Monday, August 31, 2015

Go Slow

When you've left your kids twice during the summer and then birthed a new baby in the form of a Craftsy class, the quilting slows down for some important things.


Like this beautiful, creative, crafty, free-spirited girl of mine. We've been sitting down to watch a Craftsy class on crochet together, Crochet Basics and Beyond. She's been crocheting for a while, but not following patterns and not really wanting me to teach her more than a few basic stitches. She likes free form crochet. After going through enough yarn to wrap around our house a few billion times, much of which ended up looking like a shag rug went through a shredder, she's now delighted to follow a class together. Even more so when she realized the instructor was the author of her favorite crochet book, Teach Yourself Visually Crocheting, Kim Werker. My daughter is so worth going slow for.

But I have gotten some quilting in between answering emails and questions/discussions in my class, doing some promoting of the class, trying to get some other work done, and more.


This quilt is worth going slow for too. It's a nice sampler quilt that I challenged myself to piece. See, I'm really all about the quilting and have always thought I was a pretty poor piecer. But I took my time and got it put together quite well.
 
curved crosshatching on a regular sewing machine



Now I'm using it to showcase a wide variety of ruler work designs. I'm using a light turquiose thread to show the quilting better, which of course means any little bobbles show. It reminds me of watching gymnastics: "Oh! A little bobble there. That's going to cost her." Nevermind the girl may have done a triple handspring with a 180 twist on the beam, a little bobble shows.

For me, it's not the quilt police or even show judges that I'm worried about. It's my own perfectionistic tendencies and inner mean-girl. But I'm getting better at shutting up my own worst critic. I planned to take a picture of this area below to show you why you should go slow when you start stitching with rulers.


Once I got the camera out, I could hardly see the spot that I wanted to show you. It really wasn't that bad at all. I'll get to the tip in a moment, but let me just point out the bigger thing here and that is if you see some quilting as you stitch that you don't like, step away from the quilt for a moment. Spread it on a bed or take a picture (not with the macro lens!) and then decide if it's something that really needs fixing.

What I wanted to point out is that it always pays to start out slow when free motion quilting, especially when doing ruler work. There are some side-to-side forces on the fabric sandwich and while you're using your needle down function (I hope you are!) everything is secure. But the minute that needle goes up, if there's tension in the wrong direction, the quilt can shoot off from where you wanted those first stitches to go. So take it very slow until that first stitch is in and the quilt is under your full control.


This part above definitely needs fixing! I got a little careless and stitched right into the frame of my curved crosshatching. But it was easily fixed.

free motion quilting with rulers on a sewing machine

Another block down, but what will I do to finish out that sashing design? It's reminiscent of the frame border I teach in my class, but in a much smaller scale. It's done with the BFF from the Quilted Pineapple (See her ad for templates in the right sidebar), but I don't want to treat it like that design. I'll quilt somewhere else while I think about it.

Speaking of going slow, if you're new to ruler work, don't feel like you've got to run out and buy a ton of new rulers. You can learn the technique and explore a lot of designs with just a straight ruler and a curve or two. There's plenty of time to add to your ruler collection. Of course, if you want to buy a bunch, I'm hoping you'll visit some of my sponsors or wait another week or two for my shop opening. I definitely didn't go slow when ordering rulers and templates for my online shop. If I think too hard about how much I have spent, my heart starts to race!



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ruler Work Friendly Classes and a Craftsy Sale

Happy weekend! One of the things I love about ruler work and my Craftsy class on it, is that there are other Craftsy classes (and their wonderful techniques) that are made easier for domestic/sit-down quilters when you know how to use rulers to guide your free motion quilting.

My favorite classes for incorporating ruler work on Craftsy are Kim Brunner's Machine Quilting with Templates, Creating Design Perfection and Dot to Dot Quilting with Angela Walters which aren't included in this weekend's sale, but Leah Day's newest class, The Free Motion Effect; Machine Quilting Beautiful Borders, with Eva Larkin Hawkins; Free-Motion Quilting Essentials, with Christina Cameli, and more can be adapted to ruler work and are in this sale. Many of Angela Walters classes adapt well to ruler work too.



My class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home machine isn't included in this sale, but you can still get it with my discount link at $10 off the regular price. If you've already bought the class, I'd love if you'd leave a review on Craftsy for it. I know you love it from the comments I've been getting here, but as a new Craftsy Instructor, more reviews would be very helpful for those who don't know my work through this blog.

home machine quilting with rulers

Here's some of the ruler work I was able to get to yesterday and I hope to get more done today.

ruler work on a home machine


Don't miss Craftsy's sale this weekend on classes in the category, Quilting: Machine Quilting Motifs & Fillers!

The links above are affiliate links and help support the work of this site.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Video: Ruler Work Sampler

I was finally able to make quilting a priority today and stitched away on my ruler work sampler. This project has been fun, but I've been so busy with my Craftsy class, summer time fun with the kids, a trip to Janome Institute on behalf of my local Janome dealer, Sew Simple.

I've also been needing to shoot a new Youtube video. It seems like it's been ages since I did a new one. So I killed two birds with one stone and did some quilting on the sampler and then shot a video as I talked about it.



I'll try to get some actual stitching footage of this quilt, but it's difficult to quilt on a larger quilt with my camera between me and the machine. So today I share this video with you and in the next day or so I'll show you more pics of the process and maybe some ruler work on camera.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Word About Rulers

I am fielding all sorts of questions this week about rulers especially with my Craftsy class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine, has come out. There's been an incredible response to the class and I'm nearly weeping with joy from all the wonderful feedback I'm getting.

This was a huge step outside my comfort zone. Those of you who watch my YouTube videos know that until my class was filmed, the only part of me that was in my videos were my hands.

Besides just introducing a lot of new people to ruler work, I have to admit that the information was not as helpful as it could be regarding specific rulers in the class. Part of this is because Craftsy doesn't want the materials list to read like a commercial. I don't blame them, nobody wants to pay for an infomercial. I wouldn't want that either.

Edited to add: To be clear, a list that includes the name and maker/brand of nearly every ruler used in the class is provided, just no links or specific shops where you can buy them. A simple web search by name of the ruler and maker/brand will give you a list of places where you can buy them. One student may prefer a different seller than another, especially when taking location into consideration.

The other part is because of some last minute changes due to time constraints and hilariously enough, my male studio crew confirmed for me that one of my rulers did look too much like a certain bit of anatomy and a replacement had to be found. The their awkwardly smiling faces were answer enough when I held it up and asked if it reminded them of something.

These guys were great to work with.

I had ordered a different ruler to replace it ahead of time as I had an inkling that it would be an issue. But when the new ruler came in, something was off. It had a cut out for stitch in the ditch that was supposed to line up the markings and it had been cut too deeply. I wondered if the maker had developed it for a different sized ruler foot, but when I compared it to another ruler by the same manufacturer, it was clear that it was a flaw.

Whoops! Something cut past the line.

An email was sent out and I am happy to report that not only did I get a very prompt reply, the company was fairly mortified that they had this issue. They quickly sent me a replacement and told me that they were taking steps with their distributor to make sure the issue was caught before rulers were sent out.

I had ordered another ruler recently that made several sizes of half circles. When it came, I found that the smallest size had been cut wrong and it made a half oval instead. Again I contacted the company (a different one) and they got me a replacement in a hurry.

This one didn't get cut enough.

Nobody likes to get a faulty product, but if you look at the picture below, you can see how difficult it could be to catch an occasional problem with a heap of acrylic! In both cases, the sellers made things right in a hurry and I was pleased. I'm not going to name names, though if you are so inclined, you could probably figure out which rulers and makers these are, but I feel like they have good products, and they will be more vigilant after having these issues. Both worked hard to make things right.

My mess of rulers.

There is quite a bit of variation in quality of rulers out there and I'm doing my best to check them out. In fact that's the inspiration behind opening my own online shop for the rulers I use as well as other tools that help me with my quilting adventures. There isn't any one place where you can buy a wide variety of rulers where the people know and understand the use of these rulers. Individual makers of these rulers and templates usually know their product well, but only sell their own range of product. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I try hard to honestly review the products I show here and I want to offer my favorite rulers and tools in my new shop and that covers several sources.

One attempt to organize my rulers. These clips work great.

So the three things I want you to take away from reading this post is that:

  1. I will work on getting a more detailed list of the rulers I use for the Craftsy class.
  2. If you happen to get an inaccurately cut ruler, make sure to contact the maker/seller and I am confident they will make it right.
  3. I will be opening an online shop in the next two weeks, offering my tried and true favorite rulers and more at Amy's Quilting Adventures This will allow my students to buy a variety of rulers in one convenient spot.

On top of all that, I want to say again how tickled I am at the response to this class! Thank you so much! Leah Day even did a nice Q&A of me on her site yesterday and she emailed,  "Congratulations on an awesome class! I've watched the first two lessons and I'm really enjoying it. You did a great job!" Another blog follower, Diana, aka "Quilt, Laugh, Love" commented,"I binge watched the entire course last night - I just couldn't stop! And my first ruler arrived yesterday (combo straight and curve). I can't wait to practice tonight. Great class Amy!" I am binge-watching worthy! Yay, me! (I will try to not let it go to my head, I promise.)

