The Good, the Bad, and the Rocky

I got a box of rocks from my parents today.

In their defense, I asked them for it. In fact it was a box with rocks and all of my goodies from the Craftsy Instructor Summit. I didn't have room in my suitcase for all of it.

There were sponsor booths with some great freebies for the instructors. This kind of thing makes me giddy and anxious at the same time. Clearly they are there to work with Craftsy peeps. (There's not a big enough group of us fabriholics to justify the idea of selling to us.) But to say, "Can I have some of that, please?" is an awkward thing for me.

I don't like having any strings attached to freebies and will speak my mind about the good and bad of any product as I see it. I think most of you can see that in my reviews. Now, if they say, "Here, take this." I'll take it. Craftsy gave us a bag full of little goodies at registration, which is where most of these things came from.

I was tickled to get quite a few solid fabrics since they're pretty easy for me to use as samples for free motion quilting. I like Kona of course, but the Cotton Couture feels really, really nice. Almost like a sateen. I bet it'll show of the texture of quilting quite well. I haven't opened that pack of white from Boundless Fabrics, but charm squares of all one solid color? That's handy!

Here's why I wanted that box of rocks! I've seen some beautiful painted, Zentangled, and even crocheted rocks on the web and I wanted to do some of my own. I think I need more practice. I did find that the Sakura Souffle pen worked better on the rock than the paint pen. Virginia doesn't have many nearby places where I can get such nice river rocks. But my parents now live in Pueblo and there were plenty there where we went to walk. Thanks Mom!

Now if only I could actually get around to some quilting! Life has gotten a bit crazy with several things that I want and need to do. The timing is awful, so I'm doing the best I can on several fronts. I hate being this busy, but these things are needful.

If you read my newsletter, you'll know I didn't deliver on my idea of a reoccurring blog link party to share ruler work designs, projects, and progress. I'm still very excited about this, but I didn't get home due to flight delays until after the date I should have posted it. We'll do it instead the second Wednesday of February, so get your pieces ready to share. There are still a lot of folks who can't imagine holding a ruler and moving the quilt under the machine and I want to show them that not only is it possible, but that it's also easier than it sounds once you try it!

Where's Amy?

Remember those "Where's Waldo?" pictures? Here's a pic of all the Craftsy Instructors and some Craftsy team members I was hanging out with this past weekend. Can you find me?

I've been a bit quiet the last few days mainly due to leaving my laptop cord at my friend's house in Charlotte. Severe rationing has been enacted as I wait for it to arrive in the mail.

Could be worse: I could have left it somewhere and lost it forever. Those cords aren't cheap. Even more wonderful was spending a few precious hours with my quilting BFF instead of sleeping/stewing at the Charlotte airport while waiting for my flight home to be rescheduled for the next day.

Thanks Robin!

Gotta go....

Fun With Craftsy's Fabulous Instructors

While my family is snowed in with about 12 inches of snow in Virginia, I am out in Denver, nearly snow free, at a gathering of Craftsy Instructors.I am also about 300 feet away from where the Denver Broncos are sleeping before the big game. They're just past a polite guard down the hall from my hotel room. I haven't seen them though and other than guessing from their size I wouldn't recognize them anyway.

Instead, I have been meeting quilting celebrities, learning about using Facebook, editing photos for better pictures of my work, and getting to know some really fabulous folk.

Proof positive that a dimly lit pub for the meet and greet isn't the best place for photos. I'll try to edit this one later when I've got a bit more time, but pictured are (L-R) Donna Thomas, Lori Kennedy, Mimi Dietrich, Barb Eichmeier, Alex Veronelli (Aurifil is an event sponsor), me peeking around, and Kelly Ashton. (my instructor links to some of their classes are included.)

To sort of compensate for that awful picture, here's a shot of the Arkansas river and dam near my parents' home in Pueblo CO.

I'll be back soon with better pics and more quilty goodness. There's no place like home, even if I am having a good trip. If your in the big snow fall, stay warm and safe.

Waves and Feathers

As the mid-Atlantic area of the US braces for a huge snow storm, I hopped a plane and ran off! Actually, I'm visiting my parents in Pueblo Colorado, where ironically there's very little snow. Then I will be attending a special conference for Craftsy instructors. I'm looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of talented folks.

I showed the back of my Poured Out 2 quilt a few days ago and I've gotten several requests to see the front from some of my newer readers. This quilt is incredibly hard to photograph!

