Tuesday, January 17, 2017

progress on challenges!

As you may know, I'm participating in two challenges this year.  One is just mine (though guild members have joined me), the other is a blogger-driven project.  I've worked on both since my last post!

First is the self-challenge - one dolly quilt a month.  I had already started this one weeks ago and had the top finished before I went to retreat, but since I had to get my quilting stuff (and house stuff) together before I left for a long weekend, it had to wait until I returned.

The pink fabric is one that was in the bag of scraps I got at the UFO auction a few months back and it was screaming at me to be made into something.  (I pulled out all the screamers and set them on the cutting table - some of them made it into quilts that were donated for 2016, some will be with the 2017 bunch.)  I winged it with the pattern and think it turned out just fine!

It measures about 15x15".

The colors seem a little off, but I just snapped this and it's been a foggy day all day (never mind it's getting dark now) and I'm not sure the sun ever came up!  Bad for photos.

I quilted about 1/4" inside of each octagon.  After work and a few chores last night, I hiked upstairs to my sewing room and spray basted this little gem and it was screaming (this quilt sure is a screamer!) to be quilted that way.  Yes, that sounds great, says my brain.  The reality?  Lots of stopping and starting and burying threads.  But I like how it turned out, so it's all good.

And then, after another project I'll share in a minute, back downstairs to watch some Netflix and bind.  (Currently enjoying "Grace and Frankie" - my hubby calls it "the old lady show," which isn't terribly inaccurate, but enjoying it nonetheless.)

The other project?  The UFO challenge - Christmas Pickle!

Sunday, after much procrastinating, doodling and convincing myself to just quilt this darn quilt, I got up off the couch and dug in.

First up?  Piece the back.  Cut that one big piece into two equal lengths and seam along the selvedge.  That should be the right size, right?  That's usually how I buy backs...

Casually lay it out and see which way it definitely won't fit (this quilt is definitely a rectangle!) and load the back onto the longarm.  Lay the batting (relaxing since Friday, thankyouverymuch) over top and then lay the quilt on that.

Uh oh.

It's about 6 inches too short for the length.  (Thank goodness I loaded it sideways (fewer passes this way!), or I wouldn't have known until I was nearly done quilting it!

Reverse the whole process and ask the hubby to help me lay out the backing and quilt on the floor (after moving a few small pieces of furniture) to figure out exactly how much too small it was.  Thankfully, I could chop off 10" from the side and sew it to the top and it was all good.  But loading a quilt twice?  No thank you!

Ready to roll!

I had doodled for years on this (I even found some doodles I made one day at work - back when we had enough help and I sometimes had a little time to kill - that is not the case any more) and still hadn't come up with anything I really loved.  I'd searched the internet and finally settled on kind of an idea.  So I doodled more and then, with the aid of a thick black marker, realized there was a secondary pattern in there if you follow the largest of the red arcs...apple cores.  And it was done.

As you may or may not be able to determine, I was having some trouble with my doodles.  I could draw this one direction, but had a heck of a time reversing it.  Well, on paper, you can just turn your paper.  Doing that on a longarm?  MUCH more difficult!  So more doodles.

Finally, a deep breath, and off we go.  Not without a few hiccups, and I worry I didn't do the quilt justice with my quilting, but it's quilted.  And since I'm not much for ripping out a whole quilt, it's done.  Done is better than not done.

Here's a little tease.  I'm going to save the full reveal when I do the UFO challenge post when it's completely finished.

Then last night after finishing the dolly quilt machine sewing portion, I decided I would just keep sewing and put the binding on the Christmas Pickle - at least the machine half - since I already had it made and the walking foot on my machine and I was in the sewing room!

I think wrestling a finished quilt around to get the binding on is my least favorite part (followed very close behind by piecing backs!), but it's on and now just waiting for me and the kitties to settle in and do the hand-sewing portion.  It's a fairly good-sized throw quilt (I don't remember the dimensions off hand), so it will take a bit, but I've got a deadline and have decided that for the UFO challenge, binding is part of my challenge.  (Otherwise, who knows how many quilted but unbound quilts I'd have at the end of the year?!)

