Thursday, August 18, 2016

Straight Plate

This week, I've been catching up on a bunch of piecing with more than a few triangles involved. And I have a simple reminder to tell you about.

Sometimes you can't avoid inserting pieces point first. And that means every once in a while the sewing machine can get hungry, munching the first few threads of the fabric right into the needle plate.

This happened to me a couple times this week. Then I realized that I had the solution right in my sewing machine toolkit. . . . A straight stitch needle plate!

The straight stitch needle plate is on the left (above). The regular needle plate is on the right--notice the small circular hole instead of the longer horizontal slot to accommodate the needle. The straight-stitch plate virtually eliminates that pointy-point of the pieced fabric from getting 'sucked' into the the sewing machine bed.

It's also my go-to fix-it when I have some minor tension issues during machine quilting.

That one little equipment adjustment to your sewing machine can really save your sanity.

Not every sewing machine comes with a straight stitch needle plate, so you may have to head out to your dealer to purchase one. It'll be worth the trip!

Now, I just have to remember to change the needle plate back if I decide to do any decorative stitches. Otherwise, I'll be the proud owner of a broken needle!

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Oh, Shoot!

Since I'm still in traveling mode as I write this note, I'll be quick and dirty with this week's update.

Last weekend started out with a trip to Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks for a Syracuse University Alumni event. Our speaker for the conference is the director of the Sport Management program at the Falk College at SU. I completely expected to be bored to tears with sports as the main topic of the event. This was absolutely not the case!

The $500 billion sports industry encompasses more than just the major league baseball and professional football events we see on TV. Many times throughout the discussions, I found myself thinking about how I might apply the topics to my own tiny little quilty business!

And of course, experiencing the venue, a Syracuse University-owned-and-operated Great Camp turned conference center, is a treat all by itself. Even the cookie dessert tray followed the Adirondack theme (see the moose cookies?).

It's not all work and no play during the weekend, Dave and I headed to the Adirondack Museum for Saturday afternoon free time. It was a dog day (see the furry guy in the doorway?)

The view of Blue Mountain Lake from the museum is breathtaking. Having an absolutely stunning day for the outing didn't hurt, either.

Following the weekend activities, I headed to Newtown, Connecticut, headquarters to The Taunton Press. On the schedule was the last big photo shoot for the third book in the ScrapTherapy series, due out in Spring 2017.

We had a loaded schedule of several dozen 'process shots' to take for the how-to sections of the book.

Since this isn't my 'first rodeo' I knew what to expect, and we got right down to work using the samples I made in advance. A very detailed list of photographs to shoot is prepared from the edited text. A first-timer might expect a glamorous photography studio as the back-drop for the photo shoot. The reality: not so much.

Nearly all of the photo-shoot took place on this paper-covered desktop within a bare-bones room! (I'm supposed to be paying attention here, but once the shot is set up, there isn't much for me to do (except sit still!) while the camera transfers the photo to a larger computer screen so the clarity, color, and brightness can be adjusted - so you got a Cheshire cat smile!)

Throughout the process, there were four of us present, each having a different role. Scott, the photographer. Carolyn, my fabulous editor who made sure we got all the pictures we needed to accompany the text. Rosalind, who made sure the pictures told the story that is intended. And moi.

Lights . . . camera . . . more lights. . . computer. . . SEW( . . . and smile!)!

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Meet, Greet, and Eat

Last week seemed like such a whirlwind! To start things off, my friend Shelly received a big fat ribbon at her quilt at AQS Quilt Week in Syracuse. On Thursday evening, with the show just over for the day, several Splendid Sampler designers and a whole lot of Splendid Sampler "Splenderettes" headed to Calico Gals for a meet up just about half-way through the Splendid Sampler block introductions.

Pat Sloan, who had planned to be in town for the AQS show, had a last minute family emergency and had to cancel. No worries. Flat Pat came to the rescue to stand in. In fact, Flat Pat paired up with Calico Gals owner, Janet Lutz to greet the Splenderettes as they arrived at the Meet up!

Annie brought her super-organized completed block notebook as well as a big smile to the shop to show and tell. Wow! (By the way, Annie, thank you for the amazing gift!. . . and Barb, too! So sweet of you!)

Bonny (in the green) and Sally (in the blue) were stylin' for the AQS Show, for Row by Row and for the Splendid Sampler Meet-Up. Very fun, ladies!

Patricia gathered designer autographs for her quilt. But Pat Sloan was not there to sign! No worries, Flat Pat stepped right up to the plate and performed her duties!

Splendid Sampler Designers in attendance, Debby Brown (Splendid Quilter Extraordinaire), Victoria Findlay Wolfe (Block 72), me, Joan Ford (Block 84), Michele Foster (Block 24 Inspector Sidekick), Flat Pat, and Jacquelynne Steves (Block #76)

So many blocks and their makers were on display . . . and you could count on Flat Pat for a photo bomb!

All these Splenderettes make a girl hungry. Several of the designers headed to Syracuse's famous Dinosaur Bar-b-que. Flat Pat came too, but didn't eat much . . .

But Flat Pat being the gregarious type that she is, fit right in at the Dinosaur hostess hut!

Back at the show, I took the opportunity to take a close look at more of the winning quilts. This amazing Best in Show winner was spectacular!

Dave and I wrapped up the weekend with a trip to the Downtown Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival. These Melon Bowls from Vegetabowls just had to come home with me! Aren't they cute?

It seems craft shows make you hungry, too! World Famous Funk N Waffles in Armory Square came to the rescue after a wander around the craft fest. Yum!

With all that excitement last week, what could possibly top it? Well, I'm off to Newtown, Connecticut and the Taunton Press to do the final photo shoot before the next book goes to the layout process. But first a quick weekend in the Adirondacks to slow down!

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford