It started with a tree … (part 2)

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The “tree” quilt is finished.  At least it started with a tree!  I had a vision in my mind of a tree with falling leaves that landed in a pile in the opposite corner and it all came together from there.  It needed an owl on a branch, and of course, once I had that line of poetry in my head after writing my first post on this quilt, I couldn’t shake it and I just HAD to stitch it in somewhere!  The idea idea of adding words became so strong that I thought about various other things I could stitch in that might be more “generationally appropriate” – since I’ve learned that most people younger than myself have never heard of the tree poem – but nothing else worked for me and I kept going back to the poem.  So there it is!

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The raw edge appliquéd leaves you have seen before on a couple of other quilts – Swirling Leaves and Cascading Leaves – the trunk is stitched with a woodgrain pattern (so easy and fun to do!) and the brown background is wild quilted with swirl chains and various leaves, a few pebbles here and there, and a lot of fun in and out improv not he fly stitching to cover all the nooks and crannies.

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I love it when a plan comes together 🙂

(original design, Ann Walsh Quilting)

Odds & Ends

I tried out a sample piece today using fleece instead of batting, so I wanted to share this video to show how it turned out.

Below that, is a short video to show how easy it is to separate your pins from your pinmoors when they’re all mixed up after a quilting project 🙂

 

 

Youtube Channel Change

Attention-Read-FirstFOR MY YOUTUBE SUBSCRIBERS:   I’m so sorry for this inconvenience, but in the effort to align all of my social media connections for Ann Walsh Quilting, I had to move my videos to the new channel, which means that anyone who subscribed to my Youtube channel in the past will need to re-subscribe now in order to continue receiving notices when I upload new videos.  The old channel will no longer have the quilting videos.

Please unsubscribe to the old channel and then visit the new channel address by clicking here: Ann Walsh Quilting on YouTube  and you can subscribe from there.

OTHER READERS: Following my quilting site here doesn’t mean you’re subscribed on YouTube, so if you haven’t specifically subscribed over there, you don’t need to do anything at all about this change!

All posts here on this site have been updated so the video links in each post will take you to the new place 🙂

It started with a tree … (part 1)

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…”

This is what you call an original design on the fly, starting in my head and then moving to fabric and I’m trying to remember to take pictures all along the way so you can see how this one goes together.

I wanted a brown background with a set in tree trunk so I could add appliquéd leaves.  I cut the brown to about 48 inches wide and the lighter greyish brown to the height I wanted the tree trunk to be, then estimated the width for the trunk and laid it on top of the background.  I used a chalk marker to draw a slight curve down each side of the trunk and then cut through both the lighter and background fabrics at once.  This way, the edges match when you attach the trunk to the background on either side.  As you can see, after I drew my lines I changed my mind (typical in my studio!) so I cut just outside the lines.

(Save that piece underneath because it’s also a tree trunk if you want to do a similar quilt in a different background color!  You would then have to lay it on the new fabric and cut that background along the trunk edges to make them match.)

I flipped the trunk over and pinned it to the background fabric edges, and with a little maneuvering at each end where the curves happen, it all went together easily.

Of course I wasn’t quite convinced it was done, so before adding the top and bottom sections I curved out part of the trunk top – using the same method as I did when I cut the trunk and background together – and sewed the curved piece in.  The seam allowance needed to insert that little curved piece did of course mean that I had to even up the top edge before adding the top section of brown fabric (and no, those little wrinkles near the trunk top are not tucks or puckers, they are there from when I pressed the back side of that seam and will be taken out before I start appliquéing).

After I added the top section, I again changed my mind!  I had planned to leave a big brown area at the top, but once it was on I chose to trim a piece off and add it to the bottom.  Now I think it’s all ready for leaves and maybe other things that will remain a surprise for now, so stay tuned!

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(Darn, now I’m looking back up at that quote from Trees and getting ideas about stitching it into the quilt!  That might be just a bit too ambitious for today.  But like I said, “an original design on the fly”. LOL)

 

Build-A-Block

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I’m calling this my build-a-block quilt.  It was kind of like going to Build-a-Bear, except in this case you pay all the money AND do all the work yourself!

