Thursday, August 31, 2017

Goddess of the Last Minute Studio 216 at the Hot Shops

I know that blog posts are supposed to be more pictures and less text. Mine isn't.

Here's a shot of the studio in the afternoon. Those windows are on the west wall, and direct light doesn't really pour in until late in the afternoon. 

The studio is 15x30', so I have my APQS Millie set up at the west end, by the windows. I had Dave Jones, who has been an APQS dealer for years move it from my house in Third Lake, to my studio in the Hot Shops, in Omaha. He took it apart, trailered it to Omaha, set it up again and serviced it. 

Dave suggested I buy an Uninterupted power supply, to condition the power to the longarm.  I got one for about $70, and I'm discovering it is well worth it. I haven't had a power outtage, but I need it for the smooth power it delivers. 

The other day, I was listening to an Audible book, using bluetooth and an inexpensive bluetooth sound bar. The sound kept cutting in and out. I thought it was the phone, but when I moved the speaker and plugged it into the UPS, the sound stopped cutting in and out. 

The UPS is on the floor next to the Millie on the right. You can't see it. 

I have two Iris Six Drawer storage units sitting behind the longarm, my collection of thread spools are distributed into the drawers. I need more. I want all my longarm thread and tools along that window wall, on the outside edges, so I can access everything while standing on the free motion side of the machine. So, most of the time, I'll be facing away from the window, with the light coming over my shoulder. There is an old radiator there, which may or may not give off enough heat, I'll see this winter! I usually run hot, so it might be fine. In any case, my Millie is happy to be out of my basement and in the sun. 

The size of my studio is 15x30' and I'm on the second floor. There is a freight elevator, but you have to manually open and close the door. I can't reach the handle to close the door on the second floor, so I can go up, but not down, unless someone is around to close it for me. I tried using a pliers to grab the loop, but it slipped out of the handle (ikea) and it fell down the shaft. So, I try to take the stairs.

So far, I have three folding banquet tables, 30x72" each. I'm going to add another, so I'll have room for 8 students to take free motion quilting classes on domestic machines. And also a dye class. And some fusing classes.

Here's what the studio looked like at the end of the day yesterday, standing at one corner behind the longarm. I just finished that quilt top that is right above the blue chair. It's pale in the picture, because you are seeing the back side of it, with the paper from the fusible still on. I will fuse the whole top to a piece of fabric to make a stable surface for quilting on the longarm. The quilt towards the right corner of that 16' long working wall has been in progress for a while. 

I dye all my fabric, and use fusible applique to create the designs. Then I free motion quilt them on my longarm.

 I'm teaching three days of fusing classes in Houston this year at Quilt Festival, the first two days are sold out! Space in the third day appears to be open.  Each class will have several patterns to choose from, that aren't available anywhere  but my workshops, and many new patterns will debut there!

I'll be teaching at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival next February, and patterns will be there too!

I bought a used Bernina 770QE from a friend, I plan to fire that up tomorrow, I'm making a sign for the door of my studio. 

Thanks for visiting! Come up to Studio 216 if you are in Omaha at the Hot Shops Art Center! If I'm there, the door is open and you are welcome to come in, hang out and look at my quilts!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Studio 216 in the Hotshops Art Center

I just started renting a studio in the Hot Shops Art Center in Omaha. It's a very interesting building and I'm really excited about it. The building houses something like 80 artists in 50 studios. I could be wrong on this number. I believe it was originally a mattress factory, which is appropriate for a quilter with a longarm.

Right now, I'm a part time resident of Omaha, living in a loft at The Greenhouse, which is kitty corner to the Old Market.

I keep discovering new things I like about Omaha, which is fun, because I've lived in Third Lake for almost 30 years now, in the Chicago area, for over 50 years. So, with the exception of the Cubs winning the world series, not many surprises.

Anyway, this week was my first at the Hotshops and I spent Monday through Thursday getting some if it set up, and then Friday, working on a quilt.

Here is some of my progress so far:

The main entrance to the building. I will find out the artist of the glass sculpture.
The entrance to my studio so far. It's the door on the left, that's my quilt. The giant dollar bill was painted by dAR the artist to right of me. She has a huge space and does great paintings. 

Setting up my sewing cabinet

Designer Tack panels, similar to Homasote, but less dense. Made out of recycled wood, not  plastic. I used 10, 32x48" sheets to create a working wall that is 80" high by 15 feet wide. 
Brian helped me pin 90" wide cotton batting along the top of the working wall, using corsage pins.
Then he went back and covered the batting with cotton muslin that was 96" wide, running the selvedge horizontally.
I will go back and neatly pin the vertical edges and the bottom against the Designer Tack panels when the fabric has relaxed and I can spread it all out smoothly.

