Ch ch ch ch changes.... March 17, 2016 16:00
Back To The Basics December 31, 2015 14:20
As 2015 comes to a close, we're counting inventory, preparing files for tax reporting, assessing the past year and making plans for the year to come - the basics of operating a business. We've learned a lot in 2015, and 2016 looks exciting!
At the quilting table, 2015 reminded me that no quilt can be completed without knowing the basics. From choosing fabrics and accurate cutting to pressing those 1/4" seams correctly, all these basic steps work together to create beauty that we can lovingly share with pride.
This last year I've been experimenting with free motion quilting. It's been rewarding and frustrating! The biggest lesson - patience! Quilters can, sometimes, get their spools spinning so quickly, as in the chain-piecing we all love, that the slower stitching that free motion can require may be challenging. At least, that's my excuse! Overall, it's been a wonderful time of learning, and there are quilt tops ready for the skills that have been developed - they'll be the focus for the remainder of this winter.
The diagram of the ever versatile nine-patch block, above, is going to be the "go to" block for some of my quilts for 2016. Pre-cut 5 and 10" squares, along with the 2 1/2" strips, will make quick work of those projects that are due to be completed in the next few months.
There are two quilt tops in the works that will require every skill learned, thus far. They are, both, heavily appliqued. They will, both, be gifts. One will be "quilt-as-you-go", one will be a sampler quilt. Both will be a lot of fun!
When those two challenging quilts are completed, there will be a new plaque hanging above my sewing table - "Keep It Simple Sweetheart"!
May your 2016 be filled with joy, lessons learned, challenges overcome, full bobbins and straight seams!
Until next time,
Tootsie Rolls, Please! September 14, 2015 12:10
It's "back to work" mode, today, after spending a delightful weekend in Shipshewana, Indiana at a quilt retreat!
Our group was smaller, this time, and we kept the spools spinning, the chatter going, and the treats were awesome! We were missing some friends, this year, due to health issues, and their lovely personalities, as well as their work, was missed.
The project was a beautiful Christmas Tree skirt, and, while many of the ladies chose that project, there were several of us that worked on completing those UFO's that seem to pile up on us.
In addition to the candies necessary for quilting, there was plenty of eye candy in the fabric selections for the various quilts, tree skirts, bags, appliqued wall hangings and pillow cases under construction....traditional Christmas prints, Halloween prints, red white and blue for a Valor quilt, golds, Fall prints, and batiks. One of our newest joined the group with her mother, and worked on her impeccable cross-stitching, using a beautiful variety of colors in her design. Of course, there were several ladies that had to shop for more material....one can never have enough!
The gift exchange was a lot of fun, with items ranging from boxes of project bags (yay!) to a darling "Frazzled Woman" doll that included a seam ripper in her apron. Patterns and fabrics, hand lotions, candles and coasters, and other delightful items, were also in the exchange.
Our "oohs" and "ahhs" were uttered as each new pattern was shared, fabric audition decided and project, completed. Encouragement, quilting tools and techniques were shared, lavishly.
Our instructor, affectionately nick-named the Quilting Fairy, was up before everyone had risen and after everyone had retired, to cut, stitch, embellish, and repair our projects, and sneak in a gift, or two....one of us woke to find her notebook with a quilted cover!
Guests at the hotel would peek in as they passed, some staying to visit and view the beauty inside, others to wonder what "all that noise is about"! Our hosts at the hotel were very kind, and had our tables, extension cords and power bars for each table, ironing boards and irons, snack table, cutting table (complete with risers!) and a refrigerator set up before we arrived. How wonderful is that? If you are looking for a hotel, the Farmstead Inn is the place to go while in Shipshewana!
Well, it's back to work, here........
Until next time,
To Be (Seen), Or Not To Be (Seen) August 19, 2015 12:42
Choosing a thread color for quilting is always fun for us!
Here are two examples of choosing thread color for quilting that is
to be seen, or not to be seen.
The appliqued flowers on the left, are the focus of this wall hanging. We chose a
thread that will blend with the beautiful background fabric. The picture was taken
outside and the sunlight makes the thread look darker, however, it blends nicely,
and with binding of the same background fabric, the finished project has a clean
and sophisticated look, with the flowers taking center stage of the piece.
The appliqued heart, on the left, is on a very small project. In order to give it the
attention it deserves, and to continue the heart motif in the fabric, the contrasting
thread works well, here.
On larger projects and quilts, changing threads while quilting is always an option.
It's simply a matter of deciding what we want our eyes drawn to. Let your
imagination run and have fun!
So many projects...so little time....off to the sewing room!
Until next time,
Retreat Treat....There Were.... July 11, 2015 11:23 1 Comment
It's time to check the calendar and decide if a quilting retreat fits the schedule!
Although, let's be honest, a retreat is a necessity for those that quilt!
If you've had the pleasure of being a part of a "sewing bee", you'll know the delightful time spent with others, working together to create a quilt, is priceless. Although the quilt retreats of today are composed of more machine quilters than hand quilters, they continue a wonderful tradition of a bygone era.
I remember my first retreat experience.
The lady that put the group together, who shares my first name, told me that all levels of experience were welcome. She had a pattern that we could work on , and she would teach those that needed help. Or, we could bring a project that we wanted to complete. What I didn't know was, that I was in store for a weekend that would open a brand new world, for me!
Ladies from different states were there. Ladies of all ages were there. There were expensive, fancy sewing machines, there were the old Singers (even one like my mother had), there were machines that embroidered, and there were ladies that brought their crochet hooks! The hotel we met at is known for hosting large conferences, and, that weekend, there was another, larger, group of quilters meeting down the hall. What a plethora of beautiful fabrics and patterns I saw!
