Long Arm Heaven

I’ve been trying to write this post for about 2 weeks now.  Actually, that’s better than I thought… I thought I was 3 weeks behind, so being only 2 weeks behind makes me feel somewhat better.

I had the opportunity to use a long arm right before Christmas, and… I FELL IN LOVE!  IMMEDIATELY!  How did this happen?


I made my parents a queen size quilt for Christmas, and there was no way I was going to be able to quilt it on my home machine with it’s 7″ throat.  Quilting a lap quilt is hard enough… there is no way I was going to be able to quilt a queen.  And seeing as how I was still piecing it together 4 days before Christmas, I wasn’t going to be able to hire someone to quilt it for me either.  (No, I don’t wait until the last minute!  What ever gave you that idea???)  So, I had to come up with another plan…

One of my local quilt shops has classes for long arms, and once you take their class you are able to rent their long-arm by the hour.  So my plan was to take the class and free-motion the quilt all the week before Christmas.  As if getting ready for the holidays isn’t stressful enough…

So, 8 days before Christmas I take the long arm class and have about an hour to practice, 4 days before Christmas I’m still piecing and pinning, 3 days before Christmas & Christmas Eve daytime I’m on the long-arm, Christmas Eve evening I’m putting the binding on, and… Walla!  The quilt is done! (I made that sound so easy, didn’t I?)


But, what did I LOVE about the long arm?  I loved three things about it…

  1. I love how it gives you such a large area to work with.  Instead of having a small 8″ x 8″ or so area that I could quilt before having to ‘rearrange’ a huge pile of fabric on my lap and desk, I had a huge approx. 24″ x 96″ area to quilt.  And then to move to a new section — just undo a couple of gears and ROLL the quilt up a few feet.  It’s so easy!
  2. I love how it keeps all layers of the quilt taut and together, WITHOUT pins!  Oh my gosh — NO PINS!  I didn’t have to stop and remove a pin every 30 seconds, or try to scooch past it and end up hitting it anyway.  And even though the top and bottom edges of the quilt have to be pinned to the machine (this quilt shop uses zippers to attach it to the machine), pinning the quilt to the machine is somewhat faster than pinning a quilt all-over.
  3. I love how it’s so much easier and smoother to free motion quilt.  Free motion quilting on my home machine is like trying to write while holding the pencil still and moving the paper underneath.  How is that even doable?  But quilting on the long is similar to writing — you move the pencil (machine) over the paper (quilt), so it’s a more natural movement.


These 3 things add up to HUGE time savings.  I quilted a queen size quilt in less than 5 hours!  (not includng pinning)  Can you believe it?  Granted, the quilting isn’t dense, and I didn’t do any fancy designs.  I did an overall meandering loop-d-loop design.  But it would have taken me probably 3 times that long on my home machine.  It seriously took me less than 5 minutes to realize that a long arm is the way to go.  As if I didn’t want one already, I want one even more now.  And I didn’t even get a chance to use the Phaff with all the built-in designs… I can only imagine that that one is even more fun! 


And, my parents loved it!

DSC_0410Mom with the quilt.

Up to now, I have made mostly baby and lap quilts.  But now that I have experienced the long-arm, I see more large quilts in my future.  Oh, I can’t wait.  But no more half-square triangles… NEVER AGAIN!

Linking up with Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Link a Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya, and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


I must have been crazy to think I could vacation outside of the country for a full week right before Christmas.  We went on a cruise last week and returned this past Saturday which left me just 10 days to finish making and buying gifts for Christmas.  It was a beautiful and relaxing week.  We had ports of call in Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau.  But seriously, WHAT WAS I THINKING??!!

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

Wild Donkey on Grand Turk

Wild Donkey on Grand Turk
Oldest Church on Grand Turk (1840s?)

Oldest Church on Grand Turk (1840s?)

I was able to get all the crocheted gifts done to and from the drive to Miami.  At least I could mark that off my list…


And I started on a knit shawl that I just LOVE!  I found the idea from Expression Fiber Arts using scrap yarn pieces.  So I decided to try my hand at knitting again and use up some of my yarn scraps. Since I’m a bit bigger than her, I’m planning on making mine a bit longer.  So far I have used 20 different yarns — all types and sizes.  I’m going to call it my “Shawl of Many Colors”.  DSC_0305

Other than that, I’m still working on THE quilt with the quadrillion half-square triangles.  I have most of the top done — but I keep having to stop assembling to make more blue half-square triangle units.  So far, I have had to make about 150 extra units.  All I can figure is that I seriously miscounted when I first made all of them.  I was supposed to have the sandwich done by Friday noon so I could start quilting it on the long arm I rented, but that’s not going to happen.  Maybe if I didn’t have to work I could do it, but otherwise I’m looking at Sunday before it’s finished and ready for quilting.  I love how the many different fabrics are giving it a marbled look.


