On a Personal Note

Yes, I’ve been absent from my blog for awhile.  My apologies!  As it turns out, I have started a new job, a “real job” for those who think quilting is not a real job (it is – it’s a lot of physical work that can be hard on the body).  I am back to working in public schools, not as an actual teacher but as a teacher’s aide.  I was unable to pay my bills on the amount of income I was getting through quilting, so it was a necessary step for me to get back on the right track financially.

I will no longer be quilting for others except for an occasional Edge-to-Edge when time permits.  So far, time has not been on my side.  I will still continue my blog with an occasional post, too.  And, of course, my store will continue to be open.  I will also continue drawing out and digitizing quilting designs for Intelligent Quilting.

Thank you so much to my patient and loyal customers!  I loved quilting for you and will miss it – I’ve learned so much from all of you!  Quilting is my zen and every time I loaded another quilt onto my quilting machine’s frame, I could feel the peace wash over me.  I will miss that – it is good for the soul.

Digital Designs

I haven’t said anything about this yet, because I don’t have too many digital designs out there.  But, I started digitizing designs for Intelligent Quilting.  She’s got a sale going on right now for 25% off through July 29th – that’s 2 more days.

I’ve got several themes.  Right now, they have parts of my themes; Dinner at Eight (stiletto) designs, Japanese designs, and Paper Doll designs.  You can go directly to my design page here.  Or, any time you are on my site and want to check out what’s new, I’ve provided a button that will take you there.  It’s in the upper right-hand corner of this website under the social icons and looks like this.

 

My Japanese theme comes from my experiences of living in Japan many years ago.  While I was there, I went to college and minored in Asian Studies.  I learned to speak Japanese and was just beginning to read and write their 4,000 kanji and kana characters.  I can honestly say that I”ve forgotten more than I’ll ever know, given that I don’t use it.  And, sometimes when I’m trying to say something in Spanish, it will come out in Japanese and vice versa.  I’m not fluent in either language; I wonder were I fluent, if that would still happen.  Anyhow, here is an Asian symbol that I thought would look great on a Double Wedding Ring quilt, just for something different.  Yes, it can also be used otherwise, but this is the symbol for double happiness.  This is usually used on envelopes and cards for wedding couples.  You can find it here.

 

Okay, so now for a confession.  I do not have a computerized quilting machine, and I feel like I’m designing these blind.  So, I have a favor to ask.  IF you buy any of my designs, could you, would you, please let me know what I need to do to make these computer friendly?  I honestly have no idea.  I just want to draw quilting designs so that quilters have access to making their quilts wonderful and unique.  I can only hope that one day I will be able to get a computer for my machine.  But, for now, I’m digitizing blind.

 

I’m Not Scared of It Anymore

Around the 4th of July, I took a break from quilting for customers to work on my machine – her name is Frida (she’s named after the artist Frida Kahlo).  She’s been fidgety and I wanted to get her straightened out and running smooth.  Months back, I had ordered a new hopping foot and hopping foot bar.  Online, the new hopping foot looked different from what I had, and I was afraid that if I didn’t order the bar along with the hopping foot, I might have trouble getting the new hopping foot to go with the old bar.  What was wrong with my old hopping foot was that the holes where the screws went in were stripped.  The screws would hold the old foot on, but the foot would jiggle around all over the place while I was quilting, getting awfully close to the needle.  I was afraid I’d hit a needle on it and mess up the timing.  Plus, if I used rulers (which I do a lot with custom work), I wouldn’t be able to get precise stitching.

So, I finally got around to working on Frida part of that last week of June, into July.  The first problem I had was being able to access the hopping foot bar.  Since Frida lives in the dungeon (my basement), she gets exposed to moisture.  That created a problem with screws being stuck.  I had to take off both sides of the top of my machine, and to get one of the sides off, I had to remove the tension assembly.  

Taking off the tension assembly created its own problems.  I jacked with the screw too much, trying to get it off that side of the machine head, and messed up the wire.   

