Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Learning to Long Arm

If you know me at all you know about my fear of free motion quilting. Thankfully, after taking Elizabeth Hartman's class at QuiltCon and then starting to practice my skills on charity quilts at home that fear has disappeared. Each quilt I work on now helps me gain more confidence and improve my skills. I actually really like free motion quilting now. But there was one more fear out there I needed to conquer: mastering the Long Arm. 

I had been putting off learning how to Long Arm until my free motion skills got better. Right now, I don't branch out much past a basic stipple. But my husband requested that I stipple the Scrappy Trout Along Quilt and I was faced with two options. Now this quilt is a King Sized monster. And it's super heavy thanks to all those seams. There was no way in hell I was going to attempt to quilt this one at home. I know better. Especially with my expanding belly, I knew that for me it would be a nightmare. So I could either send it out to a Long Armer to quilt for me. Or I could bite the bullet and do it myself. I debated vigorously between the two options and eventually decided that now is as good a time as any to teach this old dog a new trick. 


I signed up for a private lesson on Harley (the resident Long Arm at my favorite LQS, Sew Modern) with my friend Lisa. She taught me everything I needed to know from racking the quilt to threading the machine. I even brought a charity quilt with me for practice. I can't believe how intimidated I was by the Long Arm. I wish I had mustered up the courage earlier to take a lesson because it was so much fun and so much easier than I expected. Quilting on the Long Arm was so much easier and more fluid than trying to free motion on my home machine!

I used my lesson time to learn the basics, like racking my quilt, threading the machine, etc. And then I just practiced stippling. I wasn't ready to get too fancy and I just wanted to get the hang of the machine and how it flowed. Also, my husband requested that I stipple his Scrappy "Trout" Quilt so initially that's all I needed to know. I was able to stipple a small charity quilt on the long arm in about an hour, which was awesome. Now I'm addicted!.

So here's my advice to all you chickens, just like me, that are out there. Take a deep breath and just try the Long Arm. You will be so surprised at just how easy it actually is to work on one. I am mad it took me so long to muster up the courage. It's fun and it's super easy. You'll get the hang of it in no time and be kicking yourself, just like me, that you didn't try it sooner.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Scrappy Trout Quilt Top

So I have slowly been starting to sew again. In fact, this past weekend I took four wonderful days and disappeared off the grid with a few friends so we could spend some quality time together and sew. I had two sewing goals for the weekend: Get caught up on Bee Blocks and finish my Scrappy Trip Along Quilt Top. I started my Scrappy Trout (nicknamed the Trout Quilt by my friend Melissa because the it reminded her of fish scales, which I thought was cool) quite a while ago intended for our couch, but when my husband saw it he really loved it and asked if we could put it on our bed. That meant I needed to make it larger. Then it got pushed to the side as my Spring and Summer started to turn our world upside down. The only sewing I have been able to do at all this entire Summer was commission work with deadlines. And that was quite a chore in my condition. 

Scrappy Trout Quilt Top

When I started to prep for our girls weekend I made a conscious decision to leave all my commission work at home. Let's just call that Work (capital 'W'), since I can't really go back to my real job right now so it's my only source of income at the moment. Instead I only projects I wanted to work (lowercase) on, meaning my Scrappy Trout, my Marathon Quilt, and some delayed bee blocks. 


The weekend was a complete success! I had lots of laughs, great times with my friends and I came home with an (almost) completed quilt top. I say almost, because, even though it's pretty much the perfect size for our King bed, I decided that I really want to add a solid border. I just love the way these quilts look with a sold border around them. I really think it takes the quilt to another level. So it's almost done. And I feel such a sense of accomplishment, especially since I haven't been able to sew much in the past several months. I can't wait to see this one completed!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Where I've Been

I just returned home from a glorious weekend of sewing. It's more sewing than I've been able to do in months. And there have been some good reasons for that. In the Spring I started doing some commission work for Spring Market, which kept me busy but I wasn't able to share my projects here. Then shortly after, I jetted off to Europe for a month for a friend's wedding in Paris. My husband couldn't take a lot of time off work, so we spent ten days in Italy and a night in Amsterdam before he had to fly back home. Then I continued on to Paris, then London on my own before my journey ended. 


The whole time we were in Italy I was feeling sick and completely wiped out with exhaustion, which is odd. Well, we discovered in Rome that there was a reason for the way I was feeling. Which is also the reason I haven't been able to blog at all in the past few months. We're pregnant. And when I got home we got the next shocker. We're having twins. So I have been really sick for the past couple months and have not had the stamina or energy to sew anything but a few commission pieces. Finally the fog passed about two weeks ago so I am getting back into the groove, slowly. I plan to do as much sewing as I possibly can for the next few months, or until I get too big to reach the machine. I need to get it all in and fast, as our entire world is about to change. 


