Friday, January 19, 2018

Change of Plans

I think I have quilter's ADD right now. I can't seem to stay on task with anything. That is made worse with the fact I need to keep alternating my activities to rest my arm.

So, last blog post I said I'd get the borders on DD#3 wedding quilt. Didn't happen. I said I was going to quilt a UFO. Done, but I haven't gotten binding on it yet. What did I do instead?

See this big pile that needs pressing? It's even bigger now, and has parts of five different quilts on it! I keep running out of leaders/enders, so I grab another UFO that I can move along to next step as leaders/enders. I've had a couple long days of sewing, and I really need to rest my arm, so aside from binding the UFO I just quilted, I think the next couple days will have some short pressing sessions to get through this pile.

I cut this huge pile of burp rags. I use flannel with Warm and Natural batting when making burp rags. I cut all the batting from larger scraps, and didn't have to cut any off my roll. I'm not sure when I'll make the burp rags my primary project, but it needs to be soon, the first baby shower is in February.

I rough cut some swaddling blankets too. I need to press the fabric and get out a ruler and cutting mat to make the largest square I can from the fabric I chose. Once those are trimmed, they are quick to sew. It felt good clearing some baby prints out of stash.

I also cut out the third baby quilt I need. I really need to have all the baby stuff finished by mid-March, and that's stuff for three different babies! I feel like I'm pretty much on target to get the baby stuff done on time.

Oh, I also have the five weighted blankets pinned to their backings, and the backings are trimmed. I'll need to sew the side seams, then I can turn them right side out and start sewing the channels for the plastic pellets.

I'm trying to keep enough stuff going that I can alternate between cutting, sewing, pressing, and quilting. I've also been drawing lines on squares for sew and flip corners too. It makes for a lot going on, but so far, I've mostly stuck to deadline stuff. I'm using various UFO's in the mix as well. Progress is progress, even if it's not all on the same project!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


I have been sewing like crazy! I now have all the tops done for the five weighted blankets I am making. I've pieced two of those from start to finish this week. All the weighted blankets are UFO's, and I'll post photos when they are done.

I finished the last quarter of DD#3's wedding quilt, and I now have the center together.

This photo was taken before I sewed the two halves together. If you look really closely, you might be able to see the edges of the two halves going horizontally along the top of the bed.  I've got that last seam sewn now, but I'm waiting for tomorrow to get borders on.

I needed two baby girl quilts, which were both new starts. I cheated a bit, and made two identical quilt tops. The colors aren't photographing well, and while it looks like there is a lot of pink, most of that is actually purple.  I have very little turquoise fabric left, so I think I'll make more 3" finished HST's to go with the bonus HST's from the Flying Geese units, then I'll be able to make another quilt from all the HST's combined. There isn't enough turquoise left to bother re-shelving it. I'd rather use it up and be done with it.

My quilt tops are really piling up now! That's OK with me, and I'll be working on more quilt tops tomorrow. This weekend my plans are to quilt a UFO. Honestly, If I get all the quilts I am overdue on all to quilt top stage, and just spend the rest of the year quilting, I'd be pretty happy.

Out of the five wedding quilts I am overdue on, two are quilt tops, the one in the photo above only needs borders, another is in stripsets, and the last I decided to start over on, and today, I chose another new pattern for that! I had already chosen a pattern, but I decided it was too complex and time consuming to be practical when I am so far behind. I am making good progress on sewing right now, but I am still ultra conscious of my injury, and I just don't need any additional stress. I hate being behind, and I stumbled across a photo of a two color quilt that will be great for that last wedding quilt. It's much easier than the pattern I had picked, but it is a really nice looking quilt and I will be able to present it happily once it's done.

We aren't even two weeks into the year, and I'm already making good headway on my goals for the year. I have a lot of quilting ahead of me, and more piecing as well, but I'm making headway and that's a great feeling!