No sewing tonight - yet - but that's okay - it's early yet!  (And the hubby has been going to bed at 7pm lately, so I need quieter things to do after he goes to bed and this fits the bill - this and Netflix.  The kitties like it, too - extra layers of snuggly warm and mom sitting mostly still!)

I promise a full reveal soon!

Happy quilting,

Saturday, January 14, 2017

retreat recap

I have been thinking all week that I should go unpack my quilting stuff from retreat and take photos.  I didn't do it until today!

(To be fair, I was catching up at home and getting stuff done to advertise my guild's quilt show in March - must have flyers out early!)

Today I finally tackled the suitcase and was a good girl - I took one thing out at a time and put it away before taking out the next.  So my sewing room doesn't look much worse for it...perhaps it even looks better because I tidied up a few things as I went!

So let's do this in chronological order, shall we?

Thursday my ride arrived at 8:30am.  They laughed at me trying to wedge my suitcase behind the driver's seat in the car because that was the only space left.  Well, they were getting cold while I was doing it, so it wasn't all fun and games for them!  A few hours and 150 miles later we were there - reverse loading process, which went smoother getting it out than in.

My roomie didn't get to go - she was having some health issues and had a doc appointment Thursday afternoon.  I told her if she got a go-ahead to come up late.  Turns out she developed an awful cold on top of her health issues (which the doc said could be treated with meds, no worries - whew!) and decided to just stay home and save us all her germs.  So I had a room to myself.

Too bad because the elephant quilt debuted on my bed - no one to share it with!  (And I thought at least a few times I should take a photo, but did I?  Nope!)  Oh well, it will have another chance at my guild's show in a few months.

I wasted no time in getting my sewing stuff set up and digging into Project #1 - Arcadia Avenue blocks #5 and #6.  I had debated cutting more, but decided against it.  I kinda regretted that because I had both, yes both, done Friday night!

Here are blocks 1-6 - 6 on the left, 1 on the far right.

They're coming along nicely.  6 more to go.  I still don't like paper piecing, but being halfway done, I'm not going to quit.  It might take a while longer, but I'm going to finish these.  Having them at retreat was probably a good thing, though, because I forced myself to work on them.  At home I can find excuses to NOT sew them!

Friday, day two, I started on Project #2 - Brick Wall/Max & Whiskers jelly roll project.  I'd purchased some white-ish Grunge to do sashings.  I thought I had the right one (there are about 300 whites, I think), but after unrolling the jelly roll, I saw I had a slightly different one.  It wasn't too different (the little flecks of color in it were different, but the underlying color was the same), and I figured it was sashing, so it was all good.

Uh oh...project #2 completed before bedtime Friday!

Well, let me amend that.  The main part of the top is done.  The pattern calls for using the remaining parts of the jelly roll - enough for two 2.5" squares from each fabric - to be cut into squares and added as a border on the sides (top and bottom in this photo) with a grey border between them and the part you see here.

I'm not sold on that idea, so I have these bits left and I'm thinking on it.  No rush, I just should probably make a decision before I lose the extra pieces!

By this time, rumors of a new-ish quilt shop just a few miles from the retreat center were circulating and some gals had already been.  My group decided not to go with a group that ventured out earlier, but by this time not only was I getting low on projects, our driver was out.  O.U.T.  She sews fast, but holy cow!

Saturday after breakfast we headed to the new quilt shop.  My two friends both spent a lot more than I did, but the friend out of projects found something she truly wanted to make and the other friend bought a few different things, but left them in the car to avoid temptation - she was assembling the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt that just finished.  She was determined, but got all of the main blocks and sashings assembled - no small feat!

I didn't need anything (though I was a little concerned that my last project wouldn't last me two days), but found the pattern and ruler for the curvy log cabin.  While I know there are instructions for this online that don't require the ruler, this will (I hope!) make it easier for me.  I really do like what I've seen done with this ruler and the project is on my Pinterest/bucket list, so I bought it.

And I bought a few more pins.  Yes, those really do say $4.  I've not seen them that cheap anywhere and I've sewn over enough that I'm getting low on straight pins!

This quilt shop was really nice and had a lot of bright, modern fabrics and I really liked it.  If I'm up that way again, it will definitely be a stop!