But, as you can see, I got it back together, ready to go back to its home, with the old wire replaced.

Now to get that old hopping foot bar out of there.  I wrestled and wrangled and waited and wrestled and wrangled some more and waited (for the WD-40 to do its work) and finally got that screw unlocked.

Only to discover that I still wouldn’t be able to get that hopping foot bar out of there.  I thought it might just drop right down out of there, but…

It hit the hook assembly.  NOOOoooooo!  I didn’t want to mess with the timing.  That was the last thing I wanted to do.  Well, I was planning on working on the timing anyway, but that was later, much later.  It takes me a couple of hours to make sure I have the timing just right.  If I don’t, my stitches will be so messed up and my machine won’t run right.  Well, I ended up taking out the hook assembly.  And, guess what?  It hit the bar that holds the hook assembly.  At this point, I contacted the service department of APQS.  Let me tell you, I should have done this in the first place.  But, I didn’t want to “bother” anyone.  I thought I could do this by myself.  Big mistake!  APQS’s Service Department is always so helpful.  If you don’t want to buy an APQS machine for any other reason, buy it for the Service Department.

Of course, when I contacted the Service Department, I found out that I didn’t need to remove the hook assembly.  Doh!  The instructions Angie sent detailed how I would have to cut the bar out of there.  Ack!  So, on to the power tools…and voila!  The old hopping foot bar  is out of there.

One of the things I did not tell you earlier was that the new foot would, indeed, work with the old hopping foot bar.  But, it was shorter than the old hopping foot, so I’d need to lower the old hopping foot bar.  When I got that lowered, it went down into the hole where it was held in place, and I worried about it not being held in place because of that.  Either way, I had a new hopping bar.  I may as well use it.

Also, I ended up needing to mess with the needle bar and the parts that hold it in place in order to get the new hopping foot bar in there.

Something else I didn’t tell you was that I really messed up the top tension when I messed with the screw.  So, I had to work and work to get the tension fixed as well as get the hook timing working with the top tension.  If I’d called the service department first, I would not have had to fiddle so much with either of these. I would not have taken the hook assembly out and would have only had to work with the top tension to get that right.  Then, I could have come back and worked on the hook timing separately.

With the machine head being taken apart inside and out, I can honestly say I am no longer afraid of my machine or of repairing it. However…the moral of the story is to not be afraid to ask for help (I really need help with heeding that advice) and call the experts first.

 

Wanna know a secret?

Here it is… I envy the quilt makers that I quilt for.  They may go on and on about my quilting, but I swear, each time I open up the next quilt to put it on the frame, I am in awe of the quilt maker’s ability.  I think I’ve told you before that I can’t get my points and corners to match when piecing a quilt top.  I’ve begun making more applique quilts for that reason.  I have one customer in particular that has a gift for putting colors and fabrics together.  It’s a gift, I am sure, because so few of us have it and we have to work at it and think about it.  I have another customer who appliques the tiniest and most detailed quilt pieces.  I’m sure she has the patience of a saint.  I feel very blessed to be surrounded by so many talented friends and customers.

So, it is with sadness that I have to cut back on my quilting.  I went to see the doctor for my annual exam a couple of weeks ago, and she said I need to break up my routine and do other things.  I’ve been in so much pain that it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to move the quilting machine around on the frame.  I have Degenerative Disc Disease (the dreaded triple D), which I thought was just a fancy word for arthritis.  Turns out, I’ve got both arthritis and DDD.  I don’t remember how many years ago it was first diagnosed, but my doctor at the time, took an X-ray of my spine and showed me what he found; bone spurs.  He said, “You’ve got a little bit of arthritis, don’t you?”  I wondered how he knew, and he showed me the bone spurs.  Oh!  So, I just thought the DDD was a fancy name for arthritis of the spine, but it really means your spineis wearing down (degenerating – duh!).

