Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My New Year's un-resolutions

While I don't usually make New Year's resolutions I've decided to not pick a word of the year either.  My life is way to fluid at the moment to pin down all the thoughts I have on what is to come either one word or a list of what I want to achieve.

I didn't do either of these for 2016 either and it definitely helped reduce the stress because I didn't have any preconceived notions of what I was supposed to do.  Going with the flow has distinct advantages.
I won't say that I don't have a lot of things that I want to accomplish this year because I most certainly do but I've decided to not make a formal list or set any time frame for the vast majority of it.  Just being "in the moment" and carving out as much creative time as possible will yield the results I hope for naturally.

There are a few things that are currently unknown that will play a big part on how these first months will go.  First my step dad is living his final days.  His Mesothelioma returned a year ago and he decided not to get it treated this time.  At 83 and knowing how rough it was the first time, I certainly respect his decision.  We don't know if this means that we have days, weeks or a few months left with him but when the end comes there will be a lot of changes for my mom and I'll be helping as much as I am able.

To add to all that uncertainty, my boss is selling the business and retiring this year.  The new company has mentioned me going to work for them but we haven't had any discussions yet as to what that means...temporary during the transition or permanent, how many hours they are considering and all the other things that come with a new job. So as of right now I have no clue as to how much sewing time I will have each week once that shift happens.  Time will tell.

As in the past, I'm not joining in at this point any of the blocks of the month or quilt alongs with one exception.....Thimble Blossoms' Swoon Quiltalong in her celebration of 10 years in business.  I've been wanting to make a big Swoon quilt for a long time and now I'm going to at least get it started.  I have the pattern and the fabric that I'm using.
 It is Jeanne Morrison's True Colors. It's going to be bright and colorful and I can't wait to see the first blocks completed.  You can follow along too with the Instagram hashtag #swoonalong. 

I've already made good progress on getting back to sewing.  My newest quilt design is on the frame and I should have it done soon so that I can share all of the details with you. 
The new year holds endless possibilities but for me right now not putting any sort of expectations on myself is the right thing to do.  While it's not the way I usually operate, I'm going to take each day as it comes and do the best that I can.  Hopefully in the end, things will work out well and by this time next year I'll have a great recap to reflect back on.

Whatever your own goals are for this new year, I wish you all the best on realizing them.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year and my blog reboot

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and my wish for you is that 2017 brings you all the quilting time you desire.
 I had planned to write this post yesterday but the kids had some friends over and I spent a bunch of time refereeing the girls and in between that I was working on quilting my latest project.

This past year wasn't a good one at all for me sewing wise and it is the year that I posted here the least, not counting the first year.  I'm not at all happy about the lack of sharing and even more so, the huge lack of sewing time for me.  Months ago I realized that I've got a big issue with all of this and something had to change.
When I took on the role of Troop Organizer for my local Girl Scout service unit, I vowed to do the very best job that I could but that ended up meaning a lot of my previous free time I used to sew was taken up by those responsibilities.  For my area we currently have almost 700 girls (plus hundreds of their parents) in 75 troops and there are a few more in the process of getting started.  I also still have a list of girls who want to join troops.  All of this results in tons of my time spent at the computer emailing parents and leaders and meeting with new leaders to get them up and running.  I know that I do my job well but if my quilty dreams are to become a reality, I had to do some serious thinking about how to make my quilting life and my Girl Scout life coexist in relative harmony.

I've got many future quilting customers who are just waiting for me to say the word that I'm starting to accept their work and given that the busiest time for that (the fall months) coincides with the craziest season for the troop organizing, if I'm ever going to ramp up that part of my business I had to find a way to free up time during that time of year.  Next year the Service Unit Cookie Manager role will be vacant so I'll be switching it for my current role. While that job is also intense it is for a limited time period (January through April) while my current role is practically a year round gig. 

