Jun 11 2014

Texas Travels

Published by under family,travel

We just returned from a trip to Texas. Texas is a long way from Indiana! It took two days to get there and two days to return home. That is a long time to ride in a Mini Cooper! It was fun though.

My niece graduated from high school so we went to Texas to help her celebrate. Her graduating class had 1429 students. That was a long ceremony! The event was held at a basketball stadium. The school recently built an outdoor stadium that would rival any professional stadium but structural defects have been found and the stadium has been deemed unsafe. What a mess that fiasco has turned into. I hope they can get it settled before next years graduation because having the ceremony at the event center was a big hassle. Parking, traffic jams and seating was horrible.

Just saw a deer run across the back of our field! It pays to look up once in awhile while blogging.

I only work until noon today so I hope to get more clothes washed and unpack my suitcase. I brought too many shoes on the trip. Now, I get to lug them back up the stairs and put them away.

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May 27 2014

What A Weekend

Published by under home

We were blessed with beautiful weather for Memorial Day weekend. I know that many people plan picnics and other family get togethers so I’m sure it was a relief to have sunshine and no rain. It wasn’t even humid until Monday.

I got a lot accomplished even though I feel pretty rotten. I had a root canal a few weeks ago and the tooth has flared up and is quite painful. My dentist won’t be in until Wednesday so I am taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen out the kazoo. I am also on an antibiotic. When the pain subsides, I run around getting things done.

The bunnies have been eating certain plants in our small garden so I put chicken wire around those plants. We didn’t have problems with the bunnies until our dog’s cataracts got bad enough that she doesn’t see the bunnies. She was a good bunny chaser.

I stained my new Adirondack chair and want to stain the other outdoor furniture to match. We can’t seem to get the power washer to work and I dread scrubbing the benches and swing by hand so that project is on hold.

I finished quilting a couple quilts and put the binding on my niece’s t-shirt quilt. I also put a sleeve on the quilt that our guild is donating to the church.

Have a great week everyone!

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May 22 2014

Gone Fishin’

Published by under entertainment

Hubby has left for his annual fishing trip. Two or three years ago, when I went with him, we fought buffalo gnats. Buffalo gnats are blood sucking flies from the Simuliidae family. For the flies to produce eggs for reproduction it is necessary for the female of the species to consume a blood meal from its human and animal prey.

Unfortunately for us the bite of a buffalo gnat can be more serious than dealing with unseemly bug bites and incessant itchiness for the next week. They look and feel awful. It was a miserable trip.

I hope the gnats don’t show up this year.

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May 13 2014

May Day

Published by under home

I remember, as a young girl, making paper baskets and filling them with flowers I found in the yard. I would then, hang them on my front door and ring the door bell and wait for my mom to find them. I guess I thought she would be surprised to find a May day basket waiting for her. Do children still make May day baskets? Do they dance around the May pole? May Day is a traditional spring holiday in many cultures.

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As we get farther into May, I find that I am excited to get the garden tilled and buy vegetable plants and seeds. I wish I could plant enough to can the harvest but that would mean I would need a house cleaning services in raleigh style to get my work done in the house. I will settle for yummy fresh vegetables to cook a few times a week. We eat so much better in the summer.

I was also able to get the begonias planted before we were dulugged with rain this weekend. Rain really makes them take hold and have such a good start. Watering is okay but a good rain is awesome.

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Apr 22 2014

Spring Into Work

Published by under creating,home

I am so glad that winter is finally over. It is cold today but it isn’t snowing and for that I am grateful.

The past two weekends have been spent getting the yard into shape. We still had leaves that were missed during raking last fall and they looked so messy. I cleaned out all the ground cover that was taking over near the pond. I had to be careful not to disturb the pretty hyacinth and daffodil flowers. None of my tulips came up this year.

I started trimming our forsythia bush and ended up almost cutting it down. It had so many dead branches that by the time I got done removing them, the poor bush looks scraggly. It will come out of it healthier. It won’t look great though until next year when it fills out. Poor thing.

Once again, my hands and arms look like I got into a fight with a rose bush. I can’t stand to wear gloves and my fingernails show it.

