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!  :\

Animal Parade… quilts for a baby

Before I get started, please let me apologize for a couple of the pictures being sideways.  I have fixed them in the editor, but they keep changing back when I update and re-post this.  My apologies!

Remember a couple of years ago when I was doing book reviews? Well, one of the books charmed me so much, I used a couple of patterns in it to make baby quilts for my new grandson. The book’s title is Animal Parade by Cheri Leffler.

My grandson’s mother, my daughter, has always loved owls so in the autumn I made an owls quilt for him. This is a picture of the original in the book.

And, here is the one I made.

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You can’t tell that the fabric is turquoise in the above picture, but it is. I loved the fabric Cheri used in the bellies of her owls, but I couldn’t find any of that kind of fabric at the stores I visited, so I had to substitute. And, how did I miss those eyes in her owl on the upper right of Cheri’s quilt? They look so cute. Mine just look surprised like the others in the diagonal row that goes down to the left of it. LOL

You know how I love to be artistic with my quilting, so here are some close-ups of the quilting I did.

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That’s supposed to be a tree trunk on the left with a baby owl peeking out about the midway point right next to the left side of the picture.

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In this one you can see the leaves that I added to the branches. Basically, the quilting included tree trunks, extra branches and lots and lots of leaves.
Right side of the quilt with another tree trunk…

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Middle with lots of leaves…

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I know that a lot of stitching makes a quilt stiff. Some quilters put so much quilting on their quilts that they are like boards and are very heavy; too heavy to sleep under. That is the kind of quilting that you see on a lot of show quilts. When I quilted this, I put too much quilting in it. Yes, I was trying to “paint” a more complete picture, but for baby quilts, you really only need enough quilting to hold it together. They need soft quilts, and soft quilts have very little quilting. Lesson learned… again… with this quilt. So, on to the next one…

Another quilt from Cheri’s book in a penguin quilt with red borders and sashing. I like the red, but, to be honest, the red scares me due to bleeding issues. My son-in-law likes penguins, so for winter I made a penguin quilt from light blues. I also used a flannel backing and used the green color in the backing and purple to round out the colors. And, this time there was a lot less quilting. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it done in time for Christmas, and I didn’t. I normally do a little piecing at a time when I’m working on my own quilts. So, I was able to finish up the piecing a few days before Christmas and finish up the quilting several days afterwards.

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For this quilt, I just did an allover swirl to make it look like swirling wind.

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There were several places that was supposed to have embroidery, but I have to admit that I cheated.  I knew if I took the time to embroider everything on there that i wanted, the quilt probably wouldn’t get done for years.  So, I used a permanent fabric ink pen and drew in some of the embroidered areas, such as the black dots for the eyes below.

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I thought the dotted fabric reminded me of snowflakes.

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And, here is the flannel backing.

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I needed to get back to work on customer quilts, so I cheated once again by rolling the backing fabric around to the front to make the binding.  Can you see it?  No, I didn’t cut the flannel fabric first; I just rolled the extra backing flannel around to the front side and folded it over again and then machine sewed it down.  I’m a better thread artist than I am at making quilt tops.

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If you’d like to take a look at Cheri Leffler’s book, you can do so by going here: http://amzn.to/1nBiHdj

And, guess what? I saw that Cheri has a second Animal Parade book now, too. It looks like it’s got some adorable animals also. This one’s got hedge hogs, raccoons, dear, etc. You can find it here: http://amzn.to/1nBiWF4

Longarm-a-Palooza

If you are in the Kansas City area next weekend and are interested in taking classes to learn Longarm strategies, learn how to maintain a featherweight sewing machine, or how to start a quilting business, check out the Longarm-a-Palooza at Quilted Memeories. I’ll be teaching the business class. Here’s a link for the classes: Longarm-a-Palooza

 

A Gift from Dad

Robyn’s dad was a quilter.  He passed away awhile back and left several unfinished quilts, quilt tops, fabric, etc.  This is the quilt he had intended for his daughter, Robyn.  I was honored to get to quilt it for her… and him.  This is part of a legacy for both Robyn and her dad, and I got to be a part of completing this legacy circle.  I have a feeling this will be handed down through the generations.  <tears welling up>

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Can you tell it’s a King sized quilt?  It’s so big it didn’t even fit onto my design wall without hanging off.  🙂

She simply wanted an allover design with swirls (I do love quilting swirls!) and hearts as she was planning on putting it on her bed.

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Yes, her husband sleeps there, too.  😉 … the reason for the hearts.   I wish now that I had placed this in a more inconspicuous place on her quilt.

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Of course, after I was nearly done, I found a good spot for another surprise.

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Can you tell what it says?  “A moment in time, forever in my heart.”  To me it’s “fitting” in more ways than one.

LongArm Perspectives

I thought I’d share a few pictures of my longarm quilting machine and explain a couple of  differences between a longarm and a domestic machine.  This first shot is of part of the machine.  You can see how it sits on rollers and it has a bigger arm/throat space than a domestic machine.  Mine has 19″ to work with.  Domestic machines sit without moving.  You have to move the fabric around on a domestic machine to do the quilting.  You can also drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine to do free-motion quilting.  When you do that, you get the sensation of what it is like for a longarm quilter to quilt.

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Here is a shot of more of the machine’s frame.  You can see the the machine floats around on a frame that has several roller bars for the fabric to roll along.  Longarm quilting machines… as big as a car and costs as much, too!

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If you look closely at the hopping foot (as opposed to the presser foot), you will see that it does not sit down on the base of the machine.  It hovers across the fabric.  That is why it is so difficult to draw a straight line.  We use a straight edge ruler for this, which takes a LOT longer to do, since you are manipulating the machine with one hand while holding the ruler with the other hand.  It takes a lot of patience to get that line even close to straight, which is why custom work like this costs our customers so much more.

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When we use rulers and templates, we need to add an extended base for the templates to rest upon.  Do you notice how much more it sticks out than the attached base?

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I took a ruler to see how much further the extended base sticks out on each side.  As you can see, it adds an extra 5 1/2 – 6 inches on each side.  Beyond that, I add clamps to the backing fabric to make sure it is taught.  They add another 2 inches to each side.  This is the reason why I like to have an extra 8 inches of backing fabric on each side of the quilt top.  Otherwise,  custom quilting is next to impossible to do.

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This last picture will probably end up in another post as it relates to the lighting – see those LED lights reflected on the Plexiglas?  To be continued…

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Christmas in July?

Heads up folks!

Yes… Christmas in July.  I am already booked for quilting until Mid-January, 2016.  If you are wanting a quilt of yours quilted in time for Christmas, you might want to be checking with your quilters soon to find out how far out they are booked.  As it gets closer to Christmas, the more difficult it is to find someone to quilt for you.

I Spy

My final quilt for 2014 was an “I Spy” quilt for Charlotte’s grand-daughter.  What’s an “I Spy” quilt, you ask?  It is a quilt with lots of pictures to look for, using the quilt as a game board, of sorts.  Here’s a shot of the full length of the quilt.  Can you see what I am talking about?

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How about now with these close-ups?  Can you see some of the things you might “spy” with your “little eye?”

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I doubt you can see much of the quilting, but I added numbers and the letters of the alphabet around the borders.  Inside the borders I just quilted and Edge to Edge (E2E) of assorted drawings of things I saw in the quilt.  I hope Charlotte and her grand-daughter have a lot of fun with this quilt!  I know I did!