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 12, 2016

Which Type of Quilter are You?

Gigi enjoys a good snuggle up next to a quilt!
A built in houses quilts rather than books
The entry way is the perfect place to showcase wall quilts.
Table runners can herald the season anywhere.

 Do you ever think about how people use their quilts?   Some people give away everything they make.  Some people save everything they make for family to fight over after they pass out of this life. Some use their quilts in their everyday lives, and some, like me, do a little bit of all three!

One of the ways that many people use their quilts is to bring joy to others.  Some quiltmakers are so unselfish that they literally give away everything they make as quickly as they make it.  They are the kind souls who give generously to as many charities as they possibly can.  Others, thinking that they are being helpful, give these precious quilters their "scraps" and the fabric that they found in grandma's basement.  Sometimes, these "gifts" simply feed the need to quilt non-stop for others in a desire that nothing go to waste.  Bless their hearts!   I am not one of those lovely people!

Yet a second type of quilter saves everything they make because it is too special to be used.  This quilter believes that every quilt they make is an heirloom, and, after being carefully shown to others, the quilts are packed away in a chest or in the back of a closet only to be taken out and refolded once a year so that permanent creases do not develop.  The idea behind this type of quilting is nice, I guess. The thinking is that our relatives, once we are no longer with them, will love and cherish these quilts as much as we do.  The reality...many of these "heirlooms" end up on garage sales, at Goodwill, or worse, being fought over at a family auction because no one can decide who should get grandma's quilts.  Again, this is not me.

The third type of quilter never makes a "magnum opus" in their quilting.  Every quilt is a "wham, bam, thank ya ma'am" quilt.  I am talking about Turning Twenties, Jelly Roll races, etc.  These quilts require nothing more than some fabric, a bit of time, and voila...instant gratification.  Because these quilts don't take a lot of time to create, they become ordinary, everyday objects.  They don't require custom quilting...any old pantograph will do.  They grace the beds of every room in the house.  They are used as table cloths, couch covers, and picnic blankets.  No worries.  If they wear out, we simply make another to replace it.  Me?  No way!

I am definitely a combination of all three types of quilters (as I assume a lot of us are!).  When I can, I donate to charity.  This means that a few small quilts per year are given to a charity of my choice.  I make a doll quilt or two for Christmas Of Sharing.  Toys for Tots has received a few of my quilts.  I give a quilt when I hear that someone has had a fire.  I may pull out a quilt for a friend who has a child in the hospital.  These are items that I give when I feel led to give, not out of obligation or some sense that I "have to" because I have been asked.  My time is valuable, and I don't choose to use it sewing for charity all the time.  I want to give back, but I also want to make things for myself and my family.

The main things that I do with my quilts are decorate my home and share them with others!  I display them whenever and wherever I can.  I do trunk shows and lectures so that I can share my work.  I enter them in quilt shows, the state fair, and hang them at the quilt shop.  My home decor reflects the seasons, and quilts, table toppers, runners, and wall quilts are a big part of that.  I give quilts to my kids, their spouses, and my three lovely grandchildren.  Most projects that I begin are simply for my own enjoyment of the creative process.  If I need a quilt for charity, I can usually scare one up from my stash.  If I feel like looking at a purple and teal pineapple on my bed, I have one!
Pineapple Retreat is one of my newest "favorites"
If I want to enjoy a reproduction 1930's quilt on my bed?  I have one...
What a handsome quilt hanger:)
The point of all this rambling...I gotta be me.  Each of us comes at the art of quilting with different goals and reasons for pursuing this quilting life.  My quilts are too special to ever be used as a table cloth, but not too special to ever use at all!  What kind of quilter are you?  I would love to hear from you how you like to use your quilts!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Quilty Friends