Many of you have been patiently waiting for me to release the pattern for my Merry Jingle quilt.  
 I've actually got the fabric here that I'm using for the pattern version but I haven't been able to carve out the time to make it yet.
I'll be using Kate Spain's Latitude batiks.  It will be my first quilt using mostly batiks and it's going to be gorgeous.  I just know it.  Depending on how insane my troops' cookie season goes (we start Jan 13th) I hope to have this done and ready to share by the end of the first quarter at the latest.

What does all of this mean in the big scheme of things?

It means that I'm making a conscious change for the better that will allow me to get back to my sewing, back to my designing and back to sharing all of it with you.  Hence.....my blog reboot.   There will be more posts and more eye candy in 2017 and more of why I started this blog in the first place.....connecting with quilters around the world.

Stay tuned.




Friday, December 30, 2016

Sewing and quilting gifts from Santa

Did you put quilty items on your wish list to Santa this year?  I did, as I always do, and Santa came through and granted a few of them plus threw in a couple of surprises.  Do you want to see what I received?  I thought so.

First up, while these may seem a tad boring, they are really helpful to me.  Almost 100 percent of the time, I store bobbins with the matching spool using pipe cleaners but for those bobbins that I use all the time (white, black and those that match the colors of Girl Scout vests that I always am sewing patches on) I keep them in the desk drawer that is my sewing table.  
Having a place for them to be so that they don't get all tangled will be really helpful.  

Next up is one of the few books I wanted.
I'm a big fan of Judy Madsen, and even more so after taking a bunch of classes from her 2 years ago at MQX, and I just had to have her new book.  I haven't peeked at it yet as I'm waiting for the perfect time to be able to enjoy it (ie when they kids are back in school) but I know that I will learn a lot and will be itching to get to my machine to try some of the designs out myself.

Along with the book I received this magazine of Best Christmas Quilts from Quilters Newsletter.
I don't subscribe to as many quilting magazines lately as I'm really enjoying creating my own designs but I do like to get a few specialty magazines every now and then.  I've glimpsed through it and a few of the projects sparked my interest, one in particular that I think I will expand on and use up a bunch of scraps in the process.  Stay tuned.

Santa was probably chuckling when he chose this t-shirt to give to me this year.  He knows me so well and this shirt will get plenty of use during the upcoming quilt show season.
As last but not least, my sweet daughter gave me this sewing machine bank.  I'm sure that her Daddy had a hand in finding it but she was so excited to watch me open it and my heart burst with joy at seeing her reaction at how much I love her gift.

I need to find a treasured spot in my studio to put it but I'll always remember the look on her face that day as we shared a Mom and Daughter quilters moment.

My wish list was short this year and that's perfectly fine.  I have all that I really need right here at home, my wonderful husband and my 2 kids that I adore...plus I won't lie....my new longarm is right up there too. I'll be sharing photos of that in its' new room, hopefully soon.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jingle Tree quilt tutorial

Just as I expected, many of you have commented or emailed me for info on how to make your own Jingle Tree quilt.
It really is simple.  I made up a fancy diagram in Excel but can't figure out how to get it posted here and didn't want to take the time to design it in EQ 7 so instead I'm just going to list the steps.  I didn't take a ton of pictures during construction as it was just sewing the bricks end to end but I think you can figure out that part easily enough. 

To make your own version you will need:

(1) 5" x 5" charm for the trunk
(53) 2 1/2" x 5" bricks in your choice of colors and prints
(9) 2 1/2" x WOF White strips
(2) 5" x 16" White strips
(32) 2 1/2" x 5" bricks for the binding (if you choose to do it the same)
 42" x WOF of your choice for your backing (I used White muslin)

Note: All pieces listed below are CUT sizes, not finished size.  For your White strips cut the longest pieces first and use the leftovers to cut the shorter pieces.

You will be just sewing the pieces end to end using a slight 1/4" seam and pressing all seams to one side. I pressed the Red seams to the right and the Green seams to the left so that when they did meet when sewing the rows together, they butting nicely.
Assemble your tree rows first but do not sew the rows together at this point.  After you sew all your tree rows you will want to measure YOUR pieces and adjust the length of your White strips accordingly to achieve the correct desired width.  Mine quilt is 36" wide.  

