Category Archives: Making plans

The truth about longarming: Part 2

I ended my last post about longarming with the rather vague promise to set myself specific longarming goals, and though I didn’t articulate them, I was following them.

My first goal was to longarm a bobbin a day, which I did for a full week after the post. I had no specific plan, just to hit start and see where the machine took me. Well, it wasn’t great, but it was a start so I just kept going until that first bobbin ran out.

longarm-quilting-practice

But as I kept going, things started to even out a little.

longarm-quilting-practice

And I was really having fun.

longarm-quilting-practice

I’m not sure when I switched bobbins, but I just kept quilting a little bit every day after work.

bobbin-two

I experimented with new shape, different scales, and no matter what, just kept going.

finished-practice-piece

And at the end of the week I had this. If you zoom in on each part, there are lots of imperfections, but goodness, doesn’t it look pretty awesome? I was really pleased with it. The next shot shows a bit more detail. I especially like the top left corner. Although I know stitching at this scale takes forever and makes the quilt quite stiff, I’m really drawn to the teeny tiny quilting. I do need to practice working at a larger scale for customer quilts, so that’s the next goal.

longarm-quilting-practice

I was so happy with the results of the bobbin-a-day experiment that I decided it was time to load up a real quilt onto the frame. More on this customer quilt in another post.

spider-web-quilt

The Truth About Longarming: Part 1

The truth about longarming is that I’m scared of it. It’s been nearly a year since I got my longarm and so far I’ve longarmed one large quilt (badly), no more than half a dozen practice pieces (middlingly), and one mini-quilt (not too badly, actually). I’m struggling to remember when I even turned the machine on last. It must have been in late April, when I quilted the bookshelf mini.

My longarm is the most expensive thing I have ever bought outright. Other than a car that I owned for less than two years, it’s the most expensive thing I have ever bought, period. I scrimped like a crazy person to buy this machine. I spent an entire year making and taking lunches to work, which I’d never managed to accomplish in twenty years of working. I set aside every extra penny I had even when I didn’t so much have it, I bought pretty much nothing for myself during that year. I borrowed nearly €3,000 from the Germ because I had to have it RIGHT THEN instead of waiting a few more months until I had saved the entire amount (€10,000), and I spent months scrimping some more to repay him. And since then I’ve mostly used it as a hanger. This is a very sad state of affair, my friends.

1I’m not sure why I decided that I had to have a longarm, but I’m pretty sure that in the back of my mind, other than the conceivable fun factor, I had hoped to make a little bit (ok, a lot) of money with it, as part of my plan to escape the misery of my day job. So far I’m €105 in, on a job I offered to do for free to get some practice. Be that as it may, I’m not regretting the purchase, I’m just regretting my own fears and the time I’ve wasted.

2It’s hardly a mystery why I’m afraid, it’s not even original: I don’t like being bad at things and I get frustrated when I can’t master something quickly.

I was listening to Kim Werker* on the Crafty Planner podcast recently and she’s an advocate of allowing yourself to be bad at things, so here’s the plan. I’m going to be actively bad at this and I’m going to embrace the ugly, because eventually it won’t be.

I’m setting myself some specific goals (well, I’m thinking of the specifics, as it were), and I’m going to report about my progress here, so watch this space.

* Kim Werker is pretty awesome. Go read her book, Make It Might Ugly.

Climbing out of the shambles

Since finishing my Fade to What Now? quilt, I’ve been restless. I’d been working on it for a long time and once I was done, I wanted to sew all the things, but couldn’t quite settle on one thing. I don’t tend to work on more than one or two projects at a time, so even though I had lots of free time, I’ve not been able to settle into any kind of useful sewing.

It didn’t help that my studio was a shambles. I’ve stopped calling it the living room. Since two of the cats live in it and the Germ has cat allergies, we rarely spend any time in there together, and we certainly never entertain in it, so it’s now officially my sewing studio. My 450 square feet “studio.”

