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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

31,536,000 Seconds

That is 2019...well was. Here's hoping you lived to the fullest every one of them. If someone says they would give you a penny for every second this year...do not hesitate...take it.

Once again we are coming up on the Mancuso Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA. We hope to see you all there. A major change for this year is we will not be raffling off a Singer Featherweight...sorry it just didn't happen this year. It is getting harder to find them at a reasonable price and even though we are graced with the exceptional skills and talents of Jason and Rebecca Olah from Olah's Restoration & Service out of Moyock, NC it is hard to budget for even with their generous donation of their skills and time. We haven't given up, but this year it just wasn't in the cards. If you need service, restoration or repair for the sewing machines you own that aren't full of computer chips and electronics Olah's is the place to go. Their FB Page link is on the left side of this blog page under Source Links. Check them out. If you've visited our booth in the past...you've seen their work.





Hampton Roads Convention Center 1610 Coliseum Drive Hampton, VA
Feb 27-28-29/2020 10 AM to 6 PM
March 1, 2020 10 AM to 4 PM

The Not Forgotten QOV Booth will again be set up in the lobby. We will be raffling off a quilt. The drawing will be Sunday, Mar 1 at 3 PM. Tickets will be $1 each or 7 Tickets for $5. All of the proceeds are submitted to the National Foundation. These are the funds, from our Trust, that we use to purchase all of the materials and supplies that are used to craft the many Quilts of Valor that are awarded here locally. To the many volunteers who give of their time and talent Elaine and I will forever be grateful for sharing in our commitment to our active service members and veterans. Without you Not Forgotten QOV is just a passing thought. For those of you that purchase raffle tickets, donate and support Not Forgotten QOV, well, we can't thank you enough.

This year we will follow the Quilt Festival with the Events Management Groups (EMG) Annual Spring Craft Market.


Virginia Beach Convention Center
1000 19th Street
Virginia Beach, VA 

March 6-7 10 AM-6 PM
March 8    10 AM-5 PM

We will also have a Raffle Quilt with ticket prices the same, $1 each, 7 tickets for $5.

We will be located inside this event. Please stop by and say hi. Always good to see you, even if just in passing. 

We have some $2 off coupons, limited amount, but if our paths cross or you want to stop by the house and pick one or two up...please do so. I don't think we'll even unload the Subaru between the two shows. 

I will admit to being very busy last year, many of the 315+ million seconds was spent longarming. I finished over 190 projects beating my own record of 175 from the previous year. Off to a running start with 26 projects already completed for 2020. 

We hope your New Year is off to a great start. Hope to see you and share in some joy with a little quilting thrown in for good measure. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 







Friday, January 24, 2020

Open Letter - Follow Up





Open Letter…Follow-up

Several weeks have passed since I posted my response to the Board of Directors approved 2020 Budget that was presented to the membership via an email from the salaried Executive Director. I emphasize salaried since it is misleading to anyone that visits the qovf.org website. If one reviews the posted Policies and Procedure’s you will find the following content:

“The Foundation’s leadership consists of its Board of Directors, its Executive Staff, and its State Coordinators, who are all unpaid volunteers. The Foundation expects its leadership staff, member group leaders, and members to adhere to the standards and policies described in this manual.”

There are several positions on Executive Staff that are salaried. In 2016 the reported figure was a shade under $1500. By the end of 2017 that had climbed to over $15,000 and at the end of 2018 to over $109,000. The Executive Director’s position has been budgeted for 2020 a 33% increase in salary. One can assume the final figures for salaries, other compensation, and employee benefits will rise above the $109,000 numbers for 2019 and most certainly for the year 2020. To convince me that the increase to the membership is to only cover Group operational costs would take a team of CPA’s from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC.

But that is not the good news. There has been some reevaluation of the proposed budget. The Board has approved the new Group Business Fees be allowed to be withdrawn as an approved expense from a Groups Trust. Previously the Groups Fees were out of one’s personal pocket. The increase for one that chooses to be a National Member associated with a group has been reduced from $15 to $10. A reasonable increase as the Foundations Operational costs for a group could have easily increased along with just about everything else in existence since 2014. How much is yet to be determined. Considering the many Chapters of Project Linus pay $100 a year for operational costs…QOVF is still a bargain.

