Feathers Create My Happy Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feathers, feathers, feathers.  Yes, I do know how to quilt many other things, however, I absolutely love to quilt feathers.  As soon as I had finalized the purchase on my machine I was determined to master the technique of  quilting these beauties.   So, maybe you have just bought your first machine and are having the same thoughts I just shared of loving feathers , or you have a machine and simply haven’t taken the time to learn this technique. Well, then this post will come in handy!  Although this is an older video I thought I would repost it for some of my newer followers, and for those of you that have yet to tackle this motif.

The video I am sharing below is a tutorial on formal feathers, some quilters refer to it as the “hump and  bump”.

 

 

Whether you are new feathers, or just needed a refresher on fine tuning your skills I hope you found this video beneficial.  By the way what are your favorite motifs to quilt?

 

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Did You Hear Me?

 

 

What is a business without good communication? There is none.  How vital is communication with our customers?  It’s pretty darn vital.  I know that when I was quilting for customers,  I composed an intake sheet that allowed me to notate information regarding each client and specifics on what they wanted on their quilt.  Why was this so important?  Well, hello I am no super hero when it comes to retaining every single word my customer shared with during consultation.  I could review my notes and realized “I completely forget she had mentioned this, or requested that”.  We all have good intentions of listening closely to the wants and needs of our customers but can we rely on mentally keeping every detail tucked away in our heads…not this girl.

 I rely on contacting with people via email, rather than connecting with them by phone.  This is not something I am proud of, it is definitely an area I am trying to improve upon.  As I picked up the phone recently I became extremely aware of how significant that voice to voice connection is to both the customer and myself.  Those receiving my call were pleasantly surprised I had reached out to them.  And when I am the one answering the call my clients cannot believe it’s actually “me” fielding calls and not an employee.  Yep folks believe it or not it’s just little old me in my studio now that my red-headed assistant got a new job.  Yeah and boo all at the same time…

Bottom line–hearing someones voice, the tone in which they are speaking and having the capability to exchange words “VERBALLY” is huge!

Having an online business does allow me to work with customer but in a different way.  Now, I utilize my blog , and newsletter to reach out to peers, and those in quilting community. Since I’m always striving to improve I’m also working on implementing more tutorials!

Speaking of tutorials thank you so much for all the kind words about my Baptist Fan tutorial.  It really makes my job rewarding when I hear how much viewers appreciate and benefit from my videos.  If there is something in particular you would like to see demonstrated let me know!

Has anyone struggled with finding a balance in communicating with customers? If you have found a balance what’s your secret? And don’t say you remember EVERYTHING!

 

Pantographs, Good or Bad for the Newbie?

My adventure in longarm quilting took off in 2004, and at that time I longed to be able to stitch out a pantograph.  Alas, I did NOT seem to have any talent for producing a  pantograph.  I was totally “Pantograph Challenged” which was a blessing, unbeknownst to me, in disguise.  But during that time period it was sadly, quite clear pantographs  and Lisa weren’t going to be friends.

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My inability to stitch a panto forced me to initiate my work from the front of my machine.  It became apparent if  I wanted any of my designs to come alive on fabric I would need to start the process off this way.  I took baby steps, to begin it was just a meander.  Next I incorporated stars, loops, and hearts to this meander.  As my baby steps grew, the strides in designs grew.  Over time I was no longer taking steps; I was running!  My confidence finally paved the road to implementing feathers, feathers flew into custom, custom brought about stitch in the ditch…and so on, and so on, and so on.unknown-27

Being “Pantograph Challenged” was fate.    I truly believe that piece of my quilting journey drove me to become the quilter I am today.  If creating pantos had been smooth sailing from the get go I often wonder where I might be now.

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So this raises a question to many quilters:  Are Pantos a Good Place to Start?

