than 2 feet deep, you’ll want to place the clamps along the back. For this arrangement you’ll need to buy a ¼” diameter Steel Rod (4’ long)

 *If you quilt in a basement with exposed rafters you will only need the chains,  bull nose clips, spring clamps and a couple of nails!

Next week we’ll put it all together!

Window View Challenge Deadline Extension!

On another note – I’m having a lot of fun playing with new techniques on my “Window View” challenge. I’m thinking it would be a good idea to have an extra week or 2 to “get ‘er done” and so I’m changing the deadline from April 1st to  April 15th. I’d appreciate getting a picture of your finished project by then for posting on that week’s blog.

If you haven’t checked out the pictures of the current views, please click here. If you were thinking of participating, but needed more time, send me a picture of your view and jump on in!


Magic Box

November 13, 2011

There are many options for storing finished quilts. Wallhangings which contain fusibles can be particularily difficult because folding can leave virtually permanent creases. When I was blessed with the opportunity to have my new studio built, I wanted to come up with a workable solution that wouldn’t take up a lot of space. After a bit of brainstorming my husband came up with the winning idea – the Magic Box! Think “Murphy Bed” hidden behind the design wall.

If you’ve been reading my blogs from the beginning, you may remember an early post about photographing quilts on June 23, 2010. In it I explained that my design wall is portable so I can take it outside for photography. This also frees up that wall space for the Magic Box (this is a narrow side view of design wall/magic box/wall).

The Magic Box is 6′ square and 7″ deep. Here’s how it works. When it is closed two large hooks on both sides at the top, hold the box against the wall. The bottom is held along the wall by a continuous hinge that isn’t visable. The design walls (2 large sheets of styrofoam covered with fabric) lean against it.

To lower the Magic Box I lean one design wall against the actual wall and perpendicular to it, on the right.

The other design wall leans against the closets to the left (and off the picture). Now the Magic Box is exposed and ready to be lowered.

To lower the Magic Box, I unhook the upper corners and let it down slowly until it rests on the floor.

My handy husband added the weights (pvc pipe filled with concrete and covered with free-motion quilting samples :-), ropes and eye bolts to make it easier to raise and lower.

The quilts are secured between two pairs of 1″ x 4″ boards, covered with batting. One pair is at the top of the box and the other half way down. One board of each pair is secured to the back of the box and has a large bolt sticking out at each end. Once the quilts are layered in the box, the other boards are placed over the bolts and screwed semi-tight with “handle-nuts”.

I can now unscrew the handles, remove the top boards, retrieve or add quilts, reattach the boards and then hook the Magic Box back into place against the wall.

It really works and I love it! Now to put a little time into clearing off all the junk hanging on my design wall – ugh – it’s always something :-)! 


Post Tripping

May 9, 2011

It took me most of Monday and Tuesday last week to unpack all the stuff I had taken to Paducah, do some laundry and catch up on mail, etc.. At that point I was left with the pile of new stuff I bought at the AQS show. It got me to thinking about quilters and shopping. I’m not sure if this will sound familiar, but there have been many years when I start packing for my annual pilgrimage to Paducah and unearth the complete, and untouched, pile of stuff I had bought there the previous year (a bit embarassing to admit to, but I bet I’m not alone :-).

This is rather guilt inducing and I truly dislike feeling guilty, so I’ve come up with a plan. Actually, my friend Laura and I brainstormed this idea 2 summers ago when we attended the Milwaukee Bead and Button Show. We walked out embracing our treasures and decided we couldn’t go back the next year unless we did something with 3 of our purchases! It ended up being a good challenge and we both were up to it. We used our 3 items in a short amount of time and felt quite virtuous.

So, here’s a photo of my Paducah 2011 “had to haves”:

You might notice a bit of fabric. Who can resist? There’s a few books and a bunch of embellishments, along with 1 tool I’ve already used. I’ll tell you about it in a future blog.

I believe this type of personal challenge will help you to not only alleviate the guilt, but inspire you to use that great stuff. One additional recommendation is to assimilate the stuff you don’t use into the stash so you avoid finding those pesky piles next year.

So………………..have you ever? What do you think of the 3 item challenge? Any additional suggestions?


