Sunday, October 25, 2020

Avril Has a Jacket

Long overdue is a proper cover for Avril, my longarm, but she will wait no more.

This is my project for October's challenge, thread painting.

All of the fabrics except for the lining fabric were supplied by Island Batik. The gorgeous threads were supplied by Aurifil, except for the grey which is my own purchase, the batting by Hobbs Batting, and the machine needles by Schmetz Needles. Our challenge was to enhance our quilting or shade areas of quilt for effect, add shapes or dimension. Several months ago we had to pick six spools of thread to coordinate with the line we'd been given for this challenge. Mine was Nouveau Soul by Kathy Engle, some of which you saw last month in my Back at Ya backpack. We'd been given the same line to make our bag.

It really is yet another gorgeous line, and it's in your LQS and available online now too.

Here is what I've been using since early 2013 when I first got my longarm.

Not the greatest, but it did keep a lot of dust off her. This is simply a yard or so of muslin, top and bottom, with a layer of Warm n Natural between. Somewhere in the making of the first layered practice quilt sandwich, I found Leah Day and her 365 Quilting Designs project. I would try out several designs each day as I practised, and started to gain muscle memory for a whole new way of quilting. The previous 18 years of quilting had all been on a DSM, first my Elna, and then my Bernina in 2003. I hit upon the idea of dividing a second practice quilt sandwich into 6" squares and continuing on with doing a half dozen or so different designs, mainly going in order of Leah's QAL. This is what has been draped over Avril since then. Poor girl. I always have meant to make a proper cover, but she's been down at the bottom of the lengthy list, rather ironic and cruel, since she is the main quilting machine!

In order to showcase this line, I decided to copy that idea of long ago, but sew squares together, in which I'd do a variety of quilting motifs. I used two main sites to reference for how to construct a quilt cover for a very large, awkwardly shaped machine: mainly  Sally Said Sew with a healthy dose of Clever Chameleon and some pointers from Quilt Kisses. Dione's and Jasmine's machines are sit-down machines, whereas Sally's is a longarm on rails, so matched mine more closely. Still, it involved a lot of figuring and brainpower!

I'm not entirely happy with the end result; it's rather boxy, and a little too tall, even though I took Sally's advice and tapered the sides since the front of the machine is a lot higher than the back.
MacGyver suggested putting something stiff as in cardboard to give the top some stability, so that's a thought. Perhaps the top panels that open to go around the thread guide could be tapered into a long thin hourglass type of shape to pull in the sides where the machine is very narrow? I followed Dione's trick of not having the entire top panels open but having them start about halfway down, holding them closed with Velcro. Sally used Velcro too, but she had the entire top open, which isn't necessary since you only need it to go around the thread guide and then down the back.

Here's a view of the back, which I quilted on my Bernina because of not having enough of the lining fabric I'd bought a couple of years ago with a cover in mind. I was literally living on the edge as noted on one of my Instagram posts during the quilting of the panels for this project!
It fits really nicely around the handles at the rear of the machine. I absolutely love that fabric, "Diagonal Plumes, Dark Moonstone'. 

Here's what it looks like inside. I zigzagged all the seams. I could have serged them, but I haven't used my serger in years and was too lazy to get it out and figure it all out again (threading, tension, agh). You can see a pink fabric from this line used to line the top panels that open. Sadly I didn't have enough of the green 'quilt' text print to do them; I even had to piece scraps to get the one back panel lining big enough!

Here is what the panels looked like prior to assembly. I did three 2" columns, echoed the lines, and then did ribbon candy down the outside two. You can't tell, but I used four different colours of thread: turquoise with lime green echo, and purple with bright yellow echo. This is a new-to-me motif, to echo inside ribbon candy, and I'll be doing it again soon!

Here is a front view, Avril's name quilted in! I love how it pops and I didn't even use trapunto. I think the 20% polyester in the Hobbs batting gives it the extra definition. The flat shot shows how I changed colours of threads when I did the flow feathers.
And on the machine.
I used some of Leah Day's designs, but as always, some of Angela Walters', Christina Cameli's, and Natalia Bonner's. There's even one of my own there in the yellow square under the 'q' of 'quilts'. There are 49 different quilting designs, not counting the letters or front, back and top panels. Fun! Fun!

