Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Very Puzzling Christmas

I hope you are still enjoying your Christmas weekend! This year, Christmas was a bit challenging for me. It was just the 2 of us, so you'd think the day's events would be simple. Well, Jim had a wonderful Christmas day. Me? Not so much.

I decided to treat the DH to pancakes for breakfast. Right. The Bisquick was about 4 years old, and hadn't been used but once, 4 years ago. So I added some baking powder - just to fluff them up. Then I didn't have any milk, so I used 1/2 & 1/2, which of course, adds more fat. Next, I didn't notice that the griddle wasn't set hot enough until late in the game, so they turned out cooked, but were Bisquick color. I decided to blow my low-carb lifestyle and have some anyway. Well, the pancakes were AWFUL. Serves me right for blowing my carbs.

Then came playing with the presents. Santa brought each of us a puzzle. The DH's was called "Dad's Shed" - and old-timey workshop shed with hand tools and stuff you haven't seen since the 30's and 40's. The DH has some of both his father's and grandfather's tools, so he had a wonderful time putting it together and reminiscing. It had 500 pieces. Piece of cake.

Santa brought me a 1,000 piece puzzle called Grandma's Craft Room. But, I'm not sure what Grandma they were trying to depict. It had an old sewing machine and a new computer! The artist must have been an art school reject: 2 of the cats looked angry, and the other one looked like a dog! 

The worst part is that both the DH and I got completely compulsive about our respective puzzles! So much so, that I forgot to take any of my meds. One of them is a mind-helping drug, so without it, I got to feeling crazy by 10:00. But did I stop? No. I just kept going .. and going .. and going. Of course, I wound up with a raging headache. We forgot to eat lunch, so about 4:00, I took my meds and ate a lot of (low-carb) junk food that upset my stomach. Rats. Needless to say, I quit working on the puzzle and took some Tums. So much for Christmas day.

Thankfully, I got plenty of sleep that night and woke up the next day feeling great. The DH worked with me to finish my puzzle, and we had a wonderful time putting it together. We watched a good movie, too: The Monuments Men. 

News from the Studio

I got a good start on my customer, Joyce's king sized Trip Around the World quilt. She is a wonderful piecer, so it is behaving very well, and is a joy to work on. She picked a meandering leaf free-motion pattern, and a beautiful thread that's perfect for the quilt. 


Learning for the Week

Don't use 4 year old Bisquick for anything.

Have a wonderful week! Now let's go quilt something.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

'Tis the season - hug your sewing machine

I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season! After several years with no Christmas decorations at all (due to various circumstances) this year we put up a little pre-lit tree. Think we have it all decorated yet? Of course not, but it's up along with our usual clothing gifts to each other from Land's End. Of course, Santa has something up his sleeve, especially for the DH. Hmmm, I see that the table looks a little cock-eyed...

News from the Studio

This week, I finished quilting a What Knots quilt for Robin. A member of the AHQ guild, she made this quilt in a workshop we had last May. Robin is a wonderful piecer and her quilts are a joy to work on. Nice job Robin!


Robin chose the Poplar pantograph. It is perfect for this quilt!

New Pantograph

 Poplar: This is lovely, and a very versatile design. I love it.

Now, I know you are busy with Christmas activities and obligations. Include some time with your sewing machine or longarm, too. If you just don't have time for that, this month, at least give your machine(s) a hug and let them know you haven't forgotten about them!

Have a beautiful week! Now let's go quilt something!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Where is Sherlock When You Need Him?

See? No Self-threading needle
Our big adventure this week was a fruitless search for a lost needle. I had just used a self-threading needle to bury thread tails while quilting on the longarm. I had laid the needle down on the quilt in order to pick up scissors to clip the tails. When I reached for the needle to secure it in the little piece of fabric where I keep it, it was nowhere to be found. Nowhere. The DH and I searched for it on the quilt with lights and by feel. we checked every nook and cranny. You wouldn't believe all the likely and unlikely place we searched.Thankfully, since we examined the quilt thoroughly and meticulously, we are convinced it is not on or in the quilt. We are just baffled.

