Saturday, February 24, 2018

ufo "done" and progress

So I last left you with a photo of the layout for the UFO for the month.

Guess what?

It's a top!

It's kind of a grey day out there today, but it's not snowing.  It's not raining.  And we're not underwater like so much of the surrounding area, due to melting snow and rain.  Happens every spring, but this year it's worse than average.  (I'm so thankful to the farmer who built my house over 100 years ago who chose higher ground!)

So anyways, I got an outside photo!  It's not even THAT cold out today, but that's probably just because my body has adjusted to winter.  Finally.  You know, like 3 months too late.

It's sideways, but my clothesline is only so tall.  And really, would you want it to be tall enough for a quilt, but then you couldn't reach it?  Nah.

This went together better than I expected.  I had picked up everything carefully enough from the design floor that, with a few references to the pattern diagram, was able to get it all together easily.  Even all the directional fabrics are going the same direction.  At least I think they are...

I have an idea how to quilt this, but I'm going to hold off for now.  I don't have a back yet, though that's not really an issue.  (I mean, a trip to the quilt shop?  Not exactly world-ending!)  What I'm really waiting for is a month when the Rainbow Scrap Challenge calls a color I'm not going to be doing.  That month I hope to play catch-up with the quilts waiting for their turn on the longarm.  (Hey, if I'm spending the better part of 2 weekends a month on those silly blocks, I can probably spend at least two days on the longarm, right?  So maybe 2 quilts quilted?)

But I'm also going to plug away at Philip's quilt.  This one has a deadline.

This week I took myself up to the sewing room most evenings and tried to make at least a few blocks.  An hour could produce 7-10 blocks, depending on how distracted I got with other stuff.  But once I got going, they did go fast, even if mass-production wasn't possible.

My efforts were not in vain - this morning I completed the last 5 of 56 total blocks for the quilt!  The bin of parts is empty!

Downstairs with the stack of blocks for a layout...

This is how we do things at my house.  If it wasn't Gabby/Spazarella, it would be one of the other cats.  Some of them, in their life experiences, have learned to be more sneaky.  Gabby fears nothing.  Well, okay, she's afraid of humans when she doesn't want something from them, but she WAS feral when we brought her home in early September.  Now she's just crazy.  And cute.  Don't forget cute.  (In case you hadn't noticed it in the photo, right?)

With a little perseverance, a little shuffling and rotating, I have a layout!

One must work quickly at this point.  There is a constant danger of "helping."  So all the rows are labelled, picked up carefully, and have been returned to the sewing room.  But really, this is so scrappy, it wasn't too hard to get stuff arranged.  Mostly just making sure same/similar fabrics weren't touching and the yellow/golds weren't all in one place.

Now comes the chore of sashings, cornerstones and long seams.  I also don't have a border fabric.  I think I planned originally to see how it came together and decide on a border fabric then.  So I guess I'll be purchasing some fabric in the near future.  (Though the wedding isn't until I can probably put that off some...but if a non-color month comes up, this will probably be first on the longarm list...decisions, decisions...)

The biggest thing I've learned/re-learned with this project?  I don't like precuts.  The edges were all ruffly on these strips.  Even after a good steamy pressing.  (No starch, please.)  When you roll stuff up and then mash the middles together with a rubber band, they do that.  But it was the only way to easily get all those fabrics, so I made it work.  And it's probably worse in my head than in reality.

I'm eager to find out the UFO number for next month.  The color?  Well, I'm still not sold on those blocks, but am going to keep going and hope the finished quilt isn't an ugly disaster.

Happy quilting,

Friday, February 16, 2018

purple, tension and Tula Pink

It's Friday night and chores have been done, dinner has been eaten and the hubby is out to a movie with a niece.  Blogging and quilting, here I come!

First, I'd like to thank so many of you for your kind words regarding my new machine and its tension problems.  I was confident I could fix it, I just had to talk myself into trying.  Last Saturday, after much procrastination, I ran out of other things to do, so forced myself to take apart the bobbin mechanism and see what I could do.

