Welcome to my blog. I was inspired by the book, "Blogging for Bliss" by Tara Frey.

Welcome to my blog. I was inspired by the book, "Blogging for Bliss" by Tara Frey. My goal is to share a little about my life, and a lot about my longarm quilting business, Lone Tree Designs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Anything Worth Doing... Borders"

Becky's Judy Niemeyer Double Wedding Ring

Dorothy's 30/s Stars

  When I was a kid, I heard this phrase,  "Anything worth doing, is worth doing well!"  That idea was so ingrained in me that I have a lot of trouble with perfectionism.  Not all bad, but there is one area where I tend to fall short of meeting that standard...Borders!
  My attention span tends to be pretty short.  When I start a new project, I almost always dream of great things when it comes to planning my borders.  I think about chasing geese, applique, fancy block designs...oh, yes, I have beautiful plans.  Guess what happens?  By the time I get to the end of making my quilt, I want to be DONE!  All my grandiose schemes usually are for naught, and I end up either slapping on the traditional "stop" border plus one or two wider borders, depending on how big I want my quilt, or (GASP) lately, I have been throwing my binding on and calling it a day.  My quilts are definitely lackluster in the border department.
  I have been inspired of late by some of my customer quilts.  My cousin Becky brought me the beautiful double wedding ring, and I had so much fun quilting it for her!  Imagine that quilt without the applique border...it would have been pretty, but that border sent it right over the top in to "drop dead" gorgeousness!  It took her a long time to applique the border, but it was so worth it!  Don't you agree?  Another customer brought me this fun little string quilt made out of 30's prints.  I love the setting, but, again, the border is what truly "makes" the quilt.  If Dot had just done the Sandi method and slapped on a couple of borders, her quilt wouldn't be the stunner that it is.
  Here's a thought...maybe for my next quilt, I should make the borders first!  I will let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Great Quilting Race

Judy Niemeyer's Golden Harvest
Judy Niemeyer's One 

S,O.B.--Slap on borders.  This quilt is a piece of yardage that I loved and didn't want to cut up with a stop border and an outer border added.  Easy and pretty!
     When did quilting become such a "race to the finish"?  Quilting has a long and colorful history.  For most of that history, it was an art form that was rather slow and laborious.  Cutting pieces with scissors and templates, hand piecing, hand quilting...these are not quick methods!  Technology has afforded us the ability to create a quilt in a fraction of the time it took our fore-mothers (and perhaps forefathers).    That isn't a bad thing, right? 
  I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the trend toward what I like to call, "Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am Quilting."  Why are we in such a hurry?  What is the goal of my quilting?  Am I just in a hurry to get something done so that I can stack it in the closet along with dozens of other, easy quilts?  Where is the satisfaction in creating something special?  I would argue that in our race to the finish line, we have lost some of the joy in the process of creating.
  Now, I am not talking about the baby quilts, shower gifts, quick Christmas gifts for family, etc.  I get that most of those need to be inexpensive, simple, and quick to produce.  There is a time and place for those types of quilts.  I am talking about our projects in general.  Are they all simple and quick patterns?  Is our main focus to get them done quickly so that we can start a new project?  Once the top is finished, how are they going to be quilted.  Are you hand-quilting, machine quilting with a simple all over design, asking someone else to quilt your quilt "as cheaply as possible", or paying a longarmer like me to really make your quilt special with custom quilting?  
  So, that brings me to this question:  Where is your joy in quilting?  Is your joy in getting done quickly, or in the process?   Is your joy in piling up more and more easy quilts that, frankly, a novice quilter could produce?  Is your joy in choosing the fabrics, making your points match up, building a difficult pattern, block by block?
  More and more, I am realizing that the quilts I truly admire, the ones that I see at shows and think, "Wow, I could maybe do that if I had a couple of years to spend on it."---those are the quilts that I want to start making.  I don't want more and more easy quilts.  I want some quilts that really say, "Wow!"  I like to believe that my quilting elevates simple quilts to something above "mediocre" but the bottom line is that they are still simple patterns.  I need to challenge myself to try new things, work on projects that I know are going to take awhile to complete, take classes with teachers who can elevate my skill level, and enjoy the process of creating something truly special.  To that end, I took a Judy Niemeyer paper piecing class this spring.  It is a technique that I understood at a very fundamental level, but had never really done.  My quilt is not finished.  That's okay.  Someday, when it is...it is going to be a "Wow"!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just Saying "No"--the Fine Art of Achieving Balance

My latest finished quilt--Radiating Star

A customer quilt that I finished last week.

A customer quilt for a teenager's fair project
  So, here's the thing...life gets hectic.  Even when you quit your full time teaching job to pursue, shall we say a "less stressful" workload by starting your own longarm quilting business, before you know it your calendar is jammed full.  At least mine is.  How did it happen?  I am asking myself the same thing.  All I know is this:  looking ahead at my calendar for the next two months, I don't have a Saturday free until October 2, and even that is iffy.  Then, not another one until November 2.  This is a problem, and a blessing.  How can it be both?
   Well, when I started my business almost 6 years ago, I was substitute teaching part-time, and working as an administrative assistant part-time to make enough money to supplement the quilting thing.  I was quilting 5 or 6 customer quilts per month. Gradually, I stopped subbing.  I cut back from 4 days a week at my administrative assistant job to 3, then 2, and finally 1.  Eventually, I took the leap and went full-time on my longarm.  I've never been without enough work to keep the bills paid and food on the table.  My workload has remained in a steady upward trajectory for the past 5 years.  It is truly a blessing to work at home in my pj's doing something that I really enjoy.  It is a blessing to be able to take time to help my mom at the quilt shop, to keep my grand-babies for a few days now and then, and to have time to teach, speak, and do trunk shows.  These are all good things.  However, when the schedule begins to run me, rather than me running the schedule, I have to wonder, "Where can I cut back?"  Immediate answer...nowhere!  Long term, though, I really need to learn to say "no" a bit more often.  My problem is that I just love teaching a class, even if I only have a couple of students.  I love travelling to Kearney several times a month to help my mom at her shop.  I love getting to events like Quilt Nebraska to fellowship with others of like interests.  Hmmmm...well, maybe saying "no" more often will have to be on my "to do" list for next year :)