This quilt is called "Check This Out" and it features over 60 different plaid and homespun fabrics. I created it, inspired by a couple of left over stars and a stack of left over four patches from my Homespun Stars Pattern that I created earlier this year.
I am quilting Check This Out on my Juki TL 2000Qi machine and have just a border left before I can add the binding. I expect to release this Check This Out pattern very soon! Check out the short video I shot while quilting the gold border with some echoed hearts from my Fantasy Freehand book. I also have Fantasy Freehand DVDs available to ship today! It's a fantastic technique for beginning and experienced machine quilters alike! Make your quilts sing with NO MARKING!
And... Texas here we come!
My Must-Haves for a GREAT Quilting Experience:
In all of my years of machine quilting (since 1999!) I have had some experience with many different kinds of notions and set-ups and I want to share with you what I am using now.
#1) Juki TL 2000 Qi sewing machine
#5) a set of kitchen sponges with a scrubby side, to replace gloves or hoops!
#6) a personal folding table. I use this to hold the excess side weight of the quilt to the left of me.
#7) a good quality, adjustable task chair with arms
Good lighting and away you go! Happy Quilting from Mississippi!
Can it get better than that?!
I'm baking cookies while I run the A/C. It's not hot outside but it gets pretty toasty when the Art Bus is parked in the sunshine. I woke up from my nap and was glad that I did when I did. We may have roasted! Haha, but I turned on the generator and then turned on the AC so we are no longer cooking. Well, at least not ourselves. I did pop a batch of cookies into the oven. I may as well use all of the energy that is being generated by burning the fuel while I can! The Art Bus generator could power a small city!
I made a batch of Toll House cookie dough, using coconut oil rather than butter. I bake one batch at a time and keep the remainder in the fridge. It's fun to always have fresh warm cookies! Many folks have asked how we eat, living in the Art Bus and I have to tell you, generally really well. My mom was a heath food nut my entire life and I was home-schooled so proper nutrition has always been important to me. I rarely if ever purchase anything other than ingredients and make most things from scratch, including our breads and tortillas. I like to know what the food I am feeding my loved ones has in it. Control freak? Perhaps, but it's my responsibility to take great care of myself and I just don't trust Frito Lay to have my best interest at heart, haha. We have a convection oven/ microwave combo in the Art Bus and a fridge with a freezer. The fridge is something that is toward the top of the list to replace. I have a three burner gas cook-top that I want to replace with an induction cook top when we remodel the Bus. I used the pantry space for fabric, so I don't have a lot of room for food storage but when all you buy is ingredients how much space do you need?
The three of us did a road trip to Texas in the car last month (Art Bus was in the shop getting her slide fixed) and while we were out I splurged on an electric tea kettle, which I really love. We use a Melita cone coffee maker or a French Press for coffee. I have a very high quality and SHARP knife set. I've had the opportunity to use some other people's knives and I cringe. How do you people cut stuff??? lol I have two frying pans, one set of pots with straining lids and a cookie sheet, two pie pans, two bread pans, to cake pans, a bundt pan. I have a 2 c Pyrex measuring cup and a set of plastic measuring cups and spoons. A hand can opener, a veggie peeler, a hand cheese grater and various spoons, whips and spatulas. A hand potato masher. I would like a 9" x 13" casserole dish. I've got a set of four dishes. Somehow I ended up with three forks and 8 spoons... but that's my kitchen in a nutshell. It's worked really well for us for 14 months now!
Since traveling over 12,000 miles over the last 14 months (yes, I am a turtle. No race here!), I can tell you some things about how different States parks and rest areas and roads are. We enjoyed Pennsylvania very much but everything there was as costly as being in California, without the beach. Throughout the Northeast we found it to be very unfriendly to RV'ers, with parking limited to 2 hours in many State rest areas, dump stations few and far between and expensive ($25 in NY!). Fine with me, I'd rather go South or West, anyhow!
Texas has great rest areas and nice parking areas where a person can pull over and nap. Being completely self-contained, we can stay in a rest area for a little bit of rest and a little bit of work and a little bit of food and then meander on down the road. It's really, really AWESOME! I cannot describe to you how cool it is to take my home with me everywhere. It's like introvert heaven. I stop in rest areas and if there is a nice walk for Snoopie and level parking for the bus we are happy. I never go into the buildings.
It took Michael a minute to get used to my mode of travel. I drive for a little bit, stop for a few hours, drive for a little bit, stop for a few more hours... and I adore rest areas because they are easy on and easy off, pull-thru goodness! They are a bit noisy with a lot of trucks coming and going throughout your stay but a lot quieter than a truck stop. Alabama has glorious rest areas and State parks, which I suppose helps to justify an unreasonably high sales tax.
Alas, Birmingham is still too far North for this couple that wants to "Chase 78 degrees," so we are meandering our way to South Texas, seeing a lot of rest areas and getting a lot of work done! I was blessed to be able to baste several quilts on my friend's machine so I have plenty of quilting all ready to do. Michael and I are working on perfecting filming some more tutorials for You Tube. My cup is overflowing with the huge blessings that Michael brings to my life.