This is the bobbin case.  It's supposed to come out.  But that green gunk on the screw?  Tells me I wasn't supposed to move that screw.  You know what that screw does?  Changes the bobbin tension.  And when your top tension is maxed out and you can feel the drag on your bobbin thread when you pull it out with your hand, you KNOW your bobbin tension needs to be loosened.  Oh yeah, and when you can see the top thread poking through on the back side.  That too is an indication.

So with a little elbow grease and a few tries, I had it not only moved, but sewing beautifully.  Top and bottom tension are now matched and I loosened the bobbin tension a little more than necessary so the top tension wasn't maxed out.  But had I not learned about adjusting tension from my longarm - a machine intended to have both top and bottom tensions adjusted - I probably never would have even had a clue where to start.  Guess all the struggles learning the longarm have paid off more than I imagined?!

With that out of the way, I was free to sew!  And my mojo came back.  You know how when things don't work right, you don't want to deal with them?  Well that's where my mojo went!

Onward to the remaining Rainbow Scrap Challenge purple blocks!

#16 city hall:

Templates.  Bleh.  But it came out okay.

#17 laundromat:

53 pieces.  And I've decided that those purple squares in the centers are because a man is doing this laundry and failed to properly sort lights from darks.  (Sorry guys, but I've met too many of you prone to this problem...)

#18 do not enter:

Last one for this month!  More templates.  Ack.  But it came out okay.

Wanna see all the purple stuff together?

Of course you do!

The tiny stars were leader-enders again.  I'm gonna get those 1080 blocks.  It might take 100 years, but I'm gonna get there!

Now I can move on to my UFO for the month - a pattern called The Benefit that has large pieces and is perfect for my Tula Pink Tabby Road fabrics.

But have you ever had fabric so pretty you didn't want to cut into it?  I just want to keep these awesome spotted and stripey kitties and pet them forever.  Yet, if I make them into a quilt, I can snuggle under them AND pet them!  While snuggling and petting real kitties.  Okay, I talked myself into it...time to cut!

Carefully trimmed selvages.  I'm not a selvage girl, but I gotta keep these and make something.  (Maybe I'll enlist my mom - she loves the things?)

I cut and cut and cut what felt like a million pieces, but it took a while to get fabric pairs matched up nicely, so I think that's what made it seem like it took FOR. EVER.  You see, the blocks are all pluses.  In three sizes and they all nest into each other.  Well, sort of.  There was also fussy cutting (trying not to lop any kitties heads off while still getting the pieces I needed out of fat quarters)...

By bedtime Wednesday, I had the above blocks sewn, but needed the design floor for the remaining layout.  Tonight, I removed the extra insulation via vacuum, wrangled actual cats and have this:

(Sorry now actual cat butts.  By this time, they'd lost interest.  It took a while.)

See what I mean about blocks nesting into each other?  This was tricky to pick up at this point, but with the photo and a few numbers pinned to stacks, I think I can do this without having it all laying there for me.  Which is a good thing because the hubby does not favor the middle of the living room floor being for quilting.  Who knows why?

I'm pretty excited, though.  It's just the middle of the month and I've gotten this far on a whole-quilt UFO!  But to be fair, this one wasn't all that hard.

Last night, because of the furry nature of my design floor and my lack of desire to remedy the situation, I decided to work a bit on Philip's blocks.  It didn't feel like I made a dent in the pile, but here's the before and after of the bin where block pieces are stored:

I've only made 15 blocks, but the whole quilt is only 56, so I'm about a quarter done.

Wanna see a few?


Now to decide what to do with my remaining time.  There's always quilting, but with the hubby gone for at least 2 more hours, maybe it's time for a movie?  One where I don't have to listen to mumbling about stupid girly movies that have an actual plot and no bloody violence?  Hmmm...  I'm sure the fur babies would approve...

Happy quilting,

Friday, February 9, 2018

something old, something new, something purple...

...guess I'm missing something borrowed?

