Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I Own a Feminist Quilt Shop

A couple of weeks ago, a man came into my shop. I was at the back folding fabric for kits, so didn't see him or his group come in. As he looked, I asked if there was anything I could help him find. "I came with my wife," he replied in dismissal.

"Well, we have quite a few male quilters come in, so I never assume," I smiled.

He stated that disappointed him.

Important to note here is that I own a feminist quilt shop. That means I believe women and men are equal, thereby delineating things as feminine activities and masculine activities is, at best, bad form. You do you. This is embodied in the creed of an organization founded by my partner, Maddie Kertay; the BadAss Quilters Society:

  • Be confident enough to embrace your own style without the need to attack others.
  • At least aspire to fearlessness in your craft as well as authentic, compassionate, and ethical treatment of each other.
  • Be generally opposed to dumb-ass behavior that separates, denigrates, or makes light of another's work, style, or lifestyle.
  • In short, BadAss Quilters are opposed to being a jerk about most things and about quilting most of all.

Back to the man who "came with his wife." I asked why he was disappointed. He said something about revoking male membership to those men who quilt.

"Because they do something they enjoy?" I asked.

His response was that they could enjoy "manly things."

My eyes wide an innocent, I parried, "Making things with your hands isn't manly?!"

"You're twisting my words," he laughed.

"I would never."

"Only if you thought you could get away with it."

Get away with it? Honey, you are in my shop.

My quilting world is full of people of all races, colors, creeds, abilities, religions (or not), orientations, and genders. In fact, I could have left the word quilting out of the previous sentence.

I am a feminist.
Do not box me or my fabulous rainbow of friends and family in.

Is your LQS welcoming to all? Give them a shout out in the comments!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I Made a Thing!

I don't get much accomplished since summer started because it's been so busy, but last night, I got a thing done.

Ogee Study
Isn't it grand?! I don't know what it will be when I'm finished, I'm just thrilled to have accomplished something.

I first designed this shape back in 2014, just before the beginning of the last summer Olympics. It's modeled after a traditional architectural shape: the ogee.

Here is a picture of my first quilt made using it. (I don't have a finished picture, as it is still with the longarmer, but I hope to get it back soon.)

Olympic Ogees - 2014
I basted and pieced it all by hand, then attached it to the background by hand. It took me quite a while, but I worked on it while watching my beloved Olympic Games. I am NOT a sport person, but I LOVE the Olympics. Go fig.

Jump forward four years. I don't have as much time to sit and piece by hand so my EPP has been languishing. Recently, however, a friend of mine shared a video online that has changed my life.* Turns out you can do EPP by machine.

EPP. By. Machine.

I know right?!

All you need is a high quality monofilament for your top thread and a short, narrow zig zag on your machine. This gave me a very fine excuse to play with Helga! (She's the machine I first learned to quilt on, but as I have a new Juki, I rarely play with her any more. I think she gets lonely.)

Prepare your pieces as usual by wrapping the fabric around the paper shapes, then stitch on your sewing machine.

I was able to finish the ogee shape above in two hours, counting the time it took me to glue all the pieces to the papers.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go EPP all the things!

Even Professor Snape approves of this magic!

*I can't find a link to the video, any more, but I'm nearly certain it was someone from Cotton and Chocolate demonstrating the technique.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Scraps are Taking Over!

I have a lovely drawer next to my sewing machine that I stuff all my scraps in. These can be bits I cut off as I sewed together a top or leftovers from my stash that measure less than 6 1/2" (the width of my ruler that I wrap all my stash fabric around to fold it as I wrote about here).

My pretty little scrap drawer overfloweth.
When it gets too full, I sort all the lovelies by color into boxes I bought at IKEA. The slot for a label has a tiny bit of fabric placed in it to show me what color is in which box.

If I fits, I sits!

Just over two years ago, I decided I would use my Accuquilt Go Baby to cut all the scraps into usable bits: squares of 2 1/2", 3", and 3 1/2", 3 1/2" drunkard's paths, flying geese, and strings all 2" or narrower.