Saturday mid-morning I started Project #3 - Candy Bracelets.  I thought I'd pressed all my fabrics.  I hadn't.  So iron something like 5 yards of white and carefully fold it.  Easier said than done, but much easier when it's not extra-wide (and I'm glad to hear some others of you have made this same mistake - I feel a lot better now, even if my fabric is still sketchily folded).  Iron each of my 27 fat quarters before cutting, too.  That made things take a lot longer, but I didn't mind other than the white.  I got to enjoy the fabrics a little extra this way.

But it turns out the pattern calls for 28 fabrics.  It's written with a layer cake in mind and I had fat quarters.  No big deal, I can cut pieces, but I had only 27 different fabrics.  And only one pink.  So I could either make double from the one pink or sew and sew and sew and get another pink when I got home.  I decided to wait.

I didn't get the blocks done Saturday.

I didn't get the blocks done Sunday before we had to leave either.  But I did get them mostly done.

From each fabric, you make two blocks.  Here they are with the strips sewn to the sides to make them square and not ironed.  This is where I left off Sunday before we packed it all up to come home (and the struggle with the suitcase was repeated...).  Turns out having that extra pink wasn't necessary...I didn't get anywhere near the top assembly step!

I stopped at my local quilt shop today and bought this one:

I think this one will do nicely - I put it next to the other pink and it's very similar in color and print, but different enough that I'm happy.  Her selection of pinks wasn't as diverse as I expected, but I found what I needed, so it doesn't matter.  If she'd had more, I'd probably have had trouble choosing which one, so it's all good.

But now I'm at a point where a decision has to be made.  These blocks get the corners lopped off again with the lost corner technique and when assembled, you end up with a square, on point, in the corners where blocks meet.  (see previous post for a photo - it's consistently light green in the original)

I thought about using grey and have a grey polka dot fabric.  What do you think?  Too modern for the 30's prints?  Too grey?  Too busy?  Perfect?

I don't want to hate it and have to unsew and redo it...so I'm still thinking...suggestions welcome!

So that was my weekend.  Plus good food, good company and NOT being at work!

I think I've almost caught up from being gone (somehow I didn't want to come home and wash dishes and do laundry and grocery shop and clean the bathroom all at once, so I took my time - plus the quilt guild stuff took a bit of time) and now that I'm unpacked, I can go take a nap...no, wait, Netflix...no, no, no...sew!

(we'll see...)

Or maybe contemplate quilting my Christmas Pickle quilt some more?  (I keep hoping one of these mornings in the shower - where this always seems to happen - I'll just KNOW what it needs...)

Happy quilting,

Monday, January 2, 2017

the last finish of 2016 and the last plan for 2017

At 9:30pm December 31st, the elephant quilt binding was finished.  I finished my #0 UFO before December ended!

The colors are a little off here, but it's hard to get a good photo of a quilt this large no matter where I put it - trees everywhere make shade and a cloudy day means no shadow, but even worse colors...  Ah well, I like my trees and the shade they provide in the summer just fine, so we'll do with shadowy photos.

"Elephant Walk"
by Peggy and Laura


made with a kit purchased at an AQS show in 2105

started January 2016
finished December 31, 2016

I'm so glad it's done.  I'm not sure I can exactly say I enjoyed making the quilt, but I love the end product.  The pattern instructions were fairly lacking (a diagram of the elephant block with sizes of pieces noted inside each piece), but for an experienced quilter, it wasn't too much trouble.  I'd say the worst was having to make a list of all the pieces and what colors to cut just to be sure I had them all.  Having to get fabrics out to cut more pieces is even more frustrating than having to get them back out because you mis-cut something.  And then the tails...paper piecing...yuck!

I love the quilt, but with four cats and that much white, I'm a little concerned about using it anywhere.  I guess this might be a couch quilt, but one that doesn't get flopped wherever when I get up to go to bed at night?!

And this is truly my last finish of 2016.  I couldn't have squeaked much more in there!

My last plan for 2017 actually started in December of 2016...

My guild donates dolly quilts to a local charity that pairs them with dolls and gives them to needy children in the area at Christmas.  I think I've talked about this before, but it's pretty cool.  The local fire department is involved and they drive Santa around in a fire truck, bells and sirens blaring, on Christmas Eve to make sure these kids get their gifts in time.  I'm an hour away, celebrating the holiday with my family, so I've never actually seen this happen, but my understanding is that to a newcomer, it seems as if the whole town is on fire!!!

