Sunday, April 19, 2015


"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

Let my exploration of long arm and free-motion quilting begin! I have made my packing list, acquired some of the tools and stepped into the fresh new world that awaits. There are maps to find and knowledgeable travelers to consult  as I continue forward, but the baby steps I have made thus far feel so good. Below is the first souvenir from my trek. This interpretation of the Timber quilt was the first quilt along my path and taught me much. I'm going to save words, and let the pictures speak a bit. 
While I 'Quilt Among the Groves' I am not without pine trees. Fitting for Timber.

I have learned I enjoy bindings with a little burst of color here and there.

I have learned that we must not regret design choices, but embrace and learn from them.

I have learned that feathers are fun, but there has to be a million YouTube videos on how to make them more interesting and I will watch a few of them!

I have learned that hand tacking the binding is relaxing and perhaps cathartic.

I have learned that not only will practice improve my quilting skills, but also my quilt photography skills.

Some bold Modern Elements by Deborah Edwards for Northcott Fabrics await me for a fun challenge.
I don't remember if I have mentioned it here, but I recently joined The Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild. I am so happy to have met such great people here in this online forum, but thought I could add breadth to my knowledge with some face to face quilty interactions. I chose the perfect time to join! They are hosting a fun mini quilt challenge featuring the Northcott fabrics pictured above. We were given a pack of three fat quarters and are able to add some of the coordinating Toscana fabrics to round out the design. I have some ideas brewing and will write about those in a future post. 

Meanwhile, Louise (my long arm machine) and I begin the next leg of our tour. I've already begun quilting my Foothills Mystery Quilt. After all, Louise looked lonely without a quilt draped across her frame. 

Thanks for stopping among the groves! 

Saturday, March 21, 2015


At the beginning of my sophomore year of college I got to take on a unique role as an Orientation Student Leader (OSL). I was a member of a team that provided incoming freshmen with a personalized student perspective, guided tours, and Western Michigan University Bronco spirit. One of points that I learned while preparing for this role was that there are different stages of team building. We OSL's were taught Tuckman's stages of team development. The first stage is forming, where each team member gets to know the other members. Next is storming, the stage where trust has been built between the team members and there is a comfort level that allows for the expression of discontent and challenging others opinions. Next, there is norming, the group comes to understand and accept the common goal of the group and may leave behind some of their own ideas for the good of the team. Finally, the team is performing, the team is high functioning and getting the job done smoothly. 

Why am I telling you all of this? Louise (my new long arm machine) and I have formed a new team. Now we are storming! We are not getting along very well at all. We forget to put down the hopping foot, we are wasting thread while winding bobbins, and fighting with each other along the way. 
Louise looks content, but I just know she is going to try to pull some tricks on me.

Louise has been loaded up with my interpretation of the Timber Quilt by Jamie Naughton and Allison Glass. I won the pattern by participating in a contest on Instagram! You can read a bit more about my fabric choices and the excitement of the win here

A nasty waste of thread. I bet there is a way to salvage this.

While winding my third ever bobbin on Louise, I noticed that there just was not much thread on the bobbin. Moments later I found that the thread was being pulled and wound under the bobbin! I'm going to have to watch Louise a little more carefully.

I can tell that the border of this quilt will be 'ruffly,' that is my mistake while piecing the top. I may have eased the border pieces onto the quilt, and I think that is why this wavy texture is being created. Another point to ponder as I learn.

I have a lot to learn as I go on this journey of long arm quilting, but I am jumping in. I am having a difficult time with this quilt because I am very proud of the piecing and the fabric choices and would like the quilting to be special. I feel as if I am making a mess of it all, but continue to remind myself that this is my first ever long arm quilt, that I have to start somewhere, and it's OK to make a mess in order to learn and grow.

Straight lines are as difficult if not more so than curved lines. I understand there is a way to use rulers while long arming, and will have to find out more as I go along.

I'm making up the design as I go along, which may be a hindrance to my end results, but I'm thinking of this as play and learning. 

Playing with feathers in the diagonal stripes of the Timber Quilt.

