Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Is everyone ready for 2010? I have a feeling it is going to be another busy year, as 2009 was for me. I suppose most people get that end of the year evaluation thing going, and I am no different. I think in some areas I had a win in 2009, and in others, I didn't do so great.

I started 2009 with no UFO's, and, unfortunately, I am ending with several of them. I have 8 quilts started this year that I have not completed. Two of those have all the blocks completed and just need assembly. One just needs quilting and binding.The others are in various stages of production, including one that is only cut out. I also have 6 or 7 garments cut out and not sewn. Three of my unfinished quilts were mystery quilts, although I did do a a fourth mystery this year that I finished. That's not such a good track record with getting my mystery quilts completed.

I had a few other projects started that I am getting done just in time to count them for 2009. I had 7 more burp rags that needed to be finished, and I got them completed yesterday. I have one cherry pit pad left to stuff, and I should manage to finish it today.

I've still been working on string blocks. I switched to working on 8 1/2 inch blocks, so I could use my larger strings first. I like the Care Bears peeking out on this one. I've made about 30 string blocks in the last week.

This is my split nine patch project. I need 112 split nine patches, and I have 51 done. I also needed 8 all light patches and I finished those. I've been making 10 a day, then working on other things. Hopefully by the end of next week, this one will be ready for assembly. I need to get it together before I decide on borders.

I am rearranging my sewing supplies, trying to come up with some more attractive storage. I went to a thrift store this week, and hit the motherload on glass canisters. These glass canisters look much better than the plastic storage containers I was using before. I didn't throw the old containers away, I'm just using them in different rooms.

On January 1, 2009, I grabbed a container and decided to start throwing empty spools in it. These are the spools I emptied this year. I don't know how accurate the yardage is on how much thread I use in a year. Some of these spools had already been started in previous years, and of course I've started other spools that I haven't emptied yet. About midyear I started piecing with 5000 yard spools, and I have one of those about 3/4 gone, but not empty so it's not in my count. I wanted a guesstimate at least, so I added it up, and these spools represent 9,382 yards of thread, or 5.33 miles.

I did make 21 quilts from start to finish in 2009. So all together I had 29 starts, and 21 finishes. I made lots of garments in 2009, but I completely lost count on those. I got lost on my yardage usage and buying. I think I am just over 300 yards used for the year, but I bought more than that, so I am at a gain. I'm OK with that, and I'm two months into the no-buy challenge and doing good so far.

My goal the last two years has been to make 12 donation quilts per year. I still haven't made it. In 2008 I donated 7 quilts, and this year I donated 9. I'm getting closer. It seems I always find someone who needs a quilt before I get them dropped off, so I end up planning on donating them, and giving them away to someone else first.

I've been thinking about my 2010 goals, and at first my list was way too long, so I think I've shortened it enough to be possible, but not easy.

1. Finish all my 2009 starts, with possibly the exception of Perkiomen Daydream, which is my longterm project.

2. Keep a quilt! I still haven't done that, and one of my UFO's is for our bed, so if I do goal number one, I should be able to do this one.

3. Make 12 donation quilts, using my scrap user system or orphan blocks. A sub-goal of this is to cut up my scraps as I make room in my scrap drawers. I got stalled on sorting my scraps because my drawers are full, and I'm not buying any more plastic drawers.

Those are what I decided would be my main goals for 2010. I had thought of a bunch of others, such as busting my flannel stash (I love the feel of flannel, but don't really like working with it for quilts), using up the denim squares I've cut from worn jeans over the years, using up all of my preprinted panels, and a bunch of other things, but when I started thinking about how long each of those projects would take, I decided to shorten my list, and try to be a bit more realistic. Besides, if I finish the 8 starts I haven't finished, and manage to make 12 donation quilts, that will be 20 quilts, which is only one less than I finished this year. That's still a lot of sewing, and plenty to keep me busy. I have a couple of WHIMMS I'd like to start in 2010, and there are always weddings and babies to make quilts for.

Yes, I do believe 2010 is going to be a busy year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Holidays can be a little odd around here. DH ends up working most holidays, in fact, I can't remember the last time he had Christmas off. We had our family Christmas on Sunday morning, with a breakfast feast, which was great. Last night, Christmas Eve, I did a finger food buffet, and people came over as they could. It was a relaxed, fun thing.

This morning DH and I slept in a bit, since the last two days he was getting up at 4:30 AM but today he was working noon - midnight. I made the two of us omelets for breakfast, then DS the Elder came over and woke up DS the Younger, and DD#3, and DSIL showed up. DH had to be off to work so the five of us went to the movies to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. The kids liked it better than I did, but it was pretty good. I think I may have liked it better if I hadn't seen it on Christmas, it just wasn't Christmas friendly to me. DD#3 and DSIL headed home after the movie so they could sleep since DSIL works nights and hadn't slept since he had gotten off of work.

My boys and I came home, ate some leftovers from last night, and decided to go see another movie. DS the younger still hadn't seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and since it was at the cheap seats, we decided to go see it. I read that book to my kids all the time when they were young. It was the second time for DS the Elder and I to see it, but we both enjoyed seeing it again. DS the Younger told me within the first two minutes he was going to like the movie, and he did.

I wasn't too motivated when we got home, but I wanted to do something, so I made a few string blocks.