I was put on Naproxen back then, but in time we found out my stomach could not handle the NSaids.  I also get migraines, sometimes due to allergies or weather changes or hormones.  And, sometimes it seems I get them because, like fishing,  I did or didn’t hold my mouth right.   But, a lot of times I get migraines from my back tensing up.  The NSaids kept me from getting a lot of migraines.  Since November, I’ve been getting 2 and 3-day migraines about every 2 weeks.  The past 6 weeks, I was getting them every week.  That’s a LOT of time off work, because I can’t function at all and end up sleeping all day to try to rid myself of the pain.  Well, lately, the pain has been in my back, neck and shoulders and radiating down into my arms, meaning I can’t do my work (moving a quilting machine around) without a lot of pain.  I’ve been falling further and further behind on my work, and I was at a loss of what to do for it.

Doc said to stop.  I’ve already been to physical therapy and do my stretches daily.  She said I need to switch activities so that I’m not stressing the same muscles repeatedly for hours on end.  I guess the worse part of it all is realizing that my head thinks I am a lot younger than my body feels and that I should be able to quilt all day long “like everyone else.”  Aw, Mom, everyone else gets to do it!  That’s been the hardest pill to swallow.  Anyhow, my doctor is having me try Enteric Coated Naproxen only when I really need it.  I’ve also got muscle relaxers to help my muscles not put so much strain on my bones.  I’m only supposed to take that when I really need it, too.

In the meantime, I will be quilting for no more than 2 hours at a shot and then take a break and do something else for the next few hours and then come back for another 2 hours if I am able.  It IS helping.  I’m not fearing getting on that machine anymore (fearing how much pain I will be in) and I haven’t had a migraine in 2 weeks.  🙂  Happy Days!  My body does not hesitate to let me know that I’ve worked too long.  I’ve tried to go 3 hours and my arms will not cooperate with me for the rest of the day.  One day, I worked 5 and a half hours (in increments), but I was in so much pain by the time I went to bed that night… the next day I couldn’t do anything.  pfhh…

So, the moral of the story is that I will not be quilting as much as I have in the past.  I have customer quilts that I will finish, and I will still be taking in customer quilts; just not so many at a time… the waiting list might get longer. I was hoping to be able to get a computer for the machine, so it could do the work for me, but they just want waaaaaay too much money for it (the quilting machine already cost $20,000 and a special computer for the quilting machine would cost another $10,000).  But, it is what it is.

As for what I’m going to do otherwise, I guess this will give me more time to work on other quilting type things.  I’ve got a couple of quilt patterns running around in my head, and I guess I’ll have more time to work on digitizing some of the quilting I’ve done.  I’m not sure where I’m headed, and I’m not yet happy about it.  I’m trying to be, and I’m hoping everything will work out in the end.  Wish me luck!  Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to get my points and corners to match!  :\

Why Does My Longarmer Charge ‘So Much’? by Andi Crafts

I have been reworking my quilting prices lately, because it’s tax season. I need to make a profit so the IRS will not audit me and force me to become a hobby, where I cannot make a living. Turns out, I’m not making a living anyway. Lately, I’ve been figuring out how much I make hourly and it’s not much. I have been doing a lot of Heirloom Quilting for an average of $3.50 per hour. Granted, I am a slow quilter… well, I think I am a slow quilter. I’m pretty picky about what goes into a quilt and will pick out something that bothers me. I take it slow and careful a lot of times to get as close to the perfection as I can that I’d like to end up with. I really am trying to perfect my skills and also become faster in the process. My waiting list is too long for my liking. I really want to get those quilts back to the customers as quickly as I can. But, I do a lot of Custom and Heirloom quilting. Edge to Edge doesn’t take nearly as long. I think people don’t realize that I love doing that just as much as I love doing Custom and beyond.

I have also been seriously thinking of retiring the quilting business and have been applying for “regular” jobs, so that I can make at least minimum wage. Some of the “skill-less” jobs I’ve applied for pay almost $20 per hour. This blog post, written by my FaceBook friend, Andi Rudebusch, is a good explanation of why we charge more than our customers think they should pay.  Click on the link below to see what she has to say.

