Friday, February 27, 2009

Cat quilt top done!

    For anyone who has been waiting to see pictures, I just finished the cat quilt top for my grandbaby. Here it is! I haven't decided how to go about quilting it.

    It was very sunny when I took the picture as you can tell, that the only reason you can see all my seam allowances. You may recall that I had more snail trail blocks cut out than I needed for the cat quilt. I sewed up the extras, and made this bonus charity quilt. It's not that big, but I am not cutting out any more snail trail blocks, so that's the size it's going to stay!

     This charity quilt I will save and quilt on my quilting machine after I get some practice. My next quilting goal is to make some fast tops to practice on, after my first few plain muslin practice quilt sandwiches. 
     I am making pretty good progress on my guest room quilt, which I'm doing as leaders and enders. I need to cut out the rest of the blocks for my double delight, and do it as leaders and enders as well. At least if I do that, I'll be making some progress on it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Progress

      I have been working on so many projects at once, I decided to push this weekend and get at least one to quilt top stage. I had lots of scraps from the flannel baby quilts, including all the HST's left over from making the snowball blocks. I had double sewed while I was making the snowball blocks, so the HST's were already together. I still haven't made a design wall, so I threw a piece of flannel over the door and started playing with the HST's on there. I debated on pinwheel blocks with sashing. I make a lot of pinwheels from leftover HST's, and from snowball blocks, it always works out right because you need four HST's for each pinwheel, and you've cut four corners off of each snowball works. 
     I wasn't liking the way it was coming out because of the fact I had different amounts of each color, and I didn't want to make any more. Instead of fighting the uneven color amounts, I decided to go with it, and came up with this.

     I'm pretty happy with it. I wasn't too concerned about everything matching perfectly, This is a bonus quilt, and besides scraps I pulled one flannel fat quarter from my stash to do the inner border. I've already cut most of the remaining flannel from these projects into squares, and I think I can get at least one more baby quilt out of them.
     While I was concentrating on getting this top together, I was sewing the snail trail (cat tail) blocks for the cat quilt as leaders and enders. I got the ten I need for the grandbaby quilt done. I started on the other snail trail blocks that are cut out, that I'll put in a charity quilt. I already figured out a layout for the charity quilt. I debated on starting the cat blocks, but I figured while I was making such good progress on the snail trail blocks, I might as well go for it. Besides, with all those little pieces, I was afraid I'd lose some if I waited too long to get those together.
    Today's focus, working on the rest of the snail trail blocks, using the guest room quilt as leaders and enders. If I get the snail trail blocks done, that's iffy, I'll start the cat blocks. Also, I need to get some muslin washed up and ironed. I want to cut out all the corners for my String X string blocks, and cut some squares to use for a double four patch quilt. I need some quick quilt tops that I can practice on with my quilting machine, and I have a bunch of four patches I've made as leaders and enders. I think a double four patch will be fast to whip up, since the four patches are done. I won't be assembling that until after I finish the cat quilt, but if everything is cut, it will go fast when I'm ready. If I have time, I'll make a couple string blocks. We'll see.

Friday, February 20, 2009

first cat blocks

  What do you mean you don't see any cats? Fair enough, how about cat tails? These blocks are much more complex than the actual cat body blocks, so I decided to get these done first. I need 10 of these blocks for the grandbaby quilt, but I have enough pieces cut to make 20, so the extras will end up in a charity quilt I'm sure. I had a blast choosing fabric for this quilt. The dark blue fabric has dogs on it (dogs chase cats), one of the bright greens has mice (cats chase mice), the yellow balls of yarn (cats play with yarn), one of the whites has paw prints, one of them has umbrellas (raining cats and dogs came to mind), and there is a big cat print with the leopard spots. These blocks only represent 20 of the 43 fabrics that will be in the quilt.

Quilting machine set up

   We finally had time yesterday to set up the quilting machine. I have a Little Grace 2 frame with a Juki 98QE. My husband was quite the trooper, he had so little idea of what I bought, he was surprised when he opened the box and saw it was wooden. Here is the first opening of the boxes. I was very impressed with the packing, and the labeling of parts was fantastic! All of the nuts, bolts and such were in separate Ziploc bags with labels saying exactly which size and type they were. Very helpful.

   Here it is partway assembled. I have an old double school desk I use as a coffee table and it really came in handy for this project. We are setting it up in queen mode, this frame can't do a king, and if I only made crib size quilts, I doubt I would have ever bought a frame. The only place in the house it will fit in is the living room, so that's where it goes. You can see one of our dogs, Bianca, in the picture. She is not sure what to think of this big thing, and was slinking around all day.

   This is the picture of the frame all assembled. DH did the wiring today, but we haven't taken a picture since that's been done. We did a bit more rearranging of furniture, and are storing the frame up against the wall under the big clock. I'll have to pull it out to use it, but that OK. I need to attach my leaders onto the poles, but that will probably wait until next week. There were a couple of pieces missing, that I am now waiting for. I called the company and they are sending them out today. They were very helpful, and only one missing piece was their fault. The box with the fourth rail had broken open during shipping, and all of the hardware was lost. Definitely not the companies fault, but as I said, they were very nice about replacing it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Secret Sister and string blocks

     I belong to the yahoo group Quilting On a Budget. We are having a secret sister exchange, six mailings during the year to the person we are matched up with. We don't send to the same person we are receiving from. I just received my first package from my secret sister and I am so excited! I got the cutest greeting card with a place to put a photo, a novel, my first ever charm pack, and fat quarter of fabric. I saw that fabric and my mind started to turn. I have some great fabrics in my stash to compliment the fat quarter, and I've been wanting to try playing with a charm pack. I've been trying to stop sewing earlier in the evening, and take some time to read so even the novel fits in perfectly with my latest plans.

