Photographing your creations

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I am in the midst of setting up a Shopify account— will be coming soon!

Hoping that it would be as easy as it was to install the template for my new blog ... I decided to give it a go and set it up myself.  How difficult can it be, right?

Truth be told, it's not hard, it's just very time consuming.  

Working on product pages this weekend, it became clear that I did an excellent job branding the photos of many of my products with my Etsy store address 😒which isn't going to work with my Shopify account.  

The sun came out this afternoon, so I made a quick decision to do a photo shoot for my Adirondack Chair Neck Pillows.  

It is kind of interesting to do a photo shoot of a summer product outside, in the middle of winter, when the garden is completely dormant.  

But then I spied John's wood piles.  He stages them.  The 2019 wood is chopped and in the wood shed, ready to be used in our wood-burning stove.  The 2020 wood is still in rounds, and mostly covered up with tarps as it cures.  But a big windstorm a couple of weeks ago resulted in a large tree going across the road.  John and our neighbor got it cut up this week and brought up to the house.  

Doesn't it look kind of artistic?  

OK ... I know that you guys are quilters, not Adirondack Chair Neck Pillow makers.  But I have been doing a little research on photography and came across two outstanding blog posts on photographing quilts that I wanted to share.

Image from QuiltyLove

The first blog post is by Emily Dennis over at QuiltyLove.  She does an outstanding job of showing you different ways to stage your quilt and different techniques to get great shots.  Well worth a read!

Image from Sassafras Lane Designs

The second blog post is by Sassafras Lane Designs.  This one is a little more traditional, but gives some great tips on lighting, background and getting your quilt straight. 

If you're interested in upping your game a little with your quilt photos.  I highly recommend both of these posts.  I believe you'll find that there's a lot of goodness in both these blogs, beyond these posts.  I have also started a board on Pinterest where I am putting links to blogs, articles and resources for photographing your art.  

I am pleased to say that I did get 4 shots of each of the 22 sets of Adirondack Chair Neck Pillows today!

 I hope that you are having a great week out there and, if you're in the mid-West US/Canada staying warm or in the South of Australia staying cool!  Crazy weather!

All the best,


Gender Neutral Baby Quilt ...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

When your 2nd cousin—who you admittedly haven't seen in a while—surprises you with pics of her newbie that she gave birth to the night before and you need to pull a quilt together quick.

You start by determining what fabric you actually have in your stash (ALWAYS a limiting factor for me).  Then, based on that, you decide which pattern you want to use.

I pretty much only use Kona Solids, so it is easier for me to quickly figure out what I have.  Personally, I prefer to play with the color chips (on a white piece of paper) than the pieces of fabric themselves.  It gives me a better idea of how they will work together. 

In this instance, I chose to go with my Richmond Quilt design (I know, I need to get the tutorial written for this one). 

Then came the tough part—which order to put the stripes in.  While I didn't try every permutation available—I did try 4 main ones.  At this point I find it best to take a photo of each,  First, I can compare the 4 photos easily—a big win.  But I also find that photos capture the colors and nuances in a quilt that sometimes the eye can't.  So I actually photograph ALL my quilts on the wall in the process of making them. 

Needless say, the 4th version above won.  From a visual perspective, the purple and Blue strips seemed stronger and bolder and I liked how they separated the lighter coral and green strips.  Quite honestly, this step is really all about personal esthetics.

I chose a straight line cross hatch to quilt it, using the corners of the pieces as guide lines (thought it's hard to see from these images).  I do find it's better to use my walking-foot guide and set it so that it is going on the square NEXT to the one I am quilting, it is easier for me to see this line visually than it is for the squares that are about to get lost under my walking foot. 

The binding photos show the quilting a little bit better. 

Choosing binding was tough for this one.  Eventually settling on a blue for for one side and a coral for the other, echoing the squares in the quilt.  It's pretty obvious I am a machine binder (I have a machine binding tutorial you can see here). 

Quilt by the numbers:

  • —Prewash dimensions = 48" x 47"
  • —Colors = 1/4 yard of 8 different colors
  • —White = 1 3/4 yard
It was a fairly easy pull together and the new momma texted last night that they love it and it is already baby approved!

