Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lets make 2016 another great quilting year!

Hello Quilters and welcome to 2016! With a new year beginning it's time for a few reminders of some things to think about when considering to having a quilt machine quilted at Elizabeth’s Machine Quilting.
  1. Backing fabric should be a MINIMUM of 8” larger than your quilt top! For example, if your quilt is 90”x100” then the MINIMUM size your backing should be is 98”x108”. Quilt backing can NEVER be too big but it can be too small!

  1. If using Minky/Cuddle fabric for your backing and it need to be seamed to make it large enough please use a seam measuring ¾” to 1” wide. And whatever you do, DO NOT trim away the salvage edge of Minky! This will help to allow the seam to lay nice and flat and not create too much of a bump, trust me! I can and will also stitch the seam(s) for you at no charge!

  1. Not all batting is equal! Quilters Dream Brand is by far my favorite but I do accept most all other brands with the following exceptions:
  • If using an Extra Loft Poly Batting ONLY Quilters Dream Puff & PolyFill Extra Loft brands will be accepted. Any and all other brands of Extra Loft Polyester Batting will be handed back to you!

Why will I not except some batting brands you wonder? Because I don’t have the time to prep them or to deal with the headache that some of them are. Hobbs PolyDown batting for example, is a mess when it comes out of the plastic bag it is sold in. The layers are stuck together (I swear they use quilt  basting spray the stuff) and I will not even go into the wrinkled mess that also comes along with it.  Yes It can be put into a dryer and tumbled on the lowest heat setting for a few minutes, removed, rearranged, and heated again over and over and over until all the wrinkles are out. But why spend half a day prepping batting when there is nicer batting available to us.

  1.  Once upon a time many years ago, I let you provide thread for your quilt, that is No Longer an option (and hasn't been for a number of years!) You are welcome to tell me what color(s) you would like and I will do my best to accommodate that request. Or you can just "You Pick" and I will pick the thread(s) that match your fabrics best.

  1. In House Binding services ARE available. Prices include (unless otherwise noted) cutting, the fabric & making the binding, sewing the binding to the front of the quilt by machine and hand finishing the binding on the back. All binding fabric should be sent along with your quilt.
  • Straight Edge binding $0.10 per square inch
  • Curved Edge binding $0.25 per square inch
  • Make and machine stitch binding to the front of the quilt only $0.08 per square inch (you would need to do the hand finishing)

  1. Please let me know if you are going to pull your backing fabric to the front of the quilt for binding (known as self-binding) This requires the edge of the quilt to be handled and quilted a bit differently than with regular binding.

  1. All quilts are quilted in the order that they arrive or are pre-scheduled to arrive. I am ONE person with ONE quilting machine. I am the only ONE that quilts your quilts in my home. At any given time I have between 20 to 50 quilts waiting to be quilted. Some take a few hours some take a few days. I am working on a scheduling system this year that will hopefully give me a better timeline to when your quilt(s) will be completed. If you have any questions about the timeline please just ask.

  1. I have not listed the cost of custom quilting on the website as I have different tiers of Custom Quilting fees. The cost of per inch quilting will depend on the amount of quilting as well as the style of quilting you are wanting. Quilting fee estimates & design sketches are ALWAYS available before any quilting is started!

  1. Overall Freehand Quilting Designs ARE available & are less costly as they take significantly less time than Custom Quilting. but they do not get a better spot in the timeline schedule. Please remember there are other quilters in the area that specialize in allover Pantograph quilting and they can get your quilts quilted and back to you much faster than I would ever be able to.

  1. When I quilt I wear headphones & listen to music, so I do not always hear the phone ring. I wear the headphones to keep me concentrating on the job at hand and not worrying about the sounds going on around me. If I had to stop to answer the phone each time it rang it would not only take even longer to complete your quilts but they also wouldn’t look that great. The best time to call is in the evening hours after 6:00pm when others are at home. For a faster response than a returned phone call, you can also contact me on Facebook at Elizabeth’s Machine Quilting as well as by email: bkneesquilting@gmail.com  

  1. There has been a rash outbreak over the past few months of finished quilts being “forgotten” and pickup taking way longer than normal. I do understand that around the holidays that our pockets are never deep enough however this is my only job and I to have bills to pay. If you cannot pick up your quilt(s) right away just let me know and I will work with you on scheduling a new date to pick up your quilt(s). If the trend of not picking up quilts in a timely manner continues I will be forced to implement a Late Pickup Fee.