Project Creep

January 14, 2011

After posting the pictures on Monday I pulled everything off the shelves/counters and decided to really clean and organize. In class yesterday at WCTC, Cindy shared the expression “Project Creep” (referred to as PC from now on :-). She said this is when you begin doing something small (fix sewing table) and it escalates step by step into lots of work and, usually, a fair amount of unplanned expense. BINGO! She hit the nail on the head. Then Jean added that the good part is we feel so virtuous once it’s done. I’m almost there :-)!

Mike did a wonderful job repairing my table. We took the old tv to the recylcing center and in it’s place I now have a 19″ flat screen that weighs almost nothing and has a great picture, but it needed to be elevated. So Mike and I had to go antiquing (one of our favorite pastimes) and we found a great “explosives” crate with dovetail joints. It was only $25. Do I hear “project creep”? Its a handy place to keep all the essentials close at hand and provides space under the tv I didn’t have before.

But the tv was still too low, so I raised it up on an old wood case my dad (a retired dentist) inherited with his first practice. It was meant to hold the plastic teeth used to make dentures, but I discovered its a perfect place to keep my button collection! Now the tv is at the right level and I’m much more organized!


My threads had been in “Matchbox Car” cases and I used to love the organization they provided, but I found I was always opening, closing and flipping boxes to find what I needed. Thus, I had to hit the store for a plastic drawer unit that went where the microwave had been. I love the ease of finding threads now! More “PC” expense, but that virtuous feeling is making it all worthwhile.

The microwave is now at the end of the counter, the counter and shelves are dusted and organized and I’ve only got that small (relative term) pile of stuff left in the middle of the room I really don’t know what to do with.

I plan to have that gone by lunch. I wonder if it’s going to cost me any more “PC” cash??? 

Thanks to Cindy and Jean for their input. Anyone else have a great organizing/storage tip they’d like to share?

(a 2pm addition to the original post)

Eureeka!!! The pile’s gone, the carpet’s vacuumed and it’s only 2 hours past lunch. Talk about feeling virtuous. I think I need a cup of tea and a piece of dark chocolate :-)!



January 9, 2011

While taking the photograph of my “3 Pin” technique for last week’s blog, I broke the gate leg on my sewing machine cabinet. My dear husband was kind enough to attempt a repair, but that required pulling everything out and flipping it over in the middle of the room.

This allowed me to view all the dust bunnies that were hiding behind the machine and a new adventure began. Here’s the way my studio looks now:

And another angle with Mike hard at work :-)!

Now don’t you feel better about the condition of your space?

The problem with projects like this is that one thing leads to another and there are some cleaning/reorganizing things that just need to be done. Like…………….


The tv that sits next to my machine is old, big and still has a dial that clicks when you change channels. It has to go! So now I need a new, small flat screen tv and I’ll have to find some sort of extra storage to go beneath it (reorganizing always seems to have a price tag attached). While purchasing the tv I was informed that the microwave (just to the right of the tv) shouldn’t sit next to it, so I’m pulling everything off the counters and shelves and hope to come up with some great new studio set up ideas. Hopefully Thursday’s post will prove quite interesting.

Any suggestions while I’m at it???

 PS This really isn’t helping the fact that the latest Milwaukee Art Quilter’s challenge deadline was moved up and I’m only at the designing stage. That’s what keeps life interesting :-)!


Sewing On a Mountain II

August 12, 2010

Years ago I wanted to quilt a king sized quilt and I didn’t have a large sewing table so I improvised. This works quite well when you only need to set it up occassionally. I used a portable banquet table, a card table and a tv tray. The 2 tables are placed in an “L” with the tv tray in the inside corner. Place the machine on the tv tray with enough magazines under it to bring the bed level with the tables. Voila! It’s that easy!

Beth G shared a website for another slick way to create an inexpensive and  more permanent arrangement at: Thanks Beth!

I hope many of you found this helpful!

I’d like to squeeze  in one last note about my first Open Lab class this semester at Waukesha County Technical College. It’s a four week class that was scheduled to begin on September 9th. I’ll be teaching at Nancy’s Notions Quilting Expo in Madison, WI on that day and so the class has been changed and will begin on September 2nd. We’ll skip the 9th and continue the remaining 3 weeks after that. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do sew soon :-)!