Making some string blocks didn't make the pile of strings go down at all, it made it bigger! I had the strings so tightly packed into the container they were in that as I used them, they kept expanding, so now the pile looks much larger. These string blocks will finish at 6".

I have lots more to make, but they are just an ongoing project and when I have enough I'll make a quilt out of them. I have seen lots of one or two color string quilts lately, and I like those. I was debating on dividing my strings by color and starting some color controlled tops. Obviously, I didn't do that yet. I am separating out the lightest strings, because I have a separate project I want to use those in, but I am still using everything else in these.

I also made my first crumb blocks ever! I just did two to see how I liked them. The picture didn't come out very well, but they are pretty cute, and I like the idea of someday having enough to make a quilt. I don't know if I'll ever take to these like I did to string quilts, only time will tell.

I'm planning on taking down the Christmas decorations this weekend (they've been up since before Thanksgiving), and maybe next week I'll get back to some projects with deadlines, or not :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Fat Quarters

We did our family Christmas yesterday, and I got 18 fat quarters as Christmas gifts. Since I am on no-buy getting some new fabric was very nice. I am not worried about the addition to stash, since I figured out I've used 65 yards of fabric on garments since Thanksgiving, plus made a 63x85 quilt from start to finish in the same time period. I think I'm either close to or just over 300 yards used for the year. I emptied 5 bolts of fabric this year, and that was exciting!

I did get all 12 pairs of pajama pants done before we opened gifts. I was happy to get that done. I am taking a couple days off of sewing, after running myself ragged for the last month. If I do any sewing this week, it will probably either be some mending or some mindless sewing like string blocks. Next week is soon enough to get back on the fast track on projects. The time off is my Christmas gift to myself.

In case I don't post in the next few days, have a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Carolina Christmas update

Yesterday I sewed all day long, and got my blocks together for my mystery quilt, Carolina Christmas. The final layout is available now, and it is stunning! I'll be waiting to assemble mine, in an effort to get some Christmas-y things done. My quilt looks quite a bit different than Bonnie's because the colors are different, but if this comes out half as nice as hers, I'll be thrilled!

Here are my block 1 blocks.

And here are some of block 2. I think the optional pieced border comes out this weekend sometime, so when I see it I'll decide what I want to do for borders. The quilt is pretty busy as is, so without having seen the borders Bonnie designed, I'm leaning towards plain borders. On the other hand, this quilt went in a completely different direction than I was guessing, and If I like the pieced borders as much as I like the rest of the quilt, I may do them after all!

Today's list? I already cut out 12 pairs of pajama pants, and now it's onto baking! I have two types of cookie dough made and chilling, and I'm just taking a break before I make more. I usually make six or so types of cookies for Christmas. Some go to work with various people, and others are eaten by us or any company that comes over. I'm not making as many cookies this year, but I am keeping the variety. This is very late in the month for me to be doing this. I usually do a lot of baking the first week of December and freeze everything. This has been a very busy month though, so I'm glad I found time to do it all.

Tomorrow will be more baking, and company coming over for dinner, then Thursday and Friday are my last sewing days before our family Christmas on Sunday. I'm hoping to get all the pajama pants I cut out today finished before then, but if not, oh well, they will get them sooner or later :-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quilting Serendipity

I can't help it, I just LOVE scrap quilts. I needed a quick quilt, so I took some of my pre-cut pieces and made one in a week. Some scrap quilts are divided by color, some are divided by value, and some are completely random. The border on this newest quilt is divided by value. It's a braided border, with darks on one side, lights on the other. The only thing I pay attention to is light and dark as I grab pieces to add onto the braid. When you are that random, sometimes funny things happen. Check out the angel playing football....

I thought that angel playing football was so funny. I wouldn't have planned a quilt that way, but with scrap quilts stuff like that just happens....quilting serendipity! I hope that angel is a Patriots fan, but she probably routes for the Saints.

Here is the completed quilt, which I just put the final stitches in about 15 minutes ago. Can you spot the breast cancer awareness ribbon in the center? It's subtle, but there.

Now that this quilt is finished, I can start working on Christmas presents or get back to my mystery quilt. I did get a few blocks of the mystery quilt put together, but less than a dozen. I'll have to take a picture of those and put in my next post. We moved Christmas up to the 20th in our house, because too many people are working on the 24th or 25th. With everyone working different shifts, and not getting the holidays off, you have to just do what works. That only gives me a few short days to make anything, and I still haven't baked one Christmas cookie yet :-( I told everyone they may end up with Valentine's gifts instead. I can only do so much in a week, and I'm not going to stress over it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More of the Mystery quilt

I finished steps three and four and four of the mystery now. These are seriously scrappy! For my neutral I am using ANYTHING with a white background. I am ignoring all designs, and only looking at background color. I am anxious to see how this comes out, because this one is way out there.

Here is step three. These units were easy for me, since I had just made a bunch of them for DD#3's wedding quilt border. No mirror images this time, which made them even easier!

Here is step 4. Bonnie called it a Broken Dishes block, and I had to look it up, because the block I know as Broken Dishes isn't this one, though it's similar. I learned that both blocks, this one and the one I was thinking of both go by the name Broken Dishes. Usually I find one block that goes by multiple names, this one was one name with two different blocks.

