Saturday, June 8, 2024

More Scrappy Celebration Blocks + a Big Decision

Hello, Friends!  I finished all six of my double 9-patch blocks for my Tilda version of the American Patchwork & Quilting Scrappy Celebration quilt the other day, so now I have two tidy stacks, six of each style.  The center square of my double 9-patch block is a dusty pink Tilda Solid that coordinates perfectly with the tiny ditsy pink flowers on the green print, by the way.  It's looking weirdly gray in the photo, and my cutting mat that is actually pink IRL is looking more red in the photo.  Not sure if it's some difference in the camera of my new phone or something different with the lighting in the new sewing room.

9 inch Finished Blocks for Scrappy Celebration

Having no design wall (yet?) in my new house, I am using my EQ8 quilt design software (this post contains affiliate links) as a virtual design wall instead.  Below you see the EQ rendering of the Scrappy Celebration quilt from the pattern designer, and as I finish a set of blocks I just take a picture of one of them from straight on and crop it square, import it into the software and set the scale to 9" (because they are 9" finished blocks), add the block photo as a fabric, and then change the appropriate blocks in the quilt to plain blocks that I can just "paint" with the photo of my completed quilt block.  That was probably clear as mud to those of you who don't use this software, but if anyone out there is new to EQ and wants a fuller explanation of what I'm doing here, feel free to email me for more complete instructions.  

Why do I bother to do this at all?  Because swapping out the generic solid colored blocks in the pattern rendering with my actual blocks helps me to get a better sense of how my colors and prints are working together and guides me in selecting fabrics for subsequent blocks.  I'll also be able to print out the final image, once all of the plain blocks have been replaced with photos of my actual blocks, and use that as a roadmap for assembling the quilt top.

EQ8 Scrappy Celebration Rendering Showing Finished Blocks

Not that I have any idea what I'm going to do with this quilt once it's finished.  I just thought it was pretty when I saw so many versions of this quilt online during the QAL last year -- and immediately I started thinking about how I'd want to quilt it...  so I had to go ahead and start making the top just so I can quilt it!

Speaking of quilting, let's all admire this picture of my client Kim's lovely Heart Quilt.  Kim used Lori Holt's unique 10" iron on Heart Quilt Papers (available here on Etsy), to make her blocks and I quilted it for her with Wild at Heart E2E design and 40 wt 2-ply Madeira Aeroquilt thread:

Wild at Heart E2E in Madeira Aeroquilt Thread 

Isn't that pretty?  Aeroquilt is a new-to-me thread that I've been quilting with lately.  It's a lightweight matte polyester similar to Superior's So Fine, but even lighter weight (so a lot less visible than most other quilting threads.  I think it might be less expensive than So Fine, and it performs beautifully in the Bernina Q24.  The only downside is that Aeroquilt generates a truly ridiculous amount of lint in the bobbin area, for a polyester thread.  I'm willing to deal with lint from cotton threads for the same reason I'm willing to empty the lint from my clothes dryer after laundering 100% cotton sheets and towels -- the beauty and other advantages of natural fibers are worth an extra cleaning step.  Aeroquilt can be used in both the needle and the bobbin on a long arm machine, but I've been loving how well it pairs with MagnaGlide Classic 60 wt prewound bobbins.  Enough about thread for today!

And Now, for the Big Announcement...

You guys, my long arm machine is set up and running smoothly at my father-in-law's as I showed you in my last post, but this move has been wickedly stressful for my whole family and I need a breather.  I am just not ready to have quilt tops showing up on my doorstep again from all over the country and my closet filling up with 20-50 quilt deadlines hanging over my head.  I love all of my quilting clients, really -- have loved getting to know each one of you as we collaborated on special projects over the years, but I need to reclaim a big hunk of creative time for myself and I have been presented with an opportunity that is working a lot better for me right now at this particular point in my life.  Here's what happened:

