Friday, February 1, 2013

New Year means.....

When we start a new year everyone starts to think of all the new things they “Will” get done. We all do it, sometimes it is to lose weight, some it is to go back to school, maybe go on a trip you always dreamed of….it can be anything really. Have you ever sat and looked in a book or magazine and saw something so amazing, so beautiful that you wish you knew how to do it? I do this all the time. I see things online all the time, or my mom sends me pictures for some of the classes they do at Seams Sew Right, and I think to myself how cool it would be to be able to do that. 

Today there are so many different ways to learn things in all areas. You see online tutorials on how to do hair styles, makeup, and yes even quilting.   As you know from our previous blog my husband and I made four quilts, one for each of our children, (okay when him and I, I really mean just him!)  We did watch the tutorials online but it was just hard to really see what was going on and how she was doing it.  When I take a class I want the option to be able to ask questions if I don’t get and if I need someone to walk me through it I like that to be in a face to face setting. I think my husband and I both wish we had someone with knowledge and experience at our fingertips to help us. My mom was there but she was over the phone and as helpful as it was, we were really going blind with this project.  We accomplished it with only a few problems but it made me appreciate the fact that face to face classes are there.

Did you ever see a quilt and wonder how they did that by simply putting pieces of fabric together? Like the quilt below…

This quilt to me is absolutely amazing. The detail in it is a piece of art. Learning how to do something like that would be amazing to me. But I also know I need to start way at the beginning before I get to that point, so maybe I will be the one who does the next two quilts my husband was talking about, or maybe I will just start small and make the curtains I have been talking about for months.  

Even if you feel you know everything you need to know about quilting there is always something new you can learn. That is the same with anything really. Over time Quilting has evolved so much, it is so much more than sewing blocks of fabric together. When you finish you are like an artist putting the finishing touches on a painting. But even an artist tries new techniques that they never thought they would use.

Classes are available all over the place, so many different options.  Sometimes a beginning course will help teach you something you forgot or show you something new that you didn’t learn when you first started.  Maybe you just want to learn how to do a Log Cabin Quilt, or maybe you have never mastered machine quilting and really want to do that.

I say let’s do it! Find a class and sign up for it! Even if you think it may be too difficult for you, or you think “eh I don’t need to know how to do that” One day you might!  When you take a class, it isn’t just about learning something new, it is about meeting new people, and it’s about getting out of the house and doing something you love and learning all at the same time! I like to call things like that “me” time. We all need a little “me” time don’t we?

I don’t know much about quilting, I have made that clear from the get go. I am the technical side of Seams Sew Right and Love it Again! But the more I put in information about the classes, or I put some fabric on the website, or I post pictures of quilts we are raffling off. I think to myself, “Man that would be really awesome to learn how to do, and actually have the time and patience to do it.” As I said before it is a new year, so many new things to try to do! Why not go ahead and start learning?  Next time you look at a quilt and say “Wow I really wish I knew how to do that?” Go find a class! Make this the year you learn how to do that! Make it happen! Make your piece of art!

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Quilting for Dummies"

So as you know from our previous blog post we have our fabric, muslin, and stuff.  The only thing we didn’t have was a walking foot for our project.  Looking at our timeline to get these FOUR quilts done we had to start now, walking foot or not. 

                It was time to trim the fabric, make it even and use the spray adhesive to put the backing and the muslin together.  We were not sure how we were going to do this. Our table wasn’t big enough (or so we thought).  We stood there for a few minutes and decided we would just do it on the floor in our living room. I will tell you that gluing the muslin to the backing was a lot harder than I thought it would be, especially when the floor of your living room is consumed by this fabric. It took us THREE hours to cut the fabric and glue it together.  We were so tired and looked at the clock and saw it was past midnight. We sighed and folded up the now glued together fabric and went to bed, for tomorrow was going to be sewing day!

                The fabric was ready, the strips were arranged in the order we were going to be putting them on, it was go time! It was time to sew on the first two strips. We were making sure we had everything in order and on the table where we were working when I noticed my husband’s iPad was propped up on the table.
“Honey, we should move that so it isn’t in the way” I stated, concerned for the well-being of the iPad.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, but I didn’t want it to get accidentally knocked on the floor.
To my surprise his response was…

“No I need it up here?” He said while getting the sewing machine set up to thread the bobbin. 

