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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Why do We Quilt?

 Have you ever wondered why we quilt?  What exactly is the attraction to this hobby (some might even call it an obsession) of ours?  And, what keeps us coming back?
  I've thought about this a lot over the years.  I started quilting in the early 90's.  My initial motivation was to make a connection with my mom.  She was taking a quilting class and invited me to come with her.  We hadn't done anything fun together in awhile.  I had a young son, and needed to get away, so I signed up.  Once I got a taste of the sisterhood...I was hooked!  There is something so inexplicable about the sisterhood of quilters!  It is like nothing I have ever experienced.  I didn't have a sister growing up, but I can imagine that it might have been something like what I feel for my group of quilting friends.  We laugh together. We share our moments of joy and our moments of sorrow together.  What happens at retreat, stays at retreat!  It's a sorority of sorts. 
I would imagine that most of you began your quilting journey with a grandmother, a mom, or a friend.  If not, I would bet that you quickly found a sisterhood among those that you sat next to in your very first quilting class, and you've never looked back.
  Another reason that we quilt has to be the sheer joy of creating.  I believe that we were created to enjoy beauty.  Look at the world around us.  There is an explosion of color and creativity all around us.  The flowers, the trees, the skies, the seas...it's all there for us to marvel at its beauty.  We admire it and desire to create beauty ourselves.  There are many ways to do that.  Whether it is through painting, drawing, cooking, gardening, writing, sewing, decorating, photography, or any number of other activities, we can add beauty to our lives.  Many of us enjoy several of these creative pursuits. 
 For me, over the course of my life, I have done painting on fabric, macrame, leather work, crochet, scrapbooking, colored pencil drawing, photography, home decorating, sewing clothing, scrapbooking, gardening, counted crossed stitch, embroidery, and finally quilting.  I say "finally" because, in quilting, I have found my passion.  There is nothing I enjoy more than the creative process of choosing a pattern, finding fabrics in colors and patterns that are pleasing to my eye, cutting and sewing as precisely as I can, and then quilting on my longarm a beautiful project. (notice I did not mention binding!)
  Finally,  I think a reason that we quilt is an innate desire to leave something behind.  To give to others something that is a part of us and will possibly last longer than we will is such a special thing.  I make quilts for my loved ones hoping that one day, when I am no longer here, they will wrap themselves in that quilt and remember how much I loved and cared for them.  My hope is that the pews at my funeral will be covered with quilts, and that everyone who wants one to remember me will take one home.  That is a legacy that is something I can feel good about.

My latest project:  100 Modern Block:  Tula Pink's City Sampler

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Quilt Swaps with Friends

12" block raffle....I won the blocks!
   As I have immersed myself further and further into the quilting world, I have met so many great people and made some wonderful friends along the way.  So often, when we are simply a member of a quilt guild, we end up just filling a spot at a meeting but never really getting to know anyone around us more than just by name.  Two great ways to make friends and get to know people are through small groups and attending retreats. 
  One of the activities that I have found to be most enjoyable has been arranging and participating in various types of swaps with quilting friends, and with those who have become friends.  I thought it would be fun to share some of those swaps and ideas with you all.
  The first time I ever went to a quilt retreat, I was pretty nervous.  I didn't know the ladies I was traveling with all that well.  In fact, I booked my own room because I was so nervous about staying with women I didn't know all that well.  I shouldn't have worried!  That retreat was so much fun!  Every chance I get, if I can scrape together the funds, I try to go to retreats!  I love them!  
Teal and Lavender exchange
   My first year at this particular retreat, we did a 10" square exchange.  Each person that wanted to play brought 40 10" squares in their designated color. Then, we each got one square of everyone else's squares. The goal was to make something with the squares and bring it to retreat the next year for Show and Tell.  Over the years, we have exchanged: yellow and black, teal and lavender, lime and navy, and bright polka dots.  Each time, I have tried to make a quilt for the next year, and I love them all! 
  Another fun thing that I have done with my quilting friends is a yearly block exchange. I pulled 12 of my friends together, and we meet once a year.  The first year, we exchanged 2" finished half square triangles out of a palette of Edyta Sitar, Kim Diehl, Kansas Troubles, or Civil War fabrics.  I used Edyta Sitar's book Friendship Triangles as the inspiration.  Everyone made whatever they wanted from their triangles.
  Over the next few years we have done red and white blocks in three sizes 6", 9" and 12".  Each person made one each of the three sizes for everyone else.  We also did an exchange using the Farmgirl Vintage book.  We put all the names of the blocks in a hat, drew 4 each, and made enough for everyone!  Believe me, 12 each of those 6" blocks took awhile to make!  It was all worth it when we got together and exchanged and magically had 48 different blocks.  This year we are using blue/tan 12" blocks.  It seems like 12 months is a long time to get your blocks made, but you wouldn't believe how many of us wait until the last minute!
  Another great idea that has come out of retreat is raffle blocks (this is where you bring a block or two in the designated colors and you get your name in the drawing to win them.  I won the blocks the year that we used 1930's reproductions!)  We have also played strip poker with fabric strips.  I DIDN'T win the orange and gray, but I loved them so much that I collected my own and made a quilt for my bed:)  We have also done some block exchanges within the retreat group.  One year, we did 4 1/2" finished pink and brown reproduction churn dash blocks.  The next year was tiny Ohio Stars.  The last time was house blocks in either 6" x 6" or 6" x 12".  It was up to us to figure out how to set all these wonderful blocks.
  All these blocks and activities have been so much fun.  The best part has been getting to know so many other quilters who share my passion for fabric and the beautiful things we can make with it!