The lovely Carole Gold from Fresh Off the Frame was kind enough to offer some pointers, tips and suggestions. She pointed me to Suzanne Earley's Feather Boot Camp, which is a great online series about creating free hand feathers. I've begun drawing and practicing and can see how practice can lead to muscle memory, which helps build skill. Louise and I are working towards norming, and I can feel that performing lies in our future together. 

A bounty of quilting goodies from Mary Abreu's Quilt Con Scavenger Hunt!
On a completely different subject this amazing box of happy mail arrived today! The magnificent Mary Abreu at Confessions of a  Craft Addict hosted a spectacular Quilt Con scavenger hunt through Instagram and her blog. I played along, scouring the Quilt Con hashtags on IG to find all of the clues that Mary had put together. It was a fun way to experience the exposition vicariously. Not only did I have fun, but I won a mother load of goodies in the process. It's hard to see in the picture above all of the items in the goodie box that Mary put together for me, but there is Aurifil thread, charm packs of Andover fabrics, fat quarters and yardage, quilt patterns, buttons, bags notions and more. I feel like I won the lottery! Thank you Mary for adding to my stash. What a nice stash builder to share with Molli Sparkles and his Sunday Stash event, I'm linking up now.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

One Year!

Whoa! I know that I am not always good at remembering important dates, but I really slipped on my blogs anniversary. More than a year has gone by since I started sharing my quilting adventures here among the groves. I feel like I have learned a ton during this time, and I'm looking forward to the fun that lies ahead.   

Here are pictures of some of the projects I've been working on but haven't been sharing. I'm still trying to find a good balance between creation and documentation. 
Sheark with my Summer Sampler Series Quilt. 
The Summer Sampler quilt hangs beautifully over an orange tree branch.
I finally finished the Summer Sampler Series Quilt that I wrote about originally here as I listed some of my quilting aspirations. *Woot woot* I  accomplished the first goal on my list! I completed the hand quilting right before the calendar rolled to 2015. I love how bright and cheerful it is. There are plenty of pictures of the individual blocks in this earlier post

Barni models the Target Practice Blocks I made for the WERQ Bee.
I've been WERQing in a bee with men Who Enjoy Rigorous Quilting, the Target Practice blocks were the last of the lot. I will be getting my rings 'n' things quilt top together soon hopefully.

I made a quilt top for Sheark for Christmas. He loves the color grey, snow and he thought this Alexander Henry pin up fabric was fetch. I played with some Polaroid blocks and some flying geese and came up with this lay out. I'll work on quilting this one soon with a little help from Louise. 

My spectacular design wall floor and planning the layout of the Polaroid quilt.
I have a variety of these Alexander Henry Pin-up guys. I might work on a series of quilts like this.
I joined some Instagram crafters for the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Swap. I have never participated in a swap until this, and didn't know what to expect. I had so much fun meeting a new friend, and creating a quilt just for her. I played with some embroidery for the quilt tag. Part of me thinks "Oh, lawd, that looks like hell." and part of me thinks "What fun folksy quilt tag!"

I put backing fabrics up for a vote on my IG account and most liked this crossword puzzle, I guess that leaves more of the hot pin-ups for other projects. 
Here is the mini I sent to my swap partner. It was inspired by a quilt from her Pinterest. I had a hard time sending this one away!

I'm linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for her Let's Bee Social party!

Thanks for stopping among the groves with me!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Stash: Major Investment

Flashback to March of 2014, when I was Getting my Sew-Jo at the Quilting Expo, [you could literally flashback with me by clicking to the previous link!] where Seark and I had our first hands-on experience with a long arm quilting machine. We've pondered and dreamed about making an investment that could propel my creative quilting experiences forward and to build a small business ever since. 

This year the Original Quilting and Sewing Expo made it's return to Lakeland, FL and so did we. Seark, my one day husband, and I had decided that if an opportunity should present itself to take home a machine then we should jump on it and make it work. Then we met Susan and Tabby from Susan's Heirloom & Quilters Fabrics who sell Tin Lizzie. There were many brands of long arm represented at the expo, each with their own-stand out features. While we pondered the state of the art aesthetics of Bernina, the flashy computing system of the HandiQuilter, the industrial nature of Nolting and Gammill, the Tin Lizzy stood out for affordability and personality of the representatives. Needless to say, that same evening Tabby and Susan were delivering a show model to our garage! 