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Mar 31 2014

Another Ruler

Published by under creating

I added another ruler to my quilt making collection. Eleanor Burns is an expert at inventing quilt techniques that make cutting and sewing fabric easier and faster. Eleanor Burns shows how making a quilt is an easy and quick process. The latest ruler is called the 4.5 On-Point Ruler and creates accurate square on point patches.

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During the recent Mountain Quilt Fest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, I took a class taught by Ann Drothler entitled Kylee’s Kite. The new ruler allowed a quick way to square up each block. I do think the ruler will be an asset to my quilt making. Here is a picture of the unfinished top my mom, sisters and I made in the class.

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Mar 15 2014

National Quilting Day!

Published by under creating

March 15th is National Quilting Day. I hope to be using the longarm to finish another quilt. I might even stay in my pajamas and quilt all day!

Here is an idea to celebrate the day.

From Craftsy

Do you have a neighbor, babysitter or hairdresser who deserves a little recognition? Make a simple quilted pot holder and pair it with fresh flowers to give a quilted gift that’s sure to be remembered. After all, quilting is a hobby that’s designed to be shared. Maybe your gift will inspire the recipient to take up quilting as a hobby!

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Mar 13 2014

How Much Is It Worth?

Published by under creating

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Whenever someone asks me to make a quilt for them, they ask how much it will cost. They are usually shocked at the price. Here is a wonderful explanation of why my time is valuable.

What’s It Worth from Hunter’s Design Studio.

This morning I caught a post on a quilting Facebook feed… a member posted a picture of a delightful baby quilt and asked what she should charge the neighbor that just asked to buy it from her. She mentioned that the quilt was made from a panel with pieced borders, and that the quilting was done in threads to match the fabric colors (oh, the thread changes!). She mentioned she was thinking $85. A fellow poster thought $100 was better. Another said it depends on the closeness of the friendship.

First of all… I’m not naming names here because I don’t want this person to feel pilloried – far from it, I absolutely appreciate her question and have one heck of an opinion about how it should be answered… a rather, ahem, shall we say passionate opinion – you are warned! Her question, which I hear dozens of times a year, is absolutely legitimate. How does one price a handmade piece of work?

And to note – there is a difference between what it’s WORTH, and what you can ACTUALLY GET for it. So keep that in mind and I’ll address this difference at the end after I show you how I calculate the WORTH part of it:

1. Determine the cost of the goods involved. Fabric is averaging $12 a yard, and even if you bought the fabric years ago, it will still cost you $12 (plus sales tax) a yard to replenish what you used. Same goes for if it came out of your scraps. You still bought the original yardage that the scraps came from… they didn’t give you a 25% discount assuming that a quarter of it would head to your scrap basket! If you got it on sale, wonderful! The savings are for YOU. You hunted it down. And it’s probably the only “freebie” your going get out of this process so take it and run.

2. If you don’t want to count out the yardage of all the little pieces, instead calculate the total area of the quilt top (let’s say it’s 48? x 60 for a generous lap quilt), and then multiply it by 3 for a simple quilt, and 4 or more for a more complex one – then divide it by 1440, the area of a yard of 40? fabric. Why these numbers? The fabric it takes to make the top of a simple quilt is about double the surface area because of all the fabric lurking in the seam allowances – and don’t forget the binding! The other “one” is the backing. And use 5 if you paper pieced most of it (because there are way more seams and you have to cut bigger for paper piecing). So for this simple lap quit: 48 x 60 = 2880, 2880 x 3 = 8640, and 8640 / 1440 = 6. So 6 yards at $12 a yard is $72 for materials.

3. Do you wash and iron your fabric before you use it? Add 25% for the time and water and electricity and wear and tear on your (probably expensive) iron and your Netflix subscription for the movies you watch while you iron. Ladies… it’s 2012 and in 2012 we do not iron for free.

4. What did the batting cost? The thread? The embellishments? Add those in. Yes, the thread – because you have to replenish it! And you are probably using a lovely, high quality, long staple cotton goody that can’t be had on sale at the big chain store so yes, you must charge for your thread. And note that there are other consumable products that you could charge for here: machine needles, blades, template plastic, fusible web, etc.

