Today’s topic is skills I wish I had and I gotta say “patience” is right up there. Now I’m sure many of you think I have oodles already but the fact is I rush through many projects and don’t slow down!
I would also say hand stitching is another skill I wish I had, because my hands are bad and my eyes are worse, so any handwork I avoid.
So when I look gorgeous applique quilts, wool or otherwise, or redwork or anything embroidery, I appreciate the skills that are needed. I know a lot of people would also say talent but to me, talent comes from lots and lots of practise until you are highly skilled – no matter what you are doing.
Another skill is fabric design. I have an eye for color and I can doodle fairly well, I just know there’s some gaps in there that would mean a lot of hurdles between an idea in my head and a finished line of fabric.
Finally, along with patience comes FOCUS. I have ADHD and it is absolutely an issue with focusing, both trying to focus on the job at hand and hyper focusing on… anything else, usually. Most days I have it managed but I let it run free with my sewing projects and you can usually tell.Ooops!
For the 31 Day Blogging challenge the topic is dream project and I have to say there is a LOT of quilting, sewing and crafting techniques I have tried over the years, but I did have some dream projects come to mind!
First up is to do a Quiltworx quilt. Yes really. Probably just one. They had a huge clearance sale one Black Friday and I bought 3 deeply discounted patterns and yes the shipping was more than the patterns, but these are on my list. I confess it is mostly to say yes I did one, and also to do some insane custom quilting on it for quilt shows. One of the guilds I’m in has even done a couple of classes, but for smaller items, and I never manage to be free.
The patterns still sit there not for lack of time, because if I really got the bug I would MAKE time, but because… I’ll admit it… I’m scared! I have to choose the fabrics and what if I pick something ugly?? I have waffled so much on this one. Eventually it will happen.
Another dream project is Wanderer’s Wife (formally Gypsy Wife). I finally bought the pattern a few months ago and decided on fabrics quite quickly, I just need to start. I’ll use up my Tula Pink stash across all the lines I have. If you would like to buy a copy of the pattern, I can order it in for you.
Third – because I can’t just pick one – is Dear Jane. I have EQ and I bought the Dear Jane extension one year and in the past year finally started. Since I lean modern I am making a version in solid bright rainbow colors, inspired by one of the photos going around. It’s HARD! I pierced the first block and wow was it ever off. That was my fault, not the pattern’s fault and by a lot I mean the block was a full half inch larger than it should have been. I paper pieced a second version and that was more accurate. I think Im up to three blocks now and it’s just a matter of putting this one on my schedule. It’s a lot of prep work for every single block – and yes they are all different – but if I do one block a month it’s still progress.
Day 6 of the 31 day blogging challenge and I am really grateful I did not have to think up topics. Also this topic is hard.
What’s my oldest UFO? Well up until two0sih years ago I had a good answer for that!
Way back in 1995 or so when I started to really get into quilting, I started a quilt for kid #2. I had all these scraps from sewing clothing AND had just discovered this place in Quebec that made bedding and sold off their scraps in 100 pound garbage bags, which was SUPER COOL.
Somewhere in this pile of cast offs but still decent to work with was a huge amount of pinks and blues and four lonely Holly Hobbie panels. I incorporated those and a ton of strips into what I could probably call my first moder-ish improv quilt.
And? I had recently been gifted a serger for mother’s day! So what better way to put it to use than serge this all together! Some of the fabric was super flimpy, even if it was poly cotton sheeting.
Then in a stunning display of further brilliance, somewhere along the line I decided I should HAND QUILT it.
I don’t know if you know anything about hand quilting, but one thing which is maybe not known but also should never come up because WHO would think of this is – you really cannot hand quilt through any seams that have been SERGED. It’s too thick with too much thread on that seam.
Anyway. That quilt followed me around the province for a while and every so often the husband and I would take a stab at it. (Get it?? Ha!.. er.. oh well.)
Finally, not only does that kid grow up and move out and have a life of her own, most of the rest did too. Then she bought a house and we had a pandemic and I ran out of things to do. So I told myself finished was better that perfect, and this kid was also turning THIRTY so maybe if I finally finished this quilt it would make a great present?
I put it on the longarm and finished it off. It was a hot mess but it was DONE.
