My Dearest Cherrywood,

My life would simply feel incomplete without special moments found in the presence of my quilting crush, Cherrywood Fabric.  Over the past couple of days not only was I fulfilling my passion of “quilting” but I also laid hands on the love of my life – CHERRYWOOD! Yes, Cherrywood Fabric ranks up there as my first love, but I also have a second love.  I mean, god forbid there’s no Cherrywood in my life I need to have options! So next in line would undoubtedly have to be feathers.  Oh, how I gush when I am quilting feathers into a design.  Now, just imagine my reaction when I am presented with a project that utilized Cherrywood Fabric AND Feathers!! Yes, I was beyond thrilled and I owe all my happiness to Linda McQuaid, who is a member of the Cherrywood team.  The planets aligned perfectly for me because she requested that I complete her very first quilt. Of course I gave her a big “Hell Yes!”  I was in dream land during this quilting process and although I didn’t want to wake up reality called, but I’m thrilled to report that the finished product will be displayed proudly in team Cherrywood’s booth. I highly recommend having those credit cards handy for the kit!

It felt like ions since I have completed a quilt for a customer, I was so excited to have the chance to not only produced a client quilt but this piece allowed me to cover issues that students inquire about during my Divide and Design Class.

First up:  What do you do if the quilt is not a square?

Second question:  What do you do if there really isn’t a central focal point?

In response to the first question if your quilt isn’t a square, relax, no big deal.  Breathe easy and treat the quilt as if it were a square.  You will simply begin in the center and divide your quilt.  Easy right?!

Pertaining to the second question, if there is no true focal point just create one. Looking at the picture above you can see there is a pieced block in the center, and it is the identical to the other pieced blocked on the fabric.  Our goal is to produce a design around that.

I implemented some straight line quilting to define a few areas; and then filled them.

Final question:  What if I don’t want to quilt my piece to death?

I understand, sometimes less is more.  I didn’t want to quilt this fabric too heavily, which was really unlike me.  I had to determine what I was going to apply on the outside of the quilt.  This was the real challenge on this quilt.  So I used my tracing paper to figure it all out.  In order to steer clear of quilting too much I chose to make a large-scale grid work (thank you Barb Persing) by using the piecing as my guide.

And there you have it; a little adventure that had me living the dream of working with my two loves; Cherrywood and feathers! Thank you Linda for allowing me to be a part of your quilting journey, and bringing the best of both worlds to my quilting days.

What do you all think?

 

One Step Forward

I am completely overwhelmed with the response to my last post.  Thank you all for your words of encouragement!  It really has helped make this less painful knowing that you all are there!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

Now that I have made the decision to move on with, my less than perfect quilt; it is time to keep taking steps forward. Therefore the center portion of this quilt is now completely finished, and this was accomplished by enhancing the design with little pebbles.

Yes, they are tiny aren’t they? If you are wondering how I executed this technique well wonder no more, the secret to my success can be viewed in this tutorial.

Watch and You will No Longer Need to Wonder!

It wasn’t a great angle…. sorry, didn’t realize till I was done.

 

Pebble Variation

See how easy that is to achieve! And now YOU can put some small pebbles into your design.  If you have decided to take a step forward and place small pebbles into your project I’d love to see what you have done! I encourage you to share your efforts with me via email, lisahcalle@me.com

And stay tuned for the next step I take along this unexpected journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 1:1 with the Non Quilter

I’ve introduced Drea to the Quilting Language; and daily she is picking up the verbiage.  As she digs deeper into the ins and outs of my business I thought it would be interesting to obtain a “non quilter’s” (aka Drea) insight on what she feels about this craft.  Did she have any preconceived notions, and most importantly what has my newest member of the quilting world learned?

img_4171I appreciated the fact that she gave much consideration before providing me with her thoughts and feelings on the selected topic.  I am quite certain there was a little intimidation stirring within that little red-head of hers.  Drea may be a newbie but she is a smart cookie. Knowing that this little discussion was for my blog post, the idea of defending herself against quilting clients, friends and mentors wouldn’t be on Drea’s top 10 things to do.  More importantly,  this conversation was among her and her boss (ME), the one who hands her a pay check every two weeks.  Yes, I was silently sending the vibes of “Take your time Drea and speak carefully!”

