Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Ready or not here I come."

You may or may not remember counting to ten while your friends sought the most elusive and well disguised places to hide. And they did it while you counted to "10." It didn't make any difference, two or three players or a the time you got to ten they were gone. It was the longest 10 count you've ever experienced...It wasn't that you were counting that slowly...back then it just took what seemed like forever to get to 10. 

I can remember being a half a block away by the time 10 rolled around. Well that was then and this is now. Not only has "10" passed by the wayside but in a few days we will have spent another: 

31,536,00 seconds, 
525,600 minutes, 
8760 hours, 
365 days 
and yes in the time it took to count to ten...another year has passed. Honest, I wasn't counting fast, cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye. If you are going to use a needle please make sure it is a Groz-Beckert FFG point #16 (MR 3.5) Titanium Coated Needle...Superior Threads has them for $27.95 for the 100 count package. 

Hopefully, for you, it was as rewarding, eventful and time well spent like it has been for Elaine and I. We reached what many consider a milestone, our Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. Elaine gave me a lovely sign to commemorate this special day.

We worked on a lot of quilts. I've gotten my longarming total up to 708 completed as of yesterday, completing 134 so far this year. We've shared in the joy of watching our son and daughter-in-law purchase their first home after a career in the Marine Corps, base housing and some off base housing that actually only skirts on the edge of 'housing.' They did really good, it's a beautiful house. They will make it into a loving and gracious home. 

We also shared in the joy of seeing our granddaughter get her license. 

Believe me when I say I know exactly what my son is going through.

It appears my grandson has my eyes...he got his first pair of glasses. 
He appears to be sporting a little Buddy Holly look. 

He has also ventured in to the field of Martial Arts...sorry for the one that comes up with a "four eyes" comment. Here he is receiving his Certificate and his "yellow" belt. I have a close friend who is one of few who has earned his Ninth Degree Black Belt. Need to get him and Zane together so Zane can gets some pointers. 

We had a very productive year with Quilts of Valor, Sew Days, longarming, fund raising events and numerous awards. Making the awards is naturally the icing on the cake and would not be possible without a long list of people that so unselfishly give of their time and crafting skills. We are grateful to each and everyone of you. Thanks to all from New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina that make Not Forgotten QOV so productive and helping us recognize our active service members and veterans with this well deserved and earned award. QOV will always have a place in my heart and as long as I can I will be longarming Quilts of Valor. 

Here are a few of this years awards:

Lots have been rolled off the longarm for family and friends. 

This is a 'rescue' quilt. The back and old batting were removed, all in poor shape. The quilt, all hand sewn was in good shape. New batting and back and a little Baptist Fan and it will last another 50+ years. 

The quilter loves Cardinals and Christmas. I must admit a good combo. 

Yep, it's blue. It was fun to the movement the pattern put into the quilt.

As I recall I didn't have to change thread color.

For a friend of the quilters...can you guess their hobby?

This was unique..almost a whole cloth. Two fabrics sewn into three panels. The picture really didn't do this one justice. Simple but I can assure you the recipient will be thrilled.

I really like longarming and these are two more reasons why.

This was outside my comfort zone. Not to mention it came with some pressure. For those that don't know the longarm is named "Mother Teresa." No not Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Elaine's Mom, Teresa. We lost her just before we purchased the longarm...she was a crafting artist. I remember a Christmas Tree that decorated her house...she had turned a cactus into a beautifully decorated tree. Yes we all laughed...but it has never been forgotten, neither has she. So anyway it only seemed appropriate to name our Innova Mother Teresa. Well, Elaine has been carrying this piece of material her mom gave her around for decades. She hands it to me with a back and says she wants to make it into a lap quilt. "Just do some longarming around the floral prints using matching colors and just leave the leaves as they are." 

HELLO!!! I'm a hand guided, edge to edge pattern longarmer. This is just a little bit too much like, OMG..."free-motion." Well it was either do as I'm told or get real comfortable in the Man Cave for a couple of nights. Yes I can fall asleep in my chair...but I can't sleep in my chair. It really is two different things. Well it turned our pretty good for my first effort. I don't think it will be a steady diet though. I really like my Panto Vision. 