Or, done being quilted. You see, I was using up scraps and had done three sides in Prairie Points, which meant I had to very carefully turn down the back edge and hand stitch or carefully machine stitch it in place. Fearing another decade passing before any hand stitching taking place, I machine stitched it the best I could, Sometimes twice in some places.
As some of you may already know, my grandmother was the one who taught me to sew and do all kinds of crafts. While I have a great story about learning to quilt, I can’t remember any specific project with her for sewing in general. It just seemed to be a thing I always knew how to do.
And as a short schoolgirl in the 80’s, I definitely knew how to alter and adjust all my clothes. Just like wearing a shirt she made for me was no big deal.
When I thought about today’s topic, I remembered back to my Home Ec classes and the big sewing project we did, It had to have been 1984 and sure enough, I was able to find the pattern I chose to make.
How typically eighties is this?? 😀 I remember my teacher being certain this was beyond my abilities and I should choose something easier. Easy be darned, I wanted something I could actually WEAR! So I made the shirt in a lighter grey cotton. I do remember my grandmother helping me a bit, but not near as much as my home ec teacher would have surmised. Besides, we had to do a fair bit in class and I managed quite well.
I also remembered I wore this shirt exactly once, as I didn’t like the buttonholes. This turned out to be a lifelong hatred of making buttonholes, but in this case the pattern had them going horizontally. Ew.
The next year or so, I got my grandmother to make me the skirt in a natural muslin, I might have worn that twice. It was altogether a far too preppy outfit for me so I styled it with my bleached jean jacket with a tight fit and rolled up sleeves. A long strand of looped pastel blue pearls completed the look. It was radical, man.
For the blogging challenge day 4 the topic is my favourite tools. I could fill a shop with the things I love to use for quilting and.. hey wait a minute, I Did! I’ll narrow it down to my top five tools I can’t live without.
Stork scissors – my grandmother either gave me a pair or I inherited them, and I also went and bought a second pair. While the classic gold stork is available everywhere, I carry these rainbow unicorn ones for fun. I’m really trying not to own a third pair, even if I do leave both pairs lying around and always have to hunt for them.
Seam tape – this is washi tape with 1/4″ seams marked on it, and for many people they are underwhelmed. But I have this on the bed of my machine and the extension table and it really helps me keep my seam straight and accurate – especially when I’m sewing fast! It will lift up over time, but it’s a big roll and you can place it on all your machines. I even use it to line up seams when I do the diagonal bit for binding. I never mark these!
Numbered pins – I got these one year as a Christmas present and I use them all the time to make rows as I put them together. They are very long pins as well, so I’ve been known to grab one in a hurry to pin a pile of pieces together too.
Ergonomic rotary cutter – I have a few rotary cutter bodies, and some I like for different reasons, like the price. But when my hand or arm hurts, I reach for this ergonomic cutter. You can lock the blade open so you don’t have to squeeze it to stay open, thus making it easier on your grip if it’s weak that day.
Design Wall – this is a sleeper hit, as you don’t realize how much you actually DO use it and it’s way better than arranging blocks and pieces on the floor or bed. Worth every penny and you don’t even think about how you’re actually using it every day.
For the 31 Day Blogging challenge the topic is “My machine”. I have finally narrowed down my sewing machines to three, but I’ll mostly talk about the main one I use.
My main sewing machine, the one I love and helps get me though my day, is the Brother PQ1500SL high speed machine, Yes, it is basically an industrial type machine, It is very similar to the JUKI TL-2010Q. In fact, I was going to buy the Juki, but went with the Brother.
I had researched new sewing machines and new I wanted an industrial or high speed machine and no fancy stitches. As it happened, we were going to Ottawa for a conference, and there was a Juki dealer in Ottawa. We had an extra day and went to the Ottawa Sewing Center. They didn’t have the Juki in stock, but the owner showed me the Brother and explained how it was very similar to the Juki, which I knew from Internet research.
It was also $400 cheaper.
Sold! And he would ship it home for me too, because there was no way we were taking it back on the plane with us.
