How your location affects your creativity

Do you think it doesn’t matter where you are, you can still be creative? Not so, or at least not completely so. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about your creativity, I’m talking (or grousing, as the case may be) about mine. My creative energy level is heavily dependent on my location. Here’s the vicious cycle: The design and construction process on the quilt is going well, a new idea hatches, experiments take place and the experiments look good, until I realize that I need x, y or z to really make it all work, and I can’t get my hands on x, y or z (because of my current location here in Germany) without ordering it from the States and waiting a week (or more) for it to arrive so I can continue on my merry creative way. Much angst and gnashing of teeth ensues while trying to find a way to avoid ordering x, y or z, but still make the new idea work. No good, and creativity comes to a screeching halt and the energy and enthusiasm levels plummet. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseam.

In this particular instance, x happens to be Sulky rayon embroidery thread in colors that are evidently not sold in Germany. Why this should be since the dang stuff is made here is completely beyond me. Maybe I could try a different brand of rayon, but I already have lots of Sulky, and it comes in spools of a reasonable size for someone like me, who just dabbles in the machine embroidery thing. I have some spools of Isacord, and they’re so huge, I’ll probably not get through them before it rots, and they’re more expensive anyway. And yes, it’s The Misery Quilt, again. If it ever gets to the quilting part, I’ll believe in miracles. I guess I’ll go pack it all up, and try to find something else to work on until my thread gets here. /grousing done now, thank you.

My Misery Quilt takes shape, finally

Drumroll, please…I did get the center of the dang thing put together as I’d hoped to, and here’s the pic to prove it (click for a bigger picture):

Birds Quilt

The more astute among you will notice a distinct lack of curvy pieces anywhere. Yes, after all was said and done, the curvy pieces I had in my head never did materialize! And, the border pieces you see around some of the birds weren’t planned either. I had a really bad machine embroidery day, and things just kept going wrong. It was partly distraction and inattention on my part, and partly just the little hiccups that can happen with machine embroidery. It got down to the point where I was out of background fabric, and the bird I was working on right then was shaping up to be another mess, and I ended up going back to the first set of completed birds (the ones that were trimmed down to remove the fusible web and were thus too small to work). I stuck the too small birds in the corners, and added the border print frames to bring them up to size, and all is well. It looks better than it would have with the curvy pieces anyway.

Now, this is just the center portion of the quilt. I’m working on a Sawtooth border all the way around, and a very wide, 10″ or so, lighter border on the outside. There are still more design challenges to overcome though, because with the Sawtooth border and the 10″ plain border, the quilt finishes out at 77″ or something, which is just not a logical size for anything. I’m debating on an embroidered border, or a pieced and embroidered border or something like that, or maybe a curvy scalloped border around the outside. I’m determined to get some curvy parts in there somehow! I have three more hours until the family walks through the door after their weekend away, so I’m off to be creative!

The Quilt That Refuses to Be

Every time I try to work on this Feathered Lone Star quilt with the bird embroidery, I am forcibly reminded of Candy Goff’s Misery Quilt. You must go read that story. Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back.

Now, my quilt started innocently enough, really, about three or four years ago. I wanted to make something different, but small-ish, to enter into the AQS show that year. Life got in the way, and the pieces are still sitting here waiting for me to put them together. I pulled it all out earlier this year to see what I could do with it, and maybe finish it up for the Houston show this year. I wanted to do something a little different with the setting, and the only fabric I had that I liked, I didn’t have enough of. (How this could be, when I have this much fabric in my house, is beyond me!) I carried all the parts with me to the States when I went to the Diane Gaudynski workshop in Paducah, and looked in every quilt shop we could find between Nashville and Paducah, but couldn’t find any more of what I really wanted, nor could I find something else to substitute that I really liked.

