Category Archives: Uncategorized

One thing I hate about quilting

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I’m sure you all have immaculate sewing rooms and can’t relate to what I’m going to say. But I’ll confess and let you feel superior to me. You’re welcome!

I absolutely HATE when I end up with thread that gets tangled around my foot. It’s starts off as a 2 or 3 inch tail of thread and magically grows to be several feet long. And then I start walking and and hear a bobbin unwinding as I move. Pretty soon I am unknowingly dragging thread throughout the house.

This also happens when I’m cleaning. I’ll get thread caught around one of my treasures and have to do a major untangling before I can move forward. If I was a person who enjoyed puzzles, finding the source of the thread might be fun. I just find it annoying.

Looking around my sewing room, I have thread tails hanging out of two drawers and overhanging from one shelf. Maybe this is a sign I should clean up my sewing room instead of writing a blog post.

Does anybody else have this problem?

Chevron Quilt (PS: I Designed It Myself!)

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I have been wanting to make a chevron quilt for quite awhile. I had some black fabric and a great pack of Kaufman fat quarters that were perfect for the project. A bonus was that I didn’t have to purchase any new fabric, which carries on my theme from last week of actually making something from my stash. (Don’t worry, those days are passed. I broke down and ordered some new fabric yesterday.)

This quilt is made of finished 5″ squares. I began by cutting 7″ squares and using them to make half-square triangles. The resulting square was trimmed down to 5.5 inches. Each row consists of a light and dark color that were fairly close together in color. (The second row was VERY close in color … they are slightly different shades but it’s hard to see that from the photo.)

Although I’ve done some original quilts, this is my first time creating a pattern that was somewhat complex. It made me appreciate the challenges faced by pattern designers. My major screw-up was pressing all of the seams toward the dark side, and then having to re-press half of them to the other side.

My other screw-up was forgetting to bring the 7th row back to my sewing room. I sewed the strips together and ended with a row that had a big transition between colors. After some ripping and re-stitching, that problem was also fixed.

At first I was really disappointed in the quilt. I felt like the black portion was very overpowering. However, the more I look at it, the more I like it. I’ve got a great idea for the quilting and will share the final result when it’s done.

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A Fun, Frozen Day!

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Yesterday was yet another snow day on Long Island. I decided to treat myself a “Sew Day” and spend the day quilting. When I checked Facebook at lunch, there was a post by awesome quilter Kim Brunner — AND IT FEATURED MY DAUGHTER!!!! I was incredibly surprised to discover that she was featured on BuzzFeed

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Daughter Angela in her Elsa costume from “Frozen.”

I have to say that her costume was worthy of being publicized. It took her more than 250 hours to make and has 100,000+ rhinestones. I can also say (as her proud mother) that I thought her makeup and wig styling were flawless.

Although most of the comments are positive, the negatives focus on the lousy photos. It will be no surprise to my readers that I am the lousy photographer! What people didn’t realize was that the photos were taken the morning following an ice storm. The roads were basically closed. Even if we had hired a photographer, they wouldn’t have been able to make it to the shoot. It’s a shame that she was stuck with me, because a professional photographer and some additional lighting would have made a huge difference.

Inspiration from the Catwalk

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Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. I have to admit that I am in awe of designers because they work with such a wide range of fabrics (not to mention feathers and sequins), and because they have to fit their creations to a live model.

Jean Paul Gaultier was born in 1952 and received no formal fashion training. Over the last forty years, he’s designed for movies, models and musicians. Some of his creations were truly beautiful and some were rather vulgar. Clearly he has his own vision for his designs!

This exhibit continues at the Brooklyn Museum until February 23, 2014. It is really well set up, and many of the models are on a rotating stage. I apologize for the horrible quality of the photographs. The models were moving and they don’t allow flash photography, so I did the best I could with my iPhone. I wanted to share my trip and make my local readers aware of this exhibit. Thankfully I’m a much better quilter than I am photographer!

