Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quiliting Lessons I've Learned Along the Way

Two years ago, I got a quilting frame for my machine to work on large quilts.  It was scary at first, trying to figure out all the ins and outs and loading a quilt took me hours to try and figure out.  Kind of makes me smile today when I think back on those days.  Now, I can load a quilt in about half an hour and start quilting right away.  I will admit I have learned a few tricks along the way that help and so I thought for anyone else who might be starting quilting on a frame I'd share a few of my thoughts. 

Remember, you like to sew and quilting makes you happy.  This is important to remember because as little things come up it's easy to lose site of the good stuff.

Don't start with a king size.... be real that's a lot of quilt for anyone even the best so find something smaller that you can handle. 

Always buy extra thread no matter what.  You'd be surprised how many mistakes you will make getting tension right and have to start over and that thread that you knew would be enough will be gone and it will be 10pm and you know you can't get to the store until morning. 

Wind two extra bobbins from what you think you will need.  Never fails. I've gotten down to the last two passes and I have to stop and wind a bobbin maybe even two and it drives me crazy.  I would rather have a bit extra on a bobbin that I can use up in the future then have to stop one more time. 

Take the time to bring up the bottom thread when you have to load a new bobbin or the thread breaks.  It makes it so much nicer looking in the end.  Keep at least two pair of sharp trimming scissors near by. You will be surprised how often you will have to look for them.  Locking tweezers for helping to pull up the bobbin thread when you are start can't be beat. 

Floating your quilt top is by far the easiest way to quilt hands down in my opinion.  You can find loads of tutorials all over the internet to show you how. 

Invest in the large zippers that help you put load a quilt on your frame.  Again, tons of tutorials to help you work it out, in the end you will be so glad you invested the time to set up your frame with the zippers. 

Don't forget to keep oil around for your machine.  Quilting takes a lot out of your machine and you need to keep her happy

When the string breaks a hundred and one times, walk away.  Take a break, go walk around your garden for a bit and breath the fresh air.   It will clear your head of the cob webs that are starting to take hold in your brain and when you go back to the machine, rethread from top to bottom... almost always works. 

Don't be afraid to play with the tension it's the only way to really understand it and you will have to adjust according to the type of thread you will be using  Even the bobbin tension and yes, I know, Mom told us never to touch.  Touch it you might need to to get everything just right.

Invest in good coffee it really does make a difference as you take a moment to look over your work and enjoy a break. 

So when all is said and done the most important thing in the world to me is to stay positive and send all the love and good wishes you can into your quilt. Your quilt will be a gift for someone you love or will be on your own personal bed and you don't want to look at it and remember all the broken threads.  But remember, you just made a quilt.  All those ripped out seams or broken threads were worth it and pat yourself on the back and get back out there.  So much fabric, so little time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Custom Designed Men's Shirts

A customer needed shirts, custom designed, for her 6'4'' husband and all in all think they turned out nice. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who Inspires You?

Every person has that one person in their life that inspired them to try something new. After sewing for 40 years my dear friend convinced me to try quilting.  A few fumbles and sketchy efforts later,  I fell in love with it and haven't looked back.   Just look at me now, maker of things that go bump in the night. Day of the Dead, skeletons an skulls, wicked dead things and pagan beauty, All in all, not a bad life.
Thanks dear friend for all your love and support. For always being there to encourage me through all, not only quilting, but life.  It's a journey I would never have imagined and yet one that brings me endless joy and a world of possibilities. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Ideas

  It's a great one in Vancouver Wa the Recycled Fair and your products have to be made using upcycled items.  For me, this means: Day of the Dead Potholders, Scrappy Quilts with lots of the leftovers from other quilts and bits and pieces of batting tucked together to make a small quilt.  I also take my little Sewphies, all scraps and the cute little booties from woolen end bits and pieces.  This year I will be adding a new item, Men's dress shirts with appliqu├ęd skulls and Day of the Dead images on the back or sides.  It should be great fun to see all the different options and I will be using dress shirts I picked up at Goodwill as the base.  All of this, because a customer asked me to doll up a coat for her.   I found it refreshing and fun to work on and inspiring. 