There is an awesome quilt shop in Naples, Flash Sew & Quilt, that I wrote about here a year ago when I shopped there for my Halo quilt pattern and my Tilda fabrics.  I've shopped at this store several times and it is just a beautiful shop -- fantastic assortment of Kaffe Fassett and Tilda and other current fabric collections and precuts, all of my favorite battings, Bernina and BabyLock machines, Aurifil and Wonderfil threads, patterns and kits and all of this in a beautifully merchandised shop with soaring ceilings and plenty of natural light.   It's like stepping into Willy Wonka's factory, if Willy Wonka sold fabric instead of chocolate.  Seriously -- if your travels take you anywhere in Southwest Florida, you need to check out Flash Sew & Quilt.

Flash Sew and Quilt of Naples, Florida

As soon as we got to Florida, I made a beeline for Flash to pick out my Tilda precuts for the Scrappy Celebration quilt I started working on during the Agony of the Unpacking.  Then I went back to Flash in April when I was working out how to set up my sewing room, to look at the Horn and Koala cabinets in person.  Cindy was helping me with all of my questions about the sewing cabinet options and I was talking about all of my different machines and what kind of sewing I do... and it turns out that Flash was looking to hire someone part time to do long arm quilting on their Bernina Q24 in the shop.  My first instinct was "why would I want to do that?"  But I agreed to at least talk to the owners about it.

Square Meander Stitched in Aeroquilt Thread on Client's Quilt

Well, I met with the owners Mike and Bridget and they are just as wonderful as their quilt shop.  They are letting me set my own schedule, work as few as 2-3 days a week if that's all I want to do, and they are fine with letting me load and quilt the way I like to do it rather than following someone else's methods.  They even ordered in a bunch of those yummy Aurifil Forty/3 long arm quilting threads that I love because I requested them -- and they bought enough to sell to customers as well, by the way, so if you haven't been able to find the big yellow cones in a shop near you, you can get it from Flash.

I have no more unpaid administrative work, things like keeping track of batting and thread inventory, placing and checking in orders, bookkeeping, promoting my work on social media, etc.   (I would rather write a thousand words about a quilt here on my blog than have to post a single picture on Instagram!) Quilting for the quilt shop customers, I'm not responsible for anything besides the actual long arm quilting and occasionally helping their Bernina Q Series customers trouble shoot challenges with their long arm machines, which I also enjoy.

I have coworkers for the first time in decades, and the staff at Flash has been very kind and welcoming.  I still get to meet with clients when they drop off their quilts, especially the ones with questions or concerns or who want help choosing a design, but it's also nice that some other clients will drop off a quilt on one of my days off and someone else at the store can measure their backing and help them fill out the form.  

Best of all, when it's 5 PM and I have just a couple rows left on the quilt on my frame, guess what happens!  Do I keep working all night long until my husband is texting me and telling me to come to bed like I did so many nights in Charlotte?  NO I DO NOT -- because my coworkers want to go home and they kick me out of the store so they can lock up!  It felt weird at first to shut down the machine when the quilt wasn't finished yet, but now I've decided it's awesome.  Seriously, it feels so liberating to just literally leave work behind at 5 PM by driving away from it, and then have the whole evening to just relax and do other things with my family.  Is this what normal feels like?!  Hello, my name is Rebecca Grace and I'm a Recovering Workaholic...

Aquamarine E2E, Aeroquilt Thread on Client's Seasonal Stitchy Stars Table Runner

What I enjoy most about longarm quilting professionally is the opportunity to meet so many wonderful creative people, whether locally or through email consultations with mail-in clients, and to see and collaborate on so many different beautiful quilts.  It is very satisfying to load a quilt top onto the frame and then see it transformed and brought to completion by the quilting, and then see how happy and excited the clients are when they pick up their quilts.  If I can do that just a couple days a week, quilting on the quilt shop's machine, and have the rest of the week (and all of my own machines) entirely at my own disposal for my projects, I think that might give me the best of both worlds, with built-in physical boundaries (locked doors and alarm systems between me and waiting customer quilts when the store is closed, LOL!) to prevent me from giving up all of my nights and weekends to just one more quilt, squeezing in one more rush quilt to meet a deadline, etc.

