Quilting Tools 2

This post probably should have come first in my series of Quilting Tools since these are the very basic, most necessary tools for me and many other quilters.

First of course is the machine, a Janome 6600P which is a fabulous machine. It has a 9" throat which is an incredible improvement from a standard sized sewing machine. It could have come with a more comprehensive manual since I am certain it doesn't cover all that this machine is capable of. Don't forget the darning or free motion foot. Janome makes a fabulous free motion foot in high and low shank versions with changeable 'toes' and an adjustable height/presser foot, and it works without the noisy clackety clack of a bar over the needle screw. Love!

Then there are the Machingers Gloves . I always use these. I have tried other methods to give me 'grip' but always come back to these.

Next is the Queen Size Supreme Slider for the bed of my machine. It really helps me move the quilt sandwich more easily. Also note that my machine is recessed into my counter top surface. This helps with handling the quilt and also helps with the ergonomics of sitting at my machine.

Also pictured is a little doodled flamingo for a sick friend who loves flamingos. I'll finish it off as a small wall hanging with a simple zigzag edge finish after I do some quilting on the background.

Now it's time to serve up breakfast, sew I gotta go.....

Edited 5/20/12 to add link for supreme slider. The slider and machingers are available also from Leah Day.

Quilting Goals and Benchmarks

I'm having a bit of trouble with my camera so I'll have to get back to my series on tools in a few days. Meanwhile my thoughts have been on setting goals for myself in regards to my quilting. My main work in this season of life is to raise  my children and while that's great, it's a long-term goal without much of a measurable sense of achievement in the short-term. I quilt because it's one of the few things I do that stays done. I need a sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching for goals and achieving them. Too bad potty training, teaching math facts (we homeschool), and cooking up three meals a day (every dang day) doesn't quite do it for me. Maybe it ought to, but that's how it is.

I'd like to build my skills and hopefully position myself for some sort of part-time business when the kids are older, especially if we put them into school when they are older and definitely by when they are grown. I've met a few moms lately whose children have left the nest and they seem lost now. I don't want to be that way. I need to be Amy and Mom, and eventually more Amy and less Mom.

The internet is populated by a lot of talented moms who have been able to build a fabulous blog following and move into all kinds of crafty businesses. I don't think that's for me. I hang out with a lot of long arm quilters over on MQResource and many of them quilt for hire, but that's not likely to be me either.There's a new little quilt shop in town and I think I could be more active there, maybe teach some free motion quilting classes, but we'll have to see how it goes. I think I'd like teaching on a regular basis; I love sharing how fun and creative free motion quilting can be!

Ever since attending the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival a few months ago, I've wondered if I should try making something for competition. Not that I think I'd win anything, but IF I could get something juried in, at least I'd get some judges comments to identify areas that need improvement. Certainly just learning how to get good enough photos for submission and figuring out all the competition requirements would be a challenge! So I've been looking for local and regional shows, which has me investigating different guilds.

With my commitment to the kids, it'll be a challenge just getting a quilt done, much less visit guilds and enter shows. I found a state guild that is very, very interesting and I hope to check it out. They have few meetings, quarterly I think, but those meeting include workshops with good teachers. In fact they just had their retreat, something they only do every other year. I found out about this group because Becky Goldsmith of Piece O Cake designs mentioned on her blog that she would be teaching there! I had to work really hard that weekend to keep from driving over and sneaking in. Lyric Kinard was there too along with a slew of great teachers.

Then I noticed the little challenges and calls for submissions in many of the quilting magazines. There's a color challenge for Quilting Arts Magazine that is interesting. Surely I can complete an 8x8" quilt and submit it? And there's SAQA, of which I am a member. They have several calls for submissions and competitions, but I'm not sure what I do is quite artsy enough for them.

I do know I want to get a new version of "Poured Out" put together for the Sacred Threads exhibit early next year, so I'd better get going on that. I also need to sell more of my pieces that I have in a local shop. It seems sales for all the artists there are stagnant so I should find a different venue, but I don't know what. Supposedly a full Etsy shop works better than one with just a few items posted here and there, so maybe I need to wait until I have a nice collection and get a friend with a better camera to shoot the items so I can get them posted and fill my inactive Etsy shop.

So have you stuck with me for this whole ramble? Hello? I'm open to ideas and comments. Do you set quilt goals? How do you grow as a quilter? There's a quilter online that is in Australia and she's part of a guild that has certification for different levels of quilting expertise, which sounds marvelous. I know there are programs for certification of teachers, judges, appraisers and the like here in the states, but I don't know of any official programs for just quilters.