Nostalgic meandering

I’m becoming one of those people.  You know, the ones who talk about the olden days, back when this or that was the norm.

This is not to take anything away from the younger set, of which I was once a member.  We do – as we should – go through different seasons in our lives, each one exposing us to new things and teaching us about the world and about ourselves.  They are necessary seasons.  I can value my own life experience from a my own time and still say “You go for it!  I remember when we could only imagine all the things available to you now.  Make new memories.  Find your own place in the world!”

I don’t ever want to become the old lady who thinks the younger people don’t know anything, that they can’t teach me anything, and that because I’m a certain age, none of them can understand or give me helpful ideas about life.  I’ve learned many things from my own adult children and from the changing world around me and I hope that I remain open so I don’t miss important lessons.

But please permit me this one observation: many things are just not made like they used to be.  I think I can safely say that as a fact without it being just another random generational comparison looking through bifocal lenses from my comfy recliner.

I recently brought my first sewing machine upstairs from the closet where it has been stored nearly four years now; it was carefully packed in its case at the age of 35+ years and moved aside after I bought my new one with all the bells and whistles and a nice big 10″ throat at the start of my free motion quilting journey.  I had no room or need for two machines set up all the time, so storing the old one was the obvious choice.

Earlier that day I had packed up my new machine to leave my house and spend time sewing with a group of ladies – an actual first for me! – and one of them brought an old machine along.  I listened to it hum as she sewed and I found myself missing the way my old one sounded.  When I got home, I felt compelled to take it out, oil it up, and stitch something on it.

Once the case came off, I was actually feeling nostalgic looking at it. I bought it when I was 13 years old, about 4 years after mom taught me how to sew my own clothes.  Because mom had the top of the line Pfaff and I was used to sewing on that, I didn’t want to settle for anything less!  My dad – a banker who taught us to work and pay for things we wanted outside the scope of  basic needs – advised me to apply for a bank loan so I could start working on my credit rating (LOL) and because he knew that even if I saved for months, the price might go up and I wouldn’t catch up.  He co-signed for me, I got my loan, and by working part time in a fabric store owned by my parents I paid off my loan early.

So for me this machine represents various practical and sentimental things and holds many memories. It still works, it still hums, and I love it.  And they DON’T make them like they used to.

Sure, my new one  is all computerized and does a ton of fancy things (many of which I don’t use or need but that 10″ throat got me…! LOL) and it’s a pretty color and all that.  But it’s just not the same.

It’s nobody’s fault; things change, technology advances, manufacturing moves forward, parts get farmed out to keep prices down etc. etc. etc. Sometimes that makes things better, sometimes it doesn’t.  And I guess it all depends on what you want the “thing” – whatever it is – to do for you.

Obviously, my new machine does a lot my old one doesn’t do.  But it doesn’t hum along without vibrating, and it doesn’t have the same stitch quality, and it doesn’t have the power to move me back to my childhood and teen years of sewing all my own clothes and through my married life of sewing for my husband, my children, and my home, and into my first attempt at free motion quilting that opened up a new world to me.

So I’m going to find a place in my world for using this old friend of mine, even if it’s just going to become my take-along-when-I-leave-the-house-to-sew machine.  Yes, it’s heavy.  Yes there are lighter and smaller ones I could get for this purpose.  Yes, maybe one day I will need to consider that if my arms and back get too sore from carrying it.  But for today, in the present moment, I think it will work 🙂

Like me, it has a lot of years left in it to be productive!  And if it could speak, I’m sure it would look at my new one and say something like “Hey there, you’re pretty nice looking and you do a lot of cool stuff and I remember in the olden days when we could only imagine all the features you have now! So you go girl, you shine, make new memories.  I will always have my own place in time.”

Do you have an old machine that you love?  I’d enjoy hearing about it in the comments below!

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Just Stitching – free motion fun

After several days of working on cementing some of the basics of edge to edge computerized quilting in my brain, I was feeling the need to get in some of my favourite hand guided free motion quilting.