  1. The 2016 Christmas Deadline will be OCTOBER 1, 2016 all quilts needed back in time for you to bind and give for 2016 Christmas gifts MUST be in my hands no later than this date. I will not be accepting quilts for machine quilting from December 11, 2016 to January 7, 2017. If you have a quilt that will need to be ready during this time plan ahead and have it to me before December 11th.

Thanks so much for all your business over the years!
Let’s all have another great quilting year!
– Elizabeth K.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shooting Stars, a free quilt pattern from me to you!

It all started a bit over a month ago when my local quilt shop The Wooden Spool (Effingham IL.) started selling some new fabric from Quilting Treasures called Classic Remington. I tried to hide the fabrics from Uncle B. but my Aunt G (his sister) pulled him in the shop to take a look at them. Over the next few days I search my patterns trying to find one that would work with the larger prints but I found nothing. So off to EQ7 to try and create something that might work

I knew the blocks would need to be larger sized (There is nothing worse than cutting a large print in to shapes so small that you can no longer see what the print looks like!) so instead of starting with a block size I started with the size the finished quilt would need to be. 100" x 100" to fit Uncle B's bed and cover both him and his two Chihuahuas. So with a little trial and error I decided on 12" squares and a small framing border to give me a 102" x 102" quilt.

I came up with a few different design options and gave Uncle B the last choice on which one he liked the best. I purchased (way to much!) fabric and got started on cutting it right away as Aunt G had decided it would be a great quilt to have in my guild's quilt show which was like two weeks later!

My Aunt is a amazing piecer of quilts, no really she does it pretty darn fast and does it pretty darn good (at least according to the judges of the quilt show) Once everything was cut and marked it took her less than two days to do the piecing. It took me about five minutes to mess up the quilting. No really I messed it up pretty good. the first to blocks had to be unquilted (what takes two minutes to quilt can take HOURS to take out by the way!)  and requilted. Then as Aunt G was adding the binding she noticed the quilt made a noise. Yap a noise. Apparently someone (who shall remain nameless) somehow quilted a piece of paper INSIDE of the quilt between the batting and the backing fabric. At this point it was to late to fix the paper problem so we decided to let it go until after the show was over. In the end it was ready the night before it would need to be turned in to the quilt show or was it?

As a member of the Crossroads Quilters Guild of Effingham IL. I get the privilege of being around during the time the quilts are being hung. So walking around the show floor i noticed the guys from the convention center were hanging the Shooting Stars quilt. Yes it make me smile a bit to see one of my own quilts on display but his time all I could do was loudly say "Well Crap!" You see the quilt was missing a little something. Nothing major but still it was missing something that I knew the judges would rake me over the coals on. Someone (again this someone will remain nameless!) forgot to quilt a block. That is correct, one whole block was left unquilted. And between the light that just happened to hit the quilt dead on and the puffy batting that I used, it stood out like a sore thumb. By that point I had given up hope on this quilt, after all its problems up until now there was just no way I was going to ask them to take it down so I could rush it home, fix the empty block, and get it back bright and early the next morning so it could be hung with the other quilts before the judges started judging at 7:00am. So I left it hanging, With all it goof ups and loose threads at a quilt show. Just so a lot of people I know and have quilted for could see it and have a good laugh.

On the plus side the judges said nothing about it but I am positive they noticed it. On the down side every other person I knew took the enjoyment of dragging me to the quilt every few minutes to point it out to me. To my surprise was how many people asked me if there was a pattern available. The quilt may not have been as perfect as I wanted it to be but everyone seemed to like the design of it at least!

A few days after the show I took it back out and decided the easiest way to fix the paper problem was to remove some more of the quilting, cut a slit in the back and remove the paper. It took three nights of setting in front of the TV with a seam ripper and my tiny snips to remove enough quilting to get to the paper. It took about three minutes to cut the backing open and pull out the sticky backed paper from a lint roller that was stuck to the batting. I simply covered the spot with a bit of scrap fabric left from making the quilt then requilted the area as well as quilted the spot that I forgot in the first place.

When Kristina (owner of The Wooden Spool) first asked if she could display the quilt I was like "Sure, No Problem" but that was before the quilt was even finished and there was still high hopes that it would be perfect. By the time it was fixed I wasn't sure I wanted anyone to see it again! Kristina still wanted it however so I bagged it up and took it into the shop this past Saturday. If you would like to see it first hand just run in and take a look. Just don't wait to long as I am not sure how long it will be on display. Just do me one favor and don't look at the back of the quilt or to close at the front!