Friday, January 5, 2018

My First Finish of 2018

My first finish was a UFO! I'm making quilts for the beds in our house, long overdue, and this one is going on a bed in the grandkid guest room. It's all made from men's shirts, as is the one I'll be quilting next week to go on the other bed in that room. I finished this quilt Wednesday, and I've already had a grandkid sleep under it!

I'm learning things about my Tin Lizzie as I go along. It definitely does better with polyester thread, but I've heard a lot of longarms do, so it's not a huge surprise. I'm sure with a bunch of adjustments I could make cotton thread work, but since I have a bunch of cones of Madeira Polyneon I scored at Goodwill, I don't mind using polyester thread.

This photo was taken while I was quilting the above quilt. In this photo, I'm only using the lighting that came with the Tin Lizzie (and normal overhead lighting). Notice how dark it looks under the arm of the machine. It was hard to see where I was going, and where I had already quilted.

Here's a photo with the new LED light strip I purchased switched on! What a difference!
I bought this LED strip. It was simple to put on, and I am seriously thinking about buying more for some of my vintage machines.

I have two baby girl quilts to make, for people in different states, and I've decided to cheat a bit, and make them just the same. I managed to get them cut out, and you know how much I love bonus HST's, so I already have a project planned for the bonus HST's I'll get from these two baby quilts.

The Flying Geese units I'm making will finish at 4x8, so I'm using 4.5 inch squares on the corners. I want my bonus HST's to be 3.5" cut (3" finished) so I cut a piece of template plastic into a 3.5" square, cut that in half diagonally, and now I have two templates to draw that second line to sew on. I'll get two bonus HST's in the correct size for my second project from each Flying Geese unit in my primary project, no trimming, no fuss. Could I have made the bonus HST a bit bigger? Yes, but I wanted them to be 3" finished, so this way I get just the size I wanted. If I use scissors to cut between the sewn lines, my resulting seam allowances will be a little bit bigger than 1/4", but not much bigger. If I decide I really want that 1/4" seam, I can use a ruler and rotary cutter to get it. As long as my units are the correct size, what size my seam allowance is doesn't really matter.

I have so many quilts to get finished, and as I get more comfortable with FMQ, I get more ideas of what types of designs I'd like to try. What's really been bogging me down is how far behind I am on gift quilts. I don't mind experimenting on baby quilts, but stitching a new design takes a lot more time. Since I have so many BIG quilts that need to be finished, do I really want to spend the time taking twice as long to quilt them? I've decided that a bunch of quilts on the beds of my loved ones is better than a bunch of quilt tops piled at my house with dreams of fancy quilting. Finished is better than perfect. If I only meander on every UFO I have in the house, is something awful going to befall me? Is someone going to refuse to accept a quilt because I didn't do fancy enough stitching? (I can't imagine that happening, but if it did they'd never get another quilt!)  The more I think about it, the more I think I will probably meander on most of my UFO's, and experiment with new designs on the smaller quilts. Once I'm caught up, I'll be less stressed and have a lot more fun stitching out new designs. I am proficient at more than just meandering, but meandering is FAST, and that, I like!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year End Reckoning and 2018 Goals

Normally, I do a year end review on how much quilting I've gotten done in the last year. 2017 was a horrible year for finishes, I only finished three quilts total, the worst year since I started quilting in earnest. Just because I only finished three quilts, doesn't mean I didn't work on any quilts, or finish non-quilty sewing.

Here are my empty spools from 2017. They represent 11,206 yards of thread, or 6.4 miles if you prefer.

I made a bunch of placemats, potholders, bean bag frogs and some other misc. stuff this year. I made several quilt tops this year, just failed on the quilting part.