We'll call this "A Soft Breeze." Well I would anyway.

This was a monster...118" X 122" It was only on the rack for two days...but it seemed like an eternity. I had to take the 10' Leaders off and put the 12' Leaders on to load this one. I took them off once I finished. It was the only quilt I had to change leaders for all year. Well that was until a week later when I got a 110"x 118." 

As I recall I put this one on Facebook. I was thirsty the whole time and wanted to go to a ball game.

Yes there were Quilts of Valor...

I could go on...but you get the point. We do a lot of Quilts of Valor. Along with our 50th this year we also did some Quilts of Valor anniversaries. Elaine has been a Volunteer for 10 years and I have been longarming for 5. I've never been one to stay with anyone job or career for long. Oh with the fire department, the California Highway Patrol and Marine Corps enlistment I put in what I would call public service, just shy of 30 years. I've got my fingers crossed I get to longarm QOV's for a good piece of 30. 

We were even able to sneak in a little Christmas.

So from the Longarm Room, which as you can see has had a few changes...

All I can say is...One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi, five Mississippi, six Mississippi, seven Mississippi, eight Mississippi, nine Mississippi, ten Mississippi, READY OR NOT HERE I COME. I'm 2018 and you're it. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Happy Anniversary Mother Teresa

5 years...
60 months...
260 weeks...
1825 days...
43776 hours...
1,314,000 minutes...
157,784,630 seconds...

But who's counting

No not that Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Although I do have a quote of hers framed and hanging in the Longarm Room.

"I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time - just one, one, one. So you begin. I began - I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn't pick up that one person, I wouldn't have picked up forty-two thousand....The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin - one, one, one." Mother Teresa

As silly as it may sound, or to me as practical, I apply it to our service to the Quilts of Valor Foundation and to my clients. One, one, one. I'm not sure when my time as a longarmer concludes what the total will be but I'll know I did the absolute best I could, one at a time. 

But in this case "Mother Teresa" is my longarm. Well okay, Elaine's longarm and Elaine's Mother. I was 15 when I met Mrs. Navarro and some time around my 21st birthday, which happens to coincide with our wedding, she told me I could call her Terry. Mr. Navarro came around several years later, just about the time his grandson (our son) was born. So for many years Jesse and Terry were huge parts of our life. I have absolutely no recollection of ever not wanting to go to the "in-laws." They are both sadly missed but not forgotten. Our Innova was graced as "Mother Teresa" in honor of Elaine's Mom. I did call her Terry sometimes but almost always Teresa. Jesse, well he pretty much was always Mr. Navarro. Ba and Pa Pa to that grandson I mentioned and the cousins that followed. 

So Happy Anniversary Mother Teresa. Today marks the end of five years. Which among other things means the warranty is up. Five years ago today our machine and accoutrements were installed in what was once a deserted living room. Oh, there had been furniture in it but a human hardly ever set foot in there. That is until Virginia Longarm sent Greg and our 22"/12' Panto Vision equipped Innova down to turn the abandon room into an actual 'living room.' It is the Longarm Room, but a lot of living goes on in there now. 

We've seen a lot, learned a lot, I've cursed, a lot...and we have shared in the joy and comfort a quilt can bring to someone...a lot. Also a lot to learn, a huge learning curve something I'll cover in another post. Thinking ahead, "You own a Longarm...Now What?" But that which has made it most rewarding have been the thousands of hours, carefree hours, relatively maintenance free hours of quilting on the Innova. For the statisticians out there:

As of this date:

686 quilts
1 L n M Bobbin Chief
1 Pretension Disc
1 Rotary Tension Assembly (Standard)
1 Set of Felt Washers for Rotary Tension Assembly
1 Check Spring
1 Beehive Spring
1 Upgrade...we added Lightning Stitch in 2016. Don't wait, make it a part of initial purchase.
2 Needle Bars (I damaged the needle retaining screw threads and replaced the bar. Unnecessarily it turned out. Now I'm the owner of two Needle Bars.)
2 Leader adjustments. The 12' Leaders and the 10' Leaders that we use on both the Take-Up and Belly (Lift) Bar are Take-Up Leaders. The standard Belly Bar Leader is too short for the way we load quilts. We float all tops and wouldn't load without our Red Snappers. 
2 Calls. One to ABM and one from ABM. The results of which led to the resolution of the relative problems.
4 Birds of a Feather
Needles...lost count. 

