New Year’s Reflections

Happy New Year! Wow I can’t believe another year has started. I never used to really think about this before but now that I am working for myself I am actually finding I am enjoying the process of looking back over 2016 of what worked, what didn’t and where I need to change my mindset. What I have discovered about myself is that I am still (and maybe always will do to some extent) carry around some limiting beliefs. These beliefs come in the package of “I’m not good enough”.

Over the years I have worked hard on this record that used to play in my head constantly. What I am discovering is that although I have done a lot of work to silence that record, there is still work to be done. I also never used to really think about what I wanted in life, OK maybe in very general terms, but not really specific, what do I really want my life to look like terms.

What I am learning is that because of my limiting beliefs, and the fact that I thought “I’m not good enough” I never really felt worthy enough to set down real goals so instead I kinda just floated through life hoping things would work out well. Not sure about how this works for anyone else but for me that didn’t always go so well and life would hit me over the head with something until I made a change. So, I would do the work make the change and then….. coast along no real direction until WHAM! Life happened again.

I have lived my life like that for years. What I am discovering now is that I have made so many changes that coasting just isn’t an option anymore but at the same time letting go of my limiting beliefs is also really scary. Lately I am feeling like I am in limbo land, I need to let go of the beliefs that are stopping me from moving forward however going back is also simply not an option either.

Along with the quilting, I also sell Mary Kay cosmetics, I have done this for 20 years in a very small way. Why haven’t I taken this further? Easy, I didn’t believe in myself so I stayed small. What I am realizing now in reflecting back over 2016 that although I am starting to venture out on my own, I am still thinking small. I am still trying to stay safe, but what is safe? Letting someone else who also has many limiting beliefs call the shots and dictate my life.

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So 2017 is the year I need to really make some changes. I am in the process of setting some big goals and one of those is to start thinking BIG! Feel the fear and do it anyway! I mean look how far I have come in 2016. I have started my own business, stepped out of my comfort zone in writing this blog and so many other ways. I have tried to go back, tried applying for jobs, and although I didn’t get the jobs I realized in the process that I really, really didn’t want to go back to that life anyway. One of the reasons I am not getting the jobs is that I am long passed playing the games. I am simply not willing to compromise myself to stay and look small because of someone else’s fears. I am not willing to work for someone I can’t respect. I know there are some who won’t agree with me on this one, but I have worked for some really fantastic people and some hmm not so fantastic, very fear based people and at this point in the game I am only willing to work for the fantastic ones. The ones who get that we are in this life together and there is enough for all and treating people with respect and dignity is the only way to get anything done.

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So here’s to 2017 and making BIG scary goals!! Ones that stretch me outside of my comfort zone and keep me moving forward and out of limbo land.

So how about you? Anyone else making BIG goals this year? If yes, please share them in the comments as I would love to hear what they are.

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How to Create a Pantograph using Electric Quilt 7

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. We had a very quiet Christmas around here with just Kevin, myself, Mom and of course the two fur babies Cocoa and Mia. We just do stockings as really there is not much we need or want anymore but it’s fun to have something to look forward to under the tree. Kevin then made a Christmas brunch and he also made a big turkey feast so he was kept busy. Before anyone feels sorry for him he really loves to cook so for him it’s a pleasure where for me it would be a chore.

It’s been a quiet week so far with both Kevin and I sleeping later than normal and just spending some quiet time in the morning. I have been doing a lot of journaling these past few days. Looking back at what I accomplished in 2016 and writing down my goals for 2017. I have come a long way in 2016. Sometimes when you are in it, you don’t feel like that but when you actually look back to where you started to where you are now it’s quite amazing. What I have discovered is that I have worked through a lot of fear this year. Oh, I still have a lot to work out. It seems that just as soon as I work through one set of fears and become calm within a week another new set comes and I have to continue the process all over again.

Mia is finally settling in. She has even spent short amounts of time on our laps. She doesn’t like it when Cocoa is on my lap though she comes up and swipes at him, claws are not out and it appears she is trying to get him to play with her.  Not sure what that is all about. Here is a favourite perch of hers she likes to sit up there and look out the window.

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How to Create a Pantograph Using Electric Quilt 7

As promised here is how I create my own pantographs using EQ7.

What is a pantograph you might ask? A quilting pantograph is a pattern, usually 10 to 12 feet long and can be different widths, with a pattern that repeats along the length of the paper. The design along the length of the paper will correspond to what will be quilted along the width of your quilt.

