Saturday, March 28, 2015

#85 Exciting News..... "Twists & Churns"

Remember all the hints of what I was secretly sewing.....Well, I'm so excited to finally be able to share...... I designed a cute mini quilt, Twists & Churns and it's being published in the next issue of The Art of Home free eMagazine by Jacquelynne Steves.
I hope you will all pop over and sign up, and let me know what you think!! If  you decide to make a Twists & Churns mini I hope you will tag it with #twistsandchurns on social media (especially Instagram)  so I can see what you come up with!!
If my pattern isn't enough to grab you, Jacquelynne also has an interview with Pat Sloan in this issue!!

What I've Been Up To:

I finished my Elephant Parade Quilt pattern by Sew Fresh Quilts. I used Lorna's scrappy bits border technique and it looks so cute.

Used my new label (don't forget, upstairshobbyroom,  is the coupon code to save you 5% if you are looking for labels, link is in the sidebar)

 I put a 5" square folded in half in the top corner for a hanging hook and maybe an extra label (if I am blessed to someday give this beauty to a grandbaby, just say'n)

I still need to add the embroidery details....working up to's been awhile and I'm rusty.

I tested the Geometric Butterfly for Kristy at Quiet Play. Oh my goodness it turned out so fantastic. I love rainbows, and wanting spring to come sooner, I am playing with lots of colour right now!!! It just makes me smile.....happy colours......

Which turned into making an Easter Basket, pattern by Amy Smart

Which turned into a rainbow table runner......which I love.......smiling big this week, even with the freezing weather we are having......

I thought I would share the pattern/ measurements I made for my runner, incase anyone else is inspired to create their own rainbow.

Rainbow Table Runner Quilt as You Go

Measure your table to get the size you want for width and length. I will give you my measurement, but you insert your own in its place.

I made my table runner approximately 14" wide by 94" long. You will need to add about a 1/2 " to an 1" to your width for trimming later.

You will need a piece of backing fabric and batting a couple of inches bigger than your finished runners length and width.

Cut: (40) 2.5" strips 14.5" long in various colours (I chose 27 colours from Kona jelly roll strips) 
        (39) 1" strips 14.5" long in Kona White

Binding strips: (6) 2.25" X WOF strips Kona White

I spray basted the backing and batting together and starting in the center with a coloured strip right side up and a white strip wrong side up and right side to the coloured strip 14.5" raw edges lined up stitch a 1/4" seam through all layers. Press the white fabric back and add the next coloured strip. Continue sewing on alternating white and coloured strips until you cover to the end. Tip: Sew the white strips top to bottom and the coloured strips bottom to top to even out the pull on the fabric, or your will have a very misshaped runner. Then repeat for the other side.

*If you are unfamiliar with quilt as you go check out this tutorial I did or another one here

When you're done, trim up the sides and ends and bind your runner!!

Good luck and happy sewing!!!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

#84 Something is Missing.....forever or for now?? Long Arm Trials and Errors....

This is going to be my wordiest post to date, sorry! I put a few pictures in to help!! ( a few of the projects I was able to get quilted before the long arm was sold)

The Story

So, some of you will know that when I got into quilting a little over 3 years ago, I jumped in with both feet, into over my head waters, lol. I bought a new sewing machine and then a computerized long arm. For many reasons, that I won't go into, I didn't do much research. That was a big, gigantic, colossal mistake. I no longer have the sewing machine or the long arm, as of yesterday.

The Long Arm:
I was so excited to make a quilt from beginning to end that  I neglected to think it through. I had no quilting experience, and was told it was straight forward, but let me tell you, for me, that was not the case. Even the manual said on one of the first pages, this is all you need to get

I don't want to bash any brand, this is only my experience, and not all was the fault of the actual machine, so I will be a bit general,  but if by sharing my frustrations I can help someone else avoid some, I am glad to share.

I had some electrical problems with the machine right from the start, and was told after the purchase that I would probably need to buy a UPS (uninterrupted power source, an additional expense of about $300.00) because of the rural power grid we are on. This seemed to help though and got rid of one issue, so at least the something. The machine continued with other issues though, so to the credit of the distributor, they replaced my machine.

So here is the tricky part and really the most important part...... I still was having problems. The dealer was frustrated with me, I took videos of the machine acting up, tried to talk to the tech guys at the distributors, and nothing was helping, they didn't know what to do. No one could give me an answer to my problems. I temporarily switched machines with the dealer, it ran fine for her. Her machine ran fine here and then started having some of the same issues. No one was willing to  come to my home to see if there was an issue here, which is what I kept saying, but  I  was given  the name of another dealer to call who I would have to pay for a service call, not cool.

