Friday, July 29, 2016

Longing for a Long Arm

This past weekend my friend Debra invited me to her house to learn how to use her long arm quilting machine. I was both excited and nervous, knowing how expensive these machines are and whether I was up for the challenge. It's no secret that my favorite part of quilt making is free motion quilting. I wish that I could just click my heels and have a top finished just so that I can quilt it.

My trepidation only lasted for the first 30 stitches or so and then I was off and running.  I always thought it would be a huge transition to switch from a DSM to a long arm but it was the most natural thing for me.

Of course, I'm sure that the quality of the machine I was using probably has a lot to do with it. My husband taught me early on that if you want to do a craft well, whether it be photography or quilting, the quality of the equipment can make a world of difference. Debra's long arm was a 12-foot APQS Lucey with a stitch regulator. What can I say, I'm hooked! It's like something just clicked and before I knew it, 4 hours had passed and I had quilted not 1 but 2 quilt tops!

The first quilt was a beautiful one that was made by the St. Mary's Peace by Piece Quilters from Manchester, Connecticut.


They are a generous group of quilters that sent us a total of 4 quilt tops and binding. I hope that I did their beautiful quilt justice. Here are a few close-up photos of the meandering swirls and heart loops that I made.


The second quilt was my very own "Love Wins" quilt.


For this one, I decided to do a couple of different motifs. For the majority of the body, I did a paisley design and hearts around the outer border. For the inner border, I decided to try my hand at feathers.

I love how the quilting really pops on the darker hearts.

A close-up of the quilting from the back.

Right now the center HST block is unquilted. I plan to do that on my domestic machine so that I can practicing using my new quilting rulers.

After this wonderful experience, I'm seriously contemplating saving my pennies for a long arm machine! But first, time to trim them down and put on some bindings.

PS - Piecing together my Pulse quilt was my goal for this month. I definitely surpassed that goal!

Longing for a Long Arm

This past weekend my friend Debra invited me to her house to learn how to use her long arm quilting machine. I was both excited and nervous, knowing how expensive these machines are and whether I was up for the challenge. It's no secret that my favorite part of quilt making is free motion quilting. I wish that I could just click my heels and have a top finished just so that I can quilt it.

My trepidation only lasted for the first 30 stitches or so and then I was off and running.  I always thought it would be a huge transition to switch from a DSM to a long arm but it was the most natural thing for me.

Of course, I'm sure that the quality of the machine I was using probably has a lot to do with it. My husband taught me early on that if you want to do a craft well, whether it be photography or quilting, the quality of the equipment can make a world of difference. Debra's long arm was a 12-foot APQS Lucey with a stitch regulator. What can I say, I'm hooked! It's like something just clicked and before I knew it, 4 hours had passed and I had quilted not 1 but 2 quilt tops!

The first quilt was a beautiful one that was made by the St. Mary's Peace by Piece Quilters from Manchester, Connecticut.


They are a generous group of quilters that sent us a total of 4 quilt tops and binding. I hope that I did their beautiful quilt justice. Here are a few close-up photos of the meandering swirls and heart loops that I made.


The second quilt was my very own "Love Wins" quilt.


For this one, I decided to do a couple of different motifs. For the majority of the body, I did a paisley design and hearts around the outer border. For the inner border, I decided to try my hand at feathers.

I love how the quilting really pops on the darker hearts.

A close-up of the quilting from the back.

Right now the center HST block is unquilted. I plan to do that on my domestic machine so that I can practicing using my new quilting rulers.

After this wonderful experience, I'm seriously contemplating saving my pennies for a long arm machine!

PS - Piecing together my Pulse quilt was my goal for this month. I definitely surpassed that goal!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Breaking the Social Media Habit

Last week Bernie from Needle & Foot wrote this post about social media and it really struck a chord with me. Take a moment to read it if you can, as she brought up some interesting observations about how social media has affected her family.

Living in an “on-demand” world means you can do so many things with very little effort, in practically no time at all.  You can send chat instantly with anyone in the world, pay a bill, and buy almost anything at all on the internet, all from the comfort of your living room couch. Twitter, SnapChat, Flickr, Facebook, Periscope, Pinterest, Instagram… all of these platforms reinforce the culture of instant gratification but at what cost?


Now I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with social media platforms. I use some of them every day, but I also know how easy it is to get sucked in. One quick check of Facebook may lead to reading a few articles and then watching a few videos on YouTube, which may lead to sharing them with friends, and before you know it, you're wondering where the last 2 hours went.  Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but for me, it's enough of an issue that it's time to make a change. Having recently returned from a 12-day vacation with little or no access to the internet, I've gotten some clarity. Life goes on and it's okay if I don't know what movie a friend is seeing, or where so-and-so is eating dinner. That is why I'm going to unplug a bit, at least from Facebook, since that is the biggest distractor in my world. I want to set a better example for my son by putting down the phone and turning off the computer and teach him how to appreciate the social interactions that are in front of him.  By limiting myself to 10 minutes of Facebook in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening, I think it will do wonders for my goal of achieving some life balance. Life is so much more fulfilling when you're actually living it instead of reading about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 Mid Year Review


At the start of the year Yvonne, from Quilting Jetgirl, hosted a yearly goal setting linkup. Being the list maker that I am, I was already doing this but putting it out there for all to see was my way of holding myself accountable. The year is already half over and Yvonne has asked us to post how we're doing. Full disclosure -- I haven't looked at this list since I posted it so this will help to remind me of what I have to work on for the next 6 months.

1. More selfish sewing - I've not done very well on this goal since there's always a gift project on the horizon. And now, with the Pulse charity drive, every spare sewing moment is spent trying to get these done as quickly as possible. But I'm okay with that. I did purchase a new pattern a few days ago, Bubbles, that I'm going to start working on. I'd love to start making 1 block a month beginning in September when I'll have more sewing time.

2. Wardrobe Makeover - I've definitely made some progress on this goal and now have clothes that fit me. This is an ongoing goal in order to spread out the cost.

3. Declutter and organize my everyday life - I've also made some progress on this goal as well. I've donated several bags/boxes of household items and clothes over the past 6 months. Whenever I buy a new piece of clothing, I try to look in my closet to see if there is something that can also be donated so that I keep a status quo. For these next 6 months, I want to challenge myself to tackle the dreaded junk drawer in the kitchen and my sewing room drawers with all of my machine accessories and notions.

4. Become a mentorI - Now that the school project is finished I'm not sure what will be next but since my son has taken an interest in sewing that sort of qualifies.

5. Finish my 3 big WIPs -

  1. 2015 Stash Bee quilt - Turquoise Facets is done.  
  2. My Midnight Mystery quilt -  Moroccan Tiles - the top is completely done but I need to have a longarmer quilt this. There's no way I can quilt a queen size quilt on my machine. Heck, I don't even have enough space anywhere in my house to baste it! I'm hoping to give it to my friend Frank to quilt at his leisure. He does amazing work. 
  3. My Pinwheel quilt. - No progress has been made on this one. Maybe I'll be able to add the outer border so that it's ready to quilt, but thinking realistically this won't get finished until 2017.

6. Continue making our house our home oasis - I've made some progress on this by having my living room textiles all coordinate but there is still more to do. I have one more pelmet box to make to go over our sliding glass door. I also want to paint the rest of the common areas in the house and find some more wall decorations. And did I mention that my 6-year-old is asking to paint and decorate his room? Yep, he wants a Star Wars room.  Guess I'll be adding that to my to-do list as well. I'm sure this goal will carry over until 2020. It's never ending.  :)

7. Cut into some of my layer cakes - Ummm... yeah. No progress on this one either. But I do have a solid plan for my April Showers layer cake and have even purchased the necessary background fabric. Again, this is on the back burner until my guild gets all the Pulse quilts finished.

8. Create and stick to a routine that works for me to achieve a better balance of work, home, and leisure time - This is always going to be a work in progress for me. I mentioned in my goal setting post that I've never really used a physical planner before and while I love the design and the concept of the Quilter's Planner it didn't help me to manage things. The planner was too big for me to carry around and since my husband and I use a shared calendar (with tasks & reminders), it was too redundant to transfer everything into the planner each week. For the remainder of the year, I'm going to try and use the planner specifically for sewing goals and tasks and keep it in my sewing room.

9. Blog more regularly - I think I'm doing pretty well with this goal. I try to write/schedule at least 1 blog post a week and I even managed to have them build up enough to post while I was on vacation. My bonus goal that went along with this was to make some cosmetic changes to my blog. I'm happy to say that I accomplished that. I created a new banner and signature for the blog. Lightened up the background and redid my social media icons (again). I'm much happier with the cleaner look of the blog.

It's been good to reflect back on these. Now to see if I can follow through by the end of the year.
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