Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Are You Organized?

It's confession time. I am a lousy housekeeper. I'm not naturally neat, nor do I love to clean. That being said, my house is not a disaster either. I've been married over 30 years, and over time, I have learned quite a bit about myself. I've also learned how to "trick myself" into doing stuff.

My MIL told me for years that if I just made my bed every day, my bedroom would look better. She was right, but it wasn't until I wouldn't let myself get dressed for the day until my bed was made that it became a habit. I'm not one to stay in pajamas all day, so that worked for me. 

Overrun with dirty dishes? Don't let yourself go to bed until they are dealt with. Nothing like losing sleep to encourage you to take care of that earlier. I actually enjoy doing laundry, so that one was never a big deal for me. 

After a while, my house looked pretty decent, at least in all the places you could see. Closets and drawers? Those were another story altogether. I've even learned how to deal with those now, and overall, my house is pretty neat, but it took me years to figure out what worked for me. 

Last week, I stumbled onto a resource I wish had been available 30 years ago. Clutterbug has a bunch of YouTube videos, and there is a lot on her website.  I have read dozens of decluttering books, and nothing hit me the way this woman's advice did. Instead of a one size fits all type approach to organizing, she has you identify your natural inclination first. If you struggle with organizing, try taking her quiz. It's free, and you don't need to give her any information.

The quiz is here.

The first time I took the quiz, I really debated over several answers. The quiz said I was a Cricket, but when I read the description, it didn't quite fit. I changed a couple answers I had debated on, and then it said I was a Ladybug. Aha! That one sounded right to me. After reading a lot more of her stuff, I realize there are things I do like three of her "clutterbugs", but I am most like a ladybug. 

She does an excellent job of describing everything to you, and gives great pointers for what will work for each organizing type. Like I said, I wished I had access to this information years ago, because most of what she suggests, is what ultimately worked for me. 

My sister just moved her craft room and reorganized it. She was stifled by having everything put away. I laughed and said I work best with a clean slate. I told her about the Clutterbug website, and sure enough, she's a bee. Where I like things hidden away, she wants to see all of her projects. 

My sister and I have been watching the clutterbug videos and talking about the info she gives. We are both very different in how we prefer things, but we agree she is spot on on what works for both of us. 

Why do I mention that here? Every time I post photos of my sewing room here on my blog, or in any of my online groups, I get lots of comments and personal messages about how organized it all is. When it comes to my quilting stuff, I am most like the cricket I came out as the first time I took the quiz. My scrap user system is sorted by size, then color. My yardage is sorted by one yard or less, or more than a yard, also sorted by color. Thread is sorted by type, weight and color. Other things in my sewing room are not so specifically organized, and my ladybug shows through. Buttons are in a jar, zippers in a bag, rulers only hung by shape so they fit best on my pegboard. Non quilting fabrics are in totes by fabric type. Basically, the stuff I use the most is super organized, the other stuff is just divided into general categories. 

Instead of asking me for advice, check out all of Cassandra Aarssen's stuff, because she is spot on in my opinion. She's the professional organizer, not me. She does have books you can buy, but she also has a bunch of stuff available for free. 

And to keep things quilty related and personal, I had WAY too many projects out and visible. My version of cleaning those up? Get them into quilt tops, and once they are a quilt tops they can live on a hanger in the closet until I get around to quilting them. 

These three quilt tops are all hanging in the closet now, out of my way. None of these have deadlines, but I have other things that do, so these needed to disappear from view. I'm almost finished another quilt top too, then I'll put borders on DD#3's wedding quilt so it's ready for next basting spree. After that I'll start back on the deadline quilts I'm not very far along on. 

I had five overdue wedding quilts. I'm finished one, almost finished another, have one pinbasted, one that needs borders, and one with a lot to do. You'd think that with one finished and one to be finished this weekend, I'd be down to three, but no. I've had a nephew and a niece announce engagements, so I'll still be at five wedding quilts. Add to that three grandkids with new beds, and one new grandson due in January, and I've got plenty to keep me busy! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Two Years Late

I have been drowning in a list of overdue wedding quilts, but I can finally cross one off of my list.

This quilt is for DS the Elder and DDIL. They just had their second wedding anniversary, so it's way overdue, but it's in the mail on the way to them now. The pattern is called Faceted Jewels, though I did make some very minor changes to the pattern. 

The quilt center that needed to be trimmed up in my last post is now a completed quilt top.

It's a big quilt to lay out in the house, so it's folded into fourths in this photo. This quilt is a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt, Allietare. This one will be going to one of my grandsons who just got a full-sized bed.

My next quilting projects are FMQ another overdue wedding quilt, and finish assembling three quilts that I've already starting assembling. I keep having to grab another project to use as leader/enders, so quilts are being made in between other things. I have three projects I need to cut out right now, but I'm trying to clean up the three partially assembled quilts before I really get into all of that cutting. Once I get those into quilt tops, I'll feel better about having a bunch of newly cut quilts hanging around. 

I decided I wanted a sewing area in the living room again. I love my sewing studio, but late at night it's kind of weird sewing in the basement. I've been wanting to start sewing up some strings, which are overflowing their containers, and a small corner of the living room can easily be set up for just that purpose. I really work best when I have a different project at each machine. Life might be easier if I were a start to finish quilter, but I'm not wired that way, so it's not going to happen. Strings are an excellent thing to sew when I want to switch up machines, so I think my living room will be where I rotate through my vintage machines. I usually talk about rotating out my Singer 201, but it's my favorite vintage machine, and I never want it put away. It is fun to sew on different machines, and I have some great vintage options, so maybe this will be what actually gets me to rotate through them. 

So, once I set up the living room sewing corner, I'll have four machines up all the time. Downstairs in my studio, I have my Tin Lizzie sit down longarm for FMQ. The Singer 201 is my go to for piecing blocks. My Bernina 440 I usually use for assembling quilts (mostly due to the large cabinet it's in), sewing on binding, and doing any non-quilt related sewing. The living room will have whichever machine I want to sew on at the time, and I think I'm going to start with my pink Atlas!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sewing by the Timer

I really hate how injuries, and maybe just growing old, make you change how you do things. I miss the days I could sew for hours on end, making the time DH is working fly by. I miss that, BUT I am thankful I can still sew! I have to work smarter, not harder. 

Now that I've got a nice pile of basted quilts, I'm well into my new habit of FMQ an hour a day. I literally set a timer, and quilt for one hour, then it's time for a break. 

After that break, I can either work on cutting a project, but I limit cutting sessions to 30 minutes, because they are harder on my arm. I have several must do projects that need to be cut out, but even 30 minutes a day will get them cut out eventually. If I have a lot of pressing to do before cutting, I give myself an hour of pressing/cutting combination. Then it's break time again, usually lunch.

After lunch, depending on how my arm is doing, I can piece blocks or assemble a quilt. Anytime I'm working with large amounts of fabric to move around, it harder on my arm, so I'll only sew an hour on assembly, but I will do up to two hours a day piecing blocks as long as my arm is feeling OK. 

It feels weird setting a timer to sew, but I lose track of time if I don't. If I do too much in a day, I really aggravate that repetitive stress injury, and I may not be able to sew for several days. I'm only sewing/quilting/cutting 2-4 hours a day now, when I used to do 8 hours easily. I'm kind of glad I've been concentrating on UFO's, because some of the work is already done, and I can see progress faster. 

Here is a quilt center I finished assembling this week. It's just draped over my cutting table. I need to press it then trim it up so I can add  borders.

Can you see the odd bits that need to be trimmed off? On point settings with pieced setting triangles can be pretty tricky. It shouldn't take long to trim it up, then I can cut the border, which will just be a dark blue. This quilt needs to be done by October, so it will be basted next basting spree. I just need to finish the top first!

I have all the fabric now to make the latest wedding quilt. This is a new engagement, and I could possibly get it done before the wedding. I ordered more fabric than I needed, because I want to make a quilt for my bed in one of the colors they chose for the new wedding quilt. Cutting both of those quilts will go into my daily cutting time, along with finishing cutting the big boy bed quilt for Mr. LJ I already started. 

There are some advantages to sewing by timer. I find I stay much more focused on what I am doing because I only have a limited time to do it. I probably get more done in my new timed hours, than I did when I wasn't timing myself. 

Another advantage is actually knowing how long it takes to do something. I am currently quilting a quilt that is 108" square, not a small quilt by any means. After quilting for an hour, I figured out how much I got finished, and realized I'd have the quilting finished after 10 one hour sessions. I know FMQ times vary drastically on what pattern you are quilting. I am doing a freehand allover pattern with leaves. I am so far behind on quilts, I definitely feel finished is better than perfect, I can meander faster than the leaf pattern, but I get sick of meandering. This was a good compromise, more interesting to quilt, but still easy and quick. 

