Sunday, April 3, 2022

Bursting at the seam!!!!

I'm so excited this morning; I'm practically bursting at the seams! Why? Well, there is good in this world! 

I almost hate to tell you this because it means that I have to be on the ball to ensure I can get a booking! What does that mean? We are staying at Retreat at the Farm, a retreat house near Shelbourne, Ontario. I think this is my fourth time or maybe my fifth. I write the numbers in the guest book, so I can remember. All the retreats seem to blend into each other! 

If you haven't been on a quilting retreat, you should find one to go to. While larger retreats are hosted at hotels, the smaller venues are the best (in my humble opinion). The even better news is that they are way cheaper!! There is a set fee for four days (Monday to Thursday) and another for three days (Friday to Sunday), and I rent for the entire week! Then we divvy up the cost amongst the participants, and we have a system to deal with the food. 

While the house could sleep nine, we have discovered that we like smaller groups. The sewing room here really works for five! Each person gets their own table, and there's a large room for pressing. Yes -- we have squeezed 7 into this room, but I like five. It's also the noise and the conversations -- if you have 7 people, there are seven different conversations, and multiple people are asking questions. Let's just say that I like five!

There's so much light in the sewing room that you literally have to wear sunglasses (or use the window shades!). The place is toasty warm even on cold, windy days. There is a wonderfully stocked kitchen, a brand new stove, a microwave that I can cook oatmeal in, and all the other things that one would need. 

The owner always has a little goodie bag for everyone with coupons from the local shops. OH -- with five, we each get our own bedroom!!! That is so worth it!!! And the beds are so comfy, 

We are booking for next year -- we have to as the place is filling up very quickly! It's out in the country but very close to Shelbourne. 

For meals, we divvy it up -- I've been doing this for many years, and we now have an excellent system for making it work. NO mass amounts of goodies are allowed, so we don't overeat, and all the meals were terrific!

If you have not gone on a small retreat, you MUST. Even working those three days, I accomplished so much, and I'm so fired up and inspired that I want to sew forever. That is just the best feeling in the world!!!

The second thing I want to mention is a quilt store that is not local to me, but boy -- they went above and beyond. The store is Stitch by Stitch in Kingston. I know the owner through Zoom classes (she's also a sewing machine dealer), and I met her this past week. 

They were offering a class on the Brother Scan and Cut, and I inadvertently signed up even though the class was in-person. Oops!!! Then I got a notification that someone else would be there via Zoom, so the Zoom option was available. YES -- so I sat for two hours yesterday and watched the class. I wasn't sure how it would work with the instructor in the classroom, but I swear, I had a BETTER seat than those in the classroom. 

Shauntae is a fantastic instructor, and it was her SECOND time teaching. Oh boy --- she is a keeper for sure. She was highly knowledgeable, and her camera work at letting me see was spot on. I was blown away!! I don't know how many people were in the classroom or how that end went, but I could hear her and see everything as if I were in the class. She was excellent, and the course was amazing. I have to write the store a glowing review because it was a fantastic experience. I'm not good a good student, but I was glued to the screen.  

I learned a ton of stuff, and as soon as I get home and check my supplies, I'll be placing an order -- a big one for supplies that I need but don't have. 

I've met a few of Heather's (the owner) other staff members, and I'm not sure where she found them, but she hired fantastic staff, and they are YOUNG!! This is so exciting for the industry -- they are young, enthusiastic, and know their stuff. I'm so impressed. 

It's like Creekbank Sewing; there is a mother/daughter team working the store, and it may have been a son teaching a sewing machine class. But YOUNG people -- the industry will survive!!!

The next time you order something from that large online store -- think about this experience. You would NEVER NEVER NEVER ever get that kind of support from them. Would it be worth it for me to pay a few extra dollars to buy from Heather? I wouldn't even think about it -- I know that when I get my supplies and I might have a question or two -- they would be there to support me. That level of support is critical to MY success. 

The problem in our industry (and probably so many others) is that people want to pay the absolute minimum amount for any product. Then they feel it is their RIGHT to march into a store and demand service or support for that product. And they want it for free. I've noticed that many store owners are standing up and saying NO. They will charge for the advice, or they just say NO. I'm so proud of them, and I'm definitely going to be doing the same thing. 

By that, I mean -- if you are taking a class from me, I have no problems answering questions, but if it's about your sewing machine or even a lesson that I've taught  -- GO and look for that answer BEFORE you come to me. I've had e-mails from people who ask questions, and the answer is in my notes -- I know it is because I send them the page. That just eats up my time, and I don't want to get burned out from admin stuff. And don't even think about asking me about a product you bought from the online store. I'll just laugh!!

My goal in teaching is to make the students self-sufficient. 

