Changing Focus for a While

I’ve decided to put off re-opening the Etsy shop for a while.  Due to circumstances that I’d rather not get into, I’m in a place at the moment where I don’t want to take on any new obligations.  At least not any have-to-do-it-now, have-to-remember-to-do-it-later obligations.  Every year in November, my parents and other volunteers run a Christmas store in Texas, to raise money for a community for adults with special needs, and for the last two years I’ve made a quilt to be raffled off for the store.

This was the quilt for 2014, a star sampler based on my California quilt guild’s block of the month that year.


The quilt in 2015 was based on Moda’s Modern Building Blocks.


It’s time to start making this year’s quilt, so while I’m working through my circumstances and taking some medications that make me feel tired all the time, I’ve decided to focus on that.

I bought the fabrics for this quilt in January, when Pennington Quilt Works was having their annual post-holiday clearance.  They had some really beautiful Christmas fabrics last year, and I got half a yard of each (having learned from last year’s experience that quarter-yards often just aren’t enough).  The darkest gold fabric will be the backing, and the dark green plaid will be the binding.


I had been thinking about a lone-star design (and of course I grappled with the temptation to undertake something REALLY complicated), but then I thought, “Let’s get back to basics.”  So for this project, I’ll be doing a very traditional, very beautiful design called “A Trip Around the World.”


It’s also called “Sunlight and Shadows,” when the values of the fabrics are arranged to create patterns of light and dark.  Of course the colors here are only representative of the fabrics, but the overall effect should be pretty similar, plus a little shimmer from the gold metallics on some of the prints.  🙂

I’m going to tweak the design a little in the next few days.  In particular I’m not sure about the center right now; repeating the center colors for two rings is traditional for “Sunlight and Shadows,” but I might begin blending the colors right from the center, for a more continuous overall look.

I’ll definitely have to settle the design details before I start cutting.  This design is cut and assembled in carefully-arranged strip sets.  It’s straightforward in assembly, but you have to do all the prep correctly, and keep your rows organized.


This picture is sideways, but it gives you the idea.  The fabrics are cut into strips, from edge to edge across the fabric, and the strips are sewn together into sets of four or five.  Then you cut across the strip sets, dividing them into segments that, once you’ve finished sewing, will become small rows of squares.  Then you sew the segments end to end to create one row for one quadrant of the quilt.  Any squares that aren’t needed for the row, are removed with the seam ripper, and set aside for a different row where you might need them.  Once you’ve made your rows, you sew those together to make one quarter of the quilt, and then sew the quadrants together to finish the top.

Like I said, it doesn’t require a lot of technique to put this together, just careful design and organization.  It should be an interesting challenge!

And I may be able to quilt it on a longarm because… I took longarm quilting lessons yesterday!!


Olde City Quilts, in Burlington, will rent time on one of their long-arm machines for $20 an hour, as long as you take their three-hour class first.  (I read about this online two years ago, but at the time it seemed too expensive and I forgot about it. I was reminded by a vendor at the Courthouse Quilters’ show last weekend (more about that later).)  I learned how to set up a quilt sandwich on the rails (which I already knew a little bit how to do from using my Flynn Quilting Frame at home, which operates on similar principles), how to set the stitch length, how to use the attached laser stylus to follow a paper pattern without marking it on the quilt, how to start and stop and clean out the bobbin.  I had so much fun!!!


This is two rows of the sample pattern the instructor had me do.  The pattern is designed so that the rows nest into each other, making it look like an allover pattern, but you can kind of see the repeat in the picture.

The long-arm machine has two sets of controls, one on the front (facing the quilt sandwich, like in this picture) and one in the back, where there’s a flat space to lay out patterns.  You set up the pattern to correspond to your quilt sandwich (with some strips of painters tape laid down to mark where your edges are), and turn on the attached laser pointer.  As you move the machine, the little red dot moves around too, so you can follow the line on the paper without ever marking up the quilt!  My stars came out a little wonky, but on the whole I’m very satisfied.  (It also turns out it’s easier for me to work from left to right; I think it’s because that’s how I would make the design if I were drawing.)

After that we got to free-motion for a while, and I went nuts doodling (I’ll post a picture of the whole thing soon), and had a great time!  The machine has a built-in stitch regulator, so I didn’t have to think nearly as much about controlling my speed, and there was so much ROOM to work with.  It was a lot of fun to see what the other students did too.  And now I have this whole new resource I can draw on to finish my quilts!

The rental fee includes the thread, service for the machine, tech support; for an extra ten dollars, they’ll even load the quilt on the frame before I get there, as long as I drop it off a couple days in advance.  I think I’ll want to do a sample quilt or two to practice before diving in with an important project, but I’m REALLY excited to drive that long-arm again soon!



One thought on “Changing Focus for a While

  1. I can imagine how much you would love using this! Renting is a great idea when space is an issue!!! love and prayers. It is often good to focus on doing one thing when going through difficulties and fatigue.


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