Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year End Totals

Things are starting to make more sense now that I've gone back through my blog posts and added up my year end totals for 2009.

There wasn't any knitting.

Over the entire year, I made two dishcloths, a lace scarf from a single skein of Knit Picks Crayon, a pair of worsted weight baby socks, three pairs of booties, a pair of worsted weight adult size socks, and two bulky hats. That's all -- eleven finishes, nothing that took more than a single skein of yarn, compared to the fifty I finished in 2007 and more than sixty in 2008.

All year that lack of knitting bugged me. How does a knitter go from complete obsession to a screeching halt like that?

It was the quilts. I didn't realize that so many of the quilts draped all overy my house happened this year.

I made eighteen quilts from start to finish, finished eight more tops, quilted four tops that were left over from the previous year, not to mention the bagsket and the strippy cat bed which is probably equal to another quilt all by itself.

Start to Finish Quilts

Scrappy Mountain Majesties
Birds in the Air
A's Quilt
One Thrifty Quilt
Scrappy Irish Chain
Red Quilt
Weed Whacker
Simple Pleasures
Leif's Snails
Cheerful Buzz Saws
applique flowers
30's baskets

Start to Finish Baby Quilts

blue disappearing nine patch
girly disappearing nine patch
pink lattice
yellow fun with bricks
white framed nine patch
scrappy hearts

Unquilted Tops

sparklng gems
scrappy irish chain
bento box
blue fun with bricks
ugly nameless baby quilt
chinese coins
my fun with bricks
30's buzz cake

I have a hard time figuring out how to count quilting finishes, mostly because I consider assembled tops as a finish category of their own. So I wound up with several lists of finishes. I guess that works.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas is four days away, I haven't wrapped a single thing, I haven't finished shopping, and I've got two quilts to bind before lunch on Christmas Eve.... the usual holiday season around here!

I did discover something encouraging when I was doing the first mad dash of my Christmas shopping. Fred Meyer (a chain grocery/department store) now has sock yarn and bamboo dpns. Since I started knitting and paying attention to that aisle, their selection hasn't changed much -- now they've got a lot of new yarns I didn't even know about.

There was a 20% off coupon, so I came home with a skein of Lion Brand Hometown USA and made a hat.

It would be Shroom from the new Knitty, but I didn't have enough yarn to make it long enough and wasn't patient enough to wait until I could drive 30 miles and buy a second skein just so I could do another dozen rows. I like the pattern and like the yarn (which I was trying because I might be tempted to buy enough skeins to do a bigger project) even if this little hat isn't quite what it should be.

Maybe Alex will lose it in the chicken coop.

After almost a year of not buying any yarn (not knitting made it very easy to avoid temptation), Grandma called and let me know about an estate sale one of her dealers was running.

I've never seen so much Red Heart Super Saver in one place that wasn't a store. I bought three huge bags of yarn, not counting the dozen skeins of fun fur that Alex snapped up for fifty cents each, and we barely made a dent.

Now I've got to figure out how to best use those single skeins that were too pretty and inexpensive to leave behind.

Among my purchaes were four skeins of Red Heart Strata, which can't quite be described as pretty and has an awful texture, but it's fun to play with. I searched Ravelry to see what others had done with it and found the pattern for Knit Dorm Socks.

They've been adopted by Alex, who doesn't seem to mind that they're a bit crunchy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I have got to get back to posting more often. If nothing else, it helps me keep track of what I'm doing. And I really need that help, because I sure can't seem to keep track of what I'm working on.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped at the new thrift store in Albany and saw a quilt. It wanted to come home with me. I wanted to take it home with me, at least until I got a look at the price tag.

I don't really collect antique quilts, I just bring home the occasional really cheap one that won't let me leave it behind. If I was serious about collecting old quilts, this one wasn't the kind quilt I like. And I wasn't even sure that it was old.

I apparently didn't get a very good look at it, because when I saw a sample hanging in a quilt shop a week later, I convinced myself that I could make a substitute that had all of the things I loved about the thrift store quilt and the added bonus of jagged edges. I did still have that fat eights of Mamas Cottons that I hadn't started to cut up for my butterfly quilt, and some of them did look a little like the ones that drew me to that other quilt....

That's how I wound up with this --

Please tell me I'll like it better when it's quilted. Because right now I'm thinking I totally wasted my nice fabric.

We went back to the thrift store on Thursday and the quilt was still there. Apparently I didn't get a very good look at it the first time around, because that's the only explanation for why I did what I did with my fabric.

Now that it's cut up and sewn together into something else, I can see what I should have done to make the quilt I wanted. Too bad this isn't knitting, where frogging and starting over is usually an option!

Today, I've been retreating. I started out by cleaning my sewing machine and winding a bunch of bobbins. Then I pulled out a baby quilt that's been sitting there, all pin basted and ready to quilt.

I'm in the mood to meander.

