Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Post-Craftsy Post

I had to pull another all-nighter as I left Denver for home this weekend. Turns out, as I arrived for a supposed 12:10pm flight Saturday, I was bumped to a 1am flight on Sunday. Too bad I had left my comfy hotel room and I had to cancel on my friend Robin. I was up for around 30 hours coming home. There's no way I could sleep in the airport or on the plane. Arrived home, hugged the kids, gave them some Easter goodies, and went to bed!

Below is an honest craft room shot of my studio as I returned. It's not horribly bad....you can still see the floor after all. Now to get all my bits and bobs back in their places and start some new projects (or return to some unfinished ones...but that just might be crazy talk.)


The folks at Craftsy still have my quilts and many of my samples, including the long-suffering Ruler Work Sampler. They did send me a nice high resolution picture to send along to Pat Sloan who will be interviewing me next Monday for a segment on her American Patchwork and Quilting Radio Show.


It airs live and I think I'm fairly petrified! I like editors, proofreading, and such. I also am not a fan of talking on the phone, but I hear she's a great interviewer. Forgive me if I say something completely stupid or unintelligible.

Now to take a few days and unpack, reorganize, and spend some extra time with my kids (it's spring break) and my mom who is visiting. Plus get caught up at work.

I'd just like to thank everyone who has taken the time to leave me an encouraging comment in the last week or so. It means the world to me!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

It's a Wrap!

Despite the efforts of a huge snow storm, my class has been successfully wrapped up and I've been told it will be ready for release about the third week of April! Now if I can just get home before then.


The airline is  0 for 3 attempts at getting me to Lynchburg as scheduled after flying into Charlotte from Denver. Looks like I'll be visiting my friends and guest contributer Robin tonight.

I wanted to let you know that Craftsy is having a huge sale this weekend  on all classes. Get any classes you've been eyeballing at a great price. All classes are 50% off! Use my special instructor link for the best price and to put a little extra jingle in my pocket. Maybe I can use it for an over priced snack at the airport. Lol!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action!

Today's the day! No time to really write, but I'm so excited! Here I am reflected in the booth window of the newly revamped and equipped Craftsy Studio E. If you remember the yellow room with the grey metal wall with all the wonderful little props, thread, rulers and such of many Craftsy quilting classes, it is no more. I kind of miss it!





Below is my producer, Clif looking for the right tool as Maria Capp and Molly, both with Craftsy as they work to figure out how to sink the machine level with the surface. The mechanism got stuck somehow.



I foolishly decided to leave my laptop at home for lighter travel which was a big mistake. I have my tablet, but somethings don't want to play nicely with it. I feel a bit lost and out of touch without it.


But I'll be focusing on my class pretty hard and I'll be back home soon. It's a lot of work on a tight and fast timeline, but so worth it.


Until then, just keep quilting!




Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Removing the Stumbling Blocks of Quilting Perfectionism

I am putting the finishing touches on my next Craftsy class and it seems the world has been conspiring against me with a ton of things trying to happen all at once and vying for my time. So I've asked for a little help from my friends. My BQF (best quilty friend) Robin is a marvel and I convinced her to tell us how she gets so much quilting done.



Robin is a very generous, hospitable, and humble soul. She's also a lot of fun. It was almost worth it the last time I flew and got stranded overnight in her city's airport just to have a quick visit with her. She's a longarm quilter for the most part, but since we met several years ago, she's been free motion quilting on her domestic machine now and then. I think I'm rubbing off on her! She works very diligently to gift the people in her life (and those in the lives of her family) with beautiful quilts. I'm pretty sure she's more productive than I am.


 Hi Amy!  I’m so happy you invited me to be here.  I love your blog and often refer my domestic quilting friends to it.  I love how approachable and do-able you make free motion quilting on the dm.
So glad you asked me to share my recent reprioritizing of my quilting.  Briefly, my family recently experienced the loss of my mother.  I had planned on reproducing a piece of artwork she had made in high school, a pen and ink watercolor, in fiber art.  Unfortunately she passed away shortly after I started it and never saw the finished art quilt.  I was devastated that I had not made it a higher priority on my list of quilting projects.

Robin's re-creation of her mother's artwork. Yes, that's done on fabric.

Mom’s passing caused me to rethink and reprioritize my quilting.  Not just WHAT I quilted and in what order, but HOW I went about my quilting.  First, I reprioritized my projects in order of which projects I would be most devastated if the recipient were to pass away before I was able to finish it or something happened to me.  Macabre I know, but none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.
However, I realized that just reprioritizing my projects wasn’t enough.  I needed to work faster and more efficiently.   I considered, “What are the stumbling blocks that keep me from finishing a project in a timely manner and how do I eliminate them?”

