Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring shop...

If you ask Elaine, Winter, Summer and Fall would also quality for a time to shop. I mention Spring because it just sprung. I was going through my tools and supplies doing an informal inventory before I knuckle down and really concentrate on my longarming. Not that I'm under any pressure but looking at the QOV shelves...well there is no more room. That lead me to updating my list of online vendors for new as well as replacement items if needed. Luckily, at this time I can leave my credit card in my wallet. But just in case these are some of the latest numbers I've gathered on items I use and who knows when replacing may be necessary.

Towa Gauge..
Several on ebay for under $50.
Superior Threads at just under $53
both plus shipping.
Amazon Prime is as well under $53 with no shipping for Prime Members.
You can also find the new 'digital Towa' Body and L or M insert. The body is $104.77 and either insert is $19.63 with free shipping. This is out there for info only. This is one of those instances if it ain't broke. The old style Towa is like the old style me...not fancy but works well.

Havel Scissors and Notions
I couldn't function without the 5 3/4" Double Curved Applique Scissors
$12.99 plus shipping.
I've seen these at numerous quilt stores and fabric stores for $30.
They have a great selection of scissors for all needs and a good selection of 'Left Handed' as well.

You'll also find a good selection of Batting Scissors under $40 on Amazon.

Rotary Replacement Blades.
This is not something I use often, but Elaine uses them constantly. While looking for something on Amazon...a pretty frequent occurrence...I ran across these. I ordered them for Elaine. She now swears by them and found no less quality and performance between this brand, Improved Cut, and Fiskar or OLFA.
The 45mm pack of 10 is under $15 and the 10 pack of 60mm is under $23. Both with no shipping fees on orders over $35.

Longarm Needles. 
I use Groz-Beckert 100/16. I'm a loyalist here. As well as my threads...Omni and Omni Variegated, I purchase my needles from Superior Threads. Currently the 100 Pack is selling for $27.95. I choose the Titanium Coated. I've broken two in over 500 quilts. In both cases working on quilts that incorporated shirt blocks with buttons...I hit the buttons. I use a new needle for each client but have gotten 8-10 quilts out of one needle without any sacrifice in stitch quality. I have tried the recommended #18 for Omni threads but did not find them as efficient as the 16.

I firmly believe in floating my tops and batting. In doing so the magnets have become a essential part of my longarming routine. Harbor Freight is still the best place to purchase. The 18" magnets are still under $5 and watch for coupons and sales. Something any JoAnn's shopper knows about. 

New toy...
For some time now I've wanted to do videos. I finally purchased an 'action camera' similar to GoPro without the price tag. I've been playing (learning) with it. Not as easy as pushing record it turns out. Once I have learned the in and outs I'll be posting some videos of how and why I do it the way I do it. I was working with it yesterday and between filming, quilting, playing back, advancing, filming I somehow managed to quilt over the same place in the pattern I was working with. Okay, I got lost. So after spending an hour with Jack the Ripper I put the camera away and just quilted. I'm going to need a lot more practice filming...I've got the quilting part down pretty well. Seems to be a case of not being able to chew gum and walk at the same time. Wish me luck. When I do get it down I'll start posting the videos...thee Leatherneck Kilted Quilters POV. 

That's it for now. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March Madness...

Let's just say March Madness today has a lot more to do with weather than basketball. Looking at the weather maps today Virginia Beach, VA is more like Orlando, FL if you compare us to Lancaster, PA. Here we are again on the doorstep to Spring and Mother Nature says "Wait just a minute, I'm not quite done with here Northeast...have a blizzard." Well thanks a lot Mom.

Since our last little talk Elaine and I have made some QOV Award Presentations, made our annual trek to the Mancuso Mid-Atlantic Quilt Fest, again setting up a Quilts of Valor Booth, promoting our passion, raffling off a reconditioned Singer Featherweight, a Calendar Quilt, raising some money for our group, Not Forgotten QOV and a new sister group, Grateful Threads of Elizabeth City, NC. Like our sister group in Corning, NY, Southern Tier QOV, we will never be able to thank those Quilts of Valor volunteers enough for their support to the Foundation and our service members and veterans. Elaine and I are so grateful for their never ending support. We would be amiss if we didn't mention those that so unselfishly support Not Forgotten QOV.

  • The Longarm Network/Virginia Longarm
  • A Different Touch Sewing Company
  • Mancuso Show Mangement
  • Events Management Group
  • Combat Veteran's Motorcycle Association (Virginia 27-1)
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW 4809) Norfolk, VA
  • Superior Thread
  • Y-Not Pizza - Kempsville
  • Members from the The Tidewater Quilters Guild
  • Olah's Restoration & Service

The Singer was completely restored by Olah's Retorations & Service in Moyock, NC. Their work is, in our opinion, unparalleled. You can follow them on Facebook. Give them a shout if you need some work or service on an older machine. In this case older means there is no computer involved. Like our latest Featherweight. Now we are on the hunt for next years raffle Featherweight.

Our Raffle Singer was a 1951 Featherweight "Fire" and the winning ticket was drawn by Dave Mancuso. Our winner was Mary G. from Norfolk, VA.

Dave also drew the winner of the Raffle Quilt, a Calendar Quilt donated to Not Forgotten QOV by Debra Harding one of the many who contribute to the success of Not Forgotten from the Tidewater Quilters Guild.. The winner, Linda N., was still at the show and quickly made her way to the booth to claim this beautiful quilt. Congrats to both. 

We've been having a good time, weather and all. So here is a medley of a QOV Award at Mancuso, our booth and some of the latest to come off of the longarm. 

Carol W. Retired Navy getting a little "Quilty Hug."

Elaine ready for the days events at Mid-Atlantic. Below spreading the word about QOVF and the many volunteers, nationwide, that make it what it is. 

Here is a T-Shirt wall hanging that Elaine crafted. You guessed it...a Dark Shadows fan. 

It has been, so far, a slow start for me and 2017. That includes, golf, motorcycle rides and longarming. But here are a few of the latest to come off the Innova. 

So as Spring nears, Mother Nature has the last word about Winter, Elaine gets ready for March's Sew Days and Events Management Group's Spring Market preparations get underway, I'll change needles and load another quilt.  

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Catching Up...It's only been four months!

The election has come and has the inauguration. Not to mention Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, numerous birthdays, The Christmas Market, and at the end of today the 2017 Birds of a Feather will come to a close.

As for the election half of this house is delighted. Unlike many of those that won't accept the results the half that didn't win in this house will stand and support the one that now holds the office and have hope and faith that events and changes will prosper and benefit our country and its people. We are both thankful for the opportunity to cast a vote and proud to live in a democratic republic.

Thanksgiving was spent giving thanks for good health, family, friends and another year of quilting and longarming. We don't keep count, but we did have a busy year with Quilts of Valor and very thankful for that. Nationally the Foundation has awarded over 151,000 QOV's. The Christmas Market was another event that provided us an opportunity to raise funds for our group, Not Forgotten QOV, and make an award to a Vietnam Veteran that was very heartwarming and emotional for both the presenter and the recipient.

Skip, Vietnam Veteran, Marine  and retired law enforcement. Okay so we have a lot to share. 

Elaine spent the month of December with the son, daughter in law, jewels by the way, and the grand kids, wow, four jewels in one house Well five counting Elaine. I went up for the Christmas holiday and had a great time. Sadly we had to come home with the grand son's illness. Not devastating but it did slow down the first week of January.

January gave us what was forecast to be a blizzard but turned out, in our area, to be an inconvenient snow storm; closing schools and having our guild meetings cancelled and other activities postponed. We survived. The heavy rains in California has brought us thoughts of many friends there and sending our best vibes their way in hopes that any damage and harm that is thrown, or maybe I should say floated, in their path is minimal. Okay I admit that California wanting to secede gives me a deep belly laugh when I hear Governor Brown asks the Feds for a $100,000,000.00 in aid.