News from the Studio

In Tennessee, if you hold a "raffle" you could wind up in jail. It's illegal. So, how does the guild "raffle" off a gorgeous Opportunity Quilt that has been made as a guild project to make money for charity? Well, we sell kisses. No not that kind, Hershey Kisses. You buy kisses with real $$, and are rewarded with a tickets that you can enter into a drawing for the quilt. We donate 100% of the proceeds to our charities.

This week, I finished quilting the Opportunity Quilt, and today another guild member came by to pick it up so she can put the binding on. I'm hoping she has time to finish the binding in time to show it to the guild at our upcoming Christmas party.  It is a queen size. The drawing will be held at the end of the Appalachian Heritage Quilters annual Quilt Show in March.

New Pantographs Now Available

Bolero: It is the one shown on the Opportunity Quilt.

Star Dance: I mostly use this on Quilts of Valor.


Learning for the week

Duh! Don't let go of the needle until you've put it safely in it's proper place!

Now, let's go quilt something!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Marketing is not a 4 letter word

This year, I decided to participate in the Crossroads Marketplace. Each year, around this time, the Women's Ministry of my church provides an opportunity for women to sell crafts, products, and services to the general public. I went to display my work as a quilter, and talk to people about quilting, longarm quilting, and to meet people who might need my services. 

What fun! The woman at the table behind me and I had opportunities to talk and get to know each other some. We are continuing to develop a nice friendship. The greatest surprise about the experience was the significant number of people visiting my table who wanted to talk about the quilts their mothers or grandmothers used to make, and how much those quilts meant to them. What a blessing to share those stories with them. Those stories reveal the true value of quilting.

News From the Studio

Yesterday, I finished quilting a Little Charmer quilt for my customer, Malinda. (Click Little Charmer to buy the pattern.) Isn't it darling? She used a super-soft cotton flannel for a comfy backing. The quilting pattern was a free-motion paisley, top thread was Superior's Rainbows, Seashell, bobbin was Superior's Bottom Line, Natural white.

A few months ago, I quilted a Wizard of Oz quilt for Diana. She sent me pictures of it all bound and beautiful.

Remember the class I took in September from Angel Huffman in Louisville, KY? (see post dated September 29) She taught us a technique for quilting blocks that Eva Larkin's details in her book: Free-Motion Quilting Made Easy. Well, I used my own Little Charmer quilt to develop skill with this technique.

Mark your block into 8 sections (both diagonals, vertically, and horizontally) then add dots for key pivot or turning spots. What a nice, quick technique! It works well for both longarm quilting and domestic machine quilting. Give it a try.

Have a wonderful week! Now let's go quilt something.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Just Dee-Lited!

 Yesterday, the neighbors across the street came out and sat on their front porch just enjoying the unusually warm weather and the sunshine. Quick like a bunny, I put my shoes on, and went over there. I had to. I had neglected getting to know any of my neighbors beyond their first names since we've lived here. Earlier in the week, they put a for sale sign in their front yard. I was very disappointed, and deeply regretted my lack of initiative. They are retired, friendly, and delightful - and I had missed my chance to make new friends.

So, I had to go over and sit with them for a while and to wish them well on their move. Well, I was delighted to spend a good long time just chatting and getting to know them better. I was even more delighted to learn that they will not be moving far, and that they, too, are interested in continuing to develop our friendship! What a relief!

News from the Studio

 In my last post, I told you about the new Dee-Lite lighting system that my DH was installing on my longarm frame. Well, he did it! And I am so blessed! Now I have "daylight" fluorescent tubes that show the colors accurately and make it easy to see what I'm doing. The maker and seller of these lights was very helpful. We had our list of questions, and he was glad to spend time on the phone answering them. I can recommend them for any longarm machine.

 A couple of weeks ago, one of our very talented local quilters blessed our guild with a workshop. She taught us her "freezer paper piecing" method. Until the workshop, I have refused to paper piece anything. I completely dislike having to tear out the paper when I'm done! Well, that's no longer an issue! With her method, you never sew through the paper, so when you want to remove the freezer paper, it just peels off, no muss, no fuss, no bother!

