Category Archives: Quilting

Creative Juice #320

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Creative Juice #320

Lots to read this weekend.

First Lessons in Quilting with the Moxie

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I have now taken five of my six one-on-one introductory lessons with a Handi Quilter educator, Cheryl, via Zoom. (Apparently that was a Back-to-School promotion that I didn’t even know I was eligible for.) The manuals that came with my machine only go so far to tell me how to actually quilt with Moxie. The manuals are supplemented by series of videos on the Handi Quilter website and on the Pro-Stitcher website. Plus, many quilters post their own video tutorials on YouTube.

Having the live Handi Quilter educator is great, because I can ask Cheryl my questions and get a direct answer. I love Zoom. Cheryl lives in Ontario, Canada, and I can see her sewing room, and she can see mine. Magic!

The best way to get to know the machine and the software is to use ALL of the resources. I started out by reading the materials, then watching the videos in between my sessions with Cheryl. She would cover her lessons and my questions, but the real learning came when I actually tried things out under her supervision and on my own. She stood by while I threaded the machine by myself for the first time and watched while I loaded my practice quilt onto the machine. But I’ve done my first stitching explorations on my own.

e's and l's

I first tried free motion quilting. The Getting Started guide suggested stitching cursive e’s and l’s for practice. That should be easy, right? But not for me. I did about five rows, right side up and upside down, and they look like chunky baseball bats. I tried to make them more slender, and more rounded at the top, but I just couldn’t. I see a lot of practice ahead of me.

Then I tried stippling. No. I have corners instead of curves. I think I’m moving too fast, too jerky. I think I have to go slower and concentrate on moving smoothly. Like I said, practice.

Stippling

Then I tried the robotic sewing. There are lots of steps in setting things up on the tablet that holds the program. I watched some videos again and made step-by-step notes. Then when I tried it out, it wouldn’t work, so I watched the videos some more. There are so many icons, so many steps, that I missed small parts of the processes when the demonstrator talked fast or didn’t exactly stop and show which button she was pressing on the video. But after about three hours of studying and attempting, I was able to make a feathered wreath.

Much better than what I can do by hand.

Feathered wreath
Feathered wreath detail

On another day I tried a continuous line pattern, a connecting spiral, but I couldn’t find the video that shows how to repeat a design a few times (as opposed to setting up the whole quilt to be done), so I tried to figure it out myself. I decided to set up a rectangular area that I would quilt with two connected spirals. I thought I sized it perfectly. I lined the first up with the left hand side of my rectangle, and when it was done, I moved the design to the right hand side of my area. As it turned out, I did NOT size it up perfectly, and the second spiral overlapped the first. Oh well. I learned one way that doesn’t work. I asked Cheryl to explain the process to me, and I think I understand better now.

spirals

Clearly I need a lot more practice before I attempt to quilt an actual quilt that I want to use or give away.

Loading the quilt on the smaller frame is harder than I expected. It’s hard to get it straight. On the loft frame, you just ratchet it, and it rolls smoothly. With the smaller frame that I have, you remove the clamps, reposition the quilt, and reattach the clamps.

Maybe I’m too old to do this. This machine is expensive—what if I never get good enough to use it properly? Greg really encouraged me to go for it—he even gave me most of the money for it.

They say that one of the best ways to exercise your brain is to learn new things. Hopefully I’ll be continuing to exercise my brain in the coming years and actually get good at quilting.

Creative Juice #319

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Creative Juice #319

The Thanksgiving weekend edition. I’m thankful for all the creative artists who inspire us.

Creative Juice #318

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Creative Juice #318

Note from Andrea: I goofed. This article was supposed to appear tomorrow, but when I turned on my computer today, I forgot what day it was; I thought it was Friday instead of Thursday and I expected to see Creative Juice up on my blog–so I went to my future-scheduled posts and edited this to publish immediately, and it wasn’t until afterward that I realized my mistake. So, I’m sorry–I’ve got nothing for tomorrow; I jumped the gun today.

Why not spend an hour exploring these 12 wonderful articles?

Moxie is Here!

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My Moxie with Pro-Stitcher Lite

If you’ve been following my adventures, you may know that I’ve been looking forward to getting a long arm quilting machine. One of my issues (besides expense) is the amount of space they require. Quilters often give up their living room or their dining room for one. I wasn’t willing to do that. My machine, then, had to fit into my writing study.

Which was crammed with boxes.

I’ve written about my six-week process of divesting myself of many possessions.

The machine was scheduled to be delivered two weeks ago, but when the installer came and saw my room, he said, “You’re not going to be happy with the eight-foot loft frame in here.”

I took out my tape measure and showed him. “I’ve got nine feet and two inches of free space here.”

“You didn’t think this through,” he countered. “You’re not going to be able to pull out your desk chair. You’re not going to be able to pull out your file cabinet drawers.”

Oh.

My poor husband was heart-broken. “Get rid of the desk! Get rid of the file cabinet!”

He was trying to be helpful. But I’m not going to divest myself of what I need to write in order to get a quilting machine.