Hope you're having a great weekend.

All the best,

New Shinersview Logo ...

Monday, January 21, 2019

As I move further into this post-retirement business (a true oxymoron), I have been looking for alternatives to Etsy for my awnings, and my newly emerging pattern business.  Etsy's been great, but after they doubled their fees last year and my awning business has shifted more to word-of-mouth, I feel it is time.

But I also realized if I am going to do this, I should do it right.  Which means a logo is needed.  There are a lot of talented people out there that do GREAT logo design work.  But that costs money—and now that I am retired—I am a lot more careful about how and what I spend money on.  So I decided to give it a go myself and if I couldn't create anything I was happy with ... I would reconsider my plan.

Goal was fresh, sassy, geometric with a nod to quilting.
And ... remembering I sell T@b window awnings—without the Quilt reference.

I am kinda stoked with the outcome.  

So while the rest of US west coast was out looking at the lunar eclipse / blood moon last night, and we were sitting here with heavy cloud cover,  I decided to give it a go. 

Thinking it through, I realized that I already had a good tool in my arsenal, the polygon shape that my first quilt pattern, Geometric Patchwork, is based on!  Once that was selected—fresh, sassy and geometric were solved—it was time to find the perfect font.  Who knew that would come from a font called Mona Lisa Solid.  I like it because it's a little traditional, a little artsy and ... it has Lisa in it's name! 

I still have a great deal to learn about how to save, export and all the other technical stuff for the logos.  But I actually have a logo I like, that meets the objectives and even allows for some versatility in size, color and treatment. 
Problem solved with an evening of focus and a beer (or two) for clear thinking.  

Could I have gotten something a little bit better with a designer?  Probably.  But I'm not a big brand, just a small post-retirement business (I so love saying that), with a silly name, that is looking for a logo image that represents me and will make it a little easier for people to remember my business.  

There's a quote I love ... "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good enough".  It's a really, really hard mantra for those of us who are perfectionists by nature.  And there are times where perfection is absolutely required.  This is not one of them (I keep reminding myself).

Now ... if anyone has any solutions or recommendations for someone who can set up a Shopify account ... please speak up!

All the best,

Menopause Quilt

Saturday, January 19, 2019

I know ... but hear me out ...

The first quilt that I ever made just for me (blogged here and here) ... has served me well over the past 8 years.  It's been my adult quilt ... kinda like a baby quilt.

I had the unfortunate challenge of going through menopause very abruptly at age 40 when I had surgery for ovarian cancer and had my ovaries removed.

Over the past 8 years, this quilt has proven to be an ideal solution to night sweats.  Winter or summer, this is a lightweight quilt that I can throw over my shoulders when I feel to warm under the down comforter we use.  Over time, it's really become a nightly friend.

A few months after I discovered the benefit of a light quilt at night, a friend of mine mentioned that she had started to have night sweats.  I made her a quilt and, for years, she has extolled the virtue of that quilt.

Sadly—the quilt is nearing the end of it's useful life.  I wore it out!

Both sides of the quilt—at the fold—have worn out.

One of the things that have made this particular quilt so awesome was its drape and softness.  I made it from sateen ... but also likely one of the reasons that it is now failing.

A piece of me wants to repair it—no matter what it looks like—just fix it and take it back to bed with me tonight.  I can almost relate to a child that has a favorite blanket.

The rest of the 8-year old quilt

But the real point here—since I am assuming that about 90% of my readers are women—is that there are things you can do to help mitigate some side effects of aging and I am super stoked to let you in on the secret of yet another way to use a quilt!

Just another Saturday (or in this case weekend) musing.

All the best,

Improv v2

Friday, January 18, 2019

A few weeks ago, I shared an improv quilt I was working on that was inspired by Nancy Purvis.

I really enjoyed working on that quilt ... the freedom it brought to be creative.  The the need to focus on color and value and placement and balance.  And it was also structured, to fit in linear lines (where my mind operates best) as well.  It struck all the right chords for me from an improv and creative standpoint.

And it got me thinking.  Thinking about doing this quilt, but an abstract version—and obviously not a rainbow version.

