Moving is the pits! We've been "moving" to TN for over a year now. The DH moved to TN a year ago, and I'm still here baby-sitting the house while it is on the market. Not a bit fun - neat and tidy is not part of my comfort zone. But the time has come - I NEED to be with my husband! We are both much better together, for sure. We travel back and forth to see each other, and when he walks in the door, I light up, calm down, breathe easier, and grin all the time. So I'm moving to TN - whether the house has sold or not.
The thing is, after living in Raleigh for over 30 years, my entire life is here. For 2 years, now, I've gone up and down emotionally over the thought of moving. Although I am now beyond ready to move - my heart is breaking. I've met many, many people at our local Senior Center, who have left their lives of 40-50 years in the same place, to come to Wake Forest NC to be with a daughter or son. They've given up home, friends, volunteer work, hobbies - to live in a tiny apartment - alone, or in a guest room in a relative's house, not knowing a soul their own age, or where anything is. Most of those folks came to the center, desperate for friends and to "get a life." And they did! So I know I can do it too.
Today, I've been communicating with the director of our Senior Center about candidates to take over my Thursday morning line dance class, and the Wed afternoon quilting group, and grief has enveloped me. I develop friends "in context" - work friends and church friends, primarily, and see them within that context. - usually not socially (except for a precious few). When I retired 3 years ago, my beloved little church had disbanded, and suddenly I didn't see my work friends everyday, either. I was pretty lost until I found the Senior Center. So, now my life is centered in my husband and home, and the senior center has been my primary life since Jim moved.
I really don't know how to express my sense of grief, except to say that I'm surprise at its depth, and at the level of importance my line dance friends and quilting friends have been to me. The crazy thing is - I'm filled with gratitude, joy, and grief all at the same time. And I want to embrace and even cherish all of it.
The cherry tree is beginning to bloom, the grass is green and needs mowing, and I don't care. I'm learning to free motion quilt on my wonderful Viking 875Q. In the past, I've done stitch in the ditch, a tense version of stippling, stippling with leaves or hearts, but now it's time to do it right - with instruction and practice. I thought I wanted a longarm machine (actually, I still do), but now I don't have to be frustrated waiting through the process of selling a house, and I will be soon be able to free motion quilt interesting designs on my Viking, and at my dining table.
So, given that I want the process of quilting to be as quick and painless as possible, but still enjoyable - I wanted to find a way to do all-over designs, or even "custom" designs without having to mark or break thread a lot. Since it's expensive to pay someone else to do my quilting, I am highly motivated to get better at doing it myself. Well, halleluiah!, I found Leah Day. She teaches "Free Motion Quilting a Sampler" offered by Craftsy. I must say - worth every penny for me, especially since it was on sale for 1/2 price recently. PLUS, in 2009 she started a blog - The Free Motion Quilting Project. Her goal was to develop, practice and master 365 filler designs - and blog about them. Her many, many instructional videos on the blog (http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/) are free, her designs are not copyrighted, and she develops and shares literally hundreds of continuous-line filler designs with a desire to get us all quilting on whatever machine we have.
Since my last blog entry, life has been mostly boring - the house is still on the market, most of the furniture and fun stuff is still in storage. Last year showings were very slow, inventory was high and prices were in the tank. This year showings have increased, inventory is down - but it's still a buyer's market. So, while I keep a neat home, I've decided to stop whining (mostly) and just keep quilting and designing and line dancing and learning anyway. I now have 6 quilt designs for sale on Craftsy and Fat Quarter Shop websites. The one that sells the most is Tennessee Trotter, a quilt-as-you-go project. So I'm going to focus more on QAYG - what a great way to quilt in a small or cramped space.
Here's a quick look at my next project via an EQ7 image. I'm still trying to come up with a name for it. All I can think of are silly names, like cross-eye susans, or owl in pain. If you have any ideas - let me know. It's for my friend Ann.
Remember to treat yourself like a queen - you are worth it! Keep on quilting!