I was so confused, so I went over to see what he had up on it. 

In big bold Print across the iPad was QUILTING FOR DUMMIES! 

I laughed at the irony in that title only because it fit rather well for us! So this was how we were going to do this and learn how to quilt, via the Internet! 

                The Sewing Machine was ready, the needle was threaded and we were ready to go. Now, what was convenient was the first strip was sprayed with the adhesive and glued on; the other strip was not as convenient. I told my husband that we should probably pin it on so it will stay in place.  He did, but they were so far apart from each other I wasn’t convinced it was going to work right, but I let him do what he needed to do.  

                Alright, on with the sewing! We started the stitch off, he does a few forward and then goes over them again backwards (per the quilting for dummies website) and then he was off!  I looked at it and the thread doesn’t look like it is doing much of anything after the first few stitches. It wasn’t sewing anything together.  I told him to stop and we looked at it and sure enough it wasn’t catching the bobbin. So we took the fabric off the sewing machine and undid what we had done and messed with the sewing machine a little more.  It was catching the bobbin, but the problem was once we started sewing it wouldn’t pull the thread up. 

My first thought was, “Great our freaking machine is broken!”  At first all I could do was watch him mess with it to see why it wasn’t working! I was holding my breath, praying he wouldn’t decide to take the sewing machine apart to see if he could fix it. I decided, since he had his internet up with Quilting for Dummies, that I would do an internet search for “reasons the bobbin won’t thread”. To my surprise I found the answer!!!  Bottom line, the needle was dull or bent or something like that.   Soooo we changed the needle hoping that was the case; sure enough it was working!

                So we started back at it again.  A few stitches forward, then again backwards and then once again we were off.  All of a sudden I hear a loud thump, the sewing machine jumped and my husband yelled. He fed his thumb into the machine and broke the needle! 

“Seriously!” was all I could think.

Don’t worry his thumb was fine, but the needle wasn’t. Thank goodness we had one more!  I looked at him and told him “You better not break this one, cuz its all we have!” He rolled his eyes and got the sewing machine ready and took the stitching out AGAIN (I wasn’t sure that was necessary but he did)!

Okay, so round 3! We do the forward stitch and the backward stitch and then we were off!  I was holding my breath.  We got about a quarter down and we were finding that feeding this through was really hard, so me being the helpful wife I am decided to sit on the opposite end of the table and reach across and help “guide” the fabric through the Machine! Basically being the walking foot!  So I was on one end gently pulling it through and he was on the other end pushing it through and sewing it together.
Please see picture below! (picture is a reenactment of the method used!)

Yes, we really did it this way with EVERY strip we put on this quilt! However, he did learn he needed more pins to hold it together simply because the fabric stretched and it was just a pain in the rear to work with!
So in 4 hours we got 4 strips on! See below picture!  Not bad for our first go at it huh?!

It was again midnight and we were exhausted.  We thought it best to continue again the next night. 

The next day was a Saturday and my husband was determined to get all the strips on this quilt. Of course I told him we should probably go and find this walking foot because it was only going to get harder as the quilt got heavier with every piece of fabric we put on it.  So we went out for the hunt again! Still no luck in finding one, so we were stuck doing it our way!  I will tell you that it really is a good arm workout. My muscles were killing me already from pulling it through. 

                So we continued on, strip by strip, until we completed it late Saturday night! He was so proud of himself! I was just glad it was over!  He decided we would clean up the edges in the morning. 

                Sunday morning he woke up, skipped his coffee and went right to the cutting board.  I could tell that he was getting really anxious to finish this first quilt!  I look over at him as he is cutting and see all these strips falling off while he is all covered in fuzz.  I just knew that he was butchering this thing that we just spent countless hours on.  After a short while, he shouted that he finished trimming the edges and ran into the living room to show me.

                He was so proud of this quilt! “Honey take a picture and send it to your mom” he yelled at me with a big grin on his face! It was like watching a child who just built a large tower out of LEGO’s!