For those of you that asked for a pattern you can download a free PDF copy on Google Drive here:
Shooting Stars
There are bound to be mistakes in the pattern so if you find one please let me know and I will fix it right up! All I ask is that you do not sell any quilts that you make from the pattern. You are free to make as many as you wish for personal use, gifting, or to make & give to charity. But please don't sell them!
If you are interested in the EQ7 file let me know and I will try to get it posted as well!

This pattern was based on a hand sketched block that I found on,a lose piece of paper floating in one of my Grandmother's old quilting books. Her block was made with lots of Y seams so I changed it up a bit to make it easier to piece. 

Shooting Stars Pattern : Comming Soon!

I am working on cleaning up my pattern for Shooting Stars.
(you may have seen it on display at The Wooden Spool
 quilt shop in Effingham IL) 

I want to be positive it is correct before I post it so check back later for it please! 

I hope to have it ready to post by 7:00pm if not sooner! 

Sorry for the delay! 
Sunday, May 3, 2015

Have A Heart

As many of you know already I am a BIG supporter of Project Linus and our local Chapter. We are always trying to come up with ways to raise money for the chapter to continue to thrive, so earlier this year our Linus Coordinator Sharon S. asked me about the possibility of teaching a beginners class. Its been some time since I last taught a quilt class but I jumped at the chance. I even decided to design a quilt just for us to use!

It didn't take long to come up with something (as i have a big old sketch book full of ideals for new quilts!) to pick out a simple heart design.Matter of fact it took longer to name the quilt than it did to design it! OK so I didn't name it, my Aunt G. did when I was completely clueless as to what to call it. It took a whole minute to come up with the Have A Heart name. Sometimes that woman is just to smart for her own good! 

I quickly spotted a perfect looking Moda Layer Cake (Winter Wonderland) at my local quilt shop, The Wooden Spool (Effingham IL.) that would be perfect to make a sample of the quilt. I also picked up a little matching yardage just to be sure I had enough creams for the background. I also picked out some prefect swirly Cream Minky/Cuddle fabric from Shannon fabrics for the backing. Once home I got to work right away, cutting the layer cake down into 5" squares. And laid out on the design wall.

Once I had everything ready to be sewn I thoughtfully asked (OK so I begged) My Aunt to do the sewing for me. What can i say except that I am more at home at my quilting machine than I am at my sewing machine! It didn't take her long, just a couple of hours and the quilt top was finished.

That very night I took it to my quilting machine and got to quilting, I was excited and I wanted to bring it to show a few friends the net day! I used Quilters Dream Wool Batting (the quilt was just screaming to be a soft puffy quilt!) Using Essential Pro thread from Connecting Threads in both Red (for the heart) and Cream (for the background) i quickly finished the quilt up! 

I wanted to share the pattern with you sooner however I also thought that since some had paid to take the class I wanted to be sure they got the pattern first! This past Friday & Saturday the class took place so its time to pass the pattern on to all of you as well. I only ask a couple of things from you. #1 If you do make this quilt using my pattern, please consider making one for your local Project Linus Chapter or another charity in your area. #2 Please don't make and sell any of the quilts made from my pattern, that's not what it is for. You are welcome to make and give them away but please don't make money off of them. #3, Please don't remove my name or any of my contact info from the pattern. and #4 Please remember I am not a pro at pattern writing, there will be mistakes and flaws and better ways to do things than the way I did them. But remember this was made for beginners so simple was, at least in my mind, the best way to go! 

On another note, this will be my last official job as a Project Linus Assistant. I have decided that it is past time to move on and let someone else enjoy in on all the fun. Just because I have decided to move on does not mean that I will not support our local Linus Chapter, Its just that as the time passes and the world changes I also change. Its time for me to start doing some of the things that I have been putting off for years and using some of that free time for me.

So without further adieu, here it is, Have A Heart!

Have A Heart
(Link should take you to the Google Drive download!)
Sunday, November 23, 2014

Candy Time!

As the holiday season is just around the corner (thanksgiving is just a few days away!) I am getting in the mood to make some Crack! Now get your minds out of the gutter people its Christmas Crack! OK so its really just a cracker toffee but Christmas Crack sounds better don't you think?! The true name is Chocolate Brittle Surprise but that name was lost to me the instant my family started calling it Christmas Crack as its just so addictive you cant have it just once. My family has a very sick since of humor.

Last year I shared my recipe for Hot Chocolate Mix so this year I thought I would pass on the Christmas Crack recipe as a Thanksgiving thank you for visiting the blog!


Chocolate Brittle Surprise (AKA: Christmas Crack!)