Stumbling Block #1a – Selecting a Pattern

In the past I had to find the PERFECT pattern and could spend days or weeks looking for the right pattern.  Perhaps the NEXT site/magazine/book will have an even better pattern.   I confess I’ve even been known to spend several months designing the PERFECT quilt for a recipient.  How was I going to eliminate that stumbling block?  I decided to set a time limit to find a pattern and at the end of that time limit, I had to choose my pattern from the ones I had selected during that time.  I put this into practice on the very next quilt ... a baby quilt for my son and wife.  One hour!  I had purchased some Dick and Jane fabric years ago with the intention to use it in a quilt for my son’s first baby.  Now I needed a pattern that would showcase that fabric to its potential.  I gave myself ONE HOUR to search online for a quilt pattern.

Stumbling Block 1b – More on selecting a pattern

I decided I did not necessarily need to create unique-just-for-you quilts.  I am so back logged on baby quilts I am in danger of having to say to a graduating senior, “Uh, here’s your baby quilt.”  Most of my friends/relatives with the babies/toddlers lived in different states and didn’t even know each other.  I designed a very simple quilt (14 seams!) and made 7 boy versions and 6 girl versions ... in 3 ... THREE ... days!  I will quilt the child’s name in big bold letters and meander relevant motifs from the fabric around the name and THAT is what will make it special to the child.  Booyah!  13 quilt tops off my list!

Robin's new go-to quilt for a girl


Stumbling Block #2 – Finding the PERFECT fabric


The pattern I selected to use for the Dick and Jane fabric needed a specialty ruler which I ordered.  Although I was making the Dick and Jane quilt for my son and wife, it was really for my son.  The fabric had images that reminded me of shared memories with him.  I decided I needed to make a second quilt for my daughter-in-law with her baby theme in mind ... jungle.  My modus operandi in the past was to visit several quilt shops in search of the perfect fabric.  No!  I looked in my stash to see if I had something that would work.  I found a bug fabric layer cake.  I thought, “Bugs live in the jungle too! “  So I decided to make a Bug Jar quilt for my soon to be grandson.


What ordinarily would have taken me anywhere from a day to a month ... or more ... to do for just ONE quilt, I had just boiled down to 1.5 hours for TWO quilts.  Yea me!

Stumbling Block 3a – Perfecting the quilt – piecing

I’m a perfectionist in my piecing.  I want my points sharp, I want my blocks square.  Most of my quilts are utility quilts.  They are going to be drug around, spit up on, thrown up on, used to make forts etc.  They’re not Paducah show quilts.  No more ripping out a seam because a point was a little clipped.

Stumbling Block #3b – Perfecting the quilt – embellishing

I am notorious for changing a pattern ... making a more elaborate border or adding details and embellishments that take the quilt to the “next level” etc.  Ok, that next level thing might only be in MY mind, but those additions/embellishments all add to the time it takes to complete a quilt.  I decided that from now on I would analyze how long I will devote to piecing a quilt and that was ALL the time it was going to get ... no matter how much embellishing I had thought of doing.  Of course for the Bug Jar quilt my mind went straight to appliqueing escaped bugs, a spider and web, a lizard eating an escaped bug etc.  I assigned it one week which was the time it would take for the ruler for the Dick and Jane quilt to arrive.  When the ruler arrived, the Bug Jar quilt would be done ... no matter how much more embellishing I had thought of or wanted to do!

Stumbling Blocks 4a and 4b – Quilting choice and quilting quality

These stumbling blocks are a variation of 3a and 3b.  No longer was I going to search for the perfect quilting design.  Finding a quilting pattern would also be assigned a time limit and I would have to choose the quilting design from what I had found during that time.  Nor was I going to rip out stitches because there was a wobble or a bobble in my quilting.  Remember, most of my quilts are utility quilts.

Stumbling Block 5 – Binding

No longer was I going to hand stitch my binding down ... which I rarely did anyway.  From here on out they are going to be sewn to the back, folded to the front and top stitched down.

Well, that is my new approach to quilting in a nutshell.  It doesn’t mean that I will never ever again take a long time to make a quilt.  I’m sure there will be special quilts that come along that will demand a little more attention.  This was a huge change for me in my approach to quilting.

