Think about this.....

...the only thing scarier then reaching out to the unknown is settling for that with which we are comfortable.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Learning

Long-arm instructors stress the following three things: Practice. Practice. Practice.

While my motifs started looking like something on my practice pieces of fabric beforehand, doing them on a "real" quilt is a whole other ball game. DW-1. Colette-0.

I will not give up though. There are some good things in the BOM quilt I'm learning on.

Like these ropes.


Not perfect, but doable and from a distance, really nice actually.

These wonky swirls look pretty cool.


And then there's some not so good stuff in here. I mean, it's really, really bad actually. I will not rip though! I refuse! It's a practice quilt and this will mark my growth over the years (hopefully). I hope to some day look back on this piece and say to myself (and others), "Hey, this was my first attempt at actually FMQing without my computer, and if I can do it, so can anybody else who has zero art genes in them."

After becoming frustrated with some of my uglier long-arming attempts, I shut DW down and I started digging into that T-shirt quilt.

This is where I ended last night.


While I was working on piecing the borders around each of the t-shirts, Jim was in the studio with me sitting in his chair (since he can't stand for any length of time) and began organizing some of my fabrics. They were becoming rather convoluted and needed to be straightened out. Here's where he ended last night. I am so lucky!!!!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Swimming in Pudding

Did you ever have one of those days where you felt like you were swimming in pudding? All groggy and the energy level is just below low? I think this cold Caleb brought back from Europe is still reminding me it's here because yesterday was not a very productive day.

We started out having to head to Battle Creek to OccMed for Jim's leg. This took up the whole morning. After lunch I was just beat. I mean I felt like somebody had my head in a vice and my body under a body of muddy water. I could not get motivated!

After doing some reading and listening to Jim on the phone with the folks at work, decided I'd try to pull myself out of the chair and do something in my studio. Anything but laying around was better then nothing.

Two more Amish Stars.
The boots and gloves for my Garden quilt.



And then planning the t-shirt quilt. I was intending to start cutting up the t-shirts but felt like I needed to talk to the customer first and not rely on second hand information since this is a gift for the customers mother. I found what I wanted to do with them after finding out my numbers (11 of all things) and have the outer border selected. Now to just get in touch with the customer; whose number I do not have. Hello, Caleb?

DW is empty so I moved from sewing to quilting. I found a backing/top match in the spare bedroom and started to piece together the back for my BOM 2013 from Craftsy. I got the first part of the backing loaded, pressed the top and got it loaded and then loaded the second part of the backing onto its leader.

Except, I loaded the second part incorrectly and ended up having to take it off the leader and re-pin the thing back on. Mistake #5,312.

I drug Jim into the studio to select the quilting thread and decided at that point it was time to get out while I was somewhat ahead. Hopefully today will provide more energy to the bod and I'll have a better time in here as the day transpires.





Friday, August 29, 2014

Still Hexing

In case you were wondering (or you weren't just the same), I am still working on hexagons. I take them to meetings and other boring events where I can work with my fingers and listen at the same time. Doctor offices and hospitals are a great place to work on hexi's as well as guild meetings when I'm not attaching a quilt binding.

Here are a few from last night.


When I arrived home last night I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me...three of our five children were here! I didn't think they were coming out until tomorrow night but I'll take them either way!
With the children came the usual; dirt, food consumption, the latest news, and projects.

Project number 1: Caleb decided he needed some buttons re-fastened onto a few pairs of shorts. More shorts are needed since school has officially started.
Project number 2: Another commission quilt. A T-Shirt commission quilt. A T-Shirt commission quilt for the same gentlemen who hired me to do the Spartan quilt for the frat house. Wow!

Here's what I was given exactly as it was given to him to give to me.

Bag-Full-O-T-Shirts
I don't know what size, what colors, what the person is like I'm making this for. I just know it's his mom. I'll start to get the t-shirts prepped today and take stock in what we have to work with. From there, I'll contact the customer and discuss the above mentioned unanswered questions.