Birds of a Feather, which ends today, was once again a fantastic event. Elaine and I went on Thursday afternoon and attended the fundraising Bingo on Thursday evening. Allison Korb hosted the event and we had a great time. Sadly neither of us got to yell out "Bingo." Once again, Valerie Schlake and her amazing staff from The Longarm Network, hosted a terrific event. I returned on Saturday, via motorcycle due to some exceptional weather, and was really pleased to meet Renae Haddadin. Renae is what many longarmers aspire to. For me to ever achieve even getting close would require another lifetime. Not to mention in the next life I would need some artistic talent. It was also good to see Suzanne DiCarlo, QOV, South Carolina, again and catch up. She will be moving toTexas in the near future. South Carolina's loss, Texas' gain. I also had time to have lunch with Anne Messley, Ethol House Quilt Company, out of Poughkeepsie, NY. Anne is the daughter of one of our guild members, Nancy Zarse and caught the quilting bug from her mom several years ago. In Anne's case the bug exploded and she now runs a full blown longarming service. Give Ethol House and Anne a shout our if you're in her neck of the woods.

Birds has a Challenge Quilt competition each favorite this year.

Okay...I admit it...I was won over by the flamingo.

Here are a few of the presentations made since October. If one happens to be QOV you had a hand in...we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

January also found us under a new roof. Literally.

The company is Atlantic Craftsman. Overall about a day and a half. The crew had about a two hour delay due to a passing storm on day one, but did an outstanding job. Couldn't be happier. When they were done the only reason we knew they had been there was the new roof. We would highly recommend them if you're from this area. Professional, courteous, thorough down to the last piece of debris removed. Our savings account suffered a hit and is gonna need some time to recover that expense but we are glad to be under a new roof.  

Speaking of expense. My hearing aids can give the roof a run for the money. I guess I should say my new hearing aids. What was wrong with the old ones? Honestly nothing. Apparently they were tasty too. At least to Nikee. He made a snack of them both. 

Just prior to Christmas he decided to climb up on my chair and have a little snack off of the side table that I used to set stuff on...this is the culprit. If you think he looks innocent you would be dead wrong. He was caught in the act. Now that's not to say Elaine, our son, daughter in law and grand daughter didn't have some fun with Gramps. Nikee, the guilty one and Lilee, the innocent one, made the trip to PA with me for Christmas. So when Gramps ask someone to repeat themselves because he didn't hear what was said they would just reply..."Ask Nikee, he heard it." Ha ha, very funny.

I don't know how many quilts were longarmed since my last post, but here are a few:

I do know the final total for 2016. I download all of my files at the end of the year off of the tablet and onto a jump drive. I completed 112 quilts in 2016...not my largest annual total, but not the smallest either. 

Okay...that's kind of got me caught up. Getting caught up with the "Wawa Boys" isn't quite has hard. We get together every Saturday and Sunday, catch each other up, drink some coffee and solve world problems. We have come up with the solutions to commute traffic, U.S. hunger, homelessness, spousal and child abuse and many other issues that plague everyday life. There of course are those that wouldn't agree with our solutions. But they work just fine for us. Yes we are all Vets, five of the pictured are retired with 24 and more years of service, All but two ride motors, all fathers and grandfathers and all tend to lean just a degree or two to the right. Oh, okay maybe just a little farther. But Saturday and Sunday morning make for a little brighter Monday through Friday.

Next up...Mancuso Mid-Atlantic Quilt Fest, February 23-26. Elaine and I will have a Quilts of Valor Booth set up again promoting the QOV Foundation and raising funds so that we can buy supplies and fabric for our efforts to promote the Quilts of Valor Mission. If you're in the area, stop by and say hi and if you'd like, purchase a raffle ticket or two. This year, as previous years, we will be raffling off a quilt and a Singer Featherweight. The quilt, which hasn't been photographed yet, was donated by Debra Harding. The Featherweight, "Fire" is a completely refurbished 1951 machine. New parts where needed, totally disassembled, cleaned, re-oiled and lubricated, stripped, sanded, primered, painted and clear coated by Olah's Machine Shop, Jason and Rebecca Olah from Myock, NC. It purrs like a kitten and Rebecca has it fine tuned, tension set and provided a sewn table cover for the folding side table, a foot pedal case and a pad for the machine to sit on while being used. Elaine has also purchased a rolling case to go with "Fire." 