Edyta Sitar's triangles exchange

Orange and Gray Strip Poker

Lime and Navy 10" square exchange

Red and White block exchange

Farmgirl Vintage block exchange

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

It's Wedding Season!

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It's that time of year.  Nothing says "wedding quilt" like a Double Wedding Ring.  I have had the privilege over the years to work on some very beautiful quilts.  When summer wedding season rolls around, I almost always end up with at least one Double Wedding Ring, and more often these days a close variation (but so much faster and easier to make) the Metro Rings by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  These quilts are always so pretty and such fun to work on.
  So, what makes a successful wedding ring quilt?  
The key is CONTRAST!  Color is irrelevant. The only thing that really matters is that there is plenty of contrast between the background and every single fabric in the rings of the quilt.  If that all important contrast is not there, the rings "flash" in and out, and the overall desired effect is less striking that it should be.
  The pictures I am sharing today are from a simple, traditional, scrappy ring quilt.  This quilt was perfectly pieced, and a joy to work on.  I can only imagine that among all the scraps in this quilt were some pieces that had sentimental value to the grandma who made it and to the lucky granddaughter who was to receive it at her wedding this past June. 

 The Sew Kind of Wonderful pattern Metro Rings is a much simpler way to achieve the look of a double wedding ring.  This golden version that I quilted for a customer for her son's wedding is a gorgeous interpretation of that pattern.  Using the Quick Curves Ruler, a jelly roll, and this pattern, a lap size quilt can easily be put together in a week or two.  I teach classes on this technique, and while it is not necessarily a beginner pattern, with guidance it can be done by a confident beginner.  There are youtube videos to walk you through the process, too.
  Again, as we look at this Metro Rings quilt, notice the contrast.  The maker had some concerns that some of her fabrics were too light.  She even considered taking it apart and putting in something different in those spots!  Yikes!  I assured her that where the contrast was just a little bit light, I could use quilting to make sure that the eye did not get lost This quilt turned out so lovely!  I know that the young couple that received it for their wedding gift will cherish it.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Preparing Your Quilt for the Longarm Quilter

Farmgirl Vintage quilt minus borders.
  Your quilt top is pieced.  Now what?
Have you ever wondered what you should do before you send your quilt out to be longarmed by a professional?  Each longarm quilter has their own preferences, but there are some guidelines that I can give you to follow that should be helpful.
  I have been a professional longarm quilter for 9 years, and, believe me, I think after 1000 quilts, I have pretty much seen it all.  I could go on for quite some time on what NOT to do, but, I will focus on the positive :)
  Here's a good list to follow:
1.  Trim all strings on the back side of the quilt.  This is especially important if you have used a light background where dark string will show through on the top when it is quilted!
2.  Make sure that you have added your borders properly and that your quilt top is as square and as flat as possible!  Yes, some things will "quilt out" and No...some things will not!
3.  If you have piano keys, small piecing to the edge, or loose seams at the edge, do a stay stitch all the way around the quilt top to stabilize and keep those seams tight when it is placed on the frame. This brings me to another tip:  Use a 2.0 or smaller stitch length!  So many times, I see seams that have used a 2.5 (standard default setting on many machines) where the seams are pulling apart or there is thread showing in the seams.  This is not good because those seams may pop open the first time the quilt is washed.  Also, if you plan to take the quilt to a fair, the judges will downgrade you if they can see thread showing in your seams.
4.  Your backing should be 5-6 inches bigger on all four sides to account for rolling and clamping it into the frame.
5.  You backing needs to be perfectly square and flat.  If it is pieced, this is absolutely necessary.  Once the backing is loaded and in the frame, I cannot manipulate or change what is going on in the back of the quilt.  Pleating will occur if it is not flat and square.  For this reason, (and because it is cheaper) wide backings are a great choice.
6.  If you do seam your backings, the seams should be planned so that they run parallel to the bars on the longarm.  Vertical seams are much more likely to pucker or create problems that horizontal seams.
7.  Remove selvedges.  The weave in the selvedges is tighter and different from the rest of the fabric.  If you do not remove selvedges, the area near them may pucker when the quilt is washed.
8.  Batting should be slightly smaller than the backing, but still 4-5" larger on all four sides than the top.
9.  If all the fabrics in your top have been pre-washed, then your backings should also be pre-washed.
10.  Finally, press the top and the backing neatly and hang on a hanger that you do not want returned!