It’s also – literally – a blood, sweat and almost tears quilt:

  • first, even though all fabrics are Moda Bella Solids and all were pre-washed and dried in the same way, the darn “disappearing” marker disappeared beautifully from every single color except one of the oranges (not both!) and I was frustrated to no end by that discovery – a little sweat (and the beginning of a possible coverup appliqué sort of solution for those spots!)
  • second, once it was off the machine and I was trimming the edges with my new lovely cutting sheers, I nicked my hand with the point in my hurry to get to the binding process and didn’t realize I was bleeding until I got some on – of course – one of the light stone coloured blocks! – a little blood, more sweat, and almost tears, well, actually, some profanity (and naturally a little saliva because that’s about all that takes out blood!)

BUT, after giving up on removing the marks, I threw it into the wash with some stain spray, resigning myself to the fact that it was what it was and I still loved it no matter what – haha – it came out just fine and all the marks are gone.  This surprises me because one of the warnings on the marker is to just use plain water and NOT to mix it with detergent because it will set the mark.  I took the chance thinking I had nothing to lose anyway and it actually took the mark out!

Needless to say I’m going to go back to using my trusty chalk whenever I can and will only resort to the blue marker when I’ve already tested it out on the exact piece of fabric I will be using, regardless of the brand.  I contacted the maker of my marker to let them know what happened on just the orange but they are mystified too and looking into it further at this point.

Back to the quilting part:

I found the idea in an old quilt magazine passed onto me by a friend as part of a stack she was finished with: Quilter’s World, Autumn 2013.  I rarely use a pattern, partly because they’re often detailed and involve a lot of piecing instructions and we all know how that turns me on, and partly because with the simple piecing designs I prefer it’s not too difficult to look at a picture and figure out how to make it happen in my own way.

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The original pattern above was designed by Jenny Rekeweg and I adapted it to my own preferences, attracted by the solids and seeing lots of opportunity for wild quilting.  The basic idea is to pick some colors you want to put together, decide on your block size, and then start building.  Some guidelines for sizing the various inserts were given for reference, but there was a lot of play room for individual creativity and I took advantage of that (suffice it to say that the one super colourful block with all the little squares became tedious for me around row 3, thus, the switch to strips to finish it off!)

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Here are some photos of each block so you can see not only the piecing arrangements I chose but also the various quilting designs.  If you click on one it will make them all bigger for your viewing pleasure 🙂

I just now noticed that the one pictured in the magazine was quilted by Krista Withers.  This is really cool because when I first started free motion quilting, I found and saved many pictures of her work online as they inspired and drove me towards the goal of being able to run with her composition quilting technique myself one day.  I think it’s kind of funny that I’ve been looking at the magazine page over and over again during the planning and making of this quilt and have only just now noticed her name!

I definitely tried to incorporate some of her stitching designs on this quilt, trying out different things here and there, and I enjoyed working on one block at a time while still having the solid background to show off the stitching which always keeps me interested!

As for all those thread changes though, that’s another story …!

 

 

 

Pricing Handmade Items

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A discussion I watched recently during an online class prompted me to write this post.  I’ve read and seen many things giving hints about how to set prices for handcrafted items, and I’ve written before about the pricing of handmade quilts from my perspective.

But in this discussion, a fellow participant was frustrated that every time she asks an instructor for specific guidelines for pricing her handmade items she gets vague rather than concise answers, most often hearing that it’s up to the individual crafter to decide.  This makes her feel like no one wants to help.

I’ve also read things about the importance of sellers pricing items according to a reasonable hourly wage for all the time going into the project because if they don’t, they somehow de-value the work of others who do charge higher prices.

So I wanted to give my own perspective on this matter, without numbers and formulas, as food for thought.

I believe that our personal pricing systems depend largely on our reasons for crafting.  I’m not trying to make a living selling crafts.