Did she have any preconceived notions of the word “quilter”?

Yes she did.  Prior to stepping into my studio she had envisioned minimal modern technology.  The word “quilter” brought to this “non quilter’s” mind a rather large table, chairs, needles, threads, and an enormous amount of fabric.  In other words Drea depicted a small dark room that could be showcased on the televised show Hoarders.  Okay maybe not that small and cluttered.  Drea was in awe of the size my long arm machine and the space it required.  My “rulers” were not only a mathematical puzzle to her but her eyes widen when I demonstrated how one would be used to create a curve on a piece of fabric.  img_9266Maybe I am being a little dramatic, but in all seriousness she was taken back by what my business and craft incorporated. Rulers, templates, techniques, etc. the list that shredded her “idea” of a typical quilter was lengthy and her notion had been shot to pieces.

 

 

 

In Drea’s words:

“Yes Lisa, you are a “quilter”, but you are so much more than that word conveys.  You, in my eyes, are an artist.  Some artists utilize brushes, paint and canvas.  Your brush is that of an incredible long arm, those delicate threads become your paint, and the fabric you choose, from your tiny stash, transforms into your canvas.  As with any artist, each “quilter” is unique.  No two quilters can replicate the exact design.  Even implementing new techniques and tools the end result will vary; each individual will design a masterpiece that has been drawn upon from their own style and vision.  I can accept the word “quilter” but just realize that, in my eyes, all those that take part in this quilting arena are talented in a way I had not fathomed.  I may be a “non quilter” because there will never be a long arm, or spools of thread in home, but I am honored to be a small part of what takes place in your studio.

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After we concluded I put my pen and paper down feeling energized.  I strive daily to touch and educate those wanting to learn this business and craft.  Upon taking in what my red-headed assistant has learned, as one who doesn’t have the desire to quilt (nor should she ever try), yet can appreciate and see the gift those quilters out there possess was overwhelming.  I surmised that I would keep Drea on board and hope that as she travels outside my studio she will enlighten all those other non quilters she encounters.

 

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

Drea’s Hitting the Books “The Language Of Quilting”

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There are so many learning curves being presented to Drea as she begin this new endeavor.  Perhaps the most critical element for her to embrace is that of learning and understanding the Quilting Language.  Flashbacks of Spanish 101 are bombarding her mind.  Those days back in high school when she spent countless evenings memorizing Espanola vocabulary for the next day’s quiz.  Now many moons later she find herself hearing words and looking at me with furrowed brows saying “Huh, you want me to learn about SID??”  I had to reassure her that this was, in fact, a term pertaining to quilting.  Not a new health topic that she would frantically need to research and discuss with her fourteen year old son in the near future.

Now that I’m temporarily a “A Foreign Language teacher of Quilting”, Drea is being tutored on various quilting terms that I feel are essential.  Those fundamental concepts and words that she will hear frequently.  I found this day of schooling to be quite humorous and felt inclined to share this session with all my peers. Therefore, below you will observe a few words I unveiled to Drea.  You will note Drea’s perception of what these words signify and then the enlightenment I bestowed upon her.

SID (Stitch in the Ditch) – No, not a topic now being required by health teachers to educate those entering high school; but Stitching in the Ditch is a machine quilting technique that involves quilting in the seam line.

DSM (Domestic Sewing Machine) – This is not an artificial sweetener now being placed in consumer bought products to reduce calorie intake.  It is a device that stitches materials together with thread. They range from foot-operated or electric domestic machines to large, industrial machines. Sewing machines are mainly used to make clothing faster and easier than is possible by hand. According to Drea she was required to use one of these in Home Economic class in 9th grade to create a skirt that had to be worn to school.  Let’s just say Drea wore shorts under her newest article of clothing on that designated “wear your skirt” school day.

FAT (Fabric Acquisition Trip) – Drea was offended that I was bringing her calorie, and carbohydrate content into the studio.  I was happy to educate her on the fact that it simply means “buying fabric”.  This doesn’t have to be an ugly word people!  And no, I don’t stash my fabric.

