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.

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!!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Eating an Elephant One Bite at a Time

One Bite at a Time!
   When approaching a quilt pattern that looks a bit intimidating, what is the best way to begin?  
There is a saying that any difficult task is like eating an elephant.  You can do it, eventually, "one bite at a time."
  I applied to teach a quilt pattern at Quilt NE 2017 that I had never made!  It seemed unlikely with all the other great teachers out there in the state of Nebraska, that I would be chosen.  I did choose a pattern that I have always thought looked interesting and that I have wanted to make.  Of course, there's never enough time, until there is a DEADLINE!  So, what happened?  You guessed it.  I was chosen to teach at Quilt NE 2017 and it became time to figure out this pattern!
  The pattern is from a book called French Braid Transformation by Jane Hardy.
   Upon first reading through the pattern, I was a bit scared!
It looked very complicated.  I started to wonder how in the world I was going to make, much less teach, this pattern.
Being a person who rarely procrastinates, I quickly proceeded to:  procrastinate! I didn't know how I would start, and, therefore, I didn't start!  Finally, in May, knowing that I was teaching this pattern in July, I decided I better get crackalackin!  
  Opening the book, I decided to just start with the first line of cutting instructions, finish that, go to the next line, etc.  In other words, eat my elephant "one bite at a time."  I was pleasantly surprised in that, though the pattern looks difficult, it is actually quite simple.
As I created my quilt, I was thinking about the most efficient way to teach the pattern.  I have taught a lot of classes over the years, and I have a pretty good grasp of how people learn and the best way to present information in a format that makes it easier to do.  Of course, I have learned the hard way myself enough times, I know what not to do as well!  
  This is definitely not a "quilt in a day" but my class is only a day.  Part of my challenge was figuring out how much before class "homework" my class members would need to do in order to spend their time in class actually putting the quilt together and doing the parts of it that need instruction.  There's nothing worse than paying for a class and spending all your time cutting, and strip piecing.  Time runs out, and you haven't learned anything!  So, I created a step by step written instruction sheet for my class and emailed it to them so they could get the "easy" parts out of the way.
  Finally, I had a completed quilt top.  It is a great quilt!  In order to better teach the class, I started a second quilt.  As I walked through the steps on my second sample, I double checked to make sure the written instructions made sense.  I saved the trickier parts for class time.  I left the second sample in pieces and parts to show my class each of the steps.
I am confidant that the class will go well, and I hope each of the ladies that signed up for it will learn everything they need to know to go home and finish their own "Braided River" quilt.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Focus on one Quilt? Why?

A baby quilt of my own design for a special couple.

Tula's Neighborhood from the Moda Be My Neighbor free download.
   In the past month, I have been a busy bee!  My baby quilts for this summer are all completed and given to their new owners.  My customer quilts with July 1 deadlines are all done, except for the one that is on the frame right now.  The retreat that I helped plan and organize over the past year has finally taken place and was a big hit!  We had so much fun, and I can't wait for the next retreat in Iowa in June of 2018!
  I thought I would share today some of the other projects and pics from things I have been working on that are either nearing completion or are complete, and why I am constantly working on new projects!
  My creative energy never wanes.  If I am not working on a project, I am thinking about what I would like to be working on!  Everywhere I go, I see colors that inspire me.  I find quilt patterns and samples in shops that make me want to get home and get busy!  I look around my sewing studio, and there are project half done all over!
Every day, I spend at least an hour on social media looking at Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and other quilter's blogs.  Consequently, I am never lacking for something to work on or an idea to begin a new project.  The idea of working on one thing until it is finished is totally laughable to me!  I do manage to finish quite a few things each year with my crazy methods, though!
  My Tula's Neighborhood quilt went together very quickly.  This pattern was a free download from Moda called "Be My Neighbor" that I saw on Pinterest.  The blocks are huge, and they go together very quickly.  I decided that this would be the perfect project to use up some of my massive Tula Pink stash!  The large pieces in the quilt afforded me the opportunity to fussy cut some of her fun motifs.
Felicity, my sewing studio mascot.
I can't wait to get started quilting my neighborhood and get it finished, but, for now, having completed the top after just starting it in January of this year is a big accomplishment for me:)
  Our quilt retreat theme this year was "Pink Ladies Quilt Camp."  We got the nickname "Pink Ladies" from Bonnie Hunter at a retreat we went to where she was teaching!  It was fun, and it stuck.  We started out with campers and that led to flamingos, which are often know as "Pink Ladies" and happen to be a big favorite of mine!  In my daughter's words this past weekend, "Mom, you are kind of obsessed with flamingos right now!"  LOL!  True!  So, I made a lot of flamingo stuff and purchased a lot of flamingo stuff in the past year or so, and have created a fun and colorful collection in my studio.  The flamingo wall quilt that I named Felicity hangs right in front of my longarm machine, and I look at her all day.  She is fun, colorful, and so pretty:)  As a person who loves pink, and is inspired by color, she is the perfect mascot for my room!
  At retreat, we presented our polka dot quilts made from the squares we exchanged last summer.  I designed my own pattern, and ended up loving the quilt, even though I was pretty skeptical when I heard "bright polka dots" and thought...this is going to be ugly!  All the quilts were beautiful!  Joke's on me, I guess!
  So, all these projects were going at the same time, along with countless others!  When a deadline, or a whim, or the light at the end of the tunnel strikes...I finish:)  It works for me:)  I would love to hear how you prefer to work!  Those of you that do one project at a time?  Convince me!

My design for 10" polka dot square exchange...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Never a Dull Moment in Quiltland!

