Now that my day job is supporting the Longarm League membership and teaching new longarm quilters how to start a business, I need to be extremely intentional about setting time aside to feed my own creativity or it does not happen.
My passion for quilting was reignited this year after being invited to a retreat at Stitch Supply Co. in Altoona, Wisconsin. It was glorious! The desire to plan, cut, and sew a quilt top has stuck with me since retreat. I'm drawing the distinction here between piecing and quilting because I frequently quilt our stitch-out samples of new digital edge-to-edge designs that we release, but that isn't the same feeling as creating patchwork.
It's safe to say, patchwork and I are back "on" again.
For this project, I started with a palette in mind. I pulled my bins of pink, orange, yellow, and blue scraps. I decided to work with the teal-side of blue although I did let some darker royal shades of blue...
Each month in the Longarm League membership, we discuss a topic relevant to longarm quilting and business. This month, we are bringing to the forefront various organizations and resources that exist to help small business owners. These are organizations that may offer business consulting, webinars and other online courses, and in some cases mentorship.
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides free business consulting and at-cost or low-cost training to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations. The SBDC has been around since 1975, but its services have evolved over time as technology has changed the way people do business today. As a result of COVID, webinars, Zoom calls, and other online learning platforms have revolutionized the way we are able to learn regardless of our locale.
We chatted with Rebecca Mixson of the SBDC with the University of Georgia. Rebecca is a business consultant who works with business owners in all stages...
I feel like I owe you an explanation for the name of this design. That will be coming soon.
But first, I thought I'd tell you the inspiration behind it. Back in December of 2021, Josh and I were watching the series called Landscapers that had recently premiered on HBO. It is based on a crime set in the 1990s in England. The series is visually moody, drab, and dark. There's a scene in an upstairs bedroom that had deep red, ornate wallpaper and I found myself asking Josh to stop and go back to a frame that showcased the wallpaper better.
This is what caught my eye.
While it's definitely not the same, this was my first sketch from the inspirational wallpaper:
After playing around with the design a number of times on my reMarkable tablet, I slowly let the feathers get plumper and more prominent as part of the design, allowing me to fill in the space more evenly while...
Each month in the Longarm League, we hold a coaching call with one of our members to talk about their business. This month I sat down with Jackie Lane of By the Block Quilting to talk all things marketing. While League members have full access to that recording, we asked Jackie to share a little more about herself and her business with our blog readers.
Without further ado, let's meet Jackie...
Located: Round Rock, TX
In business: Over 3 years
Machine and software: APQS Lucey with Quilt Path
In the Longarm League: Almost 1 year
What services do you provide at By the Block Quilting?
Edge to Edge quilting, binding services, t-shirt quilts
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out with their business?
Join the Longarm League as soon...
We moved into our current house four years ago.
When looking for houses, we fully planned to buy a ranch style home. I had long imagined how I'd take-over a hefty part of a beautifully finished basement. Yes, I was preemptively greedy about this imaginary space.
But, when the house we'd mentally moved into sold before we were in a position to make an offer, I saw what ended up being "our house" online with its glass studio doors right off the living room, and I knew I could deal with another option. I'm trying to sound chill—the house was BEYOND what I ever envisioned for our family, so I was thrilled beyond belief.
I was so taken with the house and the sewing room that the lack of closet or storage space didn't even occur to me. Even after using the room for years, I still didn't think the lack of storage was an issue I could do anything about.
Until a few months ago...
I was scrolling Instagram and saw in Stories...
Buying new digital pantograph designs is often as enticing as picking up a fat quarter—or ten!—at your local quilt shop. They can be oh-so-appealing, but which ones will you actually use the most in your business?
I can remember designs that I fell in love with and purchased on the spot, yet never actually used on a client’s quilt top. Conversely, there were several that I used over and over again, wringing every drop of value out of them. I developed my favorites based on ease of use and versatility. Of course, a longarm quilter's personal style and preferences can certainly play a part when making recommendations to clients, as well.
It’s been a while since I’ve quilted for others, so I thought it would be fun to ask other quilters what their current go-to pantographs are. I invited quilters from the Longarm League membership—along with other quilters who follow our social media accounts or subscribe to our email...
The inspiration for the Groove design came from the subtle curve of lava lamps. I really liked the idea of non-symmetrical, gentle curves contained within the straight lines and perpendicular angles that "house" the lava lamp shapes.
Do I detect a "mid-century modern" vibe here? It wasn't intentional but I also wouldn't be mad about that. Not one bit!
The orientation of the design is more of a vertical nature, which just doesn't seem to be as common with digital edge-to-edge options. Much like the 'positive', sometimes you want to ac-cen-tuate the vertical!
The repeated motif is staggered, meaning that when it comes to setting it up with your computerized system, you will not need to offset. Just close the gap between the rows and you'll be good-to-go. The stitch path can be viewed in the video at the top of this post. There is some backtracking, but overall it has a smooth and fluid stitch path.
In our Longarm League private community, we have a forum where we can ask each other for pantograph suggestions for clients' quilts. Over and over again, I find myself recommending really simple designs like straight lines, Good Vibrations, Rumble, Wishbone, Soho, etc.
I wanted to make a REALLY simple design that also looked... organic. Blackbird is what resulted.
I simultaneously really like this one and am—what's the word, embarrassed?—by its simplicity.
Hey, they don't all have to be head-scratchers. You know, those designs that you have to stare at to find the repeat or are mesmerized by the complexity of the design. This one is pretty darn straightforward.
I'll give you four great reasons why we shouldn't shy away from offering simple designs to our clients:
1. FAST - I loaded up this up baby quilt and stitched it all out in an hour's time.
2. EFFICIENT - My machine uses the...
Longarm League member Rebecca Grace Quilting (if you like reading quilting blogs, you'll love Rebecca's!) sent me an email a while back with a photo of home dec fabric, noting the design would make a great digital pantograph design.
I agreed wholeheartedly and tucked it away in my brain to think about later. You see, being the "Commish" of the Longarm League means that 95+% of the time, I'm working on all things other than designing pantographs. I love this part of the job, though, and hope to devote more time to it in the future.
The leafy design was very appealing to me, but the biggest problem was that I could NOT figure out what portion of the design I could repeat to get the overall effect. It took a few days of playing around in Art and Stitch and doodling on my Remarkable tablet to crack the code.
Once that code was cracked, the other major dilemma was to figure out how to sequence the stitch path so that it'd make...
You know what they say about April showers... they bring May Flowers!
April was a dreary, wet month where I live in Central Iowa and it's actually continuing into the first few days of May. But we have hope that sunshine and flowers will appear very soon!
I really love Scandinavian design and I hope that comes across in this simple tulip-esque pantograph. To jazz it up just a bit, I added a scalloped edge to the repeat. It should be a great choice for the upcoming spring quilts in your queue.
May Flowers could be used both on traditional and modern quilts—the scale is adaptable, as well. I'll give you my details for this sample below.
Here are my specifics using a baby-sized sample in the photos (45" x 45" quilt size):
Row height: 3"
Pattern height: 4"
*Gap refers to the space I'm allowing between rows. I use an Intelliquilter for my computerized quilting, and because that...
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