Think about this.....

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Uninterrupted

Today should be an uninterrupted day for quilting, sewing, and having studio fun. I thought yesterday was going to be this way, but we had to take the little kid to the doctor for an upper respiratory infection he brought back with him from college.

I had been on a quite a roll prior to having to leave, but then lost a lot of steam with our three-hour detour. I didn't even have the gumption to long-arm upon our return. However, and prior to heading into town, I was able to complete my 20 BOM 2012 Craftsy blocks. 

The next step is to individually quilt the blocks in a quilt-as-you-go format while quilting the already completed top on DW in unison. I know this sounds really pretty stupid doesn't it? Why would I recreate a quilt top so I can quilt it on both my little, as well as my big machine? And, there is a simple answer: Three actually. 

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Every class I have ever taken in the past, and am now currently taking, all have different advice to give when working with quilts: Pin this way. Sew that way. Press like this. Quilt like that. But they all, every single one, say the same thing as an overriding theme. You don't acquire mastery without practice, practice, practice.

I was also ambitious enough last night to dig out the little charity dinosaur quilt I did during the last sew-in. Katie brought me her left over dinosaur feet (from a quilt she made previously) and I am incorporating those into the back of the quilt. I have everything laid out this morning and hope to get those together sometime today.

My homework for next months Stitchers Garden class is completed. We are doing two blocks in January instead of the usual one we have done in prior months. 

The Kaleidoscope quilt is still on DW and has been since Christmas. I think I'll dig into him first this morning and work out from there. 

Mom loaded me up (again) this year with fabric as one of my Christmas gifts. I have yet to put those away because I have to straighten all my long yardages to fit in the new bunch. But I have a new inventory of black and whites to add to the library, which was not only greatly appreciated, but badly needed.

Monday, December 29, 2014

What to do?

My mom is an amazing woman. She listens, and I mean really listens to what it is people say. I plan to listen more like her in the coming new year, so that shall be my New Years resolution.

I'd like to think I listen pretty well already, but like anything, there is always room for improvement.

My passion is like listening. I think I quilt pretty well, but at some point a line is crossed between just doing it and really doing it well. With all the resources available to me with the holiday gift giving, my quilting should soar to a new level this upcoming year. I am so excited about seeing where it heads and how much I grow in the next 365 days or so.

I look back on 2014 and all we experienced both in our personal lives and professional alike. Jim has learned he's not 25 anymore and I've learned to not cut corners and take my time. Enjoy the ride!

A friend of mine recently said something to me that makes perfect sense in how I have approached my quilting (and life actually). She said, "I can't afford cheap," and I think this is true in so many facets of life. Cheap on time, cheap on professionalism, cheap on supplies, and just everything really.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Gifts

I love to give gifts. Especially a quilt. The expression on a person for the split second of recognition is priceless to me and while the novelty wears off quickly, I still have that special look embedded in my brain.

Very few people realize just how much time is spent creating a quilt. I know my recipients appreciate them and most will cherish and use them as intended so it is that one brief moment of facial surprise and appreciation why I do this every day.

Here are the three full-size quilts made this year for my father, my mother-in-law, and my mom.

Ann's Amish Stars

Pete's Amish Stars

Judy's Full Circle
I received some amazing gifts this year too. Classes, books, and supplies to continue in my long-arm adventures.

When DW turned 1 year old (at least the one year he has been in our house), he and I worked through 75 quilts. 75! Can you believe it?

What's more amazing is that I finally feel like I'm JUST getting the hang of this long-arming thing. It's harder then it looks and the instructors and other long armers out there aren't kidding when they say it just takes LOTS and LOTS of practice...like cursive writing.

I want to create some amazing things this year. Angela Walters said something like this in one of the three books I received: When the quilting is laid down on the top, it's an extension of the artistic power of what has already been created.

I continue through my 2014 Mystery Quilt from Bonnie Hunter and am still working on creating a second BOM from 2012 Craftsy so I can practice both my DSM quilting skills in a quilt-as-you-go method, as well as on DW with the same blocks.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Circular Attachment

If you ever have the ability to learn how to use this bad boy, do it! I'm sure there's some kind of YouTube video for your machine on how your particular attachment works on it.

If you don't have this attachment, find somebody you know who does and watch it work. It's truly an underutilized piece of equipment our sewing machines have the capability of using.

We had a long session yesterday during our Stitcher's Garden class where Kathy demonstrated how her Bernina attachment worked, and then we were let loose on our own machines. Unfortunately, Mike does not have this attachment. Fortunately, Laura does, and so I ended up taking her yesterday.