The very good news. Through the efforts of a very dedicated and committed group of volunteers who spend countless hours helping with our fundraising functions annually, Not Forgotten QOV has sufficient assets and will be able to utilize the offering from National to pay our Group Business Fee from our Group’s Trust. We are reminded daily who really makes the Foundation a success, understands and thrives to accomplish the Mission, and without pause continue providing the symbol known to our service members and veteran recipients as a Quilt of Valor, the Volunteers. Without them the Mission would be a failure, Catherine’s vision but a passing thought and Not Forgotten QOV but a title.  

We thank you for your support and kind words and responses as we trekked through these muddy waters.

later…Les…

Saturday, January 4, 2020


An open letter to QOVF.



I’m Confused

No really, the latest from QOVF Leadership indicates that the Group Fees will increase from $30 to $75 (150%) and that a Group Members Annual Fee will increase from $5 to $15. Which translates to a 2 Member Group Fee increasing 162.5%. Meaning, an individual Group Member will sustain a 200% increase in their dues. As explained; to cover the increase in operation of the Foundation.
With the Cost of Living Adjustment for 2020 being 2.8%, the Social Security Bump being only 1.6%, or 1.2% below the rise in the Cost of Living and for those still paying SS tax, an increase of 3.6%, an increase for many of nearly $300 more per year in SS Taxes. It’s hard for me to believe the operating costs of the Quilts of Valor Foundation can justify an increase of 10% not to mention at least 150%.

In 2017, to keep it simple:
QOVF Total Assets at the beginning of the year totaled $361,618.
End of Year, $533,916.
Total 2017 Liabilities at the End of Year were $10,573.

Total Revenue was $830,492
Total Expenses were $659,321 or
Revenue less expenses of $171,165.
End of Year Assets were reported as $524,057.

Am I off base in assuming QOVF is solvent?

2018, to keep it even simpler:
Total Assets End of Year $693,465
Total Liabilities $11,483
Reporting End of Year Assets at $681,982

It was interesting to see the Salaries, other compensation and employee benefits increase from 2017, $15,041 to $109,444 in 2018.

More interesting though is that Revenue from dues between 2017 and 2018 increased by 1.53%. Contributions, gifts and grants increased by 7.65% and Total Revenue from 2017 to 2018 increased by 5.5%.

So in an effort for me to understand the need for an increase of 150% per Group, 162.5% for a 2 person Group to continue to function and a 200% increase for a Group Member to maintain their Volunteer Member Status would someone from leadership please indicate the percentage of increase for each of the following categories stipulated by the current Executive Director in her e-mail that has created the need to seek even more from those that contribute the most. The Volunteer Members, now over 11,000.

“*There are costs to conduct business, even non-profit business. We support groups and do not bill each group for their portion of the cost for the following:” Tammany McDaniel, Executive Director

Please note…the stipulation was made that the following categories as listed by The Executive Director is what justified the need to develop a membership base to offset these costs and make it possible for Groups to maintain the total of their funds raised to purchase authorized goods and supplies to craft QOV’s. What exactly did the $81,121 from dues cover last year? Have those expenses increased by at least 150% since 2014? Personally I don’t think so.
  
-The permission to raise funds in our name
-General liability for meetings and events
-Trademark/Registered Marks use
-Banking and accounting is paid for at the national level with no flow-down of group itemized costs
-Marketing materials
-Wholesale products for your fundraising
-Fundraising organization and (increasing) support
-IRS and state audits
-Annual federal and state non-profit filings
-Where required, a 501(c)(3) in each state
-Where required a license to solicit funds in each state
-Software and system databases
-Leadership Training and Support (increasing).


At the same time can someone answer.
Who is seeking out celebrity endorsements?
Who is writing Grant Proposals?
Has someone in leadership even sought out someone to write proposals?
Who is actively seeking Corporate Sponsorships? (Not to be confused with Partnerships.)
Who is actively seeking volunteer and membership relations with industry to pass on material and supply discounts and benefits of quilting products?

