Blocks Completed, Migraines, Industry Shifts

It’s been so dang hot here in Massachusetts this week. I can barely stand to go outside for anything so I’ve been sneaking in bits and pieces of time on the Seaglass quilt. I just finished up the last of the 30 blocks! I’m so excited to have them pieced and now I can work on sewing those blocks into rows.

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I’m always looking ahead to the next project and I have three lined up…two baby quilts that will be made with these adorable charm packs and a quilt from a kit that I bought in Kauaui last year. I can’t wait to get started on these!

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I haven’t done much on the long arm this week. I’m still waiting for my ruler base and rulers to arrive. Hopefully next week!

That’s about it for my weekly progress. Last Friday I stepped completely out of my comfort zone and took the advice of a friend to get a piercing. I was in the middle of a three day-er when she suggested that I get a daith piercing which is thought to reduce migraines. Her daughter and friend had both gotten the piercings and had significant luck with it. I was skeptical to say the least…first, ouch! I mean really, OUCH! Secondly, about half of what I read supported it and half didn’t. I decided since it was kind of cute, I’d go for it. Lindsey wanted to get a piercing higher up in her ear so we went together. I came home with my daith pierced after almost chickening out. LOL! Just for the record, I held Lindsey’s hand while she went first and when it was my turn, she held my hand but looked away at the exact moment that needle was coming!!!! No fair!! I never broke eye contact with her. I chose a cute heart earring and I do like it and I’ve had 7 headache free days. I don’t expect it to cure the migraines but if it will reduce them, I’ll take it.

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Over the last few weeks there have been several articles regarding the quilting magazine industry and blogging. With the announcement that Quilter’s Newsletter magazine will join the ranks of many that are shutting down, it seems the whole industry is heading for a makeover. Publishers heavily rely on magazine subscriptions as well as advertisement dollars and both are plummeting. Check out this article from Abby Glassenberg about how some companies are finding innovative ways to survive and even thrive.

This article from Stitched In Color about quilt blogging hit home with a few of us who are finding it easier to post consistently on Instagram as opposed to our blogs. The reason being that on Instagram, we don’t have to write as much. We can just post lovely photos of our work and say a sentence or two. The audience is larger on Instagram than on our individual blogs. I like to blog because I like to write so mine won’t be going anywhere in the near future!

Personally, I think quilting is heading in the same direction that scrapbooking once went. The industry got too big, there were too many products, people were overwhelmed and realized they could accomplish the same things with tools and supplies they already owned. I got tired of scrapbooking magazines because every article was a repeat of the same twenty or so hot topics. How many times can you read about the rule of thirds when looking through your camera lens? How many times can you read the same facts about traditional v. modern quilting? It gets tiresome.

I think almost every scrap magazine closed down and many, many scrap stores shuttered their doors. Scrapbooking seemed to have gone away but now it’s back in a different form. It’s had a makeover. It’s back now in a simpler form. With the advent of Becky Higgin’s Project Life and the reinvention of Creative Memories with it’s Fast2Fab predesigned pages, it’s coming back! Scrappers wanted an easier, less time consuming way to preserve memories. Companies stepped up.

The quilt industry will shift and change and yes, some will have to close their doors. It’s sad but inevitable. I can’t wait to see what’s next in this industry. How will it change to survive and then thrive? What new social media platform will take our breath away? Change is good. It’s hard but it’s good. I’ll be right here waiting for the next big thing.

How about you?

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First Quilt On Long Arm, Seaglass Progress

I finally made the leap from the practice quilt to a real one this week. I finished piecing the baby quilt, loaded it on the frame and quilted a lovely meander! I think it took me the same amount of time to load it as it did the actual quilting! It was fun and I learned as I went about advancing the quilt and knowing where to start and end a pass.

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Ta-da!

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I’m looking forward to quilting another one soon which will be my student, Nancy’s, beautiful star quilt.