They aren’t  necessarily a bad place to begin.  I encourage my students to become more familiar and comfortable standing in front of the machine, rather than behind the machine.  Starting in the front of the machine will help in a couple of ways:

  • Gaining insight and understanding regarding “proper balance”.  Was the quilt evenly quilted or did it become smaller and tighter on one side?
  • Hearing the sound of the machine when things go awry.  With some machines the sound changes, (i.e tension) In addition, being positioned in front of the machine will provide the ability to  SEE the stitches. Obviously having a visual will allow immediate access to viewing issues.

After about a year, I became proficiently decent at pantos.  I vividly recall completing an entire row of quilting, only to spend an unpleasant amount of time ripping out the that row due to tension issues. Yes, I had heard the machine, it sounded a little different.  Yes, I chose to ignore it.   And yes, I ultimately paid the price for my lazy choices. What took 15 minutes to establish, took 3 hours to eliminate.  That most definitely was not  a good quilting day.

Are you new to your machine?  If so I would ask you to consider working from the front of your machine for a couple of months prior to diving head first into attempting any pantos from behind.  Then let me know how the transition went.

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Am I Really Quilting Today?

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Most days have me descending down the stairs to my quiet haven and loving all the components that make my business complete.  But that is not to say that there aren’t a few days here and there when time in the studio has me feeling as though I have just entered a gymnasium and am about to be a participant in a wrestling match.

How do the two compare? Believe it or not in quite a few ways.

Me V.S. Fabric

Round 1:   Pre-Washing Fabric Yes as beautiful as it appears in the store, and in your car, the idea of washing it is not appealing.  Loading this amazing purchase into the washer isn’t horrible, but the results of the washer is quite exhausting.  Let me say these two words “Wet Fabric”.  Just like a wrestler moves about the mat being focused and cautious not to step outside the circle, removing the material without bringing water onto the floor is challenging! 

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Round 2: Ironing Yards and Yards of Fabric 

Ironing, ironing and more ironing.  Pressing wrinkles out of a mountain of fabric located to the left of my ironing board can feel endless and yet has to be done carefully.  After spending hours of steaming, and pressing I must be cautious not to trip over the fabric that has been ironed into silky smoothness laying to the right of my ironing board.  This has me dancing around, like a wrestler on the mat, trying to prevent my opponent from bringing me down onto all fours. images-57

Round 3: Piecing Large Quilts in a Small Area  Intense to say the least.  Piecing the fabric to the quilt is quite similar to a wrestler performing the right technique on their opponent in order to gain and keep control. Both are done repeatedly using skill and patience.

Round 4: Feeding Fabric Through the Machine  Without a Longarm working your material through the machine is taxing.  Will it ever end? Pulling, pushing, aligning, and keeping a nice pace.  These are all characteristics that a wrestler acquires in order to prevent being pinned by their opponent; yes you see we are alike!images-53

 

Round 5: Longarm Quilters, Taking Fabric Off Machine and Folding It Neatly Rather than rip my gorgeous pre-washed, ironed, and quilted fabric to the ground, I will firmly tug and pull the beast off my Longarm.  After I have mastered the removal off the Longarm, I will neatly fold the quilt.  In my eyes this is a “PIN”..and to a wrestler this is also considered a win.

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 Both take physical endurance, and both demand mental skill.  But it is both those abilities that push me forward, and I would think this would also pertain to the wrestler.  The wrestler will face easy matches, just as I encounter days that everything in my studio runs smoothly.  However, those arduous matches, and quilting days, make both of us work harder and educate each of us more than those simple periods.

Does quilting remind you of any sport, or event in particular?  We all encounter different challenges, and adversities when we quilt.  I would love to know yours!

Quilting into 2017

The ball in Times Square counted down into the New Year, the radio stations revealed the top songs of 2016, and all the fashion magazines are now covered with the newest styles for 2017.  So 2016 is part of my past and 2017 is now here and ready me for me to tackle.  Which brings me to contemplating my goals for the next 12 months.unknown-8

ENJOY and RISK

They may be two short words but behind those letters are huge meanings and an abundance of possibilities.  The doors that will have the capability of opening, should I decide to turn the knob, is limitless.