Last weekend I got off to a great start with my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks.  Though I'll be honest, I truly struggled with whether I wanted to continue this quilt.  I know it's going to be amazing in the end, but the blocks are all strange, the template sewing is going not so well and after just one month, I'm not very excited about it any more.  Usually my interest doesn't drop off this quickly and I'm not sure if the blue squirrel last month killed it or what, but I talked myself into just doing it.

So I made the first block in purple, #10 forest park:

Not perfect, but I'm still struggling with the template piecing, but I think it's okay enough.

This will also forever be known as the block that forever broke my trusty sewing machine.  About halfway through the last seam it just stopped.  I tried to turn the hand crank and it would barely move.  I figured there were threads jammed up somewhere and pulled the block out.  Took out the bobbin.  Took out the top thread.  Still little to no movement.

Take off the plate covering the bobbin case. No obvious problems.

Well, let's see if we can take off the plastic cover.  If it's broken, it can't be made any more broken, right?  The hubby came to help - he heard the naughty words emanating from the sewing room and knew he was probably needed.

Ever wonder what the inside of your sewing machine looks like?

(something old)

It did not catch fire, as my mom thought.  There was just a LOT of lint in there, in places you'd never be able to clean without actually taking it apart like this.

We cranked on the hand wheel until it popped off a dozen or more times.  Still little movement.  We looked and looked for a thread snarl or something.  There is nothing obvious.  The wheel that goes over the hand crank to make it look tidy is now stripped.

I purchased this machine maybe 10 years ago for less than $200.  It's been a wonderful machine.  Sadly, Brother no longer makes this model.  So I downgraded.  No, seriously.  I want something that sews straight and has no computer.  Do you know that's not so easy to find?  I bought a fairly basic model, but it's not the lowest of the low, as I wanted one that had an adjustable stitch length (paper piecing ya'll!).  It cost less than $100.  (I also wanted another Brother so my walking foot and such would be compatible.)

(something new)

And look, it's purple!  Perfect for our color of the month!  I joke that I've named it "Not Broken" but right now it's being called "what the heck is wrong with the tension that every seam comes out just a touch puckered?"...  (I'm going to pull out the bobbin case next time I get into the sewing room and adjust the tension there because the top tension is about maxed out and since thread pokies are on the back, that tells me my top tension is too loose.  So if I loosen my bottom tension that's kinda the same as tightening the top, right?  One can hope...)

But not to be deterred, and I had to sew something to decide if I actually even like this machine...

On to block #11, clock tower.

It's this wonky in person.  I used templates and have no idea what's going on.  I'm hoping I can ease it and the pattern has sashing between all blocks, so maybe it will be okay?  Maybe it's the new sewing machine's fault?!

Not to be deterred, the next few blocks looked easier, so I forged on.  I'm not going to get that tension straightened out by worrying about it, right?  Sew!

#12 lobby:

Much nicer, but the puckering became more obvious with the strip piecing I had to do here.  But as you can see, you can't see the puckering.  You can run your fingers along the seam and it straightens some.  Also pressing helps.  But that's not fixing and how are longer seams going to look...

Onward...block #13 parking garage:

This one is not as wonky in person.  It didn't want to lay quite flat (some of those pieces finished at 1/2"!) and I just said whatever.  Again adjusting the tension and getting it better, but not perfect yet.

Next up, block #14, airport

This block was quite wasteful, as you create a rectangle and then chop a diagonal rectangle out of that.  I failed to center it quite right, but we're calling it good.  Again more tension adjustments, but also a bonus project...

A tiny pincushion!  (measured 3.5" before sewing and filling)  I love that the word iron is centered there.  That was nowhere near on purpose!

And finally, block #15, skyline:

At this point it was getting late and I was getting fed up with tension issues.  Every adjustment seemed to produce no change and I knew it was time to quit.  Or throw the new machine off the roof.

Since finishing this block Sunday, I haven't touched my sewing machine.  That tension issue has me frustrated.  It's sucking my sewing mojo right out of me.  What if it never gets adjusted right?  Can I live with this?  Maybe I should take my old machine to someone who repairs them and hope they don't laugh at me because it will cost more for their hourly fees to work on it than it cost to purchase.