Paper Pantographs can be purchased from many different sources and come in different difficulty levels from fairly easy to quite complicated. If you have a computerized quilting machine you can also get digitized versions of the patterns that can be programmed into the quilting machines computer program.

For this exercise I am going to try to explain how to create your own custom pantograph using the Electric Quilt computer program.

First you need to do is to choose a design you want to use. This can be a drawing you do yourself, a border design you really like that you may want to do as an all over quilting design or a copyright free image you have found.

Next, you have to transfer this image into the Electric Quilt 7 software.  You can do this a number of different ways but the easiest is to draw your image onto a piece of paper and then scan it as a .jpeg file and save it to a folder on your computer.

Take this paw print from a colouring page

  1. To turn this into a pantograph it will need some continuous lines drawn in. The first thing you need to do is save this image as a .jpeg file.
  2. Then open it in an image editing software program (Irfan View is free) and rotate the image so it’s on its side
  3. Save this image to your computer
  4. Open Electric Quilt 7 and start a new project. I called mine Paw Print Pantograph
  5. Import the .jpeg file into EQ7

Importing and Tracing an Image in EQ7 

  1. In EQ7, go toWork on Block. 
  2. Along the bottom of the screen, click the Tracing Image
  3. Click on Import Image   . Go to where you save your scanned image and select it.
  4. A Crop Image box appears. From here you can crop your image if required. Select OK when done. Use the Shift key and drag to place the image on your worktable.
  5. Once the image is on your worktable, click on the Appliqué
  6. Using your drawing tools you can now trace your sketch to recreate the image.
  7. To check your tracking hide the tracing image
  8. In the case of the paw drawing above I traced the image and then used the drawing tool to join the areas for a continuous drawing.

For information on how to trace an image in Electric Quilt 7 please see the Electric Quilt help files.

paw-print-pic-eq7

Once you are happy with the image you have created it is now time to take this to be used in a pantograph.

  1. To create a custom pantograph the first thing you need to know is how wide the quilt top is that you want your design to cover. Once you have that measurement then subtract at least 1 inch. For example if your quilt top measures 60 inches then you will want to create your pantograph at 59 inches wide.
  2. So for this example pantograph I am going to make it 59 by 8 so I will change the block from 59 to 8 and then you will need to use the zoom functions to zoom in close and resize your block. I have recorded a short video on how I did this.
  3. Once this is complete simply print it out and tape it together and place on your longarm.

I created a video on how I created the above but my WordPress site doesn’t support video so I need to upgrade it. I don’t have the time to look into that right at this moment so I will have to post the video on my Facebook page and fix this up once I set up a new website/blog. That was on my list for 2017 so obviously it will be sooner in the year than later.

The finished pantograph will not look 100% perfect but you have to remember that this is just a guideline and once it is all quilted it will look great.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.

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Customer Service

Well it’s Christmas time and what does the song say “the most wonderful time of the year”! Well, I do like Christmas and I do enjoy getting together with family and friends and I can say it is defiantly a busy time of the year.

I should put a warning here, this is a longer than usual post and something I need to get off my chest.

One thing I have noticed though, and maybe it’s just me, is that customer service, I mean true customer service, seems to be a thing of the past. I’m not saying there isn’t any customer service out there however it is lack luster and tinged with whatever it takes to just get by so that the person doesn’t get a bad review. Not sure if this is even making sense. I guess what I am trying to say is that what I have been experiencing lately is like a 2.5 star service out of a potential 5. The service is there, it’s not horrible, at least not horrible enough to sit down and right a bad review although maybe I should, but the person serving doesn’t bother to even try for that 5 star service or even go the extra mile.

This isn’t just in one store although I will site an experience shortly, I am actually experiencing this all over, especially when the person doing the serving is under 30. Am I just getting old? Maybe. Am I prejudiced? Maybe, after all I have been in customer service in one way or another for the past 38 years. Maybe I am just more aware of lackluster performance these days. I am aware that whatever you put your attention to manifests but I can’t say I actually go looking for lackluster performance.

The one example I have that really stands out for me was at Optiks International at Uptown Mall here in Victoria BC. I was in need of a new pair of glasses so I decided to do a Groupon where I got good savings on my frames. The first time I walked into the store I received service. The young girl was pleasant, answered my questions however was not about to go out of her way to actually walk around and help me pick out a frame. I was by myself and can’t see without my glasses so I decided to come back another time when I had someone with me. The place was not busy by the way. I would place the customer service at a 2 star level.

