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, 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!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Preparations: Using the Stash

  Quilters have "a stash."  That term may have many meanings, but for most it refers to the fabrics in the quilter's possession that are not earmarked for a specific project.
  Now, the size of a quilter's stash varies tremendously!  Some have very little (they claim that they don't have a stash, but let's face it...that's just too hard to believe!).  Some have a stash so massive that they could literally open a small quilt shop!  Most are somewhere in the middle with their stash amount.  For years, I didn't have much of a stash (two small Rubbermaid containers maximum).  I just didn't see the point.  If I wanted to start a new project, I went to the store, bought what I needed, and made that project.  It wasn't until I began doing more scrap-type quilting that I started to see the value of collecting a stash.
  Most recently, I dug through my stash to find fabrics for a new "sew along" on my Facebook group.  My Sewing with Sandi Facebook group is something I started in order to connect with other quilters and to encourage the art of quilting.  Through sew alongs, tips, sharing works in progress, and encouraging participation in activities like mystery quilts, I hope to provide a forum for sharing our work and encouraging one another.    
  Before I begin any project these days, I start by going first to my stash.  After I have chosen a pattern, I go to the stash and start pulling fabrics that I think will work for that particular pattern.  I have found that it really is the only way to actually use what I have.  Once I have pulled everything I think I could use for the pattern, I measure it all out and see where I am at and if I need to buy anything more to have what I need.  I find that I often need to buy just background, borders, and maybe a couple of pieces to have what I need.  This method allows me to be creative with color and to modify the pattern to fit what I have on hand.  For example, my recent Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt, On Ringo Lake, became teal, brown, and mauve rather than aqua, brown, and coral.  I didn't have those exact colors that Bonnie suggested in my stash...but I had colors that were close, and they worked!  I was glad to use up that yardage from my stash.
  If you have a stash, and you want to actually use it, I encourage you to pick a pattern you love first, then go to the stash and pull anything that might work.  You can narrow your choices later.  Sometimes, you have to decide who plays well together!  It doesn't work well for me to go to the stash first and pick out fabrics that I want to use.  I have found that it is nearly impossible to find a pattern based on the pulled fabrics.  It's much easier to pull fabrics with a pattern already in mind.
  Finally, don't be afraid to "scrap it up" in order to use that stash.  Do you need 2 yards of dark purple?  It doesn't have to be 2 yards of the exact same fabric!  All you need is a total of two yards that "READS" dark purple.  Quilts become so much more interesting when the colors used are very similar but not exact.  From a distance, the colors may look like the same fabric, but when you get up close, you are delighted to find a variety. Super Fun!  I encourage you to try it :)


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Quilt Design: Old School Style

A young couple with the baby quilt I designed
for them in their nursery colors.
   I am not a super creative person.  When it comes to quilting art, I am pretty good at taking someone else's creativity and "tweaking" it just a bit to make it my own.  I have a hard time following a pattern as written, mainly because I don't want my quilt to be exactly like anyone else's.  For this same reason, I rarely buy a kit, and if I do, I always make some changes by adding my own fabric or changing up the pattern.  I want my quilts to be "my" quilts, not a replica of someone else's quilt.
  One way to insure that a quilt is my own unique creation is to design my own pattern.  Early on in my quilting career, my mom taught me to take a piece of graph paper, use the squares on it for sizing, and draw up a quilt pattern.  After it was drawn up, she taught me how to figure the math so that I would know exactly what I needed to buy to make the quilt!  How fun!
Exchange blocks on the design wall for creative inspiration.