Oh, by the way, an iron that steams while making quilts ROCKS! I've been using my new iron now for about a week and it is WAY, WAY, WAY easier to get my work done with steam. Thank you Katie M. for your effort in getting this to me. You da man! I love my guild members and all we do for each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Thursday, August 28, 2014

More Then I Thought

After taking a break yesterday from my studio, I was reflecting on what my day had consisted of so far. It didn't feel like I got a lot done, but after my reflection period, realized that yes, I had indeed completed quite a bit today.

Here was my first order of business. I had to embellish my block for The First Snow from Tuesday. I added some lights to the house and a few snowmen near the front door.

Come on in and get warm!
I then finished loading the customer baby quilt and commenced quilting; for quite a few hours actually. I hadn't used my ProStitcher in quite a while and was concerned about setting it up for a quilt top and getting the computer to work correctly. It's quite a science to get all the correct steps together and make it work properly.

Apparently I have done enough quilts in the past and have it ingrained in my little head about how the bugger works because here it is being worked on!




Here are the two motifs I put into the quilt.

I was having such a good time with DW and the computer that before you know it, I had a totally quilted quilt. I left the quilt on the frame to go and find the binding I KNOW I had already cut for this when I constructed the top. I searched, and searched, and searched some more through my stack of tops, but did not find the binding.

I made new. I'll probably find it now after the quilt is long gone.

I took a break from the binding project and finished the Amish Star blocks I was making while the computer was quilting. I completed four more today.

It was still light out and I still had some steam in me so I decided to go ahead and get the binding on and try to complete it before I got too tired. Here it is. All done! The customer should be pleased because I love how this one turned out.

Falling Charms Pattern by Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilt Company


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Another Day

After returning from the Urgent Care in Battle Creek (Jim, not me), I was able to get into the studio after our very late lunch. Surprisingly, I did get some things accomplished.

I first started on my Garden quilt. I'm getting near the end of whatever it is I can do currently because I loaned the pattern out to a quilting friend. I need the pieces she hasn't returned to me to work on the more intricate blocks. But, I can easily enough eyeball the lesser complexities and here is what was done yesterday.


That seed packet will have "seeds" written on it when I get around to that portion of my work.

After playing with the garden quilt I moved on to a few Amish Star blocks. Only two. They weren't going together easily; I guess we all have those days and decided to move along.

Since yesterday was Tuesday, it was once again time for The First Snow block of the week. Here's week number 9. I will embellish it today with snowmen.

The First Snow; week 9
The pic didn't turn out very well, did it?

Because DW is empty, I decided to do a little cleaning in the spare bedroom; the place where all the tops and backings are stored. Happiness is finding extra backings that fell down behind some finished quilts to use specifically on quilt tops I've already made!

One of the backings is for a quilt I was hired to do a long time ago. The person who hired me to do the complete layette used to work with Jim, but then left for another job. He didn't keep in contact with Jim so we were pretty much left with all this finished stuff; a frog, a pillow case, and a quilt top.

That person has since returned back to Jim's place of employment. I figured I would finish out the quilt and see if the customer would want the set he ordered a while ago. Let's hope so.

Long-arming mistake number 4,296; forgetting to measure the quilt top prior to putting it on the rollers. Ugh! I was going to free motion this quilt initially (thank you Caleb for your ideas on how to quilt it), but then realized it's set diagonally and would work better if I quilted it using the ProStitcher. It's better to have all the measurements prior to setting up the computer so the area is filled evenly and not squished or spread out on the last row.

I'll have to unroll the top from the roller and measure it out and then re-roll it back again. It's not wise to float the top when using the computer (says my Handi Quilter rep in Lansing). Lesson learned!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Got Flies?

This is such a cute little baby quilt. I don't know if I'll sell it or keep it around here for our new little grandson expected in early October. Not that he'll visit much initially with the kids living in California, but I know they are trying to get jobs back here once they have their PhD's completed.

Got Flies?

Detail of the free-motion quilting I did within the quilt
I was able to work on garden quilt some more last night. I have the bottom panel done and what a large piece with many little pieces to make up the sum!