DH helped me out with this block. After I got all the HST's sewn to a neutral square, I gave the piles to DH as he watching Monday night football. I told him to sort them into pairs, and have no matching fabrics in each pair. I only had to rematch three pairs, which I thought was very good considering the Green Bay Packers were playing, and DH loves them. He really saved me a lot of time by doing that.

I just printed out step 5, but I don't know when I'll get to it. I found out about someone who really needs some comfort right now, so I started another quilt to be finished ASAP. I chose a simple pattern, and I'm using precut pieces (so glad I've been organizing my scraps!) to make it go faster. The blocks are all laid out on my design wall, to be assembled tomorrow. All of my Christmas ideas are on hold, some indefinitely. This comfort quilt is my #1 priority right now in the sewing room. If I get it finished in time to make a few gifts great, if not, oh well, there are always gift cards!

Today we ran a bunch of errands, mailed packages, and hopefully did the last of the Christmas shopping. Tomorrow should be the day my washing machine is fixed. The repairman came last week but he had to order parts. It's been broken almost two weeks, and if it's not fixed tomorrow, I will have to go to the laundromat. I've already been washing some things by hand, but now so much is dirty I can't catch up handwashing. Wednesday is DS the Younger's birthday, and then Thursday is shopping with DD#2 and DD#3.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Craft Crossovers

Did you ever have one craft you do, make changes in how you do things in other crafts? For years I was an avid cross-stitcher (until I messed up my thumb) and that changed how I hand sewed other items. In cross-stitching you double your thread, and put the ends of the thread through the eye of the needle. This leaves you a loop on the long end. You go up through the fabric, and down, then run the needle through the loop before you tighten the stitch. Voila, the stitch is anchored, and you are ready to go on with no knot sticking up. Well, at this point in time about the only hand sewing I do is to sew buttons on, but I use that cross-stitching technique every time. It anchors my button on with the first stitch, and I don't have to start with a knot. It is a craft crossover.

I was busy sewing scrubs today, and I realized how much quilting has changed the way I sew garments. When I quilt, I do a lot of chain piecing. I never chain pieced anything before I started quilting. I am sewing three different tops all with white thread. Look at what came off of my sewing machine! I sewed the top down on the pockets and sewed the shoulder seams on the facing all in one chain, and I did it for all three shirts at once. I've been making scrubs this way for a while, but I guess I hadn't thought about why I started doing it that way until tonight. I'm sure it's another craft crossover. I didn't used to make scrubs this way, and I've been making scrubs much longer than I've been quilting.

I didn't do any quilt-related sewing today. I am just too tired. I did get three scrub tops made today, so now I'm down to three left. I have step three for the mystery quilt all cut out, but I'd like to power sew through it in one mega sewing session, so I'm thinking it's going to have to wait until the weekend. If I can get those other three scrub tops made tomorrow, I'll be in good shape to do that. I think Step Four is supposed to come out tomorrow, but I will just have to catch up. It's not a race, and I'm really pushing to do it at all. I am having fun with it though.

I have some other projects I need to need to do, but some of the fabric has to be washed before I cut it out. That's not going to happen with my washing machine broken. The repairman was here yesterday, and he won't get the parts until next week. I'm having a hard enough time getting the essentials washed for us, I'm not washing fabric by hand. It can wait! Boy, is that washer going to get a workout when it's fixed after being broken for almost two weeks!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sorting Scraps and Waxing Philosophical

I am really trying to get my scraps cut into usable sizes. I started with Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User System on, and I'm trying to tweak it to what I really use. I use lots of strips, so if it's at least 12 inches long, it becomes a strip in either 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, or 3 1/2 inches. I like using squares, and I am constantly rethinking what size squares I should save. Right now, my latest square sizes are 2", 2 1/2", 3 1/2", 4 1/2", 5", and 6 1/2" I don't save 1 1/2" squares, even though my finished quilts have a lot of them. I prefer to strip piece that size, and if the fabric is too small to get a 2" square out of it, I throw it in with my crumbs. I save 5" squares because I have several patterns using nickels that I want to try. I don't save bricks at all anymore. I don't use them that often, and when I do, it's easy enough to subcut them from strips. This is what is working for me right now, and that may change.

I am making progress on the scraps, or at least thought I was until I cut out nine more scrub tops :-) You see, I make a lot of garments, but a few years ago, I stopped using anything but 100% cotton fabrics to make them. There are a few exceptions, like DD#3's kimono, but most of the fabrics I make garments out of are suitable for quilting. So, with that information, you should now know that when I say I am sorting scraps, I mean scraps, as in leftovers from garment making. Leftover quilting pieces are easier to deal with, since you're mostly going to be dealing with strips, rectangles, or squares. Garment leftovers leave you with pieces like this....

How do you iron that shape, or figure out which size pieces to cut from it? I am usually mentally exhausted from a scrap cutting session, because it just takes so many decisions. I have gotten a bit faster at doing it. I have learned that when the weird shapes of things are getting to me, cut it into more workable pieces to start with, like this....

