Monthly Archives: July 2013

Quilting is not like riding a bike

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To be honest, the only bike I’ve ridden recently is the recumbent bike at physical therapy. But I have full intentions to pull my trusty Schwinn cruiser out of storage and get back to riding. I haven’t ridden it in more than 10 years and have some apprehension about whether I can glide around the block without a serious case of road rash. However, modern cliches tell us that we never forget how to ride a bike, so hopefully I’ll get through this adventure safely.

Unlike biking, I’d never considered that I would get out of practice from quilting. I was wrong. It had been many months since I’d made a pieced block and it didn’t come rushing back to me. I struggled to get a 1/4″ seam on my Janome and my seams weren’t as straight as usual. However I’ve just made my 4th block in five days and was confident my skills were rapidly returning. That was until I made a flying geese block (incorrectly) and am missing points on all my geese.

I don’t really like doing sampler quilts, but I acknowledge they are a great way to learn (or maintain) quilting skills. I used to attend a Block of the Month at our local quilt shop. However, after they have made several changes to their format and abolished Show & Tell (my favorite part), I decided to stop going. This summer I signed up for a summer block-of-the-week sampler at Stitchin’ Heaven in Texas.  (Please not I am not associated with this company in any way, except as a customer). I have been extremely happy with this decision.

This weekly program has been a wonderful step back into quilting. It was reasonably priced ($7. 00 per block). I receive two sampler blocks in the mail every two weeks. The blocks are a good match for a moderately skilled quilter. The instructions are well-done and the fabric is labeled so you can relate it to the pattern.  According to the website, this program is no longer offered, but I know that there are many other companies offering similar programs.

The purpose of this post was not to sell Block of the Month programs, but to share my realization that we need to work to maintain our quilting skills. Now I hope that my bike riding skills return as easily!

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Love that the fabric colors are labeled!

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Four of my finished blocks!

Out of my comfort zone …

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I’ve spent more than a month reorganizing our home. It has been a long, time-consuming process. My quilting supplies have been buried under boxes. All my spare minutes seem to have been spent moving, purging and organizing most of our belongings. (The fact that we have way too much stuff is the subject of a future post!) Yesterday we had a party, which is always an incentive to clean up, and there’s still a few piles hidden away in my office to be organized. I’d say I’m 95 percent finished!

It’s been hard to blog with so little going on. So I shook things up a bit! On Saturday, I went skydiving! There’s nothing like jumping out of a moving aircraft at 13,500 feet to get the adrenaline moving and change your perspective on life!

I’ve had some big changes in my life over the last few months. I’ve shut down my quilting business, launched a blogging business, recovered from major surgery, had my youngest graduate from homeschooling, and done a major home cleanup. Overcoming my fear of skydiving seemed like a great metaphor — that I should live without fear — as I move into the future.

Here are a few photos of my skydiving adventure!

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Up in the sky!

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We jumped out of the plane at 13,500 feet.

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Getting ready to land.

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Not the most graceful landing, but it worked.

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Reuniting with my son, who also survived his first jump!

 

How much fabric should I buy?

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Of course the answer to this question is that you can never buy too much fabric! However there are normally two issues that may hold you back: (1) storage space and (2) budget! Some people don’t like buying fabric if they don’t have a project in mind, but I tend to use the fabric to inspire the project!

I’ve spent the weekend organizing my new office space. A big part of this is categorizing and organizing my fabric. Yes, I have a lot of fabric! But much of it comes from my first year of quilting, when I was primarily making fused wall hangings. I would see a fabric I liked and buy a fat quarter. Occasionally I would buy half a yard. Fast forward four years and I have a large — and very odd — collection of fat quarters. My interests have transitioned to making traditional quilts, so I don’t have nearly as much need for novelty fabric. I also usually need more than 1/4 yard.

I also had a lot of fabric from a buying spree at a discount store. I was a brand new quilter and couldn’t resist the cheap prices. Many of  my purchases were a name brand, but it was a low-end version that looked good and felt very stiff. Today, I would never use that quality of fabric in my quilts, but at the time I didn’t recognize the differences in quality.

One thing I have learned is that you don’t need to buy every fabric in a line. I have many collections where I purchased 1/2 yard of at least a half-dozen fabrics. It’s not enough fabric for anything more than a lap quilt. Now I buy the focus fabric and maybe one other. You can always find blenders, and it keeps your quilts from looking like an advertisement for a particular designer.

I have now transitioned to buying 2 or 3 yards of the focus fabric. (I want at least enough that I can cut the borders without have to piece them.) And then I buy the blenders when I figure out exactly what I’ll be making.

Getting Organized?

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Last week, I shared that we had moved my longarm out of our home’s living room and into the basement. During the week, my husband surprised me by hanging up florescent lights, so the area is no longer lit with a single bulb. It is pretty functional and I am happy.

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My longarm in its new basement home.

Our next step was to move the contents of my home office/fabric storage area from our home’s dining room into the living room. I am still trying to figure out how I decided that all of my fabric, books and office supplies would fit in one room — especially since I was lost some of my storage. On Saturday, I was pretty much paralyzed with anxiety as I tried to figure out how the heck to organize my new space. I guess sleeping on it worked — because Sunday I woke up with ideas and the desire to start purging and organizing.

Hopefully next week I’ll post photos of my finished office. Well … maybe the week after … or at the end of the month. I’m sure it will take longer than I think. Nevertheless, I am making progress and excited about having everything organized and put away.

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My office on Saturday morning.

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More office photos, showing my attempt to consolidate 2 rooms.

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Do I need to explain why I was overwhelmed?

Please join me …

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By now, most of you know that I became an ex-professional quilter more than six months ago. Since that time, I have been transitioning into full-time work writing social media for small businesses. I keep my clients confidential, so none of the business’s customers know that they are not writing their own material. The content that I help create is used for blogs, Facebook posts, electronic newsletters and more. Unfortunately, I’ve been busy writing for other people and have slacked off on my own blogging.

Most of my clients struggle with (1) time and (2) ability to create content. I can certainly relate to the time constraints. However I am never at a loss for content! This month I decided to enter an ultimate blog challenge. The goal is to write 31 posts during July. Over the course of these posts, I will be sharing 30 questions whose answers will provide great blog content. I will also be answering each question, so you’ll have a sample blog post for your reference.

I’d love to have you join me on my Blog Buddy website and have you follow my new blog. I promise there will be lots of quilting-related examples for my loyal followers!

Don’t worry … my Quilt Notes blog will continue appear in your email box every Monday morning!

My Secret Thread Hoarding Life

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It was a busy weekend. We finally decided to move my longarm machine out of our living room and into the basement. This was a major job, in that we had to remove a basement window because the longarm was too large to go down our basement  stairs. My husband and son spent Saturday disassembling it, threading the pieces through our basement window, and putting it back together. Although I haven’t tried it yet, my longarm seems to have survived the adventure and my husband claims there were no pieces left over!

The next step in reclaiming our living room was to move the bureaus full of longarm crap supplies into the basement. My job was to empty the bureau drawers into bins, so my boys could carry them to the basement. This was the point I had to face my thread hoard collection. My addiction struggle began when I couldn’t get the tension on my longarm to work properly. (As most of my readers know, I was in a car accident 6 weeks after my longarm arrived in 2010  and herniated several disks in my neck. As a result, longarming was painful and I didn’t have the physical stamina to try and perfect the tension.)  I attended several conventions and would talk to other longarmers who would recommend a specific kind of thread. Since thread was usually available wholesale at these conventions, over the months I collected several brands of Superior thread, Glide, Aurifil and Signature. Because I was so sure that each brand would work, I stupidly ended up buying them in many colors. I also went through a variegated thread phase and probably have 20 large spools of various colors. And let’s not forget the florescent threads that I decided would be very cool. Add them all together and I easily have 100 longarm-size spools of thread.

I spent yesterday organizing the thread by manufacturer and style. One of my ridiculously ambitious many goals over the next few months is to experiment with different brands of thread — and get them all to work on my longarm.

Quite honestly, I was shocked at the amount of thread I’d accumulated. And this does not include the dozens of small spools that I bought for my Janome when I was art quilting, which is probably worthy of another post.

The good part is that I probably won’t need to buy thread for the rest of my life. Unlike fabric, thread doesn’t change too much over the years and I don’t think I’ve bought a new spool in over a year. So maybe I’m cured?