Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Another Learning Curve

Learning Curve.   As I try to become social media relevant, I encounter those two words many times.  I shudder when I  hear those words.  What do they mean to me?  They mean many hours of frustration.  Times when I want to throw my computer across the room.  Times when I want to rip every hair out of my head or just sit and cry.  My husband shakes his head as I mutter every curse word that I know.

Unfortunately, using the computer to share my quilting via the Internet has cause me many,many, many hours of frustration.  Over the years I  have had to learn to edit photos, create and write a blog, create and edit videos, upload those videos to Youtube, write a newsletter, maintain a mailing list, edit and organize photos, e-mail huge files, learn how to use Dropbox, create and maintain a website.  The list goes on and on.

My next learning curve was to tackle my longarm quilting machine.  I purchased it over a year ago.  It has sat in my extended studio (aka my living room) gathering dust and as a very expensive shelf for storage. 

My goal this Winter is to start to master that longarm learning curve.  Well, maybe not master it, but at least be able to use it.  For those of you that are not familiar with a longarm, it's kind of the opposite of a sewing machine.  Instead of the  machine being stationary and the quilt moving. the longarm head moves on rails and the quilt stays stationary.  As a newbie, there are 3 steps to learn:
                                               1.  Loading the quilt
                                               2.  Achieving proper tension
                                               3.  Moving the machine to achieve a pleasing quilting pattern

I had spent lots of time practicing on a plain piece of fabric after the longarm was first delivered.  It was unrewarding and boring.  It did not inspire me to practice.  So that was last year.  I decided that I needed to quilt an actual quilt. I thought that would hold my attention and I would focus on steps 1 & 2.  I made a simple but adorable baby quilt.

A friend came over to help with the loading process. 

The ugh! came the tension issues.  I really didn't think that birds nests (thread tangles on the back side of a quilt) and  thread breakage were going to be an issue - but they were.  Telephone calls, emails and rethreading helped me a bit with the tension. 

To avoid dealing with the quilt pattern, I just did straight line quilting. This was part of my original plan.  Learn to load, then straight line quilt.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Then I would tackle the quilting designs.

My finished quilt:
More practice to come, including some tension adjustments.

In the process of making this quilt, I ended up with big triangle scraps.   On my long bucket list of quilts to make is a NICU graduation quilt.  Only 20"x30", an Instagram friend has a goal of donating 100 to the NICU where here child had a temporary home.
I sewed the triangles together and trimmed the squares to 10".

and then cut each HST  in quarters and rearranged them. 

 I added some of the nursery print also left over from the original quilt to make the graduation quilt.

The end of my learning experience is 2 quilts, both to be used for good causes.  A friend said to me once, no one has ever returned a charitable quilt because the quilting wasn't perfect.  I'm sticking with that and will continue and will improve. 

Do you grow from attacking a new technique, whether it is physical or mental?  It certainly can  be painful, but I feel it keeps our brain young.  Plus when you achieve success, it is so rewarding.  
Go challenge yourself today. I'm going to laod another quilt on my longarm!

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Quilting On A Cruise, Lucky Me!

I have been asked multiple times how I liked teaching quilting on a cruise. In one word - AWESOME!  My two favorite parts of teaching is: 1.Sharing what I know and 2. getting to know other quilters.  Spending 7 days together was great.  There was a different class for each of the 3 days at sea.  There were optional shore excusrsions for the 3 port days.

The cruise left out of Galveston and it was an IQA fundraiser run by World of Quilt Travel.  My plan was to fly in the day of the cruise.  I know this is not recommended, but I had been away the week before for Quilt Market and I just did not want to spend one more night away from home.  But .... my travel experience is exactly why you should arrive in your departure city the day before a cruise.  I flew from Philly to Chicago.  And whoops! everything was fogged in at the Chicago airport.  I waited and watched the departure board to see when my flight would depart for Houston.  As it became later and  later, I became more and more  concerned that I was not going to be able to land in Houston and then make it to Galveston before the ship would leave.  I decided on a cut off time that would decide if I would continue to Houston or head back to Philadelphia.  I just did not want to disappoint my students.  Plus I had pre-paid kits for my classes in my suitcases.  (I do have oe extra in my Etsy shop.)