35 Unsalted or Low Salt Saltine Crackers
1c. Butter
1c. Firm Packed Brown Sugar
2c. Milk Chocolate Chips (any chips will work really!)
1c. Chopped Pecans (or the nut of your choice)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees

- Cover a 10”x15” jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with non stick spray

- place the crackers on foil in 5x7 rows

- in a large bowl microwave the butter for two minutes

- add in the Brown Sugar and stir

- microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds

- immediately pour mix over the crackers*

- bake in your oven for 17 minutes. (should bubble but not burn! I put the sheet on the top rack farthest away from the heat)

- remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Wait a minute or two and the chips will have melted then spread the chips with the back of a spoon.

- sprinkle the nuts over the melted chips

- place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then break into pieces

* if you need to spread the mix around over the crackers very lightly spray the back of a spoon with non stick spray to keep it from sticking to the spoon.

* i like to use the back of a spoon and press the nuts into the chocolate to help hold them in place! 

And there you have it, Christmas Crack! 
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 
Monday, November 17, 2014

How To Machine Quilt A Three Person Tent Into Submission!

Now come on, you all know what I'm talking about even if you don't want to admit it! We have all had a "Quilter's Oops Moment", one of the most common I see when machine quilting is were we sewed a block together not quit right but it was "close enough" to the right size that we just KNEW we could make it fit in with the rest of the other perfectly pieced blocks. But when we forced that one odd sized block in with the rest of them it created what I like to call a "Three Person Tent Block". Just think of it as a quilt block that when you pick it up from the center it would be a large enough tent to home three quilters on a retreat, all the projects, machines, tools, food, and wine that they also brought along with them! Maybe this photo will help explain it a bit better:

Now that is one roomy tent! 

I find that this happens on quilt blocks that are set on point more than any other. Also sometimes fabric is just a pain in the old butt and stretched out of shape when you were sipping that second third glass of wine at the retreat. Another reason could be that there was a misprint in the directions for cutting the fabric. I also see this a lot on quilts made by groups of quilters. Instructions may be the same but that doesn't mean the quilters are the same. We all sew with a 1/4" seam (hopefully!) but that 1/4" may be slightly larger on Marilyn's machine and slightly smaller on Colette's machine than it is on my machine. Don't think you are alone, we have all done it at least once if not a million times. Even big time award winning quilters will tell you that its just one of many things we goof up from time to time. Its also one of the things we Machine Quilters have to work with and still do our best to make your quilts look as perfect as we possibly can. Three person Tent syndrome is actually one of the easiest things to fix, we just don't like to admit it.

Before I get started on how I fixed the problem block in the photo a little info:
#1 Just because this is how I fix the problem doesn't mean all machine quilters do it this way. There are many ways to work in the extra fabric this is just one of them.
#2 I have only ever done this fix on cotton fabrics. I would never ever, EVER try it on it on anything other than cotton or cotton poly blends.
#3 It works best (at least for me) on 100% cotton fabrics.
#4 I did not come up with this method, its not mine, I don't own it. I do not know who came up with it but I can tell you I learned it a few years ago from a amazing machine quilter by the name of Jamie Wallen. If you haven't see Jamie's work look him up! He is not only a great guy but he is a amazing teacher. He also has tons of great videos on YouTube, Just search for Quilters Apothecary and you will find them!

OK first up, for some reason I almost never notice these problem blocks until I have already started quilting the quilt so that is why you will notice the quilt in question is already loaded on my Longarm and there is some quilting already happening. This quilt, lucky for me, has easy quilting designs that also just happened to help ease in the extra fabric and hide it. Here you can see the extra fabric all ripply and not so pretty. Also, see that spray bottle? Remember it for a bit as it will come in to play very soon.

Step One: Spray It!

Step number one: When you find that not so perfect block grab your spray starch. Yes Spray Starch, any kind will work from good old Niagara to Best Press, you just need starch and you will need lots of it. When I first started doing this method I was a stickler for using Niagara Starch but In the past few months I have started using Mary Ellen's Best Press. Why the switch? Well I can get Best Press in a gallon jug and it is available in Unscented. I just picked up a cheap Spray bottle at the local big Box store and refill it when needed. Ok back on the subject of step one, spray the heck out of that block! Yes really, you want that block to be almost (but not quit) dripping. 

Step 2: WALK AWAY. Put your starch down and walk away for at least ten minutes, let the starch soak into the fabric. Don't watch, it will only make you wonder if I'm crazier than you already know I am. It can be longer than ten minutes so don't worry if your sister happens to call and your stuck listening to her cry about her best friend not doing what she is supposed to be doing or that her husband refuses to listen to whatever it was she said he should listen to.

