Saturday, March 28, 2015

Surprise! Surprise!

I usually don't like surprises. I'm afraid I won't like what I'm surprised with, or that it won't be exactly what I would have bought for myself. The same is true with me and fabric. To get that guarantee that all the fabrics in a quilt go together, I've been using pre-cuts and yardage from the same line. It's a safe way to get a well-balanced look in a quilt. But I love to use batiks. Since most batiks bleed, I must be able to pre-wash them, which is impossible with pre-cuts. So, I use a limited number of batik fabrics in a project, and agonize over selecting ones that coordinate with each other. Thankfully, there is a little collection of color cards that are a big help to me. If you are color-challenged, check out the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool by Joen Wolfrom. It is a big help at the quilt store, and I'm usually pleased with the results.

Lately, I've been wanting to make one of Jenny Doan's easy, scrappy quilts with batiks, but have been thwarted by the idea of finding a myriad of fabrics to work with. Lucky me! Batiks Etc has been having a Fat Quarter Frenzy (20 fat quarters for $30). So, I just sucked it up and ordered a bundle online! Scary, for sure, trusting a total stranger to pick 20 fabrics for me, but I could get 20 fabrics and not have to select a single one. I told them that I like cool colors, and which colors I like the best and just waited to see what I would get. Well, today the happy collection showed up in my mailbox and I am very pleased with them! Whoever had the job of picking out the fat quarters did a wonderful job!

Seems like a lot of us quilters want to be in control of our fabric choices - at least most of the time. My hunch is that many of us need to be in control of other things in our lives, as well. Maybe it's time for us to learn to relax a little, and trust someone else to make a fabric choice for us. We might be pleasantly surprised.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Breaking free of "stuck" mode

Always put a lull-in-the-action in your studio to good use. I got stalled last week, waiting to acquire what I needed to continue. I really don't like being in that situation. I'm uncomfortable, and wander aimlessly through the house wondering what to do with myself.

First, I got stuck behind a needed tool. As you may remember, I'm taking the Precision Piecing class on Craftsy. The instructor had us make a template with all the different angles that quilters use. We marked all the seams and angles on it and punched holes in it where the seams intersect.

Now this is a precision piecing class. An inaccurate, homemade tool (the best I can do)  cannot precisely mark dots at seam intersections, no matter how accurately the patches are cut. I at least need a tool more accurate than one made by me. So I stopped working on those blocks, and ordered a tool made exactly for this purpose, The Quilter's Quarter Marker is available at (Thankfully, it arrived on Monday.) It works great! Oh, I just heard from Janet Hoxie ( that the tool is on back order at the moment. It should arrive in 5-6 weeks. If you want, she will put you on the waiting list and let you know when they arrive.

Secondly, quilting work is stalled. I'm waiting for a thread order for one job, and am stuck behind a panto order on another. It can be very frustrating for me to just wait! My kindergarten teacher, Miss Taylor, noted on one of my report cards (which I still have) that "Sharon does not handle frustration well." So true.

Anyway, while waiting, I wandered around the studio, trying to get interested in a ufo or something. I spotted a project box, covered with dust, and found a top and backing just waiting to be discovered. What a treat. They had been in that same box since 2010! It's a slightly modified version of the Milky Way design by Georgette Dell'Orco. I had thread that was perfect for it - so I threw it on the longarm and voila!

Now I'm not quite so stuck. I can move forward on my Precision Piecing class, and will give myself a break from making decisions about future projects until the thread and panto show up.

Oh, BTW. I just scheduled a Learn to Quilt with Jack and Jill class at Heavenly Stitches Quilt Shoppe in Kingsport, TN. It will start May 6 at 2:00pm, and run for 6 weeks, ending on 6/10. If anyone you know is interested in learning to quilt, have them call Heavenly Stitches at 423-406-1401. The only prerequisites are to be familiar with their machine and be able to sew a straight seam.

Now let's go quilt something!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Patience is not a virtue

Patience is not a virtue. It's a treasure, a gift, a skill, and a habit. Many in the general public think that quilters must be a very patient bunch of people. But you and I know otherwise. Only a few of us quilters, in my opinion, are truly patient. Patient means: enduring, tolerant, unwearied, uncomplaining, long-suffering, and serene. If we are really patient, our projects would be completed calmly, diligently, and without complaint from start to finish. If you are a patient quilter, you are richly blessed.

The rest of us have the 2-edged sword of impatience. Impatient means: annoyed, irritated, frustrated, and angry. Which of course, leads to mistakes and more frustration. BUT, impatient can also mean eager, excited, and enthusiastic. The positive aspects of impatience can quickly turn to the negative without the ability to move into a patient mode to get the project you are eager to do, actually done. Here are some suggestions:
  • Play your favorite calming music as you sew. I personally like adagios - the quiet and often pensive type of classical music. But, if country music takes you there - go for it!
  • Stay hydrated, pee when you need to, eat lunch, and take a break now and then.
  • When you get frustrated - stop, breathe, and make it okay to take a break. Just don't abandon the whole project. Yesterday I heard myself say "I'm just going to throw the whole thing in the trash!" That was my clue to call it a day. 
  • Practice patience. This actually works to help you move into a patient place when you need to. At the grocery store on a busy day, get in the longest line you can find. Breathe, talk to the people around you, breathe, smile, breathe. Then on your way out to your car, saunter.
Why am I even talking about this? Because working on the Amish Pinwheel block for the Precision Piecing class on Craftsy had begun to take a toll. I definitely WANT to know how to piece (nearly) "perfectly" when I need to, but I'm so impatient, that if it isn't coming together immediately, I tend to get upset. Yesterday, I finally had enough of being upset. So I implemented the "call it a day" strategy. Today, I'll do another block, and tomorrow, another. But I won't start pushing myself any harder than that on this project. I'll exercise a little patience - maybe.

Now let's go quilt something!