Keeping it real, y'all

Keeping it real, y’all

That box on the floor is one of the places where the cats like to hang out, so it’s staying for now, but I’ll probably move it behind something. There is certainly no lack of furniture to stick it behind, that’s for sure.

The table behind the ironing board is a sewing table with a built-in Singer machine dating back to the mid-seventies. The machine isn’t working but it’s a workhorse so I’ll try to get it fixed at some point. I’ve moved it into a spare room for now.

The glass-front shop cabinet is where I store the bulk of my fabric and notions, but it too is a bit of a mess. (This photo is from when we moved in over a year ago and so nothing is where it was in the first photo.)

Vintage shop cabinet, scored an eBay from a fabric store that had closed.

Vintage shop cabinet, scored an eBay from a fabric store that had closed.

The other glass-front cabinet behind the shop cabinet is where I keep all of my Thomas Knauer fabrics, my sewing books, and some odds and ends. You can see it hiding in the far back corner of the first photo, next to the Singer table. I’d like to move those fabrics into my main collection in the shop cabinet, and use the empty cabinet for my notions. This cabinet sits in a bit of a nook (see next photo), and I’d like to move it to build shelves across the nook for my scrap boxes, which currently sit on the floor along the design wall. I have an idea of where I want the cabinet but will have to test it out before I commit to anything.

The teak cabinet next to the shop cabinet is a sewing cabinet with a sliding shelf to lower a sewing machine, but it’s for a standard-size machine so my Janome won’t fit in it. With the machine on top of it it’s way too high to use comfortably, plus I sew on another surface now. I’ll either find somewhere else in the house for it or *gasp* sell it.

SO – THAT NEW SEWING SURFACE? In April, my lovely carpenter brought over my new, custom sewing table. (Yes, that is how much light I have in my sewing room. Does this explain why my photos are such crap? Anyway.) In the photo, it is in its fully extended state, but the back legs fold up so that it’s usually about a meter wide. I think it’s about three meters long. It’s typically up against the window and it is mostly a dream to sew on, because I can pretty much have everything I need on the table as I sew, including scrap boxes, cutting mat, tools, etc. That said, the table top gets messy while I’m working, so I’ll either need a tool organizer to sit on top of it, or some sort of sliding drawer unit under the table where I can keep my tools while I’m working and when I’m done.

Table

Dreamy sewing table.

There are a couple of bugs with the table, but nothing that can’t eventually be fixed. The weight of the table has turned out to be too much for the back wheels, so they bent. I’ve removed all wheels until we can sort out a solution, which means I can’t extend the back  since the legs holding up the extension are now too long. The surface of my Janome isn’t entirely flat, so it’s not fully flush against the surface of the table, meaning that if I’m piecing, things jam up at the back end of the machine surface. This one isn’t a biggie since I’m aware of it so I know to hold things up until they’re over the bump. There’s also no hole for the knee lift, so I can’t use it at the moment, but that’s a small fix and I don’t use the knee lift enough for it to be troublesome.

Not pictured is a huge sideboard where I keep magazines and such, but I’d like to move them elsewhere so I can make better use of it. Maybe they could go on the planned book shelves. Or maybe I’ll get a Kallax from Ikea to stick in that nook instead? Ideas, ideas.

All this, and a longarm coming into the space in the next few months.

Can you maybe see why I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the space?

This past weekend I got a start on sorting out the space. We moved the sofa to the front room so we can now sit on it with our feet up while having a coffee and watching the planes go by. In summer we do this outside, but winter is coming (Har har! I don’t even watch that show.) I’ll keep the armchair in place for cat cuddling, but I’m not entirely sure what to do with the coffee table. It’s a gorgeous mid-century teak table, but I don’t really have much use for it, nor anywhere else in the house to put it. I’ll think of something. Definitely *not* selling it.

Then I picked up all the scrap bins and piled them up in a corner and gave the room a very deep cleaning. I took almost everything off of the various surfaces so I don’t have to keep shuffling things from side to side to find things. I’ll spend this week plus next weekend moving things around an reorganizing, and then show you some after pictures.

