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!  :\

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.

Rotary Ruler Cutter Review

You may or may not remember that I will be vending at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival in June over Father’s Day weekend.  I had planned for a year now to get things made for the quilt festival but haven’t had much luck at all in finding time to do that.  Plus, my daughter is pregnant and due June 2nd.  The doctors have decided that they will not let her go past her due date.  She has Gestational Diabetes and they figure the baby’s size if 1 week ahead of schedule.  So, the baby may come early.  In any case, I have that coming up to worry think about as well.  I haven’t had time to make any baby quilts or anything else for the baby or my daughter, let alone make anything for the quilt festival.

Well… I guess I could just hand out business cards and flyers about my quilting business…  What I finally figured out, though, is that I don’t have to MAKE stuff to sell.  I could sell retail stuff, so that is mainly what I will be doing.  I’m still going to try to get some home decor made (wall decorations that look like buttons – in case you didn’t know, I also dabble in woodworking), but we will see how that goes with everything else going on this next month.  Oh, I almost forgot!  I created a couple of ruler templates for use with a longarm quilting machine.  I imagine it could also be used with sit-down machines, but I haven’t tried that yet.  The rulers should be ready sometime this next week.  I plan on selling those at the quilt festival as well.

For now, I’d like to share with you 2 of the products I will be selling.  They are both Rotary Ruler Cutters, but they are made by different companies.  The one on the left is made by Fiskars (note the orange handle), and the one on the right is made by Havel’s.  They look like paper cutters for scrap booking, don’t they?  But, these are for fabric… unless someone in your household mistakenly uses them for paper.  The good news is that you can swap the blade out for a new one.

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At first I was drawn to the one made by Havel’s because of the color of the handle.  I figured they were both the same, so why not go for purple?  Well, if you look closely at the rulers, you will see the markings for measurements are a little different.  Which one do you like better so far?  They both have good qualities.

Then there are the way the blades go on and come off.  The Fiskars has a screw nut on it like most of my other rotary rulers; I don’t know if you have that or not.  But, for me, it is familiar.

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Havel’s has a white cover that has a turn dial for you to remove to get to the blade.  This is a nice safety feature, but it took me awhile to figure out how to work it, even after reading the instructions.

IMG_2465   IMG_2466

Fiskar’s safety feature comes in the form of a separate blade changer, which costs extra.  I’m guessing it is optional,  but it’s a nice feature to have.  The picture on the left is the blade changer.  You can see how to use it on the back of the package and also on the back of the box of the rotary ruler combo.

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Another nice feature of the Fiskar’s is that it has a carrying handle – I like that.

 

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Let’s go back to the original picture and look at the one on the right made by Havel’s in the picture below.  If you notice, Fiskars ruler is all plastic, while Havel’s has a metal strip along the short end where you can hang it up.  They both have holes for hanging, but the metal strip under the hanging hole of Havel’s cutter is kind of nice, and it has smooth, safe edges.  Let’s talk about length.  Havel’s says their ruler is 6″ wide x 27 1/2″ in length to cover an entire width of a fabric bolt – it’s nice that the ruler runs over the ends of the fabric you are cutting.  Fiskar’s says their ruler is 6″ x 24″, but I think that is for the actual measuring part.  If you look closely you will see that the Fiskar’s ruler is almost the same length of the Havel’s and Havel’s ruler is 24″ long.

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Both rulers are good for either right-handed folks or for left-handed folks with numbers going both ways, and they both use 45 mm rotary blades.

I think the best part of both of these rulers is the no-slip grip strip along the side of ruler that the blade runs along.  Look along the bottom of the metal edge of the Fiskar’s rotary ruler combo, just above the plastic ruler.  Do you see that dark strip?  Both rulers have this, and I LOVE it, because as you are pushing down on the handle above the rotary blade, it runs right along that strip, making it hug to the fabric.

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And, as you can see from the before and after pictures below, you get a nice, smooth cut.

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Now for prices… Havel’s rotary ruler combo sells for $71.43.  Fiskar’s sells for $59.99.  Fiskar’s also has one of these in a square size (12 in. x 12 in.) that sells for $54.99.  It cuts on one side just like the longer ruler.  I haven’t seen it in use yet, so I don’t know what to make of the benefit of the square other than it is wider, which is nice.  Fiskar’s separate Blade Changer comes with 5 new blades and has the ability to store up to 6 dull blades.  It costs $29.99.

