Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tech Sunday - Block Pattern Placement Methods

We are back in Sew and Select - Pattern.  Last week we learned about the Fill Methods. This week we will be continuing our exploration of the settings options.
The default Block option gives you two points that you can choose to align your blocks.  This is fine for some applications.  Such as, if you are using a pattern that does not need to actually hit the corners of your blocks. Hitting the corners with a design is where Four Points comes in really handy.  

Notice that I can now set all four corners of my block.  

Now let's say you are not working with a square or rectangle  Let's say you are working on a hexagon quilt.  Go back into your Settings and chose Multi-Point.  In Multi-Point you only have to Fill Methods.  Center or Border.  Border means you are stitching in the ditch, so choose Center. 

You will use the Add Point as you move your longarm around your block.  If you make a mistake you would tap the Remove Last Point.  You can see that the stock pattern above is centered in the Hexagon shape that I drew.  

Now it is time to go and practice what we have learned this fair.  Even if you just draw blocks on practice cloth, try using the three placement methods that we have covered.  The more you play, the more comfortable you will get.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tech Sunday - Block Placement Fill Methods

Most of the quilts I have done on my Quilt Path have been edge to edge.  That is really the reason I was looking for a computer system.  I did not do pantograph quilting before Quilt Path, so the idea was to give my customers another option.  Since I equate traditional panto quilting with watching paint dry, the only viable option for me was a computer system.   The custom quilting I have done with Quilt Path was mostly dropping patterns in a way that they did not need to be super accurate.  Like putting a name or year in a border that I would then freehand around.  

This month I decided to do a custom quilt with Quilt Path.  And to do that I would need to be able to accurate place the patterns.  

For today's post I am working in Select and Sew - Patterns.  

By default, the set pattern screen comes up with Block-Stretch selected.  If you look at the bottom of the screen you will see that the heart block buttons only have two places that you will be using to set the pattern.  The top left and bottom right of the space.   This is what I had used before when I was doing my "close is good, because I will be free-handing around it" method.   But when you are using a pattern, like the stock pattern shown on this screenshot, and it is going to fill the block, you are probably going to want those points in the corner to actually end in your corners and possibly come extremely close to touching the motif in the neighboring block.   To do that you really need to be able to tell Quilt Path where all four of your corners are located.  And you need to understand how to get Quilt Path to manipulate that pattern so that it hits all four corners.  

Let's tap on the Settings button at the top left of Quilt Path.  
In future post we will talk about all the things you can do on this screen but for this post we will be talking about the Fill Method options that are inside the area I have highlighted with the green box.  You will notice that the Block button is depress and the Stretch button is depressed.  

Let's talk about those Fill Methods. 
  • Stretch means the block is being distorted, if necessary, to fill the space you are designating.  So if you are using a design that is a square and want it to fill a rectangle this is the option you would use.  This option also works for those times when the quilt was not perfectly pieced and the blocks are not square, but you want those points to hit the corners.
  • Center means that it will center put the block into the center of the space, but that the block dimensions will not change.  This is handy for things like feathered wreaths that you want to float in a blank alternating block and that you want to be identical throughout a quilt.  
  • Fit means that it will scale the block to fit into the space that you designated but will not distort the block.  So if you have block that is designed to stitch a 6"x6" square and put it in a 8"x10" rectangle it will end up stitching a 8"x8" square center on the 10" side.  
And for a teaser for next week... notice that there is Four Point Placement Method.    

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quilt Path Help Files

Because I used to do tech support, I am a little leery in updating a system that is working and that I rely on.  While I do not install any other software onto my Quilt Path tablet, I still know that things can happen on a system that the software company does not expect.  I also feel that it is important to play with the new software before I put in on my live system.  After spending years testing software and having to troubleshoot issues, I just feel like I need to do this.  

So, I downloaded the new version of Quilt Path onto my laptop this week.  So that I could play and make sure that there were no issues with the way I work.  So far, all has gone great.  

While I was clicking around the other day, I went into the Help Menu.  This is actually why I decided to do a mid-week post.  There are new help files.  Oh my!  Some of it is covered in the original help file, but it looks like they are working on making it so that we can find what we need faster!  

If you are on 3.05.05 you need to go look at your help files.  

Tap on the Help on the top right of your Home screen.
The Help Menu will come up, tap on Help Topics
This will bring you to the folders with all the pdf files.  There used to only be 2.  
Woo Hoo!  Help files make me happy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tech Sunday - How to Create a Panto in Quilt Path

This week what I am covering it is a little too long for a traditional blog post.  I have created a tutorial on how to use the fonts that come with Quilt Path, link them together to make the continuous designs and make them into a pantograph.

Click here to download the tutorial.

I have Quilt Path installed on my laptop.  All drawing in the tutorial was done with a mouse.  The smooth feature took care of most of my messiness.  I think the drawing would be easier with the stylus and tablet, but it is possible to do it either way. 

You can also tilt your elements to give you a scattered look and this is covered in the tutorial.  

As always, feedback and comments are appreciated.  Ideas for what to cover regarding Quilt Path are welcomed!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tech Sunday - Quilt Path Design Lesson?