Some of my longtime quilting customers are going to be disappointed by this news, but I know so many amazing long arm quilters across the country, and I'd be happy to refer you to someone else who will do beautiful work for you, seriously.  Just shoot me an email.  Of course, if you're local to Southwest Florida (or local during the winter season), I can still quilt for you if you bring your quilt top to Flash Sew & Quilt.

That is quite enough for one blog post, don't you agree?  I need to go cut out pieces for my next six Scrappy Celebration blocks and -- spoiler alert! -- I think it's time for more adventures with Y-seams!

I'm linking up today's blog post with the following linky parties:


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  


To-Do Tuesday at Quilt Schmilt  


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty

 TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: TGIF Friday


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


Gail M Carlson said...

Rebecca I'm so happy for you. Sounds like you have found the best of both worlds and it will give you a much needed break. I worked at a local fabric store after retiring from the dental laboratory business and it was so refreshing. Didn't even seem like work and the sewist at the shop were some of the nicest most interesting people.
Good luck with all your endeavors.

Gail Carlson

Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl said...

That is super exciting, Rebecca. Sometimes an opportunity comes along that we weren't looking for but that ties a lot of loose ends into a neat bow. I hope that you continue to thrive with your new co-workers and I'm excited that you get to carve out so much more creative time for yourself and your family.

Gretchen Weaver said...

This new quilting arrangement sounds like a good arrangement for both you and the shop! Happy stitching at home and at work!

Julie in GA said...

I've been wondering how you were doing after the move, so it's good to hear that you are getting settled in. Your new job long-arming at the quilt shop sounds like the perfect way to continue sharing your amazing skills, but not have it taking over your life. Congratulations!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

well this all sounds like it will be very good for you and gives you creativity and a chance to be working some and having fun meeting people. I always thought you were giving too much of yourself quilting for others with no time to do your own things. So many do that - get a long arm to go into business and then find they have no time for their own creativity. Good luck said...

What a terrific solution!. . .especially the part about leaving at 5pm! Those owners sound like they are amazing. What a terrific fit for you!

Ramona said...

While I will miss having you work your magic on my quilts, I am so happy that you have found something that will allow you time for your own creativity. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of your new, stream-lined sewing room!

Sara said...

Congratulations on this new adventure! I'm sure this shop is thrilled to have you join their team. Stepping away at 5:00 will be a good thing.

dq said...

Do some people actually know what they will do with a quilt when they finish it? I seldom do. I just make them for joy.
I still have not purchased EQ. I am still using an old, obsolete program called Quilt Pro. It is not supported for updates anymore - sad.

Your quilting on Seasonal Stitchery Stars is lovely as usual.

Now for the big congratulations! I am happy for you to cut back somewhat. You will enjoy going into work just a little bit saving time to do work for yourself. You sound so happy about it. You deserve a bit of a break in your new world/life.

I agree whole heartedly with you about blogging being better than other platforms. We can tell our story so much better.

dq said...

Love the 9 patches quilt!!!

Pat at Bell Creek Quilts said...

Sounds exciting to be able to have a wonderful work/life balance with the long arming! Congrats!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

I'm so happy you have settled in so nicely! Your job sounds perfect for you, and your reaction tells me you needed this break. I look forward to seeing your personal projects move forward. Thanks for sharing on my weekly show and tell, Wednesday Wait Loss.

Linda said...

I am just now reading your post, directed here from Mary's Cheetah post! I'm SO happy for you!! It just sounds like a dream to me, and what a benefit not only for you but also the quilt shop and the customers who will get to have such beautiful quilting! Congratulations!

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Sounds like a great professonal decision, Rebecca! I work as sales staff at my LQS twice a week for one of the same reasons--to get out and talk with quilters. Longarm quilting is a very solitary job of long hours.