Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow....

Six inches or so on the ground today, so I did what I've done on the first major snowfall of every year since I was married 25 years ago - I made chili for my cold, sore husband!  What better way to thank him for shoveling our very long driveway and walkways!  The boys did the stairs.  Then I curled up underneath the Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt I'm making by hand, and sewed the afternoon away.  Maybe I'll take pictures of the yard and river with all the new snow - it's beautiful!
Lovely day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's a sign that I need a sign...

I need to put a big sign somewhere in  my quilting room that says - CHECK THE BACK!  and then maybe I'll remember to check the back of my quilts as I quilt them, at least every 15 minutes or so.  WHY?  Because I spent an hour and a half quilting happily away, only to discover that my tension got screwed up and I had done lots and lots of free motion stippling that was nothing but thread nests on the back side.  The top looked great so I had no idea.  It took me two hours to tear it all out with a seam ripper!  ARRRGH!
I kept mumbling "seam rippers are your friend, seam rippers are your friend!"

So, it was not as productive a weekend as I had hoped.  I have been trying to practice on my frame with my Brother machine and my new Grace Sure Stitch Regulator, and kept having thread breaking issues.  I finally took the Brother off the frame, and tried quilting a different quilt on it without the frame.  Finally figured out what my thread breakage problem was, but it took a long time.  I have two quilts I need to get done by Christmas, and I want to do them on the FRAME!  Frustrating is ALL I can say!

On a good note, however, I introduced myself to the other quilters on the Quilting Board site (quiltingboard.com) , and showed three of my quilts - and got lots of very complimentary comments about them.  That made me feel less stupid - many thanks to all of you who responded.  You made a lousy weekend much better!  Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a few great links...

One of my Christmas presents is finished for the piecing, now to quilt it.  Second gift to be cut next weekend.
Think I may have put too much on myself , but I really want to get these done for Christmas.

Not much to talk about, so here are a few great links that people have recommended or I've found on my own.

Quilters Coloring Book:  http://www.quilt.com/ColoringBook/QuiltColoringBook.html
Line drawings of quilt block patterns you can color to test different color combinations.

Great long arm template site - The Gadget Girls:  http://www.thegadgetgirls.com/

Free Sampler Quilt Patterns:  http://www.freequiltpatterns.info/QuiltCategories/FreeSamplerQuiltPatterns.htm

Thread and More - lots of quilter's stuff:  http://www.threadandmore.com/default.asp

Urban Elementz - one of my favorite sites for pantographs:  http://www.urbanelementz.co/

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Indian Summer . . .

Don't you just love Indian Summer Days?  I do.  It's my favorite time of year.  The yard is gorgeous, the leaves will be turning soon, and the days are warm with a slight nip in the evenings.  Perfect quillting weather! 

 I finished Nate's Flannel Quilt (Nate's Warm Stars) at last, so now I can start making two quilts for my brother Mike and his daughter Sarah for Christmas.  I think I can get them both done on time - I have to!  Then, I have to start on Charlie's quilt, which he wants to be a "Super Nova" - which is an exploding star - and a really difficult pattern, which totally intimidates me.  But everyone I've made a quilt for so far has been very happy with it, so, I WILL DO IT!  He graduates high school in the spring, and it MUST be done by then, he's expecting it, and keeps asking "When are you gonna start my quilt Mom?"  So many quilts...so little time!
Here's Nate's Warm Stars Quilt.  It looks like Autumn, don't you think?


Monday, September 6, 2010

5 day weekends are the best!

Don't you just love long weekends?  I spent mine practicing on my quilt frame, looking for good deals on accessories for my Brother1500S and meeting my oldest son's girlfriend Kara - that was fun!  She's very cute, petit and seems to really adore Nate, so how could I resist her?  She spent the night here in Aaron's empty room, and even made the bed.  I like this girl already.

I joined a couple of new Yahoo groups - Long Arm Chat.com and PQ1500 which are both great.  I learn something every time I go to them.  I've been practicing on my frame and am getting up the nerve to put my best friend Brenda's quilt on it for quilting - still a little nervous though.  Practice is one thing, but attacking the quilt top you spent hours and hours making is rather scary. I think I'll ask the Long Arm Chat people for suggestions on how best to quilt it.

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Before it got out of hand...

Okay, I'm sure I'm not the first or the last obsessed quilter who allowed her house to get really messy and unorganized, because I'd rather be quilting than cleaning.  But, it got to where I couldn't concentrate on my quilting because everytime I went to quilt, I'd pass this mess or that pile of stuff, and I'd feel really guilty.

So, today, I went on a cleaning frenzy - you know, the really in depth, scrubbing, organizing, dusting, waxing, sweeping, mopping, vacuming, every room from the ceilings to the floors and baseboards kind of frenzy.  My kids thought I'd lost it.  But I was determined to bring that "quiet calm" to my entire house, not just my quilting room.

And I SUCCEEDED!  It took me 8 1/2 hours! (I have a really big, old historic home, and I gave up my cleaning lady about a month ago as a cost saving measure.  It had gotten pretty messy - not dirty, which I cannot abide, just super cluttered, and unorganized.)  Now everything is in it's proper place, and my kids have been threatened to within an inch of their lives that they have to help me KEEP IT CLEAN!

The best part of the day?  After we just finished dinner, my youngest son said, "Mom, the house looks really nice!"  It was worth every minute! 

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday, and the boys and I are taking him to the Renaissance Fair in Bristol, WI for the day.  It's something we used to do every year when the boys were younger, but haven't been in several years.  It was their idea. 

I guess I'll quilt tomorrow night.  I've earned it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ah, the end of Summer...

I took a day off yesterday, to sort of pay homage to the end of summer.  My 17 year old Charlie started back to school, his senior year on Wednesday.  My 22 year old goes back to college classes on the 23rd (but he'll be living at home this semester since he only has 6 hours to graduate and needs to save money.)  And my 18 year old Aaron starts as a Freshman at Depaul University next week, we move him into his dorm on the 29th, then he has a week of Freshman Immersion, and regular classes will start on the 6th of Sept.

I spent most of the day either cleaning, running last minute pre-college errands, and quilting.  While quilting, I kept thinking of how quickly the summer passed, how quickly my sons have grown up, and how quickly times goes by without our even noticing it.  I'm no longer young, nor is my husband, although in our heads, we're still those 18 years olds who fell in love, at least I am, and I like to believe he thinks that way too.

Where did the days go?  Did I do everything I wanted to do? - Nope.  Is there still time left? - well maybe for some things, but not for others.  It's too late to be crowned Miss America, it's too late to become a lawyer, it's too late to have another baby.  So, I watch and enjoy my sons' youth, and accomplishments, and cheer on their dreams.  After my daughter Hallie died, 22 years ago, I wrote a song called "Through Hallie's Eyes", about how as she was growing, and everything in the world seemed so fresh and wonderful to her, I felt myself seeing things in a new way too, through her eyes.  Guess I'm doing that now, but with my boys.

Guess you could say I'm a little sad today, but quilting is a comfort.  It's steady, and predictable, and calming, and quiet.  Just me and my thoughts and the hum of the machine.  I hope Nate likes it when it's done, and won't mind the few tiny tears that may have dropped on it during its birth.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There's a learning curve...

So, I loaded a quilt (small practice quilt) on my new frame, and tried to practice my free motion when I realized that I should have made sure all my tension settings on my machine were set correctly BEFORE I loaded on the quilt.  They weren't, it was all loopy on the underside, and in order to correct set and test the tension (with out wasting it on my test quilt), I had to take the quilt off the frame to move the machine and set things right.  Not the best start, but I definitely learned a lesson about making sure my machine is ready to quilt BEFORE I load on my quilt.

I've also gone online to You Tube and other sites to see how others load and pin their quilts onto the frame, and discovered that there are many different ways that many different people do it.  So I guess I have to find my favorite way. 

In the meantime, I am finishing the quilting on my son's Flannel Stars quilt which I had already gotten 1/4 done before I got my frame, so I pretty much need to finish quilting it on my machine without the frame.  That's okay, I'm getting along okay with wrestling this big quilt through it, but very much looking forward to NOT have to wrestle inthe future!

Yep, there's a learning curve, and I need practice, Practice, PRACTICE!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Frugal Shopping Tips

The Grace Frame I bought was through Craigs List.  What a great resource.  Ebay has to many "stores", not enough regular people.  My husband got his truck and my son bought his car through Craigs List too.  We're all very satisfied.

Also, check out the new Kindle book, The Frugal Fabriholic for great tips on saving money for quilters.

If you don't have a Kindle, you should seriously consider it.  I love mine, and the books are WAY less expensive than buying the paper versions.  Another cost saver!

I got a Grace EMQ-Pro, and I'm in Heaven!

I purchased a fabulous Grace GMQ-Pro Quilting Frame from a wonderful lady named Gert. I never thought I'd be able to afford one this nice, but I believe Gert was an angel sent to give me a preview of Quilter Heaven!


Thank you sooooo much Gert!

And many, many kisses to my husband for buying me this wonderful thing, driving me 1 1/2 hours each way in his pickup, loading it on and off (Aaron and Nate helped at home) and putting it together for me!

I love, Love, LOVE it!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nathan's Flannel Star Quilt

My son Nate asked me to make him a really soft, flannel quilt made with stars in earth tones.  This is the completed quilt top, basted and ready for quilting.  I'll never try to quilt with flannel again - it's very difficult to work with accurately since it's so stretchy, and clogs up my machine something awful.  But he's happy with the quilt, so I'm happy too.

Drop Box

Drop Box

My New Quilt Room is Finished!

I started quilting about 2 years ago, and after about 1 year, my husband remodeled a small 6 X 12 room in our basement for me.  It was very cute, but very small.  You can view pictures of it here.  It worked reasonable well for a while, and I came up with a few creative ideas to maximize the space.

However, it was cramped, and I finally persuaded my wonderful husband Roy to remodel another basement room for me.  This one is 15' x 15', and even has a fireplace ( not working, but still great looking.  You can see the renovation as it progressed, and the finished room by clicking here.

I got lots of inspiration from a lot of different sources.  My cutting table system is a do it yourself version of a craft table I saw at the Pottery Barn web site.  It was $1200 then, now on sale for about $950, and way more than I could afford, but I figured with a little creativity, I could duplicate it pretty closely for a LOT less money.  I did, and even made it longer for my purposes, and put drawers underneath for storage, and I'm very happy with it.
Pottery Barn System
My Version of the Pottery Barn System


I used cubes in the smaller room, and made them so they could fold away to save space.  When I went to the larger room, I keep the cubes along one wall, and used shelves for the ends of the table instead.
Here's how it looked in the smaller room using the cubes.

Using cubes with a 36 x 80 long hollow core door.

With this format, I had rollers on the bottoms of the cubes, and could roll them out perpendicular to the walls, then place the door (which had been stored against the wall behind the cubes) on top using the handles.  In the new room, I use the same door, but don't have to move it anymore.
If you don't have a lot of room, I highly recommend this way, as it saves a lot of space, and is inexpensive and easy to utilize.