A quilt I designed for blocks from another
block exchange.
I have used this skill many times over the past 25 or so years to design blocks and quilts for the annual NIFS Shop Hop here in Nebraska for my mom's quilt shop in Kearney, NE. My block design was used for the AMB solids state quilt that went to Houston.  Some of my easy patterns have been published in a NE farm journal, and I have made a few patterns to sell.    The baby quilt on this page was designed originally for Shop Hop, and I have found that it can be used for all kinds of fast, fun quilts.  I made a modern one out of solids.  I made a Husker one for one of my husband's wrestlers who was in the hospital, and it works great for a baby quilt!
  The really great part about this baby quilt is that, because I designed it, I know there is not another like it anywhere.  It's a special gift!
  Another situation that sends me to my graph paper is designing for block exchange quilts.  Sure, I could find all kinds of patterns that would allow me to use my blocks, if they were all the same size.  But, it is a lot of fun to make up my own pattern.  The red and white blocks are a combination of 6", 9", and 12"...not an easy pattern to find.  I saw a quilt on Pinterest that inspired me to design a quilt for these blocks.  I will have plenty of white space to show off my quilting!  
  The quilt pattern on graph paper is one that I designed this week for a set of blocks that I won't be receiving until next January.  I knew the blocks would all be 12".  I also knew that I wanted to use flying geese in my setting.  I first decided on a size for my quilt.  Then, I drew my 12" blocks with 4" in between to allow for my flying geese.  As I was designing, I started to think about how I could place the geese in an unexpected and creative way.  I decided that they should follow each other all around the quilt.  With my quilt designed, I did the math, figured out how much fabric it would take for my flying geese and my lattice, and purchased what I needed.  Now, all I have to do is make roughly 250 flying geese before next January!  When the blocks are exchanged, I will have my geese and my design ready to go.
  There are computer programs out there to help you design quilts.  You can even plug in your exact fabric choices to see how it looks and the program will figure the math for you to tell you how much yardage to buy.  I have one of those programs, and have used it.  I prefer the graph paper.  It may be "old school" but there is just something I love about drawing it out, erasing, and drawing it again.  I like using my imagination to think about what it will look like with different fabrics in different places.  I think it's good for my mind to have to figure out the math for myself.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my computer and all the great things it can do for me, but when it comes to quilt design, I will continue to design "old school"!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Discovering Bonnie, Discovering Scraps

Another year, another fabulous Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt!  Believe it or not, just three short years ago, I really didn't even know who Bonnie Hunter was!  Well, that's not quite accurate.  I had seen her scrap-busting block designs in magazines, but, since I had never been a fan of scrap quilts, I glanced over the pattern, thought, "that might be cute, if it wasn't so scrappy" and moved on to the next quilt.  Boy was I missing out!  I had no idea how much fun making scrappy quilts could be! 
  Let me explain.  I learned to quilt back in 1991.  I started the way some quilters start, with a beginning quilting class at a local quilt shop.  Our assignment each week was a block that used a different technique, and at the end of the class we had sampler.  We began with choosing fabrics.  I had no stash.  I didn't know what a stash was.  I went through the shop, chose a white on white for the background, a mauve, a country blue, and a dusty purple.  When that quilt was finished, I did not like it!  I sold it to my aunt for my cousin for her birthday, because my aunt was sure she would love it!  So, enter the next 25 years of my quilting journey.  Very few quilts were made because I was working full time and raising two kids.  Finally, in 2007, I quit teaching, my kids were mostly grown, and I had time to pursue quilting.  I picked up where I had left off.  When I wanted to make a quilt, I chose a pattern, bought the exact right amount of fabrics, and made the quilt.  There was very little fabric left over.  I didn't care.  I couldn't imagine what I would do with scraps!  In fact, if I did accumulate more than one container of leftover fabrics, I donated them.  Why would I need scraps???

  Enter, new friends.  Guess who they loved?  Bonnie Hunter of @quiltville_bonnie.  They were lucky enough to get into a quilt retreat in Sioux City with Bonnie Hunter, and they invited me!  I didn't know much about Bonnie, so I googled her, bought a couple of her books, and began my journey into using scraps.  That retreat was so much fun!  Bonnie was a wonderful teacher.  She is a giving, open, humorous woman.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of her trunk show and the two days of classes with her.  I also began to notice that, unlike me, the other ladies were using fabrics of all kinds in their quilts.  My fabrics were yardage that I bought for the class.  The other quilts were interesting, while mine seemed a bit lackluster.  Hmmmm....I was learning something about using fabrics of similar color and value in order to add interest to my quilts!

  The next year was the year Allietare came out.  I wasn't sure.  I didn't have scraps.  I saved the patterns but didn't make the quilt.  When the reveal happened, I was so sorry that I hadn't made the quilt!  So, when En Provence began, I was ready!  I had slowly accumulated more of a stash and more scraps.  I quickly realized that I don't buy enough lights for my stash (a problem I have since corrected!).  I followed along, and made the half size.  My quilt turned out beautifully!

  This year, Bonnie has treated us to On Ringo Lake.  When the colors came out, I loved them.  But, I determined to use as much fabric from my stash as possible.  I wanted to use my scraps.  I wanted to do what Bonnie does and create from the discarded and unused pieces in my containers.  So, I switched the salmon to pink because that's what I had.  I did use a line of fabric that I had in my stash with lots of yardage, so it isn't as scrappy as it could have been.  I discovered that I could pull browns and pinks from my bins and mix them in with the yardage that I already had.   That discovery is a long way from my old formula of one single fabric for each element in the block...and, for me, that is a great discovery!