Don’t Skimp on Warming Up!

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THIS Mrs. Incredible Stretches a Bit Differently

Ah yes, wouldn’t it be amazing if we all had the ability to put our “Incredible” suit on prior to our day of quilting?  Unfortunately, we are not lucky enough to possess such powers!  When I began quilting I didn’t even consider the idea of stretching.  However, now that I am a little older (and I mean JUST a little older), and MUCH wiser I make an effort to stretch my shoulders and back before and after working in the studio.

Here are some of the stretches that I have implemented into my quilting routine:

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You may need to alter your choice of stretches, since we all quilt a little differently as we develop our own technique and style.  Those exercises that will be the most beneficial to you will depend on which areas of your body absorbs the most tension.

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Regardless of how long you plan  to work on a design, don’t neglect to stretch!  I doubt there is one quilter that can’t relate to the physical toll our bodies endure from this craft!

What pre game exercise do you incorporate into your quilting time?

Quilting Isn’t for Sissies!

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A quilter without neck, back or shoulder issues? I haven’t encountered one yet, and this includes me!.  Whether I’m sitting at my domestic machine or standing at the longarm, I find that I cannot escape the army of pain that will soon invade my neck and shoulders.

Me vs. Neck and Shoulder Pain

In order to combat the inevitable I have taken to “warming up” my muscles before I venture into quilting for the day.  Why?  Well, those of us who quilt are engaging in an activity that is as physically taxing on our body as those that work out at the gym.  Would you consider kickboxing, or lifting weights prior to performing some stretches?  No, I highly doubt it.  Think of quilting in the same manner, believe it or not we are applying pressure and weight on various body muscles to quilt.  And just like any other form of exercise, over time and use these body parts begin to hurt!

Life with Bikram Yoga

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Last June, I started attending Bikram Yoga and the results have made a HUGE difference.  Some of the stretches that I complete in yoga are the same stretches I carry out prior to quilting.  In addition, I also try to pause in the middle of my quilting to incorporate further stretching as I attempt to keep my body relaxed as possible.  Here are some of the yoga poses that I find beneficial.

Half moon, Eagle, triangle, bow, camel (which I hate), and rabbit.  If you are interested in more poses here is a link for ALL 26 (yes 26)… Bikram yoga.  Don’t hesitate to investigate YouTube, it’s a great resource for tons of videos that will demonstrate many valuable stretches!

 

Beyond Yoga

Don’t neglect the neck!  Changing your neck’s position whether you are piecing or quilting is crucial to pain-free designing.  During periods that require piecing, I will vary the height of my chair by lowering or raising it in order to prevent any undo stress.  This is also done when I am quilting.   Now if you are lucky enough to have a hydraulic lift for your machine, all the better for your body! This will enable you to alternate your choices of siting, or standing.  Moreover, you will have the flexibility of raising and lowering the table.  My lift is a must have, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it!

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What types of things do you do to combat the aches and pains while enduring the  physical job or hobby of quilting?

Go On…

 

I really try to expand my repertoire with each quilt I design. I achieve this by incorporating a new technique; whether it be in the quilting, piecing, or appliqué, somewhere in my layout.   A feathered star quilt is o ne that I have been longing to make, yet I have evaded this design due to the odd angles.  I realize a feathered star is far from being a new skill; but I continue to side step any forward motion due to insecurities .  I do very little executing on the EQ 7 but admittedly I  have played around with the feathered star (see below picture).

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Unfortunately no “YES!” moments have emerged, or any results that I perceive to love.  So I suppose I will have to persevere and hope one day I will have a light bulb moment and a feathered star quilt design will appear in my head.

Who else has a technique they have been meaning to try? Or maybe there is a quilt design that you have thoughts of completing?

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It Could Use a Little TLC

 

My studio, my special haven from the rest of the world where I spend 99.9999% of each day, could use a little TLC.  I would venture to say that my work space would beg and plead for a bit of love if it had the ability to do so.  Now I’m not indicating that I should apply to be on one of those HGTV shows that would come in and gut my studio in order to make it look like a quilters dream room.  images-91 No things aren’t that bad, at least not yet.  But I would agree that if I had to pick one aspect of my studio that I could improve upon it would be bringing “organization” into these four walls.  I know where my materials and tools are generally located, I could easily find them blindfolded (I think); BUT obtaining them more efficiently wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.  AND having fabric, rulers, shipping materials etc., displayed in a manner that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye would be a bonus!  Overall I am quite confident that bringing that one word, organization, into this studio would infuse a calmer energy during each work day.

This might just have to go on my 2017 “to do” list, or is that what red-headed assistants are hired for?  OR maybe Jo Jo and Chip Gaines will feel adventurous and find themselves traveling to Pottstown PA to give this quilter some “Fixer Upper” pointers?