Introducing Louise, my new TinLizzie18 ESP!
I think I'll call her Louise after my grandmother who is the first in the family that I think of when I think of quilts. I know Louise will be good to me, she already produced some fun practice doodles.

 I put some sad looking fabrics on the frame and drew out some boxes to play and draw in. I tried some feathers, some stippling, some circles, leaves, and some zig-zags, creating a happy and playful test piece.

I really like the little tropical leaf that I drew with the strange circles within a circle fruit.

I have lots to learn. I am going to jump in, make some mistakes and get to learning! Wish me luck, and if you have any suggestions or tips that might benefit a novice long arm or free motion quilter like myself, please leave me a note! 

I'm linking up with Molli Sparkles and the Sunday Stash with my new addition.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vicarious QuiltCon 2015

I was not able to fly, drive, bike, jog, or dogsled to Austin, TX for QuiltCon this year. I know, it's sad, but true. Perhaps you know this feeling; while you cannot physically be somewhere, you can still be present in spirit and thought. While, I wasn't able to actually be there, I spent a considerable amount of time scoping out the vendors, poking my head in to classes, taking a close look at great quilts and really enjoying myself.  I couldn't have had as much fun though, if not for Instagram, and some great people I met along the way.

Mary at Confessions of a Craft Addict hosted a really fun Instagram scavenger hunt. She provided a list of 20 subjects to find and provided an easy to use Google Form to fill out along the way. Mary's hunt pushed me to delve into QuiltCon, abandoning all other cares!
I found that Brenda of Pink Castle Fabrics and Just A Bit Frayed had provided nifty sticky notes so QuiltCon attendees could play the #pinkcastlepostits game.  Now, I'm not affiliated with Pink Castle, but they are fantastic. I shopped their store earlier this year and found it to be a most unique experience. I wrote about that here. I was jealous of the sticky notes, and the game, so I whipped up my own 'home edition' to play along. 

Homemade post-its and a peek at an idea for a Broadway Mini Quilt Swap!

Michael Miller Fabrics took sympathy on those of us who were not able to make QuiltCon and offered us #mmfvirtualquiltcon. I had to play along with their drawing, after all I just finished The Foothills Mystery quilt top with some of their awesome cotton couture fabric as the background. I'll write more about that awesome quilt-along hosted by Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs a little later.
My rendition of the Foothills Mystery Quilt with that soft and luxurious grey background fabric!
I didn't get to meet or shake hands with quilt celebrities, but I felt like I could see them from across the atrium. Carolyn Friedlander, Luke Haynes, Yoshiko Jinzenji, Victoria Wolfe Findlay were all there, and are only a handful of people that I would like to take a class from, or hear speak. 

There was someone else that I never could catch up with. If you haven't seen her already, you should check out Samarra Khaja. She really got into QuiltCon, and created a bit of mayhem. If I could have any other person's experience of the convention, I would want hers! Check her out and the hashtag #quiltconartist. 
I was this close! I saw Samarra admiring that MQG bag. I'm the creeper in the blue polo shirt!

QuiltCon came and went all too quickly, fortunately I was still able to experience QuiltCon 2015, albeit vicariously. 

What was your favorite Quilt Con memory, vicarious or otherwise?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday Stash: Fabric Shop Tour 6

I haven't been shopping for fabric in a while. I'm not sure that I can top the fabric adventures from my summer vacation. I was strategic on the last stop of this tour, taking an alternative route between Michigan and Florida to check out Crimson Tate in Indianapolis, IN. I have been following this store ever since I joined the Men Who Quilt group on Facebook, and the WERQ Bee. One of our bee members happened to be a manager at the store and was always sharing such enticing photos of beautiful fabrics, and info about specials. 

