How Long Will It Take?

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Meeting Deadlines and Estimating Quilting Time on Projects

Whether it is creating a design for a customer, conference, class, show, or for personal reasons, trying to estimate just how long a project will take can be a painful.  If you are like me and are focus challenged, it is more than a little painful, it is a true struggle.  To predict how long a quilt, or sample will take to complete can be impossible.  I have quickly learned that when I am provided with a deadline I need to begin WELL IN ADVANCE! And I mean WELL, WELL in advance.

So for this quilter my mind-set is generally to:

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However, there are moments when life does not allow me to “Just Do It”.  Which  then brought this question to mind: “How do I compute the amount of time it takes for me to complete a project in such a way that I can share this information with my followers?”  images-83

Now that called for some serious thinking!  After pondering this idea for quite some time I began to feel like Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind”.  Mathematical equations were being frantically written, erased, and rewritten as I tried desperately to come up with the proper data that would allow me to reveal and illustrate how much time it takes me to complete a design.  After many sleepless nights, and tedious moments working with various hypotheses and conclusions I was very pleased to FINALLY put my analysis together in a chart, as shown below.

lisamathchartI am truly hoping that other quilters will find the above chart easy to understand.  I believe I have clearly translated my projected time for quilting in such a way that others will find it fairly simple to interpret.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I realize these types of charts can be a bit confusing; especially when they are composed of such words like “estimated”, and “realistic” .

How do you determine the length of time it will take you to complete a project? Are you a fly by the seat kind of quilter, or are you like me and have a precise method in configuring your quilting time?

This Bird is Back from Virginia

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The Birds of a Feather Convention was Great!

Let us recap our trip to Virginia, shall we?

Well our trip seemed quite uneventful leaving at 9am Wednesday morning, with no morning traffic to wrestle with, UNTIL I observed a vehicle on my bumper.  Typically I notice some young thing in a hurry to get somewhere, but to my surprise I was amazed to see Motoring Mom-Mom behind me.  Unfortunately due to SOME traffic could not easily slide to the right lane and this only enhanced Motoring Mom-Mom’s road rage. My rear view mirror gave me quite a show as her head was shaking back and forth in great dismay at my inability to achieve a driving speed of 95 mph.  Sorry mom-mom I don’t wants  to ruffle any police officer’s feathers with exceeding the speed limit too much! Eventually I moved over, and as she crept up to my car, this older women passed by giving me a piece of her mind with several head motions.  Oh my!

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I was actually hoping we would see her at the Marriott! Maybe she just couldn’t wait to buy one of my rulers?!

images-8I loved the ability to network with all the amazing people I encountered over the four days I was working.  Whether we exchange ideas, share experiences, or provide inspiration to one another it is incredible what a conference room and class room full of individuals can bring to your future.  However, one thing I did neglect to bring which does help when connecting with new contacts is BUSINESS CARDS!  I need to start making sure I have them here, there and everywhere.  Making sure they are packing should be a no brainer, especially during a business trip.

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For Students: Take a class every session? Well, of course that ultimately is a personal preference.  However, you may want to consider the classes you are contemplating attending.  How long do they run, and how much of a break you will provide yourself with prior to your next class?  For me I know I need a little breather, so I can refuel and get my head back in the game.  Otherwise my mind turns to mush.  I realize it’s difficult to choose especially with so many different topics and instructors but don’t feel as though  it’s imperative for you to jam pack your day to the point of walking away having all that you have experienced blurring into one fuzzy period of time.

One of the most exciting things about teaching and attending these conferences is that I rejuvenate my mind and help others step outside their box of creativity.  Instructing students gets my design juices flowing and hopefully those I educate walk out of my classroom having gained some of those quilting juices.  Understanding that stepping outside the box will promote individuality and confidence. Ultitmately their style will come full circle.  And it never hurts to remind those that have come to spend their mornings or afternoons with us that constantly attempting new skills (even when our intial attempts fail) and techniques allows us to slowly become the best quilter we can be.  Our quilting journey is never ending!

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Lastly, I think surrounding myself with other educators, and quilting peers is a trip filled with plenty of smiles, common passions, and most of all fun.  AND never forget there are moments that we all know what happens in VA stays in VA!

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Do I have any quilting friends that also enjoyed their time in VA?

Quilting Time for “Me”

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Life is a juggling act!

