Welcome to my blog

Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lately I've had a series of difficult quilts. First the one with the do over border..... now this one.

I had this one on the machine. It had lots of fullness in the piecing and the border. I first basted the entire thing to see if I could work out the fullness. It only got worse as I got it basted. I finally had to call the owner about the problem.

She has decided to take the top apart then return to me to get help remaking it. The top is savable. It only needs some re working.

Now I have this one loaded onto the machine. Another time consuming top. Not really a problem quilt.... just time consuming. As you can see..... it's a very large top.

It just barely fit onto the leaders.....

This one gets custom quilting. Out of curiosity I've decided to track my time on this one. I want to see how much I'm earning per hour on a large custom quilt. My best guess it that it may take me 4 or 5 days of quilting time. Since I work 12 hours a day, that means somewhere between 48 to 60 hours of work on one quilt.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I know its been a few days since I posted to my blog. I've been busy changing this quilt....

To this...

To be quite honest I hope I never see that quilt again.... ever! It's extremely difficult to pick out 4400 square inches of stitching and replace the border and stitch it again. That quilt has been nothing but a bad experience from the start. It's experiences like this that has me feeling like I want to throw up my hands and quit quilting. Thank goodness these experiences rarely happen.

I've worked on a couple of quilts that can't be shown until after March. One is my guild challenge quilt for AQS and the other is the animal fabric challenge for MQX. The guild challenge is completely pieced and partially quilted. I've completed most of the piecing on the animal fabric challenge and its duplicate. I've told Janet-Lee that after the show the SPCA there in NH can keep it to raise more money for their charity. The duplicate will be given to the SPCA here in KY.

Finally...... yesterday I got around to more normal quilting. This is today's finished quilt.

And a view or two of the back so you can see the quilting better.

I know some of the design lines don't match up perfectly. It had fabric warts in the corners that my hopping foot couldn't stitch over.

In the next few days I hope to put more pictures in my webshots albums. I've neglected that work for awhile.

Reworking that quilt has put me several days behind schedule. This in turn puts me under a lot of stress to try to catch up again. It simply can't be done! I won't sacrifice quality for speed and there are only so many hours in a day....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today's finished quilt. Yes, it was a two day quilt.

A sort of flower design in the pieced blocks.

A leaf and curl design on the sashing.

Feather on the outside border and a swag design on the inside border.

Here are couple of views of the back.

I feel like I'm moving at a snail's pace! But the border is off the problem quilt. Tomorrow is a ME day. I hope....

There are times when I sit and sew while thinking of my kids. I think about how I'm waiting the arrival of my daughter's first child any day now. Then there are times when I wish I could just stop what I'm doing.... and go get a hug from each of my kids. It's times like today that I wish I had a car so I could visit the graves of my sons or get on the road to visit my other sons and their families.

Well today, one son stopped by to visit me for awhile. I rarely get to see him because he doesn't live here. He gives fantastic hugs! Just the right kind when I need one. I wonder how he knew I needed him to visit and hug me today?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Today's finished quilt. It may not show in the picture but this has a lovely shade of rose color on the border.

I did some freehand flowers on the darker diagonals.

I did line dancing on the lighter diagonals. With a scallop design on the inside border.

And a freehand rose vine on the border.

I have several people coming by to either pick up a finished quilt or drop off a top to be quilted. It's going to be a busy day. I'll probably finish getting the border off that quilt between visits. I'm really anxious to get it done and out of here. I want to concentrate on other things which I can't do until it is finished.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today's finished quilt... sort of. I still have to put the binding on it today.

I'm still working at picking out the stitching on the border of the other quilt. I got one side done and started on a second side.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Quick short post

A short post today. I finished the garden quilt. I did simple stitch in the ditch on the piano key border to give it dimension but no other quilting. It compliments the design without over powering it.

Over the next few days I don't believe I will be able to post anything to my hints blog.... All charity quilts and organizing will be put on hold while I remove the border of the quilt I showed yesterday. By my estimation I will be frog stitching 4400 square inches of one inch cross hatching done with 14 stitches per inch. It has to be frog stitched, a new border attached, re quilted, a new hanging sleeve attached, and all done by February 16th.

I will still be working on customer quilts during the day and will post those as I get them finished. However..... this frogging work will take the place of any charity quilts, stash busting, organizing, or..... helpful hints blogging over the next few days. As I've always said.... customers come first. With that said... I'm about to go start a marathon of frog stitching!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Remember this quilt? I got a call last night from the owner. She doesn't like the border on it. I will be removing it and making another one of the same fabric. BUMMER! She didn't like that the circles of the design went crooked. That's the way the fabric was printed. I should have known it would come back to me. I'll have to fussy cut the new border from the same fabric.