 In the meantime, I pinned up some pattern printouts and a two yard piece of fabric I dyed last week during a demo at Stitches Midwest. 

Still a little disorganized and still not much in the space. But I have more to do.

Please stop by if you are in the area, I won't be back for a few weeks, so message me at  if you want to see my studio. Otherwise, the building is really interesting and worth a visit!

I plan to eventually have my APQS Millennium here. I'm not planning to rent it out, or quilt for others at this time, but I do plan to offer free motion quilting classes in my space, either on the longarm, or on domestic machines. I have some ideas to offer during the College World Series of Baseball, which is a block away.  And the HotShops are adjacent to several NEW hotels. So the area is getting more and more interesting. And we're a few blocks from downtown. And two blocks from the basketball arena! We saw Queen during our July trip to Omaha.

I'll be here more and more this winter.

Friday, March 18, 2016


So this quilt, Kenophobia, won Best Wall Quilt at the American Quilter's Society show in Daytona Beach, FL in February.

Since this was a big award, and it was Florida, and February, I decided to go down there to see my quilt in the show. Normally I don't do that, but the prize was big enough to get on a plane, change into my sandals and attend the show for a few days.
Brian came along, he was reluctant but I told him he could fish on Saturday.
Here's a picture of me standing by my quilt:
Shortly after that, I moved around the corner to look at someone else's quilt and two women walked by my quilt and one of them said something on the order of "you never know what the judges were thinking". Which I thought was hilarious (I think that quite often about other people's quilts, so I don't mind it at all when someone says it about mine. )Brian's eyebrows went up and I mouthed at him to be quiet and not say anything.

And then he had to spend Sunday with me, as the quilt show was closed. So we hung out on Daytona Beach during the day, and then at night, we tried to watch the Spacex rocket take off from Cape Canaveral. BUT they scrubbed it twice, the first time, because a boat had wandered into the verbotten space surrounding the launch and then a second time, because the delay caused by the boat allowed something to heat up. In the meantime, we kept running back and forth from our hotel room to the beach while I was checking the countdown on my iphone.

Then we came home in time for a big snowstorm. Of course.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Current quilt

I started this quilt several years ago, from a pattern used in my workshop, Art Deco and Flower Fused Components

I worked on it during Chicago Modern Guild retreat one year, and lost a section! There is supposed to be a band between the Greek Key section and those pointy petals. I made corrections to the work in progress before I realized the initial mistake. (I found the missing pieces and figured out what had happened.)

Anyway, I kept working, declared the top finished and started quilting. Then I took it off my longarm in order to work on another project. I decided instead of continuing to quilt it as is, I'd fix the parts I wasn't happy with, and THEN, instead of quilting, I'm going to do some thread painting over some of the pieces. First I will mount the finished top on my longarm (APQS Millie) to do the thread painting. When I done/bored with that, I'd remount it with batting behind it, then quilt it. I truthfully don't think this will take much longer than quilting the life out of it in the first place, as the thread painted areas won't need quilting.

Here's a picture of the top as it was this week, I was working on that gold band:

I've added some gear shapes, I've shared those shapes before. I think they are becoming my logo...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Good start to a new year!

Happy New Year! 2015 was a great year for me and mine and I KNOW that 2016 will be fantastic too!

It's About Time appeared on the cover of the October/November issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. This was a big deal for me, a milestone. QNM was the first quilt magazine I read on a regular basis, and still my favorite for all things quilty, so being on the cover really meant a lot.

It's About Time ©Robbi Joy Eklow 2016

Another quilt, Kenophobia, won a 3rd place award in the World Of Beauty contest in Houston last fall. My visit to the quilt show was cut short by the birth of my adorable grandson, Bennett John Kruse, but it was still really fun to be at the show for a few days.

Kenophobia ©Robbi Joy Eklow 2016

Earlier in the year, another quilt, Flowers and Gears, won a 3rd place ribbon in the Small Wall Quilt, Longarm catagory, at the 2015 AQS QuiltWeek Paducah contest.

Flowers and Gears ©Robbi Joy Eklow 2016

So, that was an exciting year. And to start off this year,  I'm going to Denver to teach a class at the new location of Myrna Ficken's store , A Quilter's Choice.

