Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lancaster Finalist!

     It's wonderful to start the new year with good news! Yesterday I received word that my Wedding Star quilt, "From This Day Forward," was accepted into the AQS show in Lancaster this year.
For those of you who don't know, besides my day job (sewing), I also have a hobby (sewing). In between thread changes at San Francisco Stitch Co., I started work on this gorgeous Judy Neimeyer kit determined to finish something this time. The bad winter we all had last year really worked in my favor!

      I really have to hand it to Judy Neimeyer who puts together fantastic instructions with gorgeous patterns. It started as a bed runner, but I LOVE turning little projects into big ones, so my "bedrunner" finished off as a 104" x 104" king size quilt. To make the kit my own, I tried a really offbeat coloration with a pink center gradating out to purple batiks-- I've notice with batiks, it is impossible to make a bad color choice, and I was really pleased with the results.
     Then, of course, to add another layer of difficulty, I digitized my own quilting pattern. Since I don't own a longarm, I sucked my internet friend Sara Velder of Acorn Ridge Quilting into doing the hands-on. She faithfully trudged through about 12 pages of my scrawled instructions and photos and produced the incredible result above. Sara was originally a customer of ours, but I am now an even BIGGER customer of hers. She and her husband Gerry even drove away from their house to get better phone reception so she could text me photos at a critical moment. That's LOVE, and I am grateful. I am surely going to enter it in the Des Moines competition, so she can go visit it there-- did you know, Sara and I have never met in person!
     All that remains to do is to embroider a lovely tag for the back, and you can see I've got that covered! When the mood strikes, I am going to ink in some lovely thoughts on my marriage of 33 years-- that's what the quilt is in honor of.
     Hope if you are in the Pennsylvania way this year in March, you'll drop by and say hello!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reindeer Pizza

After the Christmas frenzy, it's nice to take a break from the business (machine embroidery) to spend some time on my favorite hobby (machine embroidery). Although we put our utmost into everything that comes out of this studio, I personally end up with favorite pieces from time to time-- this Christmas, I am obsessed with the "Up on the Housetops" piece-- I affectionately call it my "Reindeer Pizza" for obvious reasons. Everything in the office has to be "100% finished," but for fun, I like to take a break from time to time and see what can happen when you take one to the 200% finished level.

"Up on the Housetops" is fully embroidered on every square inch-- and originally we just quilted the "pizza" lines--really, was there room for more? After studying it for a bit, I decided some swirly wind would be just perfect in around the snowflakes and deer. Since the piece is so tiny and my freemotion skills tend to favor a much larger canvas (hee, hee), I actually drew and digitized swirly wind around each of the reindeer and the little towns.

That was the easy part! The hard part-- hooping and registering the design to a bound and finished piece-- finished with red pompoms in the edge, to boot. Eight hands of an octopus would not have helped push the fabric into the hoop while simultaneously holding four corners in and tightening a screw and in the meantime making sure it is centered and then just when it's perfect POP! out it comes. After briefly trying to enlist a couple of people milling around the office, paid and unpaid, and even after trying to invite my mail lady in, it became clear I was on my own. Seven hoopings were required-- one for each reindeer and one for the snowflake in the middle. They went well, okay, poorly, well, awful, well, and okay, in that order. So much for thinking that the more you practice the better you'll get. But perseverance always pays off. So does picking a thread color for quilting that really matches. ;-)

So here is my hooping-- and then the finished piece on the back-- it's really hard to get a good picture of quilting, but I am oh, so happy with it! Happy mostly because it's finished, and now I can spend a few hours doing some really enjoyable handwork-- I intend to fully bead, button, and bow the thing now. I already pulled out all of these embellishments-- one perfect snowflake I've been saving for the center, sleigh bells (trust me, the more different colors and sizes of sleigh bells Michaels can display-- I will buy them all, and after all that, plain old GOLD seems to work best) bugle and seed beads, some little pearls, red bows, and then finally Swarovski crystals. Let's hope I Keep It Simple Stupid, but it may be a little late for that already!

I will post a finished photo as soon as I can! I may even enter my little reindeer piece in the miniature quilt category of a couple of shows-- it deserves to be seen, don't you think? But for now it's getting late-- I think we'll order pizza for dinner!