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.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmastime has Come and Gone!

  I can't believe it is over.  Every year I look forward to Christmas for months ahead of time.  I plan.  I shop.  I make menus.  I shop some more.  I decorate.  I coordinate everyone's schedules.  It is exhausting, but I LOVE it!  This year we had our kids, spouses, and grandkids all here at our house on Christmas day.  My parents were also able to join us.  It was lovely.  I went way overboard on buying gifts again this year, even though I had told everyone I was "downsizing."  It just didn't happen:)  Maybe next year!
  Anyway,  I took this week off from working on customer quilts because my daughter and her husband have been here all week, and I have been keeping my grandbabies since their parents went home on Thursday.  Needless to say, with a three year old and a two year old in the house, there is no quilting going on!  I did load a quilt of my own today, and will begin working on it on Monday after everyone goes home.
  The picture above is from a quilt of mine that I was determined to finish in time to hang it over the back of the couch for Christmas season this year.  It was made from Laurel Burch Christmas fabrics by myself and a few ladies from my local quilt guild.  We each made one row, and then I decided on placement, and put the quilt together.  I quilted it on my longarm a couple of weeks before Christmas.   I love how it turned out, and I was inspired to make a commitment to myself to quilt and bind at least one of my own quilts each month until I have all of my tops finished.  It should be an interesting new year! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Works in Progress

 I don't know about you, but it seems that I have a lot of WIPs.  I have entire quilts cut out ready to sew, I have finished quilt tops that need to be quilted, I have fabric and patterns chosen and in containers waiting for me to start, and I have projects planned in my mind that haven't made it any further than that!  Sound familiar? 
  Well, this week I worked on quilting a customer's quilt that I know she started 6 years ago.  How do I know?  It is a "Buck a Block" project that we had at the Quilters Cottage when we first opened in Kearney.  I have the same project in different fabrics in my sewing room waiting for me to finish it!  Anyway, working on this beautiful quilt inspired me to get crackin' on my own "Buck a Block."  Isn't that the greatest thing about seeing all the projects in a quilt shop, or going to a quilt show, or watching show and tell at your local quilt guild---INSPIRATION!  I always come home after an outing raring to go on my own WIPs.  I hope the following pictures from my customers quilt inspire you to work on some of your projects...even if they are 6 (or more) years old!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tennessee Waltz is my new Favorite Pattern

I love this pattern!  I saw it in a magazine a few months ago, and thought, "I need to make one of those."  As is my usual way, I got distracted with other projects and things that needed to get done.  Now in the past month, I have had two customers bring me these beautiful quilts to quilt for them.  They have me chomping at the bit to make one of my own!  I love this particular use of a light, multi-colored batik as the background.  This simple two block quilt is just a snowball block alternating with a 54 40 or Fight block.  The easiest way to make it, I assume would be to use Eleanor Burns' Tennessee Waltz book.  Eleanor's books are like "Quilting for Dummies" and I love them.  Of all the seemingly thousands of designers out there, I feel like Eleanor makes the best patterns.  They are so easy to follow, and have the quickest possible methods.  This is definitely on my "to do" list! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A New Baby!

This in my new baby...Daisy Marie!  She is 10 weeks old, and allows me no time to get anything done!  I love her!  We have always had a Boston Terrier in our married lives.  Daisy is our third, if that tells you anything about how long we have been married!
  As my nest is empty, and hubby works a "real" job, I am at home alone for long periods of time.  My current companion Candy is 11 1/2 years old.  The sad reality is that she won't be with us for more than another year or two at the most, so when the chance came to get a new puppy, I jumped on it.  However, I had forgotten that a new puppy is very time consuming!  My quilting has taken a temporary backseat to keeping track of this bundle of cuteness!  I am hoping to finish some smaller projects for my customers during the next week or so.  Christmas is coming, so this better be a very temporary hiatus!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coming Full Circle