I have 2 Fiskar’s rotary ruler combos and 2 Havel’s rotary ruler combos for a total of 4 rotary ruler combos, and I have one Fiskar’s blade changer; all of which I will have for sale in my booth (#436) at Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival.   Whatever I don’t sell will be on my website after the quilt festival.  I will also have a rotary mat and some fabric there so customers can try each of these rotary rulers out for themselves.  I think it’s a great tool for those of us with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis and other wrist, arm, and hand issues.  You don’t have to buy one; you are welcome to just try them out.

I will have a lot of other goodies for sale in my booth.  I will try to get a picture of some of the items soon and post a picture for you.  Most of the stuff will be gift items and hard-to-find notions such as Rebecca Barker Quiltscapes and Sister Quilter greeting cards, wall stickers for quilters, car decals for quilters, Laurel Burch bags, pins with numbers (to put on your stacks of pieces to help you keep track of what order to sew – I’ll have to get a good picture of that to share with you later), a few Creative Grids rulers, woolies curlers, walnut shells for making pincushions, etc.

I hope you’ll be in the neighborhood Father’s Day weekend.  I’d love for you to stop by so I can meet you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Flair for Fabric

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

I was excited to do this book review, because the very talented Linda Lum DeBono is the one who compiled the projects from 15 different fabric designers with Henry Glass Fabrics that are in this book.  If you know of any of these designers, you will want to get your hands on this book: Leanne Anderson; Dana Brooks; Linda Lum DeBono; Kim Diehl; Anni Downs; Jill Finley; Amy Hamberlin; Liz Hawkins and Beth Hawkins of Lizzie B Cre8ive; Margot Languedoc; Janet Nesbitt and Pam Soliday of Buggy Barn; Vicki Oehlke; Heather Mulder Peterson; Jacquelynne Steves; and Mary Ellen Von Holt, Alice Berg, and Sylvia Johnson of Little Quilts.  Not only do they share their secrets for designing fabric lines, but they also show you how to mix and match your leftover fabrics with secondary fabrics for other projects.  An added bonus, if you choose to buy this book, is that the designers are donating the royalties from the sale of this book to the Red Cross; a notable good cause.

So, let’s take a looks inside at some of the information and projects.

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

And, last, but not least, a quilting caddy for hauling your quilting tools on outings…

Martingale - A Flair for Fabric (Print version + eBook bundle)

As you can see, there is a lot of variety in this book; variety of styles and projects.  It would make a great gift for yourself or for a fellow quilter!

Many thanks to Martingale Press and their photographer, Brent Kane for providing this book and the pictures for this review!

Book Review a deux

I am in between customer quilts that I cannot show you for “raffle” reasons, so I thought I’d try to get caught up on some book reviews.  I’ve got 7 books to share with you; I think I will break them up into 2 posts.

Book #1…  Uncommonly Corduroy; Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns, and More by Stephanie Dunphy

Martingale - Uncommonly Corduroy (Print version + eBook bundle)

I was pleasantly surprised as I opened and perused this book. The pictures reminded me that my mother used to make utilitarian quilts with scraps of corduroy, denim, and broadcloth.  As I got further into the book, I felt it sucking me in as I noticed the texture and richness of the corduroy in the quilts and how the quilting popped against the corduroy. And, of course! Why didn’t I think of putting corduroy on my bags to make them stronger? There are several cute bag patterns that will suit almost any taste. She also has several quilt patterns, some of them mixing flannel and corduroy and some including embellishments for further texture.  I see corduroy in future quilting projects of mine.

Martingale - Uncommonly Corduroy (Print version + eBook bundle)

The above picture makes me think of all the leftover corduroy clothing that could re recycled into a bag (like the one above or the one below) or something else; it makes me smile.

Martingale - Uncommonly Corduroy (Print version + eBook bundle)

Cute purse and matching scarf!

Martingale - Uncommonly Corduroy (Print version + eBook bundle)

For whatever reason, I love the black corduroy in this quilt and the colors that pop against it.  It would make a great quilt to drag around the house (for me!).

Martingale - Uncommonly Corduroy (Print version + eBook bundle)

 

Book #2…  Sweet and Simple Sewing by Jessi Jung, Carrie Jung, and Lauren Jung

Martingale - Sweet and Simple Sewing (Print version + eBook bundle)

This book is full of cute projects with a more modern touch.  It has luggage tags, a hand-bound journal, pleated clutch, makeup bag among other patterns in it.  A lot of these can be made with less than one yard of fabric in a short amount of time and as gifts.   Take a look at the table of contents.

Martingale - Sweet and Simple Sewing (Print version + eBook bundle)

Isn’t this a cute quilt?  I haven’t seen this design before.