Anyway, on to more pleasant thoughts..... this is today's finished quilt.

It was a flower design so I did more flowers and some feathers.

Curlies and leaves on the inside border.

Line dancing on the pieced squares.

Next I finished the majority of this garden quilt. This is the left half.

The right side of the top.

What's a garden without a little spider web? I put one on there too.

I was doing texture more than accuracy.

The watermelon .

Today this quilt goes back onto the machine. I may not be able to finish it today because my sister in law is going to be here. I just have a small amount of work left. The piano key border needs some quilting on it but I'm not exactly sure what. A day away from the machine may give me time to think of something.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm still working on the appliqué quilt. I thought I would work on something else but I seemed to be on a roll so I kept going. Here is a look at the border where I did roses.

And a look at the inside border where I did leaves.

Gee.... the days just seem to whiz by as my concentration is on a quilt. After work instead of working on a me quilt I started shredding some papers and junk mail. I think it kind of ironic that the banks have made changes so they could go paperless while at the same time they send out thousands of credit card junk mail. I call junk mail the searching for a dummy mail.

I have far too much paper in this house! Everything from old receipts to old magazines. Hopefully, later today I will finish shredding old papers and get started sorting though some old magazines.

It's only 15 minutes...

Sometimes it's the little things that eat away at the limited space in my time box. Yesterday this happened....

I evidently didn't put the bobbin on correctly so it wound half a bobbin normally then started winding behind it. This took me a good 15 minutes to unwind and check to be sure there weren't any tiny little pieces of thread to cause problems later. Grrr! Very irritating to loose 15 minutes!

There are going to be those who wonder why a 15 minute problem bothers me so much? These things only happen now and then right? It's no different than taking 15 minutes to run put a load of laundry in the washer or make a bed or dust a floor right? It's only 15 minutes for heavens sake.

I think of it a bit differently. To me it only takes 4 of these little mishaps (or breaks) to use up a whole hour from my time. My machine time is my salary. If I'm trying to earn money for 8 hours a day, one hour gone means I'm actually earning for only 7 hours.

No big deal you say? Hmm... think about that a minute. I'll pick a number easy to use for math. Let's say I'm earning $12 dollars an hour working at my machine. Loosing 15 minutes is like loosing $3. Loosing a whole hour is like loosing $12. I don't know about your budget.... in mine the $12 goes a long way. I can't afford to just loose it. It could buy me a yard of fabric or a whole week of groceries.

Ok, say I stop to do a few little things during the work day. Maybe check the email 4 times, put in a load of laundry, make a bed, sweep a floor, and wash dishes. Ok, 15 minutes each. That's 2 hours out of my work day. My 8 hour work day is now down to 6. Two hours lost has now cost me $24.

Ok now say.... I quilt a whole line of a panto design wrong. It takes me two hours to pick it out so I can do it over. Gee.... my 8 hour earning day is now down to 4. I've lost $48 already. Gosh, this is getting expensive!

During this time, I get 4 phone calls. Two 15 minute calls from customers to set up appointments to drop off tops and one 30 minute call from a friend who just wants to chat a few minutes. Another hour gone.

Speaking of phone calls.... The phone calls from the customers are actually investments. I invest $3 of time to earn much more. For my $3 investment I may earn $100. That's a really good rate of return on my investment. However, the call from the friend doesn't gain me anything. Phone calls from friends just to chat should be done in the evening after the work day is finished.

Another example.... say I have a top on the machine but just can't think of what to quilt on it. I stand there thinking for 15 minutes and then testing the design on wax paper for another 15 minutes. Half an hour is lost before I ever start earning anything.

You see now why these little 15 minute thread mishaps bother me? And why it is that when I enter my studio each morning I'm headed for work. The housework and computer time and phone calls to friends wait until I am finished for the day.

I thought I would show you this sign I have on my wall by my machine. Each time I walk to the freehand side this sign is what I see first.

If it is too dark for your computer to read it..... it says....

Anita.... Remember your schedule. If you don't have time to do it right the first time, how will you ever find time to pick it out and do it over? Remember your machine time is your salary, if you are standing and thinking about what to do to a quilt you are not earning any money.
Steph sent me a really nice message yesterday. She sent me the "You make my day" button. Hmm... that felt as good as winning a quilting ribbon! Thank you Steph.

