Sunday, August 23, 2015

Week #33 Wrap Up: What We Worked On

Why do I quilt?
I think hobbies and interests fall into three categories: things you make, things you do, things you collect. I've always been a maker. And more specifically a crafter. I find a joy in making beautiful things and in giving beautiful handmade gifts. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, quilting is something that is mine. Blogging, too. At times when stress and anxiety feel overwhelming, sewing centers me. Even when I can't seem to motivate myself or decide what to work on, getting in front of the sewing machine and focusing on my work excites me. Additionally, I enjoy sharing my work and inspiring others in their creative endeavors. And I just love being part of the online quilting community!

Thank you!
G and I had a great time on 52 Quilters this week. Most of the action was over on Instagram, but I wanted to share some of our projects with you here in case you're a blog reader and not an IG follower. A great big thanks to Chris, and to all of you, for having us this week. Thank you so much for being part of this awesome community. I can be found regularly on Sarah Goer Quilts and @sarahmgoer on IG.

Sarah's Wrap Up
I've completed two mystery quilts years ago from a local shop hop and really love watching the design emerge as I work through each step. I was bummed that I didn't have time to commit to a new project when Cheryl ran her first mystery quilt on her blog and I'm so excited to have dived in to her latest, the 2015/2016 Midnight Mystery Quilt. We're only in the third month and directions are released monthly (a nice, slow pace) so there's lots of time to join in. She has a great Facebook group where people are sharing their progress as well. This month we made flying geese. Here are mine.

I decided to use this week on 52 Quilters as an excuse to start sewing a new project. This one has been a long time coming, from slowly accumulating a fabric pull, to cutting out the fabric for the first two blocks. This week I finally made my first 24" Swoon block. I want to ignore all my household responsibilities and make the rest right now! ;-) One down, eight to go.

I also made a swoon block mini (16") for the Halloween Mini Swap on IG. This is the first swap I've hosted and we are in the shipping window. It's been a ton of fun to see what everyone has come up with (though also a ton of work to organize the 75 swappers). I decided to host the swap so that I would finally use some of the plethora of Halloween fabric in my stash. I struggled a little for a final plan since I have a lot of loud, wild prints that didn't seem to be going together so well. And my partner indicated that she likes black, white, orange and grey so I was trying to avoid my more colorful choices (like those including purples and greens). I settled on the feature fabric and thought I'd do a big section of it in the middle with something around as a border, but I just couldn't get excited about that. Then I thought, "Swoon!" and started fussy cutting squares of the feature fabric to use. This was the first swoon block (pattern by Thimble Blossoms) I pieced and I'm so glad I finally put my pattern to use! I hope my partner loves it. I also made her the Halloween sock mug rug, using Tartan Kiwi's Odd Socks pattern.

My other mini swap due soon is the Text Me Mini Swap. I've been collecting black and white text prints for some time, but right about the start of the swap there was a beautiful rainbow text fabric bundle for sale. I couldn't resist. I like to use swaps to push myself to try something new. I had not ever made a Dresden block and decided it was high time to change that. This is the mini that will be sent off to my partner soon. I have a very similar replica waiting to be quilted that I will keep for myself. This is the first mini I've made that I'll be hanging on my own wall since the one I made for a quilt guild challenge in 2004!

I made some progress on my August bee blocks. These are bits for the Do. Good Stitches Promise Circle. Heather of Modern Parti Quilts chose and designed our block for this month. She put the tutorial up on her blog. I wasn't interested in fussy measuring and marking, so I whipped up some paper piecing patterns in EQ7 (the first time I was able to do something efficiently with the program -- I just haven't invested the necessary time to learn it well yet). A broken rotary cutter slowed me down, but I still have a bit of August left to get these done.

G's Wrap Up
We showed off how G got started sewing. He has attended a Montessori school for the last two years of pre-K (he starts his Kindergarten year there this week) where he learned to hand sew. Before learning to machine piece, he did three projects at school: sewing on plastic canvas, stitching on burlap, and the stuffed bear.