We have never had to Re-time.
Tension has not been an issue for years. On those occasions I need to make some adjustments they are minor, usually no more than a half to a full turn on the Rotary Tension Assembly. I recall having to do that about a month ago. 

We have never made a call to Virginia Longarm that didn't answer our question or fill our order for supplies. On the Needle Bar Incident, Michele tracked one down (not in stock) and it was delivered the next day. In this case the USPS earned some points she shipped it without overnight delivery stipulated. Doesn't sound like a big deal...until you are made aware that ABM had closed in anticipation of a major hurricane bearing down on Texas. Without Michelle's efforts I'm down for over a week. 

In the five years I've probably only threaded the machine a half dozen times. Then only when I forget to tie the new to the old. Ya can't fix stupid.
For several years we used a different Bobbin Case than the recommended CM Cerliani. So I have four, the two Haya and two Cerliani. Sorry, back then the Cerliani's were only $49.95. I've gone back to the Cerliani if for no other reason than Elaine says they are quieter. Rest assured if Elaine says they are more quiet than the Haya...they are more quiet. I never noticed a difference in tension quality or performance. The sound part is not really material for me, I'm half deaf even with my hearing aids. 

We've followed recommendations from ABM and Virginia Longarm and we've not followed them. We've adapted, changed, changed again and may change something again. We don't use the "red" bobbins, we use synthetic oil, our Bobbin Chief is threaded slightly differently than the diagram in the units manual depicts and we load the bobbin into the bobbin case differently than depicted in the manual.  It works for us. If it ain't broke. 

 We've removed a leader completely (currently I'm not sure where it is), we use a drop of oil at every bobbin change (but that's relative depending on the oil dispenser). We have a whole house circuit breaker but still unplug the machine when the Thunder and Lighting Gods act up. 

On those occasions when we think about moving our first criteria for replacement dwelling are two 20'x20' rooms. One for the longarm and one for Elaine's Sewing Room. We haven't moved. We have found homes with the two rooms though. But alas, there are other criteria's.

So today we celebrate an anniversary. We hope there are many more. We look forward to each day that we quilt and longarm. As well each completed QOV and each QOV Award. I've developed a client list of some wonderful quilters and hope they get as much joy out of their quilts as I do longarming them. 

This is the tension patch from quilt 686. It's been at least a month since I've made any adjustments. When I do have to tweak here and there it is usually for different colored threads top and bottom or variegated. 

October 2012

October 2017

So until "You Own a Longarm...Now What?" 

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Preparing top/back for Longarmer

Like so many other aspects of quilting you will find longarmers to like, recommend, promote and suggest numerous ways, measurements, concepts and methods of doing this and that. 

The following is what I find to make my life easier, more efficiently complement your work and crafting and be most helpful in not exaggerating any inconsistencies that may develop in the crafting of a quilt top.

Like some and unlike others I will suggest certain thread colors and patterns but will always allow the quilter to choose their own. I will carry them out to the absolute best of my ability. If I don't have the pattern you want I'll get it at no cost to you. If I can't do the pattern you choose you will be told immediately. I can even recommend other longarmers that I know who can when I can't. I am hand guided and that warrants some limitations. 

When it comes to the choice of batting I stock Hobbs 80/20 and my go to thread is Superior's Omni and Omni Variegated. I will use whatever you provide. I choose Hobbs because I can get the best price and pass that savings onto my customers. Currently pricing for my batting is $5.50 a yard. If you wish to use something else just bring it along with the back and top. I prefer the 80/20 or 70/30 blends. They wash well, are as warm (my opinion) as cotton and lighter weight. We choose Hobbs for all of our Quilts of Valor. 