Ten minutes before the cutoff time, the flight was scheduled to depart.  I hit the ground in Houston running, literally running and used an UBER for the second time ever.  I arrived at The Liberty of the Seas 15 minutes before the ramps were to close.  I made it to my room and collapsed!  I had missed the teachers' meeting, but made it to the Welcome Students meeting where I found out that they were divvying up my classes!

There were 4 teachers, Helen Stubbings, Cherry Guidry, me and Sujata Shah:

This was one of my classrooms:
This was what the floor of each elevator looked like to remind you of the day:
Each night there was a different towel animal waiting for me after dinner:

I indulged myself and paid for an upgrade to a cabin with a balcony.  To sit on the balcony, with a latte,  after a day of being on my feet teaching was such a wonderful end to the day. I really love the water and I find it so calming. It was the perfect spot to think about my gratitude that I was  teaching in such an environment while missing Bailey and my hubby.  I loved sitting there at sunset, sunrise, in the dark as well as when we arrived in port.

 I did try to eat healthy.  Breakfast was pretty much the only meal where I was successful!
There were women on the cruise from all over the US, as well, as British  Columbia, New Zealand and my fellow teacher Helen Stubbings from Tasmania, Australia.  Some of the women shared gifts during the cruise:

and my new friend Sandra sent me gifts from her home in Northern California.
  Did you know they grew rice there?

The last night of the cruise, we had a farewell get togther along with a Show & Tell.  Most of us had packed our bags, but some of my students brought their WIPs and some even brought their finished tote bags!:

It really was a wonderful time. 
 I have such fond memories and look forward to seeing these women again.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Quilt Market Trends

Shopowners attend Quilt Market to learn about the latest trends.  They want to have the newest items in their shops.  Vendors also bring their newest designs and products.  The fabric that is showcased at Market won't be available in quilt shops until the Spring.

Each morning before the doors opened, I walked the aisles to get an overview and see the trends.  I noticed a few.  
1.  Cork - cork that can be used like leather was everywhere.  There were natural colors, colors and prints.

Cork was mainly used for accents on handbags and bags themselves.

2.  Blue & White
This is so exciting.  I love blue and white.  I have a collection of Willow Blue dishes.  My walls are painted blue.  Even my car is blue!  Blue has been on the outs for the past few years.  I'm so glad it's back.

3.  Brights
Bright, clear colors have been on the store's shelves and there is more coming.  Believe it or not, this is a Block of the Month (BOM) called Cadence Court, with instructions to create a wedge a month.  Pretty clever.  It was designed by Shayla Wolf of Sassafras Lane Designs with her fabbric line - Foundation.

4.  Clothing
There were a bunch of patterns to create clothing, plus knit fabric and double gauze.  It's interesting to see what we think of as quilting fabric appear as a shirt or skirt.Have you started making you own clothing?

Did you take a Quilting In America survey a few months back?  It showed up on many websites.  The results were presented at the beginning of Market.  
       Quilting is a $3.7 billion industry
       There are 7-10 million quilters in the US
       Each quilting household spends an average of $442 annually
       Dedicated quilters are defined as those spending more than $500 or more a year.  The demographics of the dedicated quilter is female, 63 years old, has been quilting for 19 years, is well educated (70% attended college), affluent with average household income of $95,900 and leans toward a preference of traditional quilting styles.

Not surprising, is there was almost a 40% increase in those who get information from quilting related websites, online classes and videos and participation in social media since 2014.

The good news is there is a growing group of Dedicated quilters under the age of 45.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Quilt Market 2017

The decision to be a vendor at the largest quilting trade show was an easy one to make this year.  My Mini Mosaic Quilts have been so popular at quilt shows and quilt guild meetings, so I knew I had to share them with shop owners.  I had a feeling that the pros (exposure and orders) would outweigh the cons (travel and booth expenses).  

My plan was to keep my booth simple so that I wouldn't need a lot of decorative elements.  I felt my quilts would speak for themselves.  I was able to pack everything in 3 suitcases, each pushing the limit at 50 LBS, including a step stool and 4 foot table!

