Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three Quilt Tops

I am still plugging along on assembling quilt tops. I finished the second quilt top for the kids guest room. I decided to set it differently from the first one.

The quilts for the guest rooms will be some of the first I quilt with my Tin Lizzie. It doesn't feel like fall here, it's still in the 90's, but it will get cooler eventually. I don't have any quilts for any of the three guest beds in the house, so getting those done comes before the gift quilts. 

I mentioned I had never counted the HST's I cut from men's shirts. Well, I never did count them, but I counted how many I had left after making two twin sized quilt tops. I had 48 HST's left, which, if set 6x8, left me with a 36x48 inch quilt. I consider that too small for a baby quilt, but, it would work perfectly for DD#2's pet corgi. She's been wanting me to make her dog a quilt, because that dog is obsessed with quilts. If there is a quilt in the room, that's where you can find that dog. I could have made more HST's to make a people quilt, but I don't need any extra projects right now. I could have set the blocks aside for now, but I didn't want to do that either, so here is Navi the Corgi's quilt top.

I didn't have a lot of variety left after making two quilts from the HST's, but I don't think the dog will care much. I think Navi's quilt will be the first I quilt on the Tin Lizzie, the dog won't complain if my quilting is a bit wobbly. 

The third quilt top I made is from a failed border. I cut the brown triangles with a pieced border in mind, but once I pieced a few blocks, I decided it wasn't working for me. Instead of sticking it aside and taking a chance I wouldn't do anything with the pieces, I cut some more triangles from two other fabrics, and came up with this.

It's nothing fancy, but I kind of like it. It's got a lot of motion to it. It's funny, the HST's with blue really bring out the blue flowers in the brown fabric, and the HST's with the peach really bring out the peach flowers. Before I assembled the quilt, it looked like I had used two different brown fabrics. This is a good throw sized quilt, nice for napping. 

I laid out the blue king sized quilt today. I don't have enough space to lay out a quilt that large at one time. The quilt has 12 rows, so I laid out six rows, labeled them and pinned them together. I put aside rows 1-5, and only pieced row six. Once I had that row together, I put it down and then figured out the rest of the quilt. 

I've been piecing on three other quilts as leaders/enders while I'm assembling quilts. One of the quilts I've come to an impasse on. I never figured a layout for the quilt, I just have a bunch of various blocks. I may actually put that one aside for now, though overall, I've been trying not to do that. I think it has the potential to be a really great quilt, and I don't want to hurry it so much I don't bring it to it's potential. 

The purple/white Strip Twist I was working on has a slight problem. I must have cut two of the blocks in the incorrect direction, so now I need to make at least a couple more blocks. I looked through my stash for a border fabric, but couldn't decide on one, so I'm opting to make a bunch more blocks instead, and make it into a borderless quilt. I've already pulled the fabrics to do that, along with the fabrics I need for a couple Christmas projects. My plan is to spend tomorrow cutting. Unfortunately, I also need to cut another Drunkard's Path block for another project, because as I was sewing the blocks, I somehow lost a couple pieces, or cut the wrong amount originally. I never put fabrics back in the stash until I've finished the quilt top, so I still have the fabric out that I need. So, tomorrow is a big cutting day for me! 

On the non-quilting front, DH has been home a lot lately, which cuts into my sewing time, but is nice to see him more all at once. What really cuts into my sewing time is the fact I've been having to COOK since he's home! Up until a couple weeks ago I was only cooking dinner a couple days a week, and I was eating sandwiches or cereal for dinner. DH works 12 hour shifts and isn't home for lunch or dinner, and I'm not going to waste sewing time cooking for just me. For the foreseeable future, he's home four days a week, which is crazy compared to his normal schedule. Tomorrow it's cutting, making lasagna, and making an apple custard pie from a new gluten-free recipe I want to try. DH is gluten-free, and it's amazing how much better he feels being GF. I tried going GF, and noticed no difference after 5 months of being GF, so I eat mostly GF at home, but eat whatever I like if we go out. I need to find the "perfect" GF pie crust before Thanksgiving, so DH has to "suffer" through some pie experiments. I've already tried several GF pie crusts, but altering my regular pie crust recipe has been what he's liked best so far. The one I'm trying tomorrow has sour cream in the crust, and I'm intrigued. So many recipes, so little time...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tin LIzzie is Ready to Go!

