Wednesday, July 1, 2020

One (Or Two) Monthly Goals for July: Finish Quilting Spirit Song + Launch New Long Arm Learning Linky Party

Can you believe that the year 2020 is officially half over already?  My brain is still stuck back in February, before the whole world came to a screeching halt and we all woke up at the Mad Hatter's tea party with Alice in Wonderland...  

I know the whole idea of the OMG "One Monthly Goal" linky party is to focus on ONE main goal for the month, but I have two for July.  One of them is a quilting goal, and the other one is a blogging goal.  And the two goals are interrelated, with the blogging goal supporting the quilting goal and the quilting goal supporting the blogging goal, so it's kind of like my One Monthly Goal for July is a pair of conjoined twin goals!

My July Quilting Goal: Finish Custom Quilting Spirit Song

Spirit Song is still my primary focus project, and since I'm getting sick of looking at it, I'd really like to finish ALL of the quilting and get it off my frame by the end of July!  I'll bet y'all are getting tired of looking at this quilt, too, aren't you?!

I've already completed the SID (Stitch in the Ditch) as well as the ruler work and free motion designs in the pink/peach/yellow patches.  I've also finished quilting one of the longer ruler work and string of pearls borders, also quilting the ruler work and free motion designs in the little blue HSTs (half square triangles) as I work my way down the quilt.  So, breaking this big July goal down into component steps, I still need to:

  1. Finish quilting borders and blue HSTs with blue thread.
  2. Rethread with off white thread, either So Fine #50 weight or Bottom Line top and bottom (haven't decided yet)
  3. Finalize which background fill designs I want to quilt in which areas
  4. Quilt fairly dense background fills in all of the white/cream/neutral patches

I have two different diamond shaped designs going on in this quilt, and I know that I want to quilt the background fabrics differently in each of them.  I'm thinking of things like pebbles, little curlicues or swirls, matchstick quilting, small-scale stippling, etc., for the most part nothing that needs marking, except that something cute is going to have to go in the center diamond in the photo below:

Hopefully whatever I decide to quilt will go faster than all of the marked designs I've been quilting for the past couple of months, and hopefully I won't get bored from the repetition and burn out on it before I finish.

My July Blogging Goal: Launch New Long Arm Learning Linky Party

...Did YOU vote in my poll yet?  I've decided to launch a new weekly linky party with the theme Long Arm Learning!  Having made the substantial financial investment in my long arm machine just over three years ago, I have quilted exactly 3 charity quilts and 4 "real" quilts.  All of the charity quilts and one of the "real" quilts were quilted with edge to edge pantograph designs, one "real" quilt was quilted with an allover freehand loopy meander design, one was quilted completely with rulers, and one was a light custom quilt job with a mix of SID, simple ruler work and a smorgasbord of freehand fills.  But clearly, I am not going to master long arm quilting if I only quilt one or two quilts each year, right?  In my defense, I did have some mechanical issues with my machine when I first got it that really aggravated my learning curve.  As a complete newbie to long arm quilting, I struggled for a year and a half on practice samples, thinking my problems were user error, until a professional longarm quilter friend in my guild who has the same machine as me came to my house to help me and told me that my machine "wasn't supposed to do that!"  The wonderful folks at APQS helped my husband and me to go over my Millennium from top to bottom, checking absolutely EVERYTHING the same way they would do if I sent it back to the factory for "spa maintenance," and now every part that showed the slightest wear or malfunction has been replaced, every adjustment has been fine-tuned, and Thoroughly Modern Millie is purring along like a kitten.  It's time to ramp up my learning curve!

As a new long arm quilter, it is so easy to get bogged down in endless practice samples, trying to get "good enough" before you risk "ruining" a real quilt by quilting it poorly.  I love this idea that maybe no one is EVER "ready" to do anything -- and the only way to GET ready, or to get good enough to feel ready, is to just jump in and start trying!

I am really looking forward to connecting with other machine quilters in general (YES, domestic machine quilters are welcome) as well as others who are learning long arm quilting through this linky party.  The Internet is wonderful for being able to shrink the globe and create virtual communities of like-minded quilters, and I hope that hosting the linky party will also help me to be more intentional -- and more CONSISTENT -- with my long arm quilting.  I look forward to learning from others!

But first, I have some work to do.  These are the steps I still need to accomplish before I can cross "launch new linky party" off my July OMG list:
  1. I figured out how to create a graphic for my linky party "button," but I still need to figure out the html code part of it so that the image functions as a button rather than just an image
  2. Select a linking platform and create my account
  3. Figure out the mechanics of actually creating a linky party and inserting the link up into my blog post so that others can join in the fun
  4. I know I want a weekly link party, but I haven't picked the day of the week yet -- so let me know in the comments if you have a preference!
  5. Finally, and crucially, I'll need to figure out how to spread the word about my new linky party so that those who might want to participate can find out about it.  Again, if anyone has suggestions, please share them in the comments
Of course, I am still going to participate in all of the other linky parties I've been joining up with for the last few years.  If I didn't get so much out of other people's linky parties, I would not even be considering starting one of my own.

