Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm so proud of myself! I not only cut my way through ten yards of scraps yesterday, a goal which I thought would take a couple of days, I got the rest of the dark florals cut out for the cat quilt!

This has been a loooong process. I started out hoping that I'd be able to find enough fabrics I liked to make sixteen blocks, then I found enough for twenty, then a few more and a few more... and I finally wound up deciding that forty-two was the absolute limit and trying to decide which of my pretty dark florals I'd have to leave out. And trying to remember which ones I'd already made cats from. I think I've been at it for a year or so.

Now the decisions are made and all I have to do is cut the rest of the muslin (easy) sew the next twenty blocks (boring) and decide on a border. Because I don't like the one that goes with the pattern.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today, I'm cutting up fabric....some for a snowball quilt I'm dying to start...some for Fun With Bricks...some for a scrappy pineapple I'm trying to work up the nerve to try...and some just because it's there.

I've worked my way through one scrap bag so far this afternoon and plan on starting another one as soon as I'm done on the computer. I'm taking it one piece of fabric at a time, cutting a few strips (today I'm doing 1 1/2", 2", and 2 1/2") and deciding what to do with the rest if I don't chop up the whole piece.

Nice fabric is getting folded to go on the bookshelves in the sewing room. Some is going into piles for specific quilts I've got planned.

The awful stuff -- and there is some truly hideous fabric in this assortment -- goes back into the bag for now because I only need so many strips of the red casino print at one time. And some did go into the trash.

My goal for now is to get at least ten yards cut up according to Bonnie's Scrap Users System. It's the perfect job for me while I'm stressed and can't seem to work on my quilts without damaging them. One piece at a time, it's do-able, but if I look at the whole bag I get overwhelmed.

Just gotta keep reminding myself, I don't have to do all of it today, or tomorrow, or ever. I'm just playing.

I also finished the knit portion of the Tricornu pincushion. Would you believe this is the ONLY thing I've knit so far this year? That scares me a bit. I'd finish it if I could figure out the directions for the sewn part.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I found a moth in a skein of sock yarn, which pretty much describes how things have been going. I don't have the heart to rewind the skein and see how bad the damage is. Or if they got into the rest of the yarn in that bag. And this was new yarn, from a reliable source, pretty colors that are now discontinued. I did not need to find that today. (Edited to add -- I'm sure the moth got into the yarn after it was in my custody.)

On the bright side, that eBay seller I've been going back and forth with for the past month finally refunded our money for the lost schoolbooks, but not after several sob stories and attempted guilt trips. I feel bad for her, but she's the one who didn't purchase the insurance I paid for, and who didn't package things properly, and who can't remember if she put an invoice in the box with either of our addresses. sigh Now I'm back to square one, trying to find another set of books.

I don't think I've mentioned that we got DSL last week. It's the slowest speed they offer, but compared to the dial up we've been using for the past three years, it's more than fast enough to thrill me. I can download patterns and get all of the pictures! I can see the past two issues of Knitty, and wander aimlessly around's great!

And now that I can look at the pretty pictures, one of my favorite new discoveries is It's a great place to find interesting rabbit trails to follow.

The Spring 2009 issue of Knotions is up and there's a new feature called Fabric Row. The three projects, two bags and a pin cushion, combine knitting and sewing. I'm just deluded enough to think I might cast on for Tricornu if things settle down a bit later this afternoon.

I haven't done any more blanket stitch on the blackbirds. (Is it blanket stitch or buttonhole stitch? One word or two? I used to know this, but I'm apparently not getting enough sleep.)

I haven't assembled the top of that quilt for my friend quilt because I'm not doing my best quilting lately and I don't want to hurt it.

I did get the second step of One Thrifty Quilt done.

My accuracy isn't great, but I love the textures and colors and I'm going to make this thing work come hell or high water!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I got the birds fused onto the quilt. Have I mentioned how HUGE this thing is?

Now I get to blanket stitch around them, which is a lot harder than it seems like it should be. I've got the whole quilt to manipulate in my lap and I'm using black floss on black fabric, so I can't really see what I'm doing. But the birds are placed exactly the way I want to, which was my priority.

A bird a day and it'll be done soon.