These pieces fit in the ironing board better, and I can easily see that I have a string, and a few pieces to cut squares from. It may seem like a no-brainer to cut it up to make it more easily workable, but it took me a while. I was so concerned with cutting the largest thing I could from each piece that I was actually trying to deal with the top mess. Now that I realize I'm just going to cut it up anyway, I can cut it up into smaller sections, so what if I end up with different sized pieces, they'll all end up in a quilt sooner or later.

I just ordered a couple of new rulers to help in my scrap sorting goal. I hunted around, and found a 5 inch square ruler. I haven't found a two inch square ruler, but if I come across it, I'll buy it too. I use a lot of novelty prints, and fussy cutting squares works much better for those than haphazardly cutting strips and sub-cutting into squares. I find it easier for me to have the exact size ruler as the square I want. I know how to use a larger ruler to get a smaller size, I just prefer not to do it that way when dealing with a huge pile of scraps. I have a small rotating cutting mat, so with the correct size ruler, I can make short work of a scrap by cutting around a square ruler in the size I want. I had to hunt a while to get my 3 1/2 inch square ruler too, but I have really enjoyed having it. When my new 5 inch ruler comes, I will have a ruler in each size of the squares I keep, with the exception of the 2 inch ones.

Now that I've been seriously quilting for a couple of years, I'm also figuring out what I like to do, and what I don't like to do. It's like finding my quilting identity. I'm not limiting myself on trying new things, but I consistently find myself drawn to similar things. I like scrappy quilts, multi fabric quilts, the 'why use one green when you can use 20, 30, or even 100 greens' kind of quilts.

I like smaller pieces. I think nine patches that finish at 3" are so cute! For the most part, a 6 1/2 inch square is the largest piece I'm going to use in a quilt. I consider that a large piece. The patterns that take a fat quarter and cut it into three pieces to make a fast quilt are not my thing. They are pretty, just not me. I do have a quilt in the works with big pieces, and I'm not having fun with it. I have another I will probably make with large pieces, but only because I want to use the fat quarters I bought in Hawaii in the the same quilt, and I want the pieces large enough to not lose the designs. The Hawaiian prints are large scale and would be lost in 1 1/2" strips.

I was thinking about my liking small pieces, and I even came up with a theory on that. I love to piece, and don't enjoy the quilting part nearly as much. Large pieces give all that empty area that screams for fancy quilting. I don't like to do fancy quilting, but I like to do busy piecing, which looks better with simpler quilting. Lots of pieces + simple quilting = my style!

I like small pieces, but I also like to make lots of quilts. Strip piecing really works for me. It lets me have the look of small pieces, without ever having to cut lots of tiny pieces. It seems faster to me, but since you are sewing exactly the same amount of seams it may not be. It feels faster, and I like that.

I don't ever want to make an heirloom quilt. NEVER. I want my quilts to be picnic friendly, and grandkids making a tent approved. I don't want to ever freak out about pets getting on a quilt, or something being spilled on it. If a quilt gets ruined, it just gives me an excuse to make another one, right?

That's what I like to do, and some of what I don't like to do. How about what I want to do in the future? I want to conquer free-motion quilting! I want to have someone teach me how to paper piece and have it make sense to me. I want to make a crumb quilt. I want to take a class on free motion quilting, I want to go to one of Bonnie Hunter's classes. I want to keep a quilt that I make. I have given them all away.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Carolina Christmas...or not

I started Bonnie K. Hunter's Carolina Christmas mystery quilt. Of course, I'm not doing Christmas colors on mine, so mine can't be called Carolina Christmas. I'm not really into naming my quilts anyway, but the mystery is called Carolina Christmas, so if I use the term, hopefully you will know what I'm talking about.

Here is step one in my basket. all of these sets of two squares together, and a bunch of HST's.

I just finished step 2 a few minutes ago. I had to take the HST's from step one, and add three more pieces to each one to make these blocks. This is as far as the directions go right now, so I still have no idea what will be going on the with the twosies from step one. I really do like doing the mystery quilts, it's fun to see where the designers go with things. I also get to try quilts I might have shied away from, so it challenges me in a fun, non-intimidating way. Mystery quilts break the process down into small steps, so you don't have any idea what you are getting yourself into. It's kind of like the old adage about eating the elephant one bite at a time. It's easier to think of one bite than eating an elephant.

I am using a bunch of blues in this quilt. One thing I can say for blue fabric, it does make things interesting because there are so many shades of it. I have everything from a fairly light blue to navy with some blue-greens in the mix. My lights all have a white background, but other than that any print is OK. I have stripes, plaids, geometrics and florals. There are even some novelty fabrics in my blues.

I got the other four scrub tops cut out today. I'm kind of hoping the next clue for the mystery quilt doesn't come out too soon, so I can get some scrubs sewn up. We'll see, tomorrow the plan is sewing scrubs, clue 3 or not.

My washing machine broke on Sunday. It won't spin or drain. I had to rinse out the clothes in the sink, and wring them out so I could dry them. The repairman couldn't come until Wednesday, so I know I don't have any laundry to do for a couple of days. The bright side- more quilting time!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Swing Your Partner blocks done

Here are the last six Swing Your Partner blocks. I couldn't decide which photo was better, so I uploaded two.

There are 25 smaller blocks in each of these blocks, and some of those are made up of multiple pieces. Since I made 12 blocks in total, that means I had 300 smaller blocks. No wonder I was worried about losing some! This project is now being set aside (I know, a UFO, but there is no help for it, other things must be finished first).