I loaded up a practice quilt sandwich, lowered the belts, and spent some time playing on my new Gammill, did a bit of ruler work and, of course, some spirals!  It brought me a lot of enjoyment and peace to just go with the flow and stitch randomly whatever came to mind 🙂

Longarm Quilting: easing in fullness

While I was working on a client quilt this week, I recorded a short video showing how I used my hands while my Gammill Statler was stitching out a digital design, to manipulate the quilt top and ease in any bits of fullness to avoid getting unwanted pleats and tucks.  I got the idea from a video Linda Taylor did for the Best of Both Worlds series for Gammill Quilting (look for that great set of tutorials on Youtube!) and it was definitely beneficial for me, and in the end for my client who ended up with a lovely finish on her quilt.

There is soooooooo much to learn in this computerized quilting arena!  But I just try to focus on a little bit at a time so my brain won’t explode! LOL  Of course, I want to try ALL THE THINGS!

First a few photos, then the video at the bottom.  All are posted with permission 🙂

Have a great weekend!

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My Gammill is Here!

I would like to introduce you to my new Gammill Statler Stitcher (fondly referred to for now as my “personal assistant” until I can come up with just the right name for it! LOL)  It arrived a week ago, has upped the decor level in my quilting room by several points, and is performing like a rock star.

I’m spending time right now getting used to the process of computerized quilting; it is a huge learning curve, but I’m gradually getting the hang of it, and since I was without a machine for just over a month after the old one sold, I had time to piece together a few quilt tops to have ready for practice.  I’m testing out different ways of getting the patterns onto the quilt, some edge to edge as well as some customized work, choosing different patterns to fill specific spaces.

This machine purrs like a kitten and is a pleasure to drive (“She’s got a competition clutch with the four on the floor and she purrs like a kitten ’till the lake pipes roar, and if that ain’t enough to make you flip your lid…” OK I’ll stop!)

Everything here is solid as a rock and it’s clear this is no lightweight piece of equipment.  I was slightly intimidated the first time I turned it on myself the day after Mr. Bentley, my dealer/delivery man left.  I had to stand back a minute, take it all in, and show some respect.  Even moving the rollers – smoothly as a hot knife through butter – gives me pause to be grateful.

I wanted to share with you some of the things I’m working on, just to keep you posted and stay in touch while I’m learning 🙂  I have three completed quilts with edge to edge patterns on them and am currently working on a custom one – mostly computerized, some ruler work – and all will be available in my Etsy Shop in the next couple of weeks or so.

Once I’m confident with the basics, I’ll be opening up my computerized quilting services to clients in addition to the hand guided work I’ve been doing thus far and continue to enjoy very much!  For now, here are a few peeks into the fun I’ve been having.  I’m trying a new techie system of embedding these from my Instagram feed, so be sure to follow me over there – annwalshquilting – to see regular day to day updates that don’t always make it into a longer post here 🙂  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Instagram, the notations you see under these photos go along with the Instagram posts, and it’s all about the hashtags over there!

Changing plans for a New year!

As we approach the end of the year, I want to share with you some changes that I’m looking forward to in the coming months.  As with any journey in life, my quilting journey has taken yet another turn, and I’ve made the decision to sell my HQ Amara and purchase a Gammill Statler Stitcher.

Just thought I’d get that out right in the first paragraph and then give you a bit of information! LOL

I’ve made a video that you can link to below, explaining about the changes, and also expressing the importance for me of telling people who follow my blog, Facebook page, or Youtube channel, that my decision was based on personal needs and preference, and not on any bad experience with my HQ dealer.  There was nothing wrong with my machine itself, it just turned out to not be the best fit for me.

Perhaps in future I will share some hints that might be helpful for others in choosing a machine of their own, but for now I’m just wanting to get the update out there, because we’re on the internet following each other and watching projects, tools, listening to suggestions etc. While I can’t control how everyone receives my news, I can at least be up front about my decision!  That’s how I roll 🙂

I’ll be very happy to get my new longarm machine in January and get started on learning how to combine the computerized stitching with my own for a special kind of custom result!  As well, I will now be able to offer edge to edge quilting services for clients who prefer that option.  It’s another “open door” for me (we’ve talked about this type of thing before!) and I’m jumping through.  At the very least, it will challenge my brain going forward and give me lots of opportunity for growth, while allowing me to continue to design my own custom work and do hand guided quilting.

