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.

Sincerely,

Sad in Chattanooga

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quilty Year in Review

This weekend, after I finished the final stitch on my second outstanding commission piece, I got to sit down and review what I've accomplished quilt-wise in the last year.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who keeps track of projects on a spreadsheet...

Anyone?

No, really. I do.
Okay, just me.

Amazingly, I found I was able to complete 17 different quilts! That's the most I've ever finished in a year. Of course, I accomplished them all because Maddie quilted most of them for me, giving me more time to piece. (A selection follows.)









There are 8 other tops I completed that are waiting for their turn to be quilted, either by me or Maddie.

That's pretty exciting!

In fact, I found I have 18 finished tops that need quilting. Some I have started to quilt, but they currently languish in The Bin of Despair (otherwise known as the UFO bin). This collection feels like a lot of opportunity to me. 2016 is the year I bring them into the light!

More sad, though, are the 4 6 projects that have been quilted and just need a binding or a pillow back. That's pretty lazy, Flaun. Git 'er done!

Of course, there are several projects I would like to create this year, samples to make for the shop, and a few WIPs to whip together. (See what I did there?)

Detailed project list or not, do you have projects you want to finish up in 2016? What is waiting in the wings for you? Tell me all the fun you have planned!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays!

I was told by a very smart woman that crafters aren't really reading blogs this week; they're madly finishing projects. I should have started the quick gifts sooner.

Oh, well.

I'm finishing up my commissions - my Christmas gift to me with a big hand from Maddie on one.



Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's an excellent one!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Quick Gifts: Falling Windows

With the Christmas holiday rushing madly toward us, Hanukkah just passed, or any other number of holiday gatherings nearly here, we're all scrambling for last-minute gifts. My next couple of posts will discuss very quick things you can make to gift to your family, friends, or hosts.

When I first saw this panel, I nearly lost my mind. It reminds me of all those church and public buildings built in the 70s with stained glass windows. I just love them!



Art Glass by Rose Ann Cook for P&B

I knew almost immediately that I wanted to use the panel to recreate the look of those windows lit from behind. It's a deceptively simple top that goes together lickety-split.


Falling Windows by Flaun Cline
   Falling Windows
finished size approximately 40" x 48"

Supplies

1 panel Art Glass*
1 yd black solid

Yep, that's it!

Cut

From the panel, trim the selvages and extra bits on the side to only 1/4" past the design.



Then cut into three 7 1/2" strips (P).



From the black solid, cut:
  • two 4 " strips (A)
  • one 2 1/2" strip (B)
  • one 4 1/2" strip (C)
  • three 6 1/2" strips (D)
Sew 
  1. Lay your panel strips (P) out on a table top or on your design wall, stepping them up a couple of inches from left to right. Feel free to mix them up and/or turn them top to bottom. 
  2. To the left and center panel strips (PL and PC, respectively), attach A to the right-hand side. Trim.
  3. To PL, also sew D to the left. Trim.
  4. To PR (panel right), attach D to the right side. Trim.
  5. To PL, now sew D to the top and B to the bottom. Trim.
  6. PC gets C top and bottom sewn to it. Trim.
  7. Sew B to the top and D to the bottom of PR.
  8. Sew all three sets together and your top is done!

Any questions? Please put them in the comments and I will reply ASAP.

To the studio!

*We do have this panel (and even a kit) in our shop, if you're interested.
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An Invaluable Tool You Didn't Know You Already Own

Have you ever found a pattern you like, gleefully pulled fabric, cut, sewn, trimmed, and otherwise constructed a quilt top only to be sad at the flat look at the end?

It's okay, we've all done it. I'm here to tell you a little secret: it's all about the value of the fabrics you chose.

Humans in general are drawn to fully saturated mid-tones from all varieties of color. They're colorful, bright, and pleasing to the eye.

a beautiful stack of batiks all in mid-tones
When we create a quilt with all those mid-tones, however, the result is flat and doesn't sparkle.


same stack as above in black and white to show value
Here's the good news: you (probably) already have the tool you need to fix this problem and you likely take it everywhere you go! It's the camera in your smart phone.

If you have an iPhone, you can change the tone right in the app before even taking a picture.


screenshot in camera app
Simply touch the icon in the corner that looks like overlapping gels or a Venn diagram. I find choosing the "tonal" filter gives me the truest view of the values of my fabric choices.

If, however, you have a Google phone or have already taken your picture, you will need to go into your photos and edit the picture. (I can only demonstrate for the iPhone in the next few pictures, but the principle is the same for a Google phone.)

