Design Ideas Needed-Patio Retrofit for a Quilt Studio

OK guys, I did it.  I completely lost my mind and went whole hog and invested in the King Quilter 18″ Special Edition long arm quilting machine with a 10″ Android tablet, the Grace GQ Frame, and the Quilt Butler robotics.   The whole mess was on sale and came with free Luminess lighting to go over the frame.

I say “invested” because I could buy a new car for what I paid for this thing.  Hubs said, “Are you going to get another job to pay for this?”  I said, “This IS the other job!”  We’re still not finished with the install because the wrong carriage hardware was sent.  The new will be here next week sometime.  This is about 5 hours of labor here and it took 45 minutes just to unpack the frame.  It’s 10 feet long and in this image it’s still not finished.


“So what is that thing?”  I’ve had so many non-quilters ask me that.  In layman’s terms, this is the frame and machine that sandwiches together a quilt top, the fluffy batting in the middle, and the backing together into a one-piece blanket with fancy stitching designs.  The robotics will do the sewing for me automatically – I simply tell it where the four corners are, choose a design, and press Go.  When it’s finished, I manually roll the quilt forward to the next blank space and repeat until the quilt is finished.  I should be able to finish a quilt in a day.  And believe me, with the recent explosion in home quilting, there’s a ton of work out there.  I have 5-6 quilt tops myself that need finished and it would cost me anywhere between $150 and $300 each to send them out to have them quilted.  The nearest quilt shop has 30+ quilts in the queue and it’s 25 miles away.  There’s a demand for this and I’m here now to support it.

The room that will become my new quilting/sewing studio and will house my 9 (yes, nine…as in 1 less than 10) machines, has been affectionately named The Sweat Shop by a Hispanic coworker (ha ha – thanks Juan!), and is a screened-in porch – like what some call a Florida room.  We like to sit outside in the evenings, so in 2008 we enlarged our back patio to 15′ x 20′ and fully enclosed it to include extending the roof line of our house.  From above, you cannot tell there was an addition.  The point then was not to have windows but instead have a bug free outdoor zone to hang out in.  Well, that never happened.  Hubs moved further outside to the new uncovered back patio extension and the screened-in patio became a glorified dog room.  A little story…there’s a storm door between the original house and the back patio with a doggie door in it.  There are two screen doors on the back patio and I’ve taped over the latches so they don’t latch.  One door can be pushed out and the other door can be pushed in.  Some coaxing with a leash and bologna, and the dogs learned the in/out process and now I never have to let them out.  They have a full-360 degree run.  THAT’s what I call Master Sergeant thinking!  lol

In 2011 when my first grandchild arrived, I began quilting in earnest.  I modified a rarely used guest bedroom into my sewing room and designated the RV as our guest house.  As my power tool arsenal expanded, I moved my 18″ sit down quilt machine into the game room.  I tried to get hubs to allow me to take over the game room completely (the pool table was perfect for cutting out fabric), but he wasn’t having it.  Then HE started making custom fishing rods and took over the pool table in the game room himself.  Our hobbies (and my future retirement home business) had us bursting at the seams.  The thread on that stand is not for sewing, it’s to wrap guides onto fishing poles.  This is his mess, not mine.  There’s a pool table under there somewhere.


Then it hit me.  Why not retrofit the back patio into a quilting studio, hubs can have my old sewing room for his fishing poles, and we can get our game room back?  WIN!!  The next stop was to Lowe’s to order custom windows and real storm doors for the Sweat Shop.  They will be here Dec 14th.  In consideration for the dogs, the new doors have doggie doors in them.  This also allows me another exterior entrance into the Sweat Shop for customers to drop off quilt tops.  I love that.  I will strategically place floor pillows for the dogs away from the quilting area – I’m obsessed about not having dog fur everywhere.  We also are going to duct air conditioning & heat into the room.  The sun screens will be taken down with the new windows so the light into the room will be much brighter too.  I’m so sick of the dark, but in a very hot South Texas you have to sacrifice light to save on the electric bill which was usually upwards of $400 a month in the summer.  Hopefully, the new AC we installed this year will help with that too.

I need help with decorating ideas for shelving and fabric storage for the Sweat Shop.  I don’t want to block the light from the windows with big cabinets and I have very limited wall space because of the brick.  We’re not opposed to mounting things on the brick, but I want to maintain the brick look.  Possibly paint it a brighter color?  Hmmm.  The TV is staying.  I don’t want it to look half-assed thrown together, but instead a happy professional looking studio where quilters want to be.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

#StitchinSanta 2016 Sneak Peak!