I also received a request to post a lesson on how to measure and attach a border without ripples. Give me a couple of days to get a top to that stage and I'll be happy to post about it.

Remember yesterday I told you about a quilt that was loaded with appliqué? Well this is it. It's still on the machine. I stopped stitching around all the appliqué and did the meandering background. This stabilized it enough for now. Today I will work on it a bit more then work on something else for awhile. I'm headed there now to get an early start.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Today's finished quilt. Sorry about the dark pictures. My overhead lights are still not working. This one is a beginner quilt. I did Baptist fan in the center...

A swag design on inside border and feather on the outside border.

It was the best I could do to work in all the fullness of the borders. This is a view of the back. I'm going to give her some lessons on measuring the borders and using an iron when she picks this one up.

I received the gammill appliqué (trapunto) foot in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I took the time to put it on my machine because the next quilt is absolutely loaded with appliqué. I took the foot right back off again and put back on the regular foot. It won't work for me.

Don't get me wrong... I had a similar foot on my old machine. I had no problem using it. I don't use rulers so that wasn't the problem. The problem for me using that foot was it's too thick. The one I had before was just as tiny but much flatter. The gammill foot is like a ball with a hole in it. The ball design made it want to slide off the appliqué so I couldn't stay in the ditch.

In the process of changing the feet.... I lost the tiny needle screw. I had it in my hand... then I didn't. I didn't hear it hit the floor so it was like it just disappeared. I got on my knees and searched for about half an hour before I found it inside the bobbin area. I called to order a couple more to have on hand in case this happens again.

As I said the next quilt is loaded with appliqué. It will definitely take more than one day to complete it. Just looking at all that detail makes me think it may take a week or more..... thank goodness I have zipper leaders! If I get tired of the detailed stitch in the ditch I can take it off to work on another one. Then again.... I may get so engrossed in the work that I don't want to quit.

With that said..... I'm headed to the studio to get started.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nothing goes right

It was a "hard working but nothing goes right" kind of day. I finished the quilt on the machine and rushed to get it ready for UPS. Forgot to take pictures of it finished.

Finished up the denim quilt. Really cute but very small. I think I'm gonna have to make another one of these in the future.

Another view.

I put the victorian couple quilt back on the machine for more quilting. I felt it just needed more. This went ok but when I hung it back on the wall, the corners curled up. I don't know why that happens. I need to figure out why it happens so I can prevent it in the future. I can't be making quilts for galleries or shows with curled up edges.

I sewed the spider web blocks sections together.... oops! When I started to press them open I realized the centers don't match up. I'll have to take them all apart and resew.

Worst of all.... I ran out of coffee! I could have sworn I had another jar. Coffee should have lasted until my next stock up the groceries shopping trip in March. Luckily I was able to borrow a bit from a neighbor. It's been years and years since I borrowed anything from neighbors. I gave her the money to pick up another jar for me when she goes to the store. She shops almost everyday on her way home from work.

I finally gave up on getting anything accomplished and started cleaning the studio. Lots of dust accumulated on things and under things.... it's gone now. I'm sure today will be a better day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A new week

A new week has started again. After guild meeting yesterday I came home and worked some on my denim quilt.

I bought several yards of fabric while at the shop. It was really hard on my budget to buy fabric but these are for specific quilt designs. Legal stashbusting purchases. Which reminds me... I need to start making a stash busting report on Sundays. I will see how much stash busting I can get done this week.

Actually, for the next few weeks I will be pushing myself to finish 10 art quilts before Derby season starts in April. This is not going to be easy since I still need to work to pay the bills and I still want to create quilts for charity. I don't know if I can pull it off or not.... but I won't know unless I try. With that said I'll end this short post and head into the studio.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Yesterday was an in home quilting retreat day. When my sister in law comes over I don't usually get on the quilting machine. I can't concentrate on quilting and talk at the same time. I just spend the day teaching her and doing some piecing on ME quilts.

I finished up these spider web block sections and trimmed them. Now I have them pinned together to form the blocks. It's a Bonnie Hunter design.

I finished cutting the pieces for my necktie dresden plate quilt. I used the Just Curves template set I had for a year or so and hadn't tried yet. With these templates a person can make a pieced dresden plate instead of an appliqué one.

I don't think I will use them again. Personally, I feel it's a wasteful way to make one of these. It's also difficult to cut the pieces. For me, the curves of the templates were difficult to cut even with a tiny rotary cutter.