What else have I been doing these past couple of days? I made a huge dent in my scrap pile, which has really got me thinking about what kind of quilter I am, and what I like to do, and what I'd like to do in the future. I've been sort of waxing philosophically about the whole quilting hobby for me. That will have to wait for a future post, as I'm too tired to explain it now.

I started Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt. I have most of step one done. Step two is already out, and I'll get to it when I can.

I only thought I was done making scrub tops for now. I cut out five today, and someone asked me to make four more tonight. I am so thankful to have two sewing machines set up in my sewing room now! Now I can have a quilting project on one machine, and a garment going on the other, and can switch back and forth as I wish. It's so convenient, albeit a bit crowded in my small room.

Our Thanksgiving was very nice, I made dinner for 15, which is a small crowd for us. Last night I went to a mini high school reunion with DH (his school), and today I went to the movies with DS the Elder. Planet 51 was very cute. Tomorrow I'm planning on a big sewing day, but we'll see what happens....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Scrubs for DH

Here is what I've spent the last couple of days doing. I finally got these scrub tops for DH finished. I cut them out months ago, but other projects kept taking priority. Here are six scrub tops, and maybe, just maybe, I made a seventh that will end up under the Christmas tree ;-) DH reads my blog all the time, but it is no shocker that he'll get a scrub top for Christmas. I almost always sneak a piece of fabric by him and make it up into a new scrub top for Christmas. The blue one on the bottom is a batik print I bought in South Africa. I got the orange fabric I bought there made into a scrub top shortly after I got back, but this one was in a pile getting dusty. The top left hand corner had a International Harvester print, and this is the second scrub top I've made him out of it. He left almost all of the scrubs tops he had with him in Ecuador while on a medical missions trip. They weren't forgotten, he left them for others to use. There were a couple he left behind of which he wanted duplicates, and if I could find the fabric, he got them.

As far as my pile o' scraps on my sewing room floor, well, I can't really tell it is going down, but my piles of cut pieces are going up, so it should be less! Today is the only day I haven't cut any scraps, but DH won't be home for 3 or 4 more hours, so I still have time to get some cut.

Tomorrow we're going on a day trip to Bisbee. It's funny how things come about: DH and I decided last week on our getaway, that we would go to Bisbee on Tuesday. When we got home, DD#3 comes to me and asks if we could plan a day to go to Bisbee, because she wants to take DSIL there. I asked if Tuesday would work for them, and as it happens, it would, so the four of us are going down there. Bisbee is an old mining town. There are some great coffee shops, antique stores, and my husband's favorite place, Dot's Diner. Dot's has awesome hamburgers, and very good pie. (DH would reverse that and say very good hamburgers and awesome pie) Dot's is in an old trailer, and there are a whopping ten stools, but you are one blessed individual if you are in one of them. The food is just great. DD#3 and DSIL might want to do the mine tour, but we've gone on the tour more than once, so we'll be antiquing and getting coffee. I'm so glad I got those scrubs done, and off my to do list before I take a couple days off, for fun and feasting.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Little of This, a Little of That

I need to prioritize my projects, but right now, I'm just trying to get a couple things out of my way. I've had two scrub tops for DH partway done and sitting on my second sewing machine since early October. I worked on those today, and they are ready to hem. Hopefully they'll be finished tomorrow. When they are finished I need to decide whether to concentrate on the garments I haven't finished, or Christmas items, or quilts, some of which are one and the same. I would like to give one quilt for Christmas, and I have some garments on my Christmas list as well, but not necessarily the ones I already have cut out. Too many ideas, and not near enough time!

This is my current leader and ender project. I'm making split nine patch blocks which really is easy as a leader/ender project. I already made all the HST's needed. I only have to pay attention to blues and lights, besides those two HST's. It is quick to figure out which you need next, and I will be making split nine patch blocks for a while before it will be time to assemble this quilt. I need 120 blocks for the quilt I'm making.

I assembled a few more Swing Your Partner blocks. I have half of the twelve blocks assembled. I'd like to get the other six assembled, then I can use baskets that have been holding the pieces for these for something else. If you click on the photo to make it larger, you might be able to tell that two of the blocks have the shirt labels on them; a light spiral on the top block, and an orange spiral on the third block down.

On our getaway, I picked up a Christmas ornament. I always get one whenever we travel anywhere. I have a thing for bears, and this bear making a snow angel was too cute to pass up.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Romantic Getaway

I haven't gotten much in the way of sewing done, because I was on a romantic getaway with my husband! (I did actually trim some blocks to size in the car, so that's something). We had no plan, no reservations, just three days off, so we took off on an adventure. One of the things I love about Arizona is how diverse it is. We live in southern Arizona, in a desert valley. The photo at the top of my blog is taken not far from our house. There are mountains all over the state, and the terrain varies drastically with elevation.

We ended up going to the northeastern area of Arizona, and staying in a town called Show Low. I had always thought it a strange name for a town, but now I know why it's named that. Evidently two men shared 100,000 acres, and they decided it was time for one man to move on. They gambled for the land, and it went on for hours. One of them finally said, 'Show low and it's yours.' The other man had a deuce of clubs, so he got the land. Their main street in town is called Deuce of Clubs, more interesting than naming it Main Street, I suppose.

