It just goes to show that stitching a single design will only teach you so much about any particular design family. You have to play with a few different designs to see what feels easier for YOU. It may be that the basic tear drop of Paisley feels more natural to stitch, or it may be that the wiggliness of Lava Paisley fits your brain better.
There's no way of knowing which design will work best until you stitch it, play with it, and try to find Flow while creating the design.
I love this definition of flow from wikipedia: "...flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning."
I find flow most easy to get into if I'm listening to a good book or music that makes me want to dance. The book engrosses that part of my mind that wants to be critical and picky and allows me to just create and not stop and worry about what I'm doing.
I get into flow so easily with quilting now, it literally feels like someone has thrown a bucket of cold water on my back when I'm interrupted. Hence the reason why I recently hung this sign on my door (and why I built the sliding door this summer):
|The sign reads: PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB. Only interrupt if your are dying. Everything else can wait!|
But how am I able to do this? Aubrie from Teach n' Craft had a question along these lines:
When do you find time to sew, and how do you integrate it with work, kids, exercise, etc?
Full question: This week I'm really wondering when people do most of their sewing if they work. Do you mainly quilt on the weekends? Do you make sure to do a bit each night? Anyone successfully integrating work, quilting, kids, cooking, etc...and still managing to exercise?
This is a great question because I think it's good to explain just how erratic my sewing and quilting has been over the years and how I've made a serious shift and changed my behavior just this month.
Many people assume if you quilt for a living, or have a related business to your craft, that you have all the time in the world to stitch. This is SO not true!
Almost every professional quilter I ask struggles to make quilts for themselves on top of quilts for teaching. It's obvious the reason: exactly how much time would you have if you're on the road constantly and when you are home you need to cut and make kits or new patterns or new class plans? At what point would you quilt for YOU?
That is one pitfall to turning a craft into a business and it's the major reason why I don't travel. It would take me away from my sewing room and my family, two things I can't live without.
But even without travel, which I pretty much stopped in 2011, I haven't made many quilts. Despite working on this blog and obviously loving quilting, I found myself spending more and more time bogged down with computer work: editing videos, answering email, writing books, updating the site, and less and less time actually on the machine.
It wasn't until I started journaling, as I wrote about in the UFO Sunday followup that I've dramatically changed my quilting habits. Here's what my day looks like now:
I wake up at 5 am and write 3 pages of solid text. Just whatever is on my mind, it gets put down. What I want to do that day, what I'm worried about, whatever comes into my head gets transferred to paper.
Then I hit the computer and get most of my blog post written before I wake up James for school. I have to be very efficient because I don't have much time, so the endless hours of horsing around online are over. James and I have our time in the morning to sit and read and then I take him to the bus stop. After seeing the bus pull out, I walk 2 miles FAST. This is my exercise and it's made an enormous difference for how I feel.
For the last 3 years I've struggled with terrible headaches, largely caused by bad posture. Walking with a stick and weights I'm correcting this issue and no longer have headaches at all. The endorphins and adrenaline from walking also makes me feel terrific.
When I get home, usually around 7:40, I immediately get on my sewing machine. The house is quiet, Josh is still asleep, and no one can interrupt me. It's a magical time to quilt and get into that perfect flow state.
So that is how I do it. I wake up very early. I have a plan already made, already fully laid out before I even step into the sewing room. Before I would never write or work through my ideas and would always be walking in trying to figure out what to do. I would waste tons of time just wandering around looking at all the junk piled, all the UFOs all over the floor, all the patterns on the table, and get so overwhelmed I'd walk right back out again.
The fact is we ALL have a limited amount of time to quilt.
It's a small window so make sure to use it wisely. Have your projects planned and your expectations realistic. If you're not sure how much you can finish, set a small goal, like getting 3 blocks pieced, or getting the center of a quilt quilted. If you have time to create 1 more block or quilt more, that's even better! It will be like a bonus that you got more done than you expected.
If you want to do things like exercise, make sure to do it early in the morning when you aren't dreading it all day. Doing it first thing makes you feel great and gets it out of the way so you can do the other things you like to do better.
I also set the evening time aside for my family. From around 4 pm, I don't get back on the machine because that time is for James and Josh. I finally feel that all my bases are covered and the time I spend at any given thing is being used efficiently and effectively.