Thanks so much for all the encouragement, congratulations, and letting others know how much you like this technique and class. If you haven't registered for the class yet, you can still get the class for 25% off the regular price by clicking this link: Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine. If you've already bought the class, I'd love if you'd leave a review on Craftsy for it. I know you love it from the comments I've been getting here, but as a new Craftsy Instructor, more reviews would be very helpful for those who don't know my work through this blog.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Available Now! Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine

I'm so excited to tell you that my Craftsy class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine, is now available! It is the direct result of nearly 6 months of hard work plus the indirect result of several years of quilting, experimenting, and blogging.

free motion quilting with rulers class

There was a lot of sample making, step outs (projects that were partially done to move the teaching process along), a whole extra set of pieces made for rehearsal purposes, and a ton of writing and re-writing.

Some cross hatching variations in triangles. The ruler on the left was used for some of them, but the other ruler is for a completely different design, a dahlia.

There were tears and doubts too. Could I actually do this? Keep in mind that while my Youtube videos have well received, the only part of me on screen had been my hands.

Free Motion Quilting- Amy Johnson- ruler work class with Craftsy


It was so far out of my comfort zone, but you don't grow unless you push beyond what you've already done. So I pushed myself and I am really proud of the result. It feels strange to say it, but I'm proud of my work. Those who know me, know that I'm kind of self-deprecating (sometimes to an unhealthy level- but I'm working on it) so this is a big deal. I had a lot of encouragement from my husband and kids, some friends (especially the quilty ones), from the entire Craftsy team, and most of all, from my blog readers.

You may not realize it, but all Craftsy classes are shot over a very quick two and a half days after a lot of prep work done at home and via Skype, phone, and email. Then it goes through an extensive editing process. I didn't even get to see my class myself until a few days ago. I've decided that my biggest mistake was that I didn't smile enough.


You blog readers are especially important to this class. Over the last several years you have encouraged me with your complementary comments, your interest in my techniques, and your friendship. You've challenged me with your questions, helping me to become a better teacher. Without a decent blog following, I doubt there would even be a class.


So to thank you for your wonderful support, encouragement, and friendship, I am giving you a link that will take $10 off of my class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine. Feel free to share the link with your friends. You have to use the link just above to get the discount. If you go directly through Craftsy, their regular price will apply.

In the class, I teach about the importance of the ruler foot, discuss and show various types of rulers, and demonstrate several different ways of using rulers to guide your free motion quilting (this class applies to sewing machines and sit down long arm machines). I show samples, quilt on camera, and share variations of the designs. It's pretty thorough, but I feel like there's still so much I want to share of this technique!

video
You can see this video trailer in better quality on the Craftsy site!

Don't forget that through Craftsy's wonderful platform, you can ask me questions and I will answer them as well as other students may chime in, and you can post projects that you have done using the technique. Your class never expires and you can watch it as often as you like.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Craftsy News and a Newsletter

Hello, all you wonderful quilters! I am so stinking excited to let you know that I have recieved official word and my Craftsy class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine will go live sometime this Monday, August 24th.

ruler work on a sewing machine craftsy class

To celebrate this class launch and to thank you for reading about my quilting adventures, leaving wonderful comments and encouraging me along the way, please sign up for my brand spanking new email newsletter on the right hand sidebar so I can let you know when the class is live and give you a discount code to get my class at a reduced price!


There will be no spam, I promise. Ever.

I am still at Janome Institute and learning a ton, so I don't have much time to devote to the blog as I'd like. I'll get back to a regular schedule Sunday so I can devote my focus to the blog and to my students via the Craftsy platform. I've got a few glitches to work out here and will get to them in the next few days: the newsletter doesn't seem to work for mobile devices and there's one other minor issue. The link you receive in your email to verify that you want to sign up will send you to a confirmation page that asks if you want to proceed to my site. The site it takes you to is my new site (amysquiltingadventures.com) which is completely blank. No fear, the blog didn't disappear.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Janome Institute

Hello from San Antonio!

Would you believe there's no free wifi in my room at this very nice Marriot in beautiful downtown San Antonio?! It's making it hard to keep up with some of my work, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet.


I got a picture with Aurifil spokesman Alex Veronelli. I had no idea when my dealer decided to send me to this Janome training that there would be a vendor hall! I should have brought a bit more money.


Not much quilting on this trip, but we whizzed through 4 sample projects on this serger (1110DX) and the Janome 2000 Coverstitch machine.