Myrna is a fantastic AQPS dealer, and I was delighted when she asked if I would come visit and teach a free motion quilting class for her. The class will be on January 21, 2016. Students can either either a longarm in her shop, or a domestic machine. Here's a specific link to the class: Expressive Unmarked Free Motion Quilting

Back in Chicago, I'll be teaching a fusing class for the Prairie Star Quilter's Guild  on January 25, and giving two lectures. Contact Joanne Sattler for more info.

As soon as I get home, I'll be shipping two quilts to AQS for their new show in Florida, Kenophobia and Happy.

So with that, have a Happy New Year and I hope I get to see you or a quilt of yours this year!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Havel's Fabric and Quilt Ruler Cutter

Havel's gave me a Fabric and Quilt Ruler Cutter to try. It's a rotary cutting ruler, with a handle for the rotary cutting blade built in.

Fabric & Quilt Ruler Cutter  by Havel's

I like it very much. I'm left handed, so the samples you'll see might look backwards, but I wanted to show you why I like it.

Although I have several Accuquilt strip dies, and love them, there are times when I want to use a rotary cutter and ruler.

 Normally, when I cut strips for a quilt, I "clean" off the raw edge across the width of the fabric, to set up for making strips that are perfectly straight. This involves laying the fabric on my cutting mat, lining up the ruler and making a small cut across the width of the fabric.

There are different ways of using rotary rulers, but I like to line up the cut edge of the fabric with the marking on the ruler that matches the strip width I want. In other words, the ruler is covering the fabric that I want to cut off, and the main body of the fabric is uncovered.  This is the way I learned about 28 years ago, I can do it quickly.

I want to clean off the right edge of this piece of fabric before cutting strips.

In this picture, the main fabric is to the left, with the strip I want to cut off just to the right edge of the cutter. This would be how a right hander would use the ruler to clean off the edge. I can do this too, because I don't have to HOLD the cutter, I can use my left hand to stabilize the ruler, and then my right to push the cutter along that metal edge.

Now I've cut the wobbly strip off, and I can proceed to cut the rest of my strips WITHOUT having to move the fabric. 

To cut the strips, I line up the edge of the fabric, here I'm using the 1 1/2" line, and run the blade up along the edge of the ruler. The ruler is covering  the 1 1/2" strip, making it stable while I cut. If you are right handed, you would be using the opposite side.

And here we have the cut strip. To cut more, I line up the desired width with the line on the ruler, run the cutter up the metal strip and I've got another strip.

You can do this with a regular rotary cutter and ruler, but you have to flip the fabric around between the cleaning off strip and the quilt strips. And you have to get some practice running the cutter along the edge of the ruler.

Here's a link to the ruler if you are interested

And here's the quilt I made: Fancy Foxes, from Elizabeth Hartman's pattern. The strips were going to be the noses, but I switched it to black which made for a better quilt, but not such a good tute.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Screen printing the easy way.

I really like these two gear shapes and I use them in some of my quilts.

 I am thinking of using them as my "vocabulary" to explore surface treatments, using them either as a stencil to paint through, or as a stencil to mark shapes on a quilt.

I have a screen printing kit from Stencil Pro. It makes pink stencils, with no chemicals. You print out the image for your stencil on transparency paper, lay it on top of the stencil paper, put it in the sun, count to 25, take it inside and soak it in water. That's your stencil. Pretty much.

If you have a thermofax, that's quicker. I had to wait until it was sunny, and had to count to 25, which took concentration, as my neighbor came home. Had to wave at him. A car was parking on the other side of the street with blinky lights on it's hood, had to stare at the car for a bit in case the inhabitants were up to shenanigans.  I still have no clue who they were. We live on a cul-de-sac in a suburb of Chicago, so normally people who park on your street and leave their hazard lights on are not strangers.

Here are the four stencils I ended up with. There was a learning curve, I wasted another four. and if I do these over, I won't have the boxes around the gear, just have the gear.

I'm going to pounce them with chalk to be a quilting guide. And put some fabric paint and paint through them, like a stencil. And I'm going to get my BERNINA to embroider them. And my cutting machines to cut them out. Maybe.

Anyway, the amazing thing to me, is that this kit from Circuit Bridge was purchased in 2011, and the sheets are still just as active. It's me that wasn't using them....

Here's a link to my crafts class if you want to see one way to use stencils for quilting. In the class, I use a 1" square grid stencil I bought at a quilt show, to mark a quilting grid.