So last year I made and donated about 9 quilts.  Some I've shared (in varying states of finished-ness), probably some I haven't.  The gal who collected them did take photos of all we donated:

I think she said we had 48 total.  Our goal was 40, but she panicked around the last month and made about 15 herself.  Not fair to her at all.

I decided in early December that I was going to challenge myself to make one doll quilt a month for this project.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember how I did this for a year or two with a different group where I actually purchased the doll, too.  This time I don't have to purchase the doll, but I'm confident if I could do 12 doll quilts in a year before, I can do it again.

I shared my personal challenge on my guild's facebook group and asked if anyone wanted to join me.  They make their own rules for what they want to make, but my real goal was to get and keep folks thinking about this all year, not to panic in October or November.  I had about 5 members jump in and most of them I think will actually follow through, so I'm excited!

I got going really early on my December doll quilt, but stalled out at actually sewing down the binding.  I don't know why - it took about an hour total - but I did.  But I also finished it before the end of the year.  One down, 11 to go!

It measures about 16"x16" and is a raw-edge circle technique that you cut it into quarters and sew those back together.  I thought this would be simple to get matchy fabrics not touching...not so much!  But I did it.  I just quilted in the ditch with my little machine to make it easy.

Most of the fabrics (all except the lighter brown) came from the bag I got at our UFO auction a few months back.  I still have a few fabrics pulled from that bag that I really want to use, then it will be more of a challenge, but my plan is to use those as a starting point and pull from my stash to finish.

I've already gotten the January top done (no photo yet) and binding made, but with retreat looming and having to go back to work tomorrow, the quilting of that isn't likely to get done any time soon.

It's been a busy quilty weekend here, too, besides the elephant quilt and January doll quilt.  I also cut pieces in preparation for retreat - I cut pieces for blocks #5 and #6 for Arcadia Avenue!

I'm tempted to keep cutting for more blocks, but don't want to get too far ahead of myself either.


I knew I was getting low on white.  I don't know how much I bought, but this quilt EATS fabric.  It's paper pieced, so it starts there.  And then you cut pieces ahead, which is fantastic and makes it super easy, but they're often rectangles, which I cut from strips, so fabric goes fast.  (Block #6 ate about 1/3 yard of fabric for the color alone!)

So I went back to JoAnn Fabrics, where I bought the first chunk of white.  I even saved my receipt so I'd know what brand I bought.  At the time they were carrying a Made in the USA brand.  Guess what?  They don't have it any more.  At least not at the store I went to - where I bought it in the first place.  So I looked around for something similar in color and weight.  Kona was too heavy.  Muslin was the wrong color.  But I found one bolt of white that matched and seemed the right weight, so I went and bought 5 yards of it.  I brought it home and threw it in the washing machine, scratching my head a little at how much space that 5 yards seemed to take up in the washer.  And the dryer.  And then I pulled it out to fold it sloppily until I ironed it.

I bought extra wide fabric.

I'm not sure exactly how wide it is, but I'd say I actually have about 10 yards of white fabric now.

Guess I won't run out.

But this brings me to the next reason I don't want to cut more blocks.  I attempted, with the help of my hubby, to fold that monstrosity of fabric.  Nicely so I could cut it easily.  Easier said than done!  I may decide, when I get to that point, to lop off a smaller chunk and fold it properly, but these blocks do take quite a bit of time to construct and I have a few other projects for retreat, so it might not become an issue for a while yet.

As for preparing for retreat, I stopped by one of my local quilt shops today and picked up some white fabric to sash my Max & Whiskers quilt I shared in a previous post.  The pattern says 1 1/8 yards, so I said let's go with 1 1/2 yards just to be safe.  (This pattern seems a little sketchy from my first reading, and though I'm confident I can figure it out - it's not that complex - I don't want to run out in the middle of retreat either!)  The owner questioned if that was ALL the sashings and I decided to just round up to 2 yards to be safe.  It's off-white Grunge, so it will be useful somewhere else if I don't need it for this project.

So Project #2 for retreat is ready to go.

I'm still contemplating the 30's bundle as retreat project #3.  I found another pattern today in a book (I found a stash of books that hadn't been put away, so why not leaf through those instead of washing dishes?!) that I rather like.  It would require more fabric to be purchased, but I'm on a roll there, so why not?

So if you're still reading, I'm open to suggestions.

"Candy Bracelets" on the left (or top), "O Happy Day" on the right (or bottom - depending on what Blogger decides to do with these images).

And last on my list of things to share is that Judy picked #3 from the UFO list.  That's my "Christmas Pickle" quilt.  The one quilt I SHOULD be quilting.  The one quilt that I'm TERRIFIED to quilt.  I was really hoping she'd choose that one in December, but I suppose if I can get this one out of the way, the rest of the year will be easier.

With that, I'm headed to relax a little and then head to bed.  I have a 2-day week ahead with leaving for retreat on Thursday, but I'm sure that won't make the amount of work I have to do in those two days any less - probably more!

Happy quilting,

Saturday, December 31, 2016

one of the other lists

I mentioned in my last post (that was only 5 days ago!!!) other lists and whatnot.  I'm getting excited about starting new projects, finishing old ones and generally quilting again.  I sure hope this lasts!

After I made the list of all the quilt tops hiding in the Closet of Shame, I made a list of precuts and fabrics I've bought or been given and would like to use.  I love the idea of precuts, but have made a resolution for 2017 and beyond: Purchase of Precuts without a Plan is Prohibited.  (yay alliteration!)  This doesn't help any with the folks who like to buy them for me, but it should help me some.

I took photos of the fabrics (some are blurry...so it seems with a purchase of a new "smart" phone that takes better photos, my real camera decided to be angry?) to share and further my public shaming.  But have no fear, I have plans for one for sure and second that I'm thinking on already!

In order of my written list, in order I found them in the closet:

#1 a new bundle from my mom, received for Christmas this year

I have no idea the name of these fabrics, but they're super soft and super cute.  I have to find an awesome pattern for this, but that's what Pinterest is for, right?

#2 a "smoothie" of brown and turquoise fabrics

I think my sis-in-law gave me this, but maybe it was my mom?  It's a few years old and I think I remember those fabrics being fat quarters.  Another set that I love, but I'm working on ideas.

#3 Max and Whiskers jelly roll

...meh...blurry...  This one I have a plan for.  I even tried to go to my local quilt shop today (one or the other of them!) to purchase fabric, but they're BOTH closed.

I'm headed to a quilt retreat next weekend and with a short list of UFOs to take, I decided this would be a good place to start on my list of precuts.  I found a photo on Pinterest and with some diligent searching this morning, I found the pattern in the August/September 2012 issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine.  I was able to purchase and download the magazine (I probably could have asked friends if they had a copy, but I wanted it NOW!), so I'm set there.  It's called Brick Wall an is fairly simple, but that's okay.  I wanted something that would use larger pieces so I could appreciate the cuteness.

I think some off-white grunge (or maybe turquoise?) will be great for the white in the pattern and I know both LQSs have it, I just have to wait until they're open next week.  And this time I'm going to remember to buy the binding fabric, too.  (more on that in a minute...)

#4 modern bundle

Again, not sure what this one is called, but it's another super-soft bundle of beauty.  My sister-in-law for sure purchased this one for me, as we were at a quilt show together and she saw me fondling and drooling on it.  She snuck back later and bought it for me!  Another that I want a very special pattern to show it off, so it's waiting.

#5 weekend bundle

I purchased this back in 2013 (I think) and didn't know what to do with it, but loved it.  I was going to make Swoon out of it, but chickened out.  I'm still not sure what to do with it, but it's a good-sized bundle of fat quarters and currently all washed, pressed, folded and ready to go.  I'm going to find something.  I just know it.

#6 30's bundle silent auction win

Aside from the Christmas bundle, this is my most recent addition.  I won this bundle of fat quarters at a fund raiser silent auction this fall.  I have one quilt in mind that I like: O Happy Day.  The original isn't done in 30's prints, but I can see it.  And it reminds me of the Granny Square quilt pattern, which I have seen successfully done in 30's, but it's a little more appealing to me.  But I'm still not 100% on this one, so hesitating about a pattern purchase.  But this one is on the list to be worked on at the retreat if I get it figured out.  (What did we do before we could digitally download patterns?  I mean, who has time to WAIT for them to come in the mail any more?!)  I do have a chunk of white fabric purchased to work with this, so when I make my decision, I should be good to go.