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We finished up seaming the back and cut the batting for it yesterday. I have it in my studio and will be getting to that soon.

I also made some progress pinning pieces of the Seaglass quilt. I have ten blocks left to piece and then I can begin sewing blocks into rows. I can’t wait to find time to finish them up.

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If you’re looking for fall patterns, don’t forget to check out my Craftsy pattern store!

You’ll find these cuties and a whole lot more!

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Project and Long Arm Progress

This week featured extreme heat around here but also some finishes! I’m thrilled to show you a finish by my student, Priscilla! She worked with beautiful nursery fabrics and the Yellow Brick Road pattern. I just love the texture she got with her serpentine stitch quilting in the border. That texture got even better when the quilt was washed!

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I think this came out so cute and I’m thrilled for Priscilla and the awesome progress she has made on her quilting journey.

I had two finishes…one was a pillow case made with the cutest sheep flannel fabric. Lindsey saw this when we were at Joann’s looking for curtain fabric for her room. It has to be the softest, nicest flannel I’ve worked with…and the price tag pretty much confirmed that as well. I think I paid $15 for one and a half yards and that was ON SALE!

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It didn’t matter to Lindsey! LOL! She wanted that pillow case and she got it…I actually put this together very quickly on the serger. My mom was visiting and she had her serger all set up so I jumped on it and in 30 minutes, this was done.

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My second finish came in the way of a baby quilt. I had a charm pack in my stash and decided to whip up a quick quilt that I can put on the long arm to get some practice…

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I have been practicing quite a bit on the long arm. This was the first practice cloth I pulled off the machine…

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Greg has asked when I’m really going to quilt something and I try to explain how these things take time but I do believe I’m ready to load it with the baby quilt. I’ll be doing a simple meander as I feel confident with that design. I ordered six pantographs and they arrived yesterday. After the baby quilt is done, I’ll load another practice cloth and work on following the pantograph designs. Following those designs with a laser light from the back of the machine isn’t as easy as I thought it would be LOL!!!! As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will my long arm skill set be.

If you are looking for a really great iron and missed my review of the Black & Decker Digital Advantage, you can check it out here. I highly recommend this one.

Have a happy and quilty weekend!

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Finishes, Progress, and Grad Party

This week I had a finish of the garment kind and my student, Nancy, had a finish as well! I’m completely thrilled for Nancy as she wrapped up her floating heart quilt with a beautiful binding! This quilt is completely done and ready to be gifted to her granddaughter.

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Nancy also finished up her second quilt top and it is stunning! I’m completely in love with her color choices. The next stop for this quilt will be on my long arm once I’ve practiced a bit more. I can’t wait to quit this one.

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I finished up the knit shirt I was making. I haven’t worn it yet but I will soon! I have fabric to make another one which will give me more practice sewing with knits. I need all the help I can get!

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I spent some time yesterday installing the laser light on the long arm and trying out pantographs. The pantograph for those who don’t know, is a printed pattern on a paper roll that you trace with a laser light and the design stitches out on the quilt. The laser was very easy to install on the Simply Sixteen. I ‘drove’ the machine from the back and followed along the pattern.

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I realized very quickly that things went better when I kept my gaze a few inches beyond the laser light as opposed to looking at the light the entire time. The pantographs will definitely take some time to master. This was a holly hock one and seemed fairly simple but I was nervous and need more practice.

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The Saturday before last we had Amanda’s graduation party. It was a bit of an overcast day but we had a great time and the younger kids stayed in the pool all day (it’s heated so the clouds and cool weather didn’t bother them). We had 94 guests and enough food to feed a small army. Here are a few pictures from the day.

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I ordered these frisbees as party favors months ago and almost forgot to put them out on the tables. Imagine how suprised I would have been to find them hidden away in my closet after the party!