Next on the to-do list -- finish the nine-patch blocks for One Thrifty Quilt. And assemble the quilt for my friend.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm in a lousy mood. I've been sitting here with two tops ready to assemble, not to mention a bunch of other things I could be working on. Lots of time to quilt, but absolutely no energy and enthusiasm.

I did finally make myself cut up the shirts for One Thrifty Quilt on Thursday night -- and made a stupid mistake that I'll have to compensate for later. And yesterday I was so upset about something I couldn't sit still so, even though I didn't feel like it, I assembled the blocks for my Birds in the Air quilt...and ripped a bunch apart and assembled them again...and sewed a section in backwards....and then upside down....

At least it's together and I've finally got all of the blocks facing the right direction. Now I've got to work up the enthusiasm to get it all ironed and fuse the birdies on so I can start buttonhole stitching around them.

And the second step for One Thrifty Quilt is up. I love that she gave us things to work on if we finished early and wanted something else to work on! And now I know that I'll be able to use the back of my favorite light shirt to make up for my missing 6 1/2 squares. I'd rather have that plaid on the front of the quilt.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Despite my best efforts to waste the day online yesterday, that laundry room looks pretty good. I could still put the cans on the shelves into some sort of order and bring in the shop vac to get what the broom wouldn't reach in the cracks, but it's clean enough. And during my many attempts to avoid it, I found new projects to play with!

Check out Seven Shirts + Seven Steps = One Thrifty Quilt! This on really captured my imagination -- a whole quilt, including the backing, out of seven shirts.

I sorted through the shirts I bought a couple of weeks back and found two lights and a dark that I didn't already have plans for. I was hoping (but not really expecting) to find the other four shirts for not more than two bucks a piece. So we hit the thrift stores earlier this afternoon.

I found colors I would've loved even if they hadn't been 75% off and came in far below my "extravagant" budget.

The new shirts are in the washer now and I'm hoping to have them cut up before the next step comes out.

I also found the solution to my current scrap quilt problem -- I've got an awful lot of extremely weird prints that don't want to sort nicely into lights and darks. My first scrap quilt used random bits of this and that, with muslin for the light parts. It saved me a lot of stress and decision making.

I've been trying to find another pattern that will work the same way. I know they're out there. I've got quite a few sitting in my to-do pile, but not the "I'll know it when I see it" pattern that I was hoping to find.

I found it. It's Fun With Bricks over at Quiltville. I can cut ugly 2" strips until I've got too many and use what's left over for that Weed Whacker I'm planning to make one of these days.

But first I've got a couple of tops to assemble!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I am a happy quilter. Yesterday I dragged all of the kids up to the President's Day sale at Joann's, hoping to come home with some packaged batting and a nice backing for my friend's quilt.

I've decided to experiment with polyester. I love the Warm and Natural batting, but maybe not all of my quilts need to be finished with my favorite stuff. Maybe I can skimp on some of the little experiments that the kids are going to drag around and make forts out of. Especially when it's on sale for 50% off with a 10% off purchase coupon. I bought four different brands to play with. Now I just need the quiet time to try some actual quilting.

There was also a half off sale on clearance fabrics and I must've hit the store just at the right time because they had a lot of nice cotton that worked out to $1.35 a yard. One print is perfect for that disappearing nine-patch I've been playing with -- and was actually cheaper than the solid cotton I'd planned to settle on. I'm not sure how many backings I wound up with, or which quilts they'll eventually go on, but I've got a lot more backing choices now.

If the four-year-old had been more cooperative, I might've realized what a good deal I was getting on the backing for my friend's quilt and bought enough of the same print for my own. Considering the mood he was in though, I did pretty good. I even remembered the black embroidery floss!

Today's job is to decide on a layout for my friend's quilt. The pattern is Scrappy Mountain Majesties and I've laid it out two different ways.

Stacked Lanterns:

Mirror Image Mountains:

There's also a "jagged diamonds" layout that I managed to miss because I could never get that picture to show up in my browser. I found it while I was looking for names to put with the pictures and if it looks anything like I imagine, I think I might like it best!

My Irish Chain is growing fast enough that I'm resisting the temptation to make more than eighty-one blocks. I keep finding shades of dark brown that I missed when I was sorting fabrics and then reminding myself that I can make something else with lots of browns. I've even got patterns in mind.