This quilt started out as a pile of 2 1/2" strips that I planned to make into a baby-sized bargello. I kept looking at the prints and being haunted by this niggly little feeling that they were going to look awful if I didn't make a drastic change to my plans. I'm glad I found a better use for these fabrics.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I haven't spent much time online lately. There just hasn't been a lot of time to fill by following fabric and yarn related rabbit trails. It's starting to bug me, so today I made some time.

I'd like to make a Lamplight Quilt, nevermind how much I hate laying things out on a design wall and sewing them together one bit at a time.

I could spend the next week following links from How About Orange. Far too many things there to get excited about, especially with a creative twelve year old sitting next to you.

Like the half eaten gingerbread man ornamets from Elsie Marley's Blog. I like these! There's not a scrap of brown felt to be found in the house (not that I've looked -- I just know that I don't use much felt) so I can't even consider making one until after our next trip to town. I'm thinking he might look even cuter using the cinnamon bread dough recipie the kids and I tried a few years back. Or Fimo, not that I've got or know how to use that either. Today's post makes me wish I knew how to crochet.

And the Cute Birdie Bookmarks, which we've actually printed and cut out. And NaniBirds. We can do stuff like that now that (after more than a month of doing without) we've got a new printer. With full ink cartidges -- yippee!

Alex was looking over my shoulder when I stumbled across Mod Podge Rocks. She knew she liked Mod Podge. She didn't know what the potential was -- I think I should be scared.

I'm blown away by this papercutting blog and wondering if it could be combined with freezer paper stencilling.

And I've got a new baby quilt started, but just barely. It should go together quickly, if life cooperates.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm starting to think differently about my quilts. Before, having the top assembled was done enough and I could let it sit around indefinitely until I felt like quilting it. Now, though, I've got the desperate urge to see what it's going to look like when it's completely done. Probably because I can do most of them on my own little machine and don't have to wait around for the longarm.

My replacement rail fence is together and waiting for me to either free up some safety pins or make it to town to buy another few packages.

I'm not sure if I like this one or not. It looks clunky -- or is that just me?

This one felt clunky too, but now that it's quilted and bound I think it's fine. Maybe because it's going to a new home and I won't have to look at it anymore.

Oh, and I've been knitting just a tiny little bit.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I've been playing with fabric, having too much fun with my limited time to drag out the camera and take pictures. Without pictures of what I'm up to, it didn't seem worth writing and trying to explain.... so it's been a while since my last entry.

This is the one I wrote about last time, all assembled and quilted. It still needs a binding, but it's mostly done.

And this is the one I started cutting little squares for before the basket blocks were finished. I found the pattern in a book about vintage fabrics and it was similar to another quilt pattern I'd been too intimidated to try (hundreds of 2 5/8" inch squares? -- not a chance. I'm at least using a measurement that's marked on my rulers!)

This is the most applique I've ever done on a quilt, just fusible and machine zig-zag around the edges, but I love the way it came out. I can do this! My next new project is going to be that butterfly quilt I've been thinking about since I first started quilting.

The little squares, all five hundred of them, went together much faster than I would've imagined possible. The real fun started when I trimmed them to put the whiter border on and left myself with a zillion bias edges. The whole top shifted every time I looked in it's direction. So I got it pinned and quilted densely enough that it isn't going ANYWHERE.

I got both quilts (except for bindings) done start to finish in just over two weeks. I almost never do a quilt start to finish without working on something else, let alone two in a row.

Now I've got the replacement rail fence to finish piecing, and butterflies to trace and cut, and a hundred and some snowballs to make out of my Root of the Madder fat quarters...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I bought a new book, Scrap Basket Surprises by Kim Brackett. I saw a preview on the author's blog earlier this year and ever since I've been waffling back and forth on whether I really needed to buy a copy or not, swinging between "I've absolutely got to have this book or I'll die!" to "Maybe if I wait long enough the library system might get a copy."

When I bought it at Joann's on Wednesday, I still hadn't made up my mind, but I had a fifty percent off coupon and I've learned my lesson the hard way. If you don't buy a book you're that intrigued by, the thing will go out of print and still be haunting you five or six years later.

In the first five days the book spent in my house, I completed all twenty five blocks for the Market Baskets pattern using mostly vintage fabric from my stash. And that wasn't even one of the patterns that I bought the book for!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm making myself a quilt.

I know, I'm always making myself a quilt, but this one is special. And after an unplanned break from quilting, it's making me very happy to just plod away and piece bricks of fabric together into pairs, then together into bigger units.

After I gave away my rail fence quilt, which I thought long and hard about and was perfectly okay with, I started to miss it just a little. And I started to think that I could make it a fraternal twin (remember those log cabin quilts last Christmas?), but instead of making another rail fence it might be neater to try yet another Fun With Bricks

My plan was to use a bunch of the same fabrics that I used in my rail fence, but I don't think that actually happened. Instead, I used fabric that would've been in the rail fence if I'd had them in my stash when I made that quilt.

