Thursday, June 5, 2014

CabinQuilter - a Decade Later

I just realized that today is June 5, 2014 - ten years to the day of two memorable happenings:
The death of my hero
Rest in Peace, Mr. President, and thank you.

And that was also the day my Nolting Pro 24 longarm was delivered. I didn't really feel like dealing with it, but I had to. After it was set up, and with about 30 minutes of introductions, we got acquainted with each other. And one of my first practice pieces that day was an homage to President Reagan. I stitched his name, birthdate, death date, his years as president - everything I could think of. I threw that practice piece away many years ago, but not before I cut out that section. I looked for it today, and found all kinds of stuff I haven't seen in years, but alas, that piece wasn't one of them. It'll pop up tomorrow, I'm sure.
I spent the next month quilting about 10 hours every day - when I decide to do something, I do it! I quilted up all my quilt tops that had been patiently waiting their turn, and this was the first one:
I ditched the border and freehanded it. Don't remember what I quilted in the body of the quilt, and it's in South Carolina right now, so I can't take a peek. The photo quality is pretty poor, too. But that's because I'm a quilter, not a photographer!
A month later, right after I finished up my own tops, I had my first customer. Peggy and I knew each other from an online quilting group, and were surprised that we lived so close to each other. (Only in Texas is 1+ hrs away "close.") She brought me one of her quilts and trusted it to me. I was petrified of working on someone else's quilt, but Peggy trusted me and I turned out this:
I used variegated thread and a panto called Wildflower. We both breathed a sigh of relief when it was finished without any disasters. Well, I don't know if Peggy was worried, but I sure was!
Peggy and I have both grown in our quilt-related expertise, and she now owns Connect the Blocks an online quilt shop based in Ohio. (Yes, she left Texas about 4 years ago :sniff:)

Since then, I've quilted hundreds of quilts, broken a dozen or so needles, thrown my machine out of time twice, soldered a new switch and adjusted the motor myself, gone through miles and miles of thread, cleaned out enough lint to stuff a mattress, ripped out yards of stitching that took 5 minutes to put in (and 13 hours to take out), pulled many an all-nighter, and stormed out of my studio in disgust too many times to remember. Some days you're dancing with a best friend, and some days you're fighting with the devil.
And sometimes, when you think you've done a decent job with a new border idea for a Texas A&M grad's quilt, your 10 year old comes in and says, "Momma, did you mean to make it say that??"
Note to self: a Greek Key design needs to have three legs not two. Otherwise it ends up saying FU FU FU. That one took many long, angry, tearful hours to rip out. 
Since that time, I've done work for several famous quilters and been featured in a few books! The first one was Broken Rainbows, made for a special exhibit during the International Quilt Festival in 2001.
The exhibit was in response to the attacks of September 11th - we only had a few weeks to get our quilts made and delivered to the Quilts, Inc offices in Houston. Later, the quilts were the basis of the book, "America: From the Heart" by Karey Bresenham.
I've done several quilts for two of RaNae Merrill's books, "Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts" and "Magnificent Mandala Spiral Quilts." Both of these were on the covers, with more inside.

I would have to say that the most fun I've had quilting for a book would have to be the two quilts I did from start to finish for Irena Bluhm's book, "Quilts of a Different Color." 
"Bluhm Where You Are Planted"
"Shades of Tiffany"
"Tiffany" was quilted on white sateen (same for back) and has an inner layer of a very bright multicolored batik fabric that shows when the quilt is back lit. It's awesomely gorgeous, if I do say so myself!
The quilt really is square, but the wind was blowing and I took what I could get. See the dead grass at the bottom? It's all about priorities!
From the first quilt to the most recent:
"Strawberry Baskets" won 1st Place, Applique in our guild's show, and was also chosen for the Judge's Choice award. I was going to see if I could get it juried into Houston this year, but I missed the deadline. That's me - a day late and a dollar short. :^/

My life has become more complicated these past few years and I've had to cut way back on my customer quilts, but I still manage to hammer a few out a year. I do want to thank my family for their love, support, and patience with me over the years, and to my friends for their encouragement when I was tearing my hair out over a glass (or two) of wine. And to my customers who've entrusted their precious creations to me.
Thank you all for an incredible ten years!
(I'll have yours!)


vivian said...

Congrats on 10 years! I've been longarming 10 years too. It's amazing how fast time has flown!
I am also a big Reagan fan and loved his style and humor (especially about his age!).

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. You quilted a beautiful quilt for me several years ago. Tiger print quilt and you put wonderful grass and reeds on it. It hangs in my daughters dining room for everyone to admire. Before your quilting it was nice..with your quilting skills you made it magnificent. Thank you so much. Shirley W.

Diane said...

Thank you so much Shirley - it was my pleasure!

Sherrill said...

Oh my gosh, so many wonderful, beautiful, fabulous quilts you've worked on. AMAZING!!! And Pres. Reagan was my hero as well--sure wish we could get another like him in office. AND I want to thank you for your monthly screen saver you so generously provide. I use them every month & they are always so pretty! Thanks!!

Peg H said...

Wow - has it really been 10 years?!? I'm thrilled and humbled to have been part of your long arm career - I knew from the start your work would be far beyond amazing. What I never imagined was how great a friend I would find in you. That is even more amazing and by far more precious. Thank you for all the beautiful quilts you've helped me give the people I love, and thank you for your friendship. Congratulations and much love - here's to the next 10 years of success!

Carla said...

Congrats to a job well done over the last 10 years!