So, how does the 2018 quilting forecast look? There are so many variables right now, it's hard to predict. I did join the Stashbusters Yahoo Group UFO challenge, to help keep me on track. I need to finish the backlog of wedding quilts that are long overdue, as well as make three baby quilts for babies due this year. Two of the wedding quilts are quilt tops, two are halfway or more on their way to being tops, and one only has some cutting done. Those five wedding quilts and the baby quilts are my priority, along with getting quilts on the beds in our house. I've got tops made for three of the beds in the house.  I have one that would match our bedroom adequately, that needs the top assembled, but all the blocks are made.

I've got things working for me quilting-wise, and things working against me. Right now, it's looking like there will be 2.5 months of 2018 I will likely get no sewing done at all. That's a big chunk of the year to lose. Also working against me is my repetitive stress injury, which is still causing problems, and is slowing my progress considerably.

In my favor are my new sit down longarm, along with the quilt suspension system DH said I should get. Hopefully the quilt suspension system will make quilting easier on my arm.

Right now I have no sewing room, but sometime this summer, that should change, and I think having a sewing room again will make things easier. Knowing I will have whole months without quilting makes me hesitate on saying 2018 will be a banner quilting year for me.

In order to keep things straight for myself, I'll list my 2018 goals.

1) Finish and deliver the five wedding quilts that are past due.
2) Make and deliver the three baby quilts I know I need for 2018
3) Finish and deliver the five weighted blankets I need to make.
4) Finish quilts for at least three of the four beds in our house.

IF I can accomplish that, I'll be thrilled. I have lots of UFO's that are not represented on this list, so finishing any of those would be a bonus. I have a couple dozen quilt tops needing quilting. I also have several quilts that need the tops assembled, but I have all the units made. Getting some of those blocks into quilt tops I would also consider a win.

I know I can't catch up in one year, especially not this year, knowing there is already so much going on. I'm really just wanting to make progress, finish some things, move others to the next stage.

For most of the year I'm going to try to be no-buy on fabric. It's not a financial decision, but rather a practical one. When I get to set up my sewing room, I may decide I'd like a piece of furniture or two, and building up some quilting funds will help with that. Also, there is a chance I'll get to Marshall Dry Goods in Arkansas this year, and if I do, I know I'll stock up on basics (blenders, tone-on-tones) there. If I want to concentrate on UFO's, no buy should help with that. I should have everything I need to finish the UFO's I've got, so really no need to shop.

Wishing all of you a Happy 2018!


Friday, December 29, 2017

Quick Post

This is going to be a quick post, because we are celebrating Christmas tonight. I've got the lasagna ready to go into the oven, the chicken cooked and ready to go into the alfredo once it's made, and the desserts are done, so I've got a few minutes.

I got the top done for one of my nieces. This was one of the quilts I was trying to get to top stage before January 1.

I remembered I had promised DD#2 I'd make her some cloth coasters, since her little one has managed to break most of her other ones. They are coming down for Christmas today, so I was working on her coasters last night, while the desserts were in the oven.

I have another quarter done on DD#3's quilt, so only one quarter to go! I'm using a border print fabric for the borders on that quilt, and I got that cut out yesterday. Some of those border prints are just gorgeous, but fussy cutting three yard long strips is not that fun. Actually, if I'm honest, I don't like fussy cutting anything!

I had hoped to get DD#3's wedding quilt together as a top before January 1, but that's doubtful now. I won't have a chance to sew again until Sunday, and I'm only halfway done one row for the last quarter. It's been taking me a two-three days to do one quarter, depending on what else is going on that day. At least with the borders ready to go on, I feel like I'm close.

I'll definitely work on that fourth quarter on Sunday, but what I work on New Year's Day depends entirely on where I am on the UFO Queen's list for Stashbusters Yahoo group. I joined the UFO challenge for the first time. I've been  member of Stashbusters for years, and I've done the no-buy challenge, as well as the WIPs and WHIMMs challenge, but didn't really need the UFO challenge until now. The last two years my sewing time has been quite limited, and it shows in how many UFO's I have. UFO's are taking up far too much space in my house and my head, and 2018 needs to be a finishing year.