Last night, I finally had enough piecing done to lay it out and get an idea what this might look like.

It's going to be better than the rail fence.

After that last trip to Joann's, I haven't been too optimistic about my fabric buying future. It seemed like cheap but nice fabric might be getting harder to come by.

Then my best friend and I stopped at a quilt shop this afternoon and the sign on the door read "clearance fat quarters, buy one get two free." Okay, $2.50 for three fat quarters -- better than the best Joann's sale. Except they were actually $1.25 for three fat quarters. AND they had a ton of different light prints that I can use in the next umpteen quilts I've got planned. I bought thirty fat quarters for $12.50.

My math skills aren't the greatest with a four year old helping me pick fabric, so it wasn't until a couple of hours later that the real numbers finally sunk in. $1.66 a yard for quilt shop fabric -- now I'm kicking myself for not buying more to make pieced backings for those umpteen quilts.

I'm not expecting to find a deal that good again, but it got me wondering -- are there good buys to be found at the quilt shops? I usually don't even try them because I've assumed everything is out of my price range.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The jinx continued with broken glass lurking under the surface of the dishwater and wasps buzzing around in the front room, but the bugs are dead and my cut will heal and things seem to have calmed down over the past couple of days.

We didn't have a single bit of trouble with the long arm when I went over to Mom's yesterday and quilted Simple Pleasures. We always have trouble, either because the machine is being cranky or I'm going to fast and messing up the tension on my own, but this time things worked.

The kids were even angels, until I fed them lunch and tried to go buy binding. Then things fell apart, but my quilt is quilted and it's easier to schedule a fabric hunt than it is to schedule long arm time.

Quilting Cotton was 30% off at Joanns, but everything I looked at was $6.99 a yard. Even if it seemed to be better quality than what I usally buy there, it was frustrating. That makes the sale price higher than what I paid for that really nice stuff from Whittles and almost as high as Connecting Threads. I could get similar prices shopping the sale rack at real quilt shops.

I found something to bind my quilt with and a couple of other fabrics to add to the quilt that I'm cutting pieces for, but not as much as I'd hoped to find. I'm either going to have to wait to find more fabric, or dig deeper in my stash, or make this one a little less scappy than I want to.

The blocks for the latest baby quilt are finally pieced and I was able to lay them out. I think I like it. And I've got a plan for the next one.

Monday, September 14, 2009

If a twelve year old girl mixes up a batch of chocolate cookies and turns her back on the bowl for just a moment, her three year old brother will bring in the box of salt from the kitchen to the dining room and dump half of it into the bowl.

If a mother figures out exactly what time her kids need to be on Webkinz to do the neat activity they've been waiting for, and it's a time they should be able to do it, the website won't load for two solid hours.

If a quilter is foolish enough to think she'll get her project done soon, she'll wind up with a big stack of blocks to rip out and redo.

I'm thinking we're jinxed here. There actually was a voodoo doll made recently, and it's not unreasonable to think that some of my hair was in it, even if it was intended for the maker's big sister.

But it wasn't a total loss. We do have kinda salty cookies. Maybe we'll time it right and get to play with Doug the Dog tomorrow. And maybe I'll get that quilt top done.

And Alex's quilt top is done. We were talking about Christmas wants this afternoon and I asked her what would make her life happy (not that she wasn't happy at the time) and she totally surprised me when the answer was that she wished her fish blocks were square.

I'd forgotten about the fish quilt. She started it months ago, maybe last summer, and was making great progress until she decided not to bother with quarter inch seam allowances. It's her third quilt. She knows how to do this right. But she didn't. And she didn't want to rip out and redo forty-eight blocks -- not that I'd do it on my own quilt either!

I was going to make her deal with her own mess, until she said that this afternoon and I realized that I could probably force the blocks together into a wonky but assembled top. It's not like I haven't done it plenty of times with my own projects.

And I'm glad I did it. That feeling of avoiding a project because you're afraid it's beyond saving is a miserable one. I've had it about enough projects, but I never thought of Alex's fishes this way until I was trying to get them sewn together into a top.

It really is a cute quilt. She picked the pattern and fabric and did all of the blocks on her own. I'm glad we'll be able to get it finished.

But I refuse to salvage lace knitting. With that, she's still on her own.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Halloween is in the air already. And on my house -- look who was napping on the front porch when I stepped out there last week! Isn't he just the cutest thing? I'm trying not to dwell on the sign in front of the veterinary clinic that warns me about rabid bats every time I drive by.

We were careful to leave him alone and kept our fingers crossed that he'd find his way back where he belonged once it got dark again. Hopefully he's back out in the barn doing his batty thing.