At some point during this frustration I decided to start researching other long arm machines, and had asked for a Gammill brochure online. About a week later I got a call from the new Gammill dealer in Ontario, a really nice and friendly man. I told him I couldn't even think about buying another machine until I could sell this one, and he amazed me by offering me help. He gave me information about my machine that I didn't even know, mainly that my machine was made by another longarm manufacture to the specs of the company I purchased from, he also gave me the name of a man that might be able to help me. I was so impressed and thankful. Finally, friendly, helpful service!!!

Well it took about a week to get in contact with the technician, but when I did....again a wonderful friendly amazingly helpful man!! He had me explain what the issue was and immediately, and I mean immediately he knew exactly what the issue was. He had me change some of the settings in the touch screen and gave me advice on setting the quilt area and pattern box, and amazingly the problem that was occurring went away.

There have been some minor issues since, and through trial and error I think I have determined the issues on my own (check out #4), but needless to say the whole experience has left a nasty taste in my mouth, as they say. So I put the machine up for sale awhile ago, and yesterday a very nice woman came and purchased it! She and her sisters and their mother are going to share the machine, I hope they get years of enjoyment out of it!!

The CheckList  

I am going to assume that your have already decided that quilting is something you love to do, or want to learn, and want to invest in. If not, that is where you need to start. Go and take a long arm quilting class, rent some time on one and quilt one of your tops or just doodle on some fabric. There is no point investing so much money if you don't enjoy the quilting process, pay someone else to do it for you and do the parts of the quilting that make you happy!!

If you decide you want to invest and you've measured your space so you know how much room you have available here is a check list, edit and add any of your own thoughts and questions.....

1. I can not stress this enough..........Do Your Research!! 
  • check out the different brands and what they offer
  • make a list of what you think you need or want in a machine
  • talk to long armers, see what they like or want in a machine
  • make a budget, there are so many bells and whistles that can suck you in, make sure you need them
  • who actually makes the machine
  • what is the warranty
  • what about customer service? 
  • Does the company have online help, videos, teaching 
  • Does the long arm require any additional items not included, ei: UPS (uninterupted power supply) (for sure I would buy a very good surge protector!!ask about that too ) a ruler tray, if you plan on doing any ruler work
  • Set up costs, if you don't want to tackle that on your own
  • are there warrantied used machines available, that may fit your budget better, 

2. Get you hands on as many different machines as you can, especially the ones on your short list
  • you have to see how the machines work
  • you need to see if it feels comfortable to you
  • you need to test all the features you want
  • see how the frame works, how the quilt loads, advances
  • is the stitching consistent, smooth, 
  • don't forget about lighting, especially on the machine it is the only direct light, so you want it to be good
3. Get to know the dealers too while you are checking out the machines
  • if at a quilt show when you're looking, where is the nearest dealer to you
  • how much knowledge does your local dealer have on the longarm (is he/she a longarmer,)
  • is there training available at your dealer's or near by
  • are there classes available to continue learning after the basics
  • is there repair service available at the dealers, in home service if needed?
  • if an issue arises who can you talk to to get help? just the dealer, a distributor or can you contact the company
4. Know your space...
  • measure your room and know what space you have available, that will make a difference on length of frame you can buy
  • also if you are going for a machine that does pantographs you need access to the back of the machine, so you will need more depth as well
  • and the other issue I have learned about my space, it is extremely dry. Get a humidistat and make sure your room has enough moisture. Not such a big issue on manual machines, but if you are dealing with electronics, it can cause issues. (how I finally found GoBig! ran on its own without me putting a die cutter near the opening (also why my cutting mats are dying so quickly). Needless to say, I am sure it has been the source of some of my long arm issues too, again because my machine is computerized)
  • on that same vein, ask if different flooring ex:) carpet can cause issues with electronics.....


Know that quilting is really something you want to do and will enjoy
Make sure you feel comfortable with your dealer and they are truly knowledgeable about the longarm they are selling, preferably with practical experience.
Get your hands on the machine before you buy, and I mean for a few hours or better yet days
Know where your long arm is coming from and that the company itself stands behind their product.
Know that there will be customer service and support available to help you get started and move you forward in you long arm journey, including training.
Know that there is service support available.

Most of all when you find the right machine and you get it home and set up......have fun!!!!

*Back (3 projects in two days is a record for me!!!! lol more good from a rough situation!!!)

So that's my story and my list of things I will be asking and looking for in the future if I decide to go swimming again,  I will be wading in and enjoying the slow walk. For now I am just figuring out where to put all the stuff that was stored under the longarm, lol!! And maybe I will start with researching the brands that are available, and their features, and see where that takes me!!

