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.
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