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.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Stash by any Other Name...

  The quilters stash...a place of mystery for most non-quilters!  Every quilter worth their salt has what is commonly called a "stash."  The word itself basically means something that you hide away and plan to come back to get later.  Its a pretty good description and an accurate name-for most quilters.  For me, though, its isn't quite right.  I think of my stash more as a "collection."
  You see, I do have a stash, but it is pretty small by most quilters standards.  I very rarely buy fabric simply because I like it.  If I do, I LOVE it!  It is a piece that I simply can't see myself doing without.  Here's my problem, I very rarely come back and use it later!  It just sits in a container waiting for a magical "someday" that doesn't come.  Hence, the word...collection.  A collection by definition is something that you buy just for the love of it, and it really isn't expected to do anything or be used for anything else.  Accurate, in my case.  How about yours?
  What I do, instead of building a stash, is I buy "projects."  If I find a fabric that I like in the quilt shop, I think to myself, "what would I do with this?"  If I don't know, which is usually the case, I look for a pattern right then and there to use that fabric.  Then, I go ahead and buy whatever I need to go with it while I have the focus piece in my hand.  I bring the project home, put it into a clear container, and place it on open book shelves in my sewing room.  That way, I am ready to make a project when I have time to work on it.  Its kind of like making my own kits for myself.  If I end up changing my mind or run into something unexpected I will dig through my "collection" for a little help.
  I generally do not make scrap quilts.  That's why this system works for me.  In fact, once a year, I give away most of my scraps and start the new year over with empty containers.  My method definitely would not work for those out there that love to make scrappy quilts.  I know that first hand from the times that I have tried to buy everything I needed to make a scrappy quilt!  I ended up with way more than I needed for one quilt.   Those occasions are where a stash would come in handy. Generally, my method works well for me, saves space, and probably saves me money in the long run. If you aren't a scrappy quilt person...you should try it:)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Starting the New Year Right!

Christmas with my two favorite people!

  So,  I have never really been much of a "resolutions" girl.  Resolutions are made to be broken...there, I said it.  You all know it's true.  How many long-term, tough to keep, resolutions have you kept?  If the answer is more than "none,"  I am impressed!  In lieu of resolutions, I like to think about the year that's gone by, and the year to come, and make a few goals for myself.
  On a personal level, there is the always made (and never followed) goal to lose weight; the obligatory "try to be a better person" type goals; and recently discovered "downsize" urges have led to the goal to take one pair of shoes "out" every time I bring a new pair of shoes "in."  I must admit, this last one has led to me buying a lot fewer new pairs of shoes because I like most of my old ones!  I have found that a specific goal such as, "Smile and make contact with people I don't know at quilt guild" is much more likely to be followed than the general "make new friends at guild"-type goals.
  Following that idea, I found last year that setting specific projects to work on each month led to my most productive year ever, when it comes to quilting anyway.  My Facebook friends had started this idea a few years ago where at the beginning of the year, they labeled 12 projects with numbers 1-12.  Each month, one of the members of the group posts a randomly drawn number, and that is the specific focus for that month.  There are no project police that will come to your house if you don't do it, but just knowing that I made the commitment seems to motivate me.  There is no pressure to even finish the project but just a goal to work on it and make some progress.   We then post pictures of our progress at some point during the month.  It is so much fun!  If you aren't a member of a Facebook quilting group, I highly recommend finding a small one.  The groups that literally have thousands of members really aren't great for this type of thing.  If you don't have a group, you should start one! Invite me!  I would be glad to join you:)
  Happy New Year, and Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finishing Well with Free Motion Quilting

  When it comes to quilting, there seems to be an idea that "finished is good enough."  Some quilters enjoy making the quilt top so much that when that is over, they don't really want to put more time and effort into the actual quilting.  They are ready to make their next top.  That's where people like me come into play!
  My business relies on my ability to "finish well."  I believe that each quilt deserves to be unique, or at least have thought and time put into making it special.  Now, some quilts are made from such busy fabric that custom quilting just doesn't make any sense.  You would never see it, and it would be a waste of money to pay for it.  Even so, those quilts should have a free motion edge to edge designs that takes a cue from the fabric, a thread color that enhances the top, and quilting that takes pains to bring out the best in the piecing (and camouflage the worst),
  Take the two quilts above for example.  The bright BOM quilt is a perfect example of a quilt that is "too busy" to bother with custom quilting.  I named it "Taking Flight" because it includes Laurel Burch fabrics with dragonflies, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  In my choice for machine quilting, I wanted to expand on that theme, so I used an all over pattern of flowers and dragonflies.  The rainbow variegated thread goes with the bright fabrics and lends a sense of fun to the quilting.  I made an effort to place my flowers in blocks where they would be seen (a feat that cannot be accomplished by standing at the back of a quilting machine and using a panto-graph pattern) and if I had points that weren't as perfect as they should have been, I deliberately ran a line of quilting over the points to cover that little imperfection.  I love the end result, and I believe it is "finished well."
  Now, the "Wonky Log Cabin" quilt...I have had that quilt top finished for several months.  I didn't put it on the frame because I knew that it would take some extra time for custom quilting.  Granted, I could have thrown it on the frame and ran an edge to edge pattern on this quilt.  It would have been quick and easy.  It would have been finished.  However, I believed this quilt deserved to be more special than that.  I created a design to enhance the secondary stars pattern between the blocks.  I used a swirling feather in those blocks.  The thread blends and shows up on both the dark sections and the light sections of the block.  In the borders, I quilted a flower and vine that mirrors the tiny burgundy flowers in the fabric itself.  These are design choices.  Someone else would make different choices. That is what makes free motion quilting so special.  Each quilt speaks to the person quilting it and, therefore, becomes unique.
  I have dozens of quilts, and I can honestly say that no two are quilted in exactly the same way. They may have similar elements.  They may use the same thread color.  But, each is a little bit different simply because I quilted it from the front of the machine as the mood struck me.  I could never achieve that type of result from simply quilting a panto from the back of my machine.  For me, the thrill of quilting is in the design, the choices, and the actual guidance of the machine over the quilt top.  "Finished" is just not good enough for my quilts...they must be "finished well."