5. Now we get to TIME. How long did it take? Not just the cutting, pressing, sewing, but the “sits and thinks” part of the equation. The pondering, plotting, and extra trips to the store for one more FQ of the perfect print for that corner. The stitching of the binding. The label. All of that. I’m going to, for the sake of easy numbers, say my simple lap quilt took 15 hours – in other words, about a day to choose, cut and piece (assuming all the materials were already in my studio), and another day to layer, quilt and bind. Yes, the binding you do in front of the telly at night is still hours spent on the piece.

6. How much do you think your hourly rate should be? $10? $20? $30? You are certainly worth more than minimum wage. You are a skilled craftsperson. In my case, I’ve been quilting for 25 years and sewing for 43. This is not an insignificant statement. If you hire that depth of skill to lay tile in your house or make cabinets for your kitchen, it will cost you more than $20 an hour. My years of skill ensures the quilt is well constructed, made of quality materials (chosen with a discerning eye and years of practice), and executed with knowledge and a passion for the artistry and craft. This is WORTH a lot. So I’m going to go with $20 an hour for my simple quilt (I would go up for something more complex, and add even more if it was a commission for a pain-in-the-patootie client). Thus – $300 for my labor, and I’m rounding up to $100 for my materials (high quality cotton batting, threads from Aurifil and Isacord, etc). So my lovely little lap quilt is $400.

WORTH vs. What you can get

And I hear you laughing. No one’s gonna give you $400 for that, you say. And you are probably right. But here’s the thing… the fact that society has poo-poohed our grandmas’ prowess with a needle while celebrating their husbands’ prowess with a plow is a sad history that we need to rectify. “Women’s work” has been terribly devalued. And ONLY WE CAN CHANGE THIS. It is up to us to educate the public that what we do has WORTH. And we have to do this with confidence. We have to OWN IT.

So the way I tackle this is to state the gist of my calculations to the person that offers me a department store sale price for my work. I state the price, and then I educate them on what it takes to make a good quilt. The fabric quality. The time. The years I’ve spent honing my craft. I point out that I don’t work for minimum wage as this is much harder than “do you want fries with that?” Then I re-state the price. I own it.

Most of the time they don’t buy, but that’s OK (and if I absolutely want them to have the quilt I give it to them for free). I won’t sell it for less because I feel so very strongly that to sell low is to continue the myth that our work has little value. Either I get what I’m worth or it’s a precious gift. I’m taking a stand for the team, OUR TEAM. Every time we let hours of work out of the house for $5 an hour and free materials without the educational part of the discussion we are letting down the team.

I truly get that our original poster might only be able to squeak $100 out of this sale. And that she might have to put aside any philosophical stands to get her hands on that $100 to shore up the grocery budget (and I have absolutely done this when I needed to). But I really hope she adds the “lesson” to her invoice when she picks up the check!

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Mar 12 2014

Still Winter

Published by under creating

We got a ton of snow dumped on us during the night. The weather man said it was coming but I didn’t want to believe him. I am so tired of worrying about whether meetings have been canceled and if I should risk getting thrown into a ditch if I venture out.

I have been working on a customer’s quilt. It is a Mary Engelbreit design called Recipe for Friendship. My customer doesn’t like all over random quilting so I did a lot of intricate ruler work on this quilt. I really like it even though it took a lot of time to quilt.

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Mar 06 2014

Quilt Show

Published by under creating

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I have been looking forward to attending the Mountain Quilt Festival since signing up last fall. I will be attending three classes. It has been so long since I signed up that I can’t even remember what will be taught in the classes. Classes are first come, first served when it comes to registration, and may fill up quickly! That is why I signed up last fall. Some entry fees are charged for courses as well, and range from $20-$60, depending on the materials supplied by the instructor. However, it’s worth it when I think about how much I’ll learn. A Mountain Quiltfest in Pigeon Forge, TN is the perfect event if you’re interested in quilts and quilting. This show draws over 20,000 people each year from all across the country. What do those people have in common? They all love making, collecting, and learning about quilts!

I am looking forward to visiting Tennessee where it will be, hopefully, a bit warmer than here in Indiana. Ever since my cousin revealed that he is a wedding DJ in raleigh nc, I have been itching to go south.

I have been trying to find a cheap flight into Knoxville, TN but, so far, have only found ones priced at $300.00. I am not sure I want to pay that much. I would rather drive and spend my money at the vendor’s booths at the quilt show. Less than two weeks and I will be there!

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