After the class, there was some practice on the Scan n Cut to check out the new skills. 

The Scan and Cut is set up

I definitely think there is a place for the Scan and Cut; I'm not sure that it's worth it for every project. If you have physical issues cutting, then I say, yes -- this may be the way to go, but I'd try a different pair of scissors or get the RIGHT pair of scissors for cutting. There are trimming scissors -- those are NOT meant for cutting applique shapes. 

But I'm anxious to try machine embroidery applique using the software. So that is on my plate for this week. I mean with a file that I've created! From scratch!

I"m sure if the job is small, I could have that traced, cut, and finished with a satin stitch before I could even get the fabric cut with the Scan and Cut. But large or repetitive jobs, I think this might be the way to go. But LOTS of steps and lots of technology are required. 

PLaying with the TWO Scan and Cut machines

We had a visitor who brought her Scan and Cut. We had planned to have a Scan and Cut session yesterday, and then that class came along. How timely!!!

But the excitement does end there. I told you I was bursting at the seams. It took way longer to make up the 64 blocks required for my yellow flannel scrappy quilt. But I got all the squares done, and I had to cut 5 squares of solid fabric as I had run out of scraps. 

The squares for the scrappy flannel quilt 

And once I got it together, this is what it looks like. It definitely has a modern vibe to it, and I LOVE it. It's only about 38 inches square but super cute. The backing and the binding are also done, and it's ready to be quilted. 

My scrappy flannel quilt

Once that was done, I thought about what I had brought out to work on and what was in the project bag, and I put the other two projects back in my bag and pulled out this bag of pinwheel units. They have been in the retreat bag for several trips, and it's time to get them together. I could have put sashing between them but instead decided to sew them together. 

Pinwheel blocks laid out for sewing

I have no idea where the little triangles came from, and I don't think they belonged to me. But I got a good laugh as I was laying them out. Look how perfectly it worked out! I'm missing TWO half-square triangles to get a decent-sized top. I don't have any fabric with me, so I'm putting together what I can, and then I'll finish up those two when I get home. I'll likely add a border, or maybe not. 

Missing two half-square triangles

And as I'm working on those, I'm making MORE of those little half square triangles as my enders and leaders. These scraps came from the quilt on the magazine's cover at the top of my blog. One bag is those units that are sewn, and one still needs to be stitched. 

Enders and leaders

I've realized one thing over time. I have way more fun working with scraps and making something from nothing than cutting up yardage and creating a "pretty" quilt. It's just that darn pioneer spirit in me. And even better? I could literally sew from my scrap boxes and NEVER run out of something to sew. 

I have a basket of red flannel scraps that I'll be cutting up for the next retreat, and I'll be making a red flannel quilt! What else will you do with those scraps left over from making clothes with all the weird curves etc.? 

And NO -- I do not and will NOT accept your scraps. They are a treasure, and I think everyone should learn to play with them. OK -- I know they are not for everyone, but honestly, if you don't want to buy new fabric, you need to make scrap quilts!

I used the new PROJECTION system (including laser) on the creative icon last night, and it's fabulous!!! 

But nothing warms my heart like someone learning the sewing machine they have. We do not need to buy a new machine; we just need to know how to use our existing machine. Dede has learned MANY things about her Janome this week. I gave her a couple of topics, and she looked them up in the manual, and she was good!!!

Susan, who also has a Janome, showed her how to make buttonholes, something Dede has never done!!!! 

Practicing the buttonhole

I'm always up earlier than anyone and hate to turn on the lights, although no one would see them. That's another thing I like about the house at Retreat at the Farm, there's lots of room, and the sewing room is situated so if you want to sew late into the night or early in the morning, the rest of the house can't hear or see the lights. I LOVE IT!!!

However, the lighting system on the creative icon is so bright that you don't need an overhead light!

Bright lighting on the creative icon 2

Look at how much it lights up the entire sewing room!!!

That's a LOT of light

I've made progress on sewing my little pinwheel blocks together, and I NEED to get back at it! I have one more project lined up today. Sadly, today is the day we have to go home. But after an entire week, you are ready to go home. I'm totally recharged and ready to tackle ANYTHING, which is good because I still have some e-mails to answer. And there might be a document or two that still needs to be written. 

PHEW -- I'm glad I got that all out because I was literally sitting here and bursting to tell you all about the good things happening. It's not because I'm lucky -- it's because I make (or allow) them to happen, and I always look at the bright side of everything! 

And on that note, I'm out of here to SEW!!!!!!

Have a great day!!!


PS --- If you're looking for something to do, get out your sewing machine manual and READ IT. Pick a new technique or a new foot and TRY it. People are so scared of breaking stuff, and you have to try really hard to do that!!!!

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