These necktie pieces were in my stash of quilt kits I made a few weeks ago. Remember when I put quilt kits together? The kits were put in bags like this....

I also started a denim quilt made from circles. I'm putting that one on my other blog as a tutorial so I don't need to talk about it here too. I hope to have it ready for viewing later today or in the morning. I won't make the tutorial public until I finish the quilt and take the pictures of the finished quilt. It's very small so it shouldn't take long to finish. There is no batting or backing required to make that quilt. A really good budget conscious quilt for those struggling to pay for machine quilting these days.

Today is our guild meeting. I haven't been there since September. I'm anxious to see everyone and get a look at the other member's challenge quilts. The last time I was at a meeting we were still in the drawing and planning phase. I have the piecing on mine finished and ready for the machine. I hope others are near completion too.

Rob Peter to pay Paul

Lately I've had customers tell me that their budgets are getting too tight to continue to bring me tops to quilt. When they pick up their finished quilt they tell me it will be a long time before they can afford to bring another one. My prices are not really high... the economy just stinks!

These customers do understand..... I can't charge less than I am and still pay my own bills but.... I can do something to help these customers continue to make quilts. I can show them a cheaper alternative and hope they remember me when their budget allows them to get another one quilted in the future. So far; I am not hurting for customers but it does make me real sad to loose anyone because of money issues.

This post is for my customers and friends who may want to continue to make quilts but can't afford to pay a machine quilter for awhile. Hopefully, I will see you when the economy gets better.

I wanted to use the blue jean fabrics squares I had in my stash for a long time. I don't remember where these came from. They were in some donations at some point in time. I could have just sewn the squares together to make a quilt but I wanted something different. I wanted a little more pizazz than just plain squares. So I cut out 6 1/2 inch circles. I found I had 48 pieces.

This quilt started out as a Robbing Peter to Pay Paul quilt. That's an old time pattern made with circles and squares of fabric. It doesn't require batting or backing to complete the quilt. It could be called a money saver summer quilt. Maybe that's where the name come from. Traditional summer quilts didn't have batting and this one doesn't need a backing.

Next I took half the circles and marked a 4 1/2 inch square on the front of the fabric with permanent marker. I used a piece of cardboard to make the square template for marking. Why mark only half? Well, I didn't want to spend time trying to match up marked lines from one circle to the next. If one has marks and the next doesn't then there aren't any markings to match. Why mark on the front of the fabric? You'll see in a moment.

I pinned a marked circle to an unmarked one.... wrong sides together. Not right sides as normally is done when piecing fabric.

Next... I sewed on one side of the drawn square. Then I opened the seam and pressed it really flat with plenty of steam. See... this hides the marked line on the front of the fabric.

Let me explain.... in traditional robbing Peter to pay Paul quilts the square would be drawn on the wrong side, right sides would be sewn together, the arc folded toward the back of the fabric, and a small piece of fabric placed inside the arcs to hide the back side of the fabric.

I decided to just use the plain denim without the extra squares of fabrics and I decided to do some decorative stitching with various colors of thread instead of a traditional blanket stitch. So this is what came next.... some colorful decorative stitching.

This was a great opportunity to empty some bobbins. I used the M size bobbins (from the quilting machine) as spools on my domestic machine. Then used up most all the small bobbins with just a bit of thread on them. If I ran out of color on an arc I just changed colors anyway. I like the scrappy look even in threads.

Here I have the next seam line stitching done in the row and ready for decorative stitching. I was careful that I put another unmarked circle with one that is marked. I had to also be careful that the circles form a straight row. It would be too easy to get the rows going crooked.

When I had the rows sewn and started putting rows together.... I discovered this problem. I wanted to have a straight line to follow but the unmarked circles in the row didn't have one.

So I marked one to follow. No, I would not change the way I started with only half the circles marked. This is much easier to mark after the rows are sewn together. I was careful that the sewing line matched up at the intersection.... otherwise the quilt would have a hole in it there.

And here the rows are being sewn together. Denim gets heavy so I did the decorative stitching as I put the rows together instead of waiting until it's finished. Also, if you are doing a really large quilt like this it would become hard to handle as the stitching is done.

Here are more of the rows sewn together. I really like this quilt! I wish I had more denim squares so I could make it larger.

Ok, this isn't the finished quilt but close enough for you to get the idea. When I get these sewn together I will fold up the side pieces and do the decorative stitching along the edge. No binding required either. It's just the right size for a baby to lay on when they are learning to turn over and Moma puts them on the floor.

I hope you like my idea of an alternative quilt.