Is it time for the Quills of Valor Foundation to adopt a democratic system with membership voting rights?

Les Page #9029
Volunteer Member since 2014
Volunteer Since 2009
Volunteer Member Longarmer since 2012
Former State Coordinator and Executive Staff Member

…and one very confused and frustrated individual concerned about those that have yet to receive a Quilt of Valor and how this type, of yet to be justified increase, will affect the future of our Mission and the future of the Quilts of Valor Foundation and it’s membership base.   






Saturday, February 23, 2019

Are You Ready for some Quilt Fest?

We Quilt & Not Forgotten QOV will be at the 30th Mancuso Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. The 2019 Festival is February 28 - March 1 - March 2, 10 AM to 6 PM and March 3, 10 AM to 4 PM. Hampton Roads Convention Center, 1610 Coliseum Drive, Hampton, VA.

As in the past we will have a Raffle Quilt and again this year we will be raffling of a Singer Featherweight. This years Singer, Serial # AH 425884, was manufactured in Elizabethport, N.J. in 1948. This lot of serial numbers was commissioned on January 22, 1948. The machine has been completely refurbished and painted a beautiful Cobalt Blue by Jason and Rebecca Olah from Olah's Restoration and Services, Moyock, NC. You can find them on Facebook.

Please stop by our booth in the lobby area and say hi. If you are feeling lucky purchase some Raffle Tickets. All money collected is deposited with the Quilts of Valor Foundation, and made available to Not Forgotten QOV for authorized purchases of supplies and materials for our volunteers to craft and award Quilts of Valor. We can't thank Mancuso Show Management and their staff for the many years of continued support for the QOVF Mission and to Not Forgotten QOV.

See you at the show!

This years Featherweight. Tickets at the show only. $1.00 Each / 7 for $5 / 30 for $20






Wednesday, January 16, 2019

S...tuff Happens...



The quilts shown are done so to visually display a particular result that may be encountered by a Longarmer during the process. It is not a reflection of poor crafting of any quilter…rest assured the topics discussed here are by no means uncommon or an indication of any skill level. Just as I spend time with Jack the Ripper so do many quilters to make sure their completed top and backs are of the best possible quality and craftsmanship prior to handing it off to a longarmer. The problems discussed may in fact not develop until the Longarmer is prepping the quilt. An example would be a short quilt, lap, baby, etc. A ‘pieced’ back may in fact be provided and because there is not a significant amount of material rolled up on the Take Up Bar…a vertical seam is a non-factor.

The contents of “Quilt Preparation for the Longarmer” (here on the blog and at wequilt.org) are by no means written in stone. To some it may not be complete, to others, overkill. It is, based on my experience, what many Longarmer's look for when they take in a quilt. Are we going to get everything, every time? No. We don’t live in an ideal or perfect world. So, we adapt, improvise and overcome.

In my case it all starts with the “Spec Sheet” or what others may call the “Intake Sheet.” Quilt Size, thread choice, pattern choice, per inch cost, etc. And there is the all important “Special Instructions/Notes” Box. Here I’ll make notes regarding whether the quilt may me directional and other quilt top/back needs. It is here where I record the loaded quilt measurements once it’s ready for stitching and for Edge 2 Edge once the pattern is laid out the measurement for the starting point for each row to keep the distance between rows consistent.  



These measurements indicate the left and right side of the quilt and the benchmarks for keeping the quilt ‘square’ throughout the longarming process. Naturally if the top is wider or narrower than the bottom, some adjustment must be made as the quilt is advanced on the machine. But the goal is to keep it as close as possible to the beginning measurements. If one side is longer than the other that too is dealt with as the longarming progresses. I don’t think there is a Longarmer that wouldn’t emphasize the importance of a ‘square’ top. The same measurement across the top, middle and bottom, left, center and right. The back as well should be ‘square’ and the four edges even. Too often backs, when pieced, are not. This too can create difficulties during the process.

LEFT SIDE
















RIGHT SIDE

An even edge…Both the top and back for optimal longarming and accurate measurements as the process is ongoing. This tape remains in place until the bottom has been basted.


THIS



















                                                                                                              NOT THIS



















The BACK.

…Backing seams should run horizontally (left to right) This eliminates puckering 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. One reason 'selvage' should never be left on a seam edge. Remember…when it is all said and done…the back is 50% of the quilt you have spent hours crafting. Don’t short change your efforts by cutting corners on the backing. The” back” should have four evenly trimmed edges…
Vertical seams…may save cost in material.  Most Longarmer's will work with vertical seams but if you want to eliminate a possible problem stick with horizontal seams when backs are pieced. These photos depict a pieced back, square, and in this case 10” longer and wider than the top. But you can see the problem a vertical seam can create. We do a lot of Quilts of Valor a year…each one gets 108” fabric cut to 10” wider than the top to be completed. What is left over becomes ‘blender’ to be used later. If you quilt a lot, we recommend 108” fabric for backs. What’s left becomes part of your“stash.” And who don’t like stash?




IRONING AND PRESSING

I’m certain, I’m one of the few, that don’t have additional charges. My motivation to longarm is Quilts of Valor. Over the last several years I’ve developed some friends that allow me to longarm their quilts. I am very grateful and having plenty of time to longarm is my blessing. As a result of not being a business I don’t have a bottom line so I can do some prep tasks that are otherwise charged for. But that doesn’t mean a quilter should skip essential responsibilities before passing on the top for longarming. Ironing and pressing being one.


                        This is a task and I can understand why longarming businesses charge extra.

IRISH PENNANTS/LOOSE THREADS

In the Marine Corps you quickly learned the correlation between Irish Pennants and Push-Ups. But because there are no push-ups in quilting (thank goodness) the lesson isn’t necessarily drilled home. Irish Pennants: loose threads, string or straps that detract from a squared-away appearance. In our case the loose threads can be a problem to many Longarmer’s and can easily create their own problems during the process and take away from that squared away appearance.
   
The quilt top and backing should be clipped of loose threads, both front and back. Either could cause snags and uneven stitching. The longarm foot can catch in loose threads on the top and break the quilting thread and easily cause a straight line to veer and a curve to straighten as the quilt is being stitched. They could even be the guilty party of a fabric tear. Loose threads can also get into the wheels and encoders causing skipped stitches. Take the time to remove those loose threads before it gets to the Longarmer.

Again, Longarmer’s strive to ‘compliment’ a quilters craftsmanship and enhance the overall beauty of the quilt. With this goal in mind it is understandable for some to charge a fee to take the time to prepare the quilt for longarming by ironing, pressing and clipping loose threads if these tasks are not completed before it gets to the Longarmer.


QUILTS WITHOUT BORDERS

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. 


It may not seem like much…but when it is loaded, and tension is applied the edge stitching goes a long way in aiding the Longarmer in doing a good job in relation to a great job. As much as we would like to take credit for great jobs…it always goes back to the piecer and their efforts in preparing the quilt properly for the Longarmer.

Like we say here in Studio 708…Quilt till you wilt…we do. 








Tuesday, November 27, 2018

We Have a Minute...


 From Studio 708...



The Welcome Flamingo is up and ready...


Here's one of the only rooms not 'normally' used for quilting or crafting...Sew Days here are the exception...so it was a natural choice to decorate.


If you're in the neighborhood and need a cup of tea or coffee while running about...stop by. Those guarding the chairs allow humans to share.


I had a really good Christmas in 97. It was the first year I helped Santa at Disneyland. I had been helping him at other venues but this was my first Disneyland Adventure. Look  who showed up to share my lap, make a wish and drop of her list.


Even the Longarm Room gets a little Christmas decor. All activity of course being watched over by the Flamingo Santa.



So, it is in fact beginning to look a lot like Christmas. So while we have a few minutes between the "Gotta Do", "Should Do", and "OMG Forgot to Do" before the holiday is upon us we just want to take a few minutes to thank you all for your friendship, your sharing with us your participation and experiences in the craft of quilting and for those that allow me the privilege to longarm their quilts...Thank You all.

Regardless of the holiday you celebrate may it find you in good health, with family and friends and filled with the joy of your faith and beliefs. When between the hustle and bustle of getting it all aligned, organized and synchronized to perfection (if this happens write a book) please allow your thoughts a brief, uninterrupted pause and send a silent thank you to those who are standing watch on this great Republic 24/7, 365, so that we have these opportunities to celebrate the meaning of our holidays.