The view from the Mogollon Rim.

Yes, Virginia, there is water in Arizona.

Snowy roads high in the mountains. I got a chance to nail DH with a snowball too!

Mountain range after mountain range.

The views on highway 191 are spectacular!

We were searching for breaks in the trees to take pictures.

A very rugged mountainside.

Look at these hairpin turns! No wonder they don't allow vehicles longer than 40 feet on this road. It is one of the top 10 motorcycle rides in the nation though.

A bighorn sheep trotting on the side of the road. This seemed very odd since we were at a huge open pit mine at the time. On this trip we also got to see wild turkeys. I told them they should lay low until Thanksgiving is over.

We got a chance to go to a couple of antique shops. I saw a few quilts, all appliqued. One of them was all machine done, and not near as old as the shop owner would have you believe. I think I have some of the fabrics in that quilt in my stash. I don't know if they were dishonest, or simply not knowledgeable about quilts. I have some pretty old fabrics that have been given to me, and I wouldn't consider 1970's antique for a quilt, but maybe someone would.

Now that I'm home again, I am catching up on some housework, and trying to prioritize my sewing. I dumped a pile of scraps in the middle of my sewing room floor, and I am determined to spend at least 30 minutes a day cutting them into usable sizes. This pile is just a small amount of my scraps, but if I can get in the habit of doing this a half hour a day, maybe I can dig out another pile, after I work my way through this one. I hate having a messy sewing room, so dumping the scraps in the middle of the room is motivation to get to work on them. I'll let you know if it works :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quilts for my sisters

Now that these quilts have been given to my sisters, I can show them on the blog.

I made this quilt for my oldest sister. She loves the mountains around here, so I've been watching them for months trying to pick out colors I see in the mountains. The colors vary drastically based on weather and time of day, so I had lots of options. Our house faces north, so the quilt is supposed to show the sky as the day goes by, with morning on the top, and the last of sunset on the bottom. I'm not sure anyone can see it besides me, but it was what was going through my head when I planned it out. The cactus has cactus print fabric, which I hunted for for months! I had seen some years ago, and of course it was out of print when I decided to make the quilt. Ebay is a great source if you're willing to wait long enough almost everything comes up eventually. The border fabric has lizards on it to keep with a desert theme.
I got the pattern at It is called Scrappy Mountains Majesty there, and doesn't haven't the appliqued cactus. I think I turned this one into Desert Mountains Majesty.

This quilt is for my second sister. Her favorite colors are red and purple, and I just couldn't choose between them. I finally gave up and told her I was making her something, would she rather have it red or purple? She asked for both. This pattern is Boxy Stars, also from quiltville. This sister is an accountant, and a pretty logical person. Boxy Stars look like either stars or 3D boxes depending on how you look at them. I chose it for her because I was wanting something "outside the box" (or cubicle) for her. The cornerstones are pinwheels made with the bonus HST's from double sewing the triangles in the quarter blocks.

The first quilt looks quite a bit larger in these photos, but in reality, there is only a 2" difference each direction. I just changed locations a bit when I took the pictures. All but the borders and sashing were from my stash. Even the backings were stash. I'm pretty happy with that!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Mystery Quilt

Bonnie Hunter is starting a new mystery quilt on quiltville the day after Thanksgiving. I have so many quilts and other projects in the works, should I really be adding another one? Probably not, but I'm going to anyway. Bonnie is doing hers in Christmas colors, but I'm not. I am in blue stashbusting mode!

I noticed a couple of months ago that my stash does not reflect my personal color preferences. I like all colors except blue. I really dislike blue. Now, of which color do you think I own the most fabric? Blue! How did this happen? I think there are several answers to this, including that the blue selection at the store is much larger than any other color. A lot of my novelty fabrics have blue backgrounds, several people have given me blue fabrics, blue fabrics are most readily available at thrift stores, most people I sew for love blue, and I've just found some great deals on blue fabric. I cut out that split nine patch, and it will be half blue, which helps bust some blues. When the mystery was announced, I decided I would bust more blues in it.

To make these quilts easier for me to sew, and not go blue crazy, I added some colors I do like, and for the mystery quilt it is pink. This mystery quilt needs three colors plus a neutral, so four colors total. I picked white for my neutral, meaning white backgrounds, they have other colors in them, but this go around I avoided creams. My last color is gray because it looked good with all of the other colors.

Here is a photo of my fabrics. I have the blues, pinks, and whites already cut into 2 1/2" strips. I haven't cut the gray yet, but since I'm not going scrappy on the gray, I can cut that fairly quickly. I wanted to go scrappy on all of it, but when I looked through my fabrics I had only about 5 different grays, which didn't seem like enough variety to me. I'm on no-buy, so going and buying more grays was a no-no, I need to use what I have. The single gray should help unify the quilt anyway. In Bonnie's color choices she is only using one gold.

I really didn't have much cutting to do for this so far, since I save 2 1/2" strips in my scrap system. I raided my drawers and dug out the colors I had already cut, and only had to cut a few pinks and whites. I had enough blues already cut. My secret sister from one of my online groups sent me some pink fat quarters a while back, and all that is left of them is going into this quilt.