Kathy even showed how to use painters tape, a thumb tack, and an eraser to make your own circular attachment. It didn't work as well, but students were at least allowed to play with it during class if their machine did not have the attachment.

After watching the in-class demo and playing with Laura (who no longer stitches very well due to her overuse), I came home and found out Mike has the capability for facilitating one, but no attachment came with him. This is something I'll add to my wish list for future gift giving. It's an expensive part; around $50, but the project possibilities are endless with all the stitches both Mike and Laura have to offer on their respective machines.

Caleb is now home for the holiday's so maybe my Christmas spirit will start to pick up a bit. Packages are arriving daily from around the U.S. and there is a brisk chill in the air. We even see a snowflake or two floating down from the sky.

Tonight is our Guild Christmas party. It'll depend on how much Amish Star long arming I get done whether I attend or not. Sew-In is this weekend and I can't very well take DW along for the ride, so today will be spent mostly on my feet in front of him to get this very special Christmas present completed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another Amish Star Quilt

My third; a Christmas gift for my father and after this one, I don't think I want to see another.

While they are beautiful quilts, I feel like I'm nearing "production" mode in having to make so many.

I know, three doesn't sound like a lot, but truthfully, making one quilt, let alone three of the same kind, is a LOT of work!

From previously, all the quilt tops were already completed. I needed backing fabric for the MIL's and my fathers. The MIL's quilt is on its way to Traverse City where she lives while I'm completing the second one here. Thank goodness!

The backing finally arrived on Saturday, and after getting the rest of the Christmas decorations up, the tree purchased, brought home, set up and decorated on Sunday, I was able to get back in here yesterday to continue on.

The first border, row one, and the first sashing were completed before retiring from DW. How come the first border(s) always take so long? It seems like I should have accomplished more after six hours on the machine, but nope, that's all I completed.

After that many hours, I decided I needed to do something else. While long arming, I was pondering what it was I was going to do, and even after shutting the machine down, still didn't know, so I made two more string blocks until I could make up my mind.

I love Amy Gibson, and she has been so busy with her family to really do a whole lot out there in cyberspace. But because I loved doing the BOM from 2012 on Craftsy, and I still have the class in my cue, decided to recreate another quilt using different colors. I still have the retro 20's prints left that Andrew purchased for me three years ago, and decided I had enough of those to head in that direction.

And, I'm using the Leah Day class to work out how to quilt the piece once each block is done. The first 2012 BOM was set into my exchange blocks with the Scrap Squad girls, and I'll long arm that the same way I'm going to DSM the new blocks I'm making.

The new blocks will be done more like a quilt-as-you-go method. In a nutshell; the large quilt with the added blocks will be more loosely quilted so the bed quilt will be all snuggly. It's larger anyway since 9 more blocks were added to it. The new quilt will be quilted a little tighter since I'll only be working with 12 1/2" blocks and can practice my micro quilting on Mike. Yeah! Now I have something to do to keep my mind off the fact not all the family will be together this holiday season.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ouch

My quilt bit me. Yep. It actually drew blood, and this time it wasn't my clumsiness in handling a pin or needle. Well, maybe it was my clumsiness, but not intentionally.

Somehow, while long arming this thing, a pin got stuck between the layers. It let me know about this yesterday while trimming binding threads. It poked me repeatedly and the final poke drew blood. I rooted out the source only to discover one of the flower-headed pins I use to attach to DW's leaders became dislodged (somehow) and ended up inside the quilted layers.

Long story short; after rummaging around here for a set of pliers to remove said pin (the flower heads easily separate from the metal shaft...thank goodness) all was well after the minor quilt surgery.

Here is the final quilting and now I can say farewell to a piece I never really liked from the start.

Rounded Feather

Swirls

Fern Feather

Circular Feather

Corner Feather

Loops and Long Swirls

Partial Feathers, Long Swirls, and Fairy Swirls

The Final Pepperdish
I took it along to Guild and everybody seemed to like it. After having one of the girls hold it up at a distance it didn't seem too awful bad. I'm just glad it's over!

One to bigger and better things. Yeah!

Mystery Clue #3 is out and hallelujah, it's just simple strip piecing and block construction. 120 units all together so we'll be working on those today.

I have a small chevron quilt that I loaded onto DW yesterday just to do some more practice with. I love long-armer Angela Walters, and I luckily have one of her books in my possession; she is such an inspiration. I'm goofing around with as many of her motifs in her book within this little chevron quilt since it offers such versatility for play. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the quilt once it's finished, but we'll cross that road later I guess.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

One

One thing accomplished yesterday. I was so into what it was I was doing that I never took lunch until way past 1:30. I couldn't believe what time it was when I looked at the clock.