I’d like to take this moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and thank you for reading, following, and commenting to let me know you are there.  Bye for now!

My mom is a celebrity!

Well guess what?  When I did my interview with Leah Day and she found out my mom has been a hand quilter since 1981 – when she made her first quilt as a gift for her brother – Leah wanted to chat with my mom about her perspective on the evolution of quilting over the years.  So my mom is on Leah’s podcast this week!  She was pretty thrilled to get a chance to talk to Leah personally as she has followed her a long time, and it was my mom who first pointed out Leah’s web site to me when I started free motion quilting 🙂

I remember mom making that first quilt, having it spread out over the ping pong table in our basement while she appliquéd all the pieces to create a turkey dinner table setting complete with cutlery and wine glasses (my uncle made his own wine), and desserts in each corner.  Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do it justice – it was a polaroid instant camera photo from 37 years ago so the details are kind of cloudy, and I no longer have access to the quilt to get a better one! – I tried to photoshop it into 2018, but there’s only so much you can do with those things 🙂  The borders look black and they are actually brown gingham (it’s important to mom that you know that).

I wanted to share this with all of you because it was my mom who taught me to sew when I was a child and it has been one of the best skills she passed on to me (I did not inherit her interest in cooking!).  I’ve used it extensively and happily throughout my life and of course it eventually led me to where I am now, machine quilting.

This also ties in with Leah’s new book, Mally the Maker, which she wrote as quilt fiction with the hope that it would inspire readers of all ages to appreciate the value of learning to sew/quilt and passing that on to others.

Thanks, Mom!

Check out their chat at the link below!

Interviewed by Leah Day

I had a super fun time being interviewed by Leah Day on her Quilting Friends podcast last week, and it went public today so I wanted to share the link and the experience with you!  We had a great conversation about quilting, creativity, passion and balancing things in our crafty lives.  Some of it was practical and some of it was philosophical.  All of it was a surreal experience for me 🙂  She is just as sweet in person (well, on video call!) as she appears to be and I’m happy to have met her and made a new quilting friend!

You can go straight to the podcast on her Youtube channel by clicking the image below, and you can read more about the podcast in the show notes here: Be Open to Your Creativity

Majesty – the silk quilt

I’m not good at naming quilts (we’ve been down this path before) but when I started this project and decided it was going to be something quite different than other things I’ve made I knew it needed a special name.  The fabric itself inspired me to come up with a name befitting the luxury that comes to mind when I think of silk, so this quilt was  called “Majesty” before the first stitch.  I was thinking of the things I’ve seen in movies about royalty; you know, those huge carved headboards and canopies with the fancy bedding? You admire it and then wonder who launders it!

I did a little planning ahead of time, only in the sense that I “planned” to do more of a traditional style whole cloth quilt (medallion in the centre, fancy borders, symmetry etc.) so it was more of an overall concept than a calculated design.  We know that for me, the plan evolves along the way!  Certainly that’s what happened here.

I started at the top centre, where I wanted to make a statement, and of course there were always going to be lots and lots of feathers, so that part flowed nicely.  I didn’t really have to do a lot of measuring until I happily finished one side and realized that I would then have to duplicate it to the best of my ability on the other! LOL  It was a challenge.  After laying down the foundation I went back in and added fillers, and then used this process throughout.

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For most of the quilt, I just picked one area at a time to focus on, keeping in mind that I was going for the illusion of a plan 🙂 I generally baste the whole quilt at the beginning so I can later roll it back and forth whenever I want to, and for this one that method proved very helpful, especially if I couldn’t quite remember something I had already stitched and wanted to repeat HAHA

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I built the structure I wanted in each area, stitched it out and filled it in, and eventually it all came together.  Not without a few mistakes and ripped stitches, mind you, but overall it was a very satisfying finish.