I met up with some lovely dealers for dinner on San Antonio's famous Riverwalk. Apparently Cinderella lives here. Who knew?


It's been a great trip. But it's a little hard to take in all the information on these wonderful Janome machines (and there's 3 new models!) and plan for what looks to be next week's launch of my Craftsy class.

Stay tuned as I plan on offering a discount link here for the class!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Shooting a Class with Craftsy

In July I exercised my ability to keep a secret and headed out to Denver Colorado to shoot my class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine, with Craftsy. It was the first time I had flown in over 18 years! (I'm writing this during a 3 hour layover in Charlotte as I head off to Janome Institute- feast or famine, this flying thing!)


I was happy that Craftsy handled the flying arrangements, the hotel and car transportation. A lot has changed since I last flew. Not to mention that living in a small town with Lynchburg VA as our nearest city, I forget how small Lynchburg is compared to a metropolitan area like Denver. Craftsy left a little gift waiting on me at the hotel in downtown Denver.


My star on the door of my dressing room. Craftsy has 5 studios in its production facility, housed in an old taxi service building. It's one of those revitalization projects, with several businesses and a restaurant, garden, and common areas. It's very crafty and full of art and such.


This garden area was just outside the common area and it was a welcome view on my first day as I got a little stage fright.


Above is the common area where we could eat our catered lunch each day. Below is one of the lunch spreads, which was different every day.


Below, I am standing with my studio crew. The tallest guy behind me was the main camera man. I gave him a workout as he got the best shots possible to show what I was doing at the machine. He was up and down off of a step ladder all day, shooting over my should with his huge camera and keeping himself and camera cables out of the way.


The other fella behind me was my producer. He worked to translate the class outline into specific scenes for the camera, helped me rehearse, calmed me when I got nervous, and made sure we got all the instruction into the video clearly for my students. The guy next to me did editing on the fly, listened to the audio and a bunch of other things, I'm sure, as he worked behind several computer monitors. I have never met such an encouraging and upbeat group of guys. They were great.


The shoot was just a small, 3 day part of the process that included a very detailed outline, samples, step-outs, and online rehearsals via Skype. For a gal whose YouTube videos had yet to show any part of herself other than hands, this was a big step.


I am so glad to have made this class with Craftsy! Their class platform is top-notch. You can watch your class over and over with no limit. If you miss something, there's a handy 30 second repeat button. Then there's the ability to ask the instructor questions on the platform, take notes, post pictures of your projects and more.

ruler work

This is far better than I can cover in my YouTube videos or on my blog, and I am so excited to work with a whole new group of "students" through this class. Craftsy has over 5 million members in over 200 countries. The video quality is so much better than I can manage with my equipment.

It was such a great experience and I hope you will join in the experience by taking the class. I don't have an official release date, but it should be before the month is out. I'm working with a small group of fabulous quilting bloggers to get the word out about this class and to show more folks all the design opportunities that can be found by using rulers to guide your free motion quilting.

Now, I have a plane to catch!






Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ruler Work Sampler: The Stitching Continues

Now that my studio is all tidy and ship shape (Click to see pictures of my new studio arrangement and to join in and visit the quilt studio link party I've got going on through Friday.), I'm back to doing a bit of stitching on my sampler.

ruler work on a domestic sewing machine loops and lines
The loopy filler was fun to do and a lot faster to do than the pebbles I was first considering. I will probably do back into the orange later and quilt some more in orange thread.

The sampler shows so many different uses of ruler work (using rulers to guide free motion quilting) and has been a lot of fun. It also has been a nice return to piecing, something that I don't do much of and really I enjoyed on this project.

 Look at how the markings on the circle help with the placement of the curve. The etched markings line up with the triangle in the bottom left.
 I did all the quilting on this block with the HandiGadgets VersaTool, by Handiquilter. It has 2 curves and a straight edge, plus a 90 degree corner all on the same ruler. I used the large curve and the straight edge. Some multishape rulers can be bulky and hard to handle on our smaller machines, but the VersaTool is just about the right size for shorter runs of SID and curves.

 I used this quilt in one of my lessons of my soon to be released Craftsy class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine. I am really hoping to get it posted as one of the first projects shared with the class on the Craftsy platform.


I decided that I don't like the continuous curves I stitched in the small squares of this block, above. So I'll be ripping them out. I only did 3 before realizing it was taking away from the piecing of this block. So it got SID and continuous curves in the 4 larger squares.


I don't think it will happen unless my release date is delayed as I leave for San Antonio in the wee hours of Tuesday for a week-long Janome dealers event. Plus I fully expect to be made an auntie sometime in  the next two weeks. But I just keep stitching when I can.