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Greg and I trying out the photo booth props…

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The guest of honor (on the right) with her friends…

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Amanda had requested homemade cakes for dessert we made four…lemon with cream cheese frosting, chocolate with chocolate frosting, red velvet with cream cheese frosting and yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Everyone had fun guessing which cakes were in the lead all day…I can tell you there was not a bite left of the lemon or the chocolate with chocolate by the end of the night! Cake decorating is not in my crafty repertoire so sprinkles and paper fans ruled the day!

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It was a fun filled day with family and friends!

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Organizing For The Next Step

I spent last week organizing the sewing room. It had become out of control with half started projects, piles of pictures waiting to be scrapped, and a bunch of items in need of mending. I was at the point of not wanting to go in there and it definitely was not fueling any type of creativity. Essentially, my mojo was buried. This need to get things cleaned up coincided with the addition of a long arm machine. I knew it was going to be delivered and I had nowhere to put it. Panic ensued! I’ll be blogging about the long arm and the process of researching it and purchasing it in an upcoming post. I’m super excited about it and I can’t wait to share all that with you! So, Greg and I ended up going around the house with a tape measure trying to figure out where the machine would fit best. In the end, our bedroom had the only wall long enough to accommodate an 8ft frame without dismantling furniture and shelving. It was tempting to put off the sewing room cleaning once I knew the long arm wasn’t going in there but the mess needed to be tamed.

I started with the counter and put away the scrapbooking project that I was working on because it’s on hold until I have a little more time. I also cleaned out under the counter which had unused scrapbooking tools and about 45 bags with half started hand projects. I took all the hand projects and put them in a tote that slides under my bed.

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I also pulled all the small dollar store bins that are holding my fabric scraps from the built in book shelves and moved them to under the counter. With all the bags gone, they fit just fine.

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Next, I took down the design wall that was covering these two hutches and gave them a good cleaning out. I packed up anything related to polymer clay which was taking up one hutch and packed that up for the attic. I cleared out unused art supplies and tidied all the sewing related items. There’s still alot on these shelves including my serger and embroidery machine but at least it’s neat and I know what is there.

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The next area to tackle was the built in book shelves. These were originally built to house my scrapbook albums, totes, and papers. Pretty much that is still true. I didn’t do much here other than get rid of some polymer clay items and tidy up.

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Next to the hutches are this file cabinet and my thread rack. I had the file cabinet loaded with boxes of inventory for my online shop and Quilt Cabana patterns. I couldn’t reach the thread anymore it was so high. I took the boxes, condensed where I could, and placed then under the counter with the fabric scraps.

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The last area to tackle was the cutting board and surrounding area. What a mess this had become. I cleaned out under the table and put away all excess fabric and projects that were piled up.

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The room isn’t perfect but I have a lot of stuff and I can’t really store it elsewhere. At least now I can go in there and work happily. And…I didn’t have to lose the counter or hutches to fit this baby!

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The long arm is a HandiQuilter Simply 16 on an 8ft Studio Frame that can be set up as a 10ft if needed. The next step on my quilting journey will be to learn this machine and then use it to quilt for myself and others. It’s the next step for Quilt Cabana Patterns and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to learn long arming. I’ll be blogging more on this very soon!

Sandi

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A Good Iron

So I’ve been through quite a few irons over the last 16 years. Some I started out loving only to be disillusioned a short time later when the iron started spitting water, or wouldn’t heat any longer, or refused to do its job.

Finding a perfect iron is frustrating because I’m pretty sure, the perfect one doesn’t exist in this universe at all. That being said, I have found one that I like a lot. Before I jump into telling you all about it, I’ll first tell you about the ones I’ve already owned.

I have had 2 Rowentas ($100 each), a few cheap Black & Deckers ($20 each), a Panasonic ($40), and a Continental Dry Iron ($22) which I still own, use, and enjoy. It is a dry iron so it does not have a steam function and also does not have auto shut off. This is a blessing and a curse. I love it for fusible applique because it gets hot…really hot…and stays that way which makes it dangerous if left on by accident.