Another customer asked me to help him create a wall hanging for his office.  He is a Dr. of nutrition for kids and it's a veggie face and it's been such a joy working on this silly face.  My spirits can't help but be lifted up.  It got me to thinking that I want to try and have more wall hangings for fair.  I love the detailed quilting and using all the amazing threads out there.  I also appreciate that they are smaller and easier to complete.

So, this year for fair I am trying to work smarter not harder and have fun new items for my customers.  Seems like a win win to me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Madness

So, lets say your friends tell you that in a year or so you will be sewing for a living and making quilts featuring Day of the Dead, skeletons, spiders, custom art and pagan stars you might have said "are you nuts?"  But as I reflect back over the past two years and the journey I've been on to get to this point right now today, I realize that that is exactly how I am making a living.  Am I surprise, yea a bit. I always thought when I started out on this journey I would be sewing dresses for women of real sizes and shirts for men of real sizes this was quickly converted to really, a Day of the Dead quilt, brilliant can I have one too.  So the dresses and shirts sort of took a back seat and the quilts took over my life.  I am covered, literally in fabrics with smiling, laughing, dancing skeletons all about and let's face it.. they make me happy.  I can't help but smile when I see them, I love let me rephrase I LOVE working in bright happy colors and the feeling of taking another quilt off my quilt frame well I'm not going to say it beats a good cup of coffee and a piece of great chocolate but hey, there needs to be a few sacred things left in the world, but truly it's incredible.  I adore seeing them come out of the dryer covered in the magic of quilting I just can't help but give each and everyone a big hug. The warmth of the dryer lingers in the quilt and I give a little thanks to the person who order it for making my dreams come true.  So, for all those who say dreams don't really come true, maybe just maybe it's right there a bit different then you thought you saw but there still the same just waiting for you to embrace it and dance away into the sunset. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Location for Mama Jean's to be Found

It's such fun to be asked to participate in a new store. I new gift shop in Depot Bay called Gifted will be carrying some of my creations and it's exciting.  I love the idea that I am finally out if only in a few places, it's still fun.  A sweet shop on Hawthorne called Mag Biggs has baby booties and a new shop in the St. John's area called Collect Craft has a quilt on display. 

Each year, I create a magical goal sheet of things I would like to accomplish for Mama Jean's and it's so incredible when I can look up and already see one of my goals checked off.  I wrote that I wanted to be in at least two new stores before the end of the year and it's March and I am.  Dreaming now of even more. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Green and Blue Sugar Skull with Butterfly Details - $45.00

A fantastically fun wall hanging celebrating Day of the Dead with the lovely Blue and Green Sugar Skull with special butterfly details . This is a custom printed fabric that has been quilted to feature each detail of the design using multi-colored thread. It measure 12 by 18 and is ready to hang.

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Everythings Coming Up Sugar Skulls

Maybe it's spring fever but I have been wanting to create new sugar skull wall hangings because every time I see them I love the colors that are exploding on them and I just want to get lost in them.  So yesterday and today has been flooded with color.  I have so enjoyed working with the.  The orange one  made me smile just quilting it, and today the blue and green one with pretty butterflies made me thing of all the beautiful fairies from festival and how I can't wait to go again this year.  The last one I worked on was white with roses and it reminded me of the upcoming Rose festival, a very big deal here in Portland and then I think of the Recycle Fair that I am part of that also happens in June.  Yup, spring is about dreaming and hoping for a new and bright day ahead and today, I was able to escape the down pouring rain if only for a few hours to dream of sunny days and flowers and fairies and fun.  Who could ask for anything more. 

Orange Sugar Skull Wall Hanging

A new wall hanging for those who love Sugar Skulls is now available.  I have several new skulls to finish up this week and can't wait to start working on them, so it was great fun finishing up this one tonight. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hi Mama Jean

Wonderful news! The quilt arrived safe and sound yesterday and it is AMAZING!! I am soooooo happy with it! My mum was with me when it arrived and she cried she thought it was so great!