How the garden quilt is coming along
The customer t-shirt quilt was taken off the machine yesterday morning and it turned out wonderfully! I hope who she made it for appreciates all the beautiful fabric, construction, and quilting that went in it to make it a pleasant memory of her high school and college days.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Garden(ing)

We didn't do any actual gardening yesterday, but I did get to work on my garden quilt for a little while before heading out to run errands.

This is one of the sections being built. It's on the bottom of the quilt and should be pretty challenging to get together once I get all the pieces cut out.


 It doesn't look like much now, but it's still in construction mode.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I lied!

I said I wasn't going to long-arm yesterday, and guess what? I lied! After working on some of the gardening appliqué pieces, I decided I was at a good stopping point and knew I had a customer quilt sitting in the spare room waiting to go on DW. I have to deliver this Thursday and thought I'd better get it started in case there were any issues.

Here's where I'm at today.

Customer T-shirt quilt I'm simply doing a meander on
Here are pieces of the garden quilt as they are evolving.



Except for the muslin on the background pieces, everything else will be taken from my existing stash. I think I'm going to have to get a little creative for some of the colors and patterns.


Friday, August 22, 2014

And Another One Done

Seems like I was on a roll this week. Still not feeling 100%, but I can't dwell on this forever. Powering through seems to be the key!

Here is little Ian Thomas' quilt. I don't know whether the parents have went classic Pooh or a more modern, bright Pooh so the quilt is reversible to match whatever they did in Ian's nursery.

Modern Pooh

Classic Pooh
Since taking my free motion class I finally felt brave enough to try swirls in a real quilt rather then my practice piece. I quilted them a little loose so the quilt would be more snuggly for little Ian rather then all stiff close quilting creates.


I like how it turned out and I hope Ian makes this is favorite "blanky" in future years to come.

Dentist-interuptus occurred yesterday afternoon, so not only could I not attend the AQS show in Grand Rapids, but I didn't get much else done in my studio. I did take along my "logo" mini flying geese wall hanging and completed that during guild last night. It's now hanging in my studio!

I have a t-shirt quilt I have to do for a customer but think that will wait to get on DW until this weekend. I want to work on my garden quilt since I haven't in a few days. My arm is still really sore from all the long-arming I've been doing that past three or four days so I'll give it a rest day before starting in again.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Another One Completed

This is probably my last charity quilt for a while. I have way too many other projects to complete and take care of. Mostly that pile of tops sitting in the guest room waiting to be quilted. Ian's baby quilt is hopefully going to go on the frame today, but a dentist appointment later this afternoon will probably stand in the way of me actually getting it in the mail. Still too much to do on it before sending it out.


While perusing the internet/Facebook this morning, stumbled across yet another method of appliqué. While I enjoyed trying the starch and turn method, my pieces look really shabby and I'm not happy with the time and results I'm achieving.

The method I checked out this morning involves a special appliqué paper rather then freezer paper. The situation would result in my having to obtain said papers and other little notions to make the method work. The problem I seem to be running into are the little turns and high peaks and valleys.

The garden quilt had been fully traced onto Heat and Bond earlier this spring. I deferred back to that. Maybe I didn't give myself enough time, but really, after two full days of trying the new method and a sore back while bending over little pieces, a paint brush, a hot iron, and tiny scissor cuts just doesn't seem like much fun anymore. Love affair is over. I should probably return the iron back to the store since I don't think this is where I'm headed in my appliqué world.




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Moving Along

This practice piece has finally been pulled from DW. I feel like I need to get back down to business and I have a customer quilt that eventually needs to get on my machine so it was time to cease the fun.

Actually, long-arming is fun! Doing practice pieces only reinforces what I need to work on and what I feel I can put into a customer quilt with confidence. I feel, like anything else done seriously, that it is constantly evolving and the work never stops when it comes to learning new motifs or techniques.

The scribbly one is called Cat Hairball; too funny!

My first solo feather

Since it was Tuesday, another addition to The First Snow was completed.

Week #8

And then I played with a few more Amish Star blocks; another four were added to the pile. I think I'm up to about 36 of them, and need a total of 54, so I have a fair dent into my goal.

