Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Don't Even Think About Buying a Longarm Quilting Machine Until You've Read This Book!

Rather than wholeheartedly encouraging or discouraging readers from purchasing these mammoth quilting machines that cost as much as a car, Clayton shares her personal experience and the many potential pitfalls that the longarm dealer won't disclose so that you can make the right decision for your personal situation. She goes over machine basics, the pros and cons of various optional features (I really appreciated her explanation of why the smaller L bobbins might be a better choice than the M class bobbins that hold so much more thread), and gives a much more realistic depiction of the challenges of starting and running a longarm business than what the machine dealers tell you.

For instance: Did you try writing your name on a demo machine, and the salesperson sidled up to you and admiringly commented that you have "a real knack for this?" That's a sales pitch. And just purchasing a longarm machine does not guarantee that you will be able to use it successfully as a business, because a longarm machine is essentially like a paintbrush and paint is the thread. Just because Pablo Picasso and Georgia O'Keefe painted masterpieces with a particular brand of paintbrush and paints, doesn't mean that all of us are capable of creating the same caliber of artwork even if we use the exact same paint brush and paints. The award-winning longarm quilters whose work we admire at shows are exceptionally talented artists, and although practice and work and having the right tools are all important for developing talent, that artistic talent needs to be there initially.

Clayton also points out that longarm quilting, especially as a business, is very physical work. Do you have back, neck, or shoulder problems? How is your upper body strength? If you aren't a physically fit person who exercises regularly, you might find that your body can't handle quilting on a longarm machine for hours at a time, day after day.

There is much more to think about before taking the plunge and ordering a longarm machine, and Clayton covers most of it in this book. The information in this book (as far as pricing, machine options, additional tools etc.) is still very much up-to-date, and there are also a score of links to videos and additional information throughout the text that enable you to learn even more and expand your research further. Highly recommended, definitely worth reading prior to committing to a machine purchase.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Design Wall Monday: K's Quilt for Bobbby is Ready for the Handoff!

Somehow, in between Mary Poppins rehearsals, laundry, and driving kids around, I managed to get K's quilt for her son all kitted up and ready for her to assemble the blocks into a quilt top.  I threw the blocks up on my design wall just to be sure I didn't make any mistakes before I packed the blocks up in labeled ziplock bags:

Blocks Laid Out on Design Wall, Ready To Assemble Quilt Top
I am giving K a diagram of the quilt top along with instructions for setting up her sewing machine for patchwork, straight set piecing instructions, and instructions for attaching the borders.  As long as she gets this back to me by May 1st, I should be able to get it machine quilted for her in time for the early June Quillow service.

By the way, this will be a regular quilt, not a quillow -- K doesn't think her son would want to bother trying to fold it up and stuff it into a pillow, and sewing the pillow cover to the back of the quilt would really restrict the quilting design since those stitches would have to go through all 3 layers of the quilt. 

Here's a closer look at the center block of the quilt:

I ended up doing fusible applique with a single blanket stitched edge, and a double stitched satin stitch for the black cross.  Interestingly, when I attempted to shorten the stitch length so that the satin stitches were touching, I got tunneling and puckering on my sample even though I was using a stabilizer beneath the decorative stitching.  Sewing the lines with the default satin stitch spacing and then going back over them again was the key to getting that full, solid coverage without any problems.  The black and gold thread are both Isacord polyester embroidery thread.

Considering that the only time I ever did machine applique like this was the little sample heart we did in machine mastery class however many years ago, I think this came out pretty good.  How do I love my Bernina?  Let me count the ways...

And now this Bird Woman needs to get some sleep!

Another Openin', Another Show... 13 Days 'Til Mary Poppins Comes to Christ Lutheran!

So, quilt ceremonies, great music, and full-scale musical theatre productions in the sanctuary -- I promise I didn't pick my church ONLY for the arts and crafts.  There was something about grace and eternal salvation that factored into it as well.

Sets Going Up for Mary Poppins!
But HOW COOL is this set for Mary Poppins?!  It's huge!  A professional set designer created the set design and it was constructed and painted by talented church volunteers who have put in many, many hours over the past few months.  Today they are installing the set pieces that were built off-site in the extra-large chancel area of our new sanctuary, and I'm amazed to see the transformation from worship space to theatre.  The organ, both grand pianos, altar, lectern, and baptismal font have all been removed, and Christ Lutheran will be worshipping at No. 13 Cherry Tree Lane for the month of April.  Woo hoo!  The flight apparatus for Mary and Bert has already been installed, too.  If I was the pastor, I would take advantage of that and surprise the congregation with a dramatic flying sermon or two...  Probably best that I'm NOT the pastor...

However, if you're wondering what Mary Poppins could possibly have to do with the message or mission of the church, you'll want to check out the Mary Poppins Sermon Series that will be preached at Christ Lutheran over the next three weeks (I swear I am not making this up).  Worship services are streamed live and archived for online viewing any time on the church web site here.

Altar Moved Back In Front of Set for Sunday Worship

The show opens in two weeks, April 15th, and if you're in the Charlotte area, you can get your tickets either in person at Cornerstone Gifts or online here.  Proceeds from the show will benefit The Sandbox, a local nonprofit supporting families of children with terminal illnesses.  It's going to be a fantastic show in support of a great cause, and I hope to see you there!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to feed the birds...