As in the rainbow quilt, I used a simple pattern of a rotated square every other block coupled with a number of different neutrals.  As in the improv a few weeks ago, it took a LOT of moving around on the design wall to get the right feel.

But then you get it ... and you know it's right ... and now you just want to finish it.  No more second guessing.  It is time to assemble the blocks and move forward.

Until you have to wait for the backing fabric and binding to arrive in the mail (there is a cost to having a ridiculously small stash).

In the interim, you show your new creation to your husband and he decides that he would rather have this improv quilt (over the one you showed him a couple of weeks ago) to give to his brother and family when you visit them in New Zealand next month.  Outside you hem and haw and say you'll see what you can do.  Inside you're doing a happy dance—he likes it as much as you do!!!

Your fabric arrives and you create the perfect back ... even sneaking in a little personalization for the recipients.

You decide against organic straight lines—mostly because you don't really know how to do them and instead decide on 3/4" straight lines with your new Juki walking-foot guide.  And then you bind it.

At each step, falling a little more in love with your creation.  But as you've already branded the back, it is definitely going to have to be gifted and not to be used on your sofa in your cabin.

Even Madigan approves ...

In the end ... you feel really, really good about your creation and are already thinking in the back of your mind about when you'll have time to make one for yourself.

Sometimes, no matter what anyone else thinks of it, you have the right to fall head-over-heals for one of your creations.  This week was one of those times for me.

By the numbers:

  • —10 rows x 8 columns of 7" squares
  • —All fabric on the front came entirely from the scrap bin 
  • —Backing combination of Kaufman Maze, Kona Ash and 4 1/4" strip of piecing.
  • —Binding Dear Stella Moonscape Asphalt
  • —Thread Aurifil white, 3/4" spacing.
Hope you're having equally encouraging days with your creations this week.

All the best,

Saturday Musings -- Podcasts while quilting?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

I am not a big fan of silence—maybe it's because I never had kids ;-)—but I need something going on in the background, particularly when I am quilting. 

I have a small TV in my quilting studio that I inherited when my parents downsized a few years back.  But I can't really watch something that takes a lot of paying attention, particularly visually.  So after watching what seemed like every episode, of every season of Blue Bloods and Law & Order SVU, I started on Netflix documentaries.  It was hit or miss, as I never quite knew when I started how much attention it would require.  

Then it struck me ... podcasts.  I have been a podcast listener for years, mostly when I am running, hiking solo, or when we're driving on longer trips.  Why not when I am quilting?

It's awesome!  I bluetooth my iPhone to a small, portable speaker that I had purchased for our T@b Trailer trips, and I am off to the races.  It works perfectly.  I started with the standard podcast app on my iPhone, but was having trouble with it on playback, so I switched to a free, down-loadable app called Overcast, which works great.  

I find that the podcasts keep my mind engaged, but because there is no visual, it doesn't detract from the work that I am doing with the quilt, whether it be piecing, ironing or quilting.  When I am doing the quilting part, I sometimes will wear a pair of noise-cancelling earphones instead of the speaker, as it can get a little noisy.  

What do I listen to?  I'll spare you the political podcasts, as I am sure there are many different preferences on those, but I have found a whole list of other podcasts that I enjoy, including:
  • —How I built this
  • —Freakonomics Radio
  • —The Moth
  • —Code Switch
  • —Planet Money
  • —Side Hustle School
  • —Sword and Scale (recommended by my nieces, it can get a little gruesome)
  • —Wait Wait Don't Tell Me 
I even listened to Dan Carlin's 20-hour Blueprint for Armageddon podcast about WWI before we made our trip to WWI & II battlefields and towns in France in late 2017.  Fascinating stuff.

Again, I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with Overcast, the Doss Speaker or any of the podcasts that I have listed above. 

What do you watch/listen to when you're quilting?  If you're already a podcast listener, love to hear what you enjoy listening to!

All the best,

Quilt pattern testing?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Well I am now at that exciting stage on quilt pattern development, where I am looking for quilt pattern testers!

What's a quilt pattern tester you say?