 Grandkids will make you do strange things.  Let me just go on record that I DO NOT sew garments of any kind (or any size) as a rule.  Oh sure, when my daughter was a toddler I made a few cute little jumpers for her.  Of course, I chose patterns that had no zippers or buttons to mess with:)  However, I have never enjoyed sewing garments.  Perhaps my aversion to that type of sewing dates back to years in 4-H with a critical leader and even more critical judges.  Whatever the reason, I have avoided making clothes for most of my adult life.  BUT...now I have a granddaughter :)  She is turning two this week, and in a couple of years she will be ready to play with American Girl type dolls.  Those dolls are going to need lots of outfits!
  This past weekend, I took a class on how to make clothes for 18" dolls using the "flat construction" method.  Wow!  Easy, peasy, pie!  In a few short hours, I had a pair of panties, a pair of leggings, two tops, a pair of capris, and a skirt!  Better yet, I am pretty sure I can make more at home without help!
These are the first doll clothes I have made since I was 12 years old!
  The fun thing about all this is that the very first things I ever sewed were doll clothes.  I drew up my own patterns for very easy little tops and bottoms for a doll I had at the time, and used my mom's trusty old Necchi sewing machine to create them.  As a sophomore in high school looking for an "A" on a world history project, I proposed making Barbie doll outfits to represent clothing styles for women throughout history.  I make a pleated skirt outfit for Cleopatra, a velvet coat with a stand up collar for Queen Elizabeth, and a hoop skirt for the pre-Civil War southern United States.  I designed the outfits, and my mom helped me adapt existing patterns to create them.  My daughter played with those beautiful clothes, and, hopefully, someday my granddaughters will enjoy them as well. 
  P.S.--I got my "A."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Feeling a Little Wonky

  Last January, I did a workshop where I learned to make this beautiful quilt.  For more information, please see the following website:  http://elaineadairpieces.blogspot.com/
  It starts with a traditional log cabin block with 5 rounds of 1 1/2 inch pieces.  Just when you think you are finished...you CUT THEM UP!  To be honest, I loved the look of the standard log cabin blocks.  I had never made one before.  However, I paid for the class, and I was determined to make the finished project.  I am glad I did! The more blocks I got finished and the bigger the quilt grew on my design wall, the more I liked it.  (See pictures on my blog for a partially finished look).
  This quilt reminds me that sometimes life is not what you might expect, but it is still beautiful.  The straight, standard log cabin blocks are nice...if not a little boring.  BUT- take the plunge to cut them up and do something a little different and WOW!  Live life outside the box, and while you may end up a bit "wonky" you will NOT be bored!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"There is no Place like Nebraska"

Hubby and I standing in front of Haystack Rock at Canon Beach, OR.

  We just returned from a wonderful trip to the west coast!  We flew into Portland, where I had to check out the Fabric Depot--lots of stuff--and then via the north side of the Columbia River in Washington state, we went to Astoria, OR.  From there, we drove all the way south over several days to Eureka, CA and then back to Portland via Eugene.  Seven days of beautiful scenery, fun quilt shops, and even the 49th annual quilt show in Gold Beach, OR.
   The picture of the car cover is from that quilt show.  Those talented ladies made that beautiful cover and parked it out front of their quilt show right on Scenic Byway Highway 101.  Needless to say, even if I had not already known about the show thanks to the invaluable Quilters Companion book, that car cover would have drawn me in to their show!
  I always collect fabric when we go on a trip with the intention of making a quilt to commemorate the occasion.  So far, the only one I have ever finished is a fun lap quilt that I made out of Mary Engelbreit fabric that I collected on a trip to Branson several years ago.  Last summer, I bought way too much Minnesota Shop Hop fabric!  Luckily, my daughter in law has a lot of family, and a great liking for the state of Minnesota, so some day she will inherit that quilt!
  This time, I decided to collect nautical-themed fabric.  My mom doesn't buy a lot of that for her shop in central Nebraska...so, it seemed like a fun thing to get.  I bought light houses, water, blue skies, salmon, seashells, and several other fun prints.  When I got home, I designed a quilt to go with the fabrics, and then put everything into a clear project box.  The newest project joins a bookshelf full of other kits and projects that I will eventually get to...I hope!
  While I was on the road, I checked out a nice little shop in Port Orford, two shops in Astoria, a great shop in Canon Beach,  a delightful shop in Tillamook (where we also bought some really tasty cheese at their factory) and a couple of others that I forgot the name of the town.  The quilt show in Gold Beach was a very good show with a beautiful raffle quilt.  I bought a ticket...who knows :)  There was a sandy path directly from the Event Center where the show was being held to the beach--how can you argue with that! 
  All in all, we had a great time, but I was ready to come home.  Here in the middle of Nebraska, I don't worry too much about traffic.  I don't see signs telling me I am in a Tsunami Danger Zone (yes I know I am in a "Tornado Danger Zone") and I don't have to worry about falling off the side of a very steep cliff into the ocean!  I breathed a sigh of relief when our plane touched down in Omaha, and I was swiftly heading down good old I-80.  It is true what our motto says, "There is no place like Nebraska,"  Ah, home sweet home!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why Do We Quilt?