I showed you G's first two quilts in our first post this week. His third quilt will be a gift for his dad, to go on his wall at work. I gave G a book of basic blocks to flip through and he decided on the House on a Hill block, modified to only have one chimney. He chose all the fabrics from our stash. All of the piecing was done my G. I helped with pressing, though now he has learned how to finger press seams open so he helped with that this time. The finished block will be 12" x 12".

G has been asking to learn how to free motion quilt. He really wanted to do it on his second quilt, but together we decided it would be more timely to do walking foot straight line quilting, so he could give the belated gift sooner. He's decided that he will quilt the House on a Hill mini with free motion quilting, so it was time to learn. Today was his first practice. Here's the result.

Lastly from G, here are a few final thoughts quotes from him:

"I like making all my sewing stuff and I hope you saw all of them. I actually like making quilts."

"The best part of quilting is threading the needle."

"The hardest part of quilting is that you don't push or pull on the fabric except for in free motion quilting."

"The easiest part of quilting is putting your foot down on the pedal."

Thanks again for following along with us this week! What a fabulous way to spend our last week of summer!

Post by Sarah & G - Quilters #33 & #34: 

Sarah lives in San Jose, California and started blogging and more actively quilting at the beginning of 2014. She loves bold, saturated color and geometric patterns. Sarah is currently trying to finish up old WIPs while also participating in multiple mini quilt swaps and quilting bees. You can follow her on Instagram @sarahmgoer or on her blog Sarah Goer Quilts

G is 5 years old and started quilting when he was 4 1/2. After doing some hand sewing projects at school, he learned how to use the sewing machine at home to piece and quilt his projects. He said that making a quilt "made [his] life better." When he's not quilting, he loves building legos and playing baseball. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Time Saving Quilting Tips

If you've been following me on IG this week, you've seen that I've been sew, sew, sewing all week (pics on the blog tomorrow). This is NOT a typical week for me. I'm a busy mom of two small children who squeezes in sewing whenever I can. I want to share a few of my quilting tips with you.

Keep your machine in a common area.
Now, don't get me wrong. I drool over the lovely sewing rooms that I see on blogs and IG, but that is not how I roll. I have a small table for my machine in the corner of my living room. When I started sewing in the living room I had two kids under age 3 and hiding up in the upstairs office never would have worked to get any sewing done. Having my machine in the living room (next to the kids art table) allows me to hear them playing downstairs while I sew. In the beginning it meant I could sneak in a few minutes of sewing when they planted themselves at the art table. Now that they play more independently, I still like to be close enough to monitor them while I sew. Also, after I'm done eating breakfast or lunch with them and they are still eating (they can be SO slow!), I can hop over to the sewing machine and still keep an eye on them eating. I can see that in some number of years this may change for me, but for now it's the most productive corner of the house my sewing machine could possibly be in.

Work on two (or more!) projects at a time. This might sound crazy, but hear me out... I piece nearly everything using a medium grey thread (aurifil #2605) which allows me to work on multiple projects simultaneously (time saver!). Working on multiple projects allows me to chain piece, going back and forth between projects, hardly ever lifting the presser foot. I prep two piles to chain piece, one group from Project A and one group from Project B, then I start chain piecing. Once I get all the way through the Project A group and into the Project B group (so what's under the presser foot is Project B), I pause sewing (don't lift the presser foot) and snip the thread between the last Project A seam and the first Project B seam. Then I take the Project A group to the ironing board to press my seams, snip the sections apart, and use those units to make my next pile of Project A pairs of fabrics to be pieced. Once I get done sewing the first batch of Project B seams, I repeat the process. I just flip back and forth between the projects until I'm done with one or both.

Stay organized. Since I like to work on multiple projects at a time, staying organized is key. One thing I love for this is fast food trays. (see above, available on Amazon) I first ordered a dozen fast food trays for using for kids projects. They are great at the art table for keeping messy projects more contained. They're terrific for holding loose lego pieces while building. Then I started borrowing them for my sewing. (Now I have my own set.) I put the pieces for each project (or each section for a larger project) on its own tray. This allows me to shuffle them around as needed, but to keep pieces together with the proper project/section. For storage, I also employ individual project bins for each project. I'm a many (very many!) WIP kind of girl, so I own quite a few of these craft bins (Creative Options, sometimes available at Costco).

