Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011--My Year of Quilting

For the past few years, I learned quilting through reading a few books, watching a few episodes of Simply Quilting on HGTV and lots of trial and error.  I tried new patterns/blocks/techniques and was pleased with my finished projects, but I always felt like I was sewing by the seat of my pants.  While living in New York, I had looked at taking a class or two, but they all seemed very basic and I was skeptical whether I would be challenged or learn anything of value.  And I didn't get the appeal of joining a quilt guild. 

Fast forward to 2011...My Year of Quilting!...

I admit 2011 was off to a rough beginning when my Brother XR-65 died. 
May You Rest in Peace in Sewing Machine Heaven
But I quickly recovered thanks to an early birthday upgrade to a Brother Innovis 450Q.
Happy birthday to me!
I read the manual cover to cover to figure out all the cool features, and even took two classes offered by the dealer.  My quilt space has been continually evolving. What started with just a small sewing table, a few plastic caddies containing fabric/tools, and a small shelf of quilting books...
Before: My humble little sewing space
has blossomed into an impressive quilting studio (which I promise to give a virtual tour in a future blog post!). 
After: My quilting sanctuary!
Early in the new year, I decided to sign up for my first quilting class:  Photo Quilts.  Besides learning how to incorporate photographs printed on fabric into my quilts, I quickly learned I was doing everything wrong!  Ok...maybe not totally wrong, but there were far easier and more efficient ways of quilting without having to fight the fabric or rely on the fudge factor. 
Many invaluable lessons/tips were learned in this class
I decided to strategically take classes to tackle some of my quilting fears:  applique, paper piecing, quilt bindings and the dreaded quilting phase!  As each new quarter approaches, I get all giddy checking out each quilt shops new roster of classes and trying to narrow down which ones to take. 
I also plunged into the quilt guild community by joining not just one but two local quilt guilds.  The quilt guild meetings leave me feeling so inspired and anxious to get back in front of my sewing machine!  While I greatly enjoy the guest lectures, and participating in guild meeting activities, I love connecting with fellow quilters who are equally passionate, creative and resourceful, and seeing their beautiful works.  I find the workshops a great value to further explore the guest lecturer's technique and making it my own.  I also overcame my fear by getting up during the show and tell portion with some of my finished quilts (and very surprised to later see them published in the monthly newsletter!!). 

I am always searching for new sources of inspiration and technique.  Considerable time has been spent poring over the many quilting books checked out from the local library, and from my own personal quilt library which has grown many thanks to local used bookstores and Amazon!  I even have a few treasured books signed by the author from classes/shows I've attended.  Many weekend road trips incorporate or center around visiting some quilt show and new quilt shops throughout northern California.  I used to walk around feeling inspired, but very doubtful I could ever replicate such masterpieces.  But now, I feel empowered and ready to tackle such ventures and add my own twist when the time presents itself.  I love visiting the various shops and show vendors hunting down beautiful new fabrics to add to my stash, or new tools & patterns. 

And for those who like is my own personal score card:
14...wall hangings/table runners sized quilts
7...full sized quilts
3...assembled quilt tops awaiting quilting
21...different classes/workshops
5...quilt shows attended
?!?...$ spent!  Eek I don't even want to think about it!!

I can't wait to find what new quilting adventures await in 2012!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Final Holiday Tally

I've been a busy little quilting bee whipping up homemade holiday gifts for friends and family:

25 reversible tote bags...
25?!?  What was I thinking?!?  On a positive note--this meant no need for wrapping paper.  Woo hoo!
10 holiday table runners... 
Note: I have a personal rule not to make full-sized quilts for any holiday (Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day...etc). So, when my local quilt shop had a Happy Hour featuring a full-sized holiday quilt using the Forest Reflection pattern, I opted to split up the blocks into 10 table runners. What I failed to calculate was how much more work this meant with borders and bindings!

3 Full Sized Quilts...
Sunny Circles (top left), Urban Cabin (top right) and a Lonestar Quilt (bottom right)

1 Celtic wall hanging...

...and a partridge in a pear tree!  :-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Meet Bennie

Having completed all my Christmas gifts, it was time to get my sewing machine cleaned and serviced, as its gotten a lot of mileage this past year.  While I was there I thought I would check out the used/refurbished sewing machines as I was looking for a second machine to have on hand.  After passing by some old and basic looking Kenmores, Singers, and Elnas, the attendant pointed out a Bernina they had just gotten.  I knew it was something special, as it had its very own display table.  I admit it was love at first sight...the 12" of sewing space, accessories galore and so many of my quilting classmates have raved about (and even petted) their Berninas.  It was a great bargain, but I just upgraded sewing machines this year and left the store before I got too attached. 
I'm not worthy!

But all that day I kept thinking about her, and even woke up the next day dreaming about the machine and all that it could do.  So after much discussion and online research, we returned to the store upon opening.  I was relieved to see no one else had snatched it up, and hovered by the machine ready to thwart potential buyers until a clerk was available.  He explained that this woman bought this top of the line sewing machine and tons of accessory feet, but traded it in for the same machine that her fellow sewing group was using.  I am more than happy to benefit from her succumbing to peer pressure!  

Love at First Sight
Less than 30 minutes later, Bennie came home with us and it was time to explore all these bells and whistles.  I admit I had to watch the video clip 3-4 times, read the manual 3-4 times and watch the tutorial on the machine another 3-4 times to properly load the thread and thread the needle.  But I think I am ready to take this baby out for a test drive with a new project...but which new quilt project is special enough for this maiden voyage?

Thank you Doug for this wonderful early Christmas...birthday...Valentine's  I love it!
Another year...another sewing machine.