Why Does My Longarmer Charge So Much?

One of the responses to Andi’s post was telling how much she paid her hairdresser… but he’s “worth it.”  Think about it.  How much do we pay our hairdressers?  If I go to the cheapest place, I pay $15 for about 30 minutes of their time.  That’s the equivalent of $30 per hour.  Could I cut my hair myself?  Yes.  Do I want to?  No.

I really do love my job, and I hate to do this, but I will be raising my prices beginning June 15th.  Until then, if the quilting cost is less than minimum wage for however long it takes me to get a quilt quilted, I will be charging at least minimum wage (half of that goes to withholding taxes, electricity and other overhead costs).  If I don’t get a “real” job before then, I need to be able to pay my bills.  In September, I sent my quilting machine in for service and, between shipping and the cost for it to be serviced, etc., it cost nearly $2,000.  Yes, you read that right.  I don’t want any of you to go into shock when I quote you a price, so I am forewarning you now.  I love you all to death and hope you will stick with me, but I do understand if you need to move on.  Thank you for sticking with me this long.

Happy Anniversary Jaftex!

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Welcome to Jaftex Blog Hop, Day 12!  I am sure by now you have read about how Jaftex got started and evolved, so I won’t bore you with that.  I don’t know about you, but I am really enjoying seeing all these projects that everyone has made with their fabrics.  There are 3 different kinds of fabric bundles, yet the variety of projects made is astounding!

I am honored to be the guest blogger for today!  I was given Fusion Illusion by Blank Quilting.   You, too, can win this colorful bundle of 20 fat quarters later in this post. So, stick with me!

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I know you’ve seen this fabric before on other blogs during this blog hop, but I used it on applique.  When I opened that box of fat quarter fabric bundles, I saw a rainbow of colors and thought I should make something to take advantage of that.  But… in the back of my mind I had a quilt design in mind that I’ve been meaning to draw up for nearly 2 years now.  This would be the perfect excuse to get those ideas down on fabric.

In 2013, my friend, Joan, and I went to the International Quilt Festival in Houston for the first time.  When you’re in Houston for Market or the Festival, you make friends with everyone.  We are all excited to be there and we have a lot in common.  Joan and I went down for breakfast at our hotel and saw ladies dressed up in Halloween attire – you could tell they were going to the quilt festival just from what they wore and how they looked.  Quilters will dress up together in the kookiest clothing!  We sat near this one couple of ladies who were cousins from a southern state.  They were dressed alike and looked like they were having a great time.  Each morning at the hotel bistro we would sit and chat with the other ladies going to Festival, but mostly we chatted with these 2 cousins.  I could kick myself for not remembering their names.  I guess I could call them Jill and Jane.

When you first get to Festival, you are full of energy but as each day passes, all the excitement and walking wear you down.  You shop. You eat.  You look at quilts. You eat.  You take classes.  You eat.  You rest.  And, you eat some more.  The extra weight of the goodies you buy and the pounds you put on from eating “help” you to move slower and slower.  So, by the last day, you have had your fill of fun and are dragging.

The last morning that Jill and Jane were there, it was a joy to see them, but they looked exhausted.  Their SUV was packed, and I mean packed, with the loot from only 2 days of shopping.  Jill said if there was an inch of space anywhere, she would find it so they could shop some more.  Jane said she had to stop or she wouldn’t have enough money to get back home.  It was a site to see!

After they headed for home, I laughed, thinking of a comic of them in my mind.  So, I sketched out a couple of pictures of them, thinking they would make a great quilt some day.  Quilters love to buy fabric and go to quilt shows and hang out with one another, so I figured quilters would also appreciate this “quilt story.”  The question was how to put them together into a story…  This is what I finally ended up with.  The name of this combo is…  “Went & Spent”.

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I put the bright colors in the “First Day” quilt and dark colors in the “Last Day” quilt.

Jill is on the left and Jane is on the right in both quilts.  There are lots of hidden symbols in these quilts.  For one thing, in the “before” quilt (“Went”), Jane is wearing “rose colored” glasses.  She also is carrying a green “cash” bag while Jill is carrying a “Shop ’til You Drop” bag.  And, they are standing on Cloud #9.

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In the “after” quilt (“Spent”), Jill and Jane both look haggard.  Jane’s glasses are now blue, to represent the blue feeling she has with leaving but also to hide those bags under her eyes.  😉  Both of them have frazzled hair.

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And, you can see that, although they’ve packed the SUV pretty well, they still have some room.

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So, here goes… for a chance to win the colorful bundle of 20 fat quarters above, please answer in the comments below  whether or not you have or have not been to International Quilt Festival at any time of the year.  If you have been, please tell me your favorite part.  If you haven’t been, please tell me if you’ve been to another quilt show and what you liked best about it.  On October 1st, I will pull a name/number out of a hat and will announce the winner of the Fusion Illusion fat quarter bundle shown above, so check back here then to see if it was you!  I will pay for shipping to U.S. residents.  If you are from another country and willing to pay the cost of shipping, then you are more than welcome to participate.

Also, please check out the “big” giveaways here: 85th Anniversary Giveaway 

Many thanks to Janome, Aurifil, and Schmetz for their contributions to the giveaway!

Don’t forget to stop over at Liz’ and Beth’s site at Lizzie B Cre8ive tomorrow for Day 13 of the blog hop.  I love their fun style and think you, too, will love whatever they make with their fabric bundle!

Good luck everyone!

 

 

Blog Hop Starts Tuesday, Sept. 1st!

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Hi all!  Jaftex is celebrating their 85th anniversary the WHOLE month of September.  Each day they will have a featured blogger who will be giving out a 20 piece fat quarter bundle to one lucky winner.  My day is September 12th.  There will be other prizes included, that will be picked in October, to include a sewing machine for the grand prize winner along with bigger and more fabric bundles to the runners up.  So, make sure you stop by the following blogs on his or her designated day and leave a comment for a chance to win!  Links to their blogs are included below.  Good luck!

September 1 – Kim Diehl guest posting @ American Patchwork & Quilting
September 2 – Pepper @ Pepper at the Quilt Studio
September 3 – Anjeanette @ Anjeanette Klinder
September 4 – Leanne @ The Whole Country Caboodle
September 5 – Mark @ Mark Lipinski’s Blog
September 6 – Heather @ Heather Kojan Quilts
September 7 – Heather @ Trends and Traditions
September 7 – Martha @ Wagons West Design
September 8 – Linda @ Linda Lum DeBono
September 9 – Heidi @ Red Letter Quilts
September 10 – Jill @ Jillily Studios
September 10 – Dana @ My Lazy Daisy
September 11 – Penny @ Sew Simple Designs
September 12 – Ida @ Cowtown Quilts
September 13 – Liz and Beth @ Lizzie B Cre8ive
September 14 – Melissa @ Sew Bitter Sweet Designs
September 15 – Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
September 16 – Amy @ Kati Cupcake
September 16 – Barbara @ QuiltSoup2
September 17 – Erica @ Kitchen Table Quilting
September 18 – Leona @ Leona’s Quilting Adventure
September 19 – Margot @ The Pattern Basket
September 20 – Sylvia @ Flying Parrot Quilts
September 21 – Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts
September 22 – Kim @ Aurifil Threads
September 23 – Rebekah @ Don’t Call Me Becky
September 24 – Julie @ The Crafty Quilter
September 25 – Mary Ellen @ Little Quilts
September 25 – Mary Jane @ Holly Hill Designs
September 26 – Daisy @ Ants to Sugar
September 27 – Melissa @ Happy Quilting
September 28 – Janet @ One S1ster Designs
September 29 – Jenny @ Martingale& Co.
September 30 – Teresa @ Third Floor Quilts