Everyone I met was open to sharing what they were working on, and showing me their techniques for everything from paper piecing to free-motion. Some were working on large quilts to be given as a gift, some were completing projects that would be entered in competitions, or auctions for charity. There were table runners, wall hangings, baby quilts, and "larger than king-size" quilts! Some of the ladies had been quilting since childhood, some had, like myself, only just begun to explore this world of cutting large pieces of fabric into small pieces and sewing them back together!
There was FOOD! Everyone brought a few snacks to share....and, oh yes, there was chocolate! Recipe swapping held a close second to pattern swapping, that weekend!
Yes, there was a diverse group of women, sewing machines, patterns, techniques, recipes and fabrics....and, as time passed, there were stories.
There were stories of past hurts, victories, discoveries, disappointments, challenges, wonder, children and families. There was laughter, there were tears, there were hugs and prayers.
My first retreat was more than I expected. Did I finish my project? No. Does it matter? No.
There have been several retreats since this first one, and they have been with the same group of ladies, give or take a few. Some of the quilting projects have been completed, some have not. The bargello technique was being taught during last year's retreat, to make a jacket. It's been on my dress form, waiting for me to get back to it....and it will go with me on this year's retreat - maybe, even, to be completed!
Whatever the next project for the next retreat is, there will be......
Until next time,
"Boo Boo Dots", Deadlines and Perfectionism June 17, 2015 20:08
Deadlines are the only way I can get anything done, however, I missed one, last week.
I was making a quilt as a surprise gift, and everything that can go wrong, well....it went wrong! My walking foot didn't want to walk, my mitered corners didn't want to miter, the batting was bunching, the binding wouldn't bind straight...augh! My wise husband did a lot of outside work while this project was underway!
After a lot of coffee and chocolate, little sleep, changing needles, cleaning the machine, re-threading and slowing down to rip out those stitches that I didn't like - it was done. Until I saw the corners. I didn't like them. They weren't.....PERFECT!
Have you ever finished a quilt and realized there were a lot of "less than perfect" stitches and piece work? Have you ever put a project aside because it just wasn't "going together right"? Have you ever decided that "that block is just too hard!"?
It's amazing how hard we can be on ourselves! When we see someone else's quilt, we're often, so enamored with the beauty of the quilt, we don't even notice a seam or two that don't match....or that the stitches may not all be the same length. Instead, we admire the "whole picture".
When we give someone a quilt we've made, they're not looking for errors, either.
Last week's quilt wasn't finished on time, and it wasn't perfect. In fact, I had to do something about those mitered corners before letting go of the quilt. That's where the "Boo Boo Dots" came in. Never heard of those, before? Probably, not. My husband came up with that after he saw me using red heart appliques for those "less than perfect" mitered corners.
And then, it hit me. She'll never know that those lovely little hearts are covering "boo boos". In fact, those little hearts give the quilt just the right touch to express the love that went into the quilt, and the loving, giving heart of the lady the quilt was made for!
A wise quilter once said, "a quilt can be perfect, or it can be done!"
So, with another deadline looming, this imperfect quilter is going to give herself a lot more time to complete the next project. And, maybe I won't be so hard on myself if my stitches aren't perfect.
But, just in case, I'm going to keep some "Boo Boo Dots" handy!
Until next time,
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions! June 04, 2015 12:46
Every quilter/sewer/crafter has that moment of decision - which color do I go with, here?
For some of us, that can bring a project to a screeching halt....while, for others of us, too many options can overwhelm!
Some of us rely on a quilt magazine or quilt shop's suggestion in their patterns, displays and kits. Some of us choose our "go-to" colors that we're familiar with, or just love to have around us. And, then, there are those that will paint "way out of the box"!
In every pattern design, the easiest way to decide color is to, first, imagine the finished project in dark, medium and light values. We learned that this method is used by some designers to create patterns, and that color choice is secondary to the pattern! Who would've thunk!
When we create our fabric bundles, we like to imagine how they would look in a variety of patterns. We, also, include blender options to "tie" a project together.
Our goal is to offer as great a variety as possible, to allow YOU to choose what works best for you!
Speaking of decisions, we, recently, attended a Regional Fabric Show, and had a lot of fun meeting with reps from several manufacturers. There are so many beautiful fabrics, notions and project ideas - our heads are spinning! New inventory has been ordered, and we're so excited to be adding another line of fabrics! Stay tuned for these gorgeous selections!
Summer is upon us, we're all busy with graduations, weddings, travel plans and get-togethers....so, with decisions regarding gifts, food/recipes, who's driving, and what airline to use, the last thing we need is a project delayed by indecision regarding our colors! So, take a step back, take a deep breath, and allow your own creativity to shine -knowing that, whatever colors you choose, the joy of any project is the opportunity to add beauty to our world!
Until next time, Happy Quilting!
Getting Organized May 27, 2015 11:58
Where is your "Happy Place"? May 19, 2015 10:54
It's that time of year, here in Ohio, when summer flirts with us and throws a few cold days in, just to tease.
The sweaters and jackets are kept handy, next to the flip flops!
Whatever the weather, one of my "Happy Places" is at the sewing machine. With coffee. With chocolate! The winter months claim my dining table, and bits of thread escape with me to the rest of the house. My dining room faces due south, so there is wonderful lighting, and an old tablecloth protects the table from those pins that
seem to miss the pincushion.
In warmer weather, the sun porch gets its turn to host the fun. An inexpensive table from Ikea has been a great investment. It's large enough to keep all my pieces handy for chain piecing, and, even works well when quilting a large quilt!
Do you have a "Happy Place" for your quilting?
I hope, so!
Until next time, Happy Quilting!