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, 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!


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Starting the New Year off Right

  2018.  It's a new year.  Where do we go from here?  Something about the change of the calendar from December to January causes many of us to have a renewed sense of purpose.  We feel ready to start over: ready to set goals, and confident that we can achieve those goals.  
  So, as a quilter, how do we go about setting and achieving those goals?  I do tend to get quite a bit done each year, and I have a few small suggestions of things that I like to do to get going in the new year.

1.  Straighten up your space!  Lots of people can work in chaos.  I am not one of those people.  Even if you are one of those people, your sewing area can be more functional if it is at least organized so that you can find whatever you need to have to work on your projects.  Nothing is more frustrating, or annoying, than looking for a tool, ruler, fabric, pattern, etc. and not being able to find it!  "I know I have that...somewhere."  is a sad statement.  Inevitably, if you give up looking and buy another...you will find it!  Don't put yourself through it!  "A place for everything, and everything in its place" is a well known and oft used phrase for good reason!  

2.  Focus your attention!  If you are like me, you have A LOT of unfinished and unstarted projects.  It can really be overwhelming sometimes!  A few years ago, a friend started a Facebook group for her quilting friends, and I was blessed to be included.  One of the fun things we do in that group is pick 12 projects for the year, label them 1-12, and each month someone draws a number.  That number is your focus for that month.  I started out that first year picking my OLDEST projects.  I wanted to clear out some of those things that had been sitting around a while.  It was amazing how much I got done that year, and I've never looked back!  Each January, I choose projects to focus on for the year.  Now, I just label them by month and don't use the number system because I am involved in several groups that do this.  It got too confusing for me to keep track of which number was for which group!  I have included a picture of my projects list for the first half of 2018 so you can see what I mean.

3.  Join a group that encourages you!  Like I said, my friend Anna's group was really my first experience with social media in relation to my quilting.  I found it was so much fun to see what others were working on and to be able to share my work with others.  I know for a fact that I would not have completed nearly as many projects without the encouragement and interaction from that group of ladies!  Last summer, I decided to start my own group.  My group is called Sewing with Sandi and was started as a way for me to interact with even more quilters from around the world.  It is an open group, but in order to join, you must be a quilter with a Facebook page that actually has evidence that you do quilt.  You must also answer a couple of questions in order to be approved.  Search for quilting groups on Facebook, and you will find all kinds of groups from wool applique to modern quilting.  Join several and see how much encouragement you find within the group.  You can always leave if you don't enjoy it.

4.  Remember that the goal is PROGRESS!  I don't put pressure on myself to FINISH everything on my list.  That would be stressful, and I do this for fun!  My goal is always just to work on that project (or those projects) during that month.  When the end of the month comes, if I am close to finishing I will carry over into the next month and finish.  If I am not close, I put it away and work on the next month.  The reason I have two or three listed each month is that I get bored easily, and, also, if I finish something, I can move on to the next thing on the list.  Try to make some progress each week on your chosen goal.  It makes a huge difference!  Last year, I simply wrote Bonnie Hunter down in three or four of the months.  I have several of her quilts in progress, and when her name came up, I worked on one of those quilts.  I actually finished two of them last year.  This year, I hope to finish at least two more of hers before I take class in October with her!  My point is this:  if you have something you really want or need to finish...write it down a couple of times.  Nothing says you have to have exactly 12 items or that you have to finish within one month.  Some projects are bigger than others.

  Like I said, I do finish a lot of projects each year.  These four items help me to do that.  I hope they help you, too.  Happy quilting, and I'd love for you to join Sewing with Sandi!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sewing With Sandi and the Gypsy Wife

Beginning blocks for Gypsy Wife
   It has been two months since I wrote on the blog!  I hate letting that much time go by, but life happens!  My attention has been very focused on my Facebook page:  Sewing With Sandi,  It has been a lot of fun building a community of quilters from around the country, and even overseas.  We are currently doing a couple of sew alongs right now, and a lot of my time, when I am not quilting for my Lone Tree Designs customers, has been spent working on pieces and parts to post on the Facebook page.  
  The Jen Kingwell pattern, Gypsy Wife, has been the focus of our Mondays.  I was amazed at the response when I suggested this pattern as a sew along!  It turned out that a lot of people had the pattern already, or were interested in doing it.  It has been so much fun to see the fabric choices and the progress being made.  This is a "no pressure, do what you can when you can," type thing.  I had a bit of a head start as I started making blocks two years ago at a retreat!  This sew along has given me the much needed kick start to keep at it, and get 'er done!  At this point, I only have Section 7 to finish and then put it all together.  I can't wait to have it finished and bound!

  The blocks for this quilt range in size from 3" finished up to 9"or 10".  The majority are small.  Most of them are block patterns that I have not made before.  It is absolutely crucial that the cutting and the seam allowances are as accurate as possible.  Every time I begin a new pattern, I recheck my seam allowance and make a block to see if it turns out the right size.  Some patterns expect that the quilter uses a scant quarter inch seam.  Some patterns expect a more exact quarter.  The reality is that every pattern needs to be checked.  Every seam needs to allow for the thickness of the thread and the bit of space used in the fold when the patch is opened and pressed.  If pieces are cut accurately and sewn accurately, everything fits together quite well.  
  This quilt does provide several challenges, in addition to lots of different block patterns and sizes.  Those challenges include: the strips of fabrics in the background must run top to bottom as if they are running behind the blocks, the quilt is put together in 10 sections that do not necessarily line up causing a need for partial seams, there are no written instructions on how to put the quilt together-only pictures, to get the strips to run where they are supposed to run, there are more partial seams, and some of the strips finish as small as 1/2"!