Aren't you glad that published patterns tell you exactly how to cut each of the patches in your quilt? If you have constructed your own designs, you know what it takes to come up with the numbers! Whether the pattern is going to be published or not, you've still got to do the math. First you have to decide how you want to construct the sub-assemblies of your blocks. Then what you need to cut (squares?, triangles?, strip sets?....). Then how many of each shape you need, how many can you get in a strip, how many strips, what amount of fabric do you need. Are you going to use a template? Do you need extra fabric to fussy cut - how much? Aarrgghh! But it all has to be done.
So do it as carefully and accurately as possible. Check and double check. A mis-calculation can lead to wrong cuts, wrong sizes, needing more fabric, not being able to find it, starting over, or making do. So, persevere, my friends. Resort to an electronic spreadsheet! I have a spreadsheet called Binding Calculator. It not only computes yardage for binding based on width of fabric and width of binding, but it computes the yardage for backing, the size of the backing pieces to cut, and a mirad of other things that I've run into over the years. Most recently it has told me how many strips of each fabric of a strip set I will need.
Quilting technology has come a long way. From paper and pencil, to spreadsheets, to quilt design software. Frankly, I don't know how our fore-sisters did it all by hand without going a little nuts. I am in awe of their creativity, resourcefulness, and intelligence.
Wow! Who'd a thought I'd be publishing my patterns? Back in June(?), I got an email from Craftsy telling everyone about their support for independent quilt designers who want to sell their patterns. The quilts I design for myself are very simple and easy - I just don't do complicated. I thought they might be easy to document into patterns, so I decided to give it a try. Peek-a-Boo Baby, and Buttons and Bows were my first ones, and I just recently added the pattern for Tennessee Trotter (a quilt-as-you-go design). Much to my surprise, I've sold 3 patterns! Never really thought I'd sell any. Here's the link to my "store" on Craftsy: ttp://www.craftsy.com/user/pattern/store/246412
And, there's more! I've seen the Holiday Flourish line of Christmas fabric in the stores and just fell in love. A Christmas quilt was definitely in order. As I opened up EQ7 to start tinkering on it, I thought of the Christmas star and the host of angels proclaiming "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!". Heavenly hosts is an inspired design. So, I downloaded the fabric images into EQ7, and was overwhelmed with how lovely they looked on the quilt.
When I received the fabric from FatQuarterShop.com, I replied to the ship notice regarding how much I appreciated their quick service and how beautiful the fabric was. I also included the EQ7 image of the quilt. Sarah at FQS liked it so much she invited me to sell the pattern on the FQS website! So, I am working hard on the pattern, and have the fabric all washed up and ready to press. I'll need to construct at least some of the top to make sure I have the right construction sequences. Here's the EQ7 image:
Last week I FINISHED 22 FLOWER BLOCKS for the June QCA Smoky Mountain Quilting Retreat. Whew! And I thought I would be struggling with them for another couple of months. What really, really helped was going on vacation with my friend Dorothy to the Quiltfest in Pigeon Forge TN. She insisted I bring my machine and work on my blocks - she gave me no choice. I used Cynthia England' picture piecing technique.The piecing pattern is on freezer paper. You cut the paper into the separate pieces, iron them onto fabric, and trim the edges to about 1/4 inch. So she was busy trimming and I was busy sewing! When we would get back from the show, or eating (check out the Old Mill Grill and Cafe - yum), or shopping, or Parrot Mountain, or whatever, she trimmed and I sewed. We usually got 3-4 hours of work done each day. We were there for a week, so I got LOTS of the block quadrants done.
You can see in the picture below, I was working in my PJ's, bed hair, and that mouth working hard to get the little pieces together. Right in front of the chair on the left is the grocery bag about half full of trimmings. You should have seen it by the time we packed up to leave. It was running over!
I was motivated to get the job done ASAP, so I could get the house on the market and put my sewing away - so the house would be more presentable. Since all my good sewing furniture was in storage, I used my dining table - Ugh! By the time I was finished with the blocks, I was stiff on the left side of my body from the top of my neck to my thigh. So I hi-tailed it to the chiropractor and she fixed me up. Of course, after the push on the final cleaning of everything - she will soon see me again! Here's a picture of my cute little house while the cherry tree was in bloom.