This was a very personal quilt for me, done to process the emotional roller coaster I was on while my husband had cancer and I was struggling with a newborn who would never sleep. Thankfully he's cancer free and that baby finally learned to sleep through the night and is now a sweet 6 year old.

If you are in the path of the storm, I wish you warmth and safety.

Waves of Free Motion Feathers

I took my Poured Out 2 quilt with me to a quilt guilt meeting. They clapped when I showed it. I blushed like crazy. Always do.

waves of free motion feathers

This quilt was a triumph and a disaster. It helped me express myself during a difficult time, but then the sucker bearded like crazy. Such a disappointment. But the contrast of the turquoise thread on the black back always makes me smile.

May your quilting make you smile today too!

Quilting with Rulers: Rack Them Up

I've been meaning to show you the gorgeous ruler rack that the talented and generous Patsy Thompson sent me. It's so pretty! Especially with all my sparkly rulers stacked and looking like giant jewels.

quilting with rulers: rack them up

Let me point out the beautiful inlay work that Patsy's husband Ernie put into this rack. It sits perfectly on one of my cube storage units and is nice and heavy so I know it's not going to get knocked off.

quilting with rulers: rack them up- detail of inlay

Yes, I loved my son's pointer he got from his school so much I bought myself one. Actually I got 3 in different colors. I was hoping to find a small one that would fit on the end of a pencil so I could use it easier in my videos. (Or break it out in a Craftsy taping! I'm pretty sure they wouldn't keep it in the footage, but it would make a great blooper.) I wasn't feeling brave enough to use it in my recent talk to a local quilt guild.

I didn't get my ruler work sampler done in time for the guild talk. I've been filling in at my Janome dealer's shop while he recovers from some surgery. It's put a crimp in my schedule for sure, but I love helping the customers.

I did some partial crosshatching into one of the setting triangles the other day....

quilting with rulers partial crosshatching

Then I decided to fill in every other square with a back and forth line fill. I'm not sure I like it. What do you think? I probably need to heed my own advice and step away from the quilt before looking at it and deciding it's not good enough. If I hadn't already done the fill below the crosshatching, I would have put another two lines in so the filled spaces worked out to fill the corners of the design, not just the top and bottom diamond.

quilting with rulers partial crosshatching with fill

Don't forget the upcoming Ruler Work Link Party on January 26th. Get your ruler work projects ready to share, inspire, and educate other quilters and we'll pop around the links and visit.

In other news, the USPS is raising their postage rates this weekend and I'm sorry to tell you that we'll have to raise shipping rates in the shop. Anything ordered after Sunday (1/17) will have the new shipping rates added.

I enjoyed all the wonderful feedback I got from my last post on the Sew Slip mat and its alternatives. While the commentors didn't all agree on what they used for a good slick surface, all agreed that something extra was needed beyond just the table and machine surface.

Edited to add: I almost forgot! Craftsy is having a sale on its new classes this weekend. New year, new class specials. They don't often put the newest classes on sale, so take advantage of this one by clicking my affiliate link.

Slippin' and a Slidin'

I can't say it enough.....a smooth slippery surface is your biggest asset when it comes to free motion quilting!

If you can't move your project smoothly, your quilting will have a jerky, uneven look and your stitch length will be inconsistent. Plus, you will be a tense and frustrated quilter!

Putting down a slippery mat of some sort is super seriously helpful! It not only does the obvious of being slippery, but it also covers any cracks between machine and table plus smooths out any bumps on the bed of the machine. These cracks, bumps, and grooves can catch basting pins, feel odd under your hands, cause friction, and cause rulers to rock.

Anytime I have been in a rush to go from regular sewing to free motion sewing and back, I've regretted it if I skip the step of putting down the slider.

For years I've used the Supreme Slider mat and I've loved it. It seems a bit pricey, especially if you get the queen sized mat for the bigger machines. But I've always felt it was worth the cost.

I've heard tell of quilters using some nonstick oven or pan liners for this purpose. I suspect my Goddess Sheet, bought for use with ironing fusible web that doesn't have a paper backing, can be used for the same purpose, but it is an ugly brown. I want a white mat. I've also heard of a similar product called the Sew Slip mat. For the last several days, I've been using the Sew Slip product. It's a smidge bigger than my queen sized Supreme Slider and about $5 cheaper.

It seems like it clings better to my table than my other slider but the other one has been used more and is a bit dusty. I'd have to compare the two products in their brand new condition to really say one way or the other.

The first thing that I noticed was the Sew Slip is slightly textured. This seems very counter to my expectations, but it's so slippery, that the texture doesn't seem to matter. Above is a close up of the sheet to show the slight texture. My Goddess Sheet mentioned above has a similar texture.

I haven't cut a rectangle around my drop-in bobbin case cover yet. I'm going to continue to test this product and see if it holds up well around the needle hole area. I have noticed some stretching of the Supreme Slider after a lot of use.

How about you? Are you using a Supreme Slider, Sew Slip, or teflon oven sheet? I really think something like this is necessary for free motion quilting, even if it's just a slick sheet of plastic, glossy paper, painter's tape or what have you to cover up cracks and bumps on and around the bed of the machine. Let me know what you use, if anything, on your machine?

Breaking out the Big Guns

Or rather, the big rulers! I'm working whenever I can to make my ruler work sampler my first finish of the 2016. I plan on showing it at a talk I'm giving Friday, so time is short.

I'm using a variety of rulers as I quilt, keeping it mostly to the common sizes of rulers and some smaller as I'm keeping my focus on what your typical free motion quilter can comfortably use on their domestic or home machine. These big blank setting triangles can be intimidating with their large space to quilt.

When quilting on a domestic sewing machine, this large ruler can be a little tricky to maneuver. First of all, you need a smooth flat surface as they can get tippy when going across bumps. We don't want to be rockin' in this manner when quilting.

You need to orient your work so that the end of the ruler doesn't run into the machine body to the right as you stitch towards the left.

You may find that the most comfortable orientation of the ruler for stitching may leave the ruler hanging off in space while the quilt drapes down the edge of the table closest to you. Just lift the quilt up and line it up as close as possible for the initial positioning, then let the quilt go while you begin stitching. Check it frequently to see if you need to "course correct." Once you've stitched about half the length of the ruler, it should be back on the table.

I brought out my biggest ruler, the QPC #20 (coming to the shop soon!) for some nice curves on two setting triangles which are 12 inches on the shorter sides. Previously, I had used a smaller ruler across 2 other setting triangles of the same size. It was half the size (QPC#10) and I used it for half the distance to create a double scallop kind of design.

It helps that I have an 11" throat on my machine, but you can use the larger rulers on a smaller machine too. Just use the tips above and remember that the bigger the ruler, the more likely it is to slip. I make sure my bigger rulers have some sort of non-slip product on the bottom. My favorites are the True Grips and HandiGrip Strips.

More pics coming soon as well as a tutorial showing how to get feathers to come out even in repeated spaces.

Have you ever set yourself some crazy deadlines with your projects? It seemed like I had plenty of time, but I've had a drastic change to my schedule and time to quilt has been hard to find.

Gotta go stitch!

Celtic Knot Templates

I've been meaning to write about this new set of templates for a while but just hadn't the time to do them justice. I used a prototype in my Craftsy class "Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine" (50% off link!) to demonstrate rotating templates and used the same template without the rotating pin for a whole block design as well.

The above is pretty cool, but using the rotating feature is even more cool! And you can offset the designs, and nest them within each other too! I really like these anchor pins, they don't have pins poking up where I'm guaranteed to poke myself.

This template is a lot like a big half circle, but has a hole drilled for a special rotating pin and feet at the ends of the curve to stop your stitching. Add in some handy markings and it allows you to make a great Celtic Knot design without math or marking.

There's a whole range of sizes: 12, 9, 6, and a 'pin-less' 3 inch template. The 3 inch template is cute. What is it that makes something so adorable when miniaturized? It still makes a Celtic Knot if you use the markings, but the template is too small for the special anchor post and pin.

I had to use a ruler to mark reference points so I could line up this little cutie within the knot design made by the 9 and 12 inch versions.

Then I used the markings for the template placement. There are metallic gold lines to help with the center and point placement. They show up really well under the lights of the sewing machine!

As I stitched, I used the green lines to reposition the template for the next pass of stitching. Without the anchor pin, I did need to be extra careful that the ruler didn't slip.

I mentioned that I used a prototype in my quilting with rulers class and I was able to suggest that 1/4 inch spacing lines should be marked around the edges of the template for greater usability when using the half circle or straight edge for other designs.  This makes the template really versatile and each size makes a precise half circle in that size. It's really awesome when a manufacturer listens to input on their products.

I'm now selling these Celtic Knot designs in my shop.