  Have you ever met someone that made you feel so comfortable in the first 5 minutes that you feel like you've known them for years?  I felt that way last night when I met Karianne Wood (pronounced "car-e-ann")  of Thistlewoodfarms.com  She was so genuine and so funny that I walked away wishing I could know her better! The minute I got home, I started following her blog...what better way to get to know Karianne than to read her blog on a regular basis!
A fun project using Karianne's fabric line from Hoffman Fabrics called "Sweet Tea"
  As I thought about my instant liking for Karianne, I started thinking about all my "quilty" friends in general.  Quilters are just the nicest people that I ever come across!  Whether I am doing a trunk show for a guild full of women that I have never met, teaching a class full of eager learners, or taking a class myself, I am always so excited to meet fellow quilters.  There is an instant rapport that occurs between two quilters.  Rather than awkwardly searching for something that we might have in common, we have an instant connection in a shared passion for the quilting arts.  From that connection, it doesn't take long for us to find other things that we have in common, and a friendship develops so quickly, it can feel like we have known each other for years.
   Believe it or not (and those that know me well and think I talk non-stop may not believe it!) I am an introvert by nature.  I find meeting new people uncomfortable and stressful.  Often, I avoid situations where I will be thrown into a group that I don't know.  The exception to this natural tendency of mine is when I have the chance to meet and spend time with quilters.  They are so warm and inviting, so welcoming, so unconditionally accepting, that I feel at home.  The friends I have made in the past seven years as a longarm quilter have truly blessed my life.  I have met wonderful women and found a comradery that I need in my life.  I am so thankful for my quilty friends, and I can't wait to make even more as I continue to speak and teach about my love of quilting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Variety is the Spice of Life

Bonnie Hunter's Pineapple Blossom Pattern from Quiltville.com

Pattern comes from Civil War Legacies III
     Have you ever known a quilter who said, "I only work with reproductions."  or "I only sew with Kansas Troubles."  or even, "Bright, happy fabrics are the only ones I like to use in my quilts!"  Are you one of those quilters?
   Believe it or not, when I first started quilting, I was one of those quilters.  I thought that the only quilts I should make were quilts using fabrics that matched the decor in my home!  Guess what that led to?  Several mauve and country blue quilts that I didn't really enjoy making, and that I certainly do not like now!  Those were the predominant home decorating colors when I first started quilting.  They were also not colors that I particularly enjoyed.
     A true "light bulb moment" occurred for me about 8 years ago when I made my first quilt out of colors that I loved, simply because I loved them!  It was a single Irish Chain made with turquoise and silver fabrics.  It opened up a whole new world for me!
     Anyone who knows me knows that I love brights!  I do use bright fabrics, especially batiks in many of my quilts. However, I also like 30's prints when used in a sampler-type project.  I love Kim Diehl.  I have a growing obsession with reproduction prints and the cute small quilts from books like Remembering Adelia and Civil War Legacies I, II, and III. 
  Think of the world of creativity that I would be missing if I were still stuck only making bed-sized quilts out of my current home decor colors (transitioning to mostly neutrals with gray and taupe...now that would be a pretty boring quilt!).  
     My novice quilting self hated yellow.  I now have a black and yellow quilt that I love.  I have a 30's sampler set together with yellow.  My younger self didn't like applique, didn't care for 30's prints, and would never have used orange for fear that it might "take over" my quilt.
     While there is comfort in using tried and true color choices, there is a lot more excitement in stepping outside of that comfort zone, thinking outside the box, and throwing a little orange into your quilt!   The more experienced version of me has learned over the years that variety is truly the spice of life!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Merrily I Row Along (Year Three)

Quilt-n-Bee in Traverse City, MI
  Last week, the hubby and I went on a lovely trip to Michigan.  Whenever we travel, I want to see as much of our wonderful country as possible, and learn new some new things.  This trip was an opportunity to go to Michigan for the first time.  I learned and saw a lot of new things!  For example:
1.  Wisconsin loves the color Barn Red, and it's named that for a reason!  Lots of red barns in Wisconsin!
2.  Mackinaw City ends in "aw" while Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island end in "ac"---however, they are all pronounced as if they end in "aw"!  Who knew?
3.  The Caribbean is not the only place in the world to find beautiful Caribbean blue water.  Lake Michigan has it's share of gorgeous water in the shallow areas around Traverse Bay.
4.  Independent quilt shop owners and employees are the friendliest people in the country!
5.  The diversity of people and landscapes in this land of ours never ceases to amaze me.  We are truly blessed!

