This blog hop has absolutely flown by! It seems that it was just days ago that I was signing up for it, but nearly two months have gone by, and here we are in our final week. Welcome to all readers, new and regular; thank you for stopping in to visit as we wrap up our 2015 New Quilt Bloggers hop.
It’s been such an adventure for those of us who’ve been involved. We’ve all learned a lot about the technical aspects of blogging, joined a wonderfully vibrant quilting community, and (for many of us at least) really stepped out of our comfort zone and migrated, at least temporarily, from the comfortable obscurity of our small blogging circles, and reached out to a much wider audience.
Before I go any further, I’d like to acknowledge the debt of gratitude all of us 2015 New Quilt Bloggers owe to our hive leaders/organizers/the ladies who’ve devoted a ridiculous amount of time to helping us all out. Please feel free to stop by and visit Terri Ann, Yvonne, Cheryl, and Stephanie: they all run wonderfully creative blogs. They’ll also have some lovely prizes up for grabs. I’m particularly grateful to Terri Ann for organizing our hive, Sewcial Swarm.
I’m Jane Victoria, an Australian who now lives in Las Vegas, NV – a proud member of the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild – fighting my never-ending wanderlust, and wondering whether I might be able to settle down here. I live with my husband Nick, our miniature Schnauzer (or moving mop, depending on how long it’s been since he’s had a haircut) Jolly, and our two Siamese cats, Merthin and Delilah. I really did try to include them all in my blog name, because when I started quilting I didn’t have a dedicated studio; I was working on the dining table, and all three of the pets added their own unique personal touches to my quilting experience. It’s just so difficult to make the name Merthin (that one comes from Ken Follett’s World Without End, which I’d read just before adopting him) sound… well, like that name of my cat, and not a word that I’d be constantly receiving requests to define.
I started quilting in late 2012 when I was living in Boston. It was initially predominantly a mental and creative escape from my studies, and something that I could do completely from home, which is a huge bonus during those frightfully cold and miserable winter months. I didn’t expect how quickly I’d be completely hooked. This craft needs to come with a warning label! It wasn’t long until it became completely consuming, and to many grumblings from Nick, the house quickly became filled with fabric. It would have been advisable for me to attend a few classes in those early days. I spent so much time working on projects that were utter failures, which in itself is fine, but if I hadn’t been overconfident in my ability to work things out myself I would have at least started with some fabric that I didn’t absolutely adore, and was easily replaceable – and a public apology to a certain section of the sewing community for what I did to some vintage Tula back when it was affordable, and I didn’t know any better than to prewash all of my fabrics.
It wasn’t that I was a fabric snob back then, it was simply that I found that Riley Blake and Free Spirit produced much more exciting prints than the lines Fabric Place Basement stocked did, and that Kona produced more vibrant colors than those cottons I could purchase in Joann. I still wouldn’t call myself a fabric snob; my preferences simply lean in certain directions. If you fall in love with the fabrics in a big box store, by all means, by them, create with them, and adore what you’ve made. Just note that there may be differences in quality between these and the types of fabrics you find in dedicated quilt stores that may affect the accuracy of your piecing, and the longevity of your quilt.
I felt as though I outgrew the Singer that I started piecing on very quickly. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, only that it’s not designed for quilting, and didn’t have an automatic needle position button. I gave up quilting on the domestic very quickly, but still decided to upgrade to a Bernina 580, which has made my life much easier. It’s much quieter than it’s predecessor, runs more smoothly, and tackles the binding with a relative amount of ease. I recently purchased the Bernina 350 special edition for travel and classes. I was very sure that I wouldn’t need one, but I admit that I got sold on the convenience that came with it being smaller and lighter than my 580. Plus, it’s so pretty!
I started longarm quilting in 2013. I wasn’t under any illusion at the time that I’d ever be able to replace my quilter, Mandy, but I was curious about the process. I found a rental shop not too far away from me, and after Laurena taught me how to use her Gammill I dived right in. There was a huge learning curve, during which I felt incredibly frustrated by seemingly endless parade of professionals consistently telling the world “if you can draw it, you can quilt it.” It takes time to learn how to manipulate those machines, but I stuck with it, and eventually started producing quilting that wasn’t horrible. Plus, Laurena was just a lovely person to work with, and we both learned so much from each other.
I now own an Innova 26″ longarm with Lightening Stitch, and after some teething problems, I’m now creating quilting that I’m proud of. I’ve been doing a lot of work in manual, because I felt as though it was something that I should learn, but honestly, the regulator on this machine is so sensitive, the manual option is almost redundant.
I swear: it wasn’t my intention to remain hidden in the shadows of the blog hop until the very end. Unfortunately, between the time that I signed up for this, and our getting our groups together, my designer suddenly found the time start work on my site. There had been a lot of back and forth about what we were going to create together – all right, mostly about what Nila was going to create on my behalf – and I wasn’t aware that she was going to start work when she did. It’s been a little frustrating to find my site shifted to a strange domain, but in a way, the timing was almost perfect. It’s been very convenient to be able to update her with design ideas as our group discussions progressed. It’s so close to being ready to go – as in it’s mostly built, but I need to create a lot of content for it – but unfortunately I don’t have it completely set up at this time. Stay tuned. I’ll definitely be doing something fun when we officially launch.
That said, holding out until the last week has some advantages. It’s been wonderful to see how everyone else has introduced themselves and what questions they’ve asked the community.
I apologize if I’ve done the textual equivalent of talking your heads off; it’s a slight habit of mine. So, let’s get down to some of my favorite quilts.
Chatterbox was the first quilt top I made, although not the first quilt I finished. It was certainly an adventure, and I learned a lot from the experience, a lot of it falls in to the “things not to do” category, but it turned out very well.
Kite Flight was a quilt that I really enjoyed making because of the wonderful colors. At the time I started making mine, it was simply a free pattern by Better Off Thread lurking on the Robert Kaufman pattern site. Since then, Craftsy has released several kits in multiple colorways, and it’s taken on something of a life of its own. It’s touching to see how many people still make their way to my site when they’re researching this quilt, although how they find it, I have no idea.
Shoreline is a free pattern by Tula Pink, and I tweaked the math a little, and turned it in to a queen-size quilt. It was wonderful to finally have a quilt that fitted on my bed and I could sleep under.
Now we’re down to the part where I have to try and impart some advice on the quilting community. I feel incredibly under qualified for this.
A general tip: take all advice with a grain of salt. Some things work for some people, but not for others, and if something isn’t working for you, consider ditching it. I spent a month wondering why I couldn’t tension my machine properly, and it simply came down to me assuming that everything an expert told me was going to work perfectly for me.
A blogging tip: be yourself. Don’t stress yourself out trying to tick boxes that don’t fit your style, or take up too much of your time. People will love your work for what it is, and you for your authentic self.
A piecing tip: shorten your stitch length. My machine has a default setting of 2.5. Turning it down to 2.0 adds so much stability to the ends of my seams. They no longer pull apart when I go to match them up, and the edges don’t pull apart when the quilt is on the frame. It also helps to run a line of stitching about 1/8 of an inch from the edge around your entire quilt top to hold everything together.
A quilting tip: don’t be afraid to try new things. Just set up some muslin and a scrap of batting and play around. It’s amazing how often I’ve come across people either at shows, or in my online quilting communities, who are just plain afraid to experiment.
There’s been a lot of discussion on the hop so far about what people like to watch and/or listen to while they work. My friends and I got together and decided that English drama was the preferable choice for most fabric and yarn based craft types. Or maybe we all just really like English drama.
It’s really tough to come up with a question for you all that hasn’t already been asked by at least one hop participant… What is the your oldest active (as in, you plan to finish it and haven’t given up on it yet) UFO, and when do you think you’ll get around to working on it again, or dare I say finishing it? I’ll be honest: I donated a ton of UFOs to my guild. I hope that someone will be able to turn them in to something great, but I knew that I just wasn’t going to get around to them. I do have a few paper pieced hexie projects from 2013 that I’m yet to finish, but have vague ideas as to what I’ll do with them.
Thank you again for reading. If you have the time, please stop by and visit some of my fellow 2015 New Quilt Bloggers. As usual, Yvonne has been kind enough to compile a complete list.
Until next time, happy sewing!