I really have to wonder if I was crazy to try to make a quilt this large when starting just 6 weeks before Christmas, or if I was crazy to go on vacation for a week. On to sewing a little more, and online shopping a little more.  I WILL BE DONE IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Oh! Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is up, the stockings are hung, and the snowmen are playing in the snow.  And it appears even my blog is in the Christmas spirit.



The annual job of decorating is mostly done. It is certainly not a job I look forward to, although I really like the end result. My two oldest boys are living on the other side of the country this year, and don’t plan to make it home for Christmas.  I was missing having them here and shed a few tears when no one else was watching.

I also spent this weekend cleaning up and purging some old clothes, toys, books, and stuff. In fact, I have a whole car full of stuff to take to the thrift store tomorrow. Really, where does it all come from? I wish I could do that daily until I get the house and storage areas uncluttered, but earning a living requires that I spend most of my time each week working for someone else instead.

So, due to all the other extra curricular activities this weekend, I haven’t gotten as much sewing done as I would have liked on the quilt top I’m making with the HST’s. Hopefully I’ll make a little bit of progress this week.

Otherwise, I did want to show you the flannel blankets I made. Remember the elephant and robin I spent forever and a day trying to digitize? Well, I did finally finish it and was able to get the blankets embroidered and made. And I won’t share any of the pictures of the baby with the blanket since it is not my family and not my right to share them. But the baby was adorable with her blankets and the mom was very touched. The robin was meant to be a reminder of her grandmother, the baby’s great-grandmother, that has passed and wasn’t able to be there for the birth.


I also finished crocheting another baby blanket. But of course, I forgot to take pictures outside today so you’ll have to live with an indoor photo.

I would say December is off to a good start. Now, if I can just get my Christmas shopping done and presents made before the 25th. Haha, that might be pushing it.  I would like to request a few extra weeks…  Do you think we could delay it?

Oh, and I keep forgetting to mention, I added a few things to my etsy store and everything is 18% off thru 12/2 and 15% off the rest of the December.   Check it out.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/MonkeyNeedle?ref=si_shop

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop!

A Little Progress

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve posted.  I’ve been quite busy.

I spent a weekend at the beach with the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild.  I enjoyed a full weekend of sewing and getting to know other quilters.  We all had a great time!  And I did make time for a walk on the beach each day and a little bit of butterfly watching.

IMG_3451Then I spent four days in Connecticut for continuing education.  A weekend working in the garden to clean it up from the summer crop.  Then the Duke/Wake Forest football game last weekend.

IMG_3514In the midst of all that and working, I was able to finish up all 1200+ half-square triangle units.  Phew… that was a huge job!

DSC_0209-001And the pile of trimmings was almost as big.

DSC_0206-001And I’ve made a few blocks already.  These are 15″ blocks so things should move faster from here on out.

DSC_0231-001I also added some crocheted hats to my to-do-list for Christmas gifts.  These will be for a few little boys and will have a few things added to them before they are finished.

DSC_0229-001Last but not least, I promise not to turn into Crazy Cat-Lady, but…

Yesterday, honeyman brought home this sweet little kitty for me.  Oh, how will I ever get anything done now?  When he’s awake, I want to play with him, and when he’s asleep he loves to sleep on my lap or just under by chin.  It’s not real easy to sew with a cat sleeping on you. 

IMG_3523And we’re still trying to name him.  I’m thinking Soloman.  Do you guys have any ideas?  

So, I guess that’s my update for now.  Thankfully, we’re not traveling this weekend, so hopefully I’ll get lots of sewing done after lunch tomorrow — IF I can put the kitty down.  What plans do you have for Thanksgiving?

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Half Square Triangles

I started cutting and sewing half-square triangles (HST) for the quilt I decided to do for my parents.  I wanted the quilt to have a scrappy look with 10 or so different fabrics in each of the two colors.  But golly, this is a lot of cutting and trimming.

Putting the HSTs together really isn’t that bad.  I’m cutting my fabric so that I can sew and then cut 50 HSTs at one time.  Ironing and trimming to size comes next.  I realize that trimming them to size is probably the most important part, but it is taking forever.  This is what 400+ HST units look like.


Only 800 more to go…

The embroidery design I’ve been working on for the baby blanket is now looking like this.

elephant & robin applique satin stitch1

And just because she couldn’t let me have the camera out without taking a picture of her..


So what are you working on?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday linky