So I appreciate you sticking around while I was away! And I'm glad to be back. Now, it's back to sewing!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Aack! I've been Hacked!

My custom domain name has been hacked... right on the heels of my plans to return to blogging (and explain my absence). While I get this issue resolved, I have converted back to using my original Blogger address and I'l officially claiming it on BlogLovin. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sorry for the inconvenience! Please redirect your feeds temporarily to: until it's fixed.

Have you missed me? Because I've missed you. But I have a couple good excuses for my absence, I swear.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Quilters Needed

I am sorry I have been so absent lately. I promise an update soon, but first, as many of you know, I leave the Hope Circle of do. Good Stitches. Well we're looking for two Quilters to join our circle this month. Quilters make two blocks from their own stashes for our charity quilts each month. In addition each Quilter is responsible for designing and quilting one quilt of their own. Our latest commitment runs June - October. If you're interested in sewing for underprivileged children around the world contact me asap to join our circle.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I'm claiming my blog on BlogLovin' so you can follow me over there too!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Free Motion Chicken No More

I know I've been neglecting my blog lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing. I'm on a bit of a deadline with some custom orders that I can't show right now, so my AMH dress is halfway finished, as is a quilt I intended to enter into a couple quilt shows. I missed the entry deadline for one and am a couple days out on the deadline for the second, so I don't know if I'll finish in time. But before I got swamped I am happy to admit that I jumped a major hurdle in my quilting: I started to try free motion! DISCLAIMER: This post contains many pictures of my many mistakes. Nobody's perfect and we're always learning, right?



The first quilt I've EVER free motion quilted.

Yes, you heard me correctly. After taking Elizabeth's class at QuiltCon, I took the plunge at home and started trying to free motion a few quilts. They are FAR from perfect, but I think it's important to share the imperfections. I've been catching up on some charity quilts and decided these were the best projects to start honing my free motion skills. 




Not only am I finding free motion quilting to be fun, it's also fast. I can quilt an entire sandwich in much less time than straight lining it. That said, there is a definite learning curve and it's frustrating at times. But it's helping me get over my perfectionist attitude and I keep reminding myself that all my mistakes will come out in the wash. Quite literally. That's the great thing about quilting. So many of those little imperfections disappear when the quilt comes out of it's first wash all crinkly and cuddly. 




The second quilt I free motion quilted. See, it's slowly getting better.
So don't judge. And don't be afraid. You can see all of my many, many, many mistakes right here. I'm not embarrassed to show you. Free motion is a lesson in learning to let go. And with each quilt, I am getting in the to rhythm of free motion a little bit more. And I'm making mistakes a little bit less. I'm still backing myself into corners, and fumbling with uneven stitch length, but I'm learning and growing. I'm not going to give up on straight lining, oh no. That's still my favorite aesthetic, but I'm going to continue to hone my free motion skills. Expect to see a lot more around here in the near future.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sewing ADD For Me

Last night's girl's night was awesome. Eight of us cozied up in my living room and shared our creativity. I just worked on some needlepoint but this morning I'm back at my machine. Actually, I've been having a little bit of sewing ADD lately. I have a few quilts brewing around in my head. I pulled a stack of fabric for one of them. I'm not sure if I'm going to add hand stitching or not but I pulled a roll of Pearle Cotton just in case. One thing is certain though, my broken triangles are making a comeback.


I also finally bit the bullet and bought three yards of the AMH "Field Study" voile that I've been drooling over lately. Since I'm not working I put myself on a fabric diet, but I finally caved at the last LAMQG meeting and bought it. Our meetings are held at my favorite fabric shop, Sew Modern, and it's always difficult to walk out of there empty handed. But my birthday is coming up and I have a wedding to attend in May so I thought that was the perfect excuse to wipe up the drool and buy it.


So I am working on some things for me. And I realize that lately I haven't been as good about posting about my process here. Frankly, I do a lot more process posting on Instagram. You can follow me over there as well, if you'd like. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spontaneous Girl's Night

I am just loving having time off from work. I've been going to the gym, enjoying the amazing weather we've been having here in Southern California, spending quality time with my husband and sewing. It's such a luxury to be able to sew all day if I want to or NOT sew if I'm not feeling it. Usually there is so much pressure to sew in the limited amount of free time I have and now that weight is lifted and it feels so good. 


My husband left for a convention in Austin this morning, so I have the house to myself for the next few days. When I'm working I would relish the time alone and hole myself up and not answer the phone if I didn't feel like it. But now that I'm a woman of leisure it's giving me the perfect opportunity to invite some friends over for a spontaneous stitch 'n bitch. After dropping my husband and his partner off at the airport early this morning, I turned our living and dining room into our workspace for tonight. 