And this one is supposed to be a lap quilt -- I'm going to use some self control and not make it huge!

Today, I should be cleaning out the pantry so we can schedule the furnace repair guy. It's very hard to stay motivated. We have heat, the furnace just isn't working quite as well as it should. As soon as I clear the floor, someone will dump in a load of laundry, or a bag of junk, or six pairs of mis-matched shoes. And since it's likely that someone will be my husband, I can't win.

Besides, I've got quilt blocks calling to be assembled. If I get the Birds in the Air blocks together and the birds ironed on, I'll have blanket stitch to do when we watch TV tonight.

I pieced ninety-nine blocks so I'd have something to applique the birds onto. I'm not sure I needed the quilt to be this big, but I wasn't about to leave a single one of the birds off.

Isn't the tone-on-tone black print I found great?

Back to the pantry... Did I mention that it's dark and depressing in there? I think I'm going to set the timer for an hour and then sew some blocks together as a reward.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Jerry's must have an impressive selection of telephone wiring -- by the time Bill got home from his expedition, I'd managed to finish all sixty-four of the quilt blocks! The kids are spread out all over the floor in the front room, so I haven't had a chance to lay them out yet, but I'll post pictures when I can get some. This time, I'm going to remember to try the different variations.

I was looking for pictures of the Lady Jane Mystery Shawl on Ravelry and my search turned up this. Sorry it's a link to a PDF file, but I can't find any pictures that aren't on Ravelry. It's an amazingly detailed pineapple bag. I want one.
I need to make a quilt for a friend who's been having a rough time. Actually, far worse than a "rough time," but that description will do here. I need to make the quilt quickly and was thinking through my tops, trying to decide if that blue bargello was good enough, with another friend telling me that it was a great quilt and to go ahead and use it, and me reminding myself how disappointed I was with those fabric choices...

And then I saw the quilt I needed to make. I've been calling it a vision, but that doesn't sound right when I type it here. It wasn't a great spiritual revelation, just a crystal clear image of the fabrics and pattern I want to use. Not fabrics I actually owned at the time, but the fabric I wanted to go out and buy.

Joann's had the right fabrics.

Joann's NEVER has the right fabrics. I always go in there looking for some cheerful tiny prints, or something similarly vague and come out empty handed. But this time, even though I had something very specific in mind, they had it. It's never that easy.

I hoped to get the top cut and pieced in four days. While Bill took a nap this morning, I got the whole thing cut out and a bunch of piecing done. I think by the time he gets back from pricing telephone wire I might have half of the blocks.

There's not a doubt in my mind that this quilt isn't meant to be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

With the Glittering Gems top done and the Birds in the Air top ready to assemble, I had to step back and see what else I was working on before those two projects, and Mountain Majesties before them, took over my quilting life. I know there's the cat quilt (of course!) and the spool quilt, but beyond that, my memory gets a bit hazy. Don't ask what's on my knitting needles -- I'm not even sure where those are.

A few months back, I bought about eight of those plastic 12x12 boxes that are made for organizing scrapbook paper. They have got to be my best quilting notion/gadget/thingie ever! Assuming that I actually use them, I can put in the blocks and the parts of blocks and the pattern, snap them shut, and stack them up in the sewing room where they'll be sitting there safe and sound when I get back from whatever crazy detour dragged me away. I love my plastic boxes! If they ever go on sale that cheap again, I think I want a dozen more.

I was going to unstack the boxes last night and see what was in them, but I got pulled away by a cardboard box full of dark brown scraps that's been perched on top of my treadle machine for I-don't-know-how-long. Inspired by that Leaders and Enders page on Quiltville, I'd pulled the fabric and bought tea-dyed muslin to go with it and done the math, and then life got in the way and I never made it any farther.

So I did some cutting. And some sewing. And now I've got a pretty decent start on a scrappy Double Irish Chain --

It was so much fun I wanted to play with those blocks all night, but my body gave out on me at about 11:30. Stupid sleep deprivation -- won't let me quilt, but even though I'm too tired to stay upright, I toss and turn until 3am. I'll be so glad when we're all healthy and stop waking each other up. It has to happen sooner or later.