ENJOY

Such a simple word; yet so often put aside throughout the course of my day.  Finding “enjoyment” in my day is significant.  Although I love quilting and all that my business encompasses, stress often swoops in and flies off with my positive energy.  This is just unacceptable!  So goal #1 is to be more mindful of the ENJOYMENT surrounding me.  Whether it is the sound of my machine, a comment I have received, the many orders I have that need to be filled, homework with my youngest son, enjoyment can be found in abundance each day.

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RISK

This word has me running scared!images-7

What if I’m unsuccessful?  What if I make the wrong decision?  What if, what if, what if?  Isn’t that the theme of life? And isn’t that what keeps many of us from growing in the business world and in our personal lives? Well, speaking for myself it most certainly does.  The unknown is quite frightening; and holds me back.  My reluctance in taking RISKS is keeping me from reaching and touching the stars.  If I keep worrying about the “what ifs”, there will never be any reaching, never mind, touching the stars.  This quilter wants to touch the stars and then head for the moon!  So RISKS will be taken in the future.  Whatever the outcome may be, I will learn and grow for each one.  Moreover, I will ENJOY the fact that I actually worked on goal #2 for 2017 and took some RISKS!

Do you have any goals for 2017? Whether it is related to quilting or not, I’d love to hear from you. We gain inspiration from one another, so your comment might just be the motivation someone else needs, SO PLEASE share!

Regroup, Reorganize AND Get Motivated!

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Regroup, Reorganize AND Get Motivated

It doesn’t take very long before all the seasonal joy of the holidays dissipates and we find ourselves feeling the doldrums of the wintry months ahead.  All to easily we can be consumed with those lethargic feelings and the constant yearning to remain in our pajamas for several hours each day is a reality.  The idea of breakfast in bed which can easily transition into lunch in bed sounds very enticing; even dreamy!  What keeps me going when the couch/bed potato plays like a lullaby in my head?  Of course my youngest son obviously has me getting out of bed in order to prepare him for school.  But what keeps me from climbing BACK into bed or onto the couch with my favorite blanket?

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Cleaning My Studio!  This does wonders for my spirit.  After completing a project, like the quilt I just finished for my dear friend Paul, and taking the time to revamp all that appeared to be strewn throughout my studio my mind instantly cleared.  Believe it or not stepping down to a clean working space invites creativity and a positive energy.  Who wants to start a new design when it looks like Santa’s elves had a huge Christmas party in the studio?

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Spitballing (or as Drea  likes to say Brainstorming)

My lovely red-headed assistant had never  heard of the term “Spitballing”.

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 She was quite offended when I suggested that prior to diving into our days tasks we needed to huddle and “Spitball” ideas back and forth.  After giving her the definition of what the term meant she was more than willing to  comply with my request.  The idea of spitballing opens the door to new ideas, perceptions, and growth for future business.  This can be especially helpful when your mind feels a bit “stuck”.  Bouncing thoughts off of team members, friends, and peers not only bring enlightenment to my projects but often enables me to wiggle out of that heavy “stuck” feeling that keeps me from moving forward.

My FABRIC!

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Nothing gets me inspired and rejuvenated like finding amazing fabric!  I just bought this “Tula Pink” material, and it has me humming a tune and dancing around the studio.  My web of creativity is spinning away and I am so excited to put vision to thread!  A little fabric therapy does wonders for this quilter!

Motivation comes in numerous forms. Perhaps it is music, or a quote that is hanging in your quilting area. Whatever the source I would love to hear about it!  It’s always nice to tuck away a new idea to prevent the winter blah’s from provoking me into becoming a couch/bed potato!

Happy Holidays to All

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Happy Holidays to All!