Martingale - Sweet and Simple Sewing (Print version + eBook bundle)

Here is the curling iron “cozy” – great for taking on trips!

Martingale - Sweet and Simple Sewing (Print version + eBook bundle)

I love the quilt pattern below.  Who would have through to make a fan block into something so cute?

Martingale - Sweet and Simple Sewing (Print version + eBook bundle)

Another great bag for traveling…

Martingale - Sweet and Simple Sewing (Print version + eBook bundle)

And a cute purse for those special occasions…

Martingale - Sweet and Simple Sewing (Print version + eBook bundle)

 

Book #3… Sew Practical by various authors of Martingale

Martingale - Sew Practical (Print version + eBook bundle)

I especially liked this book because of the variety of projects, but I guess that is what you get when you have so many designer authors; Pippa Eccles Armbrester, Cassie Barden, Linda Lum DeBono, Barbara Groves and Mary Jacobson, Adrienne Smitke, and Janis Stob and Margaret Linderman for Fig Tree & Co.   In the midst of the variety of designers, they will provide you with a variety of sewing techniques from which to learn.  I’ll let you take a look at the table of contents.

Martingale - Sew Practical (Print version + eBook bundle)

I can see the knitting case below being adapted for someone doing embroidery or hand sewing, and, of course, crocheting also.

Martingale - Sew Practical (Print version + eBook bundle)

I hadn’t really thought of making a cover for my sewing machine (I use it too much) until I saw this.  Martingale - Sew Practical (Print version + eBook bundle)

E-readers seem to be everywhere now.  Wouldn’t this make a nice gift?Martingale - Sew Practical (Print version + eBook bundle)

I love this work apron.  I wear a gardener’s apron when I quilt, but this apron tempts me to make a prettier one than what I currently have.Martingale - Sew Practical (Print version + eBook bundle)

I thought these place mats were interesting, because of the “woven” design element.  I can see them as mug rugs also.Martingale - Sew Practical (Print version + eBook bundle)

 

And finally…

Book #4…  Simple Appeal by Kim Diehl

Martingale - Simple Appeal (Print version + eBook bundle)

Kim Diehl is one of my favorite designers, so of course I would love this book.  It is full of scrappy quilts.  Some of them are pieced and some are appliqued.  She will show you how to do invisible machine appliqué as well as wool appliqué on cotton backgrounds .  I don’t have a picture of the table of contents on this book, but you can get an idea of the 14 projects inside this book with the following pictures.

The 9-patch inside the log-cabin block is interesting to me.  Couple it with the appliqued border and you have a win-win quilt.

Martingale - Simple Appeal (Print version + eBook bundle)

Kim must have used scraps for the background on this one (creative!).  I like how this one looks so natural in its setting, yet it is scrappy.Martingale - Simple Appeal (Print version + eBook bundle)

Something small to make for yourself or as a gift.  The thought of mug rug came into my mind, but I think I would be afraid to get it dirty.  Maybe bright colors on a black background for a mug rug?

Wait!  Is that embroidery I see?  🙂

Martingale - Simple Appeal (Print version + eBook bundle)

Who would have thought to make a primitive pincushi0n using an old jar lid?  Only Kim…Martingale - Simple Appeal (Print version + eBook bundle)

And, finally, I thought these quilts hanging like this, if nothing else, make a great statement and a nice decoration for homey homes.  Brent Kane really knows how to set up the quilts for photography!

Martingale - Simple Appeal (Print version + eBook bundle)

Many thanks to Martingale for providing the books and their photographer, Brent Kane, for these wonderful pictures!  You can buy these books from Amazon or go to Martingale’s website here.

 

Busy Quilter I Bee

Remember I said I’d show you how I refinished the stairs?  Well, I am sending you to a bunch of different places today so that you can see what you like.  First off, go here to see the pictures of how I re-did my stairs to the basement, which is also my quilting studio.  One of these days I will finish the basement, but it will likely be a little bit at a time.  If you are on Facebook and interested, take a look around there.  I am spreading my wings a bit and becoming somewhat of a DIYer.

Last week I went to the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  If you haven’t heard of it, just know that it is probably the biggest quilt show on earth.  It was my first time to go to this show or to visit Houston, so it was a bit overwhelming.  You can find plenty of pictures on my Flickr page.

I especially got a big kick out of the Cow Quilt Exhibit, named Moo-ston.  There were lots of amusing quilts.  Make sure you check out the close-up pictures of the udders and other details!  Hopefully it will bring a smile to your face.