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A surprise in the mailbox

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When I got the mail yesterday, I was surprised to see a large envelop addressed to my 16-year-old daughter. It was from my mom’s sister, who is my daughter’s great aunt. Aunt Mary follows my daughter’s sewing adventures online, so knows of her love for historical, women’s fashion.

The surprise was 100 or so pages of Harper’s Bazaar magazines, from 1899 to 1907! How cool! They had been torn out and saved by somebody, just the same way that I tear out pages from my favorite quilting magazines. The pages were a combination of mail order fashions and home making articles. Perhaps my quilt magazine tear-out pages will be an equal treasure for my great-great-great granddaughters in 2114!

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My book is on Amazon!

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ICOVER‘ve been neglecting my blog recently (sorry, ladies!). However, t have a good reason. And I’m announcing it here first — I’VE WRITTEN A BOOK!  Not surprisingly, it’s about my favorite subject — quilting!

The idea for the book began in 2010, just after I’d purchased my longarm. I attended a machine quilting show and was talking to a longarm repair person. This gentleman mentioned that many women regretted buying their longarm machines. I was shocked. It never dawned on me that someone would spend $15,000 on a longarm machine and not use it, since it seemed like everyone in the quilting world dreamed of owning one. I decided to write a guide that would help women understand the reality of owning a longarm machine, and allow them to make an informed decision.

The book is called: “Longing for a Longarm: Should You Buy a Longarm Quilting Machine?” It is available on Amazon.com for $4.99. Below is the description from Amazon.

If you’re a quilter, you’ve probably considered buying a longarm quilting machine – either for business or pleasure. At the very least, you’ve wondered what it would be like to own such a cool machine. Would it be a great decision or an expensive mistake?

This book, written by a former longarm business owner and fifth generation quilter, is the “real scoop” on longarm ownership.

Written in a humorous manner, “Longing for a Longarm” is packed full of information that will help you decide if a longarm machine will enhance your quilting experience. You’ll learn about the reality of owning a longarm quilting machine, including the amount of space required, the best location for your studio, and how to select the right machine for your needs.

After reading “Longing for a Longarm,” you will know why some quilters give up and abandon their longarms. You’ll understand the physical demands of longarm quilting, as well as challenges longarm quilters face when quilting for customers. You’ll also understand some of the stresses and issues that make longarm machine quilting challenging.

By the end of the book, you will know the pros and cons of longarm ownership, as well as the commitment required to be a successful longarm quilter. You will also have a great list of resources to help you become a better quilter.

Longing for my Longarm Skills

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This is how little longarming I’ve done in the last few months … I had not even changed the needle since July, when we moved the longarm machine from our living room into our basement. In the course of the move, I buried misplaced  my instruction manual and the packet of needles that worked best. Two weeks ago, I spent 3 hours (no kidding — THREE HOURS OF MY LIFE) trying to find the correct needle and to keep the thread from breaking. I was beyond frustrated.

All I wanted to do was make some Christmas stockings. I had panel yardage and I had loaded 3 yards (which worked out to six Christmas stockings) on my machine. I learned to quilt using panels and I love them, because they are interesting and fun to do. Plus non-quilters think you are a genius!

Yesterday, I finally got the thread issue resolved. I think I might have been putting the needle in backwards. I’m not sure. But I tried again and it worked. And, if I quilted slowly and evenly, the thread stopped breaking.

Back to quilting the panels. Let me rescind my previous statement and say that panels used to be easy and fun to do. They actually require a lot of accuracy and some major planning skills. In addition to feeling clumsy with the longarm, I did a really horrible job of planning my quilting. I had problems exactly tracing the lines and my fill stitches were uneven. I quickly decided that the first panel would be a learning piece. I’m embarrassed to post photos, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Today’s lesson is: Practice makes perfect, while lack of practice makes you feel like crap. My longarming muscles are clearly out of shape. However I’m in a lot better position today than I was last week, now that I’ve got my threading issues resolved.

There is one more issue. Unless my quilting skills return with lightening speed, there’s no way I’m going to be happy with those Christmas stockings. Now I need to figure out new gifts for the people on my list

Christmas Wreath

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This weekend I attended a holiday event and — despite purchasing some costume jewelry to match my gown — was not happy with my choice. So I started sorting through the necklaces and earrings that I’ve purchased over the years. I was kind of shocked at the amount of jewelry I’ve accumulated.

Before anyone tries to rob my house, let me say that I never pay more than $20 for a necklace or earrings. Nor do I have any family heirlooms in my collection. Unfortunately, I even lost my wedding rings a few years ago.

What I did realize was that jewelry goes out of style. And, when I came across this blog post about using jewelry to make a beautiful holiday wreath, I thought it was a wonderful idea. It would be a great Thanksgiving project for those of us who will not be going near a mall over Thanksgiving weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday Sewing Day Totally Sucked!

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For the past several weeks, I have been taking a weekly wellness course at our local hospital. The basis of the course is that our lives need to be in balance. We were asked to set goals in the following areas of our lives: relationships, career/finance, health/fitness, spirituality and mental/emotional. Let’s just say that I’ve been focusing almost totally on my new career, with a bit of time carved out for exercise. I wasn’t the class model of a balanced life!

Yesterday, I came up with the idea of designating Sunday for recreation. (I believe I am the first person to declare Sunday as a day of rest!!!!!) So I admitted to a couple of friends that I was rededicating myself to quilting. After a wonderful morning walking in one of Long Island’s beautiful parks, I came home excited to sew.

Since you’ve already read the headline, it should come as no surprise that yesterday did not go well. I had decided to quilt a few Christmas stocking panels on my longarm. (You may recall that, over the summer, we moved my longarm from our living room into the basement.) First of all, the fabric I’d chosen wasn’t stored as neatly as it could have been — and it all needed ironing. Then I spent 90 minutes trying to keep the thread from breaking, because I couldn’t remember what kind of needle worked best, I couldn’t find my notes in the piles of yet-to-be-put-away papers that related to my longarm, and I seemed to have forgotten the precise needle placement tricks that I knew a year ago. By 4:00 PM, I was done with Sunday Sewing Day and ready to go back to work!

Instead, I forced myself to watch a 3 hour DVD called Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration. I opened some mail and did a little bit of housework.

So this morning my back is sore from a combination of  a long walk and too much time bent over the longarm machine. But I definitely feel refreshed and excited to get back to work. Even though my step toward quilting wasn’t very productive, it was a step in the right direction.

 

What a difference a year makes!

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As I write this, Quilt Market (the industry’s semi-annual trade show) has just completed and International Quilt Market is ready to start.

This marks my one-year anniversary of attending Quilt Market. My readers may recall that my trip was cut short by Hurricane Sandy. I had a harrowing trip home, which included renting a car and driving from the Baltimore airport to Long Island, all the time trying to stay ahead of the storm. Sadly, some residents of Long Island have not yet recovered from this storm, although everyone I know personally is now fine.

One of the highlights of the show was seeing Libby Lehman checking in at the judge’s table. She has always been one of my favorite teachers, due to both her skills and her sense of humor. I felt like I’d seen a rock star! This Spring, Libby suffered a brain aneurysm and has had a difficult and rocky few months. Her quilts were part of a special exhibit at this year’s show.

I had attended Quilt Market with the intention of building my longarm business. Six weeks later, I recognized that this was impossible, due to a neck injury, and closed down my business. My readers know that this was a tough, heart-wrenching decision. Almost a year later, I’m doing well with my new venture, a ghostwriting business, called Blog Buddy.

On a personal note, my family has changed too.  I’ve ended my homeschooling journey. My 16-year-old earned her GED in June and is taking classes at our local community college. My son is in his second year at a state university about 300 miles away.  I have also been taking better care of my own health, which has resulted in a weight loss of 120 pounds and feeling a whole lot better physically.

Yup. It’s been quite a year.