  I have been thinking lately about the amount of time that we spend quilting.  Why do we do it?  I have a few theories that I am developing into my next article for AQS magazine.  For a more detailed explanation, you will have to wait for the article.  For now, though, here are some ideas:
1)  Within each of us lies an attraction to beauty.  Whether it is in creating quilts or scrapbooks, decorating our homes, planting and maintaining a lovely garden, or even putting together a stylish outfit, I believe most women desire beauty in their surroundings. 
2)  Quilters are artists at heart.  The urge to create lies within us.  Many of us have dabbled over the years in a variety of artistic pursuits, and quilting gives us the ability to work with color, texture, and design principles.  This ability to create art drives us to finish one project and begin pursuing the next.
3)  We hope to leave a legacy through our quilts.  It is no coincidence that we often create quilts that we plan to pass down to our children and grandchildren.  We want them to remember us after we are gone.  We want them to know, in a tangible way, how much we love and cherish them.
4)  We want to give back.  Quilters are very generous people.  They participate in a wide variety of charitable organizations such as Project Linus and Quilts of Valor.  They donate their valuable time and money to create quilts for charity in order to let the person that receives their gift know that someone out their cares for them.  These gifts remind those recipients that there is still some good in the world.  There is still reason for hope.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

An Organized Life

  Ever since I was a kid, I was what you might call a "planner."  I remember in upper elementary rearranging my room, organizing my closet, having bookshelves full of decorative items (which I liked to arrange and rearrange for fun), and always telling my parents I had a "better idea" for the way things should be done.  Given the fact that neither of them is an organizer or a planner, I was quite a trial for them.  They even called me "Mrs. Better Idea" to tease me!  Needless to say, I was quite offended!
  As I grew older, my tendency to be organized helped me feel in control of my life.  I find comfort in having a "plan" for everything.  I can't work in my sewing room unless it is clean and organized.  Some of my sewing sessions actually begin with a cleaning session.  It inspires me when everything is neatly in its place.  The above photos are showing bookshelves and cubbies in my sewing room where I keep my kits.  They are in clear containers so that I can see what I have to work on, and I know right where they are, rather than digging around in bags and Rubbermaid containers to find my projects.
  I have a separate scrapbooking room where everything is organized in a similar fashion.  There is nothing I love more than buying organizers and clear containers to use for my colorful papers (or fabrics).  Color inspires me to be creative, whether it is in my scrapbooks or in my quilts.  I want to see it, BUT, I don't want it to be a mess!~
  My tendency to organize has brought me through my wedding (which I planned pretty much by myself at age 19), college, 16 years of teaching, raising two kids, helping friends plan weddings, planning my daughter's wedding, planning lots of vacations with relatively little stress, and, now, keeping tracks of the roughly 30 quilts that I always have waiting to be quilted for my customers.  I have never "pulled an  all-nighter" in order to finish a deadline.  In fact, I don't recall ever missing a deadline.  Being organized is second nature to me, and I love to help others get more organized in their lives, too.  Here are some tips:

1.  When you have something coming up that you must get done, start RIGHT AWAY!  Do not wait until the last minute and then freak out because you have too much to get done.  Even if your deadline is several months away, just get cracking!  Who cares if you finish several weeks in advance--much less stress happens when you don't put something off!

2.  SAY NO!  If you know in your heart that you cannot do something and do it well without really stressing out about it...be honest up front with the person who is asking you to do it.  Say something like,  " I would love to help you out, but I just have too much on my plate right now to do ....well.  Thank you for thinking of me, and maybe try me again later."  That's all it takes.  No means NO!  Do not make excuses, or hem and haw around.  Be firm and matter of fact.  People tend not to argue with someone who is projecting confidence.