It is a little odd I decided to go for white as my background color. I think overall I prefer cream, and I often mix whites and creams. I think I wanted a crisper look in this quilt, so I went for only whites. Funny, I have some 30's charms, and I will definitely use white for my background color when I make a quilt with those. In my head, 30's fabrics scream for white backgrounds. In most of my quilts I use cream or a mixed background. Sometimes I wonder why even in a scrap quilt, where pretty much anything can go, I still get these little guidelines in my head on what I want for each quilt. I think quilts talk to you in a weird way. Non-quilters probably won't understand that, but it is the same as decorating a house, why do you chose one lamp or one picture over another? One of them just looks right in the space to you, even though someone else may have chosen something different to go in the same spot.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thread breakage and finishes

I have been having a terrible time with my Juki on the quilting frame. The thread is breaking every 4-12 inches or so. I've tried all different brands of thread, I've adjusted tension, replaced needles, no matter what I've done the problem has just gotten worse. I put a call out to an online Juki group, and they gave me a few ideas to try. The problem is I had two quilts that needed to be finished quickly, and I just didn't have the time to fix the problem before doing the quilts. I decided to quilt the two quilts on my Bernina, and I'm glad I did. These are the first quilts I've quilted on my Bernina, in the cabinet, with the custom insert. What a difference as compared to quilting on a DSM on a table! I pulled the cabinet away from the wall so the quilt could drape over the edge instead of bunching up against the wall. I didn't have a problem with the quilt pulling too much, even though I've been told to keep the quilt level. At any rate, I quilted one quilt yesterday, just stitching-in-the-ditch, and one today, with my first attempt at crosshatching.

I don't know if you can see it, you might have to click on the photo to make it bigger, but this is the back of my cross-hatched quilt. I can't show the front until it's gifted. I really enjoyed doing the crosshatching, I found it simple, and pretty quick. I only drew two lines on the quilt, one slanting left to right, and one left to right. I aligned the 60 degree marking along the edge of the quilt so my lines would make nice diamond shapes. I screwed the quilt guide onto my walking foot and used that to do all the other lines. As long as I kept the guide on my previous line, the quilting was even. I am going to do this again, it was fun, and no machine issues with the Bernina!

DD#2 and I went to Joanns today. It is amazing how much faster a trip there is when I'm on no-buy and am not looking at fabric or getting it cut! I did pick up some Fons and Porter gloves to help guide the quilt as I was quilting. The gloves were on sale, and I had an extra 10% off coupon, so they were just over $2. I thought they were well worth the money, and the quilting was much easier with them.

I have both of those quilts bound, one is already washed and dried, and the other is in the washer now. I want any shrinking to be done on my watch, before they are gifted.

I am also getting into Christmas mode. I got these done a couple of weeks ago, but forgot to mention them. I have plastic canvas ornaments with everyone's names on them. Since we got two new family members this year, I needed to get these made before the tree goes up. Javier is my new son-in-law (married to DD#3), and Zachary is my grandson, (son of DD#1).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Split Nine Patch

I took a couple of days this week and cut out a new quilt. It will be a split nine patch and here are all the pieces. I love these little baskets, just the right size for 2 1/2 inch squares. They are available at Family Dollar.

On the left are all the scrappy blues, then the lights, then the navy blues, and lastly the pieces for the HST's. The HST's will be a navy with a light. I am already working on multiple quilts, but I didn't have anything that was really working for me as a leader/ender project. I have been making scrappy four patches, but I have no immediate plans for them, so it seemed like a bit of a waste at this point. I'm sure I'll use them sooner or later, but I really prefer using a specific project as my leader/ender. I have been wanting to try a split nine patch, and it is perfect for a leader/ender project.

This afternoon I finished the second quilt top I was working on. I cut the backings and they just need one seam to piece them. I'll need to get busy quilting those tops. Bonnie K. Hunter on Quiltville is starting a new mystery quilt, and although I'm a bit pressed for time, I'm going to attempt it. I haven't finished either of my last two mystery quilts yet, but I do work on them. I have scheduled time to finish them at the beginning of 2010, since I'd still like to get some things made for Christmas, I know I won't get them finished before then.

I had a freak accident with some mini-blinds this week. I don't know why they fell, but the mini-blinds in my sewing room fell and landed on my hand while I was rotary cutting. Thankfully, I didn't get cut, but my hand is bruised and was quite swollen for about 24 hours. It could have been much worse. I still haven't gotten the blinds back up, but right now I'm not in a hurry for that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Joining no-buy

I just got some 6 inch charms ready to send off. I am joining a no-buy challenge for one of my Yahoo quilting groups, Stashbusters. The challenge actually started November 1st, so I'm a little late, but better late than never. The challenge is to not purchase any fabric for a year. There are allowable exceptions, but even with those it's going to be a challenge for me. If I buy fabric I pay a penalty of one 6 inch square per yard of fabric. The charms I'm sending off are my entry "fee".
I'm doing well on using my fabric, I've used over 200 yards this year. I've just still been buying more than I use. I'm hoping no-buy helps me change my ways a bit.

Here is one of the blocks I just finished. This is for a quilt I started earlier this year. I have all the sub-units done, and just need to assemble the blocks. I did finish one of the quilt tops I was working on, and I got the horizontal rows assembled on the other one. No photos of those until they are gifted. I hoping to be at the quilting stage by the weekend.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Warming up while cooling off?