It's funny -- just about everything that was wrong earlier this week is still wrong, but I'm getting used to it all. The post office delivered the mailing label from our missing schoolbooks today. Just the label and a bunch of forms for me to fill out so they can try to find whatever it was attached to. It seems like the tracking number is still attached to the package, so hopefully that's intact and they can get us our books!

They also delivered some goodies --

That's twenty-two spools of thread from Connecting Threads, lots of neutrals and some colors for applique and quilting. I've been meaning to order more neutrals for a while now, since I'm going through it so fast and then I realized that I need red for Leif's chicken quilt. That's the first time I actually did the math and compared this stuff to the quilting thread at Joann's, even on sale. Wow, it's a huger difference than I ever realized!

So I ordered the bunch of neutrals I'd planned on, and the red, and some colors I think I'll need for upcoming quilts.

The book is Knitted Lace of Estonia. I haven't had a chance to do more than look at the pictures, but WOW!

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Stashbuster group is doing a Not So Ugly Sunshine Sampler. The first step was to come up with two yards of ugly fabric. I've got that!

Mom gave me the purple stuff and it's been sitting on the comfy chair in my sewing room for ages. Every time I went up there looking for something else, I'd see it and wonder what on earth I was ever going to use it for. So it's the first fabric I thought of when I read about this project, and there's almost exactly two yards.

I also needed yellow. Not sure if that had to be ugly or not, but I'm not using my good yellow for this project, and this stuff was lying near the ugly purple fabric. It's not ugly ugly, but I'm fairly sure it isn't cotton. That's got to count against it.

We have a choice of two blocks -- Old Maid's Puzzle or All Hallows. Of course I chose the one with more little pieces!

It was like putting together a puzzle and a lot of fun, even if I did wind up putting mine together a little bit wrong. I can always rip it out and fix it later. Or not.

I don't think it looks too bad the way it is. My only complaint is that I think I have to wait a whole month for the next block in the sampler.

That was the fun part of my day. I've also spent literally hours in an online chat trying to fix the problems with dh's tax software. I need the state portion. Clicking the button to download it doesn't work. I'm fairly sure that doing the same thing over and over and over isn't going to make it work, but the person I was talking to didn't agree with me. She finally told me to wait an hour and try the same thing again. Didn't work, so I'm getting ready to try again, hopefully with someone else.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Assembling the blocks into an actual quilt top is one of my least favorite parts of the process. I don't have a design wall or enough "safe" floor space to lay out the blocks and carefully consider their placement. When I get a couple of free hours where the kid are asleep or outside, I've got to work fast and do the whole thing start to finish. Not a lot of fun with something like that layered squares quilt or the 225 block rail fence (at least that one was totally worth the effort!)

Glittering Gems is only 42 blocks, and I made things easier by sewing all of the blocks into pairs yesterday. Laying out 21 blocks takes a lot less time, and so does shifting them around to make things look right.

I got the top together and added the pieced border -- doesn't it line up wonderfully! Now the only thing left to do before I can use the long arm in April is to figure out how to miter the border corners.

Tomorrow, if life cooperates, I get to assemble 99 blocks for Birds in the Air.

Friday, February 06, 2009

With all that's going on right now, it was either work on quilts today or go absolutely nuts.

Something took a big chunk out of our favorite barn cat...I got an early-morning call that a family member was headed for the emergency room by ambulance...our home school curriculum is sitting in the dead letter office in Minnesota, and even though I've got the tracking number, they can't send it to me unless I send a letter, and no one can tell me how long it will take them to respond or if they even will...the babies are coming down with whatever I've got...

The ER visit was serious, but it looks like things are going to be okay. Kitty is all stitched up and has already been back to the vet again because her toes were swelling -- and will probably be going back tomorrow. I'm trying not to think about the books, and I've done the best I can with the rest of it.

And I've quilted. I sewed together the few blocks for the Sparkling Gems quilt and cut fabric for the pieced border. And pieced the border strips.

I think it looks much better with the border --

than without it --

I'm going to leave off the solid border that the pattern calls for because this quilt is huge enough as it is. But after months of our love/hate relationship, I definitely wound up loving it.

That border fabric, which ties the quilt together much better than my first choice would have, was a shirt I found in the Goodwill bins last week! I started cutting pieces from the sleeves and yoke and still have the entire back left for other projects. How great is that?