Feed Dogs – In Drea’s home this implies that promptly at  5:30 am and 5:00 pm her two cockapoos will begin begging and whimpering until they are given their evening meal.  To those of us that quilt it is a toothed metal piece under stitch plate that moves fabric along.

UFO (Unfinished Project) – Drea was shocked and disappointed to learn we weren’t talking about the movies, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “E.T.”, or “Men in Black”.  Sorry Drea, these are pieces that have been put aside and are incomplete.

FQ (Fat Quarter a Square Quarter of a Yard) –  Adding a little spice to our class time Drea depicted herself as contestant on Quilters Jeopardy, buzzing in a few times with responses, “What is Fairly quick?”  Her second attempt “What is frequent questions?”  And her final chance at answering correctly “What is  financial quotients?” In my best “Alex Trebek” voice I leaned forward stating “Sorry Drea those are incorrect, the correct answer would be , What is a piece of fabric that measure ~ 18 inches by 22 inches”.   My recommendation is for her to forget Jeopardy; after completing this course Drea will be a stellar Wheel of Fortunate contestant!

Tackling the Quilting Language will be an ongoing process for my new assistant.  After turning forty the mind isn’t what it used to be, but I am confident that she will gain the ability to speak fluently in the language of quilting.

Do you have a favorite quilting term you feel is key for Drea to build into her quilting repertoire?  I would love hear from you! This is just one of many learning curves my “Jenny” will need to conquer; but she is willing and ready to take on the Quilting Language!

 

Lisa

 

 

 


 

 

Vending…A Newbie’s Take

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It’s mid October when children, and some parents, are counting down the days until Halloween.  Yes, the one night of the year that delivers it’s evening of trick or treaters, and candy that will keep me on a sugar high for the next 2 months.  Yet, my reality has me counting down the days until I head to Houston.  This trip will have Judy and I gone for nine days; the longest I have been away from my family to attend a show.  Currently I am being attacked by LISTS.  Post-It notes can be found floating like mini ghosts from every part of my computer monitor whispering “Lisa we are here, and you have many things to do”.  Boxes are stacked, suitcases are opened and my mind is swirling.  Right now I feel like Dorothy as I look around the studio thinking “Soon I won’t be in Pottstown anymore”.

Step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, it’s okay to feel uncomfortable; these are all things I can be heard impressing upon my students.  Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach.  Houston will give me my first experience at vending during a show.  My comfort zone has been in the classroom, that being said “Vending” is a whole new ballgame for this girl.  Am I stressed? No way.  Actually “freaking out” fits my demeanor.  There are soo many facets to this trip!

Here’s my typical routine: Pack vehicle, drive to destination, unload and set up.  Easy Peasy! If I missed something while loading the car, oh well no biggie, I can live without it for a few days.  Not this venture!  Most of the “Lisa Supervising” is being dispatched elsewhere. All my products are being shipped straight from the manufacturer; which means, to this Control Nazi, that I am basically leaving everything in the hands of the Expo Center.  Trust me, I will arrive holding my breath, fingers crossed and possessing a rabbit’s foot in my pocket.

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Producing a display.  Remember I am a vending newbie so improving upon its appearance will be shown next go around.  Yes, I am sure I could have spent mega bucks through the Expo Center but my money tree needs some watering.  With wheels already turning for some bells and whistles I will include next time I’m vending; I am still satisfied with what we are sharing in Houston.  Last week I delivered my booth apparatus and products to Rob and Judy of Olde City Quilts in Burlington NJ.  They will also be in attendance and have graciously offered to transport my belongings since they are driving to Houston.  Thanks Rob and Judy!  I owe you a beer, wine, whatever your beverage of choice may be!

Right now this vending adventure definitely has me filled me with a few emotions that coincide with the Halloween season.  Just as one would feel entering a haunted house, those feelings of apprehension  and uncertainty have embraced me as I continually wonder what the vending world has in store for me. Hopefully all the many moving parts of this new aspect of quilting will fall into place, and I will look back on this extravaganza and realize I was over thinking everything.

