Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cardboard clamps for re-quilting

First of all, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when an item from my Etsy shop was featured in a Mardi Gras showcase by Treasury West:

This page will expire soon, but it was great fun to be selected for a showcase after only a week of shop-ownership and with precious few items in my shop! My item was the fabric postcard in the last photo.
In my last post, I mentioned using cardboard tubes to clamp a quilt back on the rollers of the long-arm quilting machine if you need to add or repair some quilting.
For non-longarmers, a longarm machine such as my Gammill has rollers in front and back which support the quilt sandwich while you work. I normally pin the backing to the pick-up roller and backing roller, which have canvas "leaders" attached. Then I layer the batting and quilt top on it. Sometimes I also pin the top to another roller, but often just "float" it on the backing and batting.

Now, I happen to have zippered leaders, which are nice because you can do the pinning while sitting down watching TV. But their best advantage is that you can unzip the whole quilt sandwich from the machine to do any necessary "un-stitching" or "frogging" (rip-it, rip-it) if your stitching does not look good.

Now, the thing to do is carefully check your quilt when you are finished, to make sure there are no unquilted areas, or areas of poor tension, etc. You do this before removing all the pins.

On this little baby quilt, I did not discover the unquilted area until I had sewn on the binding and was burying thread tails. Of course, it is a small size, and I could have quickly put in a few pins to put it back on the machine. But here is a little trick for lazy quilters.

Take the big cardboard tube from the inside of a roll of quilt batting. It looks just like a big paper towel tube. Cut a horizontal slit from end to end with strong scissors or craft knife. Then, use it as a big clamp to temporarily secure the quilt back on the rollers.

When I was taking classes from Linda Taylor in her delightful bed-and-breakfast studio in Texas, I noticed that none of her machines had zippered leaders. She said that when she had to put a quilt back on the machine, she put a few pins to secure it to the pick-up roller, and just leaned against the belly bar with, well, her belly, to secure the front part.

Anyway, the cardboard clamps work if the area to be requilted is not too close to the bar. On the small quilt yesterday, the machine barely made it to the unquilted area.
So, today I am looking forward to "heading for the hills" to our little cabin in northwestern North Carolina mountains. It will be the coldest weekend of the season. But I have not been up there since early November, and have really missed it. I have a tote bag full of library books, my sketchbook, Mamma Mia! and Across the Universe and my new Pamela Allen DVD's for entertainment, and the handwork I have been saving. I think I will be snug indoors while hubby is roaming the hills in search of the elusive wild turkey. That is, if the power does not go off! Last year we were there during a bad ice storm, and the electricity never even flickered off. We are not coming home until Monday and we do not have Internet access up there. Pictures of frozen ponds and waterfalls are sure to follow!

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