Sunday, April 30, 2017

New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop

Welcome to my introduction post for the 2017 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop! I started this blog in March of 2016 with the sole goal of documenting my finishes (quilting and non-quilting). But when I saw the opportunity to join the blog hop, I jumped in with both feet. It's been a wonderful experience connecting with other quilters. Thanks so much to Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl, Leanne @ she can quilt, and Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts for organizing this! Thanks also to my critique group of Laura @ Slice of Pi Quilts and Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting for their valuable critique and advice.

From The Beginning

I have been quilting for a little over a year. Although I've loved making things since I was a child, I never ever imagined I'd get into quilting. I associated quilts with antique and vintage, and it just wasn't my style.

My impression of quilts changed when I saw some contemporary quilts. I was immediately attracted to the fabrics, and it was for that reason that I began making quilts: to play with the fabrics. I started with hand-tied baby quilts, but didn't really love it. My 3rd quilt was a machine quilted table runner, and it was from that point on that I fell madly in love with quilting. However ... it didn't love me back. Fabric didn't obey me, I couldn't achieve the quarter-inch seam consistently, and my walking foot defied me at every turn. I felt like I was chasing after a new lover who just wasn't that into me.

A few months after I began, I ran across the amazing work of Angela Walters. Something about her easy and relaxing attitude clicked with me. Even though I was terrified, I began to learn to free-motion quilt. I quickly discovered to my delight that it came more easily to me than piecing did, and it wasn't long before machine quilting became my absolute favorite part of making a quilt. After chasing after quilting like some kind of unrequited love, I was delighted to have it finally love me back!

Savor Every Stitch

I thought for a long time about what I wanted to name my blog, but the day I decide to get my own domain name, I came up with Savor Every Stitch.

Even though I spend most of my crafty time quilting, I also knit and crochet some, and I wanted a blog name that can reflect all of these pursuits. More than that, I really really enjoy the process of making, and I don't rush through it. It is soothing, therapeutic, and as for the beautiful items that result? That's just the icing on the cake!

Favorite Quilts

And here's my favorite part: sharing my favorite quilts with you! I've only made a handful of quilts, yet already it's really hard to pick favorites. But I've narrowed it down to my 3 favorite quilts (so far).

Dare To Be

Dare To Be is a very recent finish, and I love it for the beautiful criss-cross effect and all the feathers I threw on there. Feathers are my favorite thing to quilt, but it's also the scariest thing to quilt. The pattern is by Jeni Baker.

Starstruck

Starstruck is the first quilt from the Midnight Quilt Show hosted by Angela Walters. I loved the fabric, the interesting placement of the stars, and of course, the quilting.

Tokyo Subway Map

Tokyo Subway Map has been on my make list for quite some time but I was really intimidated by the sheer number of small pieces (1600) in the quilt. However, once I made it, I realize it's not as hard as it looks and it's definitely one of my favorite quilts, with the beautiful scrappy fabrics and the improv graffiti-style quilting. The pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman.

Blogging Tip

I'm a fairly new blogger and I have tons to learn, but the most valuable thing I did for my blog was to get social. I had been blogging for about 7 months, with only my sister-in-law and myself as readers, before I decided to finally join a link party hosted by Crazy Mom Quilts. I couldn't believe how much traffic I got that day! Since then, I've joined link parties whenever possible.

Quilting Tip

My number one quilting tip is geared towards Quilter's Paralysis. You've heard of it. It's that paralyzing fear of ruining our quilt tops with the "wrong" design, so we procrastinate for hours, days, weeks, years, wondering what the perfect design is. Here's the thing ... there is no such thing as one perfect design. There are lots of perfect designs. I used to stare at my quilt tops for a long time, pondering the right design, but I've discovered that if I just pick something and get started, I've always been happy with the result at the end anyway, because it's done.

What if you have no idea where to start picking from? I have a little prompt-sheet that I keep next to my machine of designs I know and am comfortable with, as well as newer designs that I want to try. Then, when I'm stumped, I'll look through that list, and usually I get some ideas fairly quickly.

Random Facts About Me

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  • I'm a die-hard Harry Potter fan. I suppose the word is "Potterhead."
  • I have a 7-inch scar shaped like a giant centipede on my left arm from a hang-gliding accident. To this day, I don't remember the actual crash, just the few seconds before and after.
  • I've been coding since I was 12, and was a software engineer for Google for awhile. I still get pretty excited about coding, especially when I combine coding with quilting.
  • I'm a total Japan-o-phile! The food, the culture, anime, the style, you name it, I love it.
  • I'm addicted to roller coasters, in particular the feeling of that negative G-force during a drop. Bliss!

    A Quilting Confession

    I'm a total fangirl of Angela Walters. I've absorbed everything she has done (books, Craftsy classes, YouTube videos, Midnight Quilt Show) but I've yet to have the chance to meet her in person. I once had a dream where I actually met her in person! But hopefully one day.

    Hop Onwards!

    Thanks for reading my journey, and for your support of my blog! I've been amazed at how lovely and encouraging the online quilting community is. Now, tell me a quilting confession of yours. Then, go visit the other great blogs in my hop group:

    Round 1: April 10th

  • Sew Jess Handmade
  • Making a Beautiful Life
  • Quiltologie
  • Cut & Alter
  • Something Rose Made

  • Round 2: April 17th

  • Cocoa Quilts
  • 9658 Textiles
  • Finding Myself as an Artist
  • Quilt in Piece
  • Sparkle On

  • Round 3: May 1st

  • Powered by Quilting
  • Cwilt
  • Savor Every Stitch (You're here!)
  • Sandra Healy Designs

  • Round 4: May 8th

  • Sevenoaks Street Quilts
  • Dizzy Quilter
  • Quiltersstash
  • Quilted Blooms

  • Last but not least, don't forget to visit our blog hop hosts for some fun giveaways:
  • Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts
  • Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
  • Leanne @ she can quilt

    Have fun and I hope to see you back soon!

  • AQS Paducah Spring 2017

    I went to AQS Paducah on Friday, and wow, was it a big show! I think it's the biggest show I've ever attended. This is not surprising, since Paducah is sort of considered quilt city, USA. There were so many vendors that they couldn't even fit in one building, and we had to shuttle around.

    The last quilt show I went to a few weeks ago, I concentrated on playing with all the longarms, so I really didn't do much shopping. This time, with my longarm decision made, I relaxed and checked out the quilts and vendors.

    Some of my favorite quilts I saw today I already recognized from online, so it was great to see them in person. I'm forever amazed by how creative quilters are!

    Left: Modern Nine-Patch by Susan Mogan
    Right: Equilateral Sampler by Rebecca Bryan

    Left: Feathered Chevrons by Christa Watson
    Right: Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer

    Left: Skylights by Hope Wilmarth
    Right: Art Deco Sun by Robbi Joy Eklow

    Left: Technicolor Deco by Shirley Gisi
    Right: Flowered & Feathered Frenzy by Susan K. Cleveland

    ***

    Although I already decided on a longarm, I certainly couldn't resist playing with them again. Mainly, I played with the Handi Quilter Avante and the APQS Lenni, because those were my top contenders, and until now I didn't have a chance to compare them side-by-side. Well ... I'm really glad I picked the Lenni, because it really felt the best in my hands!

    Of course, no quilt show is ever complete without some delicious shopping. I worked hard to rein myself in ...

    It will be quite awhile before the next quilt show, which probably won't be until fall. Time to actually go make quilts with all the stuff I've hoarded!

    Monday, April 24, 2017

    Love At First Stitch

    When I bought my Handi Quilter Sweet 16 in July of last year, I never dreamed I would outgrow her so quickly. But outgrow her I did. I got tired of dealing with basting, and managing bulk and gravity. I found myself compromising on my vision, and I found myself dreaming of a real longarm. (Literally. I had dreams where I was longarming.)

    The decision of which longarm to get, however, is a confusing one. What brand? What size throat? Does it matter if there is a local dealer? Do I want to pay for extra features? Do I want a computer?