Since I am quilting by timer, I find myself quilting on days I normally wouldn't have. Usually if DH is off work, I wouldn't go in the sewing room at all. Now, if he gets busy doing something, I go sew for an hour, then check in with him. I've been quilting on the current quilt every day, I haven't had a day I couldn't sneak in an hour so far. At that rate, I could finish quilting three queen/king sized quilts in a month, all while working on other projects too! Since I have five overdue wedding quilts, and now a sixth one to make, it is actually encouraging that I could get caught up in just a couple months. I know there will be days I won't be able to sew at all due to other obligations, but still, sneaking an hour is doable on a lot of days, and if I'm interrupted, my timer has a pause button!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Boy, His Dog, and Their Quilt

DD#2 asked me to make her corgi a quilt a while back. That corgi is crazy for quilts, and if there is one in a room, she's on it. I had some extra HST's from making the quilts in the grandkid room, so I pieced this top from those several months ago. Now that DD#2 is spending the week with me, it was a great time to finish this quilt. I'm not sure Mr. LJ hasn't put his own claim on the quilt, but I've got a new quilt for him in the works too!

Navi the Corgi did finally get her quilt all to herself! 

Not much else going on quilting wise, family comes first!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Basting Spree

I've been busy all over the house doing quilty things. I finished another wedding quilt top this, so three of the five wedding quilts I am late on are now quilt tops, and as of yesterday, those are all also basted ready for quilting! 

This is my stack of basted quilts hanging out behind my longarm for right now. I've got company coming tonight and they are staying a week, so not much quilty time in the next week, but I do hope to get the top quilt done while they are here because it's a small one for their dog! If you count them, you'll notice there are actually five quilts in the basted stack. I had pins leftover after basting the three wedding quilts, so I basted the quilt top that DH's grandmother started, and I finished. We don't have a quilt made by her, so we'll be keeping that quilt. 

I have a whole new basting setup. I have basted on the kitchen table for years, but DH wants to get a smaller oval table for our dining area, and that's not the best option for basting. I decided to buy two 30" by 8ft folding tables, which if I move the living room furniture I can set up in the living room side by side. Here's how that worked out.

I found it so much easier to baste the big quilts when I don't have to move them around as much! I've never wanted to try basting on the floor, that sounds like a nightmare to me. I make so many quilts over 100" square that the board method never really appealed to me either. Moving around ten foot boards doesn't seem easy to me. These 8' tables fold in half and have carrying handles, so they really aren't so hard to move. 

I tend to baste several quilts at a time, which is why I have so many basting pins. The five quilts I currently have basted will take a while to quilt, so I've already taken the tables down until next time. 

My next basting spree I hope to have all the other wedding quilts ready to baste, including the one for the recent engagement. I had a plan for their wedding quilt, but after talking to them decided it wasn't to their taste. I ordered fabric for their quilt today, and I hope to make it as leaders/enders while working on the other quilts I need to make. They only wanted a couch quilt, so I'm going twin sized on that. The wedding quilts I just basted are two kings and a twin. The next batch will be one king, one full, one twin.

The above quilt is for DS the Elder. His second anniversary is next week, so this quilt is REALLY late. The quilt is 108" square. The pattern is Faceted Jewels. I made a few changes to the pattern to get it to be the size I wanted, but I had so much fun making this quilt, I could see making another one. 

My other must do quilts right now are one for the grandkids, one full, two twin, and one baby quilt! The full quilt I need I chose a UFO for, and it's partially assembled now. One twin I need to cut, the other twin will be a string quilt so it's low stress and little cutting. The baby quilt I'm waiting on gender and color choices. I'm am so excited my baby is going to be a father! 

I have a lot going on, but I finally feel like I have a handle on it. I'm even getting things done in between the lines.

I finished this quilt top this week. I'm not adding borders, it's 48" x 72" now. These HST's were cutoffs from a bunch of flying geese units that are making two other quilts which also ready for assembly. My plan is to donate all three pink quilts, but we'll see. I often end up giving them away before they get donated. 

This is my current leader/ender project. I'm making a twin sized quilt that will have four of these columns. The blue HST's were cutoffs from another quilt. I have a blue Weed Whacker quilt in blocks, but not assembled, and these HST's were cutoffs from that quilt. I plan on putting thin white strips on both sides of each column, but I'm debating between using a single fabric for borders and separation strips, or bust more blue scraps by making piano key borders and separation strips. 

Sounds like I've got company!