This machine is SUPER FAST. And I love it because I sew very fast. It has a side load for the bobbin and the needle is pointed to the side, so those are the only things that I’m still not quite used to. It seems a little picky when I load a new bobbin and I have to test my stitches whenever I load a new bobbin. The tension is good and a rarely need to adjust it, unless I am having bobbin issues.
It does one stitch – a straight stitch. It does go in reverse, and I have used the walking foot for quilting, and also the free motion foot for quilting, It did not like my generic ruler foot and would not form stitches properly whenever I tried with the ruler foot.
It has a knee lift that I never use, the extension table is on it more than not, and the built in thread cutter is a new thing to me that I am loving.
I definitely recommend this to anyone who does a lot of volume sewing.
My second machine is a Bernina 440QE, at least ten years old. This is the one I did most of the FMQ learning on with the stitch regulator attachment,. Unfortunately, I was too hard on this machine sewing some very thick fabrics and wound up getting a shaft replaced. It hasn’t been the same since, despite being to various repair people. It skips a stitch every so often, and no one can figure out why – despite being retimed and everything. I can live with it though.
My last machine is a Brother SC9500 Computerized Sewing & Quilting Machine which I bought from Fabricville the first time the Bernina went kaput and I had customers I needed to sew for. It is an inexpensive machine with plastic parts inside, even if it does sell for around $400. When I sew with it, it feels like I am using a toy. It’s the machine I use to take to classes because it is lightweight. Unfortunately, I took it to a class in the backseat of my car without anchoring it and it fell over into the foot are and the bobbin winder post broke off. Ooops.
Otherwise, I just use it as a spare or for when the husband wants to sew something in another room. Given the skipping stitches issues with my Bernina, and my main machine is straight stitch only, I also use this one for the rare times I need to zig zag or any other fancy stitch. It is adequate, and I would recommend machines in this price range and build for people who aren’t sure if they will stick with sewing or quilting. I can FMQ on this machine as well, but I definitely feel the difference over the above machines.
Since I own a quilt shop, i could argue the entire shop is my sewing space, but I do have a dedicated space for sewing. It’s in an upstairs bedroom that we use for an office as well as a sewing space. It is just down the hall from the shop.
Every so often I rearrange the room, so this is something like the third arrangement since last year.
Slightly out of frame to the right is my desk and Ron’s recliner. To the left is more storage for office supplies, the printer, and a large tv. Hey, I have all the important things in here.
Also to the extreme right and almost behind me is the closet with all my fabric stash and quilts and craft things. It’s a hot mess. It is driving me crazy bit I have to live with it for now.
My longarm is in the downstairs rec room, but it’s been sold and is about to be removed. But that’s not really a sewing space! It is also a mess right now.
This post is part of the 31 day blogging challenge. Yesterday I mistakenly called it a 30 day challenge. Oops. I blame my covid sick brain.
I’m Andrea, the owner and operator of the Quilting Shed, which is a tiny wee shop outside of Fredericton NB in Canada. One of my hobbies used to be blogging way back when I didn’t have a quilt shop in what I call The Before Times.
For those who don’t know me, I have been crafting, quilting, and sewing since I was very young. My paternal grandmother is still a HUGE influence on my work, even though she’s been gone for 20 years. She was the one who taught me my first hand stitches and my first attempts at quilting. Now I have my own grandchildren and you bet I’m passing on my love of crafting and sewing and quilting to them too!
While I haven been quilting for a good 30 years, my shop here is only about 4 years old, coming up on five. WOW. I had to stop and think. I started out longarming for people while I still held down a full time remote job in tech. For my tech career, I had started out as a web developer, ran a consulting company with my husband, wrote a book, contributed to the code base that runs this very website, and ended up running a support team before finally leaving that world for this one.
My style runs all over the place and I appreciate most fabrics that cross my hand. Left to my own devices, I choose crisp clear and bright colors, with designs that lean modern. I love tiny paper piecing and I love large blocks that finish fast. I’ve tried almost every technique at least twice! I love to learn and love to figure everything out – from where thread comes from to how to add a new feature to the website.
I’ve done the 30 Day Blog Challenge from Muppin before and figured now was a good time to go at it again. Hopefully, I can get back in the habit of regular updates here on our shop blog. Not just for shop updates, but for learning and sharing too!