    The advice I always hear is to test drive as many machines as possible, and to talk to as many brands as possible. So, I visited dealers with a blogger friend and went to a quilt show, and I played with tons of machines between Gammill, Bernina, Handi Quilter, A1, APQS, Q'nique, and Innova.

    From all of the machines I drove, there are some I can rule out immediately because I had a hard time controlling them. Some were nice. Some were really nice. And then ...

    Love at first stitch. It's real.

    When I tried the APQS Lenni on Bliss for the first time, I fell in love. With every other machine I've tried, I had to manage the resistance and momentum to some degree, and I just thought it was something I have to learn to live with. But with Lenni, it just felt perfect, and it felt right. Lenni moved so easily and beautifully that I felt like I was quilting on air. It truly was a blissful feeling.

    The only other machine that came close to feeling like Lenni did was the Handi Quilter Avante. But ... Lenni wins!

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    Aviatrix Medallion ~ Part Two: Border 2 + Border 3

    Borders 2 and 3 of Aviatrix Medallion is now complete. I don't think I've ever had to pay that much attention to a perfect quarter-inch seam as this quilt, because it's medallion and every "ring" needs to be the right size! To facilitate, I really worked hard to press the seams carefully open.

    Border 2 is a rail fence variation, so it was fairly easy to piece.

    On the other hand, Border 3 includes one of the more complicated blocks I've ever dealt with. It involves something I still struggle with ... sewing snowball corners. It's easy in theory, but in practice, I find that it's a real challenge to make the block come out square and the right size!

    I'm not sure whether it's a blessing or a curse that fabric is stretchy. On one hand, more room for mistakes. On the other hand, more fudging of mistakes. After attaching Border 3, this quilt is really starting to look like something!

    Previous posts on this quilt:

  • Part Zero
  • Part One: Center Star + Border 1
  • Friday, April 14, 2017

    Tokyo Subway Map

    It's scrappy. It's modern. It's urban. It's Tokyo Subway Map! After more than a month of piecing the top, and nearly a month of quilting, I'm proud to unveil my finished Tokyo Subway Map quilt. The pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson. It is the perfect quilt for a self-professed Japan-o-phile like me.

    This quilt is the biggest quilt I've ever quilted, at 80" x 80". I won't lie, it was a real chore to manage the bulk on my midarm. More and more, I find myself longing for a longarm (no pun intended). I thought the best quilting design for this quilt would be improv, and plus I've wanted to try improv quilting for awhile. I had a lot of fun doing improv because there's no planning. Naturally, I quilted this quilt to death. I really like the neat Where's Waldo effect because of all the things I threw on there. I did notice after awhile that one motif kept showing up ... the sunburst medallion. I must like it a lot!

    I kept the quilting in the train lines pretty simple, and just did a continuous curve, mostly so I can maneuver in and out of the space easily.

    I had a vision in my head for this quilt, and that was to make it look very urban, very modern, very colorful, but still clean and bright. (Kind of like Tokyo itself.) I think I achieved what I set out, with the beautiful and striking scrappy fabrics, and the heavily textured improv quilting. I absolutely adore this quilt! (But it's really heavy.)

    Previous posts on this quilt:

  • Scrappy Subway Map Quilt
  • Tokyo Subway Map ~ Ready to Quilt!

    ***

    This post participated in the link parties at Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Busy Hands Quilts. Link up and join the fun!

  • Monday, April 10, 2017

    Longarm Quilting With Linda Taylor

    Since I was getting serious about a longarm, I figured this is a good time to actually take some classes. If longarming is definitely wrong for me, I would want to know before I spend such a heavy chunk of money on a machine! So last Saturday, I attended a whole day of longarm classes with Linda Taylor (whom Angela Walters called the "godmother of machine quilting") during the International Quilt Festival.

    Both classes were for beginners, although I quickly realized I was one of the few people in the class who did't have a longarm at home, and hence was more beginner than most. The first class taught pantographs, and although I don't see myself doing a lot of pantographs (because I like custom quilting), I've always been curious how they worked. Here is my first attempt:

    I must admit, it was really fun and mindless to just trace a pantograph. I enjoyed it more than I expected, because there's no stress here. This might be the way to go for charity quilts, baby quilts, or very busy quilts where it's not worth it to do custom quilting. My second pantograph attempt was a ballerina, which was a bit more difficult, but not too badly so. After that, I worked some freehand quilting to embellish her.