I find enjoyment and fulfillment in being creative and making things.  My crafting hobbies keep me busy and give me something to look forward to each day.  They are a form of relaxation and entertainment for me, they keep my mind focussed on new ideas, and they give me an outlet to express myself in an artistic way, according to my own ability and style.  When I’m making something, a lot of what I do is fun and necessary for my own well-being and mental health.  I’m going to make things whether or not I ever sell them.

Because a lot of the time spent making things is for my own enjoyment, if I sell a finished item I don’t worry about putting a price on every hour spent making it, simply because if I weren’t doing crafts, I would be doing something else that might be costing me just as much time and money to fill my days!  So part of it is for my own benefit and it’s hard to put a price on that.

When I’m performing a direct service for someone else – such as custom quilting – while it’s still enjoyable (I wouldn’t do it otherwise!) I can more easily put a price on it because of the time involved from start to finish.  I can set a price based on hours, or size of the project and I look at that differently than I do my general crafting time.  People might ask here why I don’t do the same hourly calculation with all the items I sell, but hopefully by the end of the post you will have the answer 🙂

When pricing items for sale I take into account the following things:

  • I always cover the cost of all materials that go into the project,
  • I calculate the hours I spend quilting it (this is something I can calculate by the hour as I do if I’m custom quilting for others)
  • I consider the marketability of the item

Marketability is perhaps the most important to me personally and here’s why:

I know that most of the quilts I sell are technically “worth” more than what I charge.  I also know that if I lived in a big city with a huge market of buyers having a wide variety of personal tastes I could sell my quilts at higher prices. and still regularly move my stock.

As it is, I have to consider that pricing them high enough to get what they’re actually worth will mean selling far fewer than I currently sell and possibly selling none, while pricing them at a reasonable price for the market allows me to make some profit, and sell more quilts.  As I said, I’m going to make them anyway because I love the craft, so my goal is to have fun, cover costs and have my hobby pay for itself without cutting into my household budget.  I’m not keen on filling up a room with valuable quilts that aren’t moving and then trying to justify buying supplies to make more!  I rarely make a quilt because I want to keep it; most often I want to try out new ideas and designs, with the intention of selling them when finished.

Selling my items the way I do more than pays for my hobby and that’s fine for me.  Sure, it would be nice to be able to get the price they are actually worth after all the time spent on them, but if the only thing not completely covered in the price is a portion of my own time – time spent enjoying myself and doing what I love (while watching my favourite old TV shows or listening to music!) – then that’s OK by me.

For someone who is trying to make a living selling their crafts, my system will not work.  Their reasons for crafting are different; their needs are different.

But I don’t agree that my system of pricing is unfair to those who do charge the higher prices for items of similar quality and workmanship.  I think it’s up to each person how they will handle their own business/pricing and what their own time is worth.  As with any other business, there are differences and competition and everything that goes along with that.

I don’t like to think of myself in competition with others though, because that’s not my jam when it comes to crafting.  I make what I like to make and if someone likes it enough to buy it, great.  If not, then that’s OK too.  Just as my style of custom quilting isn’t something everyone wishes to pay for and that’s OK with me too!  I do what I enjoy and I don’t take on projects I don’t want to do, because I’m not trying to make a living.  If what I do isn’t fun, I’m not going to do it.

The other thing to remember is that handcrafted items should really be seen as art pieces, unique and appealing to personal tastes.  And the value of a piece of art is most often based on whatever someone is willing to pay for it.  So I could calculate that one of my quilts is actually worth $600 from start to finish, but if no one ever buys it, it isn’t worth much sitting on my shelf if it isn’t one I wanted to keep anyway!  And yes, you CAN have too many quilts!  It’s all about perspective …

Getting back to the class discussion and the lady who was frustrated, I don’t think there is anyone who can tell another person what to charge for their handmade items, which is why she never gets a definite answer.

If you want to make a living, you have to decide what kind of hourly wage you want to get and calculate every bit of time you spend to set your price on the finished item.  And if you can’t sell your item at that price, then maybe selling crafts isn’t the job you need to make your living.