So this is my first year to participate in StitchinSanta.  Sheila, our benevolent #SSElf from “across the pond” at , has arranged this and manages all the participants.  It goes like this:  You sign up by a given date, usually in October, and give Sheila your name and address.  She matches you up with a geographically close neighbor (she tries for the same country) and you become the secret StitchinSanta for another stitching friend!  The gift limit is $15 US including shipping, but you can add in all the homemade goodies or extras from your stash you might have to make it extra special.  You need to blog about it when you join, and then give a blog hint along the way.  Then on Christmas morning, you should blog your StitchinSanta gift that you received.  Too fun!


I’ll admit that the biggest expense of my gift will be spent on shipping.  See, I tend to buy in bulk and I hoard.  I know those of you who read my blog are SO surprised to hear this!  So everything in my gift will be brand new in the original packaging, except for one hand made item.   Here’s a sneak peak at my gift.  I hope she likes it!


Honestly, I think there’s as much fun in giving as there is in getting.  I’ve even had another participant from California contact me to ask about appropriate gifts for a quilter.  So already I’ve made a new #StitchinFriend that I didn’t know before!  How cool is that??  I love this!  Hi Jen!!  Gorgeous weddings!

If you’d like to participate next year, contact Sheila on her blog, and you can sign up.  That’s what I had to do because I missed the cut off last year.  But she remembered and emailed me for this year’s #StitchinSanta.  What a blessing it is to have people in the world like her. 🙂

@ModaFabrics Bella Solids Sampler

For those of us who buy fabric online, a fabric sampler from your favorite fabric distributor is a great thing to have.  Missouri Star Quilt Company ( @MSQC ) is my home page (the Daily Deal) so every day I’m presented with a really inexpensive pre-cut begging to come home to me.   That’s where I get most of my prints.  But you know you cannot even begin to match a solid on your computer.  If you try, your odds of getting it right are like winning the lottery, but most of the time you’re just adding to your stash and end up still without the right solid after a disappointing trip to the mail box. To remedy this, I just recently picked up the Bella Solids Sampler from @FatQuarterShop.  I absolutely love it.


I’m certainly not trying to discourage you from frequenting your favorite quilt shop.  By all means, support those small businesses…they are the lifeblood of our communities.  But if you fail in your search, or you live in the boonies like me, a fabric sampler can save you a lot of trouble.  Just look at all these choices!


The strips are all 1″ x 1.5″ long so you can get a pretty good idea of what will work for your project.


Some strategy is required because you need the print fabric first.  So I usually order the solid I need on my next order of prints so I can sneak it in on the $5 shipping on my order from MSQC.  Had I wanted to use a solid to match these cherries, it would have been very easy to match and make an order online.  “Flamingo” would have pulled the color out nicely!


About 2 years ago I made a suggestion to @MSQC that in addition to the Daily Deal, that they also provide an idea of what to do with the product (because I have no idea…see my blog page “The Creative Fraud”) and offer coordinating fabrics.  I actually received an email back from them saying “great idea” and now they do just that!  The other day, I ordered a 10″ pre-cut of a cute farm theme (for the grand kiddos) and they suggested a pattern with a how-to video on YouTube, a solid yellow for sashing, and then other options in that fabric line for border and backing.  So yes, I ordered it all.  But if you don’t have that luxury of your fabric retailer helping you out, I highly suggest you get a fabric sampler.

Now, about those cherries…sigh.  Several weeks ago I was in my local quilt shop and they had hanging in the Ladies, a gorgeous quilt called The Texas Two Step.  It was a dominant yellow (vs. green in the photo) and I absolutely had to make it.


So I have no idea why, but I grabbed a bunch of coordinating pinks.  They looked so yummy in the store on the bolts on the shelf.  I made it right up and …meh.  :/   It’s OK.  I was supposed to liven up my all-brown living room by hanging it over the back of the loveseat.  But it’s too pink.  I didn’t mean for it to be THAT pink.  Oh well, it will be a great practice quilt for my baby that’s in boxes waiting to be unpacked.  WUPS!  Secret!  But I’m fixing to add to my Power Tool Arsenal!  Stay tuned!


10% Off #Embrilliance Embroidery Software

For my friends who are dabbling in machine embroidery and don’t have any software yet, Embroidery Designs is having a 10% off sale on all Embrilliance products through Nov 30th.  I have Embrilliance Essentials (now $125.10) and Thumbnailer (now $35.10).  I’m not receiving any fee for recommending these – no affiliate links here, just pure belief in the products.  I don’t have any of the other Embrilliance products so I can’t speak to those.

The Essentials is easy to use (think Word or PowerPoint), and allows you to import BX fonts and do basic design editing like making designs bigger or smaller, centering, flipping, duplicating, changing thread colors, managing thread density, etc.  I highly recommend this software and there are tons of videos out on YouTube to help you learn how to use it.  You do not need software that costs thousands of dollars to do machine embroidery.  I use Essentials after I download a design from the web, then scale it to size and save to a thumb drive for use in my machine.  I also use it to print the design before stitching so I can use that paper template to ensure good placement on my project and help me to remember thread colors.essentials-capture

Thumbnailer.  This is all about design management on your computer.  When you download a file, purchased or free, it usually comes with some obscure file name and you can’t tell what it is from first glance.  Thumbnailer displays the file like an icon so you can find what you’re looking for.  It’s super easy to install, requires a restart, and then viola’!  Icons!  Here’s a screenshot of the Embroidery folder on my laptop.


Once inside the folders, the detail is even better.


They have these products for both PC and Mac.  These software packages rarely go on sale so hurry and you can get stitching for Christmas!

@FatQuarterShop #sewsampler !

I love surprises and the Sew Sampler box from Fat Quarter Shop (which hails from Austin, Texas HOLLA!)spoke to me as soon as I saw it.  There’s a one-time .99 cent enrollment fee and then for $24.95 a month, you get a box full of surprises each month!  Yippee!  I just got my first one. 🙂

20161121_192604It opens up with a pretty tissue and sticker.  Fluff I know but it draws out the surprise.  LOL

20161121_192616Here’s what’s in this month’s box!


  • Two Olive’s Flower Market Charm Packs
  • Three Schmetz Universal Needle packs in 70/10, 80/12, & 90/14
  • A big spool of 50wt Aurifil Natural White Thread
  • Lori Holt 5″ x 8″ Reversible Cutting Mat (the other side is pink)
  • C’est La Vie Quilt Pattern from Lella Boutique
  • An FQS 2017 Calendar
  • Block 8 Quilt Pattern
  • And a coupon for 15% off Christmas fabric!

On the other side of the calendar page is a cute sewing saying.  Look at those snow flakes made from scissors.  Too cute!


I’m so excited to get quilting with those Charm Packs.  And I never have enough white thread so the Aurifil spool is perfect.  I love this box and can’t wait for next month’s!


A Trip to Nancy’s Notions

I just recently returned from a trip to Janesville, Wisconsin to visit family.  When my Aunt June and Uncle Don picked me up at the Milwaukee Airport, Aunt June announced they had planned to take me to the original Nancy’s Notions store.  I was ecstatic! Now how did she knew I’d love to do that? 🙂

Of course I had to take pictures to blog the event.  It’s in a beautiful town called Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.


Uncle Don had barely parked the car and I was racing inside.


I was in Sewing Mecca!


While Uncle Don went in search of a hamburger for lunch (he’s such a good sport), Aunt June and I hit the aisles of Nancy’s Notions.  My initial search was for the new Fussy Cutter ruler by Marti Mitchell.  I’d seen it in the catalog and if there’s a new tool, I have to have it.  I also picked up some black embroidery stabilizer I’d hadn’t been able to find locally, and another pack of Amelie Scott designs to quilt my smaller projects with my embroidery machine.


Aunt June and I both picked up some tote bag blanks.  She wants me to embroider a Shih Tzu on one for a Christmas gift for one of her friends.


Then I wandered back to the Clearance section and OMG!!  A Monster Snap Hoop that will fit my Baby Lock Ellegante 2!  Do you know how incredibly expensive these are?  It had been bought and returned and was waiting for me.


Let me back up a bit…  When my aunt and I were entering the store, the basket she used had a coupon in it for 10% off your entire purchase the week of your birthday.  So I went to find a sales rep and asked if I could get the birthday discount to buy this hoop since my birthday was in two weeks and I live on the other side of the country.  She said probably not because they never forward that discount so I asked her to go find the store manager.  The store manager said probably not but she’d ask her manager back in the warehouse.  I was bound and determined to get a discount on that hoop.  It was marked down to $104 and I didn’t want to pay that even though it’s a good price.   As I waited for an answer, I got a picture with Nancy.  ha ha


When I got to the counter to check out, the store manager said she couldn’t believe it but they would honor the 10% off birthday discount!  YIPPEE!!  She asked her manager why she agreed to do it and the manager replied, “It’s a nice day in October!”  :)   Somedays, the shopping angels are with you.