   I finished cutting out the cat quilt, and I decided to make a charity quilt out of scraps from the flannel quilts, so now I am actively sewing on three quilts again. I still haven't cut out the extra pieces I need for the Double Delight mystery quilt, and there is a ugly fabric challenge on the Stashbusters yahoo group that is really catching my interest. So many projects, so many good ideas, only so much time. 
   Never the less, I did start yet another project. As I've been trying to tame the scraps, an ongoing battle, I started saving strings. For anyone who doesn't know, a string is a long piece of fabric left over from cutting strips, or squaring up fabric, or cutting squares or whatever from fabric. They are too narrow to cut into normal sized strips, and often not even. I have so many now, that I decided I either needed to start using them, or pass them to someone else who would. I'm starting with the strings I have left from cutting up the 100% cotton men's shirts I've been collecting. Here are my first attempts-

    I decided to make 3 1/2 inch squares, 6 1/2 inch squares, and that odd shape for Bonnie Hunter's String X pattern (when I get around to adding triangles to the long sides it will be a square, really). I'm sewing them onto paper templates, then squaring them up. I just got yet another delivery of phone books the other day. I think there are 4 different companies that deliver phone books to our neighborhood, so every year, I get at least 4. The company that left them the other day, gave me three copies of the same phone book. What a waste of trees! I have been unable to figure out how to get them to stop leaving phone books, and I never use them, I look up numbers online. Anyway, I just bought a new guillotine-style paper cutter, to use in my recipe card project, and I decided to cut up a phone book to use for the paper templates.. I got about 200 sheets of paper from the phone book cut to size in about 30 minutes, because I can cut so many pieces at once with that cutter. Finally, a use for those phone books! Any quilts I make from these blocks will be the ultimate in recycling. Phone books pages for templates, used shirts from thrift stores, and the odds and end pieces of fabric that are normally thrown away!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fabrics for the cat quilt

Here are my fabrics for the cat quilt before I start cutting. It should be quite colorful, I'm thinking. The black in the upper right is the background, the fabric just to the left of that with the cat faces is the backing, and the stripe on top will be the border. All those other fabrics will be cats. A couple of these fabrics were used in my daughter's wedding quilt, so it will be especially fitting. Finally some cats I can play with and NOT have an allergic reaction!

Some light blankets ready to go

   Here are three light blankets I made for my grandbaby. My MIL made me some like this when I was having babies, and they were some of my favorites. They are just big square double-sided blankets, no batting. I always took the pink/blue combo one I had to the hospital, and wrapped the baby with the appropriate color showing on the outside. I think square blankets are easier to use for swaddling. I never liked receiving blankets. To me they are too small to be used for much of anything. Maybe if I had smaller babies I might have liked them.
Today my goal is to get the cat grandbaby quilt cut out. If I can get that one done, I can mail all the blankets, burp cloths, and such. They definitely should have enough blankets for this wee one. I have two other blankets to send that my DD was wrapped in as a baby made by her grandmothers. Lots of generations being held by older ones through blankets, quilts, and afghans. Isn't it great?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Grandbaby Flannel

Here it is- grandbaby #1 flannel quilt

Here's the back

      I know it's big for a baby blanket, but I always prefer too big over too small. This quilt has several firsts for me. This and the copy were the first flannel quilts I've made. This quilt is the first time I've used variegated thread to quilt with, and the first time I've used satin binding on a quilt. Since it's for my first grandchild, I suppose all the firsts are fitting.
      I think I'll be spending the rest of the week cutting out my next few projects, although I do have one more quilt cut out already, and I can sew for a while if all the cutting gets to me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Celtic quilt done!

   Here is the Celtic quilt I made for my SIL's gymnastics studio to raffle off. I just finished the binding about 10 minutes ago, and ran outside to take a picture before the sun was all the way down. The pattern is in the book Celtic Pieced Illusions by Karen Combs. I have gotten such positive feedback from the few people who have seen the quilt, I'm sure I'll be making more from her book. There are plenty of multi-color patterns in the book, but since the gymnastics meet this is made for has a St. Patrick's Day theme, I thought the two-color option would be best. It finished at 50 inches square.
    I did finish one of the flannel quilts, the extra one, not the one for my grandbaby. I just put a white binding on it, no borders, so it hardly looks any different from the last picture I posted of the center. The flannel quilt for grandbaby has borders, and is quilted, but I need to go buy binding. My DD wants satin binding, and all I have on hand is pastel colors. Shopping trips to fabric stores are dangerous, but I have a list, so hopefully I'll be good.
    Completely un-quilt related, but leaving me with a great deal of satisfaction- I did our taxes today, and even got them filed! My paperwork was a mess, and it took much longer than usual to get things together. I always file early, and get that task done and out of the way. I don't like it looming over my head until April.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Burp cloths and cloth book

    I took a break from quilting to make these burp cloths and a cloth book for my grandbaby. I found the burp cloth pattern online, and I liked the fact they were contoured to fit on your shoulder better.
   I finished all three quilt tops I was working on. They are all pin-basted and ready to quilt. I'm hoping to get at least one quilted today. I am still quilting on my regular machine. I got my quilting frame, but have had no time to set it up, so there are just boxes everywhere! It may be a couple weeks before I am up and going on that, and since I need weeks of practice to know what I'm doing, I'll probably be quilting several quilts on my regular machine before I'm ready to do one on the frame.