***Don’t miss out on the class I am teaching while in Houston.. Divide, Design and Get it done!! There is still time to sign up! The class is being held on Monday Oct 31st., and is based on my book and DVD.  Of course this had me packing yet another set of boxes full of class supplies, rulers, etc. but it has me stepping back into my comfort zone for a little while on this trip!

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Stash or No stash

No people I am not speaking of “stash” as in the green three-leaf clover that is not legal in the state of Pennsylvania.  I am referring to a large stash of “fabric”. I am curious to hear if my peers  have a large fabric stash.  I often meander into a fabric shop and encounter an abounding amount of fabrics that I am drawn to, but refrain from purchasing.  Of course my refusal to buy in quantity has me later kicking myself when it becomes evident that one of those “passed over” materials would have been the soul mate for a specific project.  To make matters even worse when I take the time to venture back to the shop and invest in the cloth, it quickly becomes apparent that it has been confiscated by a wiser customer.  I find myself slowly exiting the store feeling totally deflated.  I believe I suffer from FCS (fabric commitment syndrome).  Standing amidst all those beautiful patterns, and colors, gives me cold feet.  I can’t seem to allow myself to be devoted to more than one piece of material.  I suppose my relationship with fabric has me being a monogamous quilter.

I only browse for fabric when I have an upcoming project and it’s time to redeem the precise cloth for the design that is whirling around in my mind.  Since I don’t accumulate fabric, I have but a very small stash to draw upon.  This lack of resources often leads to a little bit of design challenges.  Obstacles aren’t necessarily a bad thing but not possessing the quantity of fabric required for a design most definitely is!

When Hula Hibiscus was being constructed, thanks to Ronda K Scott, the challenge presented was to produce this piece from our “stash” alone.  WHAT??? I about fell on the floor.  I don’t even know if you can consider my collection a “stash” as it’s so pitiful!

Final reveal

No I wasn’t lying, it is very small, tiny, minuscule.  So lets turn this topic away from me and out to the public.  Do you have a large stash, or are you like me and need to find the closest FCS program?

Lisa

John Doe Has to Go!

Now that Drea has stepped foot into my quilting world, things in the studio are changing, for the better of course.  Her desire to pave a path for success has the two of us brainstorming on a regular basis.  Daily huddles have been incorporated keeping us, well mainly me, focused and on the same page as we go about our tasks.  During our most recent “huddle” we thought it might be a good idea that my blog was no longer nameless.  Drea and I spent the afternoon exchanging many different names.  Thoughts poured out of our mouths, and within moments the sound of laughter filled my studio. I later had to convince my husband that we were in fact being productive; our enjoyment heard from above didn’t bring the sound of “working hard” to his ears.  Titles swirled around the room and eventually we agreed on three potential candidates.  But which one? After struggling for quite some time we concluded that in order to resolve this matter my readers would need to contribute .  So inquiring minds want to know, which title below do you think is deserving of bearing the name of my blog?

  1.  Living on a Thread
  2.  Life in Stitches
  3. The Threads of Life

The name lies in your hands my fellow quilters.  Upon receiving your responses majority vote decides the title, and I will be happy to say that I no longer exhibit a John Doe blog!

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Here She is…Flat Lisa!

I know you may be a bit curious about Flat Lisa.  Have you been wondering “What the heck is Flat Lisa, and what does she do?”  Well, there is nothing I love more than discovering stories and witnessing what those loving this craft experience in the quilting world. And I mean all over the world.  That being said I am going GLOBAL!  Allow me to take part in your quilting adventures as you design, travel and embrace this aspect of your life. Simply take Flat Lisa with you and send me a picture of our time together via email.  Make sure you include our location so I can notate where I  have traveled abroad.  Photographs will be posted, and all participants will be entered into a drawing being held at then end of the month.  One lucky winner will receive a copy of my new book “Divide and Design”!  I am eager to see what quilters world-wide bestow upon me. Without further ado Flat Lisa is ready for take off!  (To print off the picture of Flat Lisa, right click and save to your computer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Folks We Have a Winner!

