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.