    The afternoon class was all freehand quilting. This is where I realized that just because I know how to do these designs on a sit-down machine, it doesn't mean the skill translates very well to a longarm. Sure I know in my head how it's supposed to look ... but I don't have very good control over the machine, and it doesn't really end up looking like it does in my head. In particular, any design with traveling was really, really tough. Here's my class sample:

    I didn't do the frames or the pretty outer border design, as that was already done for us. I just had to fill in all of the spaces with filler designs. It was very fun to do, and since I didn't intend for this sample to actually become something, I allowed myself to be pretty sloppy ... and it was pretty sloppy. Some designs are definitely easier on a longarm (such as wavy lines) than on a sit-down, and some designs are much harder (anything with traveling, or really small designs).

    I think I'm officially addicted to longarming. After I got home, all I wanted to do was to longarm some more, but I don't have a machine yet. In conclusion, I think longarming is almost certainly in my future. (But what machine to get? That's a dilemma for another blog post.)

    Friday, April 7, 2017

    International Quilt Festival Chicago 2017

    I love going to quilt shows. It's a day off from my everyday life while I immerse myself in the wonderful world of quilts, quilters, and quilting goodies. My first quilt show ever was the International Quilt Festival, back in 2016, in Rosemont, IL. I only live about 20 miles away, so it's an easy day trip. It's a medium-sized show, about 130 - 140 vendors, but given how it's right in my neck of the woods, of course I have to go back this year.

    First up, some beautiful quilts I saw this year. (I didn't feel really well this morning and looking at all the quilts was making me dizzy, so I only saw about a third of all the quilts there.) Per Quilt Fest rules, these photographs are for personal enjoyment only, not for printing or reproduction.

    Left: iQuilt by Kathy York
    Right: One Earth by Kathy York

    Left: Thread Challenge: Branes, Strings, and M-Theory by Alicia Merrett
    Right: Windy by Emily Parson

    Left: Jeweled Window by Judy Nelson and Debbie Spencer
    Right: Drunkard's Bullseye WOW! by Jackie Nixon-Fulton

    Left: Journey by Kimie Tanner and Missy Winona
    Right: Moonlight in the City by Genevieve Guadalupe

    Left: Uber Up and Away by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill
    Right: Playing Well Together by Jackie Nixon-Fulton

    ***

    One of the highlights of my day was meeting Mary Fons and getting a book signed by her. I've seen her on TV, YouTube, and Craftsy, and I really adore her because she's so passionate and genuine. Well, she's just as nice in person as she seems on the air!

    Later, I joined in an exhibit tour hosted by Mary Fons, and her mother Marianne Fons was the surprise co-host. It's so nice seeing people I've only ever seen on a screen, live! The exhibit was called "Beauty in Scraps", and I saw some real beauties that gave me all sorts of ideas.

    A quilt show isn't a quilt show without some merchandise ... I didn't buy a whole lot this year as I was making an effort to be judicious about my spending, and not to let fabric fumes and convention fever drive me to make purchases I'd regret later. It probably worked too well, because I didn't buy a scrap of fabric ...

    My main goal at the show, though, was to try out all the longarms. Happily, a lot of the major longarm manufacturers were represented today. I visited Handi Quilter, Gammill, Innova, Bernina, and A1, and test drove probably every machine at the show. Using a longarm is really not as easy as it looks. It's true there is no bulk or drag to manage (which is so nice!), but the machine has a certain amount of momentum, so it's an entire new challenge to manage that. It completely changed my perspective, as well, on what I want. I thought the bigger the throat the better, but now, I'm finding that a smaller machine is lighter, and therefore easier to control and maneuver! Yet, it's possible that if I get a heavier machine with a larger throat, in time I'll get used to the momentum, and then I'll be able to benefit from the extra quilting space. So, I'm not sure, but I'll be playing with more machines still before I make a decision.

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