I'm trying to stick to my plan, which means I'm not currently quilting on my Tin Lizzie, but I am anxious to. Right now my plan is:

September- finish as many quilt tops as I can
October- Quilt as many quilts as I can
November and December- work on Christmas gifts
January- back to quilting

It's hard to stick with finishing quilt tops when I've got a brand new Tin Lizzie to play with, but I know in the long run this is the best option. I had WAY too many projects going at once, and I need to get those cleaned up before I start on Christmas presents. The best way to clean up quilt pieces is to at least get them into quilt tops. I use skirt hangers, and hang all my pressed quilt tops in a closet in the guest room. They will be ready to quilt whenever I get to them, with a minimum amount of pressing to do. If I've pieced a back for the quilt, it gets hung with the quilt top.  

Last weekend, I moved my Bernina into the living room, and set myself up a sewing corner.

I replaced some of the plastic drawers that left with my kids, and now my scrap user system is readily available again. Having it in totes shoved into closets was not working for me at all. Drawers are much easier access, both when using the scrap user system and putting away scraps I've cut to the sizes I save. The drawers that were empty in this photo are now full of thread cones. I decided now that I'll be quilting more regularly, having my thread cones easily available instead of in a tote under the stairs was a good idea. 

I spied this cabinet at Hobby Lobby and fell in love. A scrappy bunch of drawers, how can a scrappy quilter resist that? This is now just to the right of my Bernina cabinet in the living room, and holding all my other sewing threads that aren't big cones. I had another cabinet for threads that I also got at Hobby Lobby a couple years ago, but now I'll be storing quilting rulers and templates in it. I'm hoping to expand my quilting template now that I have a long arm. 

Here is my Tin Lizzie in the Arrow Quilty cabinet. I am still using a set of shelves to the left of the cabinet to keep the quilts from falling off the cabinet. I like quilting in a corner, because if the quilt can't fall off the cabinet, there is a lot less drag when you are maneuvering the quilt. I still have quite a bit to do to get this set up the way I want it. I haven't put the accessories I want readily available in the drawer, or cleaned up all the quilt parts on the set of black shelves. I told you, too many projects, and now I need to sew like crazy to get as many as I can into quilt tops, just to clean things up a bit. 

The throat or harp space (whichever term you prefer) is 7.5 inches x 4.5 inches. The harp space on my Tin Lizzie is 18 inches by 6 inches. You want to see what kind of difference that actually is?

I took several measurements, and cut the green paper the exact size and shape of my Bernina 440 harp. Can you see how much more space I'll have quilting on the Tin Lizzie? This should make things so much easier. I'm sure I will still get sore quilting, I make a lot of king sized quilts and they get heavy, but not having to cram a king sized quilt through that tiny space? Amazing!

I've been sewing quilts into rows, and I have three ready to sew the rows together and finish assembly. I've been using the hundreds of 3" nine patches I need for DD#3's wedding quilt as my leader/enders while assembling. I have over half of the tiny nine patches done now. Next blog post I hope to have at least three quilt tops to show you!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Swing and a Miss

If you've been quilting very long, you've very likely had the problem I have right now. I made a quilt top, but I don't like it. It was going to be a gift, but I'm starting a new quilt for that gift. Quilting may improve the quilt, but not enough to want to gift it. I'll show you some photos of my quilting strike out, but do know that I cannot get the colors to photograph correctly, and the quilt is really peach, rust, brown and blue. 

The pattern is fine, my fabric choices were not. I was basing my color selection on colors in the fabric I wanted to use as the border. These colors match that fabric, but don't work in the quilt. 

