Monday, July 23, 2018

How To Load A Quilt Back That Isn't Quite Square

Hi all! I haven't been doing much blogging in the past couple of years. I've gone the easy route and started posting photos on Instagram instead of taking the time to write everything out. You can find me @lauradaviesquilts if you'd like to see what I've been up to. 

That being said, I've been thinking about writing this post and have been waiting for just the right quilt back for photo purposes. This tutorial works on an AQPS longarm frame. I know of at least one quilter who squares up the quilt backs all the time. I almost never do that. I think I've squared up 2 quilts in the 3 years that I've had a longarm. I don't know how other quilters do it, but this is my method. 

This method works for quilts that are mostly square, probably within 2" or so. If it is much more off than that, you might want to consider cutting after all. It really helps if you have at least one straight edge, ideally a selvedge. I fully float my quilts, so this method works great for this. 

If you are standing at the front of the machine, here is the order of the bars:
-Backing roller
-Quilt top roller (I have removed this one)
-Leveler bar
-Pick up roller

This particular back looked like it had been cut down from a piece that was larger than 44" and it did have one selvedge. So I start by laying the fabric over the pick up roller and pinning the selvedge edge to the backing roller.

Pull the back fabric taut over the pick up roller so it hangs smoothly over the back of the frame. Note that the canvas of the pick up roller hangs down a few inches above the table.

Roll the fabric onto the backing bar until it just clears the bottom of the canvas. Here is where you determine how straight the backing fabric is if there isn't a selvedge. See how the right side of the blue fabric is closer to the edge of the canvas and the left side is higher up. The same thing is happening at the other end of the fabric. The edges are slightly longer than the middle. If you load this as it is, the sides of the backing fabric will sag once it's loaded.

I have a permanent mark every 6 inches across my canvas on both sides. I almost never load a quilt back completely center because I have a small room and I start running into furniture if I quilt to the edge of the frame. It makes no difference where you pinned the back fabric to the backing roller and it doesn't have to be centered. Find one of these registration marks on the canvas of the pick up roller, roughly in the center of the quilt back, and make a mark on your backing fabric. so they will align.

 This part is a little tricky. Facing the frame, pull the backing fabric back off the pick up roller and pull it up under the leveler bar. As you pull it under the leveler bar, pinch the backing fabric together with the canvas and pull both up together between the two bars and over toward you.

Here is how it should look. You've pulled both the backing fabric and canvas together between the two bars and back over towards yourself. Pin the backing fabric to the canvas where you marked the line. I like to put my magnet pin holder on top to make sure that the fabric stays in place while I smooth everything out.

Smooth the canvas along the pick up roller.

Now you can bring up the rest of the quilt back along the pick up roller as well. The backing fabric will still be sagging between the pick up roller and backing bar.

This step is why it is important to have some sort of magnet holding the fabric in place. Roll up the fabric on the backing roller just enough until it is taut. Taut, not tight. If you pull it too tight, you'll pull everything off the pick up roller and you have to start again. Pin the backing fabric to the canvas at each end.

See how the backing fabric at the middle of the quilt aligns with the edge of the canvas and it hangs over the canvas about an inch at the left edge of the photo.

Now you can pin all the backing fabric to the canvas, pulling slightly as you go to keep the fabric taut. The line of pins is along the edge of the canvas and you can see where the extra backing fabric is.

Another important note as you are pinning, is to always make sure that the narrowest part of the backing fabric lines up with the edge of the canvas. In the photo below, you can see the gap between this section of fabric and the edge of the canvas. You can always have extra backing hang over the edge of the canvas, but you can't have any that is too short. If you pin any sections higher up on the canvas, the backing fabric will be pulled too tight in that section. So in this case, you would have to loosen up some tension on the backing roller so that shorter section will line up with the edge of the canvas and then pin from there, making sure the backing fabric is taut as you go.

Below you can see the extra fabric hanging over the edge of the canvas.

When you have pinned the entire back, remove your magnet and roll up the backing fabric on the backing roller until it pulls the canvas over the bar and everything is taut.

Here is the view from the front of the machine. Your quilt back is perfectly level and you can see how the extra fabric lays. You can always trim this back a little if it is in the way, but you don't have to worry about cutting someone's backing fabric. The backing fabric lays flat and it ready for loading!

