Sunday, July 16, 2017

Blazing Rotary Cutter

I think my rotary cutter needs flames on it, because it's gotten so much use in the last week it deserves flames.

Here are five quilts, all ready for sewing. Some will need sub-cutting after I get the strip sets made, but they are all ready to sew. 

These stacks represent three quilts in the making. Well, it could be more, or I suppose less, if I guessed wrong and need to cut more. The baskets in the top photo have been cut with a specific pattern and size in mind. Those are all gifts, and I take that more seriously. The bottom photo, those fabrics are all from men's shirts I bought on that last big shopping spree. I need to make two twin sized quilts for the grandkids guest room, and while I was cutting up shirts, I decided to make a Scrappy Mountains Majesty quilt too. 

I need to sub-cut the 6 inch strips into HST's with my Easy Angle ruler, but, honestly, I'm sick of cutting and need a few days off. I have a couple ideas of how I want to set the HST's, but mostly, I plan on making as many HST's as I can with this stack, and then start playing with them. I don't know how many shirts I cut up, if I need more, I'll grab some from my shirt stash. If I end up with a lot more than I need, I'll just start another quilt. 

I have no idea how many squares I cut for the Scrappy Mountains Majesty quilt. Again, I'll make as many blocks as I can, then see what I can come up with. That quilt has no intended owner yet, but now that my house is almost empty of people, I realize how few quilts I own. I give them all away! Right now there is not one single quilt on any of the beds in the house. I own two quilt racks, but only enough quilts for one. It's time to start making some quilts for our house. I am swamped with wedding quilts to make, but I figured if I cut out some quilts for the grandkids guest room, I may be able to get those done in between the other quilts. 

I also think that, for the time being, I'm going to be keeping the UFO's I finish. I'd really like to see quilts all over the house, and right now there are hardly any. Once I have some, I can replace them with ones I like better, and pass some others on, but for now, I just really want some quilts that stay here. DH has been bugging me about this for a while, and I've just realized how few quilts we actually have. All of my kids have more of my quilts at their houses, than I have here. No wonder DH has been saying we should keep some. 

I think the goal of making some quilts for our house, is going to keep me motivated to finish the gift quilts I need to make. I hope so anyway, because I hate having a to-do list as long as mine is right now. I've never fallen so far behind on gift quilts before, but the last year has been really hard, and sewing just wasn't happening. I'm so glad things have changed for the better now!

Monday, July 10, 2017

30 Years of Scraps

I finished a UFO today! I am trying so far to stick with my goal of finishing one UFO for every new finish. 

All the pieces in this quilt finish at 1x2 inches. There are scraps from maternity clothes I made in 1986, all the way though to scraps from a purse I made in 2016. 30 years of sewing history!!! This is going to be a great quilt to use for napping! I showed this to DD#1 yesterday, and she was looking over the scraps pointing out which ones I had used in making things for her. Dress scraps from when she was little, scraps from her wedding quilt, scraps from quilts I've made her children, they are all in here. It may not be the prettiest quilt I've ever made, but the memories it holds are priceless, so it may be one of my favorites!

I had a little bit of quilter's serendipity going on, and Dino says, "Hi!" to everyone!

I backed this quilt with purple fleece, and free motioned some fans on the quilt. I do use batting, even with fleece backings, and this is a nice squishy quilt. I free handed all the fans, doing one row left to right, the next right to left, which is why my fans are going different directions. 

I also had to do some salvaging of another quilt. For our 25th anniversary, we took a very short trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. I made a quilt from the fabrics I bought there as soon as we returned. It's been on our bed almost 8 years, and it's in sad shape in certain areas. 

Some of these fabrics are just shredding! There was no way to applique over all the areas that were damaged, so I opted to cut the quilt down to a small throw, saving only the best areas of the quilt.

This is the new look for this quilt, and it should last quite a few years more only getting occasional use. 

As I was cutting off the parts I was no longer going to use, some of which was in decent shape, I thought about all the projects I've seen done with cutter quilts like this. Placemats? I never use them. Cute Hawaiian teddy bears? Those would be adorable, BUT do I really want to make them, and do I want to spend the time to make them, and what would I do with them when they were done??? You know what I decided? I decided the cut-offs were not worth saving to me. Could I have done something with them? Sure, I could have. When it came right down to it though, keeping the throw sized quilt was enough for me, and I don't need any more on my to-do list. It felt weird throwing the rest of the quilt away, but I know it was the best thing to do for me. Now that it's done, I feel relief, and no guilt over not adding yet another project to my list. 

I think the rest of this week is going to be spent cutting out more wedding quilts. If I can get all the quilts I am behind on cut out, it will seem like it's going faster, sewing them together. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Comfort Quilt

I put in long hours to get this quilt made from start to finish in 7 days. Lots of white areas for people to write well wishes with fabric markers. 