Open your picture and choose the edit button in the upper right of the screen.



Click the Venn diagram icon in the middle bottom of your screen.



Then, simply choose the "tonal" filter as shown.



Now that you can see from your own picture that all your values are the same, add a few high notes (lights) and deep notes (darks) to your stack and have another look.


original stack + lights and darks
Change it to black and white to be sure.


look at all those tones
Now that's going to sparkle!

To the studio!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Quilt Calculations - Backing Yardage

As a quilt shop owner, customers ask me nearly daily what yardage they will need to finish a project. While there are apps that will calculate that sort of thing for you, I find they calculate more yardage than necessary.

Last week, we talked about binding calculations. This week, let's do backing!

The first step is the same as calculating binding: measure your quilt top. If your top and bottom (or left side, right side) measurements are different, choose the larger.

This calculation assumes you will want only one 45"-wide fabric for your backing and that you want to create the fewest seams possible, defaulting to one that hits center from left to right on your quilt back (the preferred back seam layout for a long-arm quilter*).

1. If your top is 40" wide or smaller, you can squeeze it onto a single width of fabric (WOF).

Simply add the overage you need to both the top and bottom of your finished top measurements.

For example:
My quilt top measures 40" x 60" (top width, TW, by top length, TL).

  • I recommend 4" wider all around for most at-home quilting projects that will be finished on a domestic machine, or 8" added to each dimension. If you are sending it out to be quilted by a professional, be sure to ask what overages they require; long-armers want anything from 4" to 8" on all sides, or a total of 8" to 16" extra.*
  • I am quilting it on my domestic machine, so I will use an overage (O) of 4". 

TL + 2O = quilt back length (QBL)
-OR-
60 + 2(4) = 68"

To get the yardage measurement, divide the QBL by 36 (the number of inches in a yard).
68 / 36 = 1.89 yds --> round up to 2 yds.

2. Let's assume, next, that your top is wider than 40"

  • Add any overage you need for the quilting process to each side of your top. 
  • If your length measurement is now under 80", you can make your back with two pieces of equal length. (Remember, I only count on 40" of usable fabric from a WOF cut.)
For example:
My quilt top measures 63" x 71" (TW x TL).
I will be quilting this on my domestic, so I will use an overage (O) of 4".
Since my TL + 2O is less than 80" (actual sum is 79"), I know I can piece my back with a single seam across the middle back, so I will have two WOF pieces of equal yardage.

TW + 2O = inches of quilt back width (QBW)
-OR-
63 + 2(4) = 71"

Since I need two WOF pieces of equal yardage, I multiply this sum by 2 to get my quilt back total measurement (QBTM).

2(QBW) = QBTM
-OR-
2(71) = 142" linear WOF yardage
142 / 36 = 3.94 yds --> round up to 4 yards of backing fabric

3. "But, Flaun," you ask, "what if my length plus twice overage is greater than 80"???"

This is totally doable! Provided you are quilting it yourself on a domestic machine or your long-armer is not particular about the direction your seams travel along the quilt back* AND that your top width plus twice overage is under 80", you can turn the seam so it goes from top to bottom. 


For example:
My quilt top measures 71" x 90" (W x L).

2(L + 2O) = inches required for QBTM
-OR-
2(90 + 2(4)) = 196"
196 / 36 = 5.44 yds --> round up to 5 1/2 yds of backing fabric

4. Lastly, we will assume both the top width plus twice overage and top length plus twice overage is greater than 80".



We will also assume for this exercise that you are sending this particular quilt out to a long-armer. (You could ABSOLUTELY quilt this at home on your domestic, but it is a lot of work. I know.) Long-arm professionals prefer to have quilt back seams run from the left to the right of your backing fabric with a seam width of 1/2", to better handle the stresses of being loaded onto the machine frame. This will necessitate 3 equal WOF cuts.



My long-armer likes 6" of overage on all sides.*

For example:
My quilt top measures 120" x 112" (TW x TL).

3(W + 2O) = inches required for QBTM
-OR-
3(120 + 2(6)) = 396"
396 / 36 = 11 yds

I know it seems like a lot of fabric, but think about how much you used on the front. I guarantee it's more than 11 yards. A great deal is lost to the seams of your top.

A personal plea from me to you: do not skimp on your backing! If you come up a little short, you will be sad. If use lesser quality fabric on the back than the front, it will not last as long. If you use lesser quality fabric on the back, it will be scratchy in the areas that are most likely to touch your skin.

As always, if you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments or email me directly.

To the studio!

*Please check with your quilting professional - I cannot stress this enough.