Tula Pink Crush

The weekend following Christmas I totally binge-watched a video series featuring fabric designer Tula Pink! This is very, very rare for me but I was completely sucked into this show which features Tula in her fabulous house and shows the process of creating one of her fabric lines, Eden.

I think I want to be her when I grow up. Except that's a totally ludicrous statement as I am first of all older than her, plus I have no desire to design fabric. I'm pretty sure that she'd be horrified that someone would want to be her. She's an original and I bet she wants everyone else to be their own original too! But she and I are of a certain size and I really admire the confidence and great attitude she's got. Since her brother and mother work with her, maybe I shall aspire to be much like her mom, involved in a family business and my daughter is seriously creative!

So I did the next best thing after watching the whole series.....I bought some of her fabric. Since my daughter watched several episodes, and loved the hidden animals Tula designs, some of the fabric will be in a quilt for her.

I'm not quite sure what I'll do with the rest of it. It's sooooo pretty! I bought a mix of Eden and a few of her new True Colors line. Since she's got great prints, it'll have to be something I combine with some solids so I can still let my quilting shine.

While I was at it, I bought some great fabrics in colors I've been favoring lately; turquoise, grey, and a bit of orange. I'm thinking these fabrics combined with white or grey solids will be a ton of fun!

If you are not signed up for my newsletter (Ummm...and why aren't you?), you won't know that I'm having a ruler work link party in a little under 2 weeks! January 26th to be precise. If you're a blogger, share any of your ruler work projects, samples, practice pieces, and quilts. We'll all hop from link to link and feast on the quilty goodness while also inspiring and encouraging those who haven't yet tried to guide their free motion quilting with rulers.

Time to Tidy the Studio

The new year always has me cleaning, organizing, and trying to get my world pulled together so I can tackle some great goals. This year is no different and I've got several big projects to tackle. Since my two biggest accomplishments of last year weren't even a glimmer this time in 2015 (My Craftsy class- Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine (50% off link there!)and opening my online shop, Amy's Quilting Adventures, to sell my favorite supplies for ruler work and other tools), I'm extra motivated to prepare myself for whatever lies ahead!

 The first order of business was to corral my plethora of papers, pictures, and Post It notes. A quick trip to Staples and I brought home some pretty magazine holders in my favorite colors of turquoise and white to put next to my "inbox". I'm using them on their sides to hold files files and papers. (Got that idea from David Allen's Getting Things Done system) The Post Its were put into my bullet journal. Here's a video on the bullet journal. I can't ever stick with a pre-made planner, but I've gravitated to this from making to-do lists on far too many separate pieces of paper, Post-It's, and other notebooks. Here's a link to Bullet Journal Joy, who has a prettier, more artsy vibe. Both folks use some fancy notebooks, but I use a simple Walmart blank journal.

quilt studio honest craft room
Not too shabby.

Now that the papers and computer were taking up only half of my work surface, it was time to make sure I had space to iron and cut efficiently. I had two ironing surfaces and one was too big for the space, the other was too small. I made a new ironing board out of a piece of plywood 18x22 inches, a layer of batting, and some natural twill. After using my trusty staple gun to put it all together and pulling a 3/8ths inch staple out of my finger (Yeeeouch! Big oops.) I made it a pretty cover of (What else?) turquoise and white.

Now to get to my creative work! I did work on a sample using the TopAnchor Celtic Knot templates. I hope to have them available in the shop soon. Take a look see where I ran out of bobbin thread below. Less than an inch left to stitch and my bobbin comes up empty.

How about you? Are you getting organized? Have some great goals for yourself too, quilty or otherwise?

Out with the Old, In with the New!

I am so looking forward to a brand new year! Last year was pretty awesome with my Craftsy debut and the launch of my online shop, so I am working on a plan now. Of course plans change and I'm learning to hold onto them lightly. God knows the ultimate results of the plans I make and I'm letting Him guide me as I go. I would however like a little peek into His plans for me.

Like Leah Day, I had a word for the year last year: Finish. I'll tell you, that seems like a flop as my Ruler Work Sampler Quilt is still unfinished. But I did finish that Craftsy class and all it entails and opened my shop which wasn't even on my radar last January.

I'm giving a presentation at the closest big quilt guild to me in mid-January, and I plan to have that sampler done by then. I keep a fairly low profile locally so this will be an interesting activity.

I'm working on another special project and have a ton of quilts in my head just like the rest of you. I'm working on my routine to try to make sure, as Christa Watson said, "I'm a quilter who blogs, not a blogger who quilts!"

That's all for now....see you next year!