The beginning of my well-intentioned precutting
It didn't last long. I only fully got through one color and partially through another. The reason being the Accuquilt Go Baby is terribly hard to work with! First, it won't cut through many layers at a time; second, you have to hold it down while you're turning the crank because it's so light; third, I had to lean over pretty far to use it (I'm nearly 6 feet tall) thereby straining my back. Not feasible for me. I sold it and all the dies I had purchased.

Spring forward to this summer.

Despite having whittled my scraps down to what I really wanted to keep, my boxes are still out of control because I never use them. Every time I try to start a scrap project, it starts with sorting, then pressing where necessary, then cutting bits off the scraps to start whatever project I've decided... It fizzles out very quickly.

One of my favorite tools in our shop is the Accuquilt Studio.** Unlike the Accuquilt Go Baby, it is big and heavy, so you don't have to hold it in place while you cut, and the dies are sturdy enough that they will cut through ten layers at once!

I took two colors of scraps into the shop on my day off just to get a jump on precutting them into the shapes I use the most - charms and jelly strips.

Mostly before - as usual, I forgot to take a picture before I actually started.
If the scrap was wide enough, I roughly cut off at least enough for one charm square. The rest went onto the 2 1/2" strip cutting die.

Loaded up and ready to roll!
One quick roll through the Acuquilt, pull away the trimmings, and voila! Precut jelly strips that can be used in string quilts, to strip piece, or even to sub-cut to make my favorites: HSTs and flying geese!

My strips are ready for some piecing action.
Repeat until the stack is gone - honestly, that doesn't take long at all, especially if you've prepared the scraps ahead of time.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...
Remember, I already sorted my scraps down to those that really thrill me, so this will be squee worthy when I'm done.

Then I cut all the pieces that were large enough for a charm square.

And after!
Of course there aren't as many charms, but I'm already dreaming of the HST lovelies I will make with them.

Cutting complete (and coffee gone)!
It really didn't take me much time at all and now two colors of my scraps are all in easily usable pieces. I can't wait to finish the rest!

Do you die cut? Do you scrap piece? Tell me about your favorite thing to cut or make with scraps.

*I am in no way affiliated with Accuquilt. We can't even purchase dies wholesale from them, as there is a signature dealer in town and only signature dealers are allowed wholesale accounts. I just really love what the Accuquilt Studio does for me.

**You can rent time on the Accuquilt at SPOOL for $10 per hour. In that time, you could cut enough fabric for multiple quilts from yardage or scraps.

Monday, July 4, 2016

AQS Quilt Week Chattanooga

I know it seems a long way off, but AQS Quilt Week Chattanooga (September 14-17) will be here before we know it.

And just a few short days ago, I got the news that Climber was accepted into the show! I'm beyond excited. This is my first juried acceptance ever.

designed and pieced by Flaun Cline
quilted by Maddie Kertay

It all started with a four-patch kaleidoscope demo and this awesomely BadAss print from Alexander Henry.

Zen Charmer by Alexander Henry

Then, Maddie worked her magic. She's not the BadAss Quilter for nothin, people! 

She wove a snake all around the border and inserted flowers, skulls, and even a geisha in its coils, all inspired by the original fabric.

amazing quilting by Maddie Kertay

I'm so proud to have this opportunity and even more proud to call this woman my partner. We make epic things happen together.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Getting Inspiration From Precuts and Bundles

Sometimes you see a charm pack or a bundle and the wanties set in. Take, for example, this beautiful line from Carolyn Friedlander - Carkai.

Gorgeous, isn't it? Carolyn can do no wrong in my book. 

But then you remember you're on a fabric fast or buying nothing new for a year or simply sticking to a budget. Or maybe all you could find was a charm pack, but you want to make a king-sized quilt. 

This pre-made color story is a wonderful starting place for you. You already love it. Chances are good you gravitate toward those colors and already have them in your stash. Why not pull fabric from what you already own, if you can't buy right now, or grab a stack of fat quarters from your local quilt shop, if your aim is to make something larger?