As for sewing, there’s a different kind of sewing going on in the studio right now.

Garments

I want to sew all the clothes. When did that happen?! This book has amazing (if sparsely written) patterns.

All the things

Yeah, yeah. Sew your stash, finish-along, quilt-along, WIP Wednesday, Finish it up Fridays, quilting resolutions. Whatever. I’ve committed to none of these for 2015, but what I am trying to do is sew more regularly, and not just on the weekend. Or if not to sew, then to do something sewing related at least every day.

This is what’s happening here at Arsch der Welt at the moment. Firstly, it’s been a glorious winter. Yes, I said it, even though it has been snowy and freezing. I am absolutely in love with our tree-lined drive in all seasons, but in winter the bare trees strike me as most beautiful. AND it turns out you can see the Zugspitze peak, which is 160 kilometres south of here, right from the end of my driveway. This absolutely delights me.

No filter.

No filter. The Zugspitze can be seen when you look to the left at the end of the driveway. Joy!

Sewing, you ask?

On the go:

Tula Pink City Sampler: I finished off all one hundred blocks after an insane three-day sewing marathon in which I sewed about fifty five blocks. I split the quilt into six segments, adding white sashing. I’m quilting each segment as I go with straight lines that echo the piecing in each block. Hopefully it’ll all fit together when I try to attach the segments. Cross your fingers that it does, because I’ve submitted it to a local quilt show and have to deliver by the 19th of this month.

Missing U quilt: My blocks for this one started out really random, but have turned more into a free-form log cabin as I’ve progressed. I want to make this one a king size, so need nearly fifty blocks. I’ve made twelve so far. I’ll definitely QAYG this one, with the back of each block a matching colour to the front.

My first few blocks, made back in England. I've added about 8 or 9 since.

My first few blocks, made back in England.

Saltwater quilt: The only FQ bundle I’ve ever bought is Tula Pink’s Saltwater, and I’ve been sitting on it for at least two years. I’ve now cut up the entire range using the Accuquilt 4.5″ HST die and sewn the HSTs. I’m missing a couple of the FQs in the blue range, so I’ll have to see whether I have enough units, but am going for a simple (though still up-in-the-air) layout. For now, I’m putting this one on the back burner since I have a couple of looming deadlines.

Pink-brown baby quilt: I made this from a fabric line sample pack I bought at the Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago. It’s basted and I’ve started FMQing it, but got distracted by Christmas sewing. I have no planned recipient, so quick, someone get knocked up. I’m so uninspired by it that I have no pictures.

Broken Herringbone: Does it really count as a WIP if I only made one block, well over a year ago? Don’t know, it’s haunting me all the same. I’ve actually made quite a few of these blocks in the run up to Christmas, but used them in table runners.

Green broken herringbone block

Green broken herringbone block

Recently finished:

Totem’s blue-square quilt: A project that came together fairly quickly – read about it here.

Upcoming:

Silver anniversary quilt: The party is on August 1, 2015, so I best get cracking. I’ve just settled on using Tula Pink’s Fade to Pink pattern, from Quilts from the House of Tula Pink.

Carpenter quilt: I have an awesome carpenter. He’s building me an awesome bespoke sewing workstation, charging only for the materials (mostly cheap Ikea work tops). I therefore must make him and his wife an awesome quilt. Don’t know what yet. Another gradient quilt? Dunno.

Tinker Tote bag: I started this Craftsy class* (affiliate link, see disclaimer below) bag ages ago and it’s been staring at me reprovingly ever since. I’ve tried to get back to it a few times, but needle issues with constant skipped stitches have stopped me from making any progress on this one, which is lame, since I’m mostly walking around with a freebie messenger bag someone gave me at a temp job fifteen years ago and really now, do I even own a sewing machine?

* An affiliate link means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from the company I linked to, in this case Craftsy.com. I only recommend products and services that I use and love, so I know you’ll be in good hands.