Here is 1/4 the quilt, so you can see the pattern better. I don't like making quilts with so few fabrics, partly because I find them boring, and partly because it is much easier to make a mistake choosing fabric. I think I'll make this pattern again, but instead make a scrappy green background with white trails...or maybe a scrappy purple background with silver trails...

I took all the leftovers from this quilt top, added one fabric that doesn't really match the colors but somehow works anyway, and made a throw sized quilt top.

I like this one better than the original. I used all of that one added fabric that I had, so no hoping it will redeem the other quilt center. 

I managed to get one more quilt center together too, one of the quilts that will go in the grandkid guest room.

This is all men's shirts, and the other quilt for that room will be too. I'm going to use a different setting for the other quilt though. This quilt top I really like, and I think it will be a fun addition to the grandkid room. 

I have several other quilt tops I need to assemble, and I'm almost done all the blocks for a couple more on top of those. I find myself using borders less and less these days. A couple of the quilts I'm making will have borders, but I think over half will not. 

Oh, my custom insert for the Tin Lizzie arrived today, so when we get a chance, we can get it set up now! I'm thinking that won't be until late next week, but we'll see. Tomorrow I hope to go buy new plastic drawers to store my Scrap User System. I tried using totes, but it doesn't work for me, and I much preferred using drawers to store it. I have a couple quilts I need to start that will be mostly pulled from the Scrap User System, so having it where I can get to it is important. 

I've moved all my quilt tops to one closet, and I've got quite the collection of quilt tops waiting for quilting. I'm hoping the Tin Lizzie helps me catch up!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Quilt Top, a Mess, and a Sneak Peek

Remember a couple months ago I made this quilt?

When I made those square in a square units, instead of cutting exact sizes, I used flip and sew corners, and I double sewed the corners giving me a bunch of bonus HST's. I debated a few different things to do with my bonus HST's, but decided on this...

I really love how this quilt top came out, I think it is just adorable. I used every bonus HST in this quilt, every single one, with none leftover, and I didn't have to make any extra for this quilt. I had the border fabric in my stash, and I honestly can't remember where I got it. I'm thinking I must have picked it up at a thrift store, because I only had 1 2/3 yards, and I never would have purchased such an odd amount to stash. I used all of the border fabric in this quilt, aside from a few scraps that went into the scrap user system. Since I knew I was cutting it close on the border fabric, I used what I had to determine the strip width and border width. It worked out really well I think. I'm never one to use a formula or ratio to determine border widths, it is usually a matter of how much fabric I have, and I need to make it work. 

My room is such a mess! I did manage to get one quilt together, but I have parts to several others all over my room. 

I subcut all the stripsets for the Blooming Nine Patch quilt. You can't really tell in this photo, but the container in the back left actually has finished nine patches. All the stripsets for that bargello quilt are just piled up, I haven't done any more with them.

Here is the table to the left of where I sit at my sewing machine. It's crazy to have this many block parts on this table from so many different projects! I need to get these block parts sewn up, then I'll be able to assemble a few quilts, and thereby clean up some of the mess!

On the right front of my table, you can see my new bobbin savers, bright lime green, with size M bobbins in them. Why size M???

I bought a Tin Lizzie sit down longarm!!! I've been thinking about getting one for a while, and I've used both a Tin Lizzie and a Handiquilter at a quilt show. I wanted a sit down model, because although I technically do have room for a quilting frame right now, someday we are likely to downsize, and I don't want that to be an issue. I tend to make really big quilts, king sized is common for me, and I'd have to have the largest frame if I wanted a longarm on a frame. Honestly, I just don't want that much of my house taken up by a quilting frame. 

I wasn't a big fan of the design of the Tin Lizzie table, so I ordered a Quilty cabinet from Arrow Cabinets. Honestly, even if I had gone with a Handiquilter, I probably would have purchased the Quilty cabinet. 

