Thursday, April 26, 2007

Longarm Girls Meeting

I am having some of my longarm friends over this weekend. We are hoping to learn from each other, swap stories and tips and to try out some new techniques. Hmmm, company is coming over…I better clean up the studio.

It is still hard to call my mother’s old bedroom “my studio” but there is no confusion about where the "studio" is. I can’t call it my sewing room, since I have a large part of the family room sectioned off as my sewing room for my Bernina, light box, cutting mat work, etc. And then the guest room has all my completed quilts awaiting distribution so that is a bit like a sewing room annex. See what I mean? So I started calling it my studio a short time ago even though it still sounds funny to me, almost pretentious. I think that my mother would like that her bedroom is now being used as my quilt studio. It is the second master suite in the house and has two big windows that flood the room with morning light. I have my 14-foot APQS longarm machine setup diagonally in the room. The walls are adorned with quilts, thread, pantos and stencils. What this room lacks, though, is organization.

Getting Organized
1. Organize the batting
2. Trim my stash
3. Organize all pantos. Create a spreadsheet to avoide buying a duplicate.
4. Build thread cone holders for the wall
5. Build a storage display for my stencils by size
6. Gather all pattern packs and ideas into one central location so I can
find what I need instead of exploding the room looking for a pinwheel pattern

The wall-to-wall mirrored closet is jammed full of fabric, a situation I plan to remedy tonight when Danielle comes over to take some of this fabric off my hands. Danielle is only 16 years old. She started sewing and quilting a little over a year ago. She has made several quilts and wall hangings. She’s also on the water polo team, swim club, Applique sewing group at our local quilt shop and oh, yes, she is a junior in high school. So she is pretty busy, really too busy to work. She had a job at the local grocery store for a while but it got in the way of her studies and swim practice so she had to give it up. So to support her fabric habit, she sometimes works at the LQS or finds herself on the receiving end of gifts from old quilters who are thinning out their stashes. That’s where I come in.

I have discovered that I love fabric but am a poor manager of my stash. When I see a fabric that I like, I buy it without any thought to the pattern in which that the fabric will be used. So my stash has grown and grown and grown. Sometimes, I’ll see a fabric collection and a pattern and buy the pattern book and all the fabric for that quilt. I put the whole package in a project box, carefully labelled and put it in the studio’s mirrored closet. That way, when I have time to piece, the box will have everything I need in it. It is to the point now that I don’t have any room left for new purchases. I made the tough decision to cut back by giving away all my stash except those fabrics in the project boxes.

This stash give-away was to keep Danielle busy making quilts and an attempt to make room in my studio. I have taken some additional measures to get organized in the studio. My rolls of batting are now on a roller under the quilt table so I can easily roll out and cut a length of batting without wrestling it out of the closet. I started off my quilting career working from the front of the machine, in other words, I was doing mainly freehand work. I began noticing that other longarm quilters used pantograph patterns to quilt from the back of the longarm. Some of these patterns were so beautiful. Florals, feathers, leaves, spirals, really cool stuff. It took me many hours of practice to learn to control the longarm from the back of the machine while following a tiny red laser light focused on a paper pattern on the quilt table. That is practice quilting and practice ripping quilting out because it was too awful for words. I want my work to stay fresh and current. The same old thing gets stale and predictable. Once I got the hang of it, I started buying pantographs. I couldn’t get enough of them. Anything new, I just had to have it. I guess that’s what it’s like for anybody getting started on a new venture. More is. . .well, it is MORE. Now I have about 80 pantos. I know, shameful, huh?

My greed did not stop at pantos, though. Well, I had to have thread. And one green is simply not enough, I must have several greens. I don’t even know how many cones (I don’t even count the spools anymore) of thread I have. I have cotton thread, poly thread, poly with a cotton wrap, see-thru thread, sparkly thread and many, many multi-colored (variegated) thread. I tried buying those June Tailor spool holders but they are really made for the smaller (2000 yds) cones. I have lots of 6,000 yd cones. These cones are everywhere. Staged on the June Tailor holders, in bags, in project boxes. I even found a mustard thread that I had been trying to match in the bottom of my purse last week. No wonder the purse was so heavy.

My husband and I designed some thread holders to be made from plywood and dowels. We bought two nice pieces of 3/4 inch Birch plywood; one is 24" x 24" and the other is 24" x 48". The big piece is for the 6,000 yd cones, the 24 x 24 is for the smaller cones, like Signature. We decided to leave my Superior and YLI thread on the June Tailor thread holders. I don't need to cover this thread because the room is almost pitch dark when the shades are pulled. The only time the shades are up is while I am in the room. The small board ended up with 63 holes. That was quite a chore using a regular drill and muscle. At first, I though that maybe that one board would be enough. That is when I started noticing the other thread peeking out of the bag, hiding under the quilt books and squeezed into plastic tubs. I needed more thread storage. Sigh.... I started asking around at the quilt shop if anybody knew anybody who had a drill press. So I found a quilter who had a husband who owned a drill press. He is making another board for me with 48 spots for the big cones. He won't let me pay him for his work. But maybe his wife has a quilt that needs to be quilted.

Who need dollars when you can barter? I'm really starting to get excited about the Longarm Girls Day. I will be presenting the Circle Lord. One of the girls is intereested in the Baptist Fans template.

More later.....

Our first meeting was great fun. There were two APQS longarmers (me and Joann) and two Gammill gals (Cheryl and Dawnell). We got a chance to chat, exchange ideas and methods, and try some new things. I demo'd my Circle Lord and everybody got a chance to try it out. Cheryl brought her Linda Taylor rulers so we could try them out. I'm going to have to get a set of those rulers. We talked about thread color and types of threads. Joann and Cheryl shared the PermaCore universal color secret with me. And no....I am not going to tell you what it is.

We plan to meet once a quarter with each of us hosting a meeting. We all have something to share. It is important to me to continue to learn and grow both as a quilter and as a businesswoman. I think that this kind of free and open exchange will be just as important (and more fun, no doubt) as formal classroom training. I noticed that my countdown claendar says that I have only 39 days until MQS.

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My life has changed in the last couple of years - some bumps, I retired from quilting, and then I moved to Texas. I'm anxious to see what new adventures await me in the next phase of my life.

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Ramona, California, United States
I started quilting when a quilt shop opened in our little town in January 2004. I have been hooked ever since.

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Books I"ve read lately

  • The Help (Kindle)
  • The Appeal by John Grisham
  • Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (again) by Harper Lee
  • Bleachers by John Grisham

This is called Fruit Cocktail

This is called Fruit Cocktail
It is all batiks