3.  Do a little bit every day.  Many people waste so much time every day just standing around waiting for their next action.  Use that time!  For example, let's say you are waiting for 15 minutes to take your kids to soccer practice.  Don't just sit around...pick up the living room, unload the dishwasher, look through the stack of mail on the table.  You will be amazed at what you can get done in little 10 or 15 minute snatches of time.

4.  Take 3 or 4 minutes each morning to make a "to do" list for the day.  Then, glance through and prioritize from 1 to whatever in order of importance.  Get to work on number one right away.  Finish it, and go on to number 2.  If you don't make it through your list, revisit the list the next day and either eliminate or add the items to that day's list.  Multitasking is NOT efficient.  There are all kinds of studies out there that suggest that multitasking divides your thoughts to the point that you do not do anything efficiently.  Pick one thing..and work on it until you are finished!

  If you find that you are constantly stressed out about your life, I would suggest that you need a little more organization.  Please don't use the "I'm too busy to take time to get organized" excuse.  I would argue that you may be too busy NOT to get organized.  Invest the time, and you will never regret it!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Christmas is Coming!

One of the gals in my facebook quilting group pointed out the other day that there were only 146 days until Christmas!  If you are like me, you haven't yet thought about Christmas rolling around that soon!  I had my first Christmas quilting project this last week.  Some people are already ahead of the game!  Considering that I now have a 3 month waiting list for my customers, I am starting to think that it is time for people to finish up their projects and call me to get their names on "the list" (which is just my way of referring to my data base where I keep track of who's quilt is next to be finished).  My life is now governed by "the list."  It tells me who is waiting, how long they have been waiting, how big their quilt is, and my estimate of how long it will take me to finish it!  Each time I finish a project, I go into "the list" and document when I delivered the finished project, look for upcoming deadlines, and see who is next to be quilted.  I also look to see if I need to call someone to get their quilt brought to me.  I try not to keep more than a dozen here at the house, and the rest are waiting to be called.  It is a good system.   If any of you other longarmers out there have a better way to be organized, I would welcome your suggestions!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Favorite Color is Pink?

  This is my latest completed quilt top.  The pattern is called Amish Buggy Wheels, so I named it "Bali Buggy Wheels."   I took a class from Jean Nolte the editor of Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine.  She had designed and published the pattern a couple of years ago, and I jumped at the chance to try curved piecing.  Notice, the dominant color is...purple.  Why is that a big deal, you may be wondering.  Well, here is the thing.  If asked, I would say that my favorite color is hot pink.  I love red; I love pink.  I have operated under the belief for many years that my favorite color is, indeed, pink. 
  However, evidence would suggest that my favorite color may, in fact, be PURPLE!  I recently took stock of all my finished quilt tops that are waiting for me to have time to throw them on my trusty Nolting longarm for finishing, and 7 out of 7 are...PURPLE!  What!  This has shaken my very existence.  Do I love purple?  Have I been fooling myself all these years about my love affair with pink?  Why don't I have at least one pink quilt top?  I have pink fabrics purchased and hanging out in my stash.  Yet, I haven't made even one quilt top in the past two years focusing on this (my supposed favorite).  Shocking! 
  My vow for the remaining months of 2013 is to make a pink quilt!  When I do, I will decide if it steals my heart, or if my heart belongs to the color purple!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bus Trip to Bountiful

 Every now and then, we all need to get away for the day and just have some FUN!  I did just that last Saturday with my quilt guild from Grand Island when we went on a bus trip through northern Kansas.  Fifty-one wild women boarded a bus at 6:45 am and headed out on a mystery tour.  We knew the day would hold surprises and lots of fun, and we were not disappointed. 
  We hit 7 quilt shops, ate two meals on the go, and returned to Grand Island around 10 pm.  Man were our credit cards smokin' by the end of the day!  The highlight for me was the tour of the retreat center in Bennington, Kansas run by Kansas Troubles founder Lynne Hagmeier!  The pics above are all from that retreat space.  I want to go there and hang out with some friends!!!  For more about Lynne, check out her blog-site listed above. 
  The Kansas (and one Nebraska shop) quilt shops opened their doors wide to their neighbors from the north and each shop was full of a bounty of fabrics, notions, gifts, etc.  There wasn't one on the list that I wouldn't gladly visit again, and in fact, I plan to get back down there sometime in the next year.  I returned with an armful of Loralie Designs panels and coordinates, as well as, a renewed inspiration for my sewing projects! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Old versus the New

So, as a longarm quilter, I get to work on a huge variety of quilts.  This week was no exception.  At the beginning of the week, I was working on an antique quilt that a lady's great-grandma made.  It is probably at least 75 years old.  When I first got it, I was not thrilled, but WOW, it turned out really pretty!

