Friday, October 19, 2018

Men's Shirts

I think I may have a problem. Have you ever noticed a really nice shirt on a man and thought, wow, would I like to make a quilt with that? I can rarely tell you what the man looked like, age, hair color, etc..., but I can often describe his shirt in detail.

Now that I've got a small stockpile of men's shirts, I've often seen a shirt on a man, leaned over to my husband and whispered, "I have that shirt!" I'm starting to wonder if this is unusual behavior. 

It makes a certain amount of sense. I'm not a floral kind of girl. I love stripes, plaids, and geometric prints. My preferred prints are more masculine in nature, and not always easy to find in quilting cottons.

I am also a fan of upcycling. I'm always looking for ways to reuse things, and over the years I've remade curtains, tablecloths, graduation gowns, etc... into clothes for my kids. I like finding potential in the things others discard. 

My latest men's shirt finish is Allietare, a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt from few years ago.

Everything but the border fabric and the gold constant are men's shirts. 

One of my grandsons recently got a full-sized bed and needed a larger quilt. I have been pretty swamped lately, so I looked though my UFOs and found this. I knew it would work, and be much faster to finish a UFO than start a whole new quilt. 

Since the top is a bit old for an almost 8 year old, I used some fun motorcycle fabric from stash on the back. The colors worked well with the top, and I had just enough to make the backing. I only have some small scraps left from the backing fabric. 

Besides this finish, my exciting news of the week is that my Studio cutter arrived!

I haven't cut anything with it yet, but you can see some blue fabrics piled on my cutting table waiting to be cut. I moved my Go dies to the shelves right under the Go cutter, and all my Studio strip dies are now in the cabinet behind those shelves. Those blue fabrics need to be cut into strips so I can sub-cut them with a rotary cutter for a baby quilt. The other project waiting to be cut is a wedding quilt, but I think I can cut all of it with the Studio cutter. 

I've already started quilting the next quilt for a different grandson.

The newest quilt goes to this guy who will soon be moving to a big boy bed! I need to have his quilt finished by his birthday in November, so I better go quilt some more!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Not Much Sewing

This week has seemed pretty busy, but it's been more about family than sewing. 

On Saturday we finally managed the dining table swap. DD#1 wanted a bigger dining table, we wanted a smaller one. She wanted rectangular, we wanted to switch to oval. Rather than either of us spending any money a swap was arranged. DD#1 also wanted my old cutting table to put in her kitchen. It's counter height and she desperately needed more counter space. So Saturday, DH and I drove out to their place, about 90 minutes away, dropped off the two tables and four chairs, and picked up one table and four chairs. We got to spend a little time with the four grandkids there, and even got to see their chickens.

^Here's the grandkids...

^...and here's the chickens. I don't know anything about chickens, but these do have a pretty blue/green sheen in the sunlight. They remind me of an oil slick without the detriment to the environment. 

^Here's the table we got in the swap. It's really made the family rounds. DS the Elder and DD#2 bought it several years ago when they were sharing an apartment. DD#2 took it when she got married, and they used it for a while, then passed it to DD#1 when her family relocated from South Africa to the USA. Now we've got it, so it's really gotten around. 

When we were ready to come home, the window regulator broke on DH's side of the car, and the window fell down into the door! We had to drive home with the window down on the highway, I was not a fan. We managed to get the van into the shop on Sunday, which was good because it rained a lot and we don't have covered parking. 

The grandtwins had fall break from school this week, so I got to do some fun stuff with them too. 

The weather was perfect for a trip to the zoo!

This weekend I'll have a houseful. DD#2 is coming down with her family for the weekend, so everyone else be over to see them. It should be a fun, busy time. 

As far as sewing goes I did get some in. I only have one corner left to quilt on Mr. L's quilt (he's the one on the polar bear) I should finish his quilt next week. 

I got some lightweight baby blankets hemmed for one of the grandbabies on the way. I also got burp rags cut out for new grandbabies. I have the fabric out to make some double-sided baby blankets but haven't cut those out yet. 

I listed my Go cutter on ebay, and I'm waiting on my Studio cutter before I start cutting out the next quilts. Working on the misc. baby stuff is a good use of my sewing time until it arrives. 