I am serious when I say that Bec is lucky I had it embroidered as I would be keeping it for myself otherwise!

Thank you again for the most amazing job, you really are a quilt-making genius! I promise to send you through some photos of the wedding and Bec and Andy with the quilt after the 31st March!

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

xx Sharon

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Custom made Jumper for Robin Fabric provied by Customer - $50.00

You pick the colors and I do the work. These jumpers are fun and easy to wear with or without a t shirt. The are designed for a woman of size that wants to enjoy the summer sun and have a bit of fun. Each dress is made in 100 cotton pre shrunk and made to order. Custom orders are completed in two weeks or less. The dress is built in a panel style that allows for multiple colors or color theme. We work together ...

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Wedding Dream Quilt

In life we often speak of dreams.  Dream big, dream of the life you want to see, dream of a world with out hate.  Or the opposite dreams that didn't come true or shattered dreams. Dreams have messages, dreams have power, and dreams can be quiet goals we hold in our heart or ones we shout to the whole world.  Dreams can be a form of escape or what we wish we could escape from. 

For me, dreams are full of magic and possibility.  Dreams can come at night and we are transported to a different reality than we may know in our waking hours.  My whole life I've had a reoccurring dream of floating.  I take a step off the top of a tall staircase and instead of touching the first step I float down to the base with ease or I start to jump up and each jump I go higher and higher until I can float at a very tall ceiling height.  Some dreams interpretation would say it means I am satisfied and happy in life and light hearted others would say it means you are a drift and need direction.  I believe in the yang and yang of life that it’s probable a bit of both. 

 Funny how our mind works because thinking about dreams all came about because yesterday I sent a quilt off to Australia that I have been dreaming of making for over two years.  A wedding quilt featuring couples but not just any couples, Day of the Dead couples.  Not your kind of dream you say, that’s OK.  To me, that is the beauty and magic of quilting.  For everyone who’s ever dreamed of creating a double wedding ring quilt there is someone like me who has had a dream of a different sort of quilt.

Quilting is all sorts of dreams to all sorts of people.  Some love the traditional types like flying geese and log cabins. Others like the new improved styles using all the latest cutting tools and shapes. Hand quilting is the only right way for some from beginning to end, and let’s not forget those who make only kit quilts.  Art quilts created with hundreds of pieces of fabric or countless hours of stitching hold a place in some peoples hearts.  Hand dying your own fabric or using old t-shirts and creating a memory quilt is the only way for others.  Mini quilts, felted quilts, quilted wall hangings embroidery quiltingb.   What do they all have in common?  Dreaming.

To see in your head and your heart a finished quilt when you look at a pile of fabric or a bit of color is to dream.  Dreaming is the jumping off stage for any quilter and all the arguments about who is a real quilter or a wanna be are just so silly. I believe we all are just dreamers making our way in this world through quilting.  Quilting makes us smile and warms us from the inside out.  Quilting fills our world with beauty and love and maybe just maybe we can dream of a world wrapped in our quilted beauty.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mama Jean's Threaded Words: Learning to be Mama Jean

Mama Jean's Threaded Words: Learning to be Mama Jean: So you would think that after a bit of time I would have this figured out... well I just now feel like I might have a glimmer of an idea of ...

Learning to be Mama Jean

So you would think that after a bit of time I would have this figured out... well I just now feel like I might have a glimmer of an idea of how to.  I discovered through the fall that when you go to festivals and you are successful. yea, that you sell out of stock and if the winter takes you by storm in orders, you don't have time for anything else.  It was an incredible holiday season of filling quilt orders ad I loved it.  What I learned is as I start this new year, to be prepared for festivals, small local shops and being able to create new items that I want to try, I have to dedicate days of my work week to creating. 

I know, seems like a no brainer but hey, it took me a bit of time OK? I am trying to dedicate two days a week to creating items that I can offer at festivals or at small shops as well as creating custom orders for people.  Quilt after quilt is fun but being able to stop and make a Sewphie or two perks up my spirit as they always make me smile for the unique spirits can't help but shine out.  I have wonderful pieces waiting for me to create and I am enjoying being able to start and finish something in a short amount of time compared to the time it takes to make a quilt from start to finish.  It also keeps the creative juices flowing.

So, this past week I made a few new potholders in a great orange jean fabric that was fun to work with and started a few Sewphies.  Finished a couple and have a few more in the almost done stage. Not having all the felts I needed it gave me the opportunity to go out to a fabric store and who doesn't love that?  I especially like visiting a local store that really has fresh and fun fabrics and seeing all the new designs and colors well let's just say I only came home with two new pieces and anyone who knows stashes, knows that's not even a drop in the bucket. 

Now, it's time to start a new quilt for a woman and I can't wait.  A queen size featuring my famous deadly dating couple.  Should be great fun to work them up and have them out into the world again. 
A beautiful wedding quilt goes into the mail today and my little Sewphies that were finished made it down to Trillium Artisans store.  All in all, not a bad way to spend a week.  Maybe I'm getting the hang of this after all.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Queen Size Quilt Custom Orders Featuring Incredible Images Build Your Dream Quilt Today - $350.00

Have you ever dreamed of owning a queen size quilt that features an image that you love? Well dream no more. Art quilts are now available for you.

All quilts are made with 100 % cotton fabrics with warm and natural batting and machine quilted in all cotton threads. Queen size quilts to Throw you make all the choices. Need help with a payment plan, no worries. I will create a lay a way plan that w...

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A New Carbarlick Acid Quilt is Now Available

I am trying to make sure that I am creating new items as well as filling orders and have decided that I need to create at least two days a week with that in mind, and with that in mind, the first quilt for sale is finished and will be posted by 1pm. It turned out so beautiful with black and green botanical fabric as the frame around the image and the detailed quilting just makes it pop.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Day of the Dead Quilt Custom Order Yours Today From Sizes Queen to Crib - $325.00

This Quilt just made a great treasury check it out.

Isn't this a beautiful quilt ? This is a queen size in Day of the Dead. All images of skeletons have been fussy cut to create new blocks using a rainbow of colors. Several different types of Day of the Dead fabrics were used to create this truly one of a kind quilt and you could own your very own as well.

Machine quilting in variegated thread using a meandering stippling pattern adds to the...

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Carbarlick Acid Two Step Quilt Custom Order Yours Today - $150.00


Don't you just love this image, I know I do and that's why I just had to have it to make special quilts or wall hanging. This quilt was built as a wall hanging but could be used as a throw quilt. The center piece fabric comes from Sheet Music written in 1917 and is called, Carbarlick Acid Two Step.

It's an image that catches your eye and won't let go....

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

A New Year Has Begun

Heavens, how time flies... the last I was checking in was October and I was just back from festival and getting ready for Christmas and now look, it's almost Feb.  Christmas season rocked and I had a great season of making quilts till early hours of the dawn.  During the season I finished 19 quilts and Christmas for family.  It was a wonderful sensation to know that my hard work was paying off and that Mama Jean's seemed to be on the road to success.  I of course worried what Jan would look like but not until after the holidays. 
Jan started with a bang and I am rocking the house with quilts galore.  I am really enjoying the quilts I am making.  I dreamed of making a couples quilt from Day of the Dead images and Sharon in Australia is giving me the opportunity to do just that and might I say, this quilt is HOT!  Love it and can't wait to send it off just in time for the wedding. 

A swirl skull quilt went out for a late yule gift and they loved it, I have a Dead Marilyn waiting to be quilted, check back for photos, she's a hottie and then another Deadly dating and a Carbolick Acid Quilt to round out the orders.  I have several new and beautiful art pieces I can't wait to create. 

I feel like Mama Jean's is on her way and as I start working with a local organization about really creating my business and taking classes on finances and business I feel like a business owner. Well, maybe not yet but I'm on my way.  For now, I will keep creating and sewing and dreaming of the world I would like to be a part of.