Hopefully I'll get time soon to assemble the top and sew those pretty borders on.

I also finished the last blocks for my Birds in the air quilt, so now I've got those 99 blocks to assemble. Doesn't sound fun, but it might make for good stress relief. And the sooner I get it together, the sooner I can start appliqueing the cute little birdies!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Even though we have karate and bowling and have to stop and get my oldest son's glasses fixed for the umpteenth time, I think I'm looking forward to our trip to town tomorrow because the kids will be either doing something or strapped into their seat belts and not crawling all over me. Except for the two hours at the bowling alley, when I get to chase the littlest ones, but maybe they'll be content pretending to drive the video games shaped like race cars.

Today is my fifth day trying to fight off whatever this current bug is and, after lying in bed until four or five am coughing and then getting up bright and early to chase after Leif, I haven't had the energy to do much except sit on the couch reading World War Z - an Oral Account of the Zombie Wars and trying to convince the little guys that my shoulders aren't for sitting on. Between the book's creepy descriptions of grasping zombies and the two little bodies swarming over me all day long, there's no way I'm not going to have nightmares tonight!

But I do have a fuller appreciation of the my two older children who can understand that Mom is feeling lousy and can't talk without coughing up bits of lung. I can write them notes and gesture at them and they find the whole thing pretty entertaining.

And the best part of my day is that it's almost bedtime!

I got twenty-two more Birds in the Air blocks pieced last night, and I think I've found perfect fabric for the pieced border of Glittering Gems. The fabric I was planning to use is just too pink, so I was planning to buy something browner. Then I was tearing apart a shirt I got at the Goodwill bins last week and decided that it would be perfect. I just need to dig out the pattern and measure my fabric to make sure there's enough of it.

I keep stumbling across the Fabric Basket tutorial over at Pink Penguin. Probably the only reason I haven't tried one yet is that my dial up connection won't let me see all of the pictures at once and I'm going to need them to figure out the lining.

Crazy Mom Quilts had the idea of making them in different colors and using them to sort scraps. Isn't that brilliant?

And I think Alex would love a Fish to Sushi Plushie. For someone who doesn't actually eat the stuff, she's got a weird fascination with sushi. Now the question is whether I make it for her, or just print the pattern and give it to her?

Monday, February 02, 2009

I've got six tops waiting to be quilted (seven if you count that wall-hanging in the sewing room that probably should be quilted one of these days) and at least three more projects that will be tops soon. None of them (except the wallhanging) is more than five months old.

No wonder I'm trying to think of cheap ways to finish my quilts! It's not that I can't afford to buy decent backing and batting, but even with coupons and sales it would cost a small fortune to finish the tops I've got done now. And then the tops I'll have done six months from now.

So I'm prioritizing. I'll buy great backing and batting for the quilts I truly love. Some of these tops (like Layered Squares) may never get quilted for all I care. I spent a few evenings playing with scraps, I wasn't thrilled with the results, so why should I feel guilty for not investing more time and money?

But I could definitely use more utility quilts around the house, so I'm looking for cost-cutting ideas. So far the best I've been able to come up with are recycled sheets as backing or flannel instead of batting.

Any other ideas?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I found my next quilt! There was another scrap quilt I saw a couple of months ago that had a buzz saw look to it, but at the time I was intimidated by the construction, or didn't think I had the right colors, or I don't know --- something scared me off. And after I started Mountain Majesties and wanted to take another look at the pattern, I couldn't remember what library book I saw it in.

It's been nagging at me for a couple of weeks, not quite enough for me to start flipping through every book in the quilting section of the library with a three year old and a four year old at my side, but I did want to find that quilt pattern again.

But I don't have to go on a great huge quest! A few minutes ago I followed a link from the Stashbusters list and found Aunt Betty's Attic. I couldn't tell you how closely this resembles the quilt pattern I originally saw and I honestly don't care.

This is the quilt I want to make. I've got extra muslin left over from the flying bird blocks and I'm sure I must have some bright and cheerful fabric scraps that will work. I'm not going to stop by Craft Warehouse this week to see if they still have the wonderful vintagy fat quarters my friend just bought for her scrap quilt.

And while I'm digging out fabric for the bright and cheerful buzz saw blades, I'm going to see what I can find for Sew Much to Do.


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