I would like to thank everyone who has made 2016 such an amazing year! The business has grown in so many ways, from announcing the launch of my ProPebble Rulers, the addition of my red-headed assistant ~ Drea, to vending for the first time in Houston.  Wow! My success and love for this business would not be possible without my quilting peers.  I am grateful for all that everyone has shared, and experienced with me over the last 12 months.  I cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store for me; and am eager to communicate all that transpires (including the good, the bad and the ugly) with you!

I am wishing all of you a safe and wonderful holiday filled with much laughter and love with those that you care for most.

Class is in Session

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The BERNINA Ambassador Reunion in Chicago IL, December 2016

I recently spent a few cold days in Chicago, very COLD days, uniting with BERNINA Ambassadors.  The time in this more than chilly state placed us in the roles of students as we embarked upon three classes that would give us insight on concepts, machines, and tools we may not have experienced until now.

It has been quite awhile since I have been placed on the side of the desk where our class participants sit; it was refreshing and quite an educational experience.  I walked away after those few days reflecting on my style of teaching and realized I might just need to tweak my instructional ways a little bit.

Talk a Little Slower Lisa!

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I know I get very excited and have a tendency to talk a million miles an hour when I begin speaking to my students.  And although I feel I’m making perfect sense I am quite certain those sitting before me feel a bit like Sally.  Time allotted, and speed at which my information is relayed could be balanced just a tad. My enthusiams may come across as a few very, very fast run on sentences.


Cramming in Too Much Information 

Again, finding a balance is challenging.  I am always working to make sure that my students leave their time spent with me feeling that they have gotten their monies worth.  One of my greatest fears is an individual exiting my class thinking “I just spent my afternoon for what? AND it cost me ____???!!!”  Working and reworking the information I share in my lectures, and classes is a continual revision.  I would hate to think I have pupils looking at me feeling like they are out-of-order half way through my class.

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Onto to two things I know everyone can benefit from in my class:

CHOCOLATE

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 and BREAKS!unknown-22

Whether it’s a Hershey’s Bar, Twix, or Kit-Kat, whatever floats your boat; chocolate is never a bad thing to get you through my classes.  Secondly, providing breaks is a Lisa MUST! If you are going to tolerate me for half the day or go big and endure a full day worth of Lisa’s instruction giving time to stretch, and regroup is a big deal! I don’t want any eyes glazing over during my class!

So I thank you Chicago, and those at the BERNINA Ambassador reunion that gave many thoughts to ponder over.  I am sure those entering my future classes will thank you too!  I love knowing that I am forever finding growth which will enhance my business and personal craft.

Oh, I did come back to Pennsylvania with one very selfish realization…I really, really WANT the BERNINA Serger!

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What have you learned while being attending a quliting conference or class?

Every now and then it does a teacher good to sit on the other side of the desk; gaining a new persepective is never a bad thing.

Reality Check-Vending 102

Houston we have arrived…bring on the world of VENDING.

Since I am an individual who feels very out of control unless I have everything mapped out, down to the tiniest detail, Judy and I created a mock vending booth in my studio a few weeks prior to the event.  Together we took the morning to put together display racks and configure exactly how our “real” booth would appear once we reached Houston.  Taking into consideration all the pieces of equipment and quilting items our space required, we both felt as though a two-hour set up was more than manageable.

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This ensemble was an estimated five-hour production. Not two, but five hours which is over double what this team had projected as a reasonable time frame.  What was I thinking? I obviously had the mindset of a “newbie”.  Erecting this exhibit took an exorbitant amount of energy and time which we were depleted of by the half way mark.  Oh, that’s right, the “half way mark” was what Judy and I thought would be the allotted time needed to furnish our booth.

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Five hours later, our mission was accomplished.  Deep breaths were taken, and our back and minds were aching.   Nevertheless, as you can see below, Judy was rearing and ready to go for all our Houston quilters!

