I am writing this post from my parent’s house in Canada. I drove up a few days ago from my home in Long Island, NY to attend my mother-in-law’s surprise 75th birthday party. She was happily surprised and I got to meet her wonderful group of friends.
The trip through upstate New York was so snowy that I didn’t take the time to stop at my favorite quilting stores. Yes, that shows how terrible the weather was.
On Saturday, I continued north to my parent’s house. I had some of my siblings visit yesterday, but overall it’s been pretty quiet. My mom is taking me to her quilt guild this afternoon.
I’ve been suffering from insomnia and other sleep issues for many, many months. I am amazed how well I’ve been sleeping in my parent’s home. I think it’s the combination of good Canadian air, a total lack of stress, and not sharing a bed with 2 or 3 dogs and a night-owl husband. It will be back to reality tomorrow as I begin driving back to Long Island, to my real home with all its activity and responsibilities.
Sometimes I forget that most households have fewer sewing machines than bedrooms. Not us. The largest machine (so far) is my 12 ft. long A1 Longarm machine that is housed in our former living room. And then we have my small Janome machine for classes and my large Janome for regular sewing. Add to the mix that my daughter makes costumes … so she has a basic Singer machine and a serger. Plus we have three ancient sewing machines in the basement, for a grand total of eight machines. You’d think that would be enough. Or you would, if you didn’t sew!
As I mentioned, my teenage daughter makes costumes. Her studio is above our family room, and the floor/ceiling shakes as she sews at full speed. As a result of her heavy use, she burns out a sewing machine every 9 months or so. After the demise of her latest machine, we decided to buy her an industrial sewing machine.
Singer 191-d20 Industrial Machine
First let me say that these are not tiny machines. The FedEx man delivered all 280 pounds of the Singer 191-d20 (spread over four boxes) to our front porch. At the time, my husband and son were out of town and it was all we girls could manage to get the boxes over the threshold and into the house. Two of the boxes weighed well over 100 pounds each.
My husband spent the weekend putting this together. I was going to write this post about how terrible the instructions were. That was before the sewing machine and table were assembled and they realized that the accompanying DVD contained excellent assembly instructions and not just information on how to thread the machine. Oops!
Although the machine is relatively quiet when sewing, the motor is much louder than we’re used to. My daughter spent about 30 minutes playing with it last night. She had thread break and then jam, so she stopped for the night. I’ll have a look at it today. I know that industrial machines aren’t nearly as easy to use as consumer models, so we expected a bit of a learning curve.
If you lost count, we now have nine sewing machines and 3 rooms in our not-that-big home devoted to sewing. By the way, none of them are embroidery machines …
Quilters are generous people. This was certainly obvious to me on Saturday, when I attended Empire Quilt Guild’s annual Charity Work Day. Dozens of women (and a couple of men) came prepared to cut, sew, layer and tie dozens of beautiful quilt tops. Add this to the generous souls who donated these beautiful tops.
I had only ever tied one quilt. It was the first quilt I ever made, back in 8th grade. It was tied using wool, and the first quilt we tied on Saturday was also tied using wool. This is the hard way! We did our next quilt using embroidery floss that glided through the fabric much more easily.
In the days of hand quilting, quilting was a very social endeavor. Now that we use machines, we mostly quilt at home with just a TV or radio as company. I found it really enjoyable to sit and chat while working. It also feels good to know that many beautiful quilts are finished and on their way to deserving homes.
It’s all about balance!
As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, I had to shut down my longarming business because it aggravated my neck injury. I made the decision back in December and have finally finished all the paperwork needed to close my business. I have moved on and am in the process of starting a new endeavor writing for small businesses that need content for social media.
Starting a new business is a lot of work. Although I have the benefit of having run previous businesses, I still need to create my website and promotional materials, as well figure out some accounting and invoicing systems. It could be a 24/7 endeavor if I let it.
That’s why I loved my quilt business. Quilting was my passion. Keeping up-to-date was necessary, as was improving my sewing and quilting skills. So, even though I was technically working, it usually didn’t feel like it. A trip to a quilt show or browsing through a magazine was technically work, even though it didn’t feel like it.
I’ve spent the last week decluttering my sewing room. I’ve moved my sewing machine into the longarm studio. I’ve traded bookshelves full of quilt books for a lateral file cabinet. I’ve replaced my sewing machine desk (with a cutout for my machine) with a real desk. I’m on my way to creating a space that works for a writer.
I must admit that I’m having a hard time transitioning from quilting as my full-time business to a part-time hobby. I loved being able to quilt every day and being incredibly productive. Instead of making a quilt a week, over the last 10 weeks I’ve made one block (for a block of the month) and cut out about 1,500 squares for a watercolor quilt.
I recognize that living a full life is all about balance. I hope that I can make it work. My next step is to designate work hours and leave myself free time for quilting. At the very least, I am going to consider future Sundays as my quilting day.