I was still steaming along after all of this and actually did a little more appliqué for my gardening quilt. I didn't take a pic of those pieces since they are strewn all about on my pressing table.

After getting where I wanted to be there for the day, I tackled a much needed quilt project. I have two (yes two) charity quilts sitting around here. One of them had a backing that was too short; the other currently does not have a back at all!

I made an executive decision. I need to just get into my own stash and get some backs made so that I can get them out of my studio! They need to be delivered tomorrow night so I can free up some room in here. They've been hanging around for nearly two months and frankly, to my way of thinking, that is just way too long!

Here is the first one off DW last night.
Charity Quilt #6 for the year

I like how I quilted this inside the star
I have to get the binding on this one today and then get it labeled before I start on the second one this afternoon. Hopefully, I'll reach my goal and be able to get these outta here by tomorrow!!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Playing

Yesterday was a play day. Whenever I'm learning something new, I don't consider it learning; it's more like playing to me. I like to experiment and see what works from me after following the directions and trying it the first way I was supposed to do it. Sometimes I find a better way; sometimes I don't.

Here is me playing with feathers and fillers on DW. Every time I fire him up I feel a little more confident and am willing to go a little further outside my comfort box. Sometimes I adjust my stance or my angle of where I quilt to get the best results. Sometimes I play with the lighting. Sometimes I play with a combination of stitch length, regulated mode, precision mode (that no longer scares my BTW) and all other little quilting quirks.


After messing around with him for a bit, I traveled into my appliqué world. Once again, learning something new and trying it the way the instructor advised, then playing with different variations on what may or may not work best for me.

This is a piece both Carol R. and I are working on right now. I believe she is actually making two of these, and I may end up making a second one as well. I think this particular pattern would be nice for the DeGroot reunion since so many of us garden and enjoy all the bounty that comes out of it.


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm trying appliqué without the use of Heat n' Bond or other fusible something-or-another. I don't like how it works under my needle on the sewing machine and I don't like how stiff it leaves the pieces afterward.

This method involves starch, a stiletto, and a heat source; I'm using a sealing iron I purchased from The Marshall House yesterday. Man, does that thing work great! The templates are made on two layers of freezer paper, which I have miles of around here and it really doesn't take much longer then the fusible method.

I like the fact that my pieces are all pretty clean looking and don't have those stray threads all over the place from fray. A few do, but those are my first pieces and I really didn't know how to coordinate my stiletto and my iron when turning over my seam allowance. I'm finding I'm becoming rather addicted to this project, which is good since I have all these lovely new notions with which to do it with.

And, once again, more Amish Star blocks were constructed; four yesterday.


Since it's Tuesday, I'll be making another The First Snow block and we'll see where the cloudy day sends us after that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick Check-In

After our funeral on Saturday, we convinced Katie to go and get her stuff to sew with us during the afternoon.

I completed 12 more Amish Star blocks for Dad and Jim's mom and will be ready to start putting one of those tops together soon.

We found ourselves at The Marshall House earlier today and I was able to finally locate the appliqué iron I was searching for, as well as a stiletto to do turn-under appliqué rather then fusible. I don't like the feel of the fusible on the finished quilts that I do, and I seem to have issues under the sewing machine needle when trying to get it sew down.

I know that some pieces will be constructed via fusible, but would like to do many more of my pieces using the turn-under approach for a more traditional and finished/polished look.

Don't know where I'm headed today in the studio. I'm just getting in here even though Jim is still home.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

RIP Joan

Today we attend a funeral. A funeral for a fellow quilt maker who was a member of our guild. Joan will be missed with her quiet demeanor and input into our group. She was who made me feel welcome the first couple of weeks as a new member two years ago and she will always have a special place in my heart for that very reason.

Yesterday was sew-in day and I made this little quilt for a college friend of Andrew and Laura's. The new little bundles name is Ian and I hope the "green and white" theme stays with him always. Congrats Ryan and Stephanie on your newest addition!