 What are your best time saving tips?

Post by Sarah - Quilter #33 

Sarah lives in San Jose, California and started blogging and more actively quilting at the beginning of 2014. She loves bold, saturated color and geometric patterns. Sarah is currently trying to finish up old WIPs while also participating in multiple mini quilt swaps and quilting bees. You can follow her on Instagram @sarahmgoer or on her blog Sarah Goer Quilts

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Week #33: Quilters #33 and #34 - Sarah and G Goer

Hi. I’m Sarah Goer (Quilter #33). My son G (Quilter #34) and I are excited about taking over 52 Quilters this week. We live in San Jose, California, where I’ve lived my whole life, except for four years at UC San Diego for college.

I can’t remember a time that I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine. I learned to sew from my mother when I was a kid (and made a ton of scrunchies in the ‘80s). After a long hiatus from sewing I started quilting in 2002. I can’t even remember what motivated me to want to start, but I had a couple acquaintances who pointed me to some books to get started. In the beginning I didn’t have a dedicated sewing space, so I didn’t sew very regularly. It’s been the last two years that I’ve had a dedicated sewing corner in my living room. I like to sew every day. It’s good for my sanity. I started blogging at the beginning of 2014 as a means of sharing my projects with friends and family, keeping myself motivated, and inspiring others. Here are some of my favorite projects.

I love bold, saturated color. Candy Shoppe (57” by 67”) was a project I started in 2003 and finally finished in 2014. I held off (for a long time) on quilting it because I wanted to learn to free motion quilt first.

I’m really enjoying participating in mini quilt swaps on IG. I had a great time making this one for the Alison Glass Mini Quilt Swap (16” x 16”).

Here’s the pouch I made for the Open Wide Zipper Pouch Swap. (You just can’t go wrong with Alison Glass fabrics!)

I don’t work with solids very often, but Antioxidant Delight (32” x 32”) was the first quilt I designed.

G had been doing some hand sewing in his Montessori preschool classroom. I realized how excited he was about it and how proud of his work he was, so I asked him if he would like to learn how to make a quilt. He was interested and we began work on his first quilt at the beginning of this year, when he was 4 1/2 years old. I wrote a series on my blog about Teaching My Son to Quilt.

G’s first project was Jungle of Animals, a 36” by 36” quilt that he ended up deciding to keep for himself. It’s the perfect cuddle/kid’s lap quilt size for him.

His second project was a rainbow doll’s quilt (16” x 24”) for his sister as a gift for her 3rd birthday.

I read about the 52 Quilters project last December and was excited about the plan. I’ve enjoyed following 52 Quilters (mostly on Instagram) since the beginning. It’s been a great way to get to know a variety of other quilters. I think we’re off to a bit of a slow start, but there’s lots of time in our schedule over the next five days to sew and share what we’re up to.

You can find me at:
Instagram: @sarahmgoer
Twitter: @sarahgoer

Post by Sarah & G - Quilters #33 & #34: 

Sarah lives in San Jose, California and started blogging and more actively quilting at the beginning of 2014. She loves bold, saturated color and geometric patterns. Sarah is currently trying to finish up old WIPs while also participating in multiple mini quilt swaps and quilting bees. You can follow her on Instagram @sarahmgoer or on her blog Sarah Goer Quilts

G is 5 years old and started quilting when he was 4 1/2. After doing some hand sewing projects at school, he learned how to use the sewing machine at home to piece and quilt his projects. He said that making a quilt "made [his] life better." When he's not quilting, he loves building legos and playing baseball. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How to do it all!

Wouldn't that be a great blog post? Tell us the answers to how to have it all, have extra hours in the day, make 52 quilts a year!?

I get teased a lot at my quilt guild meetings, by folks who want to know how I do so much with four little kids. And the truth is simple: I don't clean!

Ha! I do clean, but only what I have to! And I've always been good at multi-tasking. I can cook dinner and cut out a quilt. And here's how: I keep everything at hand.

