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Long Arm & Shelves


I did very little in the way of sewing over the weekend. Friday night I was so exhausted that I asked my husband to put the baby to bed for me, and then I crawled in bed myself and was asleep before she was. It was good that I got a decent amount of sleep because Saturday was a really full day for me.

Saturday morning started out with the usual routine of my husband feeding kiddo breakfast while I got ready for the day, then it was off to Tumble Gym. Afterwards we grabbed a late breakfast for ourselves and a muffin for Anna on the way home, then it was off to My Sewing Shoppe for the second half of my long arm class. The first half of the class was pretty much just an overview/lecture, and teaching us how to attach the quilt layers to the quilting frame. This time I actually got to use the Gammill!

Calling it a class is probably misleading. It was really just minimal instruction and then I got to play around for two hours. I had meant to find examples of patterns and such, and to make a plan for things to try, but I never had time. So it ended up with me just fooling around and trying designs as I thought of them. I suppose you could call it stream of consciousness.

For my first go at long arm quilting, it turned out okay. Especially considering my free motion quilting experience is limited to one lap quilt and one small wall hanging that were done a year apart. Plus, long arm quilting is different even from that since you move the whole machine while the fabric remains stationary on the quilting frame, rather than moving the fabric under the stationary home sewing machine.

I was really expecting it to turn out horribly, so the parts that actually came out well were pleasantly surprising. A couple basic meandering designs came out well enough that I would be fairly comfortable diving into a quilt with those. As long as it wasn’t a very important quilt anyway. I was also getting pretty good (read: not horrible) at loops and swirls by the end, although I really need to work on control and size consistency with all of it.

The store manager critiqued my work for me and also agreed some parts of it came out pretty good for a first timer, and I trust her. She is a tell it like it is, no-nonsense Long Islander type. If it was truly awful, she would tell me or at least I would have been able to tell if she was just trying to be nice. In fact, she even pointed out the parts I knew were awful and gently confirmed as much.

Before I leap into quilting the 100 x 100 inch Elegance quilt though, I am going to throw together a quick baby or lap quilt and use that to practice. I haven’t really thought on what to make yet… this doesn’t really comply with the “no new projects” rule I set for myself though. Maybe I can work out some loophole, like it has to use only fabric I already own. Come to think of it, I do have a couple layer cakes… and a couple bundles of fabric meant for quilts I haven’t even started yet. Or, here’s and idea… that Flower Patch quilt I started nearly a year ago and never finished!

After playing with the Gammill I went to the Container Store for shelves. I love that place. Every time I go in there, my OCD gets a happy and I leave wishing I could take half the store with me. My goal for this trip though was limited to taking advantage of their Elfa sale.

A couple months ago, my husband graciously moved his computer out of our home office in order to give the space over to me for a sewing room. Since then I have slowly been working on turning what had become part office, part sewing room, and part junk room into a usable space for myself. This is a slow process since I must stretch my hobby-related budget to work for both sewing projects and fixtures for the room. Not to mention my newest sewing machine and block of the month costs.

Right away I got the room to a place that was functional, but far from organized. As all of my sewing clutter made its way to my new room from their various hiding places around the house, the floor and computer desk filled up with boxes and bins and scraps. The closet in the room is still full of computer-room sorts of things since we don’t have space elsewhere for it, which meant I didn’t have any place to stash things aside from a tiny section of the Ikea Lack shelves that were already in the room and otherwise filled with my husband’s toys. Just from the small area I was able to use, the bowing of the shelf made it quickly apparent that they would not support the weight of the fabric I had stored on them for much longer.

The Elfa shelving looked like a great solution for me. I designed a shelving solution for one wall of the room that will hold not only three rows of adjustable shelves that will support the weight of fabric, but also will serve as space saving computer desk. It will also give me a peg-board behind my cutting table, which will be useful for holding scissors and such at arm’s reach. Since this was not the cheapest of solutions, I started out with just purchasing half of the shelving I had planned, but it was a great start and a huge step towards getting the room how I want it.

As soon as kiddo went down for her nap on Sunday, my husband and I tackled the great shelf reorganization. We still need to put the Ikea shelves back up in another room tonight so that he can have all his toys back, but at least we managed to finish the shelving in my sewing room. I now have my computer in its new home, and one row of shelves stretching 85″ across the wall. It meant stacking some things temporarily on this one shelf, but I was able to clear nearly all my sewing junk from the floor and I can actually walk in the room again! Yay!

If I ever get the room in the state I want it, I will have to take photos and post them. Although, I am already considering the possibilities of adding to my original plan, such as creating a whole peg-board wall in the space that I left empty to give the closet door room to open.

Next up on my work table? I saw the latest Project QUILTING challenge this morning, which has the squeaky wheels in my head turning. I probably won’t be able to do both that and the Under the Veranda placemats by the end of the week though, but I never had time to pick up the fabric I need for those anyway.


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