Company is due anytime, so I better get going!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Overcoming the Overdue!

I just finished the last overdue wedding quilt!!!

Of course I have two wedding quilts I need to start, but hey, no overdue ones hanging over my head!!! That's a win!

I finished another quilt top. It's a very scrappy version of a Crayon Box quilt. It's now hanging in the closet with the other UFO quilt tops. I hope they make friends in there, because I have no idea when this one will get quilted. You can see my old cutting table to the right in this photo. With the bigger cutting table, I'm going to have to lay out quilts somewhere else to take pics.

I started quilting another quilt this morning. FMQ one hour per day is really working well for me. I find that I can get get most quilts quilted in two weeks or less just quilting an hour per day. Of course, I'm not quilting anything fancy. I just want to get some quilts finished, I don't need them to win ribbons. 

I have another quilt top close to being finished, and I have the borders ready to go on that one. After that quilt top is together, I need to get going on the baby stuff for the two grandbabies on the way, and at least cut out one wedding quilt, that wedding is in December. I'll wait for my Studio cutter to arrive before I cut anything. I am really excited about that!

I got the melamine edging put on my new cutting station today. DH thought I would have him do it, but I laughed. It's iron on, and I am pretty handy with an iron, at least in the sewing room!

Lots of stuff to get done, but I am so relieved to have the overdue quilts finished! I'm going to celebrate by icing my arm and watching a movie!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Solving Cutting Problems

I have learned work arounds for my arm issues on everything but cutting. Since I've been concentrating on UFOs it hasn't been a huge issue. Today I finished quilting the last overdue wedding quilt, so new starts are just around the corner. I needed to figure out how I was going to handle cutting. I've tried doing one 30 minute rotary cutting session per day, but even that is too much. I need something that allows me to cut fabric with less stress on my arm. 

I have an Accuquilt Go cutter, and I like it, but I've never had a dedicated spot to put it. DH was thinking I should buy the Go! Big Electric, but I was really struggling with the cost of that, and they hardly ever go on sale. What I really have been wanting is the Accuquilt Studio, which is easier to crank than the Go cutter, can use all the dies I currently own with an adapter, AND, it can also use all the Sizzix brand dies with an adapter. Of course, it also uses Studio dies, which are more expensive than Go dies, but go on sale far more frequently, bringing them to about the same price as the Go version. I was still debating which cutter I was going to get, but I knew an upgrade was in order. 

No matter which way I went, I knew I needed a dedicated space for the cutter, and I knew I'd still have some rotary cutting to do no matter which cutter I got. The cutting table I had was big enough for a die cutting machine, but not big enough for that and a rotary cutting mat at the same time. I originally looked at various carts and tables to hold the die cutter. Accuquilt sells a cutting table, for $999. Quilt in a Day sells one designed for die cutters, for $1,100. I looked at larger cutting tables, I found several over $2,000. None of those were fitting my budget, I felt bad enough just buying a new cutter. 

I started looking at kitchen island carts, and those were much more affordable. I wanted the cart to be able to store all the dies, and finding one that worked with the strip dies is tricky, because I needed cabinet all the way top to bottom, with no drawer above it. I found one on Wayfair that I liked, and would work great with either the Go Big or the Studio. It was just over $300. That was a much better deal than any of the other options I found, and it would fit at one end of my cutting table. 

The thing is, I just couldn't bring myself to buy it. I knew there had to be a better solution. DH suggested we go to the two reclaimed building supplies shops in town. One is called the Re-store, and the other is the Habistore. They sell all kinds of things from houses, restaurants, hotels, you name it. Door, windows, screens, cabinets, appliances, and regular furniture. We went to the Re-store first, and I found some heavy duty metal file cabinets, that we could push together and make a new cutting table, but we'd have to build a platform for a top to make it the right height. DH offered to make the file cabinets work, but I wasn't sold on that idea. They were out of kitchen cabinets the day we went. 

We then went to the Habistore. All their profits go to Habitat for Humanity, so I like shopping there. They happened to have several cabinet options available the day we went, and the thing about kitchen base cabinets is, they are already the correct height. Here's what we came up with.

I bought two sets of pot drawer cabinets, each 30" wide, so this side is 60" worth of cabinets.

I moved my scrap user system into these drawers, I know, time to make some quilts with my scraps! I've been too busy with UFO's this year to use any scraps, I've only made more! Next year I hope to make a dent in these. 

The cabinets I chose for the other side were only 48" wide, so I added a two foot wide set of shelves that's 12" deep to make up the difference. I've yet to store anything in these yet, but I'll be moving my dies over here.

I decided to keep two sets of the plastic drawers I had under my old cutting table, and I stuck them on the end. These have all my big thread cones, bias tape, and patterns, along with some misc. stuff. 

DH cut a piece of melamine for the countertop, and we bought the edge tape for it, but I haven't applied it yet. My old cutting table was 36" x 48". My new cutting table is 49" x 75" Total cost for everything, cabinets, shelves, countertop, edge trim? $255. That's less than I was going to pay for just the kitchen cart to hold the die cutter, and I upgraded the cutting table and all the storage. The base cabinet pot drawers I bought and put my scrap user system in are still being sold new, for $400 each. I paid $56 each. I don't mind the cabinets being used, they still have a lot of years left in them. The two sides don't even match, but I'm not worried about that either. Great storage solution for less money. That's a win! Room for a die cutter and room to rotary cut? That's a win!

DD#1 wanted my old cutting table, and she's got room for it in her kitchen. She was really wanting some extra counter space, and that table is counter height. The two sets of plastic drawers I am getting rid of she wanted too, so all of that is ready to go to its new home. 

I spent hours reading reviews, watching YouTube tutorials, checking forums, and reading blogs to determine which cutter I was going to buy. This article really turned the tide for me. I do have some of the mobility issues she mentions in favor of the Go Big, but the advantage of being able to use any dies on the Studio was HUGE. I'm also pretty sure I can turn a crank with my left hand. To top it off, the Studio is currently on sale for 33% off, and dies are 40% off. Not that I'm telling or anything, but, does anyone want to buy a GO! I won't need it anymore. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

One Step at a Time

My main priority right now is the quilts I have ready to quilt, not piecing a new quilt. The thing is, I know my arm does best when I limit my FMQ time to one hour per day. I can handle some other sewing on top of that, but I haven't cut out any of my new deadline quilts yet, and I don't want to start a brand new project aside from those. So what's a quilter to do?

Well, my solution is going in a couple different directions. My main piecing project right now is actually just assembling UFO's I had at block stage. 

I finished assembling this Crayon box quilt top this week, and I have a second scrappier version mostly assembled too. Once I have a quilt top done, it gets hung in the closet and waits its turn in the quilting queue. I am assembling three quilts right now, and my leader/ender project is a split nine patch that's also a UFO. I don't have to finish a UFO in one go to make progress. Getting a UFO to quilt top stage is an important step. When I have a basting spree, I usually quilt baste until I'm out of pins. It's pretty easy to slip a few UFO's into the quilting queue that way, along with finishing up the deadline quilts. 

My late night project is not a UFO. I'm pretty tired by days end, and I don't want to have to fiddle with making things super accurate, or anything complicated. I've found string blocks are a great way to get in a bit more piecing, without anything taxing. 

I wanted to make Miss S a new quilt, since everyone else in her house is getting a new quilt. I don't have a ton of extra time to work on it, so I decided on a purple/blue string quilt for her. I bought a ream of 8.5x11" newsprint, and I'm just making the blocks that size. I need half the center strips going in one direction diagonally, and half in the other to get diamonds. My method is to make two blocks at once, one in either direction. Some days I'm too tired and don't make any, other days I make two blocks, which is my goal. A couple nights ago I didn't want to work on assembling UFO's so I made six string blocks. There is no deadline for this quilt, I just wanted Miss S to know I've got a new quilt in the works for her. I've got more blocks than this made, I just haven't trimmed the other ones and torn off the paper. 

I'm having a hard time getting myself to cut out the next quilts, so I'll just keep working mostly on UFO's. I'll get them done, one step at a a time.