For example, I’ve heard well known quilters say they tend to build their businesses on writing books and teaching classes on quilting rather than selling their actual quilts, because the prices they would have to charge would be higher than most customers would want to pay.

I don’t place myself in their category but, using a similar mentality, if I included in my prices all the time I spend cutting, sewing, pressing, sandwiching, and binding in addition to the cost of materials and quilting time I already charge for, I don’t think I would ever sell a quilt!  Plus, I would be focussing so much on keeping track of calculations that I wouldn’t be able to relax and have fun, so that definitely wouldn’t help me meet my goals.

Bottom line: it’s a personal choice based on individual factors.

Cushions Anyone?

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I have to admit I’ve been having some fun with smaller projects this week.  I didn’t think I would be into making things like this, especially since you will rarely see a cushion in my own house.  But I learn over and over again to “never say ‘never’ ” (no, I didn’t have to put that in quotes, but I decided to give the grammar-sentence-structure-correct-punctuation lovers like myself some eye candy with those single quote-within-a-quote marks!  You’re welcome.)

Apparently, people have cushions.  Some people have lots of them and some people even change them out for seasons, holidays, or just because.  They show up on beds and chairs and couches everywhere, just not in my house.  I’m not opposed to cushions; I don’t have an aversion to them or anything.  When I’ve had the odd one or two lying around in the past, they’ve always just seemed to be in my way.

First of all, I no longer have a couch, basically because the space requirement versus function doesn’t suit my needs (ie. having space for my grand piano is more important than having a place to watch tv lying down, which I, like, never do – oops, I said “never” …) and my recliners are just way more comfy and practical.  They have their own built in cushions so adding more for decoration just seems unnecessary.  Having cushions on my bed for decoration would just mean I have to pull them off every night and put them back on every morning and I think I’m already doing pretty well just getting the bed made on a regular basis when I’d rather be quilting.

But I digress …

Cushion covers are a wonderful way to use up fabric I might have left over from quilt projects. (Don’t anybody jump on me here for having leftovers when I’m a self-proclaimed NON-stasher!  Let’s face it: it’s pretty hard to not have any leftovers after one hundred and thirty-eight quilts to date!) Cushion covers are like little mini quilts and I can use up different threads, try out new techniques and do a variety of things in a day which is a change up from working on one quilt for hours.  So I’m glad that so many people love cushions!

Here are some photos of my most recently finished ones.  I had some batiks left from the big star quilt I showed you a few days ago and they were just asking to be made into a funky cushion cover with quilting as wild as the color combination!

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I back the cushion fronts with muslin, so thought I’d give you an inside view 🙂

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This next one is made from a piece of floral fabric left over from a quilt gift I made not long after I started quilting. I fussy cut a few flowers from a remaining scrap to appliqué in the black centre section and then thread painted the words.

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These last two started with a brand new Kaffe Fasset charm pack that I ordered but never really liked once it came – go figure – until I separated the pieces and found a configuration that worked.  The first is all Kaffe, after weeding out the pieces I was least fond of, and the second shows the remaining Kaffe charms to which I added grey squares, giving them a bit of a break from each other and making them more palatable 🙂  I like the modern looks that resulted from these decisions!

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Speaking of trying various techniques, I’m very excited about a couple of new things I’m going to be experimenting with in the near future, as soon as my supplies arrive.  You’ll be hearing about them eventually …

P.S. I know this rocking chair sitting in my porch looks great with a cushion on it.  True confession:  I do have a couple of cushions that sit on chairs in my porch because I saw some irresistibly cute owl themed tapestry covers in a store one day so I dug out a couple of old cushions and stuffed them.  Why do I feel the need to come clean?  Integrity, people.  The end.

Pinmoors! Yup, they’re a thing …

IMG_1233 I’ve been a spray baste fan since day one.  DAY 1.  I firmly believe that if it hadn’t been for spray basting, I wouldn’t have fallen head first into this quilting thing.  The idea of spending all that time pin basting a quilt was just too daunting.

