Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ugly Fabric and Chunk 7

Have you ever ended up with a fabric, that you later decided was just plain ugly? I like most fabrics, so it doesn't happen to me very often, and when it does I usually just cut it into strips and use it in scrap quilts. Everything looks good in a scrap quilt ;-) Well, I have a piece of fabric, that I think is pretty hideous, and rather than cut it up into little pieces, I decided to go with it, and build a whole quilt based on it. I haven't ironed it yet, but here is a pic anyway.

What do you think? Did I exaggerate or is it ugly? Well, even if some of you like it, I think it's ugly! The thing is, when I moved my sewing room about 18 months ago, I almost tossed this fabric. I debated on putting it in the bag to go to a thrift store, when I happened to glance up at the fabric I was sorting in my cabinets, and this bright peach caught my eye, and all of a sudden I knew what would go with this ugly fabric! It's taken me until now to cut out this project, but now that I have it's going quickly.

Here are some of my blocks for this ugly quilt. I think the ugly fabric is just going to be the backing, and I'm leaning towards a borderless quilt. Not only will I end up using all of the ugly fabric, I may end up having to piece some other fabrics with it to have the back be large enough! Without the ugly fabric for my basis, I don't think I would have put these fabrics together, but it's growing on me. Is it craziness or just growth as a quilter to embrace the ugly fabric instead of downplay it?

Here is Chunk 7 of the Celtic Mystery all finished. I'm going to go lay out Chunk 8 and I'm hoping to get it done today too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chunk 6

My goal was to get two chunks done today, and that didn't happen, but I did get some cutting done, so that was a good thing. I cut the sashing for the Shamrock quilt. I decided to use green cornerstones with the black sashing, and the man's shirt as the first border. I got all of those cut too. I haven't decided about the outside border for that quilt, I'm going to wait until the center is done to decide.

I also started cutting for the quilt I pulled fabrics for the other other day. I have what I think are enough strips cut, but I'm guesstimating. I haven't figured out all of the measurements for that quilt, so I'm subcutting the strips just a bit at a time. I just needed 2 1/2 inch strips, so if I cut too many strips, that's fine, but if I subcut them to specific sizes, and I cut too many, I'm stuck with weird pieces leftover. If I didn't cut enough strips, that's OK too, because I have more of all of the fabrics. I'm really winging this one.

I figured out a plan for all of those extra 2 1/2 " blue squares, and started sewing them into four patches, and cut some white 4 1/2" squares to go with them.

Now that I have plenty of leader/ender things ready to go, I'm feeling a bit better about my progress. Tomorrow I'm babysitting, so if I do any sewing at all, it may just be some string blocks while baby is sleeping. I do have chunk 7 laid out and ready to go too, so we'll just have to see how it goes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chunk 5

I didn't sew a stitch yesterday, but today I got chunk 5 of the Celtic mystery done, as well as all of the double nine patches for Double Delight. Chunk 6 is all laid out and ready to go for tomorrow. I really need to try to get more than one chunk done per day if I'm going to finish with time to spare, but life has just been crazy lately, so if all I get done is one chunk per day, I'll deal with it. At least I'm making some progress, right?

I am waffling on what to use for leaders/enders right now. I don't really like using string blocks for my leader/ender project, but I have few other options ready to go. I could make 4 patches for no project in particular, knowing I'll use them sooner or later. I could take the time to sew up some strips for Perkiomen Daydream, subcut them, and use them for leaders/enders. I could also cut out the quilt I pulled fabric for, and use it as a leader/ender project. I think I'm feeling too rushed right now to take the time to cut, even though I know it would make me more productive in the long run. I have a bunch of blue 2 1/2" squares already cut, leftover from the split nine patch quilt. Maybe I'll do something with them...

Monday, January 25, 2010

The question is...