Now let's switch gears and answer some questions about quilting! This first is from Danielle Hudson at Fresh off the Spool:
I don't want to add more fabric so how do I quilt to the edges of my quilt?
Full question: Here is my quilting question for Leah. My Greek Cross quilt will be composed of 30 blocks. I hadn't planned on a border, nor did I really want one. Plus, I don't have any more of my background fabric. I did not plan ahead for extra fabric on the edge blocks. What should I do in order to quilt to the edge. Is there any option other than adding a border. I was actually thinking of using some sort of tape(like surgical tape.....I guess because its fabric) to tape the edges down(as close to the edge as I can) once I got close enough to them. I have no idea if this would work. I could do a multiple print border, but it's not the look I was going for.
It is most definitely possible to quilt to the edges of your quilt. The problem is, it's not EASY. That's why I always advise adding 1 inch of extra fabric all around the quilt so you don't have to quilt off the edges.
BUT....in a pinch, as Danielle is in right now, here's what you can do:
Quilt from the center to the outside edges carefully. If you have a special border design selected, quilt it through the area, making sure to secure the quilt working from the inside edge to the outer edge.
This will push the fabric outward so if there's any excess fabric, it will simply slide further over the extra batting and backing on the edges. As you quilt to the edge of the quilt, really put some pressure and tension on the quilt to keep the 3 layers together and flat and smooth. Stop and smooth the quilt with your hands often and push any excess bagginess out to the edges.
|Stitching right to the edge of a quilt is possible, but not much fun. |
Take your time and work slowly outward so the quilt top doesn't get baggy.
Here's what NOT to do: Don't quilt around the edges of the quilt.
Why? Because the quilt top will shift. It will spread outward like a cracked egg. If you quilt around the edges, it's like you've just built a barrier around the quilt, and any shifting will now have to be sorted out INSIDE the quilt.
Which means pleats. Lots and lots of baggy pleats and puckers and bubbly nonsense. No fun.
So take your time. Work around the edges carefully. Figure out how to place your hands to keep the 3 layers together and flat and the excess always pushing to the outside.
Now for a question from Pat at Color Me Quilty about my weird thread inconsistency:
Why do you use cotton to piece, but poly thread to quilt?
Full Question: If you FMQ with polyester Isacord, why do you piece with cotton Aurifil. Don't get me wrong, I love Aurifil thread, it makes a great seam because it's thin. But, what is the advantage to piecing with cotton?
Yes, this is true. I like to piece fabric using Aurfil 50wt. Mako cotton, but I quilt almost exclusively with Isacord Polyester Embrodiery thread.
Why? Well, there's a lot of reasons. First off, I piece on Bernina machines because my Janome Horizon is always set up for quilting. Maybe I'm lazy, or maybe I'm just picky about it, but I always piece on the Berninas, and for some reason Isacord doesn't feed well through those machines. I'm not sure why, but it's a bit finicky and it doesn't produce as solid a straight stitch.
It also comes down to how I want the stitches to act. With piecing, I want the threads to really lock together firmly, almost sticking together, so the pieces are firmly locked together and no stitching will unravel.
I find cotton best for this because it seems to naturally lock and bond with itself. If I hate having to rip out piecing stitches because the Aurifil literally locks itself into the fabric, but this is what you want with piecing - a super secure seam that takes WORK to unravel.
Isacord, on the other hand, feel slick to me. It's the shiny nature of the polyester thread and it looks great with quilting, but with piecing, it just doesn't feel secure to me.
Please understand that this is pure opinion speaking. I'm sure if your machine likes it, it would be fine to piece with any thread you want. The tradition is cotton, yes, but that doesn't mean it's all you can ever use.
I use it because it feeds through my machine wonderfully. It's super thin, so it doesn't take up room in the seam so my blocks are more accurate. It locks together so the stitches are almost impossible to remove without effort. All these things tell me this thread will be great for piecing.
Is it the only kind of thread to use for piecing? Nope. It's simply the right kind for me. Try it out, play and experiment and see what thread YOU like the best and ask yourself what you're looking for from piecing thread or quilting thread.
So that's it for this week! It's now time for me to jump back on the machine and find that flow state again. I guess I'm could call myself a Flow Junkie - I can't get enough!
Let's go quilt,