I still am torn. My life has been here for 30 years, BUT I want to move out of my house (new busy road nearby) and get to some cooler weather. So, starting next weekend, I'll start going to Johnson City frequently to look more closely at houses to narrow down my price range and desired features, etc. The DH has already moved there to look for work, so I'll have a place to stay and the cutest tour guide you ever did see. If you have quilting friends in the Johnson City area - I'd love to meet them!
We are ready to put our house on the market. It is looking pretty good. Amazingly, the listing price will be higher than I thought it would be! However, my real estate agent wants to wait for another 2 or 3 weeks until all of the foliage is out in the woods behind our house. A new road and bridge opened up fairly close to us, and with the foliage out, all of it will be hidden from view. Makes for easy access and some privacy.
The house has been cleared of extra stuff, all of my sewing furniture, all of my stash, and my DH! Yep, the DH (and he is still a Dear Husband), has moved to TN to look for work. You can't really look for work easily with out living there. Sewing has been simplified a lot. I leave my older machine at the local Senior Center, and sew for a couple of hours on days I teach line dancing there, and on Wed afternoon with the quilting group. That's 3 days a week. Yesterday I set up my new machine on the dining table and worked on my blocks. That works pretty well too. It is easy to put it all away and tidy up when I need to. I'm making better progress with my blocks for the SM Reatreat in June - quite a relief, actually.
Quilts of Valor news. There will be a Sewing and Quilting EXPO in Raleigh early in June. Susan Gordon (QOV Foundation) was offered us the opportunity to have a QOV booth (free!) at the EXPO! Wow! What an opportunity to promote QOV and possibly attract more quilters to work with us. The leader of our group here in Wake Forest/Raleigh area is pondering whether she has the time to pull it all together. I certainly hope so. When she is committed, she can make just about anything happen. My own dance card is full, but I can help man the booth. I'll keep you posted on that.
Meantime, it's off to Wed. afternoon quilting group - We call it Quilt! Quilt! Stitch and Gab. Fun, fun!
Okay, I signed up for the Smokey Mountain Retreat in June, and am very excited - first ever quilting retreat for me. We are going to have a block exchange - a 12x12 (finished) block of your favorite flower, state flower, whatever. 26 of them. 26. That's a bed quilt! So - with time and design skill not on my side, I googled some of my favorite flowers for a quilt block pattern. I needed something SIMPLE. Finally, I bought a foundation-pieced dogwood blossom pattern from a vendor in Switzerland! Thank goodness - it is a pdf file. Well, when I want something, I want it now. Never mind they would email it within 24 hours, I only have 4 months to make 26 blocks - gotta get going, you know.
So, I saved the online block picture as a jpeg, and proceeded to tear my hair out trying to get it into EQ7. For hours, I learned how to import the image, crop the image, and use the image to make "applique" pieces using the patchdraw tools. I have zippo experience with patchdraw, so it was a struggle. Why do I enjoy fighting with my computer??...hmmmm. Anyway, after several hours, I had something that would pass for a decent dogwood blossom block, exactly the size I wanted. It's a little ragged for making a foundation piecing pattern, but it works great to estimate the yardage.
I have never done foundation piecing, so I watched a couple of lessons on QNN.TV and wondered why anyone would choose to quilt in the dark. Maybe if I just try it... But what I DO know is how to do simple picture piecing using Cynthia England's technique. What I have worked out in EQ7 can easily be printed onto freezer paper for picture piecing. I really don't know what to expect out of the pdf file I purchased - it is the wrong size for what I want. But, maybe it will help me.
Here's what I came up with for my retreat block exchange, the Dogwood Blossom:
Rats! I don't want to say no. As you know, we are moving a lot of things out of the house to get it ready to sell - including my life. Uh, I mean my sewing studio (aka dining room). Well, it got worse. Yesterday, Sat 2/25, I went with a bus load of quilters from Wake Forest NC to the Hampton quilt show. Wonderful time! Wonderful show! LONG exhausting day. There were 2 important sad things about yesterday - other than the lights going out in the bus' potty.