                I laughed and took the picture (shown below) and sent it to my mom!

                Every five minutes after that he kept asking “what did she say? Does she like it?” 

                My mom didn’t respond for a few hours so you know how frustrated I got with him after about the 5th time asking!  When my mom FINALLY responded I was so relieved that she thought it looked great!

                When I told him, I thought maybe he would chill a bit, but he didn’t! It only made him talk about how awesome a job he did! (I’ll admit, he did do a great job, but he didn’t need to continue on about it!)  But now was time for the ever dreaded binding of the quilt. 

                We sat and watched the instructional video again on the binding. He was ready to get to it! He cut the fabric into the strips and followed each step in the video.  I was very grateful that each step of this process was also written out so I could talk him through it! When the binding was done we both let out a sigh of relief because it was over and then we looked over at the 3 kits that still remained. I did not want to do anymore, this one was enough! But thankfully my husband was determined and as he said “he was really starting to enjoy it” 

                He kept going, following the same process, the only difference was that after the second quilt we realized the Mom was right; we needed a real cutting mat. So we went to get one, and still searched for the walking foot, which we never did find.

                He got so good at doing the quilts he no longer needed my help (at least that’s what he told me, I think it was his way of telling me to stay out of his way), he had it down to an art. So, no walking foot and no me and he finished all the quilts by Christmas Eve!  He did it! They were ready just in time!

                Below are pictures of the completed quilts! The kids loved them!

This was a fun experience but I don’t think I was ever meant for quilting! My husband, on the other hand, is already talking about what he wants to do next! 

I hope you all enjoyed my story! It was truly a learning experience! I have more appreciation for what my mom does and can truly understand how it could take a long time to get one quilt done.  If it wasn’t for my husband I would have stopped after the first needle broke! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Adventures in Fabric Shopping!

                So now that you now all know, from our first blog, that I am not a quilter and don’t claim to be.  However, I wanted to make these Cuddle Quilts for my kids (I have 4 of them) and have them done by Christmas.  Well, as I told you, I recruited my Husband for the task and he was more than happy to dive into this project. Okay, okay maybe he wasn’t “happy” but he smiled and said “yes dear” when I told him he was going to do at least the first one so I knew what exactly I was getting myself into

                Well the first step in making the quilts was getting the Backing, batting, and thread, not to mention we have never done this before so we needed the cutting mat and all that fun stuff you need in order to cut your fabric.  So it was shopping time. In my head I am thinking, “Well there has to be an awesome little shop like Seams Sew Right here”. So I search and search and search some more and nope not one cute little awesome shop.  So I was going to have to go to a big chain shop.  I was not very excited about that, I wasn’t sure we would find the right fabric we needed to go with this quilt. 

                It was a Saturday, which is our normal “run around and get stuff done day” and we decided that we would just go to the first fabric shop we saw and see if they had what we needed. So we did. I am not going to say the name of the place we went because…well let’s just say it wasn’t like Seams Sew Right, I don’t know maybe I am bias!  

Anyway we go in and start looking for this fabric, touching and fondling (that sounds so dirty) but yes I was fondling fabric.  I even found I was smelling it, not even sure why I felt the need to do that!  After searching and searching this store and laughing at each other, we finally find the fabric we needed. We stand there and look at it and pet the fabric for about 15 minutes, you know just to make sure it was what we needed. I took the bolt off the shelf and man it was heavy!  I smile at my oh so loving husband and he rolls his eyes and puts his arms out to take the bolt from me.  Now mind you I have four kids, which means I need 4 different colors of backing so, I just kept piling it up on him, again this is heavy fabric and one color I grabbed two bolts because I wasn’t sure the one would have enough of the fabric that I needed.  At this point my husband was telling me something but I couldn’t make it out because he was now hidden behind all these bolts of fabric. I just shrugged it off and told him to follow me.  (it was a good thing our children were there to “help” lead him to the cutting table, and pick up the bolts he would bump into and nock over. 