From our house...Merry Christmas and may this year be a new standard in Happy New Year's. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Some "Yea" Some "Nay"


Like it or not it is approaching...So Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Studio 708.



I've discussed some of these items previously. This is just a refresher for some and a couple of new testimonials for items that are well worth the money...and well others...not so much.

These Havel scissors are an absolute must in my longarm room. And at $12.99 from havelssewing.com it's hard to go wrong. You'll see them at most retailers and quilt shops for $30.
The current pair have been in use for 18 months and still working well. I do have three or four still in their packages...just in case.

I'm going to give another job well done to the iron I use. The current one more than 18 months in service and never a glitch. Its predecessor carried the Longarm Room duties for over three years. The Hamilton Beach Durathon 19800. A work horse in this house. Like the scissors I have a back up...just in case the one in the Sewing Room or the one in the Longarm Room takes a dump. The one standing by was purchased on Amazon, on sale for $20. We've owned irons that cost way more than that and not lasted as long or performed as well. 


We don't recommend the one with the retractable cord. 

Here's a new...YEA...

Since, like almost day one, I've had a anti-fatigue mat in front of the Longarm. If you had my knees you would too. The originals were replaced after several years with a slightly higher quality but of the same design. I have been looking at the industrial graded mats for some time. None of the quilt stores or even Lowes or Home Depot carried anything I would consider any where close to affordable. Especially when I was searching for 4' wide by 12' long. Just about every thing I saw was at best 3' by 8'. Several weeks ago I was doing a search via Google and came across Uline. (uline.com). I found what I was looking for in a matter of minutes. I chose the Cadillac Mat, a step up from the standard anti-fatigue mats available but for the 4X12 only $43 more. It was shipped over night for $30. So I have invested $273 for a 4'X12' 5/8" Thick Anti-Fatigue mat. I have just laid it down right over the previous and boy are my knees happy. If you are looking for an mat check ULine out. I highly recommend the Cadillac but I'm sure their standard 'soft cushioning' mats would do the job for many. One thing to remember...most of the mats you see available from quilting sources are 3/8' thick. Spend the little extra and go for the 5/8" in whatever size you need. I've seen 2'X8' 3/8" advertised for over $200 from quilting related vendors. On Uline you can find a 5/8" 2X8 in the standard version for $68. Shop around. 

Happy feet and knees. 

Here's a HUGE "Nay."

As the result of a childish temper tantrum from yours truly I broke, beyond repair, my cordless Dyson which I used daily in the Longarm Room. It was in fact one of the first Dyson Cordless models to my knowledge, the DC44, which we got in 2010. Now the V10 reigns as the leader in the Dyson inventory. The V10 Absolute is $527 on Amazon...The Animal is $476.

Not wanting to break the bank for the V10 and liking some of the features of the Shark F80 ($349...on sale for Thanksgiving NOW for $299) I went with the Shark. Which saved us about a $180. Mistake, HUGE mistake. It doesn't hold a candle to a Dyson. Shark does have some features that are beneficial and I will use it until it wears out OR I have another childish temper tantrum. Shark does have a 60 day money back guarantee. But by the time you get it packaged, properly for shipping, pay the return shipping costs and the restocking fee you might as well just burn a Grant. My experiences have shown, half the advertised battery life, loss of suction as soon as the internal screen attracts dog hair, lint, thread and fine particles...in a house with dogs, lint, thread and fine particles it only takes a few minutes to plug up the internal screen and suction drops off dramatically. I'm saving my pennies and dimes and will upgrade, huge upgrade, to a Dyson as soon as practicable. Hopefully the Shark will last that long. Fortunately we have mostly laminate flooring that the Shark can barely handle. For the throw rugs we have two choices, both the Dyson Ball and the Oreck vacuum circles around the Shark. Live and learn...oh yeah...and control your temper.



Quilts...yes I've been quilting...here's a few since the first of Nov. 











Enough for now...enjoy your holidays and well...

Quilt till you wilt we do.