“Can I change my frame order to the five-foot Little Foot frame?”

“That’s a much better choice for you,” the installer agreed.

So my new baby finally arrived on Monday.

My new Moxie

It pretty much takes up the whole room. But it fits.

I am getting 6 private one-hour lessons with a Handi Quilter educator via Zoom—three on the machine and three on the Pro-Stitcher Lite robotic software. I had my first lesson Thursday, but I still feel pretty overwhelmed. I have a page of notes, and I learned how to thread the machine. Between now and my next lesson on Monday, I’m watching an hour-long video and reading the manual.

When the installer set up the machine, he did some test-stitching. He put a length of fleecy fabric on the frame and let the machine make a couple of designs—a flower on the left and a spider web on the right. He showed me a few things, but I’m not ready to experiment on my own yet—too intimidated.

Sample quilting patterns

I’m working on a lap quilt which will be my first project to get quilted on the Moxie. I also have a bed quilt for my son all ready to go that I’ll quilt after that. And I have two grandbabies coming in February whom I will be making quilts for.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship . . .

Creative Juice #316

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Creative Juice #316

12 wonderful articles to mull over.

  • Quilt show!
  • Now go to South Africa for a quilt festival. Be sure to watch the video, although it may give you vertigo. She runs through the whole exhibition hall and films hundreds of quilts in a few minutes. My eyes (and her camera) don’t focus that fast, and maddeningly, she doesn’t linger at some of the quilts I most want to get a good look at.
  • What will your legacy be?
  • Excellent destinations for a writer’s vacation. (Be sure to check out the suggestions in the comments as well.)
  • Why you should write short stories.
  • Amazing amateur photography.
  • Autumn foliage.
  • Why writers read.
  • These signs had me laughing out loud.
  • An unsolved mystery from 120 years ago.
  • Celebrating World Ballet Day.
  • The value of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ve been meaning to read it.

Creative Juice #315

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Creative Juice #315

Some pretty things, some scary things, some tips for fiction writers, and more.

Adventures in Decluttering

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During my recent six-week blogging break, I managed to free up a little more than nine feet of wall space in my study, just barely enough room to squeeze in a long arm quilting machine on an eight-foot frame and a few inches to spare on each side.

At the beginning of my sabbatical, one wall of my study looked like this:

Part of my messy study
Before.

There were about eleven cartons of stuff that I needed to find another location for. I made two trips to Goodwill with trunk-loads of stuff to donate; I also gave a stack of books to the neighborhood Little Free Library (and more books also went to Goodwill). I sent two needlepoints that my mother-in-law made to my brother-in-law. I gave a chest of drawers to my middle daughter Erin for baby clothes (oh, I haven’t told you: she is expecting twins, our very first grandchildren!), but first I had to find places for all the things in the dresser. (A lot went to Goodwill.) Then, with my son Matt’s help, I moved the bookcase that you can see at the right edge of the Before picture above to the spot where the chest used to be.

I replaced two two-drawer file cabinets with two four-drawer file cabinets so I would have more space to store all the paper documents I feel compelled to save and that were living in banker’s boxes.

When I’d done all that, I still had eight boxes of books and other things that I couldn’t bear to part with. But guess what—I discovered that one of our hall closets, where we keep light bulbs, was actually stuffed with boxes of things that our two older daughters had stored there when they graduated from college—sixteen and twenty-one years ago. So I asked them if they wanted that stuff, or if I could dispose of them. They both said to chuck them. Some stuff I couldn’t part with. I kept Carly’s Harvard sweatshirt that she wore in high school—it’s oversized, so it fits me. And Erin was happy to take some of Carly’s mint-condition plush toys for her babies-to-be. I still have a box and a bag of their stuff to bring to Goodwill, maybe tomorrow.

I had carefully measured the dimensions of the room and made a scale drawing on graph paper, noting the locations of the windows, the closet, and the doors. Then I cut out carefully-measured scale representations of the furniture and arranged it so that everything fit. There was just enough room along one wall for my desk and the two file cabinets. Unfortunately, when I measured, I failed to account for the molding at the bottom of the wall, and when Matt came over to help me move the desk, we discovered we were ¼ inch short of space.

Now that wall of the study looks like this:

My desk
Now.

And I have to confess that the only reason it looks this tidy is because I still have four cartons of stuff stacked in the hallway that need to go back in or on the desk.

The remaining file cabinet is in an undesirable spot; it ruins the symmetry of the window wall. Ideally, there should be just one bookshelf on each side of the window. Instead, the file cabinet is also on one side, and a CD tower is also on the other. Oh well. And I still have some art canvases, a drum, a guitar, a ukulele, a music stand, a vacuum cleaner, and some other stuff scattered around the room that I’m hoping to find a better arrangement for by the time my new machine is delivered next Thursday. If all goes well, I’ll post another photo next Saturday.

Creative Juice #314

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Creative Juice #314

A lot to admire in this week’s collection of articles.

Creative Juice #313

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Creative Juice #313

Your weekend reading: