Monthly Archives: January 2016

Melinda Bula Art Quilt Class

Melinda imparting entertaining words of wisdom :)
Melinda imparting entertaining words of wisdom 🙂

This week I went to a fantastic art quilt class from Melinda Bula. If you are not familiar with Melinda Bula you need to go to her website and click on gallery. Her work is amazing! She is a many times over, award winning quilt artist. I took a class online from iQuilt called Fabulous Flower Photo Quilts that was really great- but if you get the chance to take one from her “live and in person” – do it! Melinda is warm, funny ,down to earth and above all informative. I spent 2 days with her through my local quilt guild and I loved every minute (okay…maybe not every minute…you know the drill when you have a sold out class of quilters and 2 irons :)…. ). I took her Clematis workshop the first day

Up close picture of The Clematis Quilt by Melinda Bula
Up close picture of The Clematis Quilt

and her Renegade Thread play the second.
Melinda approaches her classes as an artist or a painter would- working from the front -( not the back of the quilt as we so often do when we appliqué) building a quilt that looks very 3 dimensional.

Front of Melinda's Garden Quilt
Front of Melinda’s Garden Quilt
a picture of the back of the Garden Quilt
This is THE BACK of the garden Quilt !! Talk about Thread Play!

She does this by meticulously choosing a ton a of fabrics in varying shades, tones, and values.IMG_1486

Then she takes it even further by adding texture and more shading, highlights or color with her thread play. I am not going to say this is a quick process. Below is all that I have to show for my first full day at the Clematis quilt.

a picture of what I accomplished after 6 hours in Melinda Bula's class

I took this class with one of my best buddies and we are going to press through (no pun intended 🙂 )  this next week and at least get the top fused down and ready to start a little Renegade Thread play action of our own.

Now before you judge me too harshly and say….”is that all she got done in 5 or 6 hours??!!” , Melinda had a lot of information that she had in impart to us non-painterly individuals,… there was fabrics to pick (especially if you were one of the people (that would be me) that had carted all your scraps from the past 10 years to make a masterpiece, instead of buying a kit, so you could better learn to pick fabrics (sorry Melinda 🙂 ) lol) , fusing to be done, irons to wait for , and before you knew it , phew,  it was time to pack it up and go home!

a picture of a hibiscus quilt
As Inspiration I have included a few pictures from Melinda’s Quilts that she brought with her to our class. Some are finished, some are just fused and waiting for the next stage.  I hope they leave you wanting more as they did me the first time I saw them. I took these pictures with my phone- so they really don’t do it justice- but they are inspirational just the same.

poppy quilt by melinda Bula


Thanks for visiting!
Wishing you lots of creative happiness this week,

PS: Thanks to Melinda for letting me share photos of her work and for a great class!  🙂

Are You Modern or Traditional in Your Free Motion Quilting style?

Welcome to The Quilt Journal! Today I am hosting Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday.

My question to you today is : Are you modern or  traditional in your free motion quilting style?
My initial knee jerk reaction, being the feather girl that I am 🙂 , was that I am a traditional quilter..…but maybe not?!
Back in November I did a blog post that showed the first of two quilts that I made while taking the Judi Madsen online iQuilt Class Quilting Makes a Difference.

a picture ofMy traditional free motion quilting style quilt
My traditional free motion quilting style quilt

The class exercise was to piece two projects exactly the same, but free motion quilt each one in 2 different styles.  I am not going to define what exactly  modern quilting vs. a traditional free motion quilting style  is, as that is a subject that is way open to interpretation and somewhat subjective. But in general I think it is safe to say that some modern quilting involves more straight lines or geometry in the design (the modern example here had a lot more ruler work) and the quilting doesn’t necessarily  respect the  piecing in the same way that a traditionally quilted quilt does ( this is a way over simplified explanation- but the difference could be a post onto itself! )

a picture of myModern free motion quilted quilt from Judi Madsen's class
Modern free motion quilted quilt from Judi Madsen’s class

Initially, I felt the traditionally quilted one had more movement and just felt a bit more graceful to me. But now that I have finished the modern style of the two quilts (my first finish of 2016-woohoo!!)….I like that one too! I think it brings a lot of interest to a otherwise very simple quilt. In this case the quilting takes center stage. I think this was a wonderful exercise that pushed me to try something I may not have otherwise tried . Also because it was a planned, marked out quilt top, not a “practice sandwich”,  you are more likely finish it and really get a feel for the two free motion quilting styles.
I will say also, you do spent a lot more time marking your quilt in the modern version. Judi’s quilts reflect her perfectionism and attention to detail- she leaves nothing to chance. I found the massive marking a bit distracting at my stage of the game. I know Judi is awesome ,confident in her skill set and can see past the marking- me on the other hand, felt a little more comfortable spritzing a finished area with a little water so I could be sure I was happy with the effort I made FMQ.

you can see where I spritzed some areas with water to be able to see if I was okay my stitching
note the water marks where my blue marker bled a bit after spritzing with water to the right of the picture

It didn’t help that I ran out of the fine tipped blue marking pens and used one that is a little thicker…. Tip number #1-  if you run out of fine tipped blue water soluble pens…..just wait lol! There is a ton of quilting in this little quilt.  If you weren’t proficient in free motioning fairly even ribbon candy / back and forth line  and circles….you will be better at it by the time you finish (notice I didn’t say great…I said better 🙂 )! I think having a project that was more than a practice scrap pushed me to work the design and that plan from start to finish.