  At the end of the week, I worked on a gorgeous butterfly quilt that used the latest innovative 10 degree wedge ruler to create something truly amazing. This quilt is modern, and allowed for some fun and exciting quilting to really make it pop.  I used McTavishing, and several fill designs to add texture to the background.  The type of quilting that I used on the butterfly really wouldn't have been appropriate on the antique quilt. 
  I enjoy working on both types of quilts.  The old and the new each have their positive points.  Each require a different quilting style, thereby allowing me some creative license and the ability to use all of the things I have learned over the past three years.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Always Go With Your Gut!

The triangular areas after I redid them.

  So, this past week, I learned a very valuable lesson in quilting.  The lesson is this:  trust your instincts!  In the past three years of quilting, I have rarely had to take out any quilting.  I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to do before I start, and then I just go with it.  Well, this time I wasn't totally sure about one triangular section of the quilt.  I started out by quilting a large feather into the area.  I looked at it.  I didn't like it.  I thought, "It will take 45 minutes to take that out, and I hate taking stuff out.  Maybe it will look better when I do the next section."  I continued.  After I did all EIGHT sections, I still didn't like it.  I looked at it.  I thought, "Maybe if I echo the feathers and add some veins, it will look better."  So, I did.  Still didn't like it.  Being completely sure that there was no way I was going to take all that quilting out, I decided to do pebbling down the center of the feathers to cover the centers, (which had too much thread build up because I used King Tut thread).  I pebbled.  I hated it.  I tried to tell myself it was okay, and would be okay.  I took it off the frame.  I showed it to my husband and asked his opinion.  He didn't like it either.  It sat in a bag for two days while I wrestled with taking out all that quilting, reloading the quilt, and redoing those 8 triangular areas.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.  I started taking out.  It took TEN hours to remove, and another three hours to load and requilt. It looked sooooo much better.  Moral of this story..."Trust Your Gut!"  P.S.  My customer LOVED IT! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sometimes You Have to Look Behind the Scenes

  It is easy to take everything at face value.  Very little effort or brain power is required to just follow along with day to day life, never looking deeper than the surface.  Once in a while, though, it is a good idea to look "behind the scenes" a little bit.  Why do we do what we do?  What motivates us?  What choices do we make simply because it is "what we've always done" and what choices do we make without even thinking?  Like the back side of a quilt, we can't truly appreciate life until we see both sides of the coin.  We need to see the obvious, the color, the pattern of everyday AND we need to dig deep and question the very meaning of our existence every now and then :)  To that end:  here are a couple of pictures of the back side ONLY of two quilts.  For a change, I will leave the FRONT side to your imagination:)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Graduation Season is Over, thank goodness:)

  Is it me, or do more and more people these days seem to be making t-shirt quilts for graduation gifts?  I got my first call to be "put on the list" for graduation quilts back in January.  From then on, I was keeping my eye on deadlines and taking in lots of graduation gifts.  I finished the above, for a close friend, a week ago.  It was my last t-shirt quilt of the season.  I can't say that I was sad about that!  Sometimes, the monotony of t-shirt quilt after t-shirt quilt gets to me.  This one was a little different because we designed it together, I knew the graduate, and his school shirts were from the school where I taught social sciences and English for 16 years.  It also helped that I knew it was my last one for this May!
  Now that graduation season is over, it is time for wedding quilts.  My life used to be organized and ordered according to a school calendar.  I thought of time in terms of:  1st semester, 2nd semester, and summer.  Now, I find that I think of things in terms of:  graduation season, wedding season, fair season, and Christmas season.  Those are my busiest deadline times.  It can get stressful trying to decide exactly how much I can reasonably get finished and within what time frame I can expect to finish.  It is an inexact science, for sure.  I would welcome comments from fellow longarmers out there who have a system for figuring that out.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Quilting Outside the Box