The question right now is not what am I working on, it's what am I not working on! I finished chunk 4 of the Celtic mystery I started back in July. I have chunk 5 all laid out and ready to go. I finished a blue string block that was started, and I made a couple double nine patch blocks for the Double Delight Mystery. I keep switching what I'm using as leaders and enders, with little rhyme or reason. My main project right now is the Celtic mystery quilt, so anything else I get done is a bonus.

I have maybe a dozen or so more double nine patches to make for the Double Delight, then I can assemble the center of it. I have LOTS of maple leaf blocks to make for the border I decided to do, and they are not even cut out yet, so there is still a lot of work to do on that. I've had the pieces for the double nine patches on the corner of my sewing table for a while now, and I think I'm just sick of seeing them there. If I get them done, I can put them with the blocks for that quilt, which are not in my way ;-)

The only cutting I got done today was cutting up the leftover border pieces from the split nine patch quilt. Now all the leftovers from that top are in my scrap user system. I wanted to cut the sashing for the green string quilt, but my hands were not cooperating, and I decided it was not a good day to cut. I did get back into a couple quilts that had been set aside, so that's a good thing.

With so many other things to work on, I must be a little crazy, but I pulled fabric for another quilt. The idea for this quilt had been floating around in my head for almost two years, and it's just not going to be denied much longer. If I can just get it cut out, it would be a great leader/ender project, because it's a simple pattern.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snow Covered Mountains

I just love it when the mountains surrounding Tucson are covered with snow. The sight is breathtaking, and we have a great view of the mountains from our house. I might post a few more snow photos later, but they are on the other computer.

DH took this photo while on a scooter ride today. That's a wonderful thing about Tucson, the weather down here is great, but in 35 miles we could go sledding in 3 feet of snow. I'd say we could go skiing, which is sort of true. There is a ski resort on Mt. Lemmon, but none of us know how to ski!

I got the split nine patch top done today. I was waffling on the borders, so I laid out a couple of options. This was the one DH picked, so it was what I did. I had wanted to do a piano key border, but this is fine. It was certainly faster, and I have so many other projects due, faster was probably a better idea.

Here is a close up of the borders, a black with blue design, followed by a narrow pink border, followed by the blue and pink paisley. I think I'm going to quilt it with a simple crosshatching, then I need to decide if I want to bind it in blue or pink :-)

DH got my new sewing machine cabinet assembled. Here it is closed.

Here it is opened up. My custom insert for the Juki has not arrived yet. I knew the cabinet would get here first. I won't be quilting on the split nine patch until it gets here, so I'll be working on piecing a different quilt until then.

What I'll be working on tomorrow
1. cut sashing for the green string quilt (the black with green shamrocks won)
2. start piecing the Celtic Mystery quilt I had set aside
3. make some blue string blocks as my leader/ender project

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Looking for advice

I finished sewing up all of my green strings yesterday, and since I decided to use these blocks for the Shamrock quilt I need to be finished in March, I need to get it together. I don't have enough blocks to make it the size I wanted, so I'm adding sashing. Therein lies my problem, I can't decide which fabric to use for sashing.

Option #1-This is a man's shirt of which I have just enough fabric to eek out the sashing.

Option#2- This black has shamrocks on it, but I used the same fabric in last years Shamrock quilt. I think I'm leaning towards this one anyway.

Option #3- a simple WOW, which looks pretty lackluster compared to the other two options. I think if I used green cornerstones it could work. For that matter, any of the options would look OK with green cornerstones.

I think I'm having a hard time with one because the quilt will either be raffled or given away as a prize. I don't know who will end with it, or by which method. It's easier for me to make a quilt if I know something about the recipient, but on a chance thing like this, it's a toss up. I've also been pretty stressed out over some issues, so making decisions is not easy these days.

So, here is the million dollar question... Which option is best and should I use green cornerstones?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Friendly Warning

For anyone out there as stubborn as I am, I have a friendly warning for you. You probably shouldn't be sewing while suffering from food poisoning. I had a nasty case of food poisoning on Tuesday, but I am so far behind on this project I wanted to just get a bit more done. BAD idea! My 1/4 inch seams were off, and I sewed a patch in wrong, and got two of the same fabrics together.