I really debated between the two machines. The Tin Lizzie doesn't have a stitch regulator, but I don't like the way the Handiquilter stitch regulator works, and wouldn't have bought it anyway. I learned to FMQ without a stitch regulator, so I'm sure I will get used to it again. Sometimes I forget to turn the BSR on on my Bernina anyway. So, basically, stitch regulation was not a serious consideration for me. 

On lighting, the Handiquilter is a clear winner. Lighting is important to me, and I'll be looking at ways to improve the lighting on the Tin Lizzie. Since the Tin Lizzie was $2,000+ less expensive, I can probably buy some extra lighting.

Here is something that I'm probably odd on, I like Tin Lizzie better in the fact it is all mechanical. No computer interface to blow, it's got no bells and whistles, which makes it easier to use and less expensive to fix. 

Handiquilter has a 16" throat, Tin Lizzie an 18" throat. Either one would feel huge after I've spent the last few years shoving quilts through a 7.5" throat. I'm anxious to get to know my Tin Lizzie, but I'm waiting on the custom insert to come for the cabinet. I'll be moving the Tin Lizzie into my bedroom for now, and moving my Bernina into the living room. I'm hoping to get a bunch of those block parts sewn up before I have to move everything. If I can get a few of the current projects into quilt tops that would be better! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Love/Hate Relationships

If you think I'm going to be talking about people, sorry to disappoint you ;-) Right now my love/hate relationship is with strip piecing. When I first started quilting, I did a lot of strip piecing, but as time goes on, I do less and less of it. I like lots of variety in my quilts, and normally strip piecing doesn't allow for the type of variety I prefer.

When I'm making quilts for other people, my tastes are not what matters, theirs are, so I end up using fewer fabrics, or colors I dislike (SO MUCH BLUE- I HATE BLUE!!!) or techniques that aren't my favorite, but they make more sense for the pattern. 

In the last post, I showed my ironing board overflowing with stripsets, that were all waiting for pressing. I finally pressed the last of those this morning. I really hate pressing WOF fabric stripsets. Shorter stripsets (from fat quarters or scraps) aren't as bad, but those long, tangly, WOF stripsets are hard to press with no folds, no flipped seams, just neatly done. 

One of the quilts I'm making stripsets for is a Blooming Nine Patch. Normally for nine patches I just cut squares, and web the blocks as I sew. For the quilt I'm making, I need 480 3" finished nine patches. I need 8 different colorways in sets of 60. Now, I'm not fond of strip piecing nine patches, but did I really want to cut 4,320 squares, and hope I sewed them all together correctly for the 8 different colorways? In this case, stripsets make more sense, and when I get all those stripsets sub-cut, re-sewn, and see a huge pile of nine patches suddenly come together, I will LOVE that!

I only have half the stripsets I need sewn for the Blooming Nine Patch. My goal is to have all the stripsets for it done and sub-cut by tomorrow night. 

^My purple/white stripsets are already sub-cut into blocks. SO much easier to work with now! I have more cutting to do on these before I sew any more on them, but I'm happy to not have those WOF stripsets sitting around anymore. This quilt will be a Strip Twist.

^These stripsets need to be sewn together, because I'm making my first bargello quilt. Sewing a bargello quilt doesn't worry me at all, but sub-cutting these huge stripsets somewhat terrifies me. I'm hoping it will be easier than I think it will, and if worse comes to worse, I have two extra strips of each fabric cut, so I could make extra stripsets if I need to. 

I didn't get as much sewing done this week as I expected. Even with fewer people in the house, life still happens, and interruptions occur. I'm feeling pressure because so many quilts I'm working on are so overdue, and I'm normally an on time person. No one is bothering me about the quilts, they understand I've had a lot going on. I'm the one pressuring myself, but probably not for the reason you'd think. I want to get the gift quilts done, so I can work on some fun quilts. I have some bucket list quilts I'd like to start, as well as some UFO's I'd like to get finished. The gift quilts need to be finished first, but I've already got a couple on my list for 2018!!! So many blessings come with a big family, so many excuses to make more quilts!