  Several new patterns have come out lately that challenge quilters to "quilt outside the box."  Examples of what I am talking about are the above pictured "Stargello," the Spicy Spiral table runner, and Phillips Fiber Arts book Quilts Without Corners, which features all kinds of beautiful butterflies and rainbows of wedges.  All of these interesting projects use either a 9 or 10 degree wedge ruler.
  I am amazed by the creativity that led to these and many other awesome tools and patterns.  I have recently been working with tools by Deb Tucker for old-school eight pointed stars that (unlike the days of old) now can be made without y seams or set in places.  FABULOUS!  The Rapid Fire Hunters Star, Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star, etc. are marvels of engineering.  I am so glad that there are men and women out there who continue to make our quilting lives easier and, at the same time, help us make more and more beautiful works of art.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Taking on New Challenges

  So, it has been a whirlwind of a month!  We had 10 days of the annual NIFS Shop Hop in April, and I tried to keep up with quilting for customers in the middle of it.  I took a class at the beginning of the month from Jean Nolte, the editor of Fons and Porter's magazine.  She was doing a class on a quilt she designed for the magazine a few years ago called "Amish Buggy Wheels."  I consider myself a tolerably good quilter, but one thing that I have avoided all these years is curved piecing (dun, dun, dun!). 
  In my younger days as a 4-H member, and then later as a young mother, I did some clothing construction.  So, I had done "curved piecing" on sleeves and armholes.  That was enough to tell me that it wasn't much fun!  However, in the spirit of trying new things, taking on new challenges, etc. I decided to take the class.  I am so glad that I did!  It wasn't that hard!  Now, my first block did have a MAJOR hump in the middle.  I decided to take the easy way out and just iron in a nice big fold, which I planned to stitch down later.  Well, three days later,( and much obsessing about my imperfect block), I simply had to take the whole thing apart and try again.  This time, the hump was gone, but the circle didn't perfectly match up around the edge.  Dang it!  Three tries later (my official limit or retries) it is what it is.  I do have the advantage of doing my own quilting, and by the time I am done quilting it, no one will ever notice it.  Luckily, the second block looked much better.  I am guessing that by the time I finish all 12 blocks, I will be quite comfy with curves!
  The month ended with very exciting news about a humorous essay that I wrote and submitted to American Quilter magazine, published by The American Quilters Society.  The editor contacted me and they plan to publish it in the next issue.  I have always wanted to be a published author, and now I will be able to say that I am!  Hurray for taking on new challenges!  I can't wait to see what is next!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pursuing Your Passion

  Isn't it funny how we grow and change throughout our lives?  Just when we get comfortable in a routine, it seems that circumstances conspire to force us out of that place into something new.  At the time, change can be daunting, perhaps terrifying.  However, I have found that in looking back we often see a divine string leading us into new territory---  territory that is rewarding and that quickly becomes "familiar."
  When I was in my 20's and 30's, teaching was my passion.  I taught high school students about history, English, and geography.  I loved going to work.  I loved them.  Sixteen years later, I had lost my passion for teaching.  I continued to go to work, but I didn't love it anymore.  My identity was so caught up in being a teacher, that I couldn't imagine myself being or doing anything else.  I spent an entire school year being miserable and questioning where God was leading me.  It was terrifying!
 Finally, because I felt like I had no choice, I quit my teaching job.  I had no firm plan for the future, but I took that step.  Each step that I took led me further into the world of quilting. 
I began by making samples and working in my mom's quilt shop.  The more time I spent there, the more I enjoyed it.  The atmosphere was wonderful, and the people I met were so much fun.  I met a machine quilter, and admired her work, secretly wishing that I could afford to buy a machine to finish all of the samples that I had made!  Eventually, with encouragement from my husband, I bought that machine.  In order to find a new career path, and to help pay for my machine, I decided to start a business.  Lone Tree Designs was born!  Again---terrifying! 
  Three years later, I love my work.  Each day, whether I go to work at the quilt shop or fire up the longarm, I love what I am doing.  I pursue my work with renewed energy and passion.  I look forward to the new quilts that customers send my way, and I "listen" to those quilts when they tell me how they want to be quilted. 
  I still have a passion for teaching, but instead of World War II or the finer points of grammar instruction, I teach women how to sew an accurate quarter inch seam.  I show them how to use exciting and innovative new tools to make heirlooms that will be around after they are gone.  If I am lucky, they trust me to put the finishing artwork on their masterpieces before they give them away to those who are very fortunate to receive them. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Quilts, Classes, and New Techniques!