I needed white batting for the quilt, and the only white batting I had was polyester. It's not my favorite, but it's OK. If you remember, I don't currently have a sewing room. That means the contents of my sewing room are literally all over the house. I have stuff in seven different closets, under the stairs, as well as four different rooms not in closets. Knowing I have batting, and knowing where it is are not the same thing. I thought I had a little bit of polyester batting left on a roll. After much searching, I remembered I used the rest of that roll last year. 

Hmmmm....Well, I know exactly where some king sized packaged batting is, but I really don't want to cut into a king sized batting for this sized quilt. I have pieced batting large enough, but I don't want to use pieced batting when people are writing on a finished quilt. Could I possibly have an unopened roll of poly batting somewhere in the house? I usually buy another roll when I'm down to just a couple quilts worth on the current roll. 

Just the size of a roll of batting narrowed down the possible places it could be, if I even had one. Eureka! Hiding behind an almost empty roll of cotton batting, I found an unopened roll of polyester batting! Poly batting expands so much when you take the wrapping off, that it was in a smaller space than I had originally thought it would fit, it was so compressed in the packaging.

I tried to make the front of the quilt bright and cheery, and when I went hunting in my stash for a backing fabric, I found a pretty good option.

I had to piece it a bit, to make it the right size, but I'm happy with how it looks with the front. I had purchased this fabric a year or two ago at a thrift store, for $2-3. I had enough to back this quilt (took 3 yards) and I still have two yards left. I'll tell you what, without thrift stores, my fabric stash wouldn't be near as large as it is!

Now that this quilt is finished, I am faced with my self imposed rule of finishing one UFO for every new finish. I have two quilts pin-basted, that are really in my way, so I'm going to start quilting one of those today. I might just go ahead and quilt both, I haven't decided yet. It would be kind of nice to finish two UFO's before I go back to the wedding quilts. 

Friday, June 30, 2017


I'm assuming you've heard the expression "twofer", if not, it's a slang way of saying "Two for one". I had a big interruption on making wedding quilts this week, because I need to make a comfort quilt. Yet another person we know has cancer, and cancer sucks. Unfortunately, this is far from the first comfort quilt I've made for this reason. I don't mind putting everything else aside to make a comfort quilt, it's such a small thing when they are facing such a big thing. 

As with all the other comfort quilts I've made for this reason, I use some solid white so people can sign the quilt with well wishes. Wouldn't you rather have a quilt than a card?

I know a lot of people have people sign fabric before it gets sewn into the quilt, and I've tried that, but in my experience, people never follow directions, always write in the seam allowances so important parts of the messages are lost. Also, If I have to make the quilt after the pieces are signed I feel under even more pressure to work quickly, which makes me cranky. I've yet to have everyone sign before the quilt is finished anyone, so some people end up signing the finished quilt anyway, so why not make everyone sign the finished quilt? This is the way I've done it the last several comfort quilts I've made and I've had far less drama this way. Your experience may vary, but for me, finishing the quilt first is the way to go. 

I cut my white squares at 6.5" from yardage. For the corners I dug through my 3.5" strips. I wanted fabrics that were bright and cheerful, and I found a nice selection already cut to size.

I'm so glad I precut strips into common sizes, if I didn't, this quilt wouldn't have as much variety as it's got. If I had had to handle a bunch of fat quarters or yardage, I would have opted for just a few fabrics in an effort to save time.

I decided to make square in a square blocks, and although I certainly could have just cut everything to size from the beginning, I opted for making flip and sew corners. I didn't want to take the time to draw diagonal lines, and as with most things quilty, there is more than one way to get things done. 

I got out my Folded Corner Clipper ruler, and used it to cut the corner off leaving a perfect 1/4 seam allowance ready to sew. 

After I sew the corner onto the white square, I turn my cutting mat, and use the same ruler to cut a 2.5" HST from the "waste". This HST will finish at 2", and I already have a plan for all the HST's from this quilt. The only real "waste" is the small strip leftover from cutting between the corner and the HST. It's less than 1/4" wide, and I have no problems tossing it. 

I do opposite corners, finger press open, then do the last two corners. 

Here is the square in a square unit finished, no sliver trimming needed. If you'd like to try making units this way, but don't have the Folded Corner Clipper ruler, you can still try it if you've got the Easy Angle Ruler.

The lighting makes it look like the lines aren't quite lined up, but they are actually spot on. The markings are a little easier to follow on the Folded Corner Clipper for this use, because that's what it's made to do. 