My sewing room is very small, and mostly is used to store my extensive yarn collection (ahem), and small fabric stash and my crafty library. So I do all of my work in the main part of the house. Our house is pretty small, so from the kitchen and dining table, I can see and hear most of what is going on in the house. I sew at the table while the kids do art or build legos. I cut at our kitchen island while I make dinner, or the kids eat lunch.

And I keep lots of projects in different stages, which I think helps in a variety of ways. If I have things prepped for piecing or fabrics pulled to be cut, I can work on those in a few minutes at a time. I think it also helps to not get bored with one particular project!

I'd love to hear how you make time for your projects! How do you balance what you have to do, with what you need to do?

Post by Jenn - Week #32: 

Jenn is an avid knitter and quilter living in Fort Worth, Texas. For her on twitter at @knitlit or on instagramt at  mommy sew.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Instagram - The Spark Beneath my Sewing Mojo

9 August 2015

It is my last day as Quilter 31 in the 52 Quilters social experiment, and my final blog post about quilting and my life. I haven't posted a ton, but what I did post I was proud to share. I hope you found some of what I had to say enjoyable!

My final post is about inspiration. Almost a year ago, I was creatively floundering. I don't mean floundering in a creative way, but floundering to actually BE creative. It was as if all the extra energy I usually had for projects was being sucked down by my business, soccer practice, committee meetings, volunteer work and just everyday life. When I think about last fall, I can't name a single thing that I created. Luckily then, like other important times in my life, the bestie came to the rescue. "Why don't you check out Instagram", she said. "It's great. So many cool things to see and make". I was reluctant. Our pattern is usually bestie sharing a great idea, me waiting forever to catch on, and then banging my head when I finally do catch on and agree that it was a great idea. I had been a Facebook girl, but I was becoming disenchanted. While I recognize that Facebook is a powerful tool for my business, the drama was really starting to stress me out. So, at the risk of finding another drama filled social media outlet, I jumped into Instagram.

What I found was my tribe.

Where in your life can you find a place that fosters goodwill, creativity, kindness, support, and sharing? Do you have a place? Is there an avenue where you can actually be yourself and feel appreciated? Are you willing to express yourself there, in an honest way and not feel as though you're rocking the boat?

Let's face it...we all need a little boosting in life. Whether it's the project you just screwed up, a loving picture of your child, a sick pet, the ribbon you just earned, or just your favorite dinner plate, we all like knowing that someone is interested in what we have to say! After gaining likes and followers, bestie and I jumped into the community of mini quilt swapping, and we were hooked. Instagram had become part of our lives and the people had become our friends. We've even had the privilege of meeting a few of our IG peeps in real life, and it's been more fun than I can say.

So, after we were hooked on swapping, this happened. Here's a look at some of the swap projects I've made since last winter.
Schnitzel & Boo Mini Quilt Swap Round 3

Rainbow Mini Quilt Swap

Rainbow Mini Quilt Swap - label

Spring Fling Mini Quilt Swap

Sherlock Mini Quilt Swap

Alison Glass Mini Quilt Swap

Cotton & Steel Mini Quilt Swap
Instagram saved my quilting and creative mojo. If you haven't drunk the IG water yet, you should definitely try a sip. You'll be ready for a big girl glass before you know it.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the 52 Quilters experiment. I've been thrilled to be a part of it and I'll be following right along. On Instagram, of course.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Maine's Fair Season

7 August 2015
I was so wasted last night after returning from a night at the fair that I knew any kind of post was going to be poorly done. So, here I am!

This week marks the 161st Topsham Fair here in Maine, in the town of Topsham about 20 minutes away from our home. I love the fair. The animals, the machinery, the people, the FRIED DOUGH. I don't really love carnival rides, and neither does my nephew, so it works out pretty well that my son and my sister can do that part together while my nephew and I hang out and people-watch. Last night was the first time ever that this fair hosted a monster truck show and I think I was just as excited as the kids! It was also the night for 8-year old "Mutton Busting", a hilarious spectacle of little kids riding (mostly) sheep.
 While I enjoy the fair as a fair-goer, I also am privileged to have the responsibility of judging the quilts that are entered into the Fair Exhibition. I have judged for several years and enjoy seeing the entries and choosing the winners.