There hasn't been a lot of quilting time lately. If I could do that fifteen minutes a day people keep recommending, I'd be making progress on the gorgeous quilt that's in my head, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that most of the pople who keep recommending that aren't homeschooling four kids. I know -- there are people homeschooling six or a dozen whose dishes are all done and carpets vacuumed and finished three quilts this week, but I'm not one of 'em.

I did play with some leftovers from a thrift store scrap bag this afternoon and come up with this --

The white looks much less stark in real life, but I still think it needs some applique or something. I've just got to figure out what to stick in those empty squares.


Monday, September 07, 2009

Today's project has been crumb blocks. My plan is to join them in strips and make a quilt similar to that one I did yesterday with the strings, but I'm really not sure if I have the patience or not.

What I do have is a ton of crumbs and strings and bits and pieces. So in addition to piecing the two hunks here and a few more that didn't fit in the picture, I've been sorting through a bin and cutting strips of lights and darks for courthouse steps and bricks for another Fun With Bricks quilt...which could be why this is taking so long!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

I know, I said I wasn't going to pull out the camera tonight. But that was when I didn't even expect to finish the strips for my new little baby -- and now the strips are done, the sashing is done, and I'm just too happy with it not to share right away!

I didn't repeat any of the fabrics, so I'm guessing there are close to a hundred different prints in there. I'm not sure if the strips really did come out that crooked, or if it's just the way the quit way lying when I took the picture. Either way, I like it.

So that's one new baby top down, nine more to go! Think I can manage another tomorrow?
Progress! I dragged a box of fabric strings down from the sewing room this afternoon and started piecing strips for a baby quilt I've had planned. Most of the strips are done and I haven't even dented the box.

I think that's going to be the new goal -- finishing ten baby quilt tops from stash. Strings, crumbs, orphan blocks from the thrift store boxes...whatever I can come up with.

I'm not feeling quite motivated enough to dig out the camera, so I'll take pictures tomorrow when I'll hopefully have the top together.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

My sewing machine is half buried under a pile of mail and school books and all of the other things I've been dealing with lately that aren't quilting. Or knitting.
I'm hoping that Susan's Labor Day Retreat might help me get back on track tomorrow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I've been collecting fabric for a chicken quilt for at least four years now, picking up red florals that looked like good chicken feathers. And some blacks. The stack of fabric keeps growing and my pattern choice keeps changing and now and then I'll pull it all together and think about starting.

The magazine with my latest pattern choice has been lost and found more times than I can count. When I decided to start cutting fabric last week, there was no sign of it.

I'd originally found the pattern at the library, but I didn't know what issue of the magazine it was in, just that it had an ugly blue and black log cabin on the cover. Luckily the librarian working at the periodicals counter was a quilter herself and didn't have any problem with my request to look at the covers of all of their copies of American Patchwork and Quilting.

By the time we found the right one, I think her fingers were crossed tighter than mine!

Now I can start cutting fabric for chicken blocks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In theory, I know that you're supposed to save those bonus half square triangles, that you can make more quilts with them. In reality, I shove mine into a plastic baggie and usually lose them. Sometimes I just toss them out.

I didn't know that you could do this sort of thing with those bonus half square triangles until stopped into visit the quilting group at church this afternoon.

This what they've done with the leftover bits from the Exquisite quilt we were working on when I last made it to quilting group almost a year ago. I'd heard that Dorothy was doing fantastic things with those bonus triangles we spent so much extra time on, but no one ever mentioned it was a sampler quilt. Or that it was the niftiest sampler quilt ever.

What did I do with those bonus triangles from my Weed Whacker?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Remember this one? It's finally done!

Because it's such a summery pastel thing, I used an old flannel sheet instead of backing. If I hadn't been silly enough to buy yardage for the back (this was before I realized how fabulous pieced backings actually are), it would've been the cheapest quilt ever.

I tried a loops and hearts pattern from the new quilting book and I'm not entirely happy with the results. My hearts are just fine, but the loops need work. Maybe if I'd done meandering with hearts it would look better.

Because this quilt and I don't exactly love each other, I decided it was a good candidate for my second attempt at binding by machine. And it worked this time!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I bought myself a new book -- Machine Freehand Patterns by Nan Moore.

It was in the new Connecting Threads catalog that came in the mail last week and, seduced by the idea of "faux pantographs," I decided to add it to my next thread order. Then it turned out that they had it at Joann's and I had a coupon, so I've got it in my hands it already.

I was really hoping for more written information on that whole faux pantograph thing, but the explanation is mostly line drawings with a few arrows here and there to clarify which direction to go. Most of it's easy to understand, but a few absolutely confuse me.

Although the pantographs were a disappointment, there are quite a few borders and all over designs in the book I want to try. Layered Squares is pin-basted and all ready for a meander with some cute little hearts thrown in.

And Scrappy Mountains is quilted and ready for me to trim off the excess and sew on the binding. I'm not entirely sure if I like the dark meandering on the light fabrics or not. It's much more obvious in real life than in the pictures.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The red quilt is done! For an "accidental" quilt, this one came out great.