As you can see, this pull feels the same, but are from several different lines and different designers. 

Here's another side-by-side picture, just because it's so pretty! 

Share what you make by tagging me on Instagram @ipleadquilty or use #inspiredfabricpull. I would love to see what you pull together. 

Have fun! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Heart My Planner

Maddie is all about using a planner to organize her days and to-dos. I knew theoretically that planners should be a good tool, but I'd never found one that worked for me very well.

Lucky, I paid attention to The Quilter's Planner* Indiegogo link that I kept seeing in my Facebook timeline. After watching the videos, I decided to bite.

Ermegherd. Am I ever glad I did! 

my first week
I've got space to track appointments and to-do lists for home, work, and quilting. Let's face it, they all run back and forth for me. Each day has a spot at the top to write three main tasks to finish for the day.

There are places to keep track of all your projects including swaps and bees, and it comes with patterns written specially for this planner! If you're at all interested, you should really check out the videos on their site. I can't recommend it enough.*

A project tracker page keeps me in line.
I've been using it for two weeks, now. In that time, I have finished assembling 6 tops. Three are nearly identical, so I've only posted one picture. One I can't show you, yet, because it's totally top secret, but I really wish I could.

three tops that look nearly identical - for family
Zigged Grunge - a shop sample
Mini Turnaround - a shop sample
I've also completed 3 of the 6 nearly-done projects I mentioned in my Year in Review post. (I am trying to finish at least one per week to get them out of the way.)

Madrona Hex - spent three years languishing
Flirt 60 - bound and hanging sleeve attached
Star Stuff - bound and hanging sleeve attached
I have to say the Quilter's Planner works better for me than any planner I've ever tried.* I've really been able to accomplish a lot and keep track of it all.

*No, they aren't paying me and they didn't send it to me free. This is simply a review. I am in no way associated with The Quilter's Planner or Late Night Quilter.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Confessions of a Shop Owner: Dear Visitor,

Dear visitor to my shop,

Boy, we had a rough one yesterday, didn’t we? You were only here for 15 minutes, but I learned a lot about you.

You are an attorney.
Your grandmother used to sew beautiful garments.
You have quite a collection of lovely silks from Thailand, where you lived for some time.
You like baskets and buttons and ultra modern quilts, though you’re not sure you could do it. (I know you can.)
You’re unsure of your garment sewing talents and would really like to learn more.

Unfortunately, I also learned that you don’t regard many people worthy of your esteem.
You asked my employee if she was the owner. When she said I was, you turned your attention to me and she ceased to exist for you. Did you even notice there was another customer in the shop, quietly stitching a button onto her coat?

You didn’t get to learn much about me or my shop. You asked questions, but wouldn’t let me answer.

If you had, you would have learned that I love helping sewists of all kinds gain confidence.
You would have learned that I may not be the person for you, but I have two people that are perfect for exactly what you want to know: my partner and my employee are both beautiful seamstresses.

I’ll admit when you left in a flurry, the same way you blew in, I was befuddled. I know I had a completely shocked look on my face. My employee laughed at me.

But you heard the laugh as you were striding to your car and spun around, assuming you were the focus of the laughter. You stuck your head in the door, were horrible to me, and made my customer uncomfortable.

I was so upset I walked out the front door and around the block, trying to control my shaking.

I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. I can only assume that the way you speak over people is not a rare occurrence and that it makes you the subject of many words behind hands or ridicule. I imagine it hurts to hear.

But that laugh was not for you. I was confused by your abrupt manner. I was tired because I’m an introvert and I was desperately trying to communicate with you, but kept getting shut down. I was disappointed that I couldn’t help you because you wouldn’t let me.

I feel worse now that you think I’m a person that would say mean things about you behind your back.

I am not trying to get a second chance; I know we’re not the shop for you, but I hope you find the perfect people to teach you garment sewing with professional finishes. I truly do.


Sad in Chattanooga