Judging, whether at the county fair or a national quilt show, is a very touchy subject. I am not a certified judge, other than owning a quilt shop and being considered the local "expert". Only at a fair can you get away with that!

The fair takes the exhibition very seriously and has a complete system in place for receiving, tagging, displaying and judging each entered item. The quilts specifically have categories, but there are no particular criteria used for the judging. It's all up to me. The fair folks usually have the quilts all separated out by category, so I work on one pile at a time and can choose a first, second and third place ribbon. Of all the firsts, I choose a Best of Show.

I try to keep in mind that I'm not a certified judge and that while this show does offer cash prizes it's not offering any national notoriety or big money. Its a local fair and folks enter the things they're proud of. I use basic quilting criteria as my guide. Do the points match up? If it's hand quilted, are the stitches even? If it's machine quilted, is the tension good? Is the overall quilt appealing - regardless of whether or not I like the colors or subject matter? Does it appear that the entrant put their best effort forward? In some cases there is only one entry in a category, but I don't automatically give it the blue ribbon if it seems like something about it could have been better. If I get down to a few contenders, I can always rely on my good friend, who judges the crafts, to help me talk through it.

This quilt was in the bed-sized, hand quilted category. I looked at points, matching seams, binding and the quilting. While I would have liked more quilting in the blue sashing, the quilting she did have was even, added to the overall design of the quilt and was well distributed. This quilt earned the blue ribbon in that particular category.

One of the biggest obstacles for me as a fair judge is the fact that the fair entry rules require that  entries be completed 100% by the entrant. In the world of quilting with longarm machines, and lots of people owning their own, it's not possible to know if a quilt was done 100% by the entrant. I have been peeved more than once to have awarded a ribbon, turned over the tag to reveal the entrant's name and know that the person didn't actually quilt the quilt themselves.
At the end of the day, I choose the Best of Show.   
All the Best of Show items, from each category, are displayed together on the winner's podium. This display includes all manner of entries from quilts, eggs, kid's drawings, knitting and crocheting, vegetables, jams and jellies, wood carvings, photographs, breads and more.

If you're lucky enough to live in an area with a country fair, take the time to visit the exhibition hall. Sit the kids down with their cotton candy, hot dogs and noisy game winnings and give yourself a few minutes to step back in time. You'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Our Family of Quilters (and sewers)

5 August 2015

This blog post is a partial testimony to my quilting and sewing heritage. We are lucky to own pieces of our past from both sides of my family.

My grandmothers were both sewers, but I don't think I'd really call either of them quilters.

Grandma Ruth had a sewing room full of fabric, machines and projects. As kids, we weren't allowed in the sewing room unless we had shoes on, and we quickly found out why when we'd sneak in, in our stocking feet, only to come upon an upturned pin on the floor. Grandma's stash would have been the envy of us all! Her closet was full of fabrics, pillow forms, stuffing, fabrics rolled on tubes and boxes full of patterns and other crafting supplies. My mother's mother was a true "craftsman", in that she dabbled in lots of making. From scherenschnitte (paper cutting) to costume making, curtains, clothes and stuffed toys, she really made it all. I remember the Christmas when Cabbage Patch Kids were first available, my sister and I received handmade dolls instead. I'm sure that I'm more thrilled now to have that wonderful gift than I was at the time!                   

The only real textile relic from mom's side of the family is a wonderful quilt that we attribute to my grandfather's mother. This feathered star is one of my prized possessions.

My Grandma Frances had a wonderful sewing "basket", which was really a green metal tin with a lid painted with flowers and two handles that folded up over for easy transport. My sister and I loved to rifle through the treasures inside - ribbons, all carefully rolled; two wooden sock darners, one painted black and worn with use and one a natural stained wood color; hand embroidered pin cushions filled with pins of all sizes; old wooden spools of thread; several silver colored thimbles of various sizes; and an assortment of embroidery flosses in different colors and lengths. I'm not sure I remember ever seeing Grandma Frances actually sewing, but I have items that she sewed. I do remember learning to crochet with her, sitting with her on the couch and endlessly double crocheting. I can only double crochet and an afghan that I started in college is still in progress. One of my favorite things that Grandma Frances ever made was her denim applique quilt.