Household chores, taxing children to and from afterschool activities, inquiring whether homework has been completed, paying bills, boy oh boy the “to do” list is endless. The hours in a day seem to fly by and the allotted  time required to get all those necessary duties accomplished disappears!  Needless to say many of us feel as though we are running in a hamster wheel.unknown-45

 

 

 

 

Making time for the craft of quilting, that we all love to do, is a challenge! Moreover, those of us that have chosen to make our hobby into a business means carving out personal sewing moments is even more difficult to achieve.

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How do you manage your time? What makes your time management successful?  Let us in on your secret and maybe you can help others achieve a better sense of balance!

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Soft is Nice, BUT….

 

Minkee, Minkee, Minkee; if you’re a quilter this word is probably quite familiar to you.  Minkee is the incredible, ever so soft, fabric that everyone dreams of having on the back of their quilt. Well maybe we should leave it at “dreams of having” on the back of their quilt.  Speaking for myself, I for one, love the feel of this material.  However, I am NOT a fan of quilting it as a backing on my Longarm.  My reasoning is  simply because I like to pull my backings nice and tight.  Due to my fondness for those two things this is where “Minkee” and I have relationship issues.

Back  in the day when I was quilting as a business, I had a client bring a Minkee backing for me to complete.  Easy peasy I assured my customer, but the joke was on me.

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I quilted this small baby quilt (in hindsight I thanked the gods above it was small) and was quite satisfied until I removed it from the frame.  My once “small” baby blanket had managed to be reduced to a “shrinky dink” blanket.  Yes, this little quilt became more than little when it shrunk!  As a result of my strong desire to have a nice tight backing I managed to pull the backing too tight (imagine that).  AND because the material is a knit, in a shocker, it stretched!!  Needless to say when I took it off the frame, this cute baby quilt wasn’t feeling or looking too cute.

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No amount of marinating in the corner was going to resolve the problem that had transpired (marinating- letting a quilt sit in the corner in hopes that a slight tension issue will resolve itself once the quilt relaxes).

PS. This normally works.

It took me three LONG days of ripping out all of the stitching so I could partake in a wonderful redo with this adorable quilt made with a Minkee backing.

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Did I want to repeat that “Minkee Production”? Hell to the no! Once was more than enough for this quilter, so from that moment on Minkee backings have not made an appearance in my studio.

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Sorry Minkee, I can only live through that nightmare one time. Do you like to quilt with Minkee backing and if so, please enlighten me on the best way to do this?

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?

 

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!

Technology: Friend or Foe?

images-58With the advances many gifted humans have made throughout time it is not surprising to witness applied science making its way into the quilting world.  Beginning with the birth of the first patented sewing machine in 1791 to the now visible computerized quilting machines; mechanics has evolved quilting into an amazing hobby and business.

Somehow in this ever-changing quilting world I still embrace the tried and true, (a.k.a the old-fashioned way) pencil and paper.  Bells and whistles are in abundance; enhancing the efficiency and uniqueness to what can be created with a small needle and thread.  Yet, I forever find myself holding my graphite pencil prepared for brainstorming battle on sketching paper.  I know my BERNINA 750QE is a playground of fun that I have allowed myself to only slightly enjoy.  Maybe, one day, I’ll venture to the BERNINA playground filled with wonderful stitches.  Or maybe not.unknown-22

 

 

 

 

In regards to computer programs and the quilting world I do possess the EQ 7, however, I do not utilize it often.  I am reluctant to be unfaithful to my pencil and paper, I simply find it faster and reliable.  I even hesitate to stray from my handy-dandy calculator for determining yardage.  The words “Computer Savvy” and “Lisa Calle” do not seem to compute.  However, I  do make use of “Illustrator”.  I am actually quite proud to share that Illustrator and I are going on a 7 year relationship.  I honestly cannot ever see me totally breaking up with Illustrator as this program has definitely become a small piece of me.  There are moments during my creative process that, with the help of handsome Illustrator, I will produce an appliqué design.  The results have me grinning from ear to ear as my eyes take in printed designs in various sizes.  But every relationship needs a break, and I since I’m not very good at juggling relationships I always follow my heart back to my pencil and paper.

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Breaking up is hard to do.  So until my loyal pencil and paper decide to call it quits with this designer, I will be sticking with the tried and true.  That’s not to say that technology won’t tempt me into putting my pencil and paper on the back burner.

Has technology found its way into your quilting world? I am sure there are many tech savvy quilters among us, so share your modern must haves!