CUSTOM FLYING GEESE: TO DO OR NOT TO DO Posted on 29 Apr 02:00 , 0 comments

As I was journaling this morning I thought I might check in with the daily prompt generator and see what might be the suggested line of thought for the day.
TODAY'S PROMPT: "Know your limitations and be content with them. Too much ambition results in promotion to a job you can't do." - David Brent
This is so appropriate to what happens to me when coming up with ideas about how to quilt a quilt. I can easily come with a multitude of design possibilities that look good on paper but when it comes to the actual execution of a given design plan, look out. Be sure to keep things in perspective before you start making suggestions to customers regarding possible custom quilting jobs. Have a good sense of the time that is going to be involved and what that means to your bottom line and their quilting budget. In another words, how much you charge for your services in quilting the quilt. Such was the topic of my conversation with Ruth yesterday.
Ruth has a quilt with flying geese units going all the way around the quilt. The size of the quilt is like a large double or queen bed sized quilt. The reason she called was to check in about how to do a p2p pattern so she could drop a motif in each one of the geese. Keep in mind, this means there are easily more than 200 geese units flying around the edges of this quilt. But not to worry, we have Creative Studio and that makes everything so much easier!
Everything we were talking about as possible quilting ideas for this goose border using p2p pattern was sounding do-able ... time consuming but do-able until I told her I would be clicking the boundaries of the geese and using the new stretch handles to tweak the motif placement. Many of our piecers are quite precise with their patchwork, but we're all human and we are working with fabric.
The only guarantees in the quilting process are: The fabric will move; our seams will be off kilter just a bit here and there; stretching will have happened as we pressed. There is nothing quite so humbling as when I quilt one of my own quilts. Yep, I'm human and even though I do my best, no matter how careful I am, and no matter how close I keep my seam ripper (and use frequently) my seams will on occasion wobble, my points might be cut off,  and my borders might even flap just a tad.
This final bit of tweaking on each motif raises our level of precision in the quilting up a notch and that is what I call "quilt-show-quality" quilting and I do adjust my fees accordingly. And then there is the sky units of each goose. The question of the day ... leave it empty or put something in? But now, when you think about the added hours in finishing up the borders of the quilt, the clock is ticking and the job price is going up faster, almost, than gas prices these days.   
The solution: Ruth and I both agreed (with no complaints from the customer) that doing a feather border pattern over the geese units would suit the overall quilting design just fine. The quilting could be finished in a timely manner and within budget. Having a clear sense of the possibilities is a must when choosing a design plan for a quilt, and coming up with a plan that matches ...
  • how the quilt will be used
  • who the quilt is for
  • what kind of budget are we working with
  • what is the time frame for a finish date to be met
  • and, most importantly, developing a plan that reflects your style and is compatible with your skill as a quilter
All of these points are critical to keep in mind when working out a design plan whether for yourself or when working with a customer. There is a fine line we walk between the advice from Goethe and Brent as to when and how brave to be ... how much courage and risk taking are you up to on any given day, or is a "play it safe" kind of day.
But once again, when all of these pieces of the patchwork puzzle are in place we have a win-win for everyone involved.
And with that said, I may be in and out a little during the next week ... Mike is flying in today for the first time since early January. It's been a long 4 months and I just might be a little distracted :)
... know your craft ... practice your craft ...
... and ... be innovative with your craft ...

QUILTING ZEN MOMENTS Posted on 30 Mar 18:35 , 0 comments

Are you pinner or a stapler or a tacker or a stitcher?

The question on the table this morning is ... the topic at hand is ... "how you attach your quilt back to the leaders." The innovation of quilters never ceases to amaze me. If there is a different way to accomplish said goal, if there is a better way to get the desired results some quilter some where out in the world will figure it out. And when he/she does there is much celebrations and rejoicing in the world as we all want to try the latests and greatest new method or process which will help us

  • work more efficiently
  • work more creatively
  • work with less pain
  • multitask with ease
  • reduce studio stress

A Pinner uses long strong quilting pins to attach the quilt back to the leaders. The most often heard complaints with this method includes:

  • pricked fingers
  • time consuming
  • stabbed bellies
  • ruined clothes
  • sore knees and tired feet

A Stapler uses an electric stapler t0 attach the quilt back to the leaders. Hazards with this method include:

  • litter of removed staples when detaching the quilt from the leaders
  • possible need for protective eye gear ... beware the errant flying staple
  • increased wear and tear on the leaders
  • budgetary increases with purchase of staples

but ... you can sit, you can delegate an intern to do the loading job if you have zippered leaders, and no more worry about pin pricks and ruined clothing.Janice Bahrt has added a wonderful tutorial on the Statler Sib yahoo group if you're interested in learning more about this method.

A Tacker uses a tacking machine and the plastic tacks you find on purchased clothing and goods. I must confess, I've not tried this method but it seems to me I would not be making my life easier or faster.

  • I would be able to "sit and tack."
  • I wouldn't be worrying about pin pricks and ruined clothing.
  • I would have to purchase the equiipment and keep a supply of the little plastic tack on hand.
  • I'm would have to work out an efficient system for detaching the backing from the leaders after the quilt was finished.

and ... again, I could delegate the task allowing me to be working on something more creative.

A Stitcher uses the longarm quilting machine head to attach the quilt back to the leaders. You can also delegate this task and use a domestic sewing machine if your longarm is being used on another quilt. I have done this method and it has it's pluses and minuses. It is really easy to get the zippered leaders on backwards; it does involve some tricky thinking and eye-hand coordination if you're using the machine head. Seriously, I think I just needed more practice. If I couldn't even pin again I would definitely be going this route. But there is something I learned over the last year as I go back and forth between pinning or stitching.

When I am stitching I'm worrying about am Ii getting it on right or am I going to have to redo the load; I'm fussing over getting the edges even while I'm moving the machine head; I'm worrying about stretching the edge of the quilt backing. In other words, I'm thinking and worrying about a million different things and just a little bit stressed.

When I'm pinning I am in what I call my QUILTING ZEN MODE. I use my pinning time to relax. As I'm handling the backing I'm thinking about the quilter that pieced the top. I'm using my pin time to quilt the quilt virtually in my head. I'm think about my design choices and am quilt design plan following each step and quilting group through from beginning to end looking for or rying to anticipate possible hiccups or problems I might encounter. I'm a very intuitive quilter and this pinning time gives me a chance to make sure everything "feels" right.

I love my pinning time for connections, for one last final check, and for slowing down. Too much of our world is in hurry-up mode ... and testing the fates here... I seem to have worked out a system over the years for I've not ruined a sweater or pricked a finger in a long time.

Take time to leave a comment today ... just a quick response to an informal poll ...

Which are you? .... pinner ... stapler ... tacker ... stitcher ...

... be bold ... be brave ...
... make and share the music of your soul ...