I thought if may be helpful to see the 2 quilt next to each other

Version 2
I thought seeing the 2 quilts next to each other may be helpful. I tried to adjust the lighting to dusk for better detail-


So my take home tips:

  • Use fine tipped marking tools
  • Stitch in the ditch the entire quilt first to stabilize
  • Be aware of the direction you are quilting in for your best possible stitch for your machine
  • This is a small enough project that I don’t think it matters where you start quilting, as long as you have stabilized the quilt well
  • If getting even circles is trying for you, mark out where the center of each circle is to be….approximately…this is a guideline to shoot for. I heard Sharon Schamber recommend doing that once – if you don’t need that – more power to ya!
Dots that I measured out and marked functioned as a guide that would shoot for in the center of each circle for spacing....sometimes helped....sometimes not :)
Dots that I measured out and marked functioned as a guide that  I would shoot for in the center of each circle for spacing ….sometimes helped….sometimes not 🙂
  • The areas that have piano keys that have an angled end (as the piano keys at top right side of photo- start your back and forth line design in the point of the piano key and work out the the squared edge of the quilt. It is easier to get them more even.
  • If you have a change in direction that you are finding awkward- mark it with a purple air-soluble pen so you can see what you are shooting for as you quilt. It’s like driving a car- your hands will follow where your eyes are looking- but having a well defined plan helps
A picture of X's marked to functioned as a reminder that that row was to be quilted with lines....MARK IT!...I promise you at some point you will zone out and stitch the wrong pattern in the wrong piano key
The X’s functioned as a reminder – that row was to be quilted with lines….MARK IT!…I promise you at some point you will zone out and stitch the wrong pattern in the wrong piano key- it’s horrible to rip that tiny stitching!

I quilted this quilt on my APQS George (a sit down quilter) using So Fine #50 wt thread from Superior Threads on top , Filtec Magna-Glide Classic in the bobbin. My batting is Hobbs 80/20.

Now that I have done both quilts, I would have to call my self an eclectic quilter….( I think that is a kind way of saying I don’t have a style lol). But in all honesty, I don’t know that I want to be defined one way or another. Both have their place depending on the quilt.
So what do you prefer….the traditional or the modern version?
Now onto our TGIFF Linky Party. Please show a little love to others that are sharing their creativity by clicking through, visiting their sites and leaving a few warm and friendly comments to let them know you appreciated their fabulous finish! This is what makes this so awesome….sharing what we do with others around the world! Don’t forget  to link back to TGIFF or grab a button to display on your site!!!

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Thank you for stopping by and being a part of my world! I really appreciate it!
Happy Quilting!

Using a Towa Gauge for Better Bobbin Tension

Happy New Year !!! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all lots of love, happiness, good health, peace and oodles of creative fun!
As I reflected on the past year and some of the things that I have learned (mainly as a result of this blog 🙂 )or that have really improved my quilting life, my trusty Towa gauge for better bobbin tension came to mind. Prior to getting my Towa gauge I used Jamie Wallen’s method for getting my bobbin tension in the right ballpark. I am not saying anything bad about that method and know many people who use that very successfully.  I just think that at the present time, I am having more success and less frustration when I quilt using my Towa gauge. I decided that a video for those of you who haven’t used a Towa showing how different threads and bobbins behave maybe quite helpful.

I love using/trying different threads and while the Towa gauge is not a number value that is written in stone, it is a really good starting place.  The main thing is you have to play around with a good basic thread in your bobbin and do stitch outs to figure out where your machine’s sweet spot number is. For me and my APQS George, that number is around 150 on the Towa gauge. Machines are as different as people…I have talked to people who’s machine likes 180 or 200-whatever- as long as you have a pretty stitch. Please don’t use my number as a guide, use how your stitches look and your machines feels when you move the fabric under it.
The thing that is validating about the Towa is that sometimes you are just pulling your hair out as you try a new thread or fabric trying to make your stitches look great and sometimes… it’s not you ….(yay for once)! I have gotten in the habit of checking every new bobbin before I start quilting. It only takes a second and a yard or two of thread is a lot of stitches to rip if that bobbin isn’t right. Having said that- there is always going to be that one thread that just gives you fits. Sometimes you have to drop your bottom tension more if you are still breaking bobbin thread ….or just walk away from it and choose another thread (there are so many to choose from these days, I don’t believe in limiting myself to a few threads “my machine likes” but I’m not going to shed tears over a thread either) learn when to walk away! If you are a new quilter, sometimes 6 months or a year can change how YOU quilt enabling you to use more difficult threads. I have seen that happen in my own quilting.

Next week I will be hosting TGIFF (Thank Goodness it’s Finished Friday) linky party. If you haven’t checked it out before it’s a great place to go to get inspiration from other like minded people who love to create  and share their finishes from all over the world. Please post a picture next week  if you have a finish to share that encourages us all on…to the next project! The link will become active next Thursday, January 22  2016 and run for one week. See you there!

Have a great week and Happy Quilting!