Since the national launch of the fabulous Janome Quilt Maker Pro 18 long-arm quilting machine http://janome.com/en/products/machines/quilt-maker-pro/ last June, I try to spend some time playing around with it at every show where I work. It’s the best way to learn, just by doing, and it’s SEW much fun! If you haven’t yet tried it, contact your local Janome dealer to see if they carry it in their store, or visit us in the Janome booth at one of the upcoming shows this year.
As the saying goes,” practice makes perfect”, and the best way to really get comfortable with this amazing machine and put it through it’s paces is to practice. The more the better! I save all my test pieces and practice samples as it’s fun and encouraging to look back to see how my skills and techniques have evolved. As another saying goes, “you’ve come a long way, baby!”
Adding the fabulous new Quilt Maker Pro Stitcher computer robotics into the mix brings the ability to add even more quilting.
There are hundreds of pre-loaded designs from which to choose, though you can also load other purchased designs, too, so it’s fun to stitch some out as you get comfortable navigating through the program.
Another good reason to save all those practice pieces is they make great bedding for pets: Fido won’t care if your free-motion feathers aren’t perfect, but they can do provide warmth in some unexpected places……. This leads us to our fun, quick and easy project for today:
I used one of my old practice samples (which are typically just hunks of muslin or fabric I just want to get rid of) to cover an insert I made for my fireplace to block some of the bitter cold from seeping in. The fireplace is in my sewing room so a quilted insert seemed appropriate. However, you could use just plain fabric, or even leather or cork for something equally decorative. I wanted my insert to blend into the surrounding brick, which I had painted white, so I choose to use the plain muslin side of my practice piece.
Since, yes, I’m “that guy” who saves every little scrap of everything “just in case”, I used a scrap of Styrofoam insulation left over from another project as the base of the insert. You could use a scrap of plywood, or even layers of cardboard glued together for the insert, but I liked the idea of the Styrofoam since it’s super easy to work with; no special tools required. A good sharp utility or carpet knife is really all that you need.
Cutting the Styrofoam is easy, but I warn you, it is a bit messy, so keep your vacuum cleaner handy!
I measured the length and width of my fireplace opening & then subtracted an inch from both of those measurements. This allows for the added thickness of my quilted sandwich to be wrapped around the sides and secured at the back. If I were using just one layer of plain cotton, non-quilted fabric, I’d only subtract maybe 1/4inch from the measurements as you still want a little wiggle room to place the insert inside the fire place opening.
With the right side, or good side of your fabric/ leather/what have you facing down on the table, place your Styrofoam insert on top and wrap as you would a gift.
I secured the fabric to the back with T-Pins, but if you were using plywood as a base you could either use a staple gun or glue (or even duct tape) to hold the fabric in place.
A scrap of batting across the bottom of the fire place opening helps seal some of the gap around the insert and makes for easy installation.
The batting gave me a little extra wiggle room to position the insert which will also help when it comes time to remove it in the spring.
You might want to make your fireplace insert a subtle decorative element in your room so consider switching out the fabric seasonally. For fun, I think I’ll use some Christmas themed fabric next December. SEW many possibilities!