First, as I wandered through the vendors for the 2nd time, I found a machine quilting frame for use with your regular sewing machine that looks like it would actually be worth buying. Great show-price, product on hand and everything. I just said no. I also found a task chair that I would have liked to seriously consider taking home with me, too. But, I just said no. We are shedding possessions, right now. Not aquiring them. Of course, I have put all of the info into a task that will pop up on my calendar in about 6 months to remind me to look at these products again.
Second, I traveled with a friend from our quilting group at the senior center. During the trip, I met 3 other very interesting people on the bus who wanted to come and check out our little quilting group. At the show, I ran into a friend from the QOV group in Fayetteville, and another friend from the senior center. Several people at the show seemed very familiar to me. As though I had talked to them at another show, or somewhere. It hit me today, just how much family I have in my quilting life, here.
When we move, and we will, I will grieve that loss of those family connections. I'm not a super-social person. Making friends is not a breeze for me. Since I retired, It has taken a full 2 years to become quilting buddies with this handful of lovely women. It won't be easy to leave the fun and comfort of our friendship.
So - I'd love to hear from anyone in the Johnson City / Jonesborough TN area with suggestions for ways for me to meet new quilting buddies. We make frequent trips there and would love to start meeting people who love to quilt!
Ah, the trials of moving. The DH and I are working hard to get the house ready for the market. It's a small house, so I adopted the dining room as my "studio". Of course, it really should be a real dining room when the house is visited by potential buyers. So all of the sewing furniture cabinets and piles of fabric and notions have to go to the storage unit. I'm lost and wander solefully around the house. BUT - yea! there is a "but" - there is still quilting in my life.
The local senior center hosts a little quilting group - we call it Quilt! Quilt! Stitch and Gab. I have my back-up machine stored in my roll-around, along with essential tools and a project. I'm making blocks for Operation Valor. Easy to tote along - just a few fat quarters and some neutral thread and I'm in business! It isn't enough to satisfy me for the whole week, but it helps.
So here's to those wonderful rolling sewing machine totes, a portable project, and the comfort of laughing with my special quilting friends.
Had a birthday yesterday - I'm still 34. Hmmm, that's how old I was last year, too. Isn't it wonderful that as our bodies age - WE DON'T! I thought about spirit age a few years ago, and decided that I had been 34 since the day I was born. How do I know that? Well, I still love to dance, I still love to laugh, I still love cool mornings, I still love cats, and I still love fabric. They say that you are only as young as you feel. I say that it doesn't matter how you feel. You never age - just your outer casing does. So, enjoy your next birthday - it's a really good reason to eat chocolate!
Yesterday (6/25/2010), I heard about the Quilts of Valor Foundation from a HandiQuilter ad in this month's McCall's Quilting magazine. I was drawn to the QOV website and after snooping around the sight decided to get involved. If you've never heard of the QOV foundation, they provide an avenue for quilters across the country to make quilts for wounded soldiers or their families. Someone makes the top, and has the option to send it to a volunteer longarmer for quilting. Then the quilt is bound, labeled, and sent to it's destination. Their website is www.qovf.org. They are also on facebook. The first quilt I will make is the QOV Split Star quilt by Mary B. Hayes (of Thangles). It is available free from either the QOV website or the Thangles website. I have created an EQ7 Project file for that quilt, if you are interested. I'm excited, and am looking for a local chapter of other folks involved with QOVF. See the quilt image below.
As for painting, I am making good progress. I started on the kitchen about a year ago, and then got sidetracked by one disaster after another. However, yesterday I finished up 95% of the kitchen! The kitchen has been a nightmare to paint. There are windows, of course. There is no soffet over the cabinets, so you have to risk your life to paint behind them! Especially, because the wall behind some of the cabinets is 11 ft tall! And, on top of all of that, the kitchen also has 8ft walls that are connected to the 11ft ceiling by "pillars". The highest part of each pillare only takes a couple of minutes to paint, but require climbing a 10ft ladder. So, up and down, up and down. That part is a real workout. My DH is a great help with the pillars by moving the ladder, and attaching the paint tray and being my gofer while I'm on the ladder. The rest of the house will now be a piece of cake in comparison to the kitchen!