Here's what a quilt looks like when it's all pinned and ready to get quilted on my sewing machine.

Pinning a quilt
You can see my chalk markings for the quilting, which is a wise thing to do prior to pinning the quilt.

And, then I changed my mind.

This quilt has a lot of bulky seams. Probably due to the curves and the method of construction, and I was concerned Mike would have trouble traversing said seams. I was also concerned about the size. As I was pinning I was having to shift the quilt quite a bit to get all the pins set in and this told me it was probably a little too big to put under Mike.

So, I unpinned.

And then I loaded it onto DW. I've been watching a number of videos on YouTube and Craftsy on free motion quilting and thought to myself, 'Hey, I need to practice. I don't really like this piece so it won't matter if I mess it up. Go for it.'

All of yesterday was school. Schooling in how to travel. Schooling in how to flip motifs in my head and then transfer to my hands. Schooling in how to fit motifs into tight (or loose) spots. Schooling in speed of quilting. Schooling in taking breaks and doodling designs before actually quilting them.

I took my time. I played. I LOVED it! And, the piece didn't turn out too awful bad. Maybe I'll even share it tonight with the Guild just to prove I got the dumb thing done and it's off my to-do list.

Oh wait, the binding. And it has to be washed. All the glue stick spots are pretty prevalent so I have to wash it before I can share it. It's still early. I should be able to make it if I get off my computer and actually do something. :-D

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ann's Amish Stars

Here it is! All completed! It turned out pretty good I think.

Ann's Amish Stars
Here is a close up of some of the quilting that went into it. I probably already showed this motif previously, but hey, I like it and it's my blog.

Quilted Swirls
Now what? Jim asked me that this morning why he was on his way to Ohio. DW looks naked without anything on him but I don't want to start anything too tedious since dad's Amish Star backing will be here in a few more days.

I keep staring at that dumb Pepperdish table topper sitting on the rack waiting patiently to have something done with it. I really, really, really want to quilt this on Mike (Temps new name since he's now actually staying with me instead of going back to Gall Sewing). However, I think the quilt is a little too big for me to wrestle around with on my sewing desk.

I spoke to Dale last week about the quilting plan the designer published and it seems pretty intense; and Dale wholeheartedly agreed it's over the top. Too much on too little of a "palette".

Okay, I just brought the top out again onto my pressing table and I think if I mark it as I go, and modify some of the quilting areas, and, and, and...

I can probably give this a go on Mike. I think I can, I think I can! What do I have to lose? The quilt police won't come in here and arrest me, right? If it turns out too poopy I won't put it into the quilt show in March, right? I'll just let the guild members give it a cursory glance and not let them look at the quilting if it turns out crappy. I'm going to go for it on Mike. I just wish I had some 505 to baste the layers because all this pin basting will take all morning.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Actually Love Mondays!

Doesn't that sound weird? I really do love Mondays. We spend the weekend running around doing errands, and this time of year brings holiday shopping to the list.

After Jim leaves for work in the afternoon, I just cozy down into my studio and get so much done. Maybe that's why we need weekends; to rejuvenate our batteries to become more productive for the week ahead.

The MIL's quilt is completely quilted! I don't have the binding on so no pic yet, but soon. The quilting ended up being more then I had originally anticipated but I think it looks marvelous. I hope the woman appreciates all the time put into this thing since it's been in the works, off and on, for the past three months.

The Unit 2's for our Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt are in progress. These units take a long time to make and it's my goal today to get those finished. It's another dreary day, so time to crank up some Christmas music, turn on the sewing machine, and warm up that rotary cutter. Let the sewing marathon begin!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Better Pic

People on the Quiltville thread in FB are including pics of their sewing room/studio pets. I did not include this pic, but the day after everybody posted theirs, this is where I snapped Lily snoozing while I was working away. She loves to be under the long arm.

My little studio friend

Here's a better pic of how the MIL's quilt is coming along. I'm doing it entirely free motion, thanks to Dale and her encouragement from Thursday night. I'm lucky to have such a talented quilter close by to tap into for information and enlightenment. She truly is such a humble artist and so willing to share anything she can to current/future quilters.

Quilting in the MIL's quilt
21 units for the second step in our MQ were done yesterday; only 79 more to go. I found a resource this morning (of course, after I cut up more fabric yesterday to complete said units) to make the second step even easier. Maybe next time I should wait a few days to see what others post to speed things along somewhat?