The Rowentas both leaked shortly after I purchased them. I loved the steam they produced but didn’t love the brown water they spewed on my projects.

The cheap Black & Deckers were well, cheap. I got what I paid for and that wasn’t much. I never felt the irons actually got the wrinkles out of anything.

The Panasonic was ok until the retractable cord broke and it also didn’t really get the job of getting wrinkles out enough for my satisfaction.

So this brings me to my current iron which is the Black & Decker Digital Advantage. This comes in at the slightly under $50 range and is a dang good iron! I’ve had it for about a year, maybe longer. It does not have a retractable cord but it does have auto shut off.

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The iron has a decent heft to it without being overly heavy. This is important if you have a lot of ironing to do at one time.

It has a digital display which beeps when the correct temperature setting has been achieved.

It has not leaked.

Let me repeat, it has not leaked!!!! Yipppeeeeee!!!!

And the best part….it actually does its job. It gets the wrinkles out of my clothing and fabric.

I purchased my Digital Advantage at Target but they can be found on Amazon and also at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

The price point is important to me because I’m tired of paying big bucks for an iron that ends up leaky. I have not tried an Oliso for that reason because several reviews have mentioned a leaking problem and the problem of those little legs breaking. I’m not willing to risk it even though it looks cool.

The price range of the Digital Advantage makes it a great buy for a really decent iron. I highly recommend this one and have in fact recommended it to my students. My lovely student, Priscilla, has purchased this iron at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a coupon and is very happy with it.

I just got off the phone with my mom and after telling her I was writing this review, she asked if this was the iron she uses at my house and I replied yes. She immediately said, “I like that iron”. So there you have it!

Go forth and iron everyone!

*this post contains affiliate links

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Sewing Knits and Bunny Pillowcases

This week I’m learning how to do something new. Before I started quilting, I was sewing clothes for my kids and once in awhile for myself. I had always used 100% cotton fabric or fleece. Lately I find myself wanting to sew with knits but not knowing where to begin. My mom has experience sewing with knits as she once took lessons at Stretch & Sew where they taught the right way and had a large selection of coordinated knit fabric to purchase right in the building. Stretch & Sew doesn’t exist anymore but I am going to give it a try using Nancy Zieman’s Sew Knits With Confidence book that my mother gifted me this week!

I have chosen this pattern and I’m going to make the short sleeved shirt first.

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The pattern calls for a few different types of knits to be used including Challis which I was not familiar with but now know is Rayon. I went to Joann’s last night unsure of what I would find in their knit section. They did have a lot of solid and striped jersey but I don’t wear stripes that well and the solids were a bit plain. I did find these two Challis fabrics so I bought both. I also picked up ball point needles, pins and thread.

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The fabric is in the wash and will need to line dry before I can get started. I’m excited to try something new!

I did finish one of the three bunny pillowcases and I have the other two nearly done.

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I love making pillowcases with novelty fabric, especially bunny ones! And speaking of bunnies, my poor little Nala was spayed yesterday and came home with this collar/lampshade on her head.

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Her surgery went fine but she can’t eat with the collar and we had to take it off this morning. She hasn’t eaten in 24 hours which is a serious issue for bunnies who are not supposed to have an empty digestive tract. I went back to the vet this morning and picked up a food that can be administered by syringe until she feels like eating again. Right now she’s pretty out of it and I’m hoping that she won’t start picking at her sutures. Fingers crossed our happy little bunny returns soon!

Have a happy and quilty week! Next post will be a review of my favorite iron!

This post contains affiliate links and any revenue generated from a link goes toward the costs of the blog.

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Fabric, Projects & A Special Quilt

Saturday I headed to a fabric shop with my mom that neither of us have ever visited. It was my mom’s 75th birthday and what better way to spend it than doing some quilty shopping? We headed to Fabric Corner in Arlington, MA and we each found fabric to come home with! I also came home with a shirt pattern. I’m itching to do some garment sewing as I used to enjoy it quite a bit. I made the kids lots of dresses, skirts, and ponchos when they were young and would happily wear whatever I had sewn for them. Nowadays, they’ll really only wear pajama shorts/bottoms if I make them.