I loved the way my booth turned out including my interactive mosaic.
and my wall of the pattern covers:

There are several opportunities to share your wares.  I figure - in for a penny, in for a pound - so I try and do them all.  Schoolhouse is a series of presentations that occur the day before Market begins. There are multiple presentations taking place at once. I chose to do a 15 minute presentation and that flew by.  Thank goodness I had some helpers, including my buddy, Joyce Hughes.

I was excited to see this sign outside my room:
And here's a long view:

That night, I was a vendor at Sample Spree.  It's a crazy 2 hour frenzy where shop owners/teachers/designers can purchase items at wholesale prices. This used to be the only place where items can be purchased  individually, but that has changed.  I chose to sell 4 of my kits, so that shops would have easy access to create a sample for their shop.  (It also helps to defray the cost of my booth.) I sold out before it was over! That also gave me some time to shop.

The show starts the next day and I spent 3 days in my booth sharing and taking orders.  It was a whirlwind.  Shopowners, distributors, book and magazine publishers stopped by.  They come in waves and then there is a bit of time to catch your breath, but never enough time for lunch. 3 days flew by.

One morning before the show opened, I did a walking tour video of just a small part of the show.  The video is a bit long, but you will see a glimpse of what you will see in the quilt shops come spring.

Breakdown stakes a fraction of the time of set-up.  We were done in 30 minutes.  Kind of like the preparation that goes into a meal which disappears in no time, with the satisfaction of a job well done.

The next blog post, I'll share my view of Market trends.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

In And Out

I never thought I would be a road warrior.  That was my husband when he was VP of International R&D at a major pharmaceutiical company.  I enjoyed staying at home.  So how did it happen that I returned home from the International Quilt Market in Houston on Tuesday and now I'm flying out of Philly at 5:30 AM Sunday morning, heading to Galveston, TX to teach on a quilting cruise?

I returned home, unpacked my bags and then had to repack to teach 3 workshops on that cruise.  I am the queen of making sure that my 2 bags that I'm allowed on Southwest Airllines weigh just under the allowed 50 Lbs.  It ain't easy.

I have so much to share about Quilt Market.  It's the largest trade show for the quilting industry.  This is my second year having a booth.  This year I focused on my Mini Mosaic Quilts.

I am on a tight budget and brought everything I needed for my booth in my suitcases.  I kept it simple to showcase the patterns and technique.  Here's a wall of my pattern covers:
I also set up an interactive mosaic for shopowners/teachers can try out the technique, complete with chiclets and tweezers.
There are 2 events that occur before the doors,open for Quilt Market.  My attitude is, if I've travelled to Houston and went to that expense, I was going to do it all.  During the entire day on Friday, there are Schoolhouses.  Basically they are Show & Tells.  Fabric companies debut their collections for the coming months.  People like me, share a technique and publishing companies share their new books and authors.

My Schoolhouse,
was a very short 15 minutes.  It was wild waiting for the prior group to leave the room, setting up and sharing all my Mini Mosaics in that short of a time!  Thanks to my friend and helper, Joyce Hughes, I did it.
I do have too share that I had a dream/nightmare a few days prior to Schoolhouse, that only 3 people showed up! Fortunately that wasn't the case.

Friday evening is an event called Sample Spree.  In many years past, the purpose was for shop owners to buy patterns and samples for their shops.  The purpose of the samples was to promote the patterns and fill classes.  Now, it's mainly an opportunity for them to purchase one or two of an item at wholesale prices.  I offered Mini Mosaic Kits so they could make their own samples.  It's also a great way to offset the cost of my booth.
Sample Spree opens at 7:00 PM.  We can start setting up at 5:00.  When we arrived to set up, there was already a crowd of shoppers waiting in line for the doors to open.  When the doors open, it's a mad dash to the fabric companies, especially Moda.  I know that I can relax for a bit because after people get their fill of fabric, that won't be available in the shops until Spring, they head to the other tables.  And I did happen to mention during my Schoolhouse that I would have kits at Sample Spree.  I sold out in a little over an hour and then was able to shop myself!

The next day Quilt Market opens.  In my next blog post (after the cruise), I will share some trends and videos from the floor.  You won't want to miss it.