Tips and Techniques 

Do you take your quilt tops to a longarmer? Have you ever noticed a dark thread, probably a ravel, showing through a lighter fabric --- after the quilting is done? The real culprit is the fabric. Most printed fabrics are a bit coarsely woven, and ravel easily, even high quality quilt store fabric.

This is the back of the guild's "opportunity quilt" (think a non-raffle, raffle quilt). See the dark threads laying on the light fabric? They will show through to the front after the quilting is done unless they are removed.

You can see my little bowl of trimmings, and I wasn't even 1/4 of the way through it.  So, do yourself and your longarmer a favor and trim the ravels and thread tails from the back of your quilt before you give it to her. Yes, it is very time consuming, but you worked hard to create a treasure, and you want it to look its very best when it is finished.

Now, have a wonderful week and go do something quilty!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Quilting Vacation is the Best Vacation

Wow, Summer and early Fall have been a whirlwind of travel! I need to hide the car keys and just stay home for a while! I've enjoyed the activities (mostly) and had fun, but I'm ready to just quilt for a change!


This month, my dearest friend in the whole world (except for my DH, of course) came for our annual 2 weeks of vacation together. Dorothy arrived on 9/30, and returned home on 10/15.  We spent 5 days in Pigeon Forge, TN at a cabin owned by a sister quilter. We had planned to enjoy a touristy show, sight see, shop hop, quilt some, and eat.

But that's not what happened. We made the mistake of shop hopping first. So, we bought fabric, sewed, and ate. And had a wonderful time!! The rest of the time at my house, we were mostly couch potatoes. The DH treated us like royalty, and we enjoyed a lot of silliness together.

News from the studio

Here is the customer quilt that I did yesterday. It's a cutie. It's a smaller version of Jacks on the Porch, which she calls Jacks by the Pond because of the cute frog fabric she used. The quilting is free motion swirls.

The DH is installing NEW LIGHTING for my longarm!!! Yea! I am SO excited! Finally, I will have lots of daylight illumination over my work. 

Longarm lighting at Quilted Joy
I saw the lighting on the machines at Quilted Joy. They are the Dee-Lite system from Deloa's Quilt Shop.

Learning for the week

Quilting is SO much fun!

Now let's go quilt something!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Peace of Continuity

The DH and I celebrated our 11th anniversary last Friday. Usually, we forget, and it just finally dawns on us that we've been married for another year. But this time, completely by "accident" a trip was in order. We had a whirlwind road trip from NE TN, to Louisville KY, Newburgh IN, and Glasgow KY.  Actually, we didn't go because it was our anniversary, but because I had a longarm class scheduled. The DH had wanted to visit 2 friends from his youth for years, but it was never easy to work it into the normal flow of life, and this was his chance. We had a delightful trip!

Strip Poker Hysteria

Guild News

The weekend of 9/18 was the guild's annual 3 day retreat. As usual, it was a lot of fun. We had our normal rounds of strip poker, and of course, sewing until the wee hours. I managed to finish 2 quick tops, and get a good start on a third. To see all the pictures, visit the Appalachian Heritage Quilters facebook page.

News from the Studio

This past weekend I took a class from Angel Huffman at her APQS Store in Louisville. It was excellent! Attendees ranged from one who didn't own a longarm, to someone who had been doing custom quilting for a few years. We learned some basic ruler work techniques, and easy-peasy ways to quilt borders, blocks and sashings with very little marking. The key message for me (little miss plan everything before you start), was to begin your custom work where you are. If you aren't ready (don't have a clue what to do in a space), pin the heck out of it with basting pins (those bent safety pins) and keep going. You can go back to those areas later.

I took the Headed Home quilt I showed you in my last post, and discussed quilting options with Angela. She still has a quilt top displayed in her studio that she had made right after 9/11. It will hang there until she has the inspiration (and a bit of time) for at least some of the quilting.

New Pantos

There are a couple of new pantographs in the studio:

Smitten                                                                                                     Torrent

Learning for the Week

Continuity: "The unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time."

This week, watching the DH renew 2 very important friendships from his youth, I was reminded of how essential those relationships are to us. Time was, when families were rarely scattered across the nation and across the globe, as they often are today. You are richly blessed if you live near family and friends with whom you grew up. Otherwise, with no-one from the "old days" nearby, we can suffer a loss of what I call the "continuity of life". I find that there is an important "peace" in knowing that I have  a bond with someone who was and is a "witness" to my life, who knows that I have value and who wants the bond between us to grow stronger.