Susan at Over The Top Quilting and I have been working on creating a panto using the fonts that are available in Quilt Path.  This is a more advanced item then what I have been covering, so I was wondering if it would be helpful to post a walk-through lesson for it.   The lesson will do two things for you...
  • You will get over any fear you might have of PatternCAD.  
  • You will end up with your very own, unique pantograph, because you will be drawing to link elements together.   
This is what will be covered...
Saving elements
Using layers - Swapping and Merging
Using the Pattern options - Draw and Edit - you will use most of the features in these options.
Using the optimize function - changing quilting steps and connecting elements
Using the End Point Continuity feature.  

I could break each part down and do weekly post for the next 3-4 months or I can do a PDF of the whole process.  Or I can do a combination of both, which might give us the best flexibility.  I want to get us to where we are doing more advance things, but I don't want to scare anyone off.  I promise to break it down, step by step, so that you can work through it and learn.  Some of the more complex items could be broken out into individual post with more information for anyone that needs it.  

I know I am not talking to myself anymore, so comment back or email me and tell me what you think!  Learning to use this program needs to be a two way street.  I have no problems sharing what I learn, but I need input to know what you want to learn too.  

Tech Sunday - Staying "In Production"

First and foremost, my business is quilting for others.  That is what I tell people I do for a living, and is still a big part of what I do.  For me, getting quilts on and off the frame is the essential.  Some take longer then others, but in the end, all I want is to get that quilt back to it's owner, beautifully quilted, and as quickly as possible.  When I talk about staying "in production", that is what I am talking about.  Keeping the quilts flowing through the business and back to their owners.  My goal is to keep my business in production and to get those quilts quilted.   

This is where Quilt Path has made the biggest difference in my work life.  I have always been a fan of keeping my zippers full of backs ready to be loaded.  Before Quilt Path, staying in production for me meant that I had the next back ready to load.  Normally Friday afternoon, I would sit and load 5 backings onto zippers for the next week.  If I ended up on a conference call or if I was talking to someone on the phone, I would be loading backings at the same time.  I did a fairly good job of not having to stop to load the next backing. 

Things are so different now.  I unzip the quilt when it is done and zip the next one on.  Change thread, program Quilt Path and get it started quilting.  Then I unpin the quilt I just took off the frame.  It takes me under 5 minutes to unpin a quilt and get it into it's bag, so I am always done before the first pass is done on the next quilt. My goal is to have that done by the end of the second pass that Quilt Path is working on.  Then I pin a backing on the the zippers I just freed up and hang in back up with it's quilt.  Even a baby quilt normally have 4-5 passes.  Do you see what this is going?  Quilt Path has given me extra hours in my day!  

I have had several people ask me how I get so many quilts quilted.  The answer is simple I use the time that Quilt Path is working to get the next quilt ready to go onto the frame.   I am never far from my machine.  Always listening for something to just not sound right.  For some reason, I know longer feel compelled to have all the zippers full.  I do normally have 2 loaded, but I have time to load them without going out of production so I stopped obsessing about it.  

I started my own business because I wanted to love my job.  I bought the longarm that I fell in love with because it was the best decision for my company.  And I bought Quilt Path to make my world more productive.  So far those have all been the right decisions for me.  

I think the biggest compliant I got during the Christmas rush was that someone that has know me for years notice that I was more relaxed that she had seen me in a long time.  Normally by mid November I am a complete lunatic because I am stressing about getting the quilts done.  This year was so different.  I never got stressed.  One more huge reason to love my Quilt Path!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Quilting for me...

Today, I have been working on one of my quilts.  It is nice getting one of my own done.  I was thinking about 6 years ago about this time when I was staring at my first customer quilt wondering if I could really do this.  Luckily for me, my first 5 quilts went really well, it wasn't until my 3 customer quilt that I had my first issue.  I think I did 3-4 of mine and my mom's before that first customer quilt.  I will be loading another quilt for that same customer this month.  I am always excited to hear from her, she seems like such a big part of who I am as a quilter!

Before purchasing my Millennium, I spent almost 2 years finishing every UFO I could.  I had 25 tops ready to practice on.  My mom also helped out by sending 50 of hers with me when I came home from visiting her.  My business took off and while I did quilt for both of us those number stayed pretty steady.  We both kept adding new tops as I got the ones in my closest quilted.

Last year this time, I had given up any hope of ever catching up.  It just wasn't possible for me to quilt any more then I was already quilting.  And more importantly, my customer quilting kept me busy.

In April I had a choice to make, upgrade my beloved Millie or purchase Quilt Path.  I can't believe how that decision has changed my world.  Not only did I quilt more customer quilts in 2013 then any year previous, I also quilted some of the "family" quilts in my closet.  I did not realize how many until today.  Today was "clean the studio while my quilt was quilting" day.  I decide to do a quick inventory of my "family" quilts.  Here is what I have left...

10 of mine
30 of Moms (not counting the 3 that are quilting and waiting on her next visit)
1 for my Sister
1 for my Mother in Law (it was actually pieced by Matt's grandmother)
2 Quilt of Valor

Before you get too excited for me, Mom is bringing another load of tops with her when she comes to visit.  As long as she is able to quilt, I will happily store any tops she produces.  If she wants one back right away, I put it on my customer list and get it done.  Otherwise they hang waiting for me to be a little ahead of schedule.

8 of mine will be allovers, the other 2 of them I want to do high end custom on.  I was hoping to get at least one of them done to enter into the CQG/CLA show in March.  It still might happen, but I don't want to rush either of them.  There are also a couple of my Mom's that need to be custom quilted.  My sister's quilt, my mother-in-law's quilt and both QOV are all custom.

This year I am going to set a goal of getting 2 "family" quilts done per month.