The tree row cut size pieces are as follows, placed from left to right:

                          Row 1:  (1) 3" brick
                          Row 2:  (1) 5" brick
                          Row 3:  (1) 3" brick and then (1) 5" brick
                          Row 4:  (2) 5" brick
                          Row 5:  (1) 5" brick, then (1) 3" brick and then (1) more 5" brick
                          Row 6:  (3) 5" bricks
                          Row 7:  (2) 5" bricks, then (1) 3" brick and then (1) more 5" brick
                          Row 8:  (4) 5" bricks
                          Row 9:  (2) 5" bricks, then (1) 3" brick and then (2) more 5" bricks
                          Row 10:  (5) 5" bricks
                          Row 11:  (2) 5" bricks, then (1) 3" brick and then (3) more 5" bricks
                          Row 12:  (6) 5" bricks
                          Row 13:  (3) 5" bricks, then (1) 3" brick and then (3) more 5" bricks
                          Row 14" (7) 5" bricks
                          Row 15:  (1) 5' x 5"  charm
Once you've completed the rows for your tree, then you will need to add the White 2 /12" wide strips to both ends to complete the background.  The cut sizes for the White strips are as follows:

                                                 Row 1:  (2) 17" strips
                                                 Row 2:  (2) 16" strips
                                                 Row 3:  (2) 14 3/4" strips
                                                 Row 4:  (2) 13 3/4" strips
                                                 Row 5:  (2) 12 1/2" strips
                                                 Row 6:  (2) 11 1/2" strips
                                                 Row 7:  (2) 10 1/4" strips
                                                 Row 8:  (2) 9 1/4" strips
                                                 Row 9:  (2) 8" strips
                                                 Row 10:  (2) 7" strips
                                                 Row 11:  (2) 5 3/4" strips
                                                 Row 12:  (2) 4 3/4" strips
                                                 Row 13:  (2) 3 1/2" strips
                                                 Row 14:  (2) 2 1/2" strips
                                                 Row 15: (2) 16" x 5" wide strips
 Once you have all your rows complete just sew them together, matching up seams where they meet. Lastly add (1) 2 1/2" x 36" strip each to the top and the bottom and your quilt top is done.
Quilt however you wish.  To make the binding, again sew the 2 1/2" bricks end to end using a slight 1/4" seam and press open.  

Your result will be a 36" x 36 1/2" quilt you will be proud to hang in your home for all to admire and enjoy.
I'd love to see your own versions of my Jingle Tree when it is done so please share.



Sunday, December 11, 2016

Jingle Tree quilt - a finish

Last Christmas my hubby bought me this textile hanger.  It is made from smoked bamboo and was crafted in Vietnam.  Sometime after the holidays he hung it on the wall in our great room as I had planned to use it for hanging small quilts but for months it just hung there empty.
 Over the summer, once I had finished my Merry Jingle Christmas quilt, I was actually in the mood to create more holiday projects.  I had another one of those "what if" moments and started designing on the fly a wall hanging for that bamboo hanger using some of the Kate Spain Christmas Charm Swap charms I had left over.  

I wanted it to be just Red and Green so I selected some of the Red charms that went well together.
 Then I cut them into half and made bricks.
 Those bricks became the bottom row of my tree.  I wanted the finished quilt to be a specific size to fit the space so 7 bricks worked perfectly mathmatically.
 Next came the Green pieces.
 Same step next...cutting them in half to create bricks.
 I made the Green row 1 inch shorter on each side so the middle piece is a 2 1/2" x 3" (cut) rectangle.
 I kept working my way up and of course my assistant stopped by every so often to inspect my progress.
 Once all the rows were done, I added white strips to each side to create my desired width of 36 inches.
 The rows were quickly and easily sewn together and within a few hours I had a finished quilt top.
I debated about what thread to use for this and since White didn't feel right, I waited to attend a show and there I picked up some Superior Metallic thread in both Gold and Silver.  Once home I placed both on the quilt top and the Gold was definitely the right choice.
Of course my Girl Scouts duties got in the way of this getting finished for a few months but when I listed my Penelope for sale I had to complete the quilting so that I could put practice fabric on the frame for potential buyers.  It didn't take long and then all that was left to do was the trimming and the binding.
I'm really thrilled with how the Gold metallic thread worked on this quilt.  It give it just the right amount of bling without overpowering the fabrics.
I used more half charms in alternating Red and Green for the binding and then Ta Da it was done!
Of course Mother Nature wasn't cooperative for quite a number of days to allow me to take some final pictures of it and as soon as the clouds cleared I snapped them quick.
I used the Santa Ana panto and I love the effect.
I'm so happy that another one of my light bulb moment ideas turned out exactly as I imagined and this gorgeous quilt will now hang on the wall for all the admire for many holiday seasons to come.
I'm finalizing the details so you can make your own version of my tree quilt and will post it soon.  Edit: you can find the tutorial here.

I've made one more quilt top from my Kate Spain Christmas charms and if I can find the time to get it quilted and bound soon, I'll be able to share that one with you too.

Friday, November 18, 2016

More Halloween City Sampler blocks

I have never neglected my blog so much as I have in recent months and it really bothers me.  I truly enjoy keeping up with what is going on in the quilting world.  Thankfully the busiest months for my Girl Scout Troop Organizer role is winding down so life (and sewing) can get back to normal.

My family took a much needed vacation last week, got home Saturday afternoon and my new-to-me longarm was delivered on Sunday.  The room is still under construction and I promise to share pictures very soon.

In the meantime, I'd like to share the small amount of sewing that I have accomplished recently.  These are all blocks for my Halloween version of Tula Pink's City Sampler.  This Purple block is number 24.
Next up is block 24.  It is fun to pair up different fabrics to achieve just the right look.
Then I completed block number 25 and that finished this group for that chapter.
The next chapter is about triangles and this is my version of block number 41. (I don't know why the colors are so off in this picture).
The happy monsters became the feature in this block number 42.
Block 42 was perfect for the larger witch print.
And block 44 worked well for the pumpkin and candy corn prints.
Last but not least in this triangle group is block number 45.
I then moved onto the rectangle chapter so here is block 61.
Continuing on the roll that night, I quickly finished block 62.
And the final one for this post is block 63. 
With these additional 11 blocks done I've got 48 total completed.  The last evening that I was able to sew I really wanted to get to the half way point but once I start the serious yawning I know that it is time to quit for the night or mistakes start happening.  Hopefully I'll have this quilt done by next Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Voyager 17 with Dekked Out Quilting upgrade for sale

 For sale:  Voyager 17 with Dekked Out Quilting upgrade
I have exciting news.  I am upgrading to a bigger machine and frame so my Voyager "Penelope" needs a new home.

She includes: a Hinterberg Stretch frame set at 10 feet (length can be changed), Red Snappers, an extension base for ruler work, a new ruler foot plus the standard hopping foot and a fat foot, 50+ bobbins, 4 extra bobbin cases, industrial bobbin winder, Towa gauge, front laser stylus, an extra belt, (3) 118" zippers, timing needle, machine oil, (2) DVDs: I've got a longarm (and I'm not afraid to use it) and Longarm and Fabulous, and the balance of the 5 year warranty on the upgrade (from June 2014) which includes maintenance.
This is a great machine for the hobby quilter or someone that wants to get into longarm quilting but doesn't want to spend tens of thousands to get started.  She runs beautifully and I've enjoyed quilting my own quilts with her but now it is time for her to find a new owner who will love her too.
Price: $6,500.  Buyer is responsible for disassembly, transportation, set up and all associated costs.
Located in upstate NY, the Albany area.  She'll remain set up so you can come and try her out.  Email me if you'd like to schedule a visit.