I LOVE this store! It has gorgeous modern fabrics displayed a midst quirky antiques. I'm not really sure about all of the ins and outs of Indianapolis, but this store seems to be in an older part of the city with a lot of character. Across the street is a fantastic historical bit of art deco. Just Google "Coca Cola Building, Indianapolis" to see what I'm talking about!

Much to my surprise, I was not going to find just great fabric, but I was going to meet some great sewists/makers, (celebrities in my book!) In the photo above, from left to right is Karen LePage of, Leila Breton of, me, Heather Givans of, Sarah Elizabeth of, and Rachel McElwain of rachellake. I don't know if I could have timed my visit more perfectly to meet so many amazing people. The positive and magnetic of personality of Heather just draws everyone in, I guess! 

Here's what you Sunday Stashers really came to see though, the fabrics that I could not resist!

I picked up some more fabrics to go with my Christmas pin-up boys that I bought earlier. There is Sugar Rush-Christmas Candy in blue by Josephine Kimberling, Treelicious-Rudolph in red by Maude Asbury, Florence-Multi Plaid in carnelian by Denyse Schmidt, Merry Stitches-Fleeting in grey by Cori Dantini, Homebody-Philately in grey by Kimberly Kight, and Hatbox-Tiger Stripes in pink by Alexia Abegg.

Heather also included a sweet little badge and the instructions for her row by row experience block with her signature business card. 

I am not affiliated with Crimson Tate, or any of the other shops that I've been writing about. Please feel free to visit them and shop, the benefits will be all yours! Once again, linking up with Molli Sparkles and his Sunday Stash. This was the last stop on my tour. Now I have to put all these goodies to use and you can bet there will be pictures! Stop back among the groves to see what I make. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Stash: Fabric Shop Tour 5

I have never shopped with as little restraint for fabric as I did when I was on vacation this summer. You can read about other stops on my Fabric Shop Tour here:
1. Heirloom Quilts, Richmond, KY
3. Country Stitches, Lansing, MI
4. Everlasting Stitches, Holt, MI

I didn't think I would have room left in my tiny car for any more fabric, but when I discovered Pink Castle Fabric was in Ann Arbor I knew I would have to make at least one more stop in Michigan before my vacation was over. I have to say, this store isn't the easiest to find, but I was so glad I did! It is located in a small warehouse commercial park where there are several buildings that all look the same until you come to the one with the big pink castle in the door. Pink Castle is unlike any other fabric store I have shopped. The majority of their retail occurs online, so the shop is organized by manufactures and lines. This makes it easier for the staff to pick and cut the orders that have been placed online. 

My first thought was to find fabrics that I might be able to use in red and white blocks that were requested by the WERQ Bee leader for the month of August. I got some Summer Plaid in Red, Pam Kitty Recipes in Red, Novelty News in White, Rush Hour Text in Black and White, and Word Search in White. Check out my last Sunday Stash to see other red and white fabrics and how they all came together to make red and white purse string blocks.

I picked up some Spirodraft in Ocre, Triangularity in Mustard, Dottie in Goldilocks, XOXO in Shag Carpet, Vintage Scales in Green, and Simple Plaid in Lime. 

I just couldn't stop and added a few more bolts to the growing stack. I included some Heather Ross Far Far Away Snails in Pink, Far Far Away Frog Prince in Pink, Little Town in Glee, Netorious in Roadster, Threaded Shreds in Mamey, and Simple Plaid in Red. (I'm starting to wonder where the color names come from. . .Mamey, Glee, Roadster???)

Finally there was this awesome little fabric bundle that was all alone on a shelf. The colors made me think of the orange groves. The bundle is aptly named Orange Tree and was curated by Brenda from Just a Bit Frayed.  It includes Spice Plain Gingham in Gray, Savvy Dots in Orange, Beatrice Weave in Emerald, Woodgrain in Bark, Full Mood Polka Dot in Tangerine, Briar Rose Strawberry in Orange, Vintage Leaf in Orange, and Tiny Gingham in Kiwi. 

Phew! That was the most fabric that I ever purchased at one time, but my adventures are still not done. Be sure to stop back next week for the last stop on my Fabric Shop Tour. As usual I 'm linking up with Molli Sparkles and his Sunday Stash