I moved my new machine and table into the living room with the iron and ironing board, leaving space by the purple wall for another sewing table and machine if one of my friends brings theirs over. 


I turned one of our kitchen counters into a cutting table. 


Then I put a couple more cutting mats down in a corner of the dining room floor for a larger cutting space in case anyone needs to square up a quilt or something. 


Finally, my old machine is set up on the dining room table for anyone who wants to use it. And there's enough space left for at least two, if not three more machines. 


And I have lots of comfy spaces for people to sit and hand sew if they fancy. I haven't decided yet, but I think I might focus on some hand work tonight. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shameless Promotion


Wanna' see what I do as my day job? Wondering why I was traveling all over the place last year? Then check out the brand new season of "Tabatha Takes Over" premiering tonight on Bravo. 

Marathon Quilt: Month Eleven


Eleven months ago when I started on my Marathon Quilt I thought I would be a little further along than I am. But I'm not complaining. Well, maybe I was. I laid the project out this morning on top of our king sized bed to add some scope to the project and I was lamenting its current size in my head when my husband came in the room and commented that he couldn't believe how big it's grown since I started working on it last May. It's all about perspective. And I apologize for the crappy lighting. It's gloomy by the beach today.


I carry this project with me practically everywhere I go, just in case I find myself in a place with a little idle time on my hands. It's slow work. Methodical work. Most days I love the work. But I'll admit there are some days I would rather be working on something else. And I'm learning to listen to my instincts. This isn't a race. There is no deadline. It's just for me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Scrappy Trout Along

Recently I had quite a lot of amazing crafty girl time. My friend Liz hosted some sewing at her place. And so did my friend Liberty. Then I also hosted a little stitchy slumber party at my house. Only one person actually spent the night, but most of us were up and sewing away until 2:30 in the morning. I used that opportunity to jump on the Scrappy Trip Along train that's been snaking it's way across Instagram. I've never participated in one of these online sew alongs before, though I've wanted to, but now that I have free time it seemed perfect. I blame it all on Ramona and Liberty. They made me do it!


I decided to go monochromatic with this one. I wanted to make it for our living room and have it big enough for my husband and I to cuddle up under it together. I considered making it purple since we have a large purple wall in the room. Orange was another color I considered to accent the orange chair that's a favorite of ours. Ultimately, I settled on my favorite neutral, gray. I thought it would be the perfect blender in the room and it could allow for pops of color to shine through in the prints used.


I knew my husband would love the scrappy style and Ramona convinced me that it could come together quickly. Who knew that the secret to this quilt was that it's actually strip pieced! Okay, so it took a little longer than I anticipated but I had the top pieced in less than a week. And it even was nicknamed the "Trout Quilt thanks to my friend Melissa. She said it reminded her of fish scales, which I think is kinda' cool!


But now I think I need to make it bigger. At first my husband thought it was too big. Right now it's measuring about 96"x72", but now he wants it for our bed, which is king sized. So that means I need more gray. He also went crazy for the text fabrics so I'm on a mission to find a few more gray tonal text fabrics because I want to push the scrappiness even farther. If you want to take the trip too you can find the tutorial here. Just beware, it's addicting!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wanna Buy a 6600?

So did you notice that machine and sewing table in my studio? Well they're both new too. At QuiltCon a local Texas sewing machine shop stocked all of the classrooms with brand new Janomes and the machines were available for sale at a tremendous discount. And when I say tremendous I mean way too good to pass up. Yep. I bought a Horizon. Eeek! And my 6600 is less than a year old. 


I justified the purchase because I got the machine and a sewing table for about the same price of my 6600. And I didn't have to pay for shipping or tax. It was a steal. I had been looking at the Horizon last year but I couldn't stomach the price tag. 


Now, I need to sell Hepburn. I love her so much. She's an amazing machine but it's the only way I can justify the upgrade to the Horizon. Anyone in the market for a gently used, one year old Janome 6600?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Studio Unveiling

During the winter, while I was working, my studio slowly started to accumulate all of our crap, once again and became the cluttered junk receptacle of days past. So my first order of business, now that I have time off, was to get it reorganized and into workable shape. Surprisingly it didn't take that long. I moved all of the books we decided to keep into our guest room in the house and had my husband take the huge, bulky bookshelf to his office to clear out some space. 


Once most of the clutter was put away and organized I made a trip to Ikea in search of 3x3 cubbies. Unfortunately they don't carry them any more. I got two 2x4 cubbies and thought I would lay them side-by-side for cutting and storage. It wasn't ideal but I was stuck. Then my friend Ramona said that they carried the 3x3 cubbies at Home Depot, so I swung by there and found them! Four 3x3 cubbies and a 48"x48" piece of plywood later and I have my brand new storage and cutting table. 