I'm looking for quilters who are interested (now or in the future) of making a quilt with a new pattern, that has not yet been released, who can follow the instructions and provide feedback on the process, clarity, fabric requirements and/or general feedback on the pattern and share a few pics with me of the quilt you made.

If you've ever purchased a pattern—you've benefited from the help of quilt pattern testers who have helped the designer/writer of the pattern make sure that what they have put to paper is correct, understandable and in the right order!

(Sorry for the pic with the DM message on it—my trusty Mac had to be sent in for keyboard repairs today and all my photos are on the Mac—I know, I should probably use the cloud ;-).

What does a quilt pattern tester do?  [This section is added thanks to Nicole's questions in the Comment section]

  • —First thing is to express an interest.  If you are interested, I will put you on my pattern tester list and when I have a new project that needs pattern testers, I will include you in an email with a brief description of the project and timeline.  You decide if you're interested in participating and only respond to projects that fit your schedule.  If you decide that testing doesn't work for you, you can ask to be removed from the list at anytime.  I anticipate sending out 11 to 12 emails per year and you may participate in as many or few as you would like.  
  • —What level of quilting proficiency do you need to have?  It depends, but 9 out of 10 projects I will look to test (at least this year) will likely be considered easy and doable by all skill levels.
  • —Once you've decided you want to test a pattern, you commit to making a quilt in the agreed-upon time and  size and providing feedback on the instructions, fabric requirements and overall pattern details, including:
         -Double checking the math on both the fabric requirements and cut pieces,
         -Using the instructions on block creation and quilt assembly and confirming they are accurate, will work for the intended audience and are clear.
         -Providing light editing on instructions and consistency in how things are referenced (e.g. the left edge vs the left side).  
  • —That feedback can be communicated in an email or be hand written on the pattern and either scanned or photographed and sent back to me.  I may ask clarifying questions once I've received your feedback.
  • —You own the quilt.  You own the right to sell the quilt (all of my patterns may be used on quilts that can be sold—provided they are handmade and not mass produced).  
  • —You own the photos of the quilt.  I would love to see your pictures and, with your permission, I may include them on social media or in the pattern.  But the photos are yours to do with as you please, I only ask that they not be posted more than 2 weeks before the scheduled launch date and that Shinersview gets credit for the quilt design.  
  • —What do you get.  You get a completed copy of the finished pattern for your time and efforts.  Hopefully, you will also enjoy the opportunity to engage with other quilters and perhaps try some new quilting styles and techniques.  I am toying with other ways to thank testers for their time and may play with some efforts on an individual pattern basis to determine what works best. 

This first quilt for testers is the one I have just completed and it is designed for newer-to-quilting—so it's on the easy scale and can be made with 2 solid fabrics.  I am also working on a series of mid-century modern quilts that will be coming down the pipe this winter and spring.

So, if this is your thing and you have any interest in participating now—or at some point in the future—leave me a message below (if your email is associated with your comment account) or send me an email at shinersview at gmail dot com.

*****PLEASE NOTE*****  I can NOT respond to you if you do not have an email account attached to your response.  Please send me an email at Shinersview at gmail dot com if you are interested, otherwise I will not be able to add you to the list.

I am excited about bringing this to life and enjoying learning in this process as I proceed!

Let me know if you have questions!

All the best

2018 Best Nine

Monday, January 7, 2019

Now that 2018 is safely behind us ...

It is fun to look at the year in review through the Instagram 2018 Best Nine tool. 

I especially love ...

  • That the studio is at the center of the Best Nine image—as that's where everything else was created,
  • That my 2nd most liked image was of a scrap quilt I pulled together over 5 years ago and only posted in 2018 as Day 5 of the #IGQuiltFest as my favorite scrappy quilt,
  • That my 8th top image was of the T@b awnings.  That's the business that has been funding my quilting this year (oh ... and paying my health insurance premiums ;-),
  • That my 9th top image was of a quilt that I really struggled with—in fact I ended up remaking it (it was a commission) and giving this version to a friend that had just had her first grand-daughter.  It was a straight-line quilting failure as I apparently stretched the quilt as I put an angle into the quilting, resulting in completely stretched out borders. 
I love that we can look back on images of our efforts over the past year and see the good and challenges in each of them ... but when it comes to the quilting communities reaction, they make us feel good about ALL of our efforts! 