I've yet to send a top back because the seams needed pressing. But I've never received a top where the seams haven't been pressed at least once. But whether hung on a hanger or folded they always need to have a "refresh" press. The backs as well have been ironed, again having been hung or folded they need to be refreshed. One advantage for me, not being a person who sews, is that if there are seams separating or other 'sewing' issues I often find them while using the iron. I can contact the quilter before loading the quilt and have the quilter correct the issues. Honestly, you don't want me sewing on your quilt. 

Like every longarmer I have met, read about or heard about my pricing is based on" per square inch." I have a Guild rate and provide a 10% military discount for active and retired military. Please advise if one or the other I don't guess or assume as a habit. I've looked everywhere and I can't find any hidden fees. No pressing fees, no bobbin fees and no premiums or programs for quick turn-a-rounds. I do my best, when at all practicable, to get your quilt back to you in one week. Practicable is a key word here. December 18 for a December 25th delivery is not practicable. By December 18th I'm toast. 

Hopefully, whether I longarm your work or you use another longarmer I hope this brief synopsis helps you prepare your quilt and provides some insight as to what helps the longarmer do their very best to meet and exceed your expectations. 

Quilt Preparation

Les Page “thee Leatherneck Kilted Quilter”

Quilt preparation is very important for getting the best quilting possible.

I operate a hand guided longarm using edge to edge patterns. I enjoy working closely with the quilter  to optimize their desires regarding the finished product. Custom work is accepted after a one on one consultation.

Square Quilt and Backing:  Your quilt needs to be square (same width top & bottom/same length left and right side) to load on the frame correctly, otherwise it will load at an angle on the frame or flare in the middle or flare at the top or bottom causing waviness.  Note: Very often there is a slight difference…¼ to ¾” variance…this is no problem. So, please square your blocks in your top and measure your quilt at the top, bottom and middle – get an average measurement and cut your borders to fit your quilt based on that average. This helps in preventing wavy borders. 

If you are piecing your backing, please square your blocks as you piece to keep the seams as straight as possible without puckers. If there are any squaring issues I will contact you so they can be corrected. Backing seams should run horizontally (left to right) This eliminates puckering in the back as the quilt is being advanced on the frame. A thick vertical seam can easily cause issues as the quilt is advanced in the longarming process. Remember…when it is all said and done…the back is 50% of the quilt you have spent hours making. Don’t short change your efforts by cutting corners on the backing. I would never recommend ‘muslin’. If that is your choice I will complete your quilt as you request.  

If you are not putting a border on your top, stitch the perimeter of the quilt as close to the edge as possible to eliminate seam separation when tension is applied when loaded on the longarm frame.

Extra Backing and Batting:  To fit your quilt on the frame I need an extra 8” – 10” (10” preferred) of backing.  This means 4” – 5” extra of backing all the way around the quilt. If you provide batting it should be 6” wider and at least 10” longer than the pieced top. Currently I charge $5.50 a yard for 80/20 or 70/30 depending on what I have on hand. I use Hobbs and Pellon. I will use whatever you supply.

Pressing the Fabrics:  Please press all the fabrics of the quilt top and backing.  Press the quilt top so that all the seams lay as flat as possible and press the backing fabric so that there are no deep creases (especially in batik fabrics).  Backing seams should be ½” and pressed open. When pressing the borders, it is good to press the border’s seams open when possible. Before loading I press out creases due to hanging/folding at no charge.    

Trim Threads:  Cut loose threads on the pieced top, they can catch on the hopping foot of the longarm.  Cut loose threads on the back of the top as well as threads can get lodged between your quilt sandwich and show through backing and/or the top.

Batting:  There are many kinds of batting available.  If you are doing a quilt with very dark fabrics you might want to consider black batting. Please use quality batting, craft batting will not hold up as well. 