#7 hot pink and grey fabrics purchased on impulse

The top three were purchased on impulse at a local-ish quilt store quite a few years back.  The bottom, honeycomb fabric purchased later on clearance, but it's perfect!  The top three are fat quarters (maybe more of the black?) and the bottom is yardage, but I'm not sure how much.  I love them and want to do something super cool, so they sit and wait.

#8 purple and tan bundle that I don't remember buying

...blurry again...  I honestly don't really remember purchasing these.  I'm not sure I'm in love with the tan any more, but you can't go wrong with purple and I love fabric with words on it, so I'm not ready to part with them.  They're fat quarters.  I think more purple will make this work, but until I went searching through my precut stash, had honestly completely forgotten about these.  I think they're going to require more planning than anything above, but you never know...

So you may have found the theme here...I purchase precuts because they're pretty and then have NO IDEA what to do with them.  I know Moda has their Bake Shop and there are a lot of books and patterns written specifically for this, but more often than not, I'm not attracted to quilts that use such a wide variety of fabrics (I'm a 2-4 print kind of gal, usually), so it's not as easy as it sounds.  But I recognize my problem, have created a resolution to address my problem and now am just left with cleaning up my mess of having a problem!  (Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?!)

The one down side to using these?  The Closet of Shame will fill up again...after, of course, I quilt those 13 quilts on my UFO list!

Speaking of my UFO list.  I put a #0 on there because I wanted my elephant quilt quilted soon.  I plan to take it to retreat with me (we leave Thursday) to use on my bed there.  It's official debut!  So it needs to be done.

On Tuesday, I pieced the backing.  (Whew - I hate that job!)

Wednesday, I told myself all day at work "NO PROCRASTINATING!!!" - I was going to quilt that sucker that night.  Or at least get it started.  I knew I wanted all-over swirls.  I knew the back was ready to go.  I knew the batting was relaxed.  I knew the top was pressed (but not getting any less so folded up, waiting).  I knew I was going to use off-white or light grey thread - I had both.  There was NO reason not to start.

So I did.

(see, my new phone takes great photos - no editing here at all! - not blurry, and even decent for being taken after dark)

It was at this point I realized that three longarm bobbins wasn't going to cut it (I had just put in the third and wasn't yet halfway done).  Those swirls eat up a lot more thread than I thought.  But it's okay.  I had enough thread, I just had to wind a few more bobbins.  Minor setback.

I got it all done Wednesday night!  This is after trimming and spread out on my longarm.  Sorry it's upside down, but the lighting was better from this end.

It was at this point I remembered I had no binding fabric.  It didn't come with the kit and I had forgotten in my excitement at the LQS a few days earlier that I needed something.  You know, when I had the top with me for color selection?

So I stopped back in Thursday after work (I actually got out after only an 8 hour shift and was able to make it while the shop was still open!!!) and winged it.  I did have photos on my phone and had originally planned turquoise to match the darker color in the border, but couldn't find one I really loved that I felt matched and wasn't too busy.  So on to greens.

I'd say I nailed it!

Thursday evening I made the binding and sewed the first half on by machine and then started on the hand-sewing.  Until the tip of my thumb split open.  (I didn't think it was THAT bad yet!)  Not only painful, but dangerous with the potential for bleeding.  So after just about one side was sewn down, I set it aside and bandaged up my thumb with antibiotic ointment for the night.  And Friday night.  I think it's doing okay now, so perhaps when I'm done rambling, I can work some more today?  (Emma and Luka vote YESYESYES!!!)

In all, I may not have this done by the end of December, but it WILL be done to take to retreat on Thursday, and that was ultimately my goal.

Tomorrow Judy picks the first UFO number...I can't wait!
(The longarm behaved nicely with the elephants and my biggest hurdle is just remembering that I CAN do this - it's not THAT hard!)

I still have other personal challenges and projects to share, but this has gotten rather long, so I'll post those another day...

Happy quilting,