'mmm quilts' is paper-pieced using the font in Sam Hunter's book.

I used an idea of Dione's to make an outside pocket in which to put some longarm essentials. However, I had to undo the entire thing and redo it when I realized I hadn't allowed for the cut-out 'arches' for the take-up bars...
You can just see the topstitching on the pocket here where I used 12 wt Aurifil thread.

And yup, I actually remembered my label! It helped having a cool idea to put it at the end of the pocket panel. If you look back at the very first photo, you'll see the little Union Jack notebook in which I record a few details about each quilt I do on Avril. It belonged to Mum. 😍 Scissors, seam ripper, little brush and a marking pencil are some of the items I popped in the pockets.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: my own design with Dione, Sally and Jasmine's posts input as noted above
Size: 21" (front) - 16" (back) height by 38" length by 16.75" width
Fabric: Island Batik
Backing: older Henry Glass print
Batting: Hobbs Batting 80/20 cotton/polyester
Quilted: on Avril; 195 105 stitches
Threads: pieced with Aurifil; quilted with Aurifil 50 wt

Finally, it's that time of year! If you'd like to be an Island Batik Ambassador for 2021, head to their Facebook page where you will find the application form to fill out, or click below. If fabulous fabrics, threads, batting and other supplies, challenges that push you to try new things and spread your wings excite you, then head over and apply! Applications close November 9.

One more last thing! If you caught some green outside my sewing studio's windows, and thought wait, I thought it was Fall there, it is! I live in the southernmost town in Canada, and we are in the Carolinian forest, so autumn is gentle, slow, and filled with a variety of splendid colour that unfolds over a couple of months. Here is my view from one of my five windows, looking east into the back yard:
The glorious gold on the right is the last of the Norway maple. The tall sentinels along the back fence are the neighbours' massive (their house is two storeys, which should give you a sense of just how massive they area!) American black walnut trees which are nearly finished. The tall columnar tree that is green with a few golden leaves here and there is the English oak, and the all-green tree to its left is a Linden. Our neighbours to the left have a gorgeous oak (which I think is a red oak, according to my PictureThis! app) that is slowly going through gold to orange and red. Yes, our bananas and elephant ears by the pool are still doing fine; we haven't had frost yet and usually do not until November. Being on Lake Erie's shore, where the water temperature is still around 15-17C (60-63F) helps keep our fall days and nights warmer than the city of Windsor, which is a half hour north of us!

And all this is Anishinabewaki, Mississauga, Attiwonderonk and Myaamia territory that I am grateful to be living upon, taking care of it as best I can.


  1. Three-dimensional work can be tricky. I really love the quilting and especially the way you quilted Avril into the front (and added mmm quilts to the side with paper pieced text). I think it looks good and I'm guessing you already have a few good ideas simmering to help adjust it to be just right.

  2. I love making useful things that are also beautiful, and that's exactly what you've done here, Sandra! Even if there are things you'd do differently if you made another one of these covers, I think it turned out great!

  3. Absolutely beautiful!!! I'm sure Avril will be happy with it! And it will function to keep the dust off her!

  4. WOW!!!!! What I need for mine, but how on earth I will do it I'll never know. I love it & may even ring Dionne for some tips at some stage. I throw some old practice pieces over mine too. Thanks for this post. Take care, stay safe & hugs from down under.

  5. This is fabulous, Sandra! Lucky Avril! I noticed the pockets right away--brilliant idea! (Or shall we say Clever idea?) Love all the different quilting motifs.

  6. All that 'brainpower' worked out pretty darned good! I like how you incorporated your name and Avril pops really well!