●          If your backing or top is directional, please mark it clearly or mention it during the intake process. Let me know any specifics about your top and back.  

●          Any quilting issues such as puckering, weak seams/holes, wavy borders, pleats etc. will NOT go away with the quilting, they may be exaggerated.  I will do my very best to work with the issues to minimize them in the end product. 

●          In most instances, I can say I have been able to determine difficulties that may be encountered during the longarming process before the first stitch is applied. In those cases you will be contacted so we can determine how you want to handle the situation. On occasion the problems may be encountered during the process. Again, I will contact you to work out what would be the best outcome for your quilt.

It is my goal when finished I have complimented your quilt. I will do everything possible to attain that goal. The first step is working with you during the intake process to meet the needs and desires you envisioned. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

They said that!!! No way.

As many of us are, the greatest product of the Greatest Generation, we the Baby Boomers, there are several things, besides quilting and longarming, that we have in common. One of the most predominate items on the agenda seems to be a horrendous lack of “factual” teaching as it pertains to our country’s history we received. Oh, we got bits and pieces or what a quilter might call “scrappy history” but we most certainly didn’t get any full bolts when it comes to the fabric of our true history.

Along the way we were introduced to many famous and often quoted Forefathers, politicians, satirists, humorist, military leaders and some very intelligent individuals. Who may or may not have said what is quoted. For all we know they may have been talking about quilting. Were we in fact made privy to the actual quote or were they edited. Do we really know? So, before Ken Burns jumps on this I thought I would provide some insight into some of those famous quotes and set the records straight. Well as straight as I can be with my tongue in cheek.

Will Rogers is credited with, incorrectly, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” or was it “I’ve never seen a quilt I didn’t like.”

Then of course we have JFK. ”…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Is it possible??? ”…ask not what your longarmer can do for you, ask what you can do for your longarmer.”

Lincoln's “Four score and seven years ago…” Abe could have easily been talking about when he started the quilt he was holding up and Show &Tell.

Patrick Henry's “Give me liberty or give me death.” could easily have gotten confused with “What do you mean there’s no coupon.”

We all know George Patton’s quote, “You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals.” Was originally, “You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for the last bolt on sale.”

Then there is Mae West’s “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” This one was a drastic modification. “You only need to sew the seam once, if not there is always a seam ripper.”

How about Mark Twain’s “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” We know perfectly well he said, “Blocks almost all the same size is an issue of…”

We all know Mr. Twain’s “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” was changed when he realized not everyone was a quilter. At first it read…”The best way to cheer yourself up is to make a quilt and then pass on the quilt and cheer someone else up.”

When General MacArthur claimed after waking. ”In my dreams I hear again the breaking of a needle, the rattle of an empty bobbin, the strange, mournful mutter of the sewing room.” Well he was General MacArthur so it was recorded,” In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield."

We can’t omit the genius of Albert Einstein. We’ve been told he said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” We all know it started out, A person who never made a mistake never tried quilting.” I mean really…anything new?

Then there is the butchering of Ronald Reagans. There are no great limits to a quilter, because there are no limits of a quilters intelligence, imagination, and wonder. Right as rain. Again, modified so as not to show bias. “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.”

We all know Marilyn Monroe has been quoted as saying, “I’m trying to find myself. Sometimes that’s not easy.” Apparently, the individual recording the quote had a bad connection and missed the rest of it.” when I’m in my stash room.”

We are all aware of the shortening of John Quincy Adams’ “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish” Scratched for no apparent reason. ”…vanish when one reaches for the seam ripper and a glass of wine.”

Mr. Poe was also victim of a quote being shortened. “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. Edited out; “…before ‘the design wall was installed.’

At least Poe’s “It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic. Was not so butchered. Only “quilter” was replaced with “ingenious.”

Then there is Elvis…I had no idea he was a longarmer, “There are too many people that depend on me. I'm too obligated. I'm in too far to get out.” Who knew???

That sounds just about right. 
Well time to go. Stay tuned I never know what's next. 
Until then...
Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Ladies and gentelmen, Elvis has left the sewing room.