The theme of the nursery is Hundred Acre Wood. 
After coming home to an empty house, I started right in on my feathers class and yesterday we worked on the custom feather. These are a bit more "formal" in look, and I was having a really (really) hard time grasping how to make these. I probably drew 50 of them before I was ready to get on DW and give it a try.

Even after all my hand practice before, this is what I ended up with.

Custom feathers
Not very pretty are they?

I continued on practicing and did improve somewhat. They are constructed differently then the simple feathers of the other day. Our instructor became a little more fancy and added a few elements to the custom feather and here is what I ended my day with before turning off the machine.

Custom feathers with added pieces
I think I have a lot more practicing to do with these before feeling comfortable on an actual quilt.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Binding Day

I should designate a day or two a month just to sit down and bind quilts that need binding around here. I hand-bound the "logo" quilt of mine while I was at quilt guild last night. I still have to tack down the hanging sleeve, but it's nearly done.

Square in a square in a square was bound yesterday afternoon. I try to remember, as I put each of these up for sale, that they are bringing warmth and love to whomever the recipient is. Unfortunately, I know the reality of some of the adopted quilts and their placement, but let's not go there. Pixie dust and unicorns.

Square in a square in a square

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Busy Day!

Yo-yo is done! Isn't he cute? The unfortunate thing is that he is pretty fragile. I don't think I used the correct sized yo-yo's to complete him so maybe I'll have to make another one somewhere along the line using the correct sized pieces.

Yo-Yo...our newest family addition
After I completed my little dog, I moved into "training" mode and worked on some more feathers. I think I'm actually starting to get a handle on these things. This was my first attempt yesterday and after doing pretty well, shut down DW. We were on a roll and I didn't want to jinx it.

Learning how to quilt feathers
I was also working on some filler pebbles and swirls. My first swirls, as you can see in the pic, weren't so hot; they later turned out okay once I figured out how to leave one and move onto another. There seems to be a trick to this and of course I had to watch my class video about three more times to actually get it (see, I'm still not feeling very well).

Since Tuesday passed us by, I thought I better do my weekly block for The First Snow series. This one almost physically hurt me since I laid blue next to yellow within the block, but I know that sometimes ya just gotta spit into the wind. :-)

The First Snow, week 7
I know that you saw this yesterday, but I have to repost this pic. After exhausting all my artistic family member resources out and trying to find a graphic designer to design my logo, decided to do my own design work. It's my company so I guess I have all the say in where I want things to head.

I loved the way this piece turned out and decided to make it my logo. I fiddled with the photography and lighting and with the camera dad gave to me a few years back, was able to make a decent pic of this top, so here is my new logo and as of yesterday, my business cards are on their way. They should be arriving in about two weeks. It was way past time to get them ordered! One more "to do" on my list has been checked off!

My new logo!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Only One?

I only worked on one thing yesterday. Yep, only one! Kind of weird for me, but I wanted to get this completed before Jim returned home from work so he could see what I'd been up to the past two days. I just needed to get it pressed when he pulled in.

Putting this thing together was less then fun! Will I make another one? Probably not. It is gorgeous but I still have to quilt it and I don't think today is the day. It's time to get back to other things sitting on my planning table.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Little Distracted

Okay, so I have all these great ideas in my head in the morning about what it is I want to do during the day and then the weather, the polar vortex, sounds the birds make (you get the idea) distract me or send me in an entirely different direction. I'm a woman; I'm entitled!

I did work on a few of the Amish Stars blocks. Three I think. Whooohooo!

I did work on my little yo-yo dog for quite a while actually. The pattern did not signify that the head portion had to have one piece and one piece reversed cut out, so I had only two in the same direction and could not figure out why the center piece would not work with the second head piece. Ugh! This is why I don't do traditional sewing. I had JUST enough fabric to recut a reversed head piece.


After fighting with Yo-yo for nearly the whole afternoon, It was time to move on to other things.

Here is my first attempt at my first feather from my Craftsy class. Not bad. The instructor suggest trying the feather with both the stitch regulator on and off. The first one has the regulator on. Quite honestly, I've never worked DW with the regulator off, so today I'll be moving into the unknown. Scary!!