  7. It’s beautiful Sandra! Great colours and amazing quilting!
    Nice to get the seasonal weather report from you too! Our trees are pretty similar at the moment - leaves dropping! How were the black walnuts this year? I read someone in the U.K. saying theirs (ordinary walnuts, not black ones) weren’t very good this year.
    Barbara xx

  8. So that's what you've been up to! I've been so curious, ever since seeing the lettering! Nice!

  9. I do love your machine cover! I was just thinking, "If I made applique letters for my name, it would surround the cover!" (Mountain Quiltworks). Nope, won't happen, lol.

  10. Wow, what a monumental amount of work. I'd be tempted to just throw a sheet over the machine and be done with it. Easier to wash, too. I know, you had the IG challenge to complete most of the materials were free and you got to practice lots of quilt motifs. At least Avril will be warm now on those cold winter nights.

  11. I do believe you surpassed the challenge with literally flying colors-this is a work of art. I think this post should be named Amazing Avril and Her Coat of Many Fabrics and Colors. I know you’re a seamstress also so I’m seeing Wearables but Bella doesn’t need a coat but oh wouldn’t Rufus look snazzy in one.

  12. I see that "Avril" is a Handi Quilter--I don't have a long arm due to cost and space, but have you seen the new "Moxie" model? I am rather interested in it but wonder if it would be a good machine with enough features to be a good quilting machine--I don't want a sit down model as would rather "draw" on the quilt. I get fustrated with a larger quilt on my domestic Bernina 550.

  13. Another beautiful finish Sandra. I just now realized I need to make one later this year when I get my longarm. I’ve flagged your post to refer back to. Thank you for sharing your peeks on social media. It’s good to see April in her new coat. Loved the beautiful trees and view. It is good to know your weather is just over 3 weeks behind our fall schedule with us having already had our first snowfall which seems to be sticking.

  14. Wow!! I love all the color and detail in this cover. I can see you are exercising your brain to keep it well oiled. This was a wonderful way to showcase your quilting, the fabrics and the threads. All the detail that went into it is truly wonderful. Will you be applying to be a IB ambassador next year?

  15. Good morning, Sandra! Nope, I had NO idea where these pieces were going when you shared them on IG. Avril's cover and new jacket looks pretty darn spiffy. I love the opening for the thread holder - I have always wanted to make one on a smaller basis for my Elna but the thread holder gave me pause. The fabrics are SO pretty, of course, and the quilting is fun and perfect. A great finish for the month. ~smile~ Roseanne

  16. Avril now has such a lovely coat that I am hanging my head in shame about my poor, bare, chilly machines. Congratulations on rising to a challenge; the cover looks wonderful. I hope you are keeping that first Leah Day inspired piece handy for reference, though, because it is pretty cool too. Perhaps Avril could have some nights in her mumu and others in her fitted coat of many colours.

  17. I bet Avril is very happy in her fancy and cozy coat! I love how you did the sampler of quilting, especially the layered ribbon candy. When I saw that on Instagram, I wondered why you weren’t quilting on the line you made. Now it all makes sense, and it makes lovely texture. I don’t think Avril will mind a bit of roominess. Her coat is doing it’s job of keeping her dust-free.

  18. Hi Sandra, what a great coat for Avril. It took a while but she's now happily clothed! I really love all of your practice pieces - and you really must link up to Free Motion Mavericks - I'm hosting this week. Did you get any snow yet? You wrote this on the 25th but on the 26th we woke up to snow! It's come, gone, come and gone again but it sure is getting cold...I've had to stop wearing my sandals....a sad, sad state of affairs. See you soon. Take care.

    1. Thanks for linking up Sandra. I really love the quilting on this one!

  19. I hadn't given any thought to giving my long-arm a cover. I'm amazed by your variety of designs. Your favorite sources of free-motion inspiration are among mine as well.

  20. A quilted quilting sampler is the PERFECT thing for Avril! Gives her a way to strut her stuff and show off your mad skillz :) I know what a pain it is to make 3D covers for oddly shaped pieces of equipment (typed equiltment first ha ha!) so my hat is off to you for making it work so well. The velcro closures are very smart!

  21. Wow, so pretty. Love the colors and quilting.

    Instead of cardboard for a stiffener, you could try using the plastic needle canvas they use for needlepoint. It's washable.