I feel lucky that I don't have a pricey machine.  I've had friends debating whether to spend $2000 on a new motherboard for their machine or spend $4000 on a whole new one.  (I try to hold my jaw up off the floor when they talk like that so they don't see my disbelief.)  I feel lucky that I live close enough to a store that sells inexpensive machines that I like (or, well, liked the last two) so I can just stop by and pick one up.  I feel lucky that my hubby and I are financially in a place that I can just replace a machine, even if it's not an expensive one, when it quits.

But I don't like change.

It's inevitable, but I think with all sorts of crazy going on at work (change, change, change, change, change, change, change), this is just the last straw.  And I think that's causing my lack of sewing mojo and my lack of interest in figuring this out and my general apathy towards sewing this week.

But hey, let's look at a photo of all the purple stuff together!  Because it's Friday and my hubby has to work this weekend, so I'll be able to sew all I want!

See I'm also working on the tiny stars?  More leader-enders there!

And only three more blocks to go for purple.  They're the largest ones, and there are some templates involved, but I keep telling myself I'll get better if I do it more.  Maybe I'm right?  (But I do know for sure that templates are NOT my strength and will not be something I choose on purpose for future projects!)

I did do a little other sewing, but have no photo.  I'm working on the Bird Seeds quilt by Tula Pink and last summer made all the "birds" but stalled out on the "seeds"...I sewed four more "seeds" last night.  I made a goal to do two per week and I haven't done my allotment for this week yet, but I'll get there.  It's a pretty awesome quilt, so I'm going to enjoy making it and not rush.  (Ha ha ha...that's how you say procrastinate in a really sly way!)

In other news, we got about 43 inches of snow today.  Okay, really, more like 6.  But it started about an hour or two before I had to go to work and quit an hour or two after I got home.  Not funny, Mother Nature.  Our driveway plow hadn't been here when I got home from work, so I gunned my little station wagon over the street-plow hump and snow drifted down into my garage.  The hubby had used his tire tracks (all wheel drive on that baby - my next car, man, my next car!) as guides and shoveled a half-path down to help, but the 90 degree turn at the end to go into the garage I went a little sideways.  Totally under control and on purpose to keep momentum, but the traction system was beeping and flashing and trying to not give me power to the wheels.  (Apparently traction control does not like you to attempt donuts...not in your driveway, not in the intersection near your fun at all, this little car...but at least I wasn't stuck in my driveway like before I got good winter tires! And hey, little car has an awesome sound system, so you can totally thump the ground while sitting at intersections and make the young kid next to you wonder what that "old lady" is doing listening to music like THAT?! (but really, even turning Mozart that loud you can sometimes get a thump...I was listening to Imagine Dragons, tho))  Anyways, safely to work and safely home and now that the snow has ended and the street plows can catch up and the driveway plow has been here (I beat him by about 30 minutes), I have nowhere to go.  To bad, so sad, guess I'll go sew!

Happy quilting!

PS The other projects (UFO Challenge, Philip's quilt) are also on the list for this month still, but I feel like the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is the least fun and hardest, so if I get it out of the way first, it's all downhill from there!  So maybe with only three blocks to go on the RSC, I'll get some UFO sewing done this weekend?

Friday, February 2, 2018

blue squirrel, a new project and a new UFO

Since my last post...  I took two teenage girls shopping on Saturday.  That was fun, but exhausting.  (And thankfully, they weren't quite old enough to try to pick up the cute guy at the checkout at Best Buy, but boy did I hear about him on the way home...)

Sunday I focused.  I knew we had family coming for a late pay-per-view WWE match, so I had to take advantage of the newly vacuumed design floor before they showed up.

It was at this point I realized that I should have cut 6" squares, not 3".  Get the blues out AGAIN and cut some more squares.  (This project chewed through a lot of blue and now, bonus, I have a bunch of 3" blue squares...but don't worry, you still can't tell.)