We lost Mom Thanksgiving morning.  Since then I have pieced and quilted 32 round table toppers, pieced 3 table runners and quilted 1 of them, pieced a wall hanging, pieced the Dick and Jane and Bug Jar quilts, pieced 13 additional baby/toddler quilts and made a fun body bib for a child with cerebral palsy to protect her clothing when she ate.   Without these changes I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish a tenth of that.   Next month I’ll quilt some of those before I go meet my new grandson ... in Brazil.

Some of the 32 round table toppers Robin made recently

Happy quilting everyone and thank you again Amy for letting me share this.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Plethora of Quilt Projects

I'm going a little crazy with class prep right now, sewing up a storm, so I'll let some pictures do the talking and get back to work.


So much quilting goodness. I am having a lot of fun with these projects. I can't wait until I have more time to share them with you.


My husband is sooooo wonderful! He learned to press a quilt top, cut backing, and pin baste this week. Plus, he's been doing more cooking than usual as I'm quilting away.


All these quilts will be getting a good dose of ruler work. This quilt is going to be a blast to finish with lots of quilting details.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Machine Applique and Another New Project

Since the actual quilting is my favorite part about making quilts, it should be no surprise that I love applique. Applique is such a great way to get a lovely top with lots of space to do some great ruler work and free motion quilting. I've been working on a little project with some applique as a class sample. First I adapted an older applique design I had created to make a single flower.


Then I made new freezer paper templates and began cutting out the different shapes and preparing the edges for turned edge applique.


I love using my little iron and my starch tea cup for these projects. There were no burned fingers this time!


Then it was time to glue baste the pieces in place and stitch them down. I used invisible thread to stitch them into place with a teeny tiny blanket stitch on my Janome 8200.

If you'd like to learn more about applique, I recommend Kevin Kosbab's Start Applique. He covers several different types of applique and he's easy to follow. His freezer paper method is very close to my own method too.


Remember that the National Craft Month promotion is still going on with Craftsy. Buy a class and you could win $1000 to donate to your favorite craft-focused charity! If we get enough participation, Craftsy is going to up that amount to $2000. Imagine how that could help charities like Quilts of Valor, Project Linus, or any one of many worthy organizations.

Make sure to use on of my special instructor's affiliate links and brighten my day, plus make sure you get the best price on any class.

I am working like a crazy woman on several different things in my life right now and quilting is only part of it. The blog might not get as much attention from me right now, but I'll try to share what I can.

What about you? What have you been making and does it include applique or ruler work? Inquiring minds want to know!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Craftsy Charity Giveaway

March is National Craft Month! To celebrate, Craftsy is throwing a special promotion. Any student that purchases a class through an instructor link from 2/29 - 3/13 will be entered to win a $1,000 donation to a craft-focused charity of his/her choice!


It's no secret that quilters are some very caring and supportive people. Whether it's Project Linus, Quilts of Valor, or any other number of worthy organizations, quilters help the world be a better place through their participation and giving, both monetarily and with their time and creative works.

Now's a great time to purchase my Craftsy class, Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine, and my link will give you the 50% off discount I have been giving my readers.

If you've already enjoyed my class on ruler work, you'll love these two classes to take that could be utilized with ruler work: Angela Walters' Dot to Dot Quilting and Kim Brunner's Machine Quilting with Templates. Later this week, I'll have some other classes for you that I am loving right now.

Now is a great time for your quilting friends to learn about this technique and take advantage of these deals too, so spread the word. Craftsy has a special focus on bringing new students to the Craftsy platform and if there's enough new enrollees, they're going to double that charitable donation to one student's craft related charity of choice to $2000.

If you or a friend have never bought a class from Craftsy, let me tell you it is a fabulous way to learn from nationally recognized teachers on a huge range of topics. The quality of the video is amazing! It is so much better than any Youtube video, including mine. Trust me, those camera guys know their stuff!

They're so sure you'll love your class, there's a 100% money back guarantee. You can watch the class over and over so you can catch every bit of the information. You can ask questions of the instructor and get answers! Everyday I log on to my class platform and answer questions, participate in discussions, and check out my students' projects.

Maybe you think you can find the same information for free elsewhere on the internet? Not so. Craftsy makes sure their classes are full of value for the student. They take great care to avoid repeating the same info that might already be available. I share a lot about my own technique here, but see this recent 5 star review about my class by "jlos":

Excellent. Have been following Amy's blog for some time and wondered if this class would have much more than her very well done blog. Decided to take a chance and am very glad I did.

To get registered for the charity giveaway, you must use special instructors' affiliate links. Here's another one of mine: http://www.craftsy.com/ext/AmyJohnson_holiday.  In the interest of full disclosure, your use of my links helps fund my work and keeps me going.


I love Craftsy's classes and I know you will too!