Unrealistic I know, but a girl can dream can’t she?!

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Is there an aspect of your quilting work space that needs to be improved upon, or changed?

 

Guilds, Guilds, and More Guilds

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Selecting a Quilting Guild to join is a personal choice. They all vary in size, passions, choices of charity works etc. Which has me asking these question to those of you out there that are, or have been, Guild members.

What appealed to you when you first entertained the thought of incorporating a Quilting Guild into your life?

How did you decide which Guild to join, and what aspects of being a part of the group do, or did, you find most beneficial?

Now comes time for your wisdom and insight! Let’s make the idea of selecting a Guild a little less overwhelming for our fellow quilters!

Blowing Off Quilting Steam

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We all need to do it; those moments, or days that have you ready to blow and I don’t mean blowing out celebratory candles.  No on the contrary, it’s those particular quilting segments that have you feel as though one more nanosecond in the studio will have you evolving into the Exorcist.

How do I Handle those Moments?  There are two answers to that question.  But my main objective is to remove myself from my working space, run from my working space if need be.  Because let’s face it nothing productive is going to transpire while I am feeling like this way.images-82

 

 

 

 

   Golfing

Oh Yeah! My most prized sport and means of releasing quilting frustration.  This extra curricular activity provides 18 holes of deliberately whacking a little white ball. Seriously what better way to “Let it Go”?  I generally walk the course so the exercise I acquire while traveling the greens helps turn my frown upside down.  And if my game isn’t go very well, at least I have a little white ball to take it out on.  So with my clubs in hand I am able to focus on something other than fabric,  the longarm machine, or whatever else is driving me to madness.images-84Hot Yoga

Regardless of what Drea has said, Hot Yoga is my second choice for seeing those puffs of frustration smoke go bye-bye.  So what if the room is 104 degrees with 40% humidity, and so what if Drea tells me I have lost my marbles, Hot Yoga works for me.  After getting over the initial drippage of sweat that creates a light rain shower on my yoga mat, I love NOT having to think about ANYTHING! This is all about me, my mind and body coming together, and after an hour and a half I feel fabulous!

images-86How do you relieve days that are composed of quilting frustration and have you wanting to yell from the hilltops?  Life is too short to neglect creating or having an escape from negativity; so how do you bring positivity to you day?images-87

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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Want vs. Need

 

 

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I am not a high maintenance person.  I am not one that has to have the name brand handbag, shoes, clothes etc.  In fact I can count on one hand how many pair of shoes I own, and the one Vera Bradley bag I utilize for everything.  After reading those few sentences one would quickly deduce that the word “materialistic” and “Lisa Calle” couldn’t be further a part.  You would be correct, but I am human.  That being said the machine “SERGER” has me acting like this:

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So childlike right?! This has me pondering  “The Need Vs The Want” of this rather expensive machine.  Why do I want it? It’s just so cool! While in Chicago I had the amazing fate of using the Serger and eventually emarking back to PA in tears because I had to part with my new-found toy.  The fact that it cuts AND sews, come on that in and of itself makes it a done deal.  The future of fabric edges being finished before pre-washing, edges of quilts also finished before binding, creating bags and pj bottoms (which I could live in) has my “I want” thoughts working overtime.  15110994_599886990218974_4417419421112390630_o

Do I need it? No not really.  So I suppose I need to stop pouting.unknown-38

Yes it would be extremely amazing to own, but being responsible and mature I will end my temper tantrum now.  Do you have a need vs. a want? Those inner struggles are too torturous to hold inside so please share!

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!

Spend VS. Save

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Saving a few pennies is not only something we all LIKE to do, but for most of us saving is a top priority.  I am highly aware of where every penny is going, there isn’t a piece of copper that isn’t accounted for in my life.  The orthodontist, car, mortgage, yadda, yadda, yadda the list goes.  That list goes on UNTIL you get to my six letter word….FABRIC!

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And BAM, just like that my money starts flying away!  I wouldn’t consider my self a high maintenance girl, however, I love good fabric.  That being said, the one thing I will not skimp on is the quality of my fabric.  You will  never find me purchasing material other than the high quality quilt shop fabric.  The hand of the fabric, the way it feels and drapes.  I could do an infomercial using a piece of really good fabric. There is nothing like QUALITY FABRIC for me.

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So the idea of saving pennies, nickels or dimes when it comes to quilting is not easy for me.  I wish I could say that I am as disciplined with my fabric money habits as I am in every other area of my life; but that is not the case.  Maybe not keeping a large stash is my saving grace.  Can you imagine if I had a HUGE stash now knowing I only commit to quality fabric?!  Holy piggy banks I’d be in big trouble!images-34

 

 

 

 

I need a few quilting friends  to make me feel better about my fabric habits.  Please share with me in what aspects of quilting do you find yourself saving and spending?