Introducing your neighborhood quilter, Rachel!

Amanda: Why are we writing this blog?

Rachel: When you asked me to collaborate with you on a quilting blog, I was so flattered and also super excited. I love to read quilting blogs (including your original blog!), and I think it would be fun to document all of the quilting that happens on this little part of our street. And maybe someone out there exploring the World Wide Web will find our blog and be entertained and/or inspired. I know that we will start out with two superfans (our moms), two obliged readers (our husbands), and two loyal supporters (my sister and your cousin); but maybe someday we will become so popular that a sewing machine company sends us a complimentary long arm quilting machine if we agree to blog about all of the creations we make using it. That’s the dream.

A: I didn’t realize we were going to say the “complimentary long arm” part out loud, but yes, that is why we started this blog. When did you start quilting and what inspired you to do so?

R: In the summer of 2019, we got bunk beds for our kids and we needed to get bedding for them. My daughter requested a unicorn theme, but I was not happy with anything that I found online. My mom quilts, and I knew that you quilted, and I had a Kenmore sewing machine that I inherited from my grandmother when she died just sitting in my basement waiting to be used, so I decided to go for it and make what I couldn’t find ready-made.

A: Tell me about the first quilt you made.

R: That first quilt was indeed a unicorn quilt! You actually helped me find the fabric by suggesting searching on Etsy. My first fat quarter bundle! I bought a bunch of fabric from the My Unicorn collection by Kelly Panacci and I made a twin size version of the fast four patch pattern by Amy Smart (mastermind behind Diaryofaquilter.com). Somehow it ended up being enormous (I kept adding rows and columns…), so it was maybe closer to a full size quilt. I pieced the back with scraps from the collection and a bit more yardage that I had to buy to supplement the bundle. This is when I realized that you don’t save money by making your own bedding. But I also realized that making quilts is really fun and relaxing, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out!

A: I forgot how gigantic your first quilt was! What are you working on now?

R: I have too many projects going on right now! But that’s how I like to roll. Dreaming up projects and shopping for fabric is probably my favorite part. I have a bunch of quilts in various stages at the moment:

  1. I finished the top for an Evergreen quilt (pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew) that I’m making for a friend who is getting married next year.
  2. I am working on some throw pillows that I’m making to match this cute springy quilt that I made a few months ago. I think I might make a little tote bag with that fabric too, because it is so cute and it makes me so happy (bunnies! Moons! Trees! Owls! All of the motifs that i love).
  3. I have the fabric to start working on this Evergrowing Mandalas quilt pattern from AGF, and
  4. I’m also working on a secret project that I will hopefully share soon.

A: Ohhhh secrets! Do you have any quilting goals for the year?

R: My 2021 resolution was to make 12 quilts in 12 months. Maybe I should amend that to “12 quilt projects in 12 months” and include the pillows and bag. I think I’m on track though.

A: 12 quilts!! That is so ambitious! What quilting skill or technique do you want to learn or improve on?

I would like to get better at free motion quilting. I’ve only really tried it once. I’d also love to learn foundation paper piecing and English paper piecing, both of which you have already mastered! It is really hard for me to wrap my head around how FPP works. I think there will be a lot of trial and error.

A: Tell me about your sewing room set up. (Sometimes I see you through your windows with the Juki at the dining room table and I am very curious about how that works.)

R: Haha! It does not work that well, but I can’t think of better options in my small house. After the kids are in bed, I wipe off the (almost always grimey and disgusting) dining room table, and then get out my Juki, cutting mat, and other accoutrements for quilting. These things are poorly hidden in the dining room (on and/or under the kids’ craft table). I have one of the living room cabinets reserved for my sewing supplies and equipment, but since the Juki comes out almost every night (and since my supply cabinet is mostly full of fabric), I keep it close to the dining room table. I use the living room floor to lay out blocks and baste, pushing the rugs and furniture out of the way. Sometimes the ironing board is up in the dining room for days (I’m looking at it right now). All of these things are ultimately in my family’s way at one time or another. But until this blog takes off and we use the profits to buy a studio like Donna Jordan’s, the first floor of my house is my sewing room. I kind of like it, I get to see all of the action while I quilt. But it is very cluttered, and there are usually threads or fabric scraps on the rug.

A: You are a super speedy quilter! What are your tips for actually finishing projects after you start them?

R: I set ridiculous deadlines for myself and try to do a little bit of quilting whenever I can in order to meet those deadlines. And sometimes I stay up until the wee hours of the morning working on my quilts. I also tend to pick projects that are a little easier and allow for chain piecing, which really speeds things up. I’m a little sloppy and not as careful as I should be, especially when I’m close to full bunny speed (i.e., the faster Juki speed). My points don’t often line up. Seams can get a little wonky. I wouldn’t recommend that other quilters do any of these things! Quilting like a maniac does result in faster quilt production, but definitely not high quality quilts. Maybe my goal for 2022 will be to go slowly and carefully and make one really good quilt. We shall see!

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