What has happened to keep me away from QCA for several weeks? Maybe it is waiting on the DH through a severely sprained ankle. And, I was working on 3 other quilts which are now finished. And, it is hot, hot, hot here right now which makes me want to do nothing! Oh well. Now I have the kitchen and dining/sewing room torn up for painting. I like to paint, but I'm such a picky painter, I want to do it myself. So it takes a while.
Anyway here are pics of those three quilts:
These 2 are baby quilts, 40x40.
Peek-a-Boo Baby and Baby Hugs. The one below is a lap quilt 60x60, called Hopscotch Garden
It has bene a couple of months since my last post. That's because it's been a while since I finished my last top and I haven't done much on the sewing machine since then. Various things have been going on to thwart my efforts. Tax preparation for one, and in March my DH and I went up north to Tivoli NY to visit my sister. Her husband owns a large orchard up there (180 acres) and everything was in bloom! Apples of all kinds, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, .. and on and on. They also have a big vegetable garden for their summer farm stand and all of the farmers markets they participate in down by NYC. Anyway we had a wonderful time. Now, my DH is recovering from overdoing it yesterday by staying in bed and I am trying to be quiet. So rather than just sit around and do nothing, I got on my computer and started designing.
The result is a very simple pinwheel design that started with a free pattern I found online. While tinkering with the block I wound up with a tried and true design that resulted in pinwheels all over the place. My modifications were to add some additional colors. It is very simple, but I like it. Of course, it can easily become a more playful quilt by going to a bunch of related prints or batiks and modifying the borders. Come to think of it, I could use some ideas on interesting borders, especially for pinwheels. For now, I've constrined myself to lap quilts and smaller for ease in sandwiching and quilting on my home machine. My EQ design is below.
I like to sandwich my quilts by utilizing a couple of banquet tables set side-by-side either in my quilting space or outside on the deck. But with the DH now down and out for a while, I'm stuck. The tables are so heavy that I can't handle them alone. I've been putting off buying the much lighter, inexpensive, fold-up version but have put it off until other surprise expenses slow down some. Asking for help from a neighbor doesn't seem to occur to me right away - but I certainly could do that. Meantime, I could start moving furniture and prep for painting my sewing space.
Meantime, I'll just go put on some socks. Y'all have a great day!
Time does indeed March On
What fun I've been having since my last post! Designing, shopping for fabric, constructing, and practicing longarm skills. If I do not have a project going, I just wander around the house sort of lost. So here's what's been going on:
Gift for Hope: Late in January, I started a quilt for my friend Hope. She had a horrible year in 2009 and has just been getting back on her feet. Starting all over. She needed something to remind her of just how much she is loved by her friends. I finished it the morning of our lunch date. She was overwhelmed. She not only loved it, but knew that every stitch was filled with encouragement and love.
Practicing Longarm: About mid-February, I had finished a VERY simple baby quilt top to use for longarm practice. The practice session was exhausting, since I had to really concentrate on what I was doing, and take in a lot of information, the process took longer than I had hoped. Even though I didn't finish quilting it, the session went better than I had expected. The only drawback is that renting the machine is expensive, and if I plan to sell a quilt, I need to keep the cost of construction under control without sacrificing the quality of the materials I use.
Designing new quilts: Since my last post, I have been designing and constructing more quilts. Since I've retired I have been lost and wander around the house or play solitaire unless I am sewing or buying fabric. I've designed 3 quilts, 2 lap quilts and a longarm practice quilt. The first lap quilt is called Hearts and Diamonds - with a very simple pieced heart block put on point. The second lap quilt I designed this morning. It's called Time Marches On. As I was working on the block, my darling husband wandered into the office, and said "If you take this half of the block and put the mirror image of it in the other half, it will create a neat optical illusion." He has a knack for looking at a pattern, twisting it around, repeating it, and seeing the result, all in his head. How does he do that? So, he will get design credit! ... The third quilt is another simple baby quilt design I will use for another longarm practice session. All three designs were fun, fun, fun, to work on.
Shopping for fabric: I LOVE MY IVES COLOR WHEEL TOOL! Shopping for fabric is now 0% frustration, and 100% enjoyable. This month I went with the husband to what I have been calling the "old ladies club" in our sub-division. It's actually for all seniors. So this week I went with him. What a nice group. I met 2 people who love to sew and enjoy quilts. So, we are planning a long day trip to Charlotte to shop at Mary Jo's Cloth Store. High quality fabric at LOW prices! The husband is also on a so-called "social committee" that previews businesses in the area to feature in a new magazine for our area. They were having lunch one day recently and he told them about the fabric store and our little outing. One of the ladies at the lunch got all excited and wants to go to. I'm sure we will have a blast together. The outing is scheduled for March 16.
So there you have it, February 2010 in a nutshell. Happy quilting everyone!
This being retired is a wonderful thing. My darling husband cooks and does housework, and I quilt. What could be better? AND I have time to do research to find answers and tips for a number of questions I’ve had. The forums on QCA contain gobs of valuable tips and ideas (thank you all), and both QNNtv and F&P’s Love of Quilting are indeed a wealth of information. So, today I want to record some of the things I’ve learned this month. They are probably techniques you already use or have discarded for better solutions. But even the simplest idea that relieves frustration for me is a delight! My explanations are probably not at all clear, but my intent is to simply share how grateful I am for QCA, QNNtv, LOQ, and all of you. Here’s my list.
1. Quilting gloves! My hands dry out pretty fast when I handle fabric, so it’s hard to maintain good control. My gloves are now essential!
2. Binding. F&P LOQ has a great video on binding. I’ve now found solutions to my most frustrating binding issues from that video.
a. Joining the pieces. Now I just lap the ends, stitch on the diagonal, and trim the seam to size.
b. Rolling up the pressed binding neatly and storing it in a zip close bag. As it is applied, just draw it from the bag – no longer all over the floor and getting caught the chair rollers.
c. Starting to sew after turning the corner. Now I just sew a straight line from the top of the quilt top down the seam line. (I think I found this by googling)
d. Making the final join after applying the binding. Cutting the tails to the right length and making that final seam easily has always been a mystery to me. Marianne and Liz make it look like child’s play with their little binding tool. I make my bindings wider than they do, so I may need to use my trusty little square instead.
3. Color Play – picking colors is now a breeze! I’ve talked about this book and the related tool in my last blog posting. Since that posting, I’ve picked colors for 2 quilts with confidence.
4. How to get pencil marks out of fabric. Oops, thought my marks would be buried out of sight – wrong! Formula 409 works great.
5. Stretching fabric out of shape! Ugh!! I was really bad about this. Turns out a couple of simple techniques will save the day.
a. Use the right pressing board. My old ironing board with foam padding was part of the problem – too soft and too much give. So, I found a video showing how one person made her own using OSB board, canvas, and batting. I have all of the materials to make one, but I’m waiting for the board’s glue fumes to calm down. It will be 48” wide and I will use it on my cutting table.
b. Use a dry iron – I’ve always used steam.
c. And here’s a biggie: Starch the fabric (with homemade starch)! You may not agree with that at all, but for me, this has been a life-saver. I just finished a top using starched fabric. Wow – my cuts were more precise, the patches easier to handle, and my seams lined up perfectly!
6. Longarm quilting. I took a day-long longarm class last week. Lap quilts are the largest size I can maneuver through my home machine. Not to mention how tedious it is to have to roll and re-roll my quilt every time I need to move my quilting area to a different spot. So, I am going to rent time from my instructor. The top I finished today is for longarm practice.
7. Pieced batting. Somewhere along the way, I saw/heard a tip on piecing batting. Just butt the edges together and join with a 3-step zig-zag. I set the stitch legth as long as I can, and same with the width. Easy, easy, easy!
8. Last but not least – PAY ATTENTION. I get on a roll and go into autopilot– especially when making the pieces and parts for blocks. I can’t tell you how many sub-assemblies I’ve had to pull apart because I used the wrong fabrics or made too many.
As you can see, January has been very fruitful, and with my top 8 frustrations addressed, my quilting is even more fun than before. Happy, delightful quilting everyone!
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