Does anyone else have quilts just happen like this? I saw the pattern in a magazine at Mom's house, thought of all of the red scraps I'd been passing over when I was picking fabric for other quilts, and realized that I could probably make it. My mental line between could and should is a very thin one. So the pattern came home with me and, after a few of months of doing nothing about it, I started pulling fabric.

By the time I started running into concerns, I was committed. And by the time I tried to assemble the top and found out I was six blocks short, I had too much time and effort into the project to even think about turning back. Even though I thought I wanted to.

I had some doubts about the pieced back, but now that the quilt is trimmed and bound, I really like the way it looks. I may start piecing backs on purpose, even if I'm buying the fabric.

I sat down tonight and updated the list, which has gone from 26 WIPs down to 12. With only two and a half weeks left of the ten I'd planned to stick to, I'm thinking it may be nearly as short as it's going to get. I could possibly cut it down to nine, but I'm really itching to start some new projects.

  • Bento Box -- top is done

  • Simple Pleasures -- top is done and ready for the longarm

  • Lover's Knot -- no new progress, still need to cut and piece a ton of blocks

  • Courthouse Steps -- 5 out of 35 blocks pieced

  • Chicken Kit -- no new progress

  • layered squares -- still need to pin and quilt

  • scrappy cats -- more blocks to piece

  • flower baskets -- no new progress, but I've got ideas to simplify it

  • my own Scrappy Mountains Majesty -- need to finish quilting

  • Cheery Buzzsaws -- need to get the binding on

  • Glittering Gems -- need to prep for the longarm and quilt

  • North Pacific -- no progress

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We played with bleach this morning. I've been wanting to try this technique ever since I saw it on Simply Quilts. When I saw the episode, it was pouring rain and there wasn't a leaf to be found in my yard. The sun came out, the leaves grew back, and I never found the time until today.

It wasn't anywhere near as complicated or scary as I'd expected it to be.

Not all of our results were great, but we were just playing around and learned from our mistakes and next time we'll actually accomplish something permanent.

My favorite experiment is this guy, who I traced onto freezer paper and pressed onto the fabric before spraying the bleach --

I've been meanig to post the revised list list (which is getting SHORT!) but that will have to wait until I have more time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's starting to warm up again. I'll try not to complain, not after the unseasonable and quilter-friendly temperatures we've been having.

My weekend wasn't as painful as I expected it to be. Thursday night, I got three quilts pin basted. The red quilt and Scrappy Mountain Majesties had pieced backs. Cheery Buzz Saws had pieced batting. I pinned and found pleats repinned and pinned quilts to the carpet and pretty much made myself crazy. Then I folded them into a neat stack on the treadle and started to figure out when I might have time to get them quilted.

The red quilt is bigger than the rail fence, which was the largest I'd done on my Janome so far. I was pretty sure I could manage the extra seven inches. The rail fence took me three days, so I figured that the red quilt might take four. The buzz saws and scrappy moutains would probably take a day each.

The only problem was that I wanted to see them all done and I wanted to see them all done soon. Because if I left them in their pin basted stack they might spontaneously combust or something.

Can you feel the pain in my hands starting?

I quilted the red quilt -- all of it -- on Friday.

I quilted most of the buzz saws on Saturday morning and finished it yesterday.

I started Scrappy Mountain Majesties this morning.

I handstitched the binding on a different quilt, and handstitched 2/3 of the way around the red quilt.

And my hands aren't hurting yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Now I remember why I never got those cat blocks pieced even though I had all of the pieces cut out. They're tedious! Not difficult, just very boring.

I finished two this afternoon before I decided that I'd rather be doing someting else.

They went back into the box and I pieced backings for the red quilt and my Scrappy Mountain Majesties. That one didn't photograph well -- my camera didn't like all of the light little flowers on the dark background.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quilting makes me giddy. I've been running out of piecing projects on the list, getting down to the ones I don't really want to be working on, which is why they've sat so long and why they're on the list in the first place.

The buzz saw blocks were done, but really not anywhere near square. And I wasn't sure how the light and dark sections were going to play together and didn't want to try putting them together and find out that the whole thing was a disaster. The more I've got invested in the fabric, the more I start to think like that.

So, in an effort to avoid that disaster, I finished the last six squares for the red quilt and got the top assembled.

Now I'm facing the challenge of how to quilt it. I'd planned to do this one on Mom's longarm, but there are two other tops in line ahead of it. And it's only five inches bigger than the rail fence (which I'd decided was as big as I wanted to go on my Janome.) I've got just barely enough red backing fabric if I don't use the longarm and need that five extra inches on each side...and I want to quilt this thing NOW. I guess my lack of patience makes my decision for me.

Today was supposed to be a stay at home and quilt day, but I had to drive into town for carrots and celery and barley, so I decided we might as well stop at the thrift store which had an "all clothing 2/$1" sign out front. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate to parallel park in the van? And how many places there are down here where that's the only way to park?

I almost didn't bother because I knew the sign has been up since at least yesterday and thought there wouldn't be anything good left, but I fought the parking space and won and there were eight very nice plaid shirts to be found. That's after I was picky and put back the ugly ones and the ones that weren't 100% cotton.

And at WalMart, after picking up the veggies and a new smoke detector, I found this:

I've been wanting one of these since I saw Mom's, which is almost identical except hers has a spinning base. And hers was twenty dollars more. I can pick up and turn mine. After putting in my little acrylic rulers, and rotary cutters, and pigma pens and extra gadgets, I don't seem to have enough to fill it up.

Oh, and the buzz saw blocks went together okay. I'm not going to claim that it lays flat (I actually haven't looked close enough to know if it does or not) but who's going to be able to tell when there are a couple of little boys under it?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Quinn doesn't like dinosaurs anymore. He wants me to give this quilt to grandma. I'm not sure if that's part of the "all quilts are for Grandma" belief that he had after I finished her log cabin last Christmas, or if he thinks she really does need a dinosaur quilt.

Heath wants it (and to be absolutely honest, I did buy the fabric intending to make a quilt for him -- when he was a lot littler), but I've been reminding him that he's getting a quilt made from the seal fabric he convinced me to buy on a shop hop a couple of years ago. This is why I don't plan in advance which quilt is for which kid.

Whoever winds up with it, I'm very pleased with the way this one came out. Doesn't it almost look like I had a plan for the fabric when I bought it? I used what didn't fit in the front for the back, combined with a yard of cheap clearance fabric from Joann's. Or that's what I thought when I was piecing it -- now I realize that there are a couple of fabrics I had set aside for the back that didn't make it in. And I'm sure there are another two book pages that I was saving for the back and lost.

If that stuff ever turns up, I'll work it into a baby quilt.

I'm going to run out of tops to quilt soon -- not sure if that's good or bad. It certainly can't hurt to be caught up, but I'm having so much fun playing around with the free motion and the walking foot I'd hate to have to stop now!

This afternoon I dug out my red fabric and pieced the six blocks that were missing
when I laid out the red quilt. With a little luck, I hope to get it assembled tonight and find enough big hunks of red fabric to piece the backing.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Leif's snails are quilted!

Back when I was having such trouble with my free motion quilting, I thought about stitching in the ditch around each snail and leaving the wide border unquilted. Some nice online friends convinced me that would be a bad idea, and I wasn't about to try free motion on the border and couldn't figure out what else to do with it, so it sat.

Last week I saw a segment on a quilting show about channel quilting and decided to follow the diagonal lines of the blocks, but didn't give any thought to when I might actually do it. I got the quilt pin basted earlier this week, using the boards I talked my husband into buying me.

And last night, I found myself quilting the top. I don't remember deciding to pull out the walking foot and get started. If I had any tentative plans to sit down and quilt something, it was to meander the dinosaur quilt.

The diagonal lines went fast, so fast that I remembered a recent discussion on Stashbusters about how baby quilts should be heavily quilted to help them stand up to frequent washing and I decided to put in another set of lines down the middles of the blocks so that they'd be two inches apart instead of four. And my movie still wasn't over, so I meandered the border.

I am so happy with the way this quilt has come out. It's another splurge project -- Connecting Threads had a great sale and I think I spent a whole twenty bucks on the fabric for the top.

Today I'm meandering dinosaurs.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I've been avoiding this project for a while now. As soon as I saw the bagsket tutorial, I knew I wanted to make one. Then I found this fabric on sale at Joann's and for at least long enough for me to go home, find out how much I needed, and come back for it the next day, I was convinced it was the perfect choice.

Until I had it at home and really thought about cutting into it and deciding which fabric to use for which part, and realized that I could have made this project with stash fabric. I started having second thoughts and put it all away until later.

It would probably still be tucked away if I hadn't made the list, and if I hadn't put the bagsket on it. With so many other projects I forgot and left off, I'm not sure how this one made it, but I keep rewriting the list and instead of just crossing off that line, I decided to pull out the fabric and get started whether I felt like it or not.

I was still excited about making a bagsket, just not with the fabric I'd splurged on. And since I had splurged (even if it was a little one) I was stuck using what I'd bought.

The fabric looked much cuter than I remembered when I pulled it out this morning. Has it always said "all nighter" and "on a fabric binge?"

I started cutting after breakfast and had the whole thing done this afternoon, even after taking time off to make lunch and go to the grocery store and make dinner. The tutorial instructions are easy to follow, although I admit I ignored them and did my own thing a couple of times.

It's even got pockets on the inside!

Instead of buying bias tape for the edgings, I made my own binding with the extra fabric. Cheaper, didn't require another trip to the store, and it matches the rest of the bag better than I think purchased stuff would.

I'm so glad I finally tackled this project! If I'd known how quick and straightforward it was going to be, it never would've sat for so long.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I've been having fun.

The temperature has dropped about thirty degrees, so I no longer have to schedule my quilting around the weather. Hooray! Even better, I've had time to get some quilting done.

This morning, I started quilting the blue bargello on Mom's machine. The plan was to do clamshells. I got about a third of it done before I realized that my arcs were too wide. I finished it with tinier shells, which are just what I had in mind in the first place. But when I went back to requilt the first part, the machine started fussing. I guess I'll be trying that on my Janome tonight.

Once that's done, I'll be cutting and pressing binding because I got the strippy lattice quilted yesterday in the two hour stretch after we got home from the river and before I had to start dinner.

I'm getting happier and happier with my free motion quilting on the Janome. Now I've just got to quit trying to sew through the safety pins before I break my machine!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Estate sales fascinate me, especially the ones we have down in this neck of the woods. Who actually goes through the house with a roll of masking tape and puts prices on everything that doesn't get out of the way?!

I would love to have been there at the opening of the sale we went to on Sunday. It was in an old trailer in the woods. I wouldn't have even turned up that road if I hadn't had my husband with me. There was a sign out by the highway, and a couple of guys standing outside, but no signs of a sale. If I'd turned onto the road alone, I definitely wouldn't have gotten out of the van. But I trustingly followed my sweetie.

There was some stuff arranged on tables and a lot more stuff sitting where it had been when it all became an estate. We opened an old lunch box to see if there was a thermos inside, it still held packages of cookies and the old guy's prescriptions. That creeps me out, and also makes me wonder if anyone actually took a good look at what they were selling.

I bought the old iron that was still on the ironing board and "was probably working in September when he died" for a dollar. It's much nicer than the cheap one I bought at Walmart a couple of months back. Now I'm wondering which is older, the iron or my trusty wooden ironing board.

I also bought the old-fashioned pencil sharpener off of the wall for a quarter. I've been trying to find one of those for a couple of years now. That's the one "classroom" thing I was determined for my kids to have -- mostly because they work so much better than the cheap little plastic ones. And if I bolt it to the wall, they can't lose it!

I still can't get over the bird house, which was sitting out under what had once been an awning and cost us a whole two dollars. I'm always looking for birdhouses for our yard and deciding that what's in the stores isn't quite what I want. This one is absolutely the most perfectest birdhouse ever!

Monday, August 03, 2009

The thermometer did win for a while, but it's supposed to drop back down into the mid-eighties this week. That's warm enough to take the kids down to play at the river, but not so hot it'll melt my brain -- works for me!

I did get some more quilting done once the temperature dropped into the nineties. Not the productive binges of creativity that I wanted to be doing, but enough to keep me from whining about how quilt-deprived I've been.

It's been five weeks since I made the list. Except for one project that wasn't on the list but should have been, I haven't started anything new.

And the list has dropped from twenty-six projects down to twenty! The Weed Whacker, the Cat Baby Quilt, Birds in the Air, the cat bed, Dot to Dot, and the tea pot quilt are done.

  • Bento Box -- top is done
  • Simple Pleasures -- top is done
  • Lover's Knot -- 250 blocks left to piece if I make it the size the pattern calls for. I don't want or need a quilt that big, so I'm thinking it'll only take another hundred or so blocks
  • Courthouse Steps -- I've been cutting strips, but not started piecing
  • Chicken Kit -- cut all of the wool pieces and got the cotton background pieced
  • Bagsket -- need to find the thing!
  • Dino Quilt -- is pin-basted and ready to quilt
  • rail fence -- one side of the binding left to stitch down
  • layered squares -- the border is on, need to quilt
  • red quilt -- finish last six blocks and assemble
  • scrappy cats -- more blocks to piece
  • lattice strippy -- top is done
  • flower baskets -- lots of applique, which I have no intention of doing anytime soon (why is this one even on the list?!)
  • A's Scrappy Mountains Majesty -- sew down binding
  • my own Scrappy Mountains Majesty -- quilt
  • Leif's Snails -- quilt
  • Cheery Buzzsaws -- blocks are pieced, need to assemble and start on pieced binding
  • Glittering Gems -- quilt
  • Blue Bargello -- Quilt
  • North Pacific

    With all of the recent craziness, I'm surprised at how many of the projects I've managed to finish and how many more are looking finishable. The list was definitely a good idea. I'm ready to start a few new projects, but after six finishes, I'm going to need some new WIPs.

    This is the one that wasn't on the list but should have been. I bought fabric for it at the beginning of July (actually I turned Alex loose in Joann's and had her pick it out) and it's been sitting next ot my sewing machine ever since because even though I used to sew a lot of clothing, I was intimidated. Not to0 intimidated to buy fabric and commit myself, just too nervous about making a mistake to actually cut into it.

    I followed the Spring Ruffle Top Tutorial, which was easier than I expected. I'm not sure I did the pleats at the top the way I was supposed to, but it worked.
  • Monday, July 27, 2009

    strings are fun!

    It's a good thing I like string quilts, because I've had literally bags and bags of pretty little fabric strips fall into my lap over the past couple of months. That's in addition to the strings I cut myself when I first got excited about string quilts.

    The front and back sections of Alex's cat bed have been pieced for a while, but I decided that quilting them to some heavy batting would make the whole thing more durable. I'm still having fun stippling, so that plan worked out just fine. (Note to self -- remember to put the presser foot down after you lift it to shift the fabric!)

    And at some point during the process, I decided that it would be a good idea to add a zipper to make it easier to take out the stuffing and wash the cover if disaster struck. Would've been a perfectly reasonable idea if I'd put in a zipper during the last twenty years, or even remembered how to put in a zipper.

    My google search for zipper tutorials only turned up results for installing invisible zippers into the sides of skirts. Skirts are the deep dark root of my secret zipper hatred. I found a tutorial for adding a zipper to a bag, but it told me to follow the directions on the package, which my thrift store zipper didn't come with.

    So I borrowed the zipper foot from my twelve year old daughter's machine and winged it. The zipper is attached. She's been warned not to ever ever unzip it unless there is a laundry emergency, because I'd rather trash the entire project than try that again.

    The cat, of course, wants nothing to do with her new bed and spent last night sleeping in the bathroom on a wet towel.

    I also got the string blocks for that baby quilt assembled. Now I need to figure out what I can back it with. I really want to find some more cheap thrift store sheets!

    Today's quilting was derailed by a migraine and a hundred mile drive to replace a water bed mattress with a split seam -- just what I felt like dragging four kids along to do when it was 102 degrees out there! On the bright side, my migraine meds did work and we caught the leak before it flooded our bedroom too badly.

    I've got higher hopes for tomorrow!

    Sunday, July 26, 2009

    The lengths I'll go to to preserve my quilting time...

    It's going to be hot today, hotter tomorrow, and hotter than that the next day, going on for at least a week. We don't have air conditioning, but the house is shaded by trees and if I'm careful to keep doors closed and drapes shut it stays a decent temperature inside.

    As long as I don't use the stove or oven or anything else that'll heat things up -- like my iron. The whole thing is a ridiculously delicate balancing act, and last year or the year before I would've put up the quilting and knit a sock. This year, though, I refuse to let go of my current quilting binge.

    If that means I've got to get up really really early and use my iron while it's still cool outside and I can have the windows open...well, that's what was doing at dawn this morning.

    My first plan was to finish piecing the buzz saw blocks, but I don't need the iron for those so I set them aside for later and finished piecing a bunch of string blocks for a baby quilt. Those went together quickly enough that I was also able to press the Layered Squares top and would be pin basting it this afternoon if I hadn't decided that it needs a border so the binding doesn't hit up against the edges of the squares.

    This afternoon while I'm ironless, I'll finish the buzz saw blocks, or start quilting the cat bed, or trim the strippy blocks and see about putting them together into a top.

    My list of twenty-six WIPs has shrunk to twenty-one. And I'm making a list of new projects to start soon. This morning, I found two more at Mel's Own Place. I'm absolutely definitely going to do Bread and Butter and All Abuzz. I'm printing a stack of patterns as I type this.

    Including an absolutely fantastic rooster quilt. The pattern (which for some reason doesn't have a picture) is here. I need that quilt on my kitchen wall!

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    After three days of what felt like endless meandering, my rail fence (which has been waiting its turn since November) is quilted and the binding is machine stitched into place and it really shouldn't take all that long to get it hand stitched down into place.

    This is the most densely quilted of my quilts. The purple thrift store sheet I used for my backing isn't terribly photogenic, but can you see all of that wonderful texture? It's making me a bit giddy.

    In an unusual example of using what I've got, I used thread that came in a gift pack with my sewing machine. It's a funky shade of purple that actually blended nicely with the color of the sheet. Until I ran out and had to switch over to charcoal, but the quilt is so busy that I dare anyone to find it without serious searching. And it's a utility quilt -- if I can do a scrappy binding, why not use my thread the same way?

    I probably would've had enough purple if I hadn't made the quilting so dense.

    What really surprised me was the amount of lint left by the obscenely overpriced thread that came from the Janome dealer. It actually gummed up the machine's needle threader.

    Makes me feel much more confident about the thread I usually use -- Essential from Connecting Threads. I've always been happy with it, but I keep hearing stories about how linty it is. There's lint when I clean my machine after a lot of sewing, but nowhere near as much as the "good" thread left.

    I thought I was tired of meandering and reading to switch back to piecing for awhile, but now I'm not so sure -- this has been fun!


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