  Wow!  I can't believe how busy I have been since Christmas!  Last year, I had a bit of a slow down in February and March, and then got busy again in anticipation of graduation.  This year, I have had quilts coming in very steadily since January.  I had one customer call me in January to get her name on the list for four graduation quilts.  I have one done, and am waiting for her to finish and get the other three to me.  My business has been increasing at a very pleasing rate for the past year or so, but the more busy I get doing quilts for customers, the less time I have to work on my own projects.  In order to take a break and relax a bit, I keep my grandson every few weeks for a couple of days, sign up to take whatever classes that are offered through my quilt guild in Grand Island, and teach some classes over at the Quilters Cottage in Kearney.  I started a club using the Civil War Legacies book and new reproduction fabrics that mom has been ordering in for the shop.  We have only met once, and it was a lot of fun.  I am looking forward to the next meeting in a week.
  Yesterday, I took a class with Lynne Hagmeier from Kansas Troubles.  It was so fun!  We used techniques from her book, Loose Change, and I am excited to try some more as soon as I get the chance.  Her layered patchwork with raw edges is a fun new idea that I have never seen before, and it uses precuts, which makes it even more simple.  I highly recommend the book!  As soon as I finish my two projects, I will take pics and post them.  I finished a table round in two hours, and almost finished a table runner in the morning class!  Quick, easy, and fast!  Just what a busy woman needs!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snow Days and Priorities

For 16 years, I was a schoolteacher.  If you count the years prior to that when I was in college, and even dating back to kindergarten, I have spent a lot of years looking forward to snow days.  Now that I work from home, the idea of a snow day isn't quite what it used to be:)  It is a day like any other, except that, this time, my husband is actually taking a day off of work to stay home because of weather!  He never does that!  In the 20 some years we have lived here, I can't remember more than once or twice that he has stayed home from work due to bad weather.  So, what shall I do tomorrow?  I will probably spend some time working, as will he.  However, I am pretty sure that the day will include a roaring fire in the fireplace, a couple of cups of hot cocoa, and a thankful heart that this snow day will be shared with the man I love.  When your work is in the next room, sometimes it is hard to remember that work is not the most important thing in your life.  Relationships and family should always trump work.  A snow day gives me the opportunity to place my priorities in the right order:)

Friday, February 1, 2013

From Traditional to Modern

  As a machine quilter, I see a lot of different types of quilts.   They are all beautiful in their own ways.  The Dresden was a hand-pieced quilt that an elderly woman brought to me.  Her mother had made the quilt decades ago, and had drawn the quilting lines on it with a lead pencil.  There was no way that I could (or wanted to try) remove those pencil marks.  Also, the lady specifically asked that I quilt as close to what her mother had drawn as possible.  I did what she asked, and the quilt looked very pretty when it was all done.  It is hard to have my creativity restrained, but I always want to make my customer happy.  Ultimately, it is their quilt, and they are paying me for a service.
  The purple batik quilt was the opposite.  It was created just a few weeks ago from pre-cut jelly roll strips.  The quilter simply asked that I do an inexpensive E2E design using orange thread.  I have a number of E2E designs that I like to freemotion on quilts.  I stay away from a puzzle meander, unless it is requested by the client.  This flower with tendrils and loops filled the needs that I had, and the orange thread (something I would not have chosen on a purple and green quilt) looked fabulous!  The back was as pretty as the front!  That thread inspired me to take more chances with my thread choices!
  Whether the quilt is traditional or more modern, it is always a lot of fun to create a design for the finished product.  The final design is more a function of what the quilt "tells" me to do than anything else.  I am not a planner...I quilt as the mood strikes and as the quilt "whispers" to me.  If I can, I like to look at the quilt and then walk away for awhile.  My mind does the work for me.  If I can sleep on it, I wake up inspired.  The more years of experience I gain, the more ideas I have chasing around my head.  Classes, books, magazines, quilt shows, visiting quilt shops, etc. fill me will ideas and inspiration for both traditional and contemporary quilts.  Each new quilt is a journey...and I am enjoying the ride!