Good luck! Hope this helps. Most of my backs have two selvedges to load to, but I get the odd pieced one. I always load my quilt backs this way, even if I don't have to make adjustments. Then I know they are straight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gail's Charleston Carriage

This is Gail's version of Lee Monroe's Charleston Carriage pattern. So fun and modern, I love it! The Charley Harper birds are adorable too:)

Loving the dark blue solid. It is Weave, by Moda and still has it in stock. It acts like a solid, but has a bit of texture. The dark blue has a denim look without the thickness.

Couldn't resist, had to throw some birds in the solid blocks.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Eve's Improv Color Blocks

Goodness sakes! Has it really been since February that I've blogged?! Well, I've got some good stuff coming:)

Here is Eve's beautiful modern quilt. It was inspired by Improv Color Blocks by Kati Spencer in Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe.

There was loads of fun blank space for me to work with. When she sent me a picture, I knew I had to try some quilting a la Krista Withers. She does some beautiful modern quilting that I have seen on Pinterest and other places and have been just waiting for a chance to try it out myself. You can find her work on her blog.

My first step was to mark the whole quilt (yes, every single line) with a blue water soluble marker. I think I must have the worst luck in the world with these. I spent half a day marking everything and loaded it onto the frame. By the end of the day, the marks were edging toward invisibility. By the next day, I had a dot left here or there. Arghhh! This is the lovely time of year when we keep our windows open. Unfortunately, humidity is NOT my friend.

The good news is that this style works perfectly well impromptu. I still used my blue pen, but just to mark the main lines as I went along. Then I just filled in the gaps.

Did I mention how much fun this is? I tried to keep my swirly motif moving along around the whole quilt and used the straight lines as filler.

It is kind of hard to tell just how well things are going as you work on each section, but when I hung it up to take a picture, I was floored. Wow! You really have to stand back and take it all in to get the full effect. I was so excited that I ran next door to drag my retired neighbor lady over for a viewing:)

I will definitely be quilting like this again. Send me your quilts! Bring on the blank space! Thanks Krista, for your inspiration, and Eve, for your beautiful work!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Debbie's double Irish chain

Debbie asked for custom quilting on this double Irish chain. Tight and lots of pebbles! She found a pin on Pinterest that she loved and asked if I could quilt that. 

Karen from Quilts on Bastings in Australia had quilted this and Debbie loved the design. I broke it up a little, alternating the pebble fill with stippling. 

If you want to know how I filled each grid with orange peels without stopping and starting, here you go. I would SID around the large blocks, starting at the top of the block, When I got to the bottom, I would start quilting in one direction and then bounce off the wall of the next large block. Then I would come back down.

When I reached my starting point, I would stitch up one block (the SID for the large block) and then go again. So by the time I reached the top, all the peels were done and the SID for the left side of the block was finished.

Thanks Debbie!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Forsyth Quilters and Piecers Raffle Quilt

This year the Forsyth Piecers and Quilters Guild asked me to quilt their raffle quilt! What an honor! I was very excited. It was a beautiful quilt with sort of fractured blocks and an applique border. The fractured blocks were a challenge. Hm, normally I would quilt some motif on the blocks and then move on to the border, but these blocks weren't well defined. Edge to edge would be no problem, but custom? What to do?! I  hung it up on my washing line to get a better look from far away.

I decided to go with concentric circles with a swirly pebbled filling. Doesn't it look like stained glass from underneath the frame?

The quilt show is coming up in May and this quilt is up for grabs. Come out to the show for a great time and a chance to win this beautiful quilt! Here's the details:

Friday & Saturday,
May 20 & 21, 2016
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Old Clemmons Gym
6031 Stadium Dr, Clemmons, NC
Admission: $5

Friday, January 15, 2016

Knit One Smock Too's Birdie Quilt

Hi all, I'm back! Guess you all thought I'd just dropped off the face of the earth. Not so. Business has picked up and you know that when you get out of the habit of blogging, it is super easy to wake up one day and think, hey, I've haven't blogged in 6 months! It has been all I can do just to keep up with all the beautiful quilts that come my way, 3 kids, 3 dogs, I think I'm going to keep things simple by highlighting a few quilts here and there, rather than trying to get blog time for every one.

I wanted to show you all this adorable wool applique that Knit One Smock Too has put together.

This quilt, Bertie's Spring by Bonnie Sullivan, is a collaborative effort. Shirley and Jandell from the Knit One designed this version of the pattern. It was stitched by Susann and pieced by Shirley. They have kits available at the shop and they also offer classes.

I love the baby birds and the mama bird's apron. Too cute! There is going to be some additional embroidery to liven up the applique, so swing by the shop or the Statesville show to see it in person.