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.