The second time going back I got a pleasant young man who really did try his best. It was obvious he didn’t have complete knowledge of what he was doing but he did try his best and went out of his way to be helpful. I can’t ask for more than that. Yesterday afternoon I went and picked up the glasses as I got a call they were ready. This time it was a different young girl again. (Honestly I was in there three times and didn’t see the same staff members once). The girl brought out the glasses to me. Now Optiks International do a two for one deal and I decided to get a pair of sunglasses for my second pair of glasses.

Here’s where the real lackluster customer service starts! When I looked at the second pair they weren’t sunglasses as I asked. She went and checked and sure enough there had been a mistake made. No apology was made however she did say they would fix it. No problem really as I didn’t need the sunglasses at this time. (Good thing I wasn’t going away somewhere warm for Christmas). I wasn’t thrilled about the whole thing and thought maybe I would just keep the second pair as is. Here is where things got interesting. She said I could do that but what about the additional $42.00 I had spent on getting the sunglasses. Excuse me!? What additional $42.00?

Oh well, you know the $42.00 mentioned here on this little piece of paper (which I had never seen before). So I asked, OK, if I do this will I get that money back. “Oh I don’t know I need to go and ask.”

Now for the even worse lackluster customer service. A young man comes and sits down in front of me. This man does not introduce himself, does not smile or have any pleasantries at all, and absolutely no apology. In fact both this young man and the young woman BOTH intimated that it was MY fault that I didn’t know about the extra charge? I am not kidding here this actually happened.

In fact this young man was border line rude. I finally said look I asked if I could have the second pair made into sunglasses and I was told of course. At no time was I told yes you can however there is an additional $42.00 charge. Now I more than likely would have paid the fee but for full disclosure, I should have been told.

Again, no apology, none, he pointed to a little tiny piece of paper and said well that is why we right it down on this slip of paper so you know. Ah, excuse me? First I had never seen that paper before and second like the customer is going to know what that is unless it is explained to them. This young man was kidding right?! Alas unfortunately no, he wasn’t kidding and the absolute sad fact in all of this is that it turns out he was a manager.

I finally explained to him nicely and with a smile how he should have handled the situation, and I also said he should always smile. To his credit he did smile then, he had a beautiful smile. Do you know what he said!!?? He said that people were always telling him he needed to smile more often.

OK this was a young man in customer service who was a manager who was told by many and his customers that he should smile more. Seriously! What is wrong with this picture folks! If he is the manager and his performance was less than sterling how on earth can one expect the employees under him to be any better. Now I don’t blame the original young man who helped me at all. He truly was helpful and doing his best and I could tell he was somewhat new to the whole thing. The young girl and this manager yesterday were so far off base as to what good customer service is and how to rectify a problem that they both need serious customer service training 101.

The number one rule in customer service is that the customer is always right even when they are wrong! How does this work? If the customer is right and the employee made the mistake then the customer should ALWAYS get an apology. If however the customer is actually wrong, you can show empathy and be sympathetic and listen to the customer without actually saying you’re sorry. It’s tricky but it does work. You will find more often than not the customer just wants to be heard. However at NO time, and I mean NO time do you ever blame the customer or say that the customer should have known!! It shouldn’t even be hinted at!! Not even a little bit.

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Well, that was a bit of a rant but on a better note I did receive wonderful customer service at Save-on-Foods at Tillicum Mall while going through the checkout yesterday after the glasses incident. That made my day and finished my errands on a high note. Unfortunately I can’t remember her name. Isn’t that always the way. I will have to look for her next time I am in the store and make a point of saying thank-you.

So what about you, is it just me, did I just get someone having a bad day? Has anyone else experienced lackluster customer service these days?

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Snow Day

Oh the weather outside is frightful! Ugh! We haven’t had any real snow in Victoria for at least two years now however that was broken last week and it snowed again this morning. Granted the one snowfall lasted all of one day but still!

The positive thing about snow it that it is beautiful and it does make life interesting here on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Since we don’t get a lot of snow a lot of folks don’t even bother putting winter snow tires on their cars and the city doesn’t really have what you would call snowplows. Also, the snow we tend to get is slippery and wet heavy snow. Our temps don’t always stay below freezing so that means that everything thaws in the daytime and then gets frozen again at night making roads like skating rinks. Folks laugh at us back East because around here just a few inches of snow can pretty much shut the city down. Oh well, it makes for quiet sewing days.