The weather has been unusually cool for Tucson in October. All of my company got to feel the beautiful weather, and then it turned cool when they left. I actually like cooler weather better, so I'm OK with this change, but the house is a bit too cool for comfort since I refuse to turn on the heat. See the mug on the table, it's hot spiced cider, my way of warming up!

I'm trying to pick up some of my projects now that life is returning to normal. I had some blocks trimmed, and I got all of those sewn up this morning, but I had these piles left to trim. I opted to sit at the kitchen pile and trim instead of standing in my sewing room, somehow the kitchen seemed like it would be warmer. Why it seemed that way I have no idea, since I didn't cook at all today, and decided we could survive on leftovers :-)

Sometimes I really have a struggle making myself do this type of tedious trimming. The directions I am using call for making the blocks oversized and then trim. I know it will be more accurate this way, and these are scraps I feel no guilt about throwing away! I got everything trimmed and then cut the blocks into smaller pieces, so I can sew them together again tomorrow! I am hoping to get all the blocks for this quilt sewn tomorrow, as well as do a bit of cutting. This quilt will need borders cut, and I have another that needs sashing and borders cut. If I can get all of that done tomorrow, I can start assembling both quilts next week.

We are definitely in the time of year when I must be careful which pictures I post. The two quilts I am currently working on will both be gifts, and I have a pretty long list of gifts I'd like to make. Only time will tell how much I will actually get done before the holidays. I'll have to see if I can go from warming up to hot on sewing projects!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


DH is taking all our out-of-town company to the airport, The washer, dryer, and dishwasher are busy, and for the first time in two weeks, I am not busy! We had a great time with everyone, and the reception was wonderful! That said, I am tired and a little quiet sounds pretty good right now.

I uploaded a few photos in no particular order.

Here is my MIL with the wedding cake she made for DD#3. She did a very nice job.

Here is a close up of the cake topper. It was one of the few things DSIL really wanted. Call of Duty 4 is his favorite video game, and when he saw a picture of a cake topper with the bride dragging the groom away from playing video games he loved it! We bought all the pieces and DD#3 put it together.

Here is DD#3 and DSIL cutting the cake. The song for the cake cutting was
"How Sweet it Is To Be Loved by You".

Instead of having a traditional head table, the bride and groom had a sweetheart table. I made their table runner fancier than the others, and put the bridal bouquet on it.

Their first dance done to "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith.

DS the Elder dancing with DD#2, who was the Maid of Honor.

DS the Younger with some of our nieces. He is quite the dancer and stole the show a few times.

I know there are photos of DH and I, but I couldn't locate them on the computer. I wanted to post one of us together. When we load more pics on the computer I may post a few more. I am also hoping to be able to post a video of the father/daughter dance, which is very cute.

The reception was so much fun, and I think for us it was better that the wedding and reception were separate. I know it's not traditional, but we're not very traditional people. When DH and I got married, we eloped and my MIL and FIL gave us a reception a week later. That was amazing considering they had no idea we were getting married! The break between the two really makes both less stressful.

We actually came in under budget which is incredible! We were blessed by so many people's talents. The DJ is a family friend, and he did a great job. I believe it was his suggestion to do the garter to the "Mission Impossible" theme. Too fun! Other friends took video and photos. I already mentioned that my MIL made the wedding cake. DD#3 did several projects to personalize her reception like the cake topper, making the wedding favors, and making over the guest book and pen. What a blessing to be surrounded by people willing to give of their talent!
Thanks to everyone who helped, and if I forgot to mention you, please forgive me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Round table runners

I haven't posted in a while, but I have out-of-town company here. We've been doing all sorts of sightseeing and having a great time visiting. I hadn't completed the table runners for DD#3's reception before they got here, and the reception is Sunday, so I've been stealing a few minutes here and there to get them finished. I just finished the last one a few minutes ago. The table runners were all from stash :-)

Here is a completed table runner. I can't take credit for the prairie point binding. The binding came with the prairie points already attached. I haven't seen binding like this anywhere besides the place I bought it. There is this great fabric store in Tucson, and I've heard that there a couple in Phoenix as well. It is called SAS Fabrics by the Pound. It is misnamed at this point in time, because as far as I know, the only thing they sell by the pound now is leather scraps. Anyway, the one I go to is in this very old building, and it has everything anyone who does any type of sewing could want. It has some pretty old stuff (definitely some 70's and 80's stuff in there) as well as fairly new stuff. Their prices are amazing, where else can you find a zipper for less than 25 cents? I bought this prairie point binding about a year ago, and they had it for $4 a BOLT! The bolt itself was marked $3.98 a yard, but they were selling the entire bolt for $4. I bought one bolt of every color they had at the time, which was five colors. I made 12 table runners and it took the entire bolt of white. There was so little left (about a foot) I just tossed it out.

A fabric bowl on the table runner. The wedding favors and some Hershey's hugs and kisses will be in the bowls at the reception.

I am so excited my custom acrylic insert arrived today. Now my sewing machine and cabinet are getting along much better!

I probably won't post for another week or so, when things quiet down after the reception is over and the company scatters in their various directions.