As always we are looking forward to the event, re-acquainting with old friends and making new ones. We hope to see you there.

So, 2017 is well under way and we are forging ahead. Hope you measure twice and cut once, your blocks are square, your points match up and your seams only need be sewn once. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016


We have always had the 12' (133") leaders on our Innova. We have always used, and swear by, Red Snappers and Red E Edge to attach the back to the leaders and provide side tension to the back. Always have and don't see that changing in our lifetime. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Well that combination, 133" wide leaders and the plastic tube from the Red Snappers that runs through the leaders sleeve, creates a problem, for us anyway, when loading quilt backs. Basically because of the width of the leaders the machine literally gets in the way. We're sure we aren't the first ones to make this determination, nor the first to make this change but I thought is was worth sharing.

We ordered a set of 10' (112") leaders from The Longarm Network, our dealer. I should say kind of a custom order. We use two "Take Up" (40" long) leaders. One on the Take Up Roller and one on the "Belly Roller." We don't use the middle roller so it doesn't have a leader attached. We float 99.9% of our tops. On those rare exceptions we roll the top, batting and back on to the Belly Roller.

The longer leader on the Belly Roller allows us to lay the sleeve with the Red Snapper tube inserted onto the table providing a solid and stable surface to apply pressure to the Snappers when loading the back.

Now with the less narrow 112" leaders we can move the machine completely out of the way, in our case to the left, and the leader lays flat and doesn't get hung up on the machine. Which for me was a real pain in the process. You thought I was going to say something else.

So now it looks like this...

With the new leaders I now have much easier access to the machine when a quilt is loaded. Yes if I get a quilt wider than 112" I'll have to change leaders. I just completed quilt number 547. I've had two quilts wider than 110". One 120" and one 118". I don't think it will be a problem. Currently I have the leaders taped to the roller. If I find myself having to change too frequently you can bet I'll adapt the Velcro, hook and loop, system for attaching the leaders in a heartbeat. 

The leaders are mounted so that I can sew right up to the leaders edge on either side. 

With the longer Take Up leader attached to the Belly Roller I can reach the table and use it to lay the leader flat and have a solid and stable surface to install the Red Snappers to attach the back to the leader. 

As discussed in a previous post there have been some new additions to the longarm room. Namely a Craftsman Tool chest combo to hold a plethora of stuff, thread, tools, scissors, and an ungodly amount of stuff I've collected over the last four years longarming. One whole drawer is filled with templates and rulers. It replaced an old dining room hutch, off to Salvation Army, and an Armoire, Now in what Elaine refers to as the Bungalow. Once a bedroom now it's really just a second sewing, crochet, knitting room. Who knew two were needed.   

Well that opened up some space. Elaine's wheels were turning with the turbo in overdrive. So now we have some new storage shelving in the longarm room that holds almost all of the Quilts of Valor quilts to be finished along with QOV supplies. I did confiscate the top shelf for my CD Player and speakers. The shelving is to the right of the Halloween wall hanging Elaine just finished. I must admit it's kind of spooky. It glows in the dark. Kind of fun to longarm too. 

Speaking of Halloween. We can always tell when its getting close. Mike stops by for a beer.

Getting rid of the old hutch, which took up a lot of room and wall space also provided someplace to display a old "printers tray" that has been in the garage for ages. I had no problem filling it with  trinkets. It also provided a place to hang a poster I had a frame made for that depicts the Marine Corps Units that served in Vietnam. So that was cool. 

Got to tell you I do like the display of the printers tray and stuff. 

I also want to show this Quilt of Valor...It was made by Lisa D., one of the many volunteers that sews with Not Forgotten QOV. It is a beaut. The white and gold stars, as well as the center piece are embroidered. It will be awarded on Veteran's Day to a World War II Vet. We will be awarding five to WWII group on Veterans Day and more to a group associated with the Daughters of the American Revolution who have served the day following. We checked...they didn't serve during the Revolution. And contrary to some, neither did I. 

It was also the first quilt that was loaded onto the new leaders. Wish I had done this long ago.
Well time to get out of here. Till next time...

Quilt till you wilt...we do.