It's big but I love it! It's the perfect height for cutting. Right now I don't have a cutting mat large enough to cover the entire piece of plywood but what I have will do for now. The plywood top makes it sturdier and covers the hole in the center of the storage unit. I made each of the four cubbie stations and put them together into a box formation, securing them together with brackets. I'm storing all of my fabric around on three sides, but I'm avoiding putting my fabrics on the lower level because my garage accumulates dust quickly. Then I have fabric boxes for more  dust-free storage (I need to get more of these) and I have books, magazines, etc. stored in the rest of the cubbies. I even hid bags of polyfil and pillow forms in the dead space in the center of the cubicle.


My design wall slides out to double in size, and once I do a little more reorganization it will be full-size all the time. I am re-evaluating my design wall and considering getting another Ikea wire hanger, like the one I'm using for my curtains, to string along the other wall with a piece of flannel to make a retractible design wall, but I'm not there yet. 


I also hung some rulers and tools with simple nails for temporary storage. 


Finally, I bought some large glass vases at Ikea for scrap storage. I've separated scraps by cool, warm and neutrals. 


There is still more clutter to clear (as you can see) and organize but the space is close enough for me to be able to work in there full time. And I moved my machine to the opposite wall so I have a better view when I'm working. It feels so nice to have a space dedicated to sewing and the little things I need to finish up to get the space perfect, like tightening up the curtain wire, can wait. For now, I get to sew!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Caught Up on Bee Blocks

Well, while the Virtual Quilt Show was running I was actually getting a lot of sewing done. Right after QuiltCon I actually wrapped up my latest project for work and I out myself on a personal hiatus. I am actually trying to take a whole six months off. I know that's what I said last time, and my friends and family have bets out on if I'll actually be able to make it the full six months, but nearly one month in and I am loving the time off. 


I spent the first week or so just cleaning out my studio space and trying to get it into workable order. And I've spent (most) of the rest of the month trying to play catch up on UFOs and bee blocks so I could clear my plate and start to focus on the stuff I really want to focus on for me. And I am happy to say that I am now completely caught up on bee blocks. The first ones I tackled were the last ones I owed for the Bee a Lone Star(burst) Bee because those blocks for Candy were embarrassingly late. Her month was November. But Now they're done and that bee has been laid to rest. No more paper piecing bees for me. At least for a while. I do love these blocks and you can find the template here, but four a month was more than a little aggressive.


Then I started catching up on my blocks for the Hope Circle. In January Janet asked us to make Quatrefoil Blocks using only brightly colored solids. I love these blocks. In fact I asked a bee to make them for me a few years back. And each time I make them I get a little better with giving enough seam allowance so the points of the petals don't get lost in the seams. 


Then for February, Suzy asked us to make these awesome (and easy) Stash Buster Blocks using an alternating Cool and Warm palate. I got a little overzealous and ended up making her eight blocks instead of four. Oops! Well at least that's a happy accident.


And for March in the same bee, Muriël asked Woven Blocks in greens and blues suitable for a boy, since boys don't get as many quilt donations as girls. I can't wait to see how these three quilts turn out. And April is my month so I need to start thinking about what kind of quilt I want the bee to make this time around.


Then I had to catch up in the Sewn Together Bee. In January Mary sent us some gorgeous fabric and requested Potager Blocks from the book "Modern Blocks - 99 Quilt Blocks". I love the colors she's using in this quilt. After all, gray is my favorite neutral. 


Then in February Rick asked us to help him make a quilt for his brother. His brother loves to fish so he sent us some fish fabric and colorful batiks for the strips. I think his brother is just going to love this quilt when it comes together. Phew, I made it through the bee blocks owed and now I'm up-to-date. No more lagging behind for me. Work got really intense last year, so I'm hoping the time off will get me back on my game. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

QuiltCon Virtual Quilt Show: Denyse Schmidt

Welcome back to the last day of the QuiltCon Virtual Quilt Show. Yep, you heard me correctly. Next week things will get back to normal around here. There have been so many amazing quilts to share but I've saved the best for last. The second of the two Special Exhibits was a Denyse Schmidt Retrospective. It was amazing to see so many of her quilts all in one place and I just had to share it with all of you.


The Straight and Narrow #1
Snake Charmer
Pretty Square
What A Dish
Couldn't Keep It To Myself
The Straight and Narrow #2
Ruby Stripes
espresso, geranium, bone
Glass House Shelves
The Straight and Narrow #3
Courthouse Steps
String Theory
Hope as the Anchor of the Soul #4
Mount Lebanon Series
Hope as the Anchor of the Soul #3
Mount Lebanon Series
Hope as the Anchor of the Soul #2
Mount Lebanon Series
Special Edition
From the Denver Series
4 Crosses
Single Girl
cherry red
Thanks for stopping by the Quilt Show. Hope you enjoyed it!