Using this method, with the sizes I chose to use (6.5 and 3.5 squares) You'll end up with one 6" finished block, and four HST's that would finish into a 4" block. I played with various layouts for the HST's, and I figured out something that will use exactly the number of HST's I have after making the 99 blocks I needed for the comfort quilt. I'm not saying what I'm doing with them right now, it will be a surprise for you later! At any rate, the little bit of extra time I took sewing those bonus HST's will net me a second quilt for what seems like free, a twofer!

This was my set up for cutting an sewing these blocks. The extra table allows me to just turn my chair to cut, then turn again to sew. 

I haven't pressed all those blocks yet, but I just finished the last block about an hour ago. The plastic tub has all the bonus HST's. My goal is to assemble the comfort quilt top tomorrow, and get it pin-basted. Sunday the goal is to get it quilted and bound. DH has Monday off, so if I can't get it finished until then that's OK. He can bring the quilt and the fabric markers to work on Tuesday. I'll post pics when it's finished.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Starting on the Backlog

I've finally started sewing on a wedding quilt! I am SOOOO far behind on wedding quilts! Five to make and four of those couples already married! No matter how much I want to sew, getting back in the habit of sewing long hours is hard. Interruptions are still a regular occurrence too, life hasn't calmed down as much as I thought it would.

At any rate, I've gotten some units for the first wedding quilt done!

I have so many different colorways of units to make, I'm actually using my leader/ender project to keep the different colorways separate. When I am doing flip and sew corners, I like to use a flip and sew corner leader/ender project. One of my new scrap projects needs Flying Geese units in sets of eight, so I'm using those as my leader/enders right now.

Since I need sets of eight for the Flying Geese, I'm actually using an entire set as my leader/ender. See the chain of Flying Geese at the end of my chain piecing? I'm double sewing all of my flip and sew corners, so I'll have plenty of bonus HST's to play with.

Here are my bonus HST's so far. I'm keeping the sizes separate, and I will press them at a later date. Right now I am sewing as much as I can before I have to press, then my goal is to keep my iron on as little time as possible. Temps have been in the 110's, and anything that heats the house is not welcome.

Here is my progress on the next colorway.  Notice that double sewing so I can just cut between the lines of sewing and my bonus HST's are ready.

My Flying Geese are starting to pile up too! I'll sew these into blocks when I get to the nine patch portion of this quilt.

I LOVE bonus HST's, and I will do flip and sew corners just to get them, even if it's just as easy to use a ruler and use less fabric. Bonus HST's are just so much fun to play with, and when I sew them like this, it feels like I get an extra quilt from nothing. I know in my head it's just as much sewing, but it FEELS like less.

I always have so many ideas running through my head for bonus HST's, and for this wedding quilt, I am debating using all the bonus HST's from the front on the back to make a double sided quilt. I based my color choices on some fabrics that likely won't be used on the front, because of the pattern I chose. I could use all those fabrics on the backing, and with some creative thinking make a really cool backing. The bonus HST's could work in there just fine.

I'm not sure I've ever shown it here, but because I do flip and sew corners so often, and most of my quilts are scrappy, I usually have my clipboard case full of neutral or blacks squares ready to draw lines on. Here is my case

I usually have a piece of paper clipped onto it so I don't draw all over it while drawing lines. I use mechanical pencils so I don't have to worry about sharpening on the go (or white or silver markers if I'm marking black fabric) I keep this little ruler in the case, along with an assortment of Bonus buddies cut to various sizes. I use template plastic for my bonus buddies, cut them into different sized squares, then cut them diagonally. I get two bonus buddies from each square of template plastic. When I'm working with 2.5 inch squares, I like to use my 1.75 inch bonus buddy, so I draw the first line diagonally on each square with the ruler, then I fit my bonus buddy into one corner, and draw the second sewing line. I know some people use a 2" bonus buddy on 2.5 inch squares, but I don't like cutting the seam short. I often do 16 patches with the bonus HST's, which finish into a 5" square when using 1.75" HST's.

Here is my case open. When I finish marking all these squares, I'll cut another batch, not necessarily the same size or colors, and then start marking those. This case goes with me on long car trips, hotels, or anyplace I'm going to have down time and need something to do. When I wanted to do a Flying Geese leader/ender project, I didn't have to mark anything, because I had already marked enough squares for the project ahead of time. I'm usually thinking a dozen or more quilts ahead, and being able to do some of the tedious stuff ahead of time makes the time seem to go faster when I actually start the project.

There will be no sewing for me the next three days at least. My schedule is completely full of family events. I may get a few more units sewn up tonight, but I'm pretty sore from sewing all day. I may just put on a movie and draw diagonal lines on the last of the squares that need them for this quilt. If I have time, I'll draw lines on some the squares in my case.