After I came home and I started thinking about selling my Pfaff embroidery machine so I could get the Bernina 440, I had a sudden inspiration about this quilt, and decided I wanted to put machine embroidery in the setting squares around the star, which meant that if I sold the Pfaff, I’d have to get the embroidery unit for the Bernina 440 right away if I wanted to do this quilt. I made that happen, and did test stitch outs of all the birds I wanted to use, purchased more thread, and things were just clipping along, except for the missing fabric, of course. I did finally settle on something else that’s a different color, but it gives the same effect so it’ll probably work out okay. I got all the birds done, and I put the whole kit and kaboodle up on the design wall to see if it was going to really work. I had cut the curvy pieces to fuse to the outside edges of the bird blocks, and thought I liked the way it looked. I fused all the pieces, then had second thoughts. And third thoughts. And then I didn’t like it at all. Continue reading “The Quilt That Refuses to Be”

Not quilting, just playing musical rooms!

Not much quilting going on here, but lots of activity. We decided that we should move a few rooms around in the house, so that the girls would have a little more privacy and separation from each other. Their “rooms” were on the top floor of the house, and while the space is sort of divided into two areas, there’s no door in between them. There’s a hallway with a bathroom, but no doors except for the door that leads to the whole set of rooms. This setup was okay when the girls were 8 and 3 years old, but now they’re 15 and 10 and it really no longer works.

So, GuitarGirl (that would be DD#1, now 15 years old) moved into my office/studio, and LittleOne (DD#2, 10) moved into GuitarGirl’s old room, since it’s cooler in the summer. So far so good. Now, the biggest part of the problem (notice I said “biggest” not “only”) is that the only other room in the house that’s available to house all of my own activities is the basement, where ITMan hangs out. It’s not big enough to handle all of my machines, tables, shelves, and cabinets, not to mention my fabrics Continue reading “Not quilting, just playing musical rooms!”

Making friends with the Bernina 440

One day, I’m in love with it, and a few days later, we’re still making friends! Well, I am still in love with my new Bernina, but I’m also still trying to be friends with it for machine quilting. The embroidery part is absolutely awesome, and I like it much better than the Pfaff, so that’s not the issue. Free motion machine quilting is the issue, and it’s a biggie, since that’s what I do most, and the major reason I wanted the machine. I had such a great time with it in Paducah, so I wasn’t thinking that the adjustment from the Pfaff would be all that difficult. In my mind, there was no adjustment period, I think. In reality, it’s a huge change, and I’m still getting used to it.

Part of the problem is that in Paducah, I was doing a completely different type of quilting than I usually do (which is why I took the class in the first place!). So now, when I’m home and working on quilting in my (mostly) normal style, it’s proving more challenging than I thought it would be to produce the same quality work on the Bernina as I can on the Pfaff. I say “mostly” normal style, because I did decide to quilt the Irish Chain quilt with silk thread in the needle and Aurifil 50/2 in the bobbin, so I’m making smaller stitches than I usually do, and that’s undoubtedly contributing to the problem a bit. When I’m making smaller stitches, it’s not the rhythmic sound of one stitch at a time from the machine that I’m listening to and trying to coordinate with, but the pitch of the motor at a certain speed. Totally different ballgame here. Maybe I’m trying to get used to too many things at once.

I’m beginning to feel like a beginning machine quilter again! Aaack! Continue reading “Making friends with the Bernina 440”

Bernina 440 LOVE!

Okay, I’m officially in LOVE with this machine, from top to bottom and side to side. Oh, BTW, I just want to point out that I did NOT buy a sewing machine, no. This is a “sewing computer!” Really, it says so in the manual. Nowhere does is say “sewing machine” when referring to this “thing,” and since it has a USB port and something that looks suspiciously like a PS2 port, it’s obviously not just stuck on itself or being snobby. Maybe that’s why we already get along so well, since I’m admittedly somewhat of a confirmed techie girl. Anyway, to continue…

Bird designI’m officially in LOVE with this sewing computer. Right now, as I type this on my laptop computer, the machine sits here stitching away on a nice little bird embroidery design, and it’s the laptop computer that’s controlling the stitching. This embroidery unit that goes with the Bernina 440 works hand in hand with the Bernina Embroidery Software EditorLite on the laptop. I opened the embroidery file (which I just purchased online this morning!), changed the thread colors in the design to match what I had on hand here and wanted to use, and told the software to write to the sewing computer. Another program called the PC to EC (Personal Computer to Embroidery Computer) opens up automatically, and makes the link to the embroidery unit which is hooked to the Bernina 440.

At this point, you can move the design in the hoop, zoom in or out, Continue reading “Bernina 440 LOVE!”