Thanks so much to all of you that participated in the blog hop contest.  We had so many entries! But as with any contest, sadly there can only be one winner. So congratulations goes out to Connie Alexander for being, the soon to be, recipient of  John Kubiniec’s book “A New Spin on the Drunkard’s Path”.  But that’s not all!  Connie also won a set of the drunkard’s path templates!  I am so excited for her to put these prizes to use.  Who knows maybe we will receive pictures of the beautiful quilts Connie designs!

If you are a fan of grid line based quilting then I have the Go to Girl for you.  My talented friend, Gina Perkes, from the Copper Needle has come out with a fabulous product.  Her stencils, the Take Aim Stencil Collection! , are perfect for those that enjoy grid line based quilting. I missed the boat on this one, and am very disappointed. I wish I had them when I marked my border on my current quilt, it won’t happen again. I love the way the intersections are highlighted (increasing the accuracy).  Just because I missed out doesn’t mean my fellow quilters have to!   Please take a moment and see for yourself as I share the following video.  While watching this video you will observe Gina demonstrating how to incorporate clamshells with her “Jane” ruler.  I have no doubt at the conclusion of the video you too will think  “Yes, she is the one to go to!”

Don’t forget… we love to get pictures!!

Lisa

 

BERNINA and Stitching in the Ditch…..

This past spring I took a trip that many quilters might compare to a child’s journey through Disney Land.  Yes, being the BERNINA Ambassador has given me the opportunity to experience the sights and quiet sounds of the BERNINA factory situated in Steckborn Switzerland. This quilter’s magical kingdom is located on the shore of Lake Constance, just across from Germany.

It’s not every day that you find yourself standing across from H.P. Ueltschi, the owner, and  also the grandson of the founder Fritz Gegauf.  I embraced his presence and found him to be both kind and delightful. Moreover, through my short visit with him I discovered that we both share a love for golf!

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I was overwhelmed entering the factory.  I was astonished how clean, and I mean clean, this facility appeared.  It sparkled, and yes you could serve dinner on the floors! And quiet! You would think the noise level of machines running would produce at least some sound, but nope.  You barely heard a thing.  Clean and quiet, two beautiful words to most women..lol

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After taking in everything presented before me in the factory, I then had a day of creating a video and then one day doing a print ad campaign.  During the four days the crew was awesome! Those around me  were so insightful and supportive as I grasped the process of all that shooting a video encompasses.  More than one take had me wondering how Jennifer Aniston does it! Same expression, same tone, but tilt the head a little to the right…oh my word!

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The days flew by, and four days with a German crew had me wishing I taken their language instead of french in high school.  But the entire adventure was something I will never forget.  Witnessing the process of building a video was fascinating, although the thought of viewing myself in the final product had me less than thrilled.  Most of all, observing all the facets of the factory has me appreciating my BERNINA even more.

So here I am today, October, in the USA.  As I turn on my machine I find myself loving it more and more with each use.  The use of this machine is like operating a brand new, car with all the bells and whistles. Your driving a Cadillac. Now, envision you have to hop into a Datsun B210 that’s rusted, and leaves a cloud of black smoke as you hit the gas. You desire the Cadillac, right?! Well, welcome to the BERNINA Q20.  I am in awe how light and smooth it maneuvers.  No heavy clanking or roughness.  It sails, just as a new Cadillac would down the highway.  Bells, and whistles…my most recent quilt, which I know I talk about often, is in need of a little SID around the appliqué.  No problem with the Q2o, it so efficient and simple to complete.  I am still adapting to the ease in which I can change the feet.  I mean it takes  mere seconds; and its interchangeable between the Q20 and my domestic machine.  Does it get any better than that?!

I wanted to share a quick video.  Realistically my quilting isn’t quite that speedy; in my dreams I quilt that fast.  But eventually I wake up from la la land, and realize my true pace and accept that it will take me awhile to finish this piece.

I used Aurifil’s Monofilament thread…. It’s thread is so fine that it fades into the seams.  And although it’s a beautiful thing, please refrain from using my name in a hostile way when you discover you may have trouble seeing it to thread the needle.  Below is a good example of the thread magically disappearing into the seam.

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Now that I have expressed that I still have SID to get done; remember slow and steady wins the race.  I ask, how do you accomplish your SID?  Would you say ruler or no ruler?  I can’t wait to hear what my fellow quilters have to say!