Can you spot the problem? I'll give you a hint, the problem patches are peach in color. I took this pic after I had started ripping it out. I just turned it and sewed it back in a few minutes ago, but what a lot of work. I was so sick after this I got nothing done yesterday.

I feel like a heel, but I didn't even go to the surgery center with DH. He had both feet operated on yesterday, and he's doing very well, but I was just too out of it to go sit in the waiting room. It was an out-patient thing, so he's home, and now we can take it easy a few days. I really can't foresee any huge sewing days coming up soon, so maybe a few minutes here and there will do it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Split Nine patch

I realized it's been a week since I blogged at all. It's been busy around here, but not so much with sewing. I did finish the blocks for my split nine patch. There are two ways to do a split nine patch, and I did the version with a solid center square.

Here are rows 2-10, I didn't realize I chopped off row 1 until I uploaded the photo.

Rows 11 and 12 are on the floor, the bamboo shade I use for a design wall isn't long enough to hold it all. I just finished taking it off the design wall, all nicely piled up and labeled to be sewn together. I'll take another photo when the center is together. The quilt turned out much pinker than I expected. There are about twice as many cream colored squares than the other lights, but the pinks and peaches really took over. That's fine, and I like it, but I have to use a different border now. I'm hoping to get the center done by tomorrow, and lay it out on the guest bed so I can audition some other options.

I am not sure I have a fabric I really like for the border in my stash, now that it's looking so pink. (It looks much pinker in person than in this photo) My original choice definitely doesn't match. Right now I'm thinking narrow navy border, followed by a narrow cream, and finished with a piano key blue border. This quilt is supposed to be mainly blue, and I think it needs more blue in the borders to fulfill that goal. I might use my original border fabric for the backing, I have enough of it to do so.

I made a few all yellow 8.5" string blocks, and now that I've started on the green strings I divided out some of the lighter greens and made a few light green 8.5" blocks. I think I'll do the same with the blues, and I'm thinking there is a baby quilt in this. I'm making bigger blocks because I want to put them with another fabric and turn them into HST's. I'll have to figure out how many light blocks I can make before I figure out a layout.

Here are some of my 6.5" green string blocks. I have a bunch of green strings so I should end up with quite a few blocks. It's funny, I make my SIL two quilts a year for her to use as prizes or raffle at her gymnastics meets. One of her meets is the Shamrock meet in March, and one is Stars and Stripes in the fall. I had chosen a pattern for the Shamrock meet quilt, but I have so many things going on right now, I was wondering when I would get to it. I looked down at the green string blocks, and had an "aha" moment. I'll just take the green string blocks I'm already making, and use it for her Shamrock quilt. With some white sashing, and green cornerstones, I should end up with a big enough quilt to work, and it is something I was already working on. I can always quilt a shamrock in each square, and just stitch-in-the-ditch on the sashing. This is doable, and a lot less stressful than starting another quilt!

I ended up with 58 autumn blocks before I ran out of golds for the center strip. I threw the extra strings back into the misc. color pile. I knew 58 blocks wouldn't work right, but I just bought a quilting program and I got to play with different layouts and figure out something that would work. I would love to own Electric Quilt 6.0 someday, but it is more than I want to pay right now. Instead I bought Quilt Design Wizard made by the same company. It doesn't do as much as the more expensive programs, but it still does a lot. I love how the measurements of the quilt are on the bottom of the page, and I can see immediately what adding sashing or changing block size does to the quilt. I've designed a couple of quilts on it already, it is so much fun! Quilt Design Wizard retails for $30, but I found it from an Amazon seller for $17.