So we get up to the table and the first thing I notice is they don’t have a cutting mat thing on the table. But I shrug it off not thinking anything of it!  But THEN I notice that she isn’t really using a ruler to make sure her cuts are straight! Again I told myself we will just even it out if we need to when we get home!  Then I saw them!!!!!! SCISSORS!!!! She was going to cut the fabric with SCISSORS and not a, rolling cutter thing!!!! (Yes I know now it is called a rotary cutter thingy)  I was in shock and it was too late for us to just walk out. I was thinking, this is not ANYTHING like what my mom does. I was so frustrated! 

So I watch her hack away at my fabric, holding my breath.  When I realized I needed batting, but remembered my mom told me to use something else but couldn’t remember what it was. So I look at my husband so lovingly and ask “what the heck did my mom tell me to get instead of batting?” he shrugs and I roll my eyes at him. I then pull my phone out and call the professional to see what it was she said. 

My mom laughs at me and proceeds to tell me to get muslin to go between the front and the backing…I say okay and hang up and stand there for a minute thinking, “What the heck is muslin?!”  I stand and turn around in this store and there are TONS of different things I had no idea what I was looking for but refused to call her back and ask what exactly that was. 

So I walked over to the cutting table where the lady was hacking away at my fabric and asked if they had any muslin, she looked at me and waved her hand in a general direction and said that it was over there “someplace”. I looked at her and thought “what a great sales person she must be”. I roll my eyes and go to the direction she waved her hand and started to look for it, having my oldest daughter help. Still not finding it my husband joins us for the hunt. I am now mocking the sales person and waving my hand in a circle in the general directing getting really upset about it. When lucky for her I finally find the muslin. However, now that I found it only meant I had to take it up to the counter and watch her butcher it. 

When we head back to the counter I find the cutting mat and the “rolling cutter thing”. I grab the mat then look at the price and have a minor stroke and put it back and shake my head, “there has got to be a cheaper way to do this".  Then I see this cardboard cutting board thing and I smile because it’s only like $5. I ask my husband what he thinks and he shrugs as if to say “why not?” So we grab that and the “rolling cutter thing” and take the muslin to get cut.  I was about to jump over the counter and show her how it was done but decided that I would just walk away instead of watch her cut it, not even paying attention to what she was doing, just hacking away at my muslin.  

As I am walking around looking for pins, I see that there is such thing as “quilting thread”. I see this and say to myself “huh, we may want to get this!” So I grab 4 different colors of this “quilting thread”.  I wasn’t exactly sure what the difference was but I said to myself that “if I am making a quilt I am going to need quilting thread!”  

By this time my husband comes up to me with all the fabric and I show him the thread!  Then he remembers we need some spray adhesive, so in my better judgment I don’t go ask the sales clerk and we walk around trying to find this stuff.  He finally does and all I can think is I want to get out of this store, I was so over it!   So we head up to the checkout counter and she is ringing us up and half the fabric won’t ring up! I was not enthused and I was already not very happy with this store, so not to make a scene I tell my husband that I will take the kids and meet him outside.  He smiles his “really?! You are going to leave me in here to deal with these people?!” smile and nods his head. 

I give him my “if I don’t leave now I am going to go off on these people!” smile, and he shrugs and lets out a sigh!  I step outside and of course the first thing I do is call my mom! 


At this point my mom bust out laughing

“You mean the Rotary Cutter?”

I roll my eyes knowing she can’t see me, “Um yeah that’s what I said the “rolling cutter thingy”

She laughs even harder.  Then I proceed to tell her that I was going to buy the cutting mat but I told her that it was just so expensive so I got this cardboard cutting mat…(p.s. big mistake!”)

“WHAT?!” she gets very stern with me, “April you are going to need to go and get one of those mats it just won’t work right with the cardboard and I am sure you can find one at a reasonable price….” At this point I felt like I wanted to hide, mentally told myself “okay so note to self, she is really big on the cutting mats”. 

I reassure her that I think it will be fine and that it isn’t like we are going to make a career out of quilting. She of course not convinced and in her “mom is always right, but I will let you learn it the hard way,” voice she says “Alright, whatever you think dear”.  UGH I hate when she uses that tone!

