Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Every year when the weather begins to turn nicer, quilters all over Nebraska are thinking one thing: ROAD TRIP! Each spring, the N.I.F.S. organization (N.I.F.S. stands for Nebraska Independent Fabric Shops, by the way) sponsors a statewide Shop Hop. The member shops meet together several times a year to discuss and plan so that quilters will have an enjoyable experience. Each year a theme is chosen, with much deliberation and discussion, and after the theme comes bag selection, dates, fabric choices, and lots of other details. After the final pre-hop meeting in February where everyone picks up their bags and final details are ironed out, shop owners and their employees get busy getting ready for the excitement of the hop. By the time April comes, all the shops are ready for the arrival of their guests.
This year, the theme is "Follow the Dots to Fun"--personally, I think it is one of the more fun themes that we have had to work with. Participating shops have been hard at work creating projects to show off "dotty" fabrics, or that follow a "dotty" theme. Each shop is required to hand out a free pattern for their project to the 'hoppers' that come through their doors. In addition to the free pattern, some shops get together and create projects with components found at several different shops. All shops have "skinny bolts" on sale, and many even provide snacks for the "hoppers"!
The bags this year are a super fun burlap with either white or black polka dots. They have a lining, a zipper, and even an internal pocket. In addition, they come with a fun 2015 Shop Hop button, and (wait for it...) each shop will give a small pin to the "hoppers" to add to their bags. The more shops visited, the more pins collected, the more fun the bags become! Not only that, as is always the case, the bags have maps, stamp cards, and are good for discounts at the shops on every 5th Saturday throughout the coming year. All that fun for only $15!
The N.I.F.S. shops are ready and excited to see you all April 9th through April 19th, 2015. Shops do follow extended hours on Thursdays through Saturdays, and are open on both Sundays this year.
To keep up with all the current information, check out the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NebraskaShopHop?fref=ts
Sunday, March 15, 2015
http://www.quiltworx.com/ As you may know, or can tell after visiting the website, these patterns look super intimidating and more than a little bit scary (at least to me!).
We had decided to do a four day class at the quilt shop, beginning with a cutting day on Thursday, two sewing and instruction days for a pattern called Golden Harvest on Friday and Saturday, and then, for the true die-hards, an optional class on a leaf pattern called One on Sunday. I learned a lot! The first thing I learned was that four days may be a little too long for me:) More importantly, though, I learned that paper piecing the Judy Niemeyer way is not all that scary! Happy Day! The cutting was a bit hairy because everyone had chosen fabrics to go in different places than they were on the pattern, which, when you have 16 people taking a class can create a bit of chaos. However, once everyone got into the groove, the cutting happened and we were all ready to go by Friday morning. We started class bright and early, and Catherine walked us through one section of the pattern at a time. Since there really is no way to finish a quilt of that type in two days, it was very important to pull units demonstrating each technique so that we would learn everything we needed to know in order to go home and finish. For a linear thinker, such as myself, that was a little bit frustrating. I like to work on one thing until it is finished, and then go on to the next thing. However, I totally understand why it had to be taught in that manner, and now I feel comfortable enough with all the techniques that I know I can finish my gorgeous project on my own. In fact, I am so comfortable with the methods that we learned, that I have already chosen and purchased my next Judy Niemeyer pattern, and can't wait to get started on it! I have vowed to finish this one first, though. Stay tuned for the finished product---I can't wait to see how it turns out! In my next post, I will talk about auditioning and choosing the fabrics for my outer borders on this quilt. Spoiler alert---the fabrics that I chose originally did not work at all, and had to be thrown into the stash for another day!
Sunday, February 1, 2015
This is what I am thinking lately...why does machine quilting have to be so darn perfect? Granted the work done by people like Judi Madsen and Margaret Solomon Gunn (and countless others) is fun to look at and is quite amazing. However, it is just not practical in the real world for the average machine quilter who is trying to make a living through quilting. Even Judi Madsen says in her book that there is no money in custom quilting. It takes weeks for these artists to create their magic. They plan and plan, then mark the quilt with chalk and disappearing markers so that every line and every circle is exactly perfect. The end results are amazing...but, again, unrealistic for most of us. The problem that I am struggling with is that because of the proliferation of quilting magazines, Pinterest, and internet programs, one could assume that every quilt should be treated to this "perfect" finish.
I am confident that I can, given enough time and the desire to do so, create some pretty impressive quilting. The problem is, no one wants to pay for that. It takes so many hours to mark and execute such intricate designs that it is cost-prohibitive for the average customer. Instead, I like to do what I call "perfectly imperfect" quilting. I sometimes use rulers. I sometimes use stencils to draw a few elements on a quilt top. I do some very pretty free-motion feathers. My quilting is not perfect. I don't have a computer that I can program to do the exact same pattern back and forth across the quilt top. I can't program my machine to quilt the exact same pattern inside of each block. It's just not what I do. Instead, I like to improvise, listen to the quilt and what it is telling me that it wants, and do what I feel will enhance the quilt without taking weeks to finish. For the vast majority of quilts, "perfectly imperfect" is just right for finishing the quilt in a reasonable manner. Free-motion custom work does make a quilt special, even if it isn't exactly "perfect."
There are so many machine quilters out there. Some do strictly pantographs by laser light. Some use a computer to do pantographs across the quilt top. Some do free-motion custom work, Some do computerized custom work. I say...each to his or her own. For me, "perfectly imperfect" is just what my quilts need!