But I’ve been thinking the whole thing through of late, and wondering if I should look at alternatives for my own good; I live in a northern climate so spraying outside isn’t really do-able for about six months of the year and I’m an all year round quilter :-).  I’ve been considering wearing a mask, but once that occurred to me, I realized that just because I’m not breathing it in directly while I’m spraying, it’s still lingering in my house. I haven’t had any respiratory problems thus far, but there’s no way to know what it will eventually do, and with an average of five to six quilts a month, even with proper ventilation for the fumes, there’s a lot of spray settling in places I don’t know about!

I also have a dry eye problem and I’ve noticed that my eyes bother me far more in the room where I generally baste quilts, so I don’t know if it’s connected, or if it’s just that I usually go to sit in that particular room at the end of my day when I’ve been straining my eyes a lot already, but it’s something to consider.

I know my posts don’t usually have a serious tone, so I don’t want to sound like I’m condemning spray baste or anything.  It’s so very handy and saves a lot of time, and I’m not swearing off the stuff here, but I am more open to pin basting now, so I thought I’d share with you a cool little helper I have found: Pinmoors.

I know that safety pins are popular, especially the curved ones, but I honestly find them kind of a pain for a couple of reasons:  they don’t show up well on prints and they can be finicky to remove when I’m in the middle of machine quilting with gloves on.

Enter the Pinmoors.

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I already like my Clover flowerhead pins, and these neat little cylinders stick onto the ends to protect me from getting poked or scratched, but also making it very easy to pull out or reposition the pins as I go (and these pins are flexible enough to bend a little if you really want something with a bit of a curve to it while you’re pinning).  They’re self-healing so no matter how much you use them, they still hold on well.  The fact that they come in several bright colours – just like the pins – means that they show up really well on any fabric so I’m not going to miss one and stitch right over it!

You can buy them in a few places; I got mine through Amazon.  I’ve been using them on smaller projects, so my next test will be on a baby quilt and from there, hopefully, I’ll take them all the way up to the big ones 🙂

Starburst Batiks

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Piecing, piecing, piecing … ARGGGH!

That’s how I felt making this quilt!  I was determined to try it and I do love the bright colors, but wow it took a lot of hours to get it all pieced together.

I started the actual quilting one morning and only worked until around noon, but it then took another day to finish – and when I talk about a “day” of quilting, let’s be clear: I wake up early and I often start working in my sewing room before my first cup of coffee.  This one was finally finished around supper time after pushing through my neck, shoulder and eye pain the last hour or so because I was “so close” to being done and I wanted to have that binding ready to hand stitch for my evening of sitting with my feet up and a heating pad on my back!  Go ahead, call me crazy.

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I love how it turned out and I think this might be my most detailed work thus far, working within constraints and keeping certain things symmetrical, which always takes more time and effort than my rogue style of flying by the seat of my pants in wide open spaces!

This was a free Craftsy pattern that Angela Walters assembled on her Midnight Quilt Show, and I changed out the corner partial stars because I originally wanted the border to be solid grey and then chose to add in a few scraps.  Honestly I wish I had stayed with the all grey idea, so if I make it again (yeah, right!) I will go that route.

As you know, I’m not typically a star or triangle girl myself, but I was attracted to the grey background with the bright stars (I should have been drinking wine like she was while sewing it all together!!!) and I also loved the way she quilted it so I adopted some of her ideas for mine. Truth be told, many of my ideas for quilting come from Angela – she is such an inspiration to me and her style really clicks in my brain.

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The pictures honestly don’t do this quilt justice because the textures are best seen from a bit of a distance while someone is holding it up and you are sitting in a comfy chair taking it all in.  But I can’t quite capture that for you here!

The lighting wouldn’t cooperate for my full size shot, and I had trouble photo-shopping it to get the colors exact (above pictures show accurate colors), so I’m not happy enough with it to include it here!   It’s just way better in person …