Greedy guts, here! I have my Bernina AND my Juki set-up to be able to use while boon-docking! The quilt under my needle today is one that I made from left-overs from the Homespun Stars quilt. I added some checker-board and my friend Lura suggested the gold borders. It came out to be 84" x 100" and it's for Michael. I layered the cozy flannel back with 100% cotton batting and then a ayer of polyester batting for the "poof." It's a hefty quilt! Thanks to Lura, who also gave me the great flexible lamp that really helps to illuminate the work area! I'm on the last row of quilting the plaids and then I will change thread colors and do the light areas. I'm working on a video or two to share with you. I realize that this photo is a total tease... so stay tuned for the gallery of photos to come soon!
Sometimes it's important to take a deep breath and re-group. I've been living full-time in the Art Bus for fourteen months, now. I've had some amazing adventures and met some of the most special people. I've been blessed to be able to re-visit old friends and meet some new ones. It's been miraculous and definitely adventurous!
We are on a meandering journey, boon-docking our way to the Dallas, TX area. I failed to plan very well and was called to Texas on family business in a rush, so I have a wide-open schedule for private workshops in the area. We bought a tow car while we were in Alabama so I can easily come to wherever you are. It would help me out so much to help you get comfortable and happy with your free-motion machine quilting. Feel free to call me at (360) 488-3036 to discuss your needs. If you are outside of the Dallas area and support the Art Bus cause I would be so grateful for your help at this time with whatever you can spare. I love and appreciate my supporters so very much! Your small and consistent contributions are helping me to do my work in the world. Thank you!
I'm feeling a bit down on myself for my lack of good planning. This video popped up in my YouTube and it was perfect for me today. I hope that it may help you, too!
Bike Riding on a Tuesday, Mid-Morning!
I came to realize recently that when I do get around to posting my words and photos are heavy on the artist part and light on the adventurer part so I am making an effort to share more of our fantastic adventures as we Quilt Across America in the Art Bus. While in Alabama as a home-base we stayed at the utterly fantastic Oak Mountain State Park. Oh my stars what a lovely park! An archery range, a golf course, full hook-up camping, equestrian camping and a BMX track. This place has it all! Mr. Michael fancied himself 15 again and we rode our bikes up to the track today for one last hooray in Alabama. It was a cool misty day here but we set out from the equestrian campground on our bikes for the 3 mile journey after brunch. Michael has a freestyle BMX bike and I have a posh and fancy Evelo electric bike (thank goodness!) and I tell you it's a good thing my bike does have a motor because I would never keep up with him without it! Oak Mountain is fairly hilly so we used the motor to full effect by having me give Michael a tow on the steep and long hills.
Here's a shaky video of Michael riding the track:
We really had such a wonderful time, not a soul around on a Tuesday mid-Morning but the one soul we both want to be with: each other.
Art Bus Continues the Quilting Across America Tour
After a successful stop in Alabama that included lots of rest and lots and lots of quilting for clients we have shoved off and are headed toward Texas in the Art Bus. Our Alabama stop was awesome, as always! Sweet Home! The slide on the Art Bus was repaired and we are living large because I changed to a smaller quilting machine and we got a tow-car. Snoopie is happy and full of vigor. Michael is feeling better after struggling with a bad bout of chronic illness. Life is good!
While in Alabama I created a quilt from start to finish from my stash. My stash was incredibly difficult to get to during the months that the slide was stuck in and one of the first things I did was pull fabrics out for some quilts that I want to make. I had completed my En Provence quilt from last years' Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt and I finished piecing another plaid quilt. It was time for a new project to emerge. Yes, I have some UFO's but sometimes you get a creative boost from a whole new project. I used the Illusions pattern from Missouri Star Quilt Co. Below: "Juki Fruit," the first quilt made entirely on my Juki TL 2000 Qi machine! I LOVE it! I was inspired by a student to try facing this quilt, rather than binding it and I just adore this look!
The En Provence quilt that Bonnie K. Hunter presented to us last fall really kicked my backside! I struggled with getting the components in both the blocks and the sashings placed correctly. My lavenders were too close in hue to my purples and I really felt the effects of traumatic brain injury on that quilt! I didn't really like this quilt when I first got it finished but after getting it quilted and living with it for a few weeks it has grown on me. The colors remind me so much of my dear friend that loves scrappy quilts and has never been given a quilt... I made it for her. I just need to pop it in the mail :)
Private Workshops Updates
I've had the supreme pleasure of helping a dozen quilters tame their quilting machines and stretch their freehand skills over the last few weeks. I've worked on two Tin Lizzies, a Q'nique, a Viking longarm, a HQ Avante, an APQS Millie, an Innova, two Gammill machines, three sewing machines and a Bernina Q20 sit down machine. Every student was thrilled with the results of our time together. There is nothing to compare what you can learn and ABSORB in a one-to-one context in your own environment, on your own machine.