I hope you have that continuity, and nurture those relationships with care. They are important and precious. If there is no one you can think of that way - please take care of the friendships you have now. If you would like to get to know someone from church or your guild, invite them to lunch. They could easily become your valued friend and your life's witness.

Have a great day! Now, grab your chocolate and lets go quilting!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Grab your rotary cutter, it's quilting season!

Wow, how did we get to September already? It was just May last week, wasn't it? The calendar is getting busy with all sorts of different activities and responsibilities. Yet, priorities are priorities. If your heart's passion is quilting, make sure you spend as much time in your studio or sewing room as you possibly can! And, get the guild meetings, quilt shows, workshops, and retreats for the year on your calendar right now! We all have important priorities in our lives, and we often have even more "false" priorities. Guard your calendars from things that may be a priority for someone else, but not for you. Remember, "No" is a real word that some people actually use, it is not a curse word, it is a complete sentence, and "no" requires no explanation.

Now, here's a "quilty" opportunity! The Gray TN guild's (Appalachian Heritage Quilters) annual retreat is scheduled for Sept. 18 - 20 and you can join us! There is still room available, so contact me right away if you are interested. (Bring a friend!)  Use the Contact Me form on the right and be sure to include your phone number.

News from the Studio

This last week,  I finally found some time to spend piecing, and finished this top called Headed Home.  Now I just need to decide how to quilt it.

I used the TQM Binding Tool, and half & quarter square rulers to cut the strip pieces and triangles. It took about 50-60 2 1/2" strips and a little yardage. Using the tools made the blocks go together easily, and there was very little left-over  fabric when it was all said and done.

Now, go load up your rotary cutter with a fresh blade, move the pile of junk mail from your sewing table, and

let's go quilting!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Oh, go soak your batting

I hope your summer is going well, and you are making time to have fun with the family, and, of course, Quilting! I’m now back in the studio after being in upstate NY with my sister, who had open-heart surgery in July. For those of you who have been praying for her – Thank you so much! She is making a remarkable recovery, indeed.

Of course, Jim and I are pigging out on all of the plums, peaches, and blueberries I brought home from the bro-in-law's orchard. Yum.

News from the Studio

 This week, I finished quilting a customer quilt and, today, I finished putting on the binding. Owner,  Connie, calls it “Turning 30”, and it is a gift for her lovely daughter. Isn’t it beautiful?


I call the quilting pattern “hooked feathers” and it is done free-motion (no pantograph). 


Tips & Techniques - "Washing" Batting

First, let me say NEVER really wash batting. Next, let me say I almost ALWAYS “wash” batting. Crazy, isn’t it? There seems to be a big debate about this in the quilting world, but the choice is pretty simple:

  • DON'T "wash" batting if: The finished quilt will never be washed. Why bother?
  • DON'T "wash" batting if: You want your quilt to look more homey or antique after its first washing. the batting will shrink a little when the quilt is washed, causing the fabric to wrinkle up just a little. 
  • DO "wash" batting if: You want your quilt to look smoother after it is washed. "Pre-washing" batting will pre-shrink it before quilting. But remember, never really wash batting.

Okay – so how do you “wash” batting? It’s easy.
  • SOAK the batting in plain, clear water (no soap) at the temperature that you plan to wash your quilt.
  • Press down gently on the batting to be sure it all gets wet. Do NOT agitate! 

  • Spin out the water. 
  •  Dry in the dryer at the temperature you plan to use when you wash your quilt. The batting will come out of dryer de-fuzzed, fluffy, and crease-free. Don't forget to clean out the dryer filter!

Learning for the Week

BACK UP YOUR CRITICAL DATA!!! Yup, you guessed it. While in NY, I did something that caused my external hard drive to crash. It has been diagnosed with serious directory issues, and is at the computer hospital. They are attempting to recover as much of the data as they can. Since all of my critical data is on that drive, pray that all of it can be recovered! Of course, I’ve learned my lesson and am preparing serious backup procedures.