While I enjoy the process of making tops, sometimes just getting through a large amount of construction is the goal. Each unit for the second phase is a mystery on whether it will pair correctly, meet where it's supposed to and, moreover, whether it finishes at the correct size. They all seem to be off just a bit one way or another despite my construction being done the exact same way.

Off to the East Lansing Arts and Crafts show today with Jim and mom. Should find some good deals and maybe even some cool quilting-making ideas.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Projects

It's interesting how my days and weeks go. Some days are quiet and virtually project-free; not that I don't have projects to do, but rather the lack of resources to complete said projects.

Then there is now. All of a sudden, after Thursday night, I have a multitude of projects staring me in the face for the upcoming holiday; and even projects not holiday related. Like the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt I'm doing. It's not remotely holiday related but will have weekly homework to complete. Just released yesterday was 200 more blocks.

My Stitcher's Garden November block was delivered Thursday night and that has to be completed before too long. Once again, not holiday related at all.

I was handed a dinosaur-themed charity quilt to complete for the guild also on Thursday night. That one won't take long and it's a project I can work on in my leisure. Hurray!

What about the string quilt I do a block on each day (or at least try to anyway)?

Then we get to the holiday stuff. My MIL's top is now on DW and here's an idea of how it's being quilted.

Anns quilt motifs
The pic didn't turn out as good as the camera looked like it would, but feathers were put in both the black borders, e's and l's in what should have been a flange, but ended up turning out to be a slim border, and swirls in each of the star block rows. The weather today is really gloomy so my flash washed out the pic.

I'm having to do three thread changes throughout the quilt depending on which of the sections I'm working on, so that takes a little more time. And why is it that it takes so long to set the first border in? Must be a quilters rule or something?!

While Big Socks, Little Socks isn't for anybody in particular for the holidays, it turned out to be very holiday themed.

Big Socks, Little Socks
This quilt turned out nice and snuggly. I quilted it pretty loose so somebody could cozy up to it during the cold winter months. I had every intention to sell/give this one away, but I may have to rethink that.

Speaking of which...I somehow wonder why people don't understand just how much time really goes into a quilt; any quilt, no matter its size. Not only the physical aspect of putting a quilt together in each of the blocks that make up the quilt, but the time spent thinking about how to construct it from start to finish. It's not like we just up and decide to sew something just to sew. There is so much planning in color, block placement, construction tactics, etc. invested in each piece we make. Let's not even get into the quilting portion once the block construction is completed.

Today must be my day to ask questions I'm certain will not get answered any time soon...if ever, but ya gotta wonder how to share the information recipients should be educated in knowing? Yet another question.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nearly Done

Big Socks, Little Socks is nearly completed. I only have to put the swirly circles in the last border and then I can take it off the frame. It took longer then I thought it would but after today, it should be history.

The debate still remains on whether to go ahead with the Pepperdish piece or to delve into my MIL's quilt. I know she won't be down state for a few more weeks yet, and I really want to see how the Pepperdish table topper will turn out once I get all those feathers into it.

Two more blocks completed on the string quilt yesterday and my string supply is actually becoming somewhat dented. I may have to pull from my 16-block pieces to get more.

Tomorrow is another clue in the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt. So excited!

I have to start thinking about how to put my Sugar Block BOM's together now that it has come to a close and my blocks are all completed.

I'd like to research some additional BOM's for 2015 since the Sugar Blocks will not be offered next year. Amy has decided to take a year off so I'm without a direction in that respect.

The weather looks like it should be cooperating today so maybe I'll actually be able to attend my guild meeting tonight. I think I've only been once since before I went out to Cali. Ugh!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Checking In

What have I done since Monday? Hmmm...what have I done?

Monday: Marathon day sewing HST's to 2 1/2" blocks to make all 100 units for the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt homework for this week.

Tuesday: Shopped for backing fabric for my MIL's Amish Star quilt. Finally found something and BTW...the Hen House rocks! Carolyn and Elise are wonderful hosts to all their customers and I will be frequenting there much more often in the future. Not to mention, their inventory of fabrics seems to increase exponentially with each visit.

Tuesday Night: After finally getting home from shopping with mom, worked on two string quilt blocks. I had attempted my Sugar Block BOM prior to leaving with mom and I ended up with three different block sizes in the nine patch block, so it was probably a good thing I walked away from it for a while.

While I was gone, Amy posted up the correct pattern on her blog and I last night ended up reassembling all four of the hard units (of course) to make a correct block. FB profile pic now updated.

DW has had this sock quilt on it too long, so we'll start there today. I really, really, really want to get my Judy Neimeyer quilt on the frame, but I know I have to get these Christmas presents done above all else. Hmmm, more questions. More decisions.