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Thank you Houston for an amazing vending experience! Judy and I are having a  wonderful time and will be heading back to Pennsylvania having learned so much. I have compiled a list or rather lists of “What to Do” and “What Not to Do” for our next vending adventure.  I am very curious to see if we can minimize the five-hour installation time.   Do you have any insight to bestow upon this green vendor? As you can see I could definitely use any and all tips you have to offer!

If you haven’t been by the booth and are in Houston, its booth #1323.  Love to see you and Flat Lisa.

Lisa

Quilting for Customers: “How To”

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Longwood Gardens Quilt  2010

Quilting for customers, yes this is a specialty that I was successful doing for approximately 10 and half years.  I loved it and quilted some 3000 quilts through this livelihood.  Are you considering expanding your quilting to the next level? If so, this is a wonderful way to make that goal a reality.

Trust is a HUGE word, and one of the best feeling in the world is when your customers embrace your talent, and depend on you to bring life and beauty to their quilt.  What does that feel like? I cannot imagine giving my quilts, which I consider my babies, to someone else.  Speaking for myself I pour my heart and soul into the quilting process and have no doubt it would be painful letting another individual take charge temporarily.  For me that’s one of the aspects of this profession that I find so rewarding, each piece is one of my client’s babies.

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All three of my boys… back in the day…

To Be or Not to Be: What about this business appeals to you? Is the idea that you simply love quilting or are you looking for additional income? These are two significant questions to consider.  For those individuals choosing to quilt as a hobby, kudos to you! I say quilt away and surround yourself with all the creativeness you can gather; but please be mindful of those that do quilt for monetary reasons.  Being a professional quilter becomes very challenging when a customer declares my cost expensive compared to that of Quinn Quilter.  What my customer does not realize is there is a difference between Quinn Quilter and Lisa Calle.  Quinn Quilter loves this craft as a hobby; Lisa Calle not only loves this trade but also has made a career out of quilting.  If you feel that this a business you are aspiring to become a part of then I can only offer this piece of advice; I quilt for the purpose of making both my clients and ME happy. I must remain true to the fact that this is a business and income for my family.  Therefore, the ability to lower my costs to meet the prices of those that are fortunate to quilt as a hobby is not something I can justify.  Yes, possess an attitude! If you have committed to making quilting a business then you are worthy of owning your quilting ideals,  methods AND prices.

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It’s All About the Money: Begin by setting an hourly wage that you feel will be advantageous of your time, and materials.  YOU need to be satisfied with the price you are charging, and obviously this might be different for everyone.  I am not a low-priced quilter, as a matter of fact I’m fairly certain that I may have ended up being the most expensive in my area.  However, I knew what I wanted to make monetarily; I was realistic that I had other responsibilities that also demanded my time.  I was comfortable putting those obligations aside in order to run my business AND I was also comfortable putting those considerations into my quilting price.

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The AH HA Moment: Retail and I have always been united, “Customers Come First” was my motto and I went out of my way to ensure my customers were more than satisfied.  Did I make everyone happy?  Heck no, I would never please everyone.  Boy, I definitely had my share of those clients that undoubtedly could not be appeased in any way possible. On those work days happy hour felt like it would never arrive!  Even enduring sweat and tears there were some partnerships that dissolved.  Quickly I would come to terms with the understanding that there were going to be professional relationships that would find me and my client parting ways…and Ah Ha… that’s okay.

Next Up: Mastering feathers, I always wanted to conquer this technique.  I could be found, pencil in hand, quietly doodling for hours and hours.  My dedication paid off and gradually I was feathering away!  Now did every customer love my new gift of feathering? No way, as I stated before there was, at least, that one customer who shuddered “Oh no I’m not fond of feathers”.  For the sake of feathers people quit bursting my bubble,  feathers are my thang!  My advice, don’t let anyone get in the way of your thang!

It Needs a Price Tag:  Well friends that is a post in and of itself!

Lisa