I am so open for any information that you might have and be willing to share, especially if you are a longarmer!! 

If you have anything to add to the above, please share it with me!! I can edit the above list and eventually make a pdf that will be easily printable, for anyone who wants a check list.

Thanks for listening

*(P.S.- I surpassed my goal for this month for A Lovely Year of Finishes!!! Not only did I get the front and back together, I got this one sandwiched and quilted!! just needs its binding!!! whoop whoop!!)

Monday, March 16, 2015

#83 Getting into the Wild...... Zebraz

What a fun week of cute sewing....Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts has done it again....another wildly cute animal themed quilt!!! Here's to adorable Zebraz!!!!

I used the some of the same fabrics from my Elephant Parade to tie this cute wall hanging into the same theme. Will use another fabric from it for the binding and if I have enough a fabric from the Zebraz to bind the Elephant Parade.

I also found some cute patterns over at   Funky Friends Factory  for some Stuffies! So I will be making these to tie in too, would make the cutest baby room ever. (Pauline didn't sell a zebra pattern, but I figured in a stripe fabric, the horse will make a perfect zebra!!) I'll let you know how the patterns goes once I attempt them!! (oh and I saved on my order, because Sew Mama Sew is showcasing, Love for Softies, Toy Designers right now, so its a good time to shop.)

I also made a mini from JayBirds Quilts, using her mini Hex N More ruler. That was a challenge, with all those small pieces and matching angled seams, but I love how it turned out!!

Then my fabric addiction got an ugly reality check when I found sun damage on a piece of fabric I was going to use.......too much fabric? not using it fast enough? Storing on the wrong wall in my hobby room? I chose the last answer, though the first two are all too correct, eeeek.......
Thus the great room switch and clean....boy did I make a mess.....and turning a 12' long arm in a 9' room, not easy, especially with all the piles of stuff everywhere that I had to unload from the cubicles and long arm frame shelf. Thank goodness for double doors, a good sized landing/hallway, and a screwdriver.....and a lot of it done!!!
So now the fabric is on the wall that doesn't get direct sun and  further into the room, the long arm is on the sunny side, the fabric has been reorganized as well my cutting area and computer area, and everything has been cleaned and put away.




On a fun youngest son took over my phone, to take a bunch of selfies......and posted one to He was testing his costume for the games night they were having at Junior High, last Tuesday night, at our church (he was going for, his words, a smart guy that would be on Jeopardy). He build a spinning game wheel (welded it out of metal pipes for the kids and to donate to the church....he did a great job of it) He didn't take a picture unfortunately. (may post a picture tomorrow, if he remembers to take one when he goes back to Junior High)

 He makes Me Laugh....what a great heart this guy has....

Sunday, March 8, 2015

#82 Ready For Spring

I have been doing a lot of secret sewing lately and all of it is being done with bright, fun and spring like colours. Which is making me long for spring to get here!! I guess I shouldn't complain too much at least the sun has started to shine regularly and the temperature is finally going up, but we are still covered in snow, with no spring flowers in sight for a while. (this is not an old picture I took it today March 8th)

This week I have been having fun with my new AccuQuilt Go!Big. My fantastic husband surprised me with it for my birthday!! And let me tell you it is amazing!! It came with a flying geese die cutter, which I wasn't thrilled about,  this block has always caused me problems. Mine are always wonky.....Insert sad, no frustrated face!!! That feeling quickly turned to awe when I cut and pieced 3 blocks and they all turned out perfectly!!! Since then I have purchased the 3.5" tumbler, Bow Tie, and 7" drunkards path, another block that I love but have problems with (haven't tried that one yet will get back to you on that)

Putting the tumbler to good use, cutting out about 320 so far, to make some placemats (using 197) from 27 FQ of different reproduction civil war prints. I will be cutting the rest of the fabric this week for a lap sized quilt in tumblers!! I used the Bow Tie cutter to trim up the scrap fabric pieces and was able to put together a sweet table runner! The Bow Tie die is made up of (4) 2.5" and (2) 1.5" squares so when I bought it, I was thinking multi use- block and scrap busting. It's working out great!! (getting a wonderful head start on Mother's Day!)

More of 

What I've Been Up To:

Love these prints by Cloud 9, Shapes of Spring. Used them to upsize one of the Sew Sweet Simplicity BOM to a 32" here's my finish.....I had to wait for the binding fabric to arrive (along with some more....I couldn't help myself....)

 And here's all I can show you of my secret sewing.....I promise as soon as I can I will show you.....

A paper piecing quilt project of love, I am helping with.....

And a very exciting project I can't wait to talk about and share with you all.......which involves some Sunnyside and Cotton & Steel