My biggest learning in 2018 was that, even after multiple failures, I really could straight-line quilt—and as a result of that, I felt a lot better about spending time working on more creative quilt tops as I knew they wouldn't necessarily now fall victim to my standard meandering stipple.  In fact, all of the quilts featured in my 2018 Best Nine, except the scrap quilt, were quilted with some version of straight-line quilting!  

That, fellow quilters, is what we call progress!

What was your biggest learning in 2018?

Happy New Year!

All the best,

Life is for living ...

Saturday, January 5, 2019

OK ... going forward, Saturdays are going to be for quick, short posts on stuff (may or maybe not quilt related) that matter/make life easier and I feel are worth sharing.

Today it's an app called Libby.

Libby is an app for your phone that allows you to discover and checkout ebooks and audiobooks from your local library (you do need a library card).  It is an app that's owned by OverDrive and you can read more about it here.

We live, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere.  My husband vowed to NEVER get a Kindle, as he liked the tactile feel of a book and had been an avid user of the Seattle Public Library.  But once we moved out here and he began to realize the challenge of getting and returning books, particularly to our little library system out here in rural Washington, he gave in.

Quite honestly, Libby does what the Seattle Library website does ... but much easier.  Further, I can add the county library system and our local library system to Libby and search them all from the same place.

I have no financial relationship with OverDrive or Libby.  I just think it's a cool app that makes my life a little better each week as I search (and mostly put on hold) the next book to read.

Happy Saturday!

All the best,

Focusing on Improv for a week

Thursday, January 3, 2019

I took a week off and it was GREAT.  Well, not really a week off ... but a week where I just did what I wanted and didn't pay attention to what needed, or was expected, to get done.  Sometimes I think we all need those weeks.

I hadn't really planned on doing nothing, I had actually started each day with objectives, it just sort of gave way to alternate focus as the days evolved.  But I did get in a lot of reading, hiking, and even a little running.  And my proudest accomplishment was getting the office organized on New Years Day ... paperwork is my nemesis.

Library book list for those interested (all worthy of a read):

  • Educated
  • Prisoner B-3087
  • Between Shades of Gray
  • The $100 Startup

What I did spend a bit of time with in the studio was improv.  I saw this image on Pinterest and traced it back to a lovely artist on Instagram, Nancy Purvis. (BTW ... just spending a few minutes scrolling through Nancy's IG feed will get your creative juices flowing!)

My first version was definitely a replication of her concept—as much as you can replicate with completely different scrap bins.

This type of design is hard for me.  I am precise.  Other than making sure that each of the completed blocks measured 9"x6.75", there was NO precision in this effort.

But what it did do was really, really stretch me.  As I am learning, the beauty of improv, is not in your advance objectives or vision, it's in the process and what you learn along the way.  For this quilt, it was learning the balance of both color and value—the contribution that each play to creating an aesthetically appealing quilt top.  There was a LOT of repositioning on this quilt.

In my quest to really mix it up (haha), I stepped away from her linear horizontal placement of the blocks and offset them by ~4.5", which meant creating half-end pieces for half of the columns (a move that got me deeper into the scrap bin).

There was only 1 strip of new fabric cut for the entire quilt (I needed a bold red/pink fabric to even it out).  Even the solid neutrals came from my solid neutral scrap bin that barely gets much use.  You can't quite see it in the pictures, but the solid neutrals are a mixture of white, snow, ivory, ash and more.  They REALLY add to the organic feel.

While the office may be organized, the studio still looks a lot like this image with my scrap bins overflowing my cutting table.

This top is now completed and I am waiting for the backing fabric to arrive so I can finish it up.  We are off to New Zealand in February which will include visits with hubby's brother and family—this will be our hostess gift.

There is another version (different dimension & placement for blocks) on the design wall right now, which I am excited to get back to later today—once I really do get my commitments accomplished for the morning.

I hope that you all had an equally productive and relaxing holiday season and that 2019 finds you happy, healthy and with lots of creative ideas just waiting to magically appear from your hands!

All the best,
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