Loading Quilts with a Longarm System

With stand up machine quilting system, we quilt using a frame and table system like shown below:

Carla Barrett's Longarm Quilting Machine

Carla Barrett’s Longarm Quilting Machine

The quilt backing is attached to the canvas leaders on the top roller and the very bottom roller on longarm systems.  The batting is laid down on top of the backing and then for the quilt top, you have several options for how you load the top.  Most machine quilters will either partially float the quilt top or fully float them.  There is a 3rd method, the no-float technique, but I do not recommend this method for a wide variety of technical reasons. In machine quilting, just as in life, there are often many ways to get to the same end point.  I always advise new quilters to try it every way, then chose the method they prefer best.  So, let’s go over the various techniques and start with my favorite way, the Partial Float Method:

loading a quilt info by Carla Barrett

loading a quilt info by Carla Barrett

As you can see in my illustration, the backing is attached to both the top and bottom leaders, while the quilt top is only attached on the bottom leader and rolled up.  The batting is laid in between. I prefer to partial float for several reasons.  I feel this method gives me the most control of my sandwich during the quilting process, especially for larger quilts.  When I load the quilt top and roll it up, this will give me an idea for how much excess fullness the top will have, so I can plan my quilting design accordingly.

Quilt top is partially floated, edges are basted to maintain a straight edge.

Quilt top is partially floated, edges are basted to maintain a straight edge.

When you quilt, the fabric draws in towards the stitching, and so I control the top edge of the quilt and the sides by careful basting.  You can put on your machine channel locks, or use a laser level to provide a straight line for your basting.  This way, you start out with a very straight quilt sandwich. As I advance, I use a T-square to keep the side edges basted straight.  I prefer basting to pinning the edges.  Why?  You would have to use lots of pins to give you the control you need compared to basting, and then the chances increase for running over a pin accidentally.  For non-quilters, if you run over a pin and hit it just right, you could break a needle, which could then damage the quilt if you don’t stop in time.  Also, you could throw off your machine head timing, too. Back to partial floating- during the quilting process the quilt will want to draw upwards as you quilt.  This tendency will be limited because the top is attached at the bottom and rolled up.  The roller has locks so I can control the vertical height of the quilt during the quilting, too. Let’s talk about the next quilt loading strategy- the Full Float Method, which looks like this:

Full Float method of loading a quilt for stand up quilting

Full Float method of loading a quilt for stand up quilting

As you can see, the backing is attached both top and bottom.  Then both the batting and quilt top are carefully laid on top and basted straight for control.  The edges are draped over the bottom roller and hangs down during the quilting process. I often fully float smaller quilts and quilts with a 3D element to them.  If the 3D quilt is large, sometimes I will add a horizontal line of basting near the bottom roller to control the vertical stretch as I quilt.  Obviously, this is optional.  Some quilters like to use a weighted magnetic bar (used for organizing tools) from Harbor Freight to assist with top control while fully floating, while others do not.   Obviously, you need to have metal roller for this to work.  Caution, too, that the magnetic tool bar is clean when you use it to weight your sandwich.

King Plus batik quilt I quilted for Barb Kiehn.  This quilt hangs straight.

King Plus batik quilt I quilted for Barb Kiehn. This quilt hangs straight.

No matter if you full float or partial float, you want to end up with a quilt that hangs straight.   Of course, this assumes that the quilt top and backing were straight to begin with.

TIP: The biggest tip I give new machine quilters is to not distort the quilt sandwich tension by over tightening the side clamps or having your roller tension too tight.

There are many variables involved  in machine quilting (including your sandwich tension, side clamps, stretchy leaders, bias quilt, design consistency, etc etc.), any one which may contribute to ending up with a quilt that waves when it hangs. Note to quilt top piecers- what machine quilters see frequently are backings and quilt tops which come to them not straight or square.  Depending on the variance of the horizontal and vertical measurements, and if there are lots of bias sections on the top, this will also affect your quilt and how it hangs in the end. The 3rd way to load a quilt is pretty rare, called the No-Float Method or sometimes called the Full Attachment Method.   Please note that I do not recommend this method for a variety of reasons I will explain in a minute.  Here is what this technique looks like:

No float/full attachment method of loading a quilt

No float/full attachment method of loading a quilt

The illustration above shows you how the quilt top and backing are both attached at the top leader/roller, with the backing and top attached on the bottom leaders/rollers.  Why do I not recommend it?  For a couple of reasons, including that you cannot quilt off the top edge of the quilt, something many freehand and pantograph quilters do often.  There will also be a section at the edge where it is not quilted or has batting, the part you pin, zip, velcro or otherwise attach to the leader.  This could cause issues with the preferred binding technique. I only knew one machine quilter who attached her quilts this way.  If this is how you like to do it, and don’t mind the negatives, then certainly do it the way you like it.   I think I will stick with partial float, and in some cases fully floating. I hope this post has help you to visually understand the differences in the various ways to attach a quilt with a stand up quilting system.  Would love to hear from you if you have an opinion, no matter which way you load your quilts.  Happy Quilting, Carla

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Digital Quilts

Whenever I have a free moment, I like to get out my tablet PC and draw class samples.  In this case, I was drawing digital quilt examples for a class I am teaching in AU later in the year.

For technology minded blog readers, I drew and colored the following quilts in Photoshop Elements using my Fujitsu tablet convertible:

digital quilt by Carla Barrett

digital quilt by Carla Barrett

 

What is nice about Photoshop CS or PSE, is that with a 20 second adjustment, you may audition different color options for your quilt:

Digital Quilt by Carla Barrett

Digital Quilt by Carla Barrett

Digital Quilt by Carla Barrett

Digital Quilt by Carla Barrett

Here is another digital quilt design that I made, too:

digital quilt by Carla Barrett

digital quilt by Carla Barrett

Off to the quilt studio now….  Have fun creating!  Carla

 

 

 

Feathers, Feathers and More Feathers!

Many of you have written noticing that I have been rather quiet of late.  That is because I am working hard at finishing my Feather Mastery Workbook and also on my revamped online classes.

I anticipate finishing my Feather Mastery Workbook first.  All of the worksheets are being redrawn, redesigned, and new worksheets have been added.   I draw my feather illustrations and workbook sheets in Photoshop Elements.  Here is a sample feather drawing from the Workbook:

from Carla Barrett's Feather Mastery Workbook

from Carla Barrett’s Feather Mastery Workbook

The workbook is growing as I continue to draw and edit.  I get new ideas, which means I then need to write and complete another Lesson.

What are YOUR favorite feathers?     Hugs, Carla

Adobe Illustrator Homework

This semester, I decided to take an Adobe Illustrator eCourse through a local college in Sacramento.  So glad I did, here are a couple of samples of my homework projects.

First project was to take a TV or video remote and recreate it to be as realistic as possible.  I did show it early in the semester, but I like what I created:

rasterized AI file for class

rasterized AI file for class

Next project was to take an interior image from a magazine and recreate it using certain color pathways and lighting.  Here is what I turned in:

class project by Carola Barrett

class project by Carla Barrett

The most recent project is a package redesign- where we had to search for a grocery store product in need of a design overhaul.  Here is my label for this beef product:

labelhereford

Personally, I like the white/blue ribbon in the product logo I made.  The cow art is also mine; here is a close up of this white-faced hereford:

AI art by Carla Barrett

AI art by Carla Barrett

Taking a class like this is great!  It stretches your skills, challenges you to try something new, plus I love to design.

Of course, if it were up to me, I love the first cow I drew for this project  (see below), then decided it was too un-sophisicated for a product design.  Still, it would make a terrific Carla quilting design:

Copyright design by Carla Barrett

Copyright design by Carla Barrett

Can you say Moo?

 

More Carla Digitized Designs Available!

Thanks to Jessica Schick at Digitech Patterns for digitizing some more designs in my Kismet series of designs!  These are for any computerized quilters out there reading this.  Even better, for a short time, Jessica offers the following designs at half off:

CBPANTO05 KISMET BNC CBPANTO05  KISMET BNC

Design by Carla Barrett available at Digitech Patterns.com

Design by Carla Barrett available at Digitech Patterns.com

I am about 6 weeks into my semester college class in using Adobe Illustrator.  Finished my first big project, we had to illustrate from scratch a common item and make it look realistic- I picked my fancy TV remote.  Here is what  my finished illustration design looks like, well a rasterized version of my Adobe Illustrator file:

rasterized AI file for class

rasterized AI file for class

Can you tell I am having fun?  Off to play around some more with learning AI!

Registration Starts Tomorrow

Click HERE to read my recent newsletter about the next class being offered.

Due to popular demand, we are holding a Fall session of the Introduction to Photoshop Elements for Fiber Artists, Quilters and Sewing Enthusiasts by the Pixeladies.  Registration for this wonderful class starts tomorrow.

If you like my artwork, quilt drawings, cartoons, etc., Photoshop Elements (PSE) is the program I use to design and draw.  It is a very cost effective program for students, but will do so much!  This is why I asked the Pixeladies to teach this class once again.  Here are just a few examples of how I use PSE:

Here are some details about this class:

Introduction to Photoshop Elements (PSE)  for Fiber Artists and Sewing Enthusiasts by The Pixeladies
 
Course Dates: September 17- October 7, 2012 (3 week class)

Tuition Fee: $60  (students re-taking this class receive a 50% discount on their tuition.  Contact Carla at carla@quiltwhisper.com for a special rate invoice.

This class is open to all students wanting a introductory course in using PSE.

Course Description: Want to learn Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) so that you can use it for your art? This is the class for you! Learn the basic tools you need to work with PSE, including selection tools, and find out what layers are and why they are the secret to Photoshop. You’ll enjoy the learning process ’cause we work with “paper” dolls! This class is suitable for PSE beginners and any PSE users who want a refresher course.

Registration starts on September 4, 2012.  For more information, click on my menu link above.  If you click here, I have a helpful video which shows you how to register for this class.