Anyway I get off the phone and we get in the car to finish our regular shopping. When we are getting ready to head home my husband reminds me that we need a “walking foot”. I look at him with my “what the heck is that” look and he laughs and tells me it is to help guide the fabric through on the sewing machine. I roll my eyes and grab my phone to call the master quilter to get the answer. My phone is dead so I grab my daughters and call.

She answers and I think she was shocked it was me on the line.

“um, how important is it for me to use a walking foot?” I ask bracing myself for what her response will be!


“Oh so we can’t do it without it?”

She gives that “oh no honey you are not as good as quilter as I am yet!’ laugh and then says, “You need to go and get the walking foot!” 

Then she tells me she is having dinner with Grammie and needed to go.  In my head I am thinking “oh great! Two master quilters together and I go and ask this question!” I could just picture Grammie with her eyes wide shaking her head yes and mouthing to my mom “MAKE HER GET THE WALKING FOOT!”

I sigh and roll my eyes (again knowing she can’t see me) tell her okay and hang up the phone.

I look at my husband and tell him what she said and he looks at me with dreaded eyes as if to say “don’t make me go back into that horrid store”. I smile and flat out tell him I refuse to go into that horrid store and that we will go and try and search for one someplace else. 

And we did, we searched and searched but we couldn’t find one for our machine. I was so tired and the kids were not thrilled that we were dragging them all over the place and I threw my arms up and said “oh well, guess we are going to have to do it without one!” 

My husband smiles giving me the “yeah baby! We so got this!” smile and we head home!

All I could think was how much I needed a glass of wine before we did anything else with this quilt. The fabric was ready and we were looking at our table and the length of the fabric…how were we going to clean up the great cutting skills of the sales clerk…..

That is a whole other story! Tune in next week to read about our cutting and sewing of the first quilt!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Let me Introduce Myself...

First, let me start my post with a small introduction of who I am! My name is April and I am the daughter of the amazingly talented owner of Seams Sew Right Quilt Studio, Maylee!  I grew up in a house where quilting was just a part of our lives. She would have her work station in the living room where there would be stacks of fabric and pins, LOTS and LOTS of pins. This is what we called her staging area. It was where she would start to piece the quilt together. I won’t tell a lie, but this was for sure not my favorite part of the quilting stage. You know that moment when you are looking to relax after a long day at school and plop down on the couch to watch some much needed television when…

…“OUCH” you get like 5 or 6 pins in your rear!

You all know what I am talking about! If you don’t TRUST ME when I tell you your kids do!! I remember my brother and I would always have to do a “rub” check of all the furniture in the house before we would sit down. But darn it, one or two of those suckers would make it past the rub down and still manage to find our backsides!

Needless to say we were really excited when she would move up to her quilt studio room. This meant that we would eventually find all the pins just in time for her to start a new project and the vicious cycle would continue on. 

One would think that with my mom being the amazing, and dedicated quilter that she is, that maybe this knowledge and interest would pass down to me. Yeah, it didn’t! When I was about 9 or 10 my Grammie got me a quilt kit. It was so cute! It was this little sewing box and inside had already cut squares of fabric, some pins, and a sewing kit. It was super neat! I decided what the heck I will try this thing out. When I was told ALL the steps to this process, I was totally not thrilled with the idea! It was way too much work for me!  I decided if I wanted a quilt bad enough that I would just have my brilliant mom make one for me!!
This brings me to my next part of the story, this time I was about 13, and I was sitting in my mom’s quilt studio room with her as she was making these HUGE denim quilts. I remember sitting there thinking “where did she get all those pants to make these quilts.” I panicked a minute and then reminded myself I do my own laundry so they weren’t mine! What a sigh of relief!  Anyway, on with the story…

I was sitting there looking through a magazine and came across a quilt that was really cool looking.  I showed my mom and asked if she could make it, she looked up at me with like 20 pins in her mouth and squinted to see the picture in the book I was holding up. She smiled (yes the pins still in her mouth) and nodded her head yes….

Side note - Quilters must have a special sort of mouth where you can hold like 100 pins in your mouth and still have a full blown conversation AND be understood!