  So, this past month has been a whirlwind of longarming graduation quilts for customers, and running around doing my thing.  I am pooped!  However, all of my deadline quilts are caught up (for now), and my craziest week so far this year has just ended.  So, I have some time to share a bit of what's been happening in my life.  
  One thing that I was privileged to do was to design this year's Row by Row pattern for the Quilters Cottage in Kearney, NE.  It isn't quilted and bound yet, but the row is complete and the picture of it has been sent in to the coordinator!  I am very pleased with how it turned out.
Row by Row complete with barn quilt and an old fashioned pickup with bolts of fabric in the back!
  Another really enjoyable experience was a four day retreat in Bennington, KS at the Kansas Troubles retreat center.  Lynn Hagmeier and her husband Robert were so sweet to us!  A group of 9 had such a great time and got a lot done.  If you have never been to Kansas Troubles, it is a pilgrimage that you must make!  Words cannot adequately describe the retreat center in the upstairs of an old downtown building.  It has the most gorgeous tin ceilings I have ever seen and is filled with antiques.  I loved every square inch of the place.  The fact that I got to sew with friends for several days was just icing on the cake!  Sorry the photos aren't great.  It's dark for cell phone photos everywhere except for the sewing area where there is plenty of light.  To see more photos, be sure to check out my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/lonetreedesignsquilting/
  In addition to keeping up with my customer quilts, I had two speaking engagements this past week!  The first was in Holdrege, NE where I gave a program using my quilts on color selection.  It was an hour long, rapid-fire trunk show using my quilts as both examples of what works and what doesn't work in selecting fabrics for an attractive end result.
  I also spoke in Wahoo, NE during this past week giving a one hour trunk show.  It was a very nice group of ladies who call themselves the "Crazy Quilters" :)  I loved their guild name!    
  *Sidebar:  My Facebook page for Lone Tree Designs is a great place to find lots of pictures and comments about what I am currently working on for myself, and to see pictures of customer quilts on and off the longarm.  I encourage you to Like that page and follow me on my many adventures in Quiltland!
Kansas Troubles retreat center uses lots of antique quilts.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Snippets of Time: How to be Efficient

My interpretation of  Bonnie Hunter's Double Delight Mystery 
   The first three months of this year have absolutely flown by!  I have been running like crazy, and have managed to get quite a bit done in the little snippets of time that I find between events, working on customer quilts, and time with family.
  I am often asked how I manage to get so much done.  That's an interesting question, and it's worth talking about.  First of all, there are people that get way more done than I do.  However, those people don't sleep as much as I do:)  Sleep is a priority in my life, and that's my first tip:

1)  Be well rested.  No one is as productive or efficient as they can be when they are running around sleep deprived.  Our bodies and minds are so intimately connected that our brains will not operate well if we don't take care of our bodies.  For me, that means at least 7 hours of sleep per night...even more than that a couple of nights a week.

 2)  Take time out for fun!  As you all know, I am a professional longarm quilter.  I work from my home.  In other words, I could work 24/7.  At any given time, I have at least three months worth of work hanging out in my sewing studio just waiting for my attention.  It is so important for me to spend time working on my own projects, going to guild meetings and retreats, and hanging out with family.  Those activities feed my creativity and make me more efficient overall because when I do work on customer quilts, I am refreshed, motivated, and ready to create beauty on their work.

Tula's Neighborhood in progress from the
Moda Be My Neighbor free pattern.
 3)  Let go of perfectionism!  Done is GOOD!  Some people are so paralyzed by their perfectionism that they cannot manage to finish anything.  They are constantly unsewing seams to try to make them perfect, or second guessing design choices to the point where they can't make a decision.  I often tell my students that in quilting there really isn't a "right" or a "wrong" choice.  It is really a matter of taste and preferences.  Your quilt is your quilt, and you can make it however you want it.  That being said, wait for it...

4)  Do things as accurately as possible the first time.  In other words:  cut accurately, sew an accurate 1/4 seam, press properly, trim, if necessary.  Each step in the process needs to be done well in order for the end product to turn out great.  I don't waste a lot of time re-cutting, ripping out mistakes, and re-sewing because I try very hard to focus on each step and make it right.

5)  Finally, and most importantly, use the small snippets of time that are in each of our days between the other things we "have to" do.  If we wait for several hours in a row in order to work on a project, we never work on that project.  I have found that whether its house cleaning or sewing, we can get a lot done in 15 minute increments of time.  Do you need to leave the house for an appointment in 20 minutes?  Don't waste that time waiting to leave!  Pick up the living room, throw the dishes in the dishwasher, or, better yet, press the half squares that you sewed before bed the night before. Use that time to gather fabrics for a project, cut out a couple more blocks, or sew a few seams.  Those little bits of effort really add up over time.  Nothing on tv in the evening but reruns?  Go to your sewing space and make a block or two.  Those blocks will turn into rows, and then into quilts!

  We all have more time than we realize.  We just don't use it as well as we could.  Our lives tend to be overscheduled and more busy than is really good for us.  In order to make the most of our leisure time, we have to be strategic.  Plan ahead in order to be ready to use those little snippets of time.
Kim Diehl's Simple Whatnots Club has been a fun
activity this winter.  Cute, small projects!
 I literally have small quilts all cut out and in plastic sandwich baggies all ready to go if I get a few minutes to work.  I use plastic storage containers to keep projects organized and ready to go.  If I have time on a Sunday afternoon, I might cut out a bunch of blocks or a whole quilt and put it back in the plastic box to work on at another time.  Sometimes when I meet with friends to "sew" for a few hours, I don't even bring my sewing machine. I just bring stuff to cut and have organized for another day.  Being organized and ready to go is essential to being efficient.  Perhaps that a blog topic for another day :)