So, I'm linking up today's post with One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts.   Fingers crossed that this time, when the end of the month rolls around, I will be able to link up a post about how I accomplished both of my July goals as well!  Have a wonderful Independence Day holiday, those of you in the United States!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Last Day to Enter the Electric Quilt Design Challenge + Andover Fabrics Giveaway!

Good morning, my lovelies, and Happy Tuesday!

Today's post is just a quickie -- I stumbled across an Electric Quilt software design contest sponsored by Andover Fabrics to promote their new Century Solids line of solids.  The winner gets a free collection of beautiful muted, historically inspired solid fabrics to add to their stash, and you still have time to enter -- but today is the deadline.  

Here's my entry:

These are 20" star blocks that could be made from either a jelly roll or a honey bun (although you'd need to go skimpy on your seam allowances if you were using the 1.5" honey bun strips).  Even if you don't feel like entering the design contest, EQ users will want to take advantage of the free fabric download of the Andover Century Solids collection that you can find on the EQ web site here.  While you can certainly design a quilt with solid fabrics using the paint color palette in EQ, using actual swatches of solid fabrics ensures that your finished quilt will come out looking identical to what you created on your computer screen.  As of right now, there are only 50 designs that have been entered in the contest, and they are still accepting entries through 11:59 PM EST tonight.  If you decide to enter, then good luck to you -- and if not, then all the good luck should be wished directly to ME!  :-)

You might be wondering why I am promoting this contest today, since I have no affiliate relationship with either Electric Quilt software or with Andover Fabrics.  Telling other people about the contest only reduces my own odds of winning!  But I like my strippy star design so much that, if I DO win the contest and they send me this pack of solids, there is no way I'd have the discipline to put that fabric away in my stash and responsibly continue working on my many projects already in progress.  I would have to immediately cut into it and start turning my star design into an actual quilt top.  You guys can't let that happen to me, not so soon after I just caved in and bought the Moda American Jane Good Times Under the Stars quilt kit that I have no time to start making any time soon.  SAVE ME, by submitting an awesome design of your own before midnight!  :-)

Who am I kidding?  You guys know me by now.  You know I'm going to start making my Amish Baby strippy star quilt whether I win the fabric collection or not.  I'm liable to get impatient and go out and buy the fabric TODAY, before they even announce the contest winner!  Whether I ever FINISH this quilt, or whether I ever finish any of the projects I've already started, is another question entirely!  

Because what I'm most intently focused on right now is custom quilting my Spirit Song quilt on my APQS long arm machine.  Meanwhile, my husband is intermittently nagging me about why I haven't made any more blocks for the Beware of the Ishmaelites sampler quilt I started making for my younger son's bedroom a couple years ago, and I should also start thinking about that same son's high school graduation quilt that I'll want to have finished by June 2021...  My Tuesday To Do this week is to finish quilting the borders and the blue HSTs on my Spirit Song quilt (using blue thread) so I can start the last stage of quilting, which will be all of the fill quilting in off white thread in the neutral patches of this quilt!

What you see above is a gray scale photo of my actual quilt top, oriented sideways like how I have it mounted on my quilting frame, and I've sketched in my border designs on my iPad.  I printed that out and have it near my quilting machine to help me remember which way the half inch spaced lines should be going in the different triangle sections as I'm quilting.  It would be a HUGE bummer to get to the bottom long border, quilt my way across, and realize that my design didn't match up at the bottom right corner!  In the full color photo below, you can see the already quilted lines across the top border, and the lines I've drawn in on my iPad in blue to show me which directions the lines should go as I move into the side border:

Feedback Requested; Please Vote in This Quick Poll -- Just One Question, Just One Click!

Hey, if you haven't already done so, I'd really appreciate it if you'd take a second to vote in my poll (below) to let me know there's enough interest out there for me to start hosting a new Long Arm Learning themed linky party here at Cheeky Cognoscenti.  You can also share feedback about that in the comments, such as if there's a particular day of the week that you'd prefer for the weekly link up, or anything I should do to make it easier for you to remember to participate.  For the record, I'm all about casting as wide a net as possible, because the more people who are involved, the greater my opportunity to learn from all of you.  So any and all longarm quilters are invited to participate, regardless of whether you have a frame mounted long arm, a sit down table mounted long arm like the HQ Sweet 16 or the Bernina Q20, any brand machine...  Even machine quilters who are using domestic sewing machines.  I think I can structure the link up so that you can either participate by linking up a blog post, OR by linking an Instagram post or photo.  For those of you who are professional long arm quilters running a business or for those who have have quilting businesses where you teach, coach, write quilting books or sell quilting related products, know that I would NOT restrict anyone from linking a post that promotes their quilting business.  I am all about supporting small businesses, and since my whole objective in doing this is so that I can find out about new techniques, classes, books, rulers, etc., participation from professional quilters is a huge value add.  I would also be open to hosting or promoting a giveaway, quilt-along, or a blog hop as long as it directly relates to some aspect of machine quilting that can be done on a long arm quilting machine.

I'm linking today's post up with:

·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon

·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us

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