…..Okay back to the story! She then asked me if I wanted her to make it for me! “Um Yeah!” was my reply! Thinking that this would be so cool that I would have this awesome quilt that my mom made me and would cherish forever! 

About six months later, she calls me into her studio and tells me she picked out the fabric for it. My response was “Fabric for what?” I had totally forgotten that I asked for it! She of course reminds me and I get all excited about it! “Yay my quilt will be her next project!!” was my thought!

Well she started it...then over the months and years and more years, I saw everything come out of that room completed BUT my quilt. I totally just gave up on the idea of it all!

The years went by and I got married and had my first baby girl. I think it was Christmas and we opened up a box my mom got for my daughter and inside of it was a cute baby quilt for her!  Now as a good mom I was very happy for my daughter on the outside, but on the inside I was totally “REALLY! She is like 4 months old and she gets a quilt! Where the heck was mine? The one I have been waiting for, for about 5 years!?” Of course I didn’t say that out loud I simply smiled and told her thank you, like the good daughter that I am!
More years (about 9 more) and it is Christmas again. My wonderful mom calls me up and tells me she sent us a box for Christmas. I didn’t think anything of it, just figured she probably made the girls all quilts because she can get those ones out like they are nothing! (totally kidding….okay not really!)  We opened the box and on top were all sorts of stuff for the kids, gift cards with stuffed animals and in little gift bags. Now mind you this box was HUGE and so heavy so when I first saw the gift cards and stuffed animals I was a little confused. 
Then I saw it! MY QUILT!!!!!! I was so excited to see it was completed, I cried!  Of course leave it to one of my daughters to say “Not fair, I want Grandmere to make me a quilt too!”  In a loving tone I laughed “Yeah good luck with that one! I had to wait almost 20 years to get mine!” To which she replies and reminded me “But Serenity has one and got it when she was just a baby” to which Serenity (my oldest) replies, “She just likes me more!”…..yeah you can only imagine where that conversation led! For the sake of our readers we will just say they just danced and hugged each other.

Years went by and my mom was still a dedicated quilter. Starting projects, and finishing maybe 1 out of 10 projects every year! Which I thought was pretty good for her! :)! It was no surprise to us when she said she wanted to open a quilt shop, but it couldn’t be your average shop! It needed to be different and full of all sorts of colors! It needed to appeal to ALL quilters!  Thus Seams Sew Right Quilt Studio was born! And I was pulled into the fun internet world of the store. It has for sure been a learning process for me.
Well one day I was in Seams Sew Right Quilt Studio and I saw those Cuddle Quilt Strip Kits. I thought that they would be so cute to make for my kids. She of course offered to make them and I again laughed “Well mom, I would like them done before they each have kids of their own!” She of course, knowing how right I was, agreed that was about right in the timing!  I decided that I could totally sew some strips together and make this thing. Of course I am not thinking of the WHOLE process here and my mom tells me to look at the online tutorial on how to make these quilts and all the steps. I totally didn’t watch them and told her I did (shhhh don’t tell her that!)  She mailed me the kits and I looked at them and saw how big they were. 

“WOW!” I thought to myself, “Maybe I should totally check out this tutorial!”
 So I sat down on my computer and watched them. Okay so like I thought sewing some strips together “I totally got this!” I was super excited! So I told my husband to pull out the sewing Machine and like the good husband he is, he did and sat it up at the table. Then I smiled at him oh so lovingly and said “How about YOU make these because we both know you know how to use this darn machine and I will just watch while you show me what I need to do?” (He is in the Army and sews stuff all the time, he even made a Halloween costume for our youngest daughter one year! So obviously he was my go to guy with sewing!)
I think he knew I was going to do that just based on his laugh and head shake. So he sat and watched the tutorials with me again and he was very intense watching it, nodding occasionally as if he were letting the lady on the computer know that he was following. I think I watched him more than I watched the video, thinking “wow he really does have issues doesn’t he?”  (Again! shhhh don’t tell him that!)
Well it was time to go shopping for the backing, binding, thread and all that jazz…..That was an adventure all in its own! That is the start of a whole other story! If you want more tune in again next week! Our story continues then….

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