I threw in the pebbles since my spine was so far apart
I am still not feeling very well, and was becoming a little dizzy after setting up and playing on the long arm so decided to get on the computer and monkey around there. I had a few research items to check on and then I made an executive decision and fulfilled one of my pattern wishes.

I've been eyeing this pattern now for about six months. It was $5 and since I seem to have a handle on this paper-piecing thing after Amazon Star, knew that I could probably handle this complex little critter. I completed nearly half of it prior to shutting down for the day, so that's where I'm headed to first today (so she says). Who knows where the gloomy day will send me after that?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dog and Iron Updates

Yesterday, while Jim and I were at Meijer shopping for our weekly groceries, I looked in their iron area to see if they had any irons. They carried very few; none of which I had on my target list to purchase. They did have an iron on sale called the "Shark". We decided to grab it and if the reviews on it were poor, we would just return it.

Once we returned home, we did find that the reviews on this particular iron were not just poor, but very poor. It appears the thing quits working after 6-10 months and so I'll just have to return it on my next trip into town. Meanwhile, I am still in search of a B&D Digital Advantage D2030, which received a 99 out of 100 rating on the consumers scale (several of them actually). It seems Bed, Bath, and Beyond carries it, but only at the Lansing location. Maybe I'll have to order it online?

The yo-yo dog is coming along well. We had a houseful of unplanned visitors show up yesterday, and while we LOVE to entertain, it but a bend in my plans of working on those feathers. I did get a practice piece loaded onto DW prior to everybody flocking to the house, but that's about as far as I got.

The nice thing about visitors and projects like the yo-yo dog is that you can work on all those yo-yo's without making your company feel jilted or ignored. The "herd" left with only about eight more yo-yo's to make and since the day was pretty much shot, I just sat on the couch and finished them all off. I'm still not feeling really well, so it probably worked out for the better anyway.

Here's what the end result is (so far).


I have to wire all those together for the body, legs, and tail so I'll use the green wire in the corner of my pic to get them all together.

I think I need to tackle a few of the blocks for my dad and Jim's moms quilts for Christmas. I'll start there and then maybe once Jim toddles off to work later this afternoon, I'll start back in on my feather class and take the advice of the instructor, and fellow quilter Katie in remembering each "petal" is a half a heart. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tools of the Trade

One of the many tools a quilter relies so heavily on is the iron. I have a very expensive Rowenta.


I paid a lot of coin for this thing and I actually love how it handles, it's weight, and the pointy end that can get into creases really well. What I don't like is the incontinence it has displayed recently. I can't put any water into it for my steam feature. If I do it does this...


Poops out brown stuff all over the place and I do a lot of white work for it to be having this issue.

I've tried cleaning it, descaling it, etc. I emptied it every time I was finished with it (which was a pain) and no matter the attempts at getting it to stop leaking and pooping, it doesn't seem to work. I think it's time for a new iron.

I was wondering if the Oliso iron was any better? From the reviews I get on Amazon and other resources, it doesn't sound like it for the money you pay; $149 and up!

However, the same resources indicate the Black and Decker Digital Advantage D2030 is a far better deal and the cost of it is pretty reasonable; $44. While I don't absolutely NEED a new iron, since my Rowenta is still heating, I would like to get my steam feature back because using water out of my spray bottle just isn't the same! Another back burner item I fear.

I finished my Stitch Bible last night!



It turned out pretty well and I'm so happy with how Temp does his stitches. No fuss and very little back talk from him. I can't wait to get my permanent Janome Memory Craft later this summer (after I've paid it off) to actually get him totally settled.

I have signed up for yet another Craftsy class. I can't continue on with my Stupendous Stitching class until I obtain a couching foot for either of my machines. Neither of them have one that came with them so it's something I have to purchase separately. Meanwhile, Craftsy is having a class sale and I am now taking Feathers with Angela Walters (I love her energy and teaching style).

I am so balking at working with feathers in a "real" quilt so I think maybe putting on a practice piece of material on DW will help with my huge mental learning block on these things. I'm so excited to be able to finally get some feathers into some of my quilts and overcome my feather fears!