Making this quilt has not been without its mistakes for me.  I have had to make friends with my seam ripper!!!  After sewing several sections together, I took the photo below and realized that I had made two errors where strip sets had been flipped and sewn in incorrectly.  I ended up ripping out all four sides, flipping the piece, and sewing them back in correctly.  After all of the time and effort put into making this quilt, there is now way I could settle for knowing that it contained a mistake (or two) that I did not fix.  This quilt is tough, and I want to be proud of the end result!  I may take it to state fair!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Taking the "Road Less Travelled"

Results of my Confetti Quilts class with
artist Sally Manke.
   So often in our lives, we are presented with forks in the road.  Do we go right?  Or is left the best choice?  The reality is that either choice will give us unique circumstances that will teach us new lessons, or maybe reinforce old ones.
  As quilters, a sure sign that we are taking the same fork every time we pick a new project or buy more fabrics, wools, etc. is that we are making the same basic choices over and over.  Do you have 30 quilts all made out of Kansas Troubles?  Do you have so many wool projects that you don't have room for anymore?  Does your stash look like a rainbow threw up with not a dark and dirty reproduction fabric to be found?  Is your closet full of 1930's quilts, and, yet, you keep buying more 30's fabrics because they are just so darn cute?  If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are in a rut!
  In order to really grow as people, and as quilters, sometimes we need to take Robert Frost's advice and choose the "road less travelled" in life.  Those less familiar roads can be scary!  I have found that one way that takes a bit of the scare out of new experiences is to share them with friends.  Taking classes with other quilters is a great way to try something new without having to do it all by yourself!  Most people in the room are there because they don't already know the technique you will be learning.  They, too, have never made this type of block, or this type of quilt.  They, too, are stepping outside of their comfort zone and learning something new to them.  This common bond makes the class not only informative, but also provides another chance to bond in the sisterhood of quilters.  (Yes, I know that there are brothers in the "sisterhood!)

Photos taken by Edyta Sitar at her Spools class at AQS 2017
  Another way to take a less traveled road in our quilting journey is to step outside of our comfort zone and make a quilt with fabrics that we never use.  Love 30's?  Try making a quilt out of Civil War reproductions instead!  Love Kansas Troubles?  How about making something out of batiks?  Your independent quilt shop owner or worker would absolutely love to help you find fabrics from a genre that you normally do not choose.  Let's face it, if you hate the end result, there are all kinds of people and charities who would love and cherish your experimental quilt!
  I am so proud of some of my quilting friends on my Sewing with Sandi facebook page who are stepping way outside of their comfort zones and working on a modern quilt called The Gypsy Wife by Jen Kingwell.  That quilt is not traditional in either its fabrics or its style.  It is a road never travelled for some, and I applaud them!  Some of the ladies are using their stash, some have purchased fabrics, and some are still deciding whether to participate in our little sew along.  I can't wait to see the end results!
   Be brave.  Take the road less traveled in your quilting journey.  You won't be sorry that you did!
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."  -Robert Frost

Friday, September 1, 2017

Quilting is a Blessing!

Buggy Barn pattern makes Happy Jacks!
 Many times in life we tend to take things for granted.  I didn't realize just how much I take my health for granted until I became pretty ill.
  I had found out in January that I was "slightly anemic", but didn't really know what that meant and wasn't all that concerned.  I figured my body would fix the problem on it's own, so didn't ever go in for a follow up visit.  Over the next several months, I just kept feeling more and more tired.  By the time summer rolled around, I was taking up to two naps a day!  You would think that would have convinced me to seek help, but I stubbornly kept holding on to the belief that I would get better on my own.
  Finally, at the end of July, I had a couple of incidents that caused me to seek medical attention.  Things happened very quickly after the doctor tested my blood and found that my hemoglobin number was 6.8.  A transfusion followed by surgery quickly followed.  
  All that background is there to lend credibility to my 
next statement, "Quilting is a Blessing!"  

Tula's Neighborhood

For much of the summer, I wasn't getting a lot of quilting done.  I wanted to work, and I did get customer quilts done, but by the time I did that, I just didn't have any energy left to work on my own projects.  

  As of today, I am three weeks post surgery, and I feel fabulous compared to the last several months!  I am trying not to overdo, but in this past week, I have finished piecing my En Provence mystery quilt, added borders to my Happy Jacks and custom quilted it, and custom quilted my Tula's Neighborhood quilt.  It has been so wonderful to be quilting and sewing again and to have the energy to actually make progress on my projects!
  Next week,  I will return to my customer quilts and be back to work. My late September and October calendars are full of activities, and I am thrilled that I will feel well enough to really enjoy them!  I'm ready to hit the ground running as soon as my 6 week recovery period is over.  If I continue to feel better each week, I will be ready for any challenge :)

Bonnie Hunter's En Provence with a couple of my own tweaks!
  The reality is that none of us knows when a health problem may sideline us for an indefinite amount of time.  I often forget that, but I have a feeling that, at least for the near future, I will appreciate the good health and the energy that I have been blessed with and use that energy to catch up on some of the things that have been neglected for awhile!  So many projects...where do I start!!!