So here is what I picked up at the shop…the bunny fabric is to make the girls each a pillow case and the sewing machine fabric is for a pillow case for myself. I saw this neat tailor’s chalk and I like that it is thin and triangular. We’ll give that a try. And the pattern is for the shirt. Now I need to get myself some ballpoint needles and knit fabric.

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Last week I met with all three of my lovely students. Gail and I worked on her log cabin. Priscilla and I basted this beautiful Yellow Brick Road baby quilt…

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And Nancy and I spent some time planning her next quilt and taking a look at this lovely heirloom. This quilt was made by Nancy’s great grandmother and handed down to her grandmother and then to Nancy. It’s stunning with its feedsack fabrics and hand stitches. The quilt does not have a label and is a good reminder of why labels are important. Although Nancy has most of the facts about the quilt, it’s always nice to have the full story. I absolutely love the blue sashing and the hand ties. What a treasure! Here is Nancy and the quilt…

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This is the last week of school for us and I know the counter will be full of papers and binders any minute now. I wrote a blog article over on my other blog about how to organize all those papers! You can read it by clicking here.

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A Week To Top All Weeks

So, I haven’t been quilting this week…it’s been a whirlwind of activity between Amanda graduating from high school on Sunday, Lindsey having awards night tomorrow and Leah having a dance recital this Saturday!

Sunday was such a mixed bag of emotions. We are so very proud of Amanda and even though it rained, the indoor ceremony was heartfelt and beautiful. I tried not to tear up but it was impossible. We were thrilled that she ended up in the front row, center. It made for great photos!

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Here we all are before leaving the house. I think the most stressful part of the day was trying to figure out what time to leave the house so were sure to get a seat in the auditorium! Families were limited to four tickets for the auditorium and then anyone else we brought could watch on the monitors in the gym.

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My beautiful niece graduated on Sunday also from a different town and we were all able to meet up for a celebratory dinner after the ceremonies were complete for both girls. These two are headed to University of New Hampshire as roommates!

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I woke up on Monday morning half startled that I was back to reality and in a big way with a dance dress rehearsal that afternoon and night. We aren’t allowed to take photos on the day of the recital so all the ‘dance moms’ have to get it out of our system during rehearsal!! Here are few highlights of Leah’s numbers.
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tap
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classical ballet
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She’s also in a large production number and ballet with her dance company.
Saturday will be exciting for sure! 3 shows all in one day.

Awards night for Lindsey is tomorrow night. These are academic awards and she has worked herself hard this year and is very excited for it.

Around Thursday of last week the stress was getting the best of me and in addition to eating poorly (read Big Mac and ice cream), I was feeling quite deserving of some sort of reward for getting one child to the finish line of high school! LOL!! Normally that means a new quilting notion but this time I went for a new laptop. I wanted to get something very light weight that I could stick in my bag easily for writing. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it and so I purchased this Chromebook from Acer…and I LOVE IT! A Chromebook does not run on a Windows platform and allows you to use Google Docs instead and saves to the cloud as you type. It’s perfect for surfing the internet, watching Netflix, writing blog posts and articles. There is no disk drive but it does have USB ports and a card reader. I love that it is super thin and weighs very little. I took it to the dress rehearsal and caught up on emails and Creative Memories work stuff. The screen is anti-glare which will be nice for the pool area. At $159.99, it’s perfect! I noticed Amazon has dropped the price by $20 from when I first looked at it. I ended up getting this same one at Target because I was impatient and wanted it, you know, NOW.

When I can return to my quilting, I’ll be continuing work on the Seaglass quilt as well as the hibiscus art quilt.

Have a great afternoon!
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