I had a wonderful visit and can’t wait to go back.  Here’s the herd.  My brother Eric, Uncle Don, Aunt June, niece Grace, me, cousin Kirk, cousin Sara, nephew Noah, Dogs Sam and Cole.  Love this group!



Gluttony is a Sin & a Quilting Revival

Anyone who sews (especially quilters) will tell you, “You can never have too much fabric” and I’m totally in that camp.  Unfortunately,  I’ve been somewhat manic in my sewing over the past couple of years, going from quilting, to sewing fashion garments, to machine embroidery.  While all of them might be in the same section at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s, and admittedly the skills can overlap somewhat, the fabric and notions for each are totally different.  Early in my quilting days, I bought cheap cotton fabric because I was too inexperienced to know the difference.  However, for the past many years, I’ve been a fabric snob buying only high-end when it comes to quilting cottons and I have a pretty healthy collection.  Quality fashion fabric on the other hand is OUTRAGEOUSLY priced (like $26+ a yard – and I need 3 yards for a dress) so I was buying cheaper fashion fabric at Hancock’s or JoAnn’s and adding all kinds of crap to my stash.  And worse yet?  I’d hold on to crappy scraps when I finished a garment because “I might need them”.  Really?  When?

This really came to a head when my shelves came crashing down last month due to the weight of the stuff on them.  I call it My Earthquake.  The top shelf was all tubs of fabric and scraps. 20160913_180451


And of course, what disaster wouldn’t be complete without PINS!!!  Magnet anyone?


So…if you look back at the first photo, there are tubs stuffed with fabric under the table, a pink 3-drawer behind the tubs stuffed with fabric, fabric in the 4-drawer rolling white IKEA cart under the table, and fabric on multiple shelves on the white shelving unit.  I have fabric coming OUT OF MY EARS!!  I haven’t even mentioned the closet.  Ugh.

My Earthquake happened on a Tuesday and I had to take a professional exam on Thursday that I had been studying for for months.  No kidding.  And I was staying home from work on Wednesday for final cramming.  When I saw the room Tuesday night, I literally said, “I hear you God” and calmly reached over, turned out the light, and shut the door.  I vowed to tackle it the following Saturday.  Had the room been intact, I’d of been distracted.  Needless to say, I passed!

The problem with too much of anything (except chocolate…and wine) is that after a while, creativity is stifled.  I would become paralyzed in that room due to the clutter and actually found myself staying away.  So I went through and separated my fabric into four groups:
— High Quality Quilting Fabric/Backings – Keep
— Project Fabric (totes, softies) – Keep
— Expensive fashion fabric – Keep (only 3 pieces)
— Cheap quilting/fashion fabric and long lost UFO’s/Fails – Goodwill

I ended up with two full white trash bags filled with lousy fabric…and that was just from my rolling cart under the table.  I didn’t even get to the rest of it.  I’ll do a section at a time and by the end of the month, it will be finished.  I’m a firm believer that 15 minutes at a time results in a huge reward.  And I can do anything for 15 minutes!  Thanks #Flylady !

My new blogging buddy Angie, from  has my dream set up below.  She has inspired me with her awesome organization!   The rolls of batting under her cutting table gives me chills!  Like happy dance, giddy, stupid willies. And I sooo have that book, Piece in the Hoop, 20 Quilt Projects + 40 Embroidery Designs, to make the blue embroidered chicken quilt on the end of her table.  It’s officially in the queue.  Don’t you feel at-peace just looking at this glorious room below?


My Earthquake – and Angie – have also inspired me to abandon fashion sewing.  It really isn’t my thing and I’ve realized that most of the stuff I make I’d never buy in a store.  I have a horrible time with fit and why buy $100 worth of fabric, pattern, and notions when I can buy a gorgeous dress that fits perfect for less than $50 at Dress Barn?  Alterations and repairs?  Sure.  From scratch?  Nope.  That was my mom’s gig…and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not mine.

So I’m going back to my love, Quilting.  I’m going to the show in Houston on Nov 6, 2016 hopefully to bring home a floor model Grace frame and I’ve found a vendor that can upgrade my Tin Lizzie Sit Down so she has handles and can go on the frame.  Hubs is on board to convert the 15 x 20 screened-in back patio into a fully enclosed quilting studio.  Don’t I love that man?  :)    Now what do I do with Dolly?   I guess she’d make a great Halloween decoration as a headless something-or-other.