While the show was on, I hid in my sewing room (I have no interest in silly boys pretending to fight with each other) and sewed and sewed and sewed.  I also ripped a few seams because you might note these geese are all flying in a certain direction around the blocks.  Despite my efforts, some of the geese tried to migrate counter-clockwise.  But by 9:30, I had a top!

Out into the unexpected "2 inches" of snow (more like 6 in some areas!) for a photo Monday after work.

It was windy and crazy cold, so I hope you appreciate this nearly-flat version of the quilt.

I have purchased backing - a flannel that's printed to look a lot like a batik.  It's very unique and once I saw it, I knew that was "it".  Sadly, no photo and it's kinda dark for that sort of thing right now.  (How I crave summer and it's warmer temps and daylight past 5pm!)

Saturday, I arrived home from shopping to find happy mail...

I'd ordered fabric to make a quilt I first was on Pinterest, but it's a Missouri Star Quilt Company pattern.

So the back-story:

There's this guy at work.  His name is Philip.  He's a sweet guy.  Kind to everyone.  Puts up with the crazy of a lab full of women.  Crazy women.  He fixes stuff patently and methodically.  He's always in a good mood.  He got engaged a few months back.  We all knew he was going to ask before she did.  I debated with myself about whether they deserved a quilt for a wedding gift.  (I have no idea if I'll be invited and honestly hope I won't...sometimes that's just weird, that crossover between personal and work life.)  He loves orange.  When I saw this quilt, I knew.  It's not a lot of orange, but enough.  So I ordered the fabric.

This week at work was crazy, but I tried to carve out a little time at home each evening to get started on this project.  I knew there would be a new UFO challenge number called and a new Rainbow Scrap Challenge color named, but this would keep me busy in the few days until then.

One night, I cut parts until I thought my entire sewing room would explode with parts.  I don't have a photo of the mix-and-match that went on, but this quilt is rather scrappy, even though it's from a jelly roll.  What I do have is a photo of the parts pinned by block all tidy in a bin:

If we didn't have Spazarella the kitten, these might not need to be in a tub.  But we have Spazarella the kitten who likes to destroy everything.  She seeks out new things to destroy all the time.  She does not want to be tame.  Until she wants pets.  Then she will demand them of you and cute you nearly to death.  Until she's done.  Then she will attach herself to you with 20 claws and however many teeth a 6-month-old kitten has.  You will probably be bleeding after you extricate yourself from her grasp.

But I love her.

And she'll be a fine cat when she grows up a little.

I hope.

But anyways, the parts are in a tub.  The white squares are not.  I've fished the white squares out of the trash that sits next to the sewing table twice already.  So you see, tubs are necessary, even if not entirely effective.  (So far, so good, but you all better knock on a lot of wood!)

So I started sewing up a few blocks from the paired sets you see here.  I have to make 56 and these aren't really easy to mass-produce, but the wedding isn't until June, so plenty of time, right?

(See my new ironing board cover there in the background?  Super awesome!)

So purple is the new color.  I don't have a lot of purple, but that's okay.  I have enough.  Hopefully no purple squirrels will visit this month.  But nobody hold your breath.

And the new UFO is #1.

Last summer, I ordered a fat quarter bundle of Tabby Road by Tula Pink.  (Thought I had a photo, but guess not?  So you get a link instead.)  I couldn't help myself.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but knew I'd find something.  While at an AQS show a few months later, I came across a pattern that I knew would work perfectly, so I bought it.  And there it all sat.  Put that on the UFO list, right?

So I have a WHOLE quilt this month.  No wimpy block (never mind how many pieces that hexagon had) like last month.  An entire quilt.  But I'm excited to start this one.  And it's pretty simple, so I hope it goes fast!

And with that, I should go finish some Friday night chores (laundry, refilling the humidifier, etc.) so I can spend a good chunk of tomorrow sewing!  (I just hope this cold weather that's come back doesn't make my sewing room unbearable again...sooooooo ready for spring!)

Happy quilting,