  I timed the trip to coincide with the end of the annual Row by Row Experience.  We drove through Iowa, dropped down into Illinois to pick up a really cute license plate, drove through Wisconsin via Beaver Dam to Nancy's Notions, of course, and finally, headed into Michigan.
  Now, the hubs is a patient man.  He lets me plan the trips, and he doesn't mind stopping at quilt shops along the way, so for the weeks leading up to the trip, I did my research using the Row by Row website to find cute plates and rows, and to coordinate my travel plans to pick up as many as I felt would be reasonable.  My final number of shops? TWELVE!  I found the website for the Row by Row to be easy to navigate and invaluable in my trip planning.  Be sure to check it out next year before you travel anywhere!

 One of the highlights of the trip was a stop at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  The visitors center in Empire, MI is privileged to have the award winning art quilt from the ArtPrize contest by Ann Loveless in 2013.  She was the first ever quilt artist to win the top honor. She has since won a second time, and is the only person to ever win the contest more than once! Her work has opened up the world of quilting as a true art form and has really been instrumental in opening the general public's eyes to the fact that quilts are, in fact, an art.
Needless to say, I collected lots of rows to add to my previous two years' of collections.  At this point, I have way more rows than I could ever put in one quilt.  Some of the rows will make really cute "stand alone" wall quilts, and some of them probably won't make the cut at all.  One of these days, I will have to sort through them all and make a plan, but for now, I am just enjoying the hunt!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Get Finished!

Urban Candy by Sew Kind of Wonderful
   If you are like me, you have a lot of unfinished projects.  I love the creativity of starting a new project!  Choosing the pattern, deciding on the fabrics, hunting through my stash and then through quilt shops to find the perfect choices, and the thrill of beginning.  I love it all!
  Things get a little iffy after that:)  I generally work on a project for a day or two before I have to get back to my "day job" of longarm quilting for customers.  It is rare that I have more than a couple of days a month to actually sew on my own projects.  I take time to babysit my three beautiful grandchildren, go to Kearney to work at my mom's quilt shop, go to quilt guild, take classes, and do lots of other necessities of life, so, too often, piecing and quilting my own projects takes a back seat.
  After awhile, though, I get to the point where I am close enough to finishing a project that I can smell it!  I know the end is in sight, and I have the motivation to put all other distractions aside and FINISH!  Quite often, that motivation is external in that I have a trunk show or a class coming that requires me to finish something new to show and tell.

 Urban Candy was a sample that I originally started for a
class that I was going to teach at the Quilters Cottage.  It is generally my practice to begin a sample, figure out all the ins and outs of the pattern, the new ruler, etc. and then teach the class while my sample is in process so that I can show the step by step process of making the quilt.  The problem with that for me is that once the class is over, there is no need to rush to finish the project because, more often than not, I am already on to the next sample for the next class.
  I taught the Urban Candy class as a part of a series of several classes using the Quick Curves Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful in 2015.  Each sample was partially finished when I taught the class.  I decided this year that I really do need to finish those samples and add them to my trunk shows because they are so pretty!  The one that was the closest to completion was Urban Candy, so I buckled down and got 'er done!  The next one to get completed is Metro Rings, and it is on my design wall right now.  I will share it when I get it done.  It is fabulous!
  Here's a tip for you...just like the idea of paying off debt by focusing on the smallest bill first, paying it off, and then moving on to the next smallest...I find that the most productive way to finish projects is to focus on the projects that are the closest to being finished.   Get one done, move on to the next.
Granted, we all have projects that are going to take us a long time to complete.  I took class with Bonnie Hunter last April for two different quilts.  I haven't touched either one since I left the class. Why?  I know they are going to be time consuming, and I am focusing on older projects that are closer to completion.  Those projects will be something that I will pack up and take to an all day sew or a retreat where I can just sew the day away on making blocks, and making some headway on a time consuming project.  
  Another way to be more productive is to focus on one project per month.  I have talked about this before on the blog, but for those of you that are new, here's how it works:  Choose 12 projects that you need to work on for the year.  Number them 1-12.  Each month, draw a number, and for that month you work on that number of project.  If you finish early, you can go back and work on a project from a previous month that you didn't get finished, or you can do like I do and have a secondary list of what I like to call "bonus" projects that you can work on once you finish your project for the month.  Many months, you will not finish that project.  Life gets in the way.  Projects are too big to finish.  At the beginning of the next month, you put that project away and work on the new project.  This really helps with burnout and keeps you excited about your sewing projects.  Sometimes, you may be so close to finish that you will continue on the next month.  That's okay, too.  It is just important that you get motivated, get working, and get FINISHED!