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And yes, I did have a little bit of that “do I keep this one or not?” going on in my head.  I designed this quilt for a couple of specific purposes, neither of which was to adorn something in my own house.  But again, as I worked on it and later held it in my lap while hand stitching the binding I wondered about whether or not I should keep it.  It is so soft and feels luxurious!

The truth is that this is probably the best work I’ve done in my quilting thus far.  I’m both very proud of it as an achievement of my goal, and humbled by it as a reminder that I’m blessed to have found this thing called machine quilting – or did it find me? – that brings me so much joy and gives me so many opportunities to grow and share.  This quilt represents some important things to me.

But aside from the philosophical aspects, it also made more clear to me the truth about what “makes my soul shine”: my process, what I do and why I do it, and the importance of knowing those things in my art and crafting life.

When I finished the binding, still feeling just a little bit of doubt as to whether or not I would part with it, I spread it out on my bed and stood back to look at it.  I was immediately detached from it.  I saw it for what it was and appreciated all of it, and at the same time I knew it was just fine to let it go because the process was over.

I know I mention it often, but I feel I cannot stress enough the value of knowing what your personal process is and allowing yourself to appreciate it!

If you would like a serious peek into some of the work I did on this one, check out the first video below.

If you would like a peek into what happens when things don’t go the way you hope they will, check out the second video below.

If you would like a peek into my real life goofy fun, check out the third video with my Happy Dance!

Wishing you all a great weekend!

 

 

I’m officially a bag lady

Yes, it’s a thing.  Bag Lady has a whole new meaning since Sara Lawson began drawing so many people into the art of bag making and inspiring the use of this nickname!  Check her out on Youtube, Facebook, and on her web site, all by the same name “Sew Sweetness”.

Things have been happening in my sewing room even though you haven’t heard from me in a while!  To be honest, I’ve been working on a lot of techie stuff for my online shop and trying to learn (UGH!) about things like SEO (search engine optimization) keywords, marketing etc. and my brain hurts.  It is kind of disheartening for a maker to have to keep up with all these things, but that is the online world and my shop is online so….

In between webinars and headaches, I’ve been getting ready for our local Christmas craft market.  This year I’m going to be displaying more than just quilts; I’m having fun putting together some smaller items for my table, like pouches and tote bags, so I can offer a variety of options and leave some of my bigger quilts at home.  It takes a lot of time and energy to pack up all my quilts and safely transport them back and forth and because we live in a small town and most people know where to find me, I’m taking a different approach to make my own life easier and to keep them guessing LOL

I’ve enjoyed making a bag here and there in the past and pouches are often a good small project in between bigger quilting ones, but I’ve really been on a bag kick the past month or so and I thought I’d update you.  Of course these are just quick glimpses because I’m not revealing all the details too early, but at least you can see what I’ve been up to!

(the 3rd pouch down is a Sew Sweetness pattern)

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The tote bag extravaganza began when a friend asked me about a custom order for totes she wants for gifts.  I sewed up a prototype and then caught the bug.  I’m using a pattern from my own head and skills I’ve learned along the way from other patterns, and using up lots of smaller pieces of fabric I have leftover from quilts (OK I’ll admit I have bought a few pieces just for the bags!)  and while several of them are similar in size and style, the prints make them unique.

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Then I decided to try some faux leather because I thought it would make a lovely bag if I quilted a cool design on it, and got myself hooked on that look!

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Most recently, I put together a quilt sandwich to sample some batting for a silk whole cloth quilt I’m starting and once it was all stitched and looking beautiful – batting test passed! – I decided to turn it into a silk handbag.  Ooh-lah-lah!

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So there you have it.  At the time of this post, some have already been sold, but there are more in the making.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been experimenting with having some of my own designs printed on fabric.  The first samples arrived and everything looked just fine, so I’m pretty excited about that!  The two panels have been made into wall quilts that I can’t quite share yet, but stay tuned…