Grandma's mother, Grandma Bertha was an amazing seamstress and stitcher. We have a treasure trove of her items ranging from free form embroideries to lightweight quilts made from the remnants she took after working in the local shirt mill. Here is one called "Nutting in October's Woods".

I think the one true textile "heirloom" from this side of the family is the mourning quilt that lives at my dad's house. It was made in the 1930's after my grandfather's sister, Betty, was killed. She was walking to a piano lesson that she didn't want to attend, when she was struck by the trolley in Eden, PA, just outside of Lancaster. The quilt, shown below, was made from Betty's dresses by the women of Eden. Completely hand quilted, it is a sight to behold.

I sure hope you've had as much fun reading this post as I have had writing it! Family is such a blessing and to have wonderful things to go along with wonderful memories, is truly the best.

See you tomorrow, when I show you yet another quilting hat that I am privileged to wear!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Today's Hat...Machine Maintenance!

4 August 2015

When I became a machine dealer two years ago, the two scariest things to me were machine embroidery and machine maintenance. Surprisingly enough, both things have been great! I love machine embroidery (which is another day) and I do actually enjoy working on machines!

Today, I had three machines to service, plus one "drop-in" look over appointment.

The appointment machine was a breeze and only required minor adjustments and reassurance to the owner. We updated her machine to the newest available software and I sent her happily on her way to a long weekend of sewing, on retreat with her quilting buddies.

Here's a quick peek of what I found when I opened up the first of the service machines:
 And the second machine was even worse! No matter what the brand, your sewing machine dealer is always going to be ok with you doing some basic maintenance for yourself. I always tell machine owners that they can do this:
                 1. Remove the needle plate and bobbin basket (drop-in bobbins)
                 2. Using tweezers, remove all loose lint balls and stray threads
                 3. Use a small vacuum to suck out anything you can't grab with the tweezers, I don't                recommend canned air anymore as it blows more trouble inside the machine!
Here's a peek at what I removed from the second machine. The lint was so tightly packed inside the machine that I am surprised it was sewing at all. Pin in photo is for size.

I was able to get two of the three machines serviced. One of the obstacles of a small shop is frequent interruptions from customers, friends and phone calls! I was pretty impressed that I got finished what I did!

Here's an after picture -and how your machine should look on the inside!
Hop on over to the 52Quilters profile on Instagram for a fun video from my service sessions from today! I'll see you again tomorrow to share with you my quilting heritage!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 31: Quilter 31 - Amanda Campbell

It's Week 31! My name is Amanda Campbell and I'm super excited to be the 52 Quilter this week! It's been a blast following along with the previous 30 quilters, and I hope you enjoy the stories and quilts I have to share with you!

I live in Georgetown, an island town along the beautiful coast of Maine. I am married to a hardworking, clam digging husband and we have one son, Connor, who will be in third grade this fall. We also have 9 chickens and a crazy dog, Zelda. We're a family of gamers, readers and general fun-havers!

In 2002, at the ripe young age of 26, I opened my quilt shop, Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop, in downtown Bath, Maine. I probably had 200 bolts of fabric when I opened and when I look back at photos of that first year, I honestly wonder why anyone ever came in! In 2006 we moved from our first location on an off-street of downtown, to our current location on lower Front Street, our "main drag". We can see the beautiful Kennebec River from our shop windows and the towering Sagadahoc Bridge that connects Bath to the other side of the river (and how I get home at night!) Our town is truly the quintessential New England town, where it's ok to send your kid down the street for an ice cream, or up to the library for an afternoon program.

Over the 13 years that I've had my shop, my taste has definitely changed. I have a healthy appreciation for our quilting roots and love traditional designs. But I want to make them my way! I am best summed up as a twisted traditionalist! I have sewing heritage, which I can't wait to show you, and am passing my love of sewing along to my son (we'll show you his quilts, too).

So, aside from 52Quilters, you can find me in these places:
Instagram: @marinerscompass
Facebook: Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop

I think it's going to be a great week!