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The above are two of the views that Cocoa and I enjoyed Friday morning on our walk. Well, actually I don’t think Cocoa enjoyed it at all. It was his first real experience with snow as he hails from the streets of Las Vegas. He kept lifting his paws up and then finally he turned around and tried to get home as fast as he could. On the Saturday when I called for him to go for a walk he didn’t even budge from his bed. As of yesterday the snow was gone and it rained all day however this morning it snowed but has now turned to rain.

With the weather the way it was this past weekend I actually got a lot of sewing done! Yeah. I got top quilt tops finished that I have had on the back burner for over a year now.

These two are huge queen sized quilt tops. The Gravity quilt top on the right was the fabrics from the kit. The blocks on the left were mostly from my stash. The photos aren’t the best as the quilts are very large and I couldn’t find a space large enough in the house to take good photos. It was a little too wet outside to try that. They are now finally in my to be quilted pile. We shall have to see how long they both languish there.

Last week I also finished quilting a client quilt. She had completed a large twin sized quilt for a little girl. We chose to go with a fun simple flower design in an Aqua thread using Superior Thread Sew Fine 50.

She used a nice cozy flannel for the backing of this quilt. This quilted up beautifully and was a lot of fun to quilt.

I have more client quilts coming however with the weather these have been delayed so I may get a little more sewing time in today. I am on to sewing up a quilt for my very first great niece who is making her arrival in late Feb early March. Mom and I will be travelling to the mainland again in January for the baby shower so the quilt needs to be finished soon. I have another sew day coming up this Saturday with a group of friends and we will be having a pot luck lunch as well so I should have the quilt top finished by this weekend and should be able to quilt it over the Christmas holidays.

A snow day is only bad news if you don’t have enough fabric and thread!

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Threads of Life

Not much to report on the quilting front these days. I enjoyed quilting the last  client quilt I had as it really made me think of how to quilt it. Someone asked what pattern was used and upon asking my client she said the pattern was called Slice.

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Things seem to have quieted down for me now, I guess I still need to work on getting my name and availability out into the local quilting scene. Since there is a lull for me I will finally get a chance to quilt my  Judy NeimeyerWIP-4 Wedding Star Quilt which has been sitting waiting for me for the past 2 years. I am pretty certain I know what design I want to quilt on this one but that may change once I have it on the frame.

I am going to keep this one so once finished I will finally have a quilt I can actually take and show and show and share! Usually I end up giving my quilts away or these days making them on commission.

The weather here in Victoria was beautiful yesterday however it didn’t last, today the rain is pouring down from the skies and it’s supposed to rain all week. Oh joy! The only conciliation is that it isn’t snow.

The question of thread has come up again a few times in quilting client quilts and so I thought I would touch a little more on the types of threads there are out there and when to use them. I did do a post on thread a while back you can find that one here.

Although there are many types of threads out there and I have and have used some fancy specialty threads I generally stick to just a few for everyday quilting.

My go to thread for baby quilts or quilts that are more scrappy in nature is Superior Threads #970 Chalice - King Tut 500 yd. spoolKing Tut. This thread is a 40 weight cotton thread which means it is a bit thicker and will show more on the surface of the quilt. It is a variegated thread and comes either multi coloured or in one colour but with different values of that colour on the spool. It is a nice thread to work with and I used either Superior Threads bottom line or Sew Fine 50 in the bobbin.

 

For quilts that require a more custom approach and I want the thread to blend in with the design and not So Fine! #50 #401 Snow 550 yd. Spoolstand out as much or require just that little more detail my go to thread is Superior Threads So Fine #50. This thread is an excellent blending thread and is a 50 weight polyester thread. I have also used Aurifil cotton 50 as well. This thread also blends beautifully. When I am working with these threads I will use the same thread in the bobbin or sometimes use Superior Threads Bottom Line.

 

In the bobbin I frequently rely on Superior Threads Bottom Line which is  a  fine 60 weight polyester thread which blends in beautifully on the backs of the quilts.

As mentioned above I do use other types of threads as well, but the ones above are currently my go to favorite threads that I know will work well and will help make both my quilts and my client quilts shine.

Life is like a thread. Be it strong, long or short or even colourful, it'll still see its end. So, make every stitch counts.   #best #quote #quotes #inspiration #inspirational #word #words #wisdom #saying #sayings:

If anyone needs quilts quilted before Christmas I am available to help you get those quilty hugs completed.

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