I have been machine quilting freehand for 18 years now, with 17 years of longarm quilting machine experience. I teach you practical, beautiful quilting skills that can be used on whatever kind of quilting system that you already have. Sewing machine, mid-arm, sit-down or stand-up longarm machine, I will help you learn to LOVE the machine you already HAVE.
We are once again mobile, heading West along I-20 this week (November 7 -16) toward Dallas from Birmingham. If you are along that route (within 100 or so miles) please call and schedule your private workshop with me today (360) 488-3036. I want to see the whole of America covered with quilts made 100% by you. There is something so special about doing a quilt from beginning to finish all by yourself. You don't have to spend a fortune or have an insane amount of space to be able to do that. I can help you set your sewing machine up to work comfortably for you to quilt even large quilts. The quilt pictured above in my Juki set-up is 84" x 100" and has a double batting and a flannel back!
I won't be back this far East for at least a year. Don't miss this fantastic opportunity to grow your quilting genius!
The workshops that I am offering on my Quilting Across America Tour are all fun hands-on the sewing machine or quilting machine workshops (depending upon what the host has chosen)!
The Free-Hand For Fraidey-Cats! Variety of classes are guaranteed to help even the most novice and timid free-motion machine quilter become comfortable with key free-hand skills that will carry you forward quickly in your quest to machine quilt your closet full of quilt tops beautifully. I have been teaching free-hand machine quilting on sewing machines and longarm quilting machines for 15 years and was nominated for the Teacher of The Year Award by The Professional Quilter Magazine in both 2006 and 2007. I have helped thousands of students become confident and comfortable enough to practice their way to excellence. Many teachers and award winning quilters have been my students! Whatever the class I am teaching and no matter how many students show up I always put forward my very best effort to meet my students where they are and I am known to encourage everyone to find the best way to execute designs for YOU. There is more than one way to skin a cat, the saying goes, and it holds true for a host of free-hand quilting designs, too!
My piecing classes are fun and designed to help you quilt scrappily with excellence. My two favorite piecing teachers are Sally Collins and Judy Martin. Learn to piece well and happily! Get over your fear of scrappy quilts and/or wonky plaids! Join me for a delightful time of fellowship and the satisfaction of making!
So far on the tour I have taught workshops and private lessons in: Washington, Idaho, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, & Massachusetts with upcoming events scheduled in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Texas and New Mexico. I look forward to quilting with you when the Art Bus is cruising by YOUR neck of the woods!
Time flies when you are having fun, or flattened by sheer exhaustion!
The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of those typical life struggles that we all deal with: the slide-out motor needs to be replaced, the house water pump bit the dust, we have a leaky valve between the city water and the fresh water tank... just stuff. Since the slide is broken it is not possible to use the longarm with it in the bus all folded up so Michael helped me take the machine down and out through the window to set it up in the driveway under my awning. I have 5 more quilts that I want to get quilted before Lucey gets sold, so that is what I am working on HARD this week. The weather here in Lancaster, MA has been fickle, with occasional torrential thunderstorms so I have been breaking the machine down and putting it in the bus when I am not using it. The up side is, broken down it gives us a lot more living space than when it is set up. In the effort to make more room I culled the underneath, the cabinets and the basement compartment. I have a Prius full of stuff to take to the Goodwill, now. I do not know what I was thinking when I kept the ungodly amount of books that I was hauling around?! I went through my closet, too, and found three grocery sacks of clothes to give away. Serial purger.
After all of that, which included going through a box of Delaney's personal nick-nacks and stuff, I was laid out in bed for three solid days. It was all I could do to make it to the rest room. Since my TBI I find that major tasks really cause a shut-down. I am struggling to get a handle on what I am capable of now. It's a lot less than I was capable of before the head injury in September 2015. So I have to regroup and get real about what I can really offer consistently and with high quality. I will eventually get around to sharing all that I want to, just probably not all within the same time frame. I am just now coming to terms with this new, slower and more easily overwhelmed me.
Speaking of overwhelming, the new book series is in the final stages of proofing, finally! I apologize for the added delay to all of you who have so kindly pre-ordered the titles. I learned a whole bunch in the process of creating these and I am very hopeful that you will find them to be incredible helpful in your free-hand growth. The estimated shipping date is now July 14. Thank you so much for your patience and support. It is appreciated so very very much!
Many people ask how a person can make a living traveling like we do. I want to throw out the idea that the skills and talents and abilities that you have to share are things that people need in all kinds of places. I make my living traveling the same way I made it staying at home (and honestly, more easily on the road). For those of you who are on the edge of chasing your dream (whatever it is) I recommend James Altucher's book, Choose Yourself as a helpful tool. Since I live in a bus, I have linked to the Kindle version on Amazon for you. Do yourself a big favor and spend this $1 today. You won't be sorry!
Thanks to all of our friends and supporters! Together we are showing that Making Things Matters! In Service to Truth, Beauty, Humor and Love... Nichole, (Michael and Snoopie too)