Step 3: Has it been at least ten minutes? Good, now go back and take a look. Is the fabric laying flater? Yes, good! you can move on to the next step! was your answer No? Well that's OK you just might need to "tickle" it a bit with your fingers. I know that's sounds wrong but its the best way I could discribe it right now so lets just go with it! Run the tips of your fingers lightly over the fabric and evenly distribute any of the extra bulk. Basically you don't want to push all the extra fabric to one side or to the center you want it to be as even looking as you can get it to look.

Step Three: Tickle That Fabric! 

Step 4: Now if your are a patient quilter you will walk away again, and let it dry on its own after all that really will give you the best results. But if your like me and are always in a rush because the quilt needs to be ready to hand back to its owner then next morning you can break out your steam iron. Doesn't need to be a fancy iron, it just need to be able to steam without dripping water drops all over the place. Fill your iron with water, plug it in, and set it on its highest setting. When the iron is all hot and steamy take it to your quilt and hold it just right above the fabric, touch is OK but really right above works best. Now quickly move the steam iron over the top of the block. you should notice the fabrics "pulling in" just a bit. By the time your block is nearly dry it should be laying nice and flatish.  I know what your thinking, "How in the world is a steam iron going to dry all that starch?" and your right it wont, but it will get it pretty darn dry. But before you move on to the next step you want to be sure it is completely dry so not to harm your machine in any way! 

Step Four, Hold the iron right above. but not quite touching the fabric

After Steaming: Nice and flat and pretty! 

Step 5: Quilt away! This method works great for any type of batting, this quit happened to have Quilters Dream Puff which "Puffed" up and help to hide any extra fabric that night have been left after starching and steaming. 

And its done!

Well that's it, I hope it helps at least one other quilter out there. And remember, Quilters Oops Moments can strike anyone at any time, even the most experienced of quilters!

Did the photos above not show the steps clearly? Then take a look at these photos of another block from the same quilt that had some bulky issues that needed taming:

Step One: Spray It!

Step Three: Tickle That Fabric! 

After Steaming: Nice and flat and pretty! 

See that crease? Don't worry, it will go away when quilted is added!

And its done!
Sunday, October 5, 2014

Quilt show time!

This past September 12th & 13th was my quilt guilds annual quilt show Crossroads Harvest of Quilts 2014. It took place once again at the Keller Convention Center in Effingham IL.

At the local Crossroads Harvest of Quilts show there was a number of my clients quilts on display as well as a few personal quilts. My Aunt G and I work as a team, she does most all the piecing work and I do the quilting. Not that I don't piece quilts I do, I just don't have the time to do everything I want so I fall back on Aunt G to hopefully be willing to help me out!

This year we made a Giant Swoon quilt. No there is no pattern for my variation but it was greatly inspired by Camille Roskelley's Swoon Pattern of which I have made a bed quilt from and it also inspired my Super Mini Swoon a couple of years ago. I simplified the pattern to use only squares and half squares as I thought this would be easier what with the giant sized pieces. I would do a tutorial for you but as I do not want to interfere with anyone's copyright I will leave it up to you to figure it out on your own. Aunt G and I used Kona Cotton Solids for the quilt top, Quilters Dream Wool Batting, and a variety of thread brands. I just pulled whatever color matched off the shelf and went with it! Here is a photo of it hanging at the show:

I quilted swirly feathers in the main body of the quilt and simple straight lines in the background. Use I did mark the spines for the feathers as I wanted them to be as close to mirror images as possible. I sketched out the spines on to paper then used a light box and a quilt marking pen to transfer the markings for the spines to the fabric. Here is a close up photo of the quilting that I took at home. 

My Aunt G and I also made a Granny Square quilt using the free pattern on the Moda Bake Shop site. This one was made with all Moda Fabrics (Of Course!) some simple puffy polyester batting and Master Quilter Thread in White for the quilting. The quilt was quick and easy to piece and the quilting relatively simple. Apparently there was something about it however that the judges likes as we won First Place in the Custom Machine Quilting Category at the show. 

Last but not least is two Miniature quilts that were made entirely by me, yes I know but I really did do all the piecing on these! After all I can't get my aunt to even try piecing these tiny pieces together!

The Lamoyan Star quilt was made using the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler and pattern from Deb Tucker's Studio 180 Made using nothing but leftover scraps it went together quickly and the quilting also was simple.

This was another very fast miniature quilt made with, once again, nothing but scraps!

There were a lot of other great quilts at the show this year and you can see most all of them in my Flickr Album for the show at: Crossroads Harvest of Quilts 2014 So grab some popcorn, a comfy chair, set back and enjoy the show!