  If you follow these guidelines, your quilt will be ready for the longarm quilter to create a beautiful and trouble-free end result.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Quilting and Social Media

  Are you overwhelmed with the amount of social media available to us?  As quilters, there are so many opportunities to play on social media that we might never get any actual quilting done if we spent all of our time on the internet! Search "Social Media for Quilters" on Google, and you will literally come up with 8 1/2 MILLION results!  What's a quilter to do?  I am going to try to give you a few pointers on how I use social media, and, hopefully, you will find it helpful :)
If you want to follow me, just search bar and of the following:  Lone Tree Designs, Sewing with Sandi, Quilters Cottage.
  I use predominantly three social media outlets on a daily basis.  The first is Facebook.  Not only do I have a personal account for family and friends, but I also have a business account for my longarming business Lone Tree Designs, a sewing group called Sewing with Sandi which has members from around the world (screened applicants must answer a few questions and I check out their personal page to see if they are actually quilters before I accept them into the group), and I manage the business page for my mom's quilt shop in Kearney, NE Quilters Cottage.  Each morning, I start my day with a cup of coffee and my laptop.  I check each of my pages, make any updates that I want to make, and read all the comments that have been made.  In addition to my administration of these pages, I also follow many quilt related groups including specialty groups on Tula Pink fabrics, wool applique, specific quilt shops, and quilt "celebrities" like Bonnie Hunter and Angela Walters, plus countless others!  I also have allowed notifications on these groups, so I read through and see what's going on out there in quiltland!  This process usually takes me through my first cup of coffee.
  During my second cup, I check out Pinterest.  If  you have not yet discovered the fun of "electronic hoarding", I highly recommend it!  Pinterest allows me to create my own "bulletin boards" for all kinds of topics including:  quilty stuff, recipes, healthy living, gardening, fashion, and all kinds of things.  You can "follow" people on Pinterest just like you do on Facebook, and you can also follow specific boards belonging to other people.  I follow lots of longarm quilting boards, quilts, and funny memes.  I scroll through the home page, and I find pins that are from all the people and boards that I follow and pins that are suggested for me from Pinterest based on the things that I pin.  It is so visually and creatively stimulating to see all the ideas out there!  If, at any time, I want more information or to explore the topic in the pin, I just click on it and it takes me to that page.  I can also send pins that I think are interesting or helpful to my friends and family:)  I frequently "pin bomb" them early in the morning, and then later in the day when they have time, they can see what I sent.  You can follow me on Pinterest at:  Sandi Griepenstroh Lone Tree Designs.

  After my second cup of coffee is finished, I am DONE on the laptop for the morning.  This is to say, I drag myself away and head to the sewing room to start my day of longarm quilting for my customers or working on my own projects.  In the process of doing that, I utilize my third media choice, Instagram.  You can follow me on Instagram as RenaissanceSandi.  On Instagram, I post pictures of my work in progress for anyone who follows me and is interested in what I am working on.  I have my Instagram account set to download those photos and hashtags to my Lone Tree Designs account on Facebook so that anyone who doesn't use Instagram can also see my work on my business account.
  So, that's pretty much a summary of what happens during my days as I work from home and how I use social media.  However,  after my quilting day ends, I once again grab my laptop and go to Facebook, Pinterest, and if I have time I will check out some blogs.  If you are reading this, you have discovered blogging!  It is also a way that we could spend entire days just staring at a computer screen rather than getting anything else done!  There are so many interesting, informative, and helpful blogs out there on quilting.  I encourage you, in your spare time, to scroll through my "Blogs I Read" section on my blog for some of my favorites!
  My final word on this topic is that I haven't even scratched the surface!  I have Twitter, but find it to be more of a time waster than it is worth.  I get emailed notifications for just a couple of my favorite blogs, including Quilting is My Therapy, Stash Bandit, and 50 is Not Old (a fashion blog).  I choose just these few because I don't want to spend hours sorting through emails every day.  Email is a whole other topic, so I will save that for another time!  Enjoy your social media opportunities, but remember all that information is there to INSPIRE us to ACTION!