An important reminder that we often take modern conveniences for granted. Electricity, hot and cold running water, access to the internet, and communicating by telephone are a few that pop into my head. Then there’s indoor cooking; with the holidays approaching, I have cooking on my mind.
I am lucky. There was no fire; it hit a metal chimney and then ran havoc thru my home trying to ground itself. Which it did, in multiple places. One being the hot water heater where it toasted the gas connection and yes that caused a gas leak. Again lucky, as I came home within a few hours and immediately smelled gas. The clues kept coming over the next 24 hours; kitchen appliances, HVAC, ceiling fans, Audio/Visual equipment, phone lines, internet, outdoor timers and circuit boards. Some of these items are hard-wired so “unplugging” isn’t an option; others had surge protectors and some did not.
My die-hard habit of unplugging my sewing equipment when not in use most likely saved me from not only thousands of dollars more in insurance claims but also the heartbreak of not being able to use them during this stressful time. Even a few minutes at a machine is helpful.
I was asked to submit a 12” square quilted block for the Coburg Quilt Show Block Challenge that was held this past July (2018) in Coburg, OR. Sew Steady was the major sponsor for this show and having recently been invited to be one of their Brand Ambassadors, I jumped in.
This past weekend, I had the honor of attending Teacher Certification training by Leonie and Bill West of Westalee Designs. We all met in Eugene, OR; the home of Sew Steady.
I started my education by touring the manufacturing process of Sew Steady Extension Tables and Cabinet inserts. Tables are cut to order and then hand finished, one at a time. The time from order to shipping can take up to 3 weeks, but it is usually less. I loved looking at all those new shiny tables awaiting to be boxed.
Next up was the laser cutting of the quilting templates. This amazes me. First there is the computer design file which is magically sent to the laser cutter. Eventually a huge sheet of acrylic becomes a handful of templates. The process is not as quick as I thought even though they manage to get as many templates in one file as possible. Think cutting cookies. Acrylic cannot be rolled up like dough, but I am happy to report that the left overs are recycled. Manufacturing runs 24/7. Even though there are computerized cutters involved, it is still a labor-intensive product. I honestly think the price could be more; especially considering the cost of acrylic.
School is back in session; seems like a perfect time to share my love of education.
I have always loved the process of learning and I am fortunate to be able to teach. For over a year now, I have been hosting the Quilt as You Go Sampler Quilt designed by Leonie West of Westalee Designs. In this course, students learn Ruler Work on their domestic sewing machines by using 7 different templates. Currently, I am conducting the course on-line. Leonie’s husband, Bill, filmed while she quilted every block. In these videos, she guides the students with her extensive knowledge of the products she invented. The two of them are an amazing team. The brilliance behind their collections of quilting ruler templates is beyond compare. They are so perfectly engineered and paired with their true 1/2″ ruler foot, a quilter will never lack for inspiration.
Why do I teach online? Ruler Work requires a flat surface and many quilters have their machines in a cabinet. The bigger machines that so many of us love, are too cumbersome to transport. Then there are those who either don’t live close to a local quilt shop or lack the means to get to one. I provide a place for them to go.
Yes, this is actually my sewing studio. My daughter lovingly refers to this space as “Mom’s Pretentious Sewing Room.” Most days, it looks like this. On rare occasions, it doesn’t. Not exactly ready for the TV crew. This morning I was looking for my Westalee Spacing Gauge. If you’ve ever done ruler work, you know how valuable this little tool can be, I own 3 of them. I could not put my hands on one of them, and then I looked around and saw myself in the middle of an I SPY book. Great activity if you want to distract a child.
My first thought was that I should be embarrassed; most quilters would never admit to this mess, let alone take a picture. Then it hit me. I can not be alone. I am willing to bet that there are many other sewing spaces that look just like this. Be honest, what does your space look like?
I spy with my little eye……numerous coffee mugs, a pill bottle, an owl, flamingos, a snowman…
So you bought the Westalee Ruler Foot and Sampler Set. Now what do you do? If you can’t find a local class or your machine is in a cabinet that you can’t load in your car, take an online class.
The class we offer is hosted by Pam Varner, Westalee Design Accredited Teacher.
Each month you will have the opportunity to attend a Live Webinar which will include videos by Leonie West, Tips from Pam, and Q&A. Learn how to use Stable Tape (the white bumpy stuff). Discover the ways reference lines both on the templates and your quilt, can assist you create beautiful designs. On going email support is available for all students.
A word from Pam:
What you will learn is how to use all the templates in the Sampler Set. Using the reference lines on the templates and on your quilt are explored. In addition to learning the basic shapes, you are shown alternative ways throughout the course to use the templates. The goal is for you to become comfortable using them and build your skills. My intention is for you to take these skills and apply them to your own tops.
I am the luckiest person I know! This past weekend, I had the honor of demoing Westalee Design by Sew Steady® products at the Madison Quilt Show. If that wasn’t enough, I was doing it in Nancy’s Notions’ Booth. I found myself in Southern Wisconsin, not far from where I grew up in Northern Illinois. The trip started shaky, with a 2 hour flight delay, but that proved to be the only hiccup.
Let me begin by saying the folks at Nancy’s Notions are some of the best I have every worked with and the customers were too much fun. Bucky Badger (from UW) and the band marched in and gave a performance that literally stopped the show for about 30 minutes. Only in a college town, could a mascot distract a quilter with a shopping bag. We all enjoyed the entertainment.
I have vivid memories of my mom at the sewing machine when I was a child. I watched in awe as she turned pieces of fabric into clothes for my sister and I. She studied fashion design at The Art Institute of Chicago where she learned to draft her own patterns and produce clothing that looked store bought. My sister was taking Home EC and from my view was on her way to fashion freedom. I desperately wanted to learn too. I begged my mom to teach me to sew and eventually she relented.
My mother had many talents; teaching was not one of them. A combined lack of talent and patience led to frustration on steroids. The blue overall pants, I so desperately wanted to sew myself, were constructed beautifully by her. I hated wearing those pants; a symbol of my failure.
I never lost my desire to learn and eventually I did. I also learned that talent does not make you a good teacher; something I wish more people would recognize. The saying really should be: Those who can, do. Those who can teach, inspire those who can.
I think of my mom often when I sew. My passion for quilting didn’t really blossom while she was alive, but I’m sure she would have had an appreciation for them. Mostly, I think of her when I walk into a classroom of adults anxious to learn a new skill. The irony is that her lack of teaching skills is what makes me a better teacher.
So, on this Mother’s Day, I remember my mom. I’m grateful for inheriting a sprinkle of her talent, and for the memories only an old mechanical Singer can generate.