I'll be telling you a little more about my Craftsy trip from July this week and also about my plans to open an online shop so you an easily purchase the different rulers and other supplies that I use and love, all in one convenient place.

Stitch on, my quilty friends!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reorganizing the Studio: Part 3

I am so excited to have done these changes to my studio! Thinks look so much more eye appealing now. When your studio is the first thing people see when entering your house, it's got to look decent. Maybe not magazine worthy, but tidy. Plus, I just can't work if things are all messy.

This table and its mess underneath just had to go. 
All the elements are in place, but I'm not entirely sure if things are in the right place. I'm sure the fabrics and all my little plastic drawer units need further organizing, but I'm not quite sure how I want the tables arranged. Good thing the two new ones are on casters and my machine's table has felt feet that are easy to slide across the floor.


There's my favorite handy man. The white shelf was $15 at a thrift store. It was a hideous pink with painted flowers. He mounted it to the wall for me along with my old peg rack and a new to me treasure-- my grandmother's sewing box, made by my grandfather. It's even got a few wooden spools of thread in it.


Above is the first arrangement of the new tables. My sewing table sticks somewhat awkwardly into the middle of the room, but is placed to take advantage of the natural light. Depending on whether I was working or not, and whether I was using my Janome or using the table for cutting/pressing, I'd slide the white table one way or another. The new tables are 4 inches narrower than the banquet table, but it's still a bit crowded.


I love these two new tables! They're made from a set of shelves I already had, but we broke them into two halves and put wooden tops on them. The shelves were adjusted for best use of my plastic drawer organizers. I also have a shelf just under the top that is a great place to set my laptop, papers, and such when I want to use the work surface for cutting or pressing.


Above are some of the shelves that were replaced by the new cubbie units. They've been tucked into the corner across from the end of the stairs. We don't open that door, but I use it for my calendar. (I take a cheap calendar apart, cut off the pictures, and tape all the pages so I can see the whole year at a time.) My lights, tripod, and a few other odd shaped things are stuck in this corner as well. I plan to keep my eyes peeled for a cabinet with a hutch or something similar to replace the plastic units one day.


Above, the tables have been positioned back to back for use when doing a bunch of ironing. I had to move my sewing table to make space for them and now that I've moved it (and have better lighting in the room) I think I will keep it this way.


I like it this way, above, but I'd move the computer on the other side, closer to my sewing machine so I can look into the dining room and not be so close to the front door. It's a very work friendly arrangement. But I also like the open area provided by the arrangement below.


With the casters on the new tables, I can move easily from one arrangement to the other. I can't quite decide which way I like best. Which do you like best? Tables back to back, or tables along the wall?


Here are my cubbie units. I love them! By Closetmaid, there are 2 9-cubbie units and then there are 2 shoe organizers on top. Hubby bolted them together for stability and attached them to the wall and stair banister for safety. I folded my fabric fairly neatly by wrapping it around my 5 inch wide cutting ruler and then folding it in half, selvedges to center fold of the fabric. Fit perfectly.


 I found some Command hooks with metal pegs and stuck them to the side of the cubbies closest to my machine. They're perfect for my rulers.


Now with my studio all tidy, I need to get some serious quilting done. I need to finish my ruler work sampler quilt (and post it to my Craftsy class projects area) and shoot some videos. But I head out early Tuesday morning for a week in San Antonio for Janome Institute. I'm going to this dealer event on behalf of my local Janome dealer. Then my Craftsy class should be ready for launch soon after my return. So serious quilting will have to wait a bit.

quilting and sewing space link party

So now it's your turn.

I'm setting up a link party with this post so you can share your quilty space. Whether you've got a jaw-dropping beautiful studio, just a functional space, maybe a nook in some other room or just a small bit of your space that makes you happy, share with us here. Make sure to visit one another and leave comments. As part of the link up, I do insist that you link back here so others can find the rest of the party. If you don't have a blog and want to share, email me one picture at amy(at)amysquiltingadventures(dot)com and I'll post it here.

Scroll on down for the Linky, here's pics of my non-blogging readers' studios:

Here's Paula's "she-cave"  She says: "My sewing and weaving space (my floor looms it's by the TV) is our finished basement.  It opens onto a three season porch where I often will "spill into" when the weather here just south of Boston cooperates.  My sewing room used to be part kid playroom and part office.  Now that my kids are grown and living their own busy lives, I have repurposed the space to a she cave and have moved my home office to what used to be one of our kid's bedrooms.  I am jealous of your fabulous natural light I could use a little more of that.  Here's a picture of my space....