I made a big purchase yesterday. I ordered a cabinet for the Juki. DH said it was OK with him, but now I really need to sell this frame so I have room for the cabinet. I spent a lot of last week searching for sewing machine cabinets online. The Koala cabinets are my favorite, but their price tag is definitely prohibitive. It's free to drool and dream, but not to buy :-) I like my Arrow cabinet for my Bernina just fine, and Arrow has excellent customer service. You can't order directly from Arrow, even though the cabinets are shipped directly from them. I ended up ordering this cabinet, from this source.
I've ordered sewing machine feet from this site before, and they are very quick to ship. I had checked Joanns online, they had this cabinet on sale, with free shipping and a free insert. When I added it to my cart, they added a $20 fee for a special delivery (They said free shipping, how does that work?) and the taxes were so high it was almost $750.

I emptied my Joanns cart, and went to I had looked around and I knew they had one of the better prices on this cabinet. I was familiar with them since I had ordered from them before. I put the cabinet in my cart, and the insert which was separate, not included like on Joanns. I found an online coupon for this site, that was $75 off a $750 order. I figured it out, and it would actually bring the price down to order more stuff. Don't you love that? I got some more bobbin savers, some bobbins, a Big Foot darning foot, some Invisigrip for my rulers, and a different brand of quilting gloves I've been wanting to try. I added all of that, put in the coupon code, and the price went down by $10 from just the cabinet and insert price. No taxes and my whole order got free shipping. It was under $700. It's still a lot of money, but I have a few things I'm planning on selling and that should make up a lot of the cost. I will sell the frame, the stitch regulator, and the Pattern Perfect set.

I wish I could have found a less expensive option that I thought would work. That is a lot of money, but since I am mainly going to use this cabinet for free motion quilting, I really wanted the extra quilting leaf. I checked the price of cheaper cabinets with a quilting extension, and the extensions are so expensive, the cost is about the same. I think it's just that everything is so expensive these days. DH is a gem though, and didn't complain. He did insist that I get a cabinet that could handle a larger machine should I ever get one, so that narrowed my choices too. I had to get a large opening cabinet. Maybe someday, 10 or 15 years from now, I can find a used Bernina 820 to put in it ;-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fabric Monster

I've been plugging away on my split nine patch, making at least 10 blocks a day, then I work on my string blocks. I made a bunch of mixed color ones, then yesterday I divided them by color. I divided them as it was getting dark, and I was working in my sewing room until about 11 last night. I don't ever think about how the room looks until I go back in there after doing other things. This morning when I got up and went into the hallway, the sun was lighting up my sewing room: I looked in there and just burst out laughing! It's a bit tacky, but all I could think of was that a fabric monster had pooped piles of colored strings in my sewing room :-)

I have all my white and cream strings set aside for a specific project, so they are not out here. I didn't have a lot of yellows, oranges, or browns, and I love fall colors so I mixed them together.

Here is my autumn mix. I am adding a few green and burgundys now and then for variety.

I made 20 autumn string blocks yesterday, after I finished my 10 split nine patch blocks of course. Here are a few of them. I'm hoping to finish off this bucket of strings today, so tomorrow I can start with a new color. It amazes me how many blocks you can get from a pile of strings. I really want to get these strings sewn up, because I am going to work on using my pre-cut strips this year. If I can manage to use mostly pre-cut pieces this year, I won't be making a bunch more strings, so getting these sewn up now, will hopefully keep things neater in the long run. I have given up on cutting any more of my scraps up, until I make room in the drawers for them.

I took the Juki off of the frame, and quilted a quilt with it. Besides the fact that I was doing it on the kitchen table which is much too high, so my back hurt, it went fine. I don't think I am a frame quilting kind of gal. Well, maybe someday, but not now. I am going to keep the Juki and sell the frame. I want to get a cabinet for the Juki, but I'll wait until they go on sale. I quilted the quilt with a walking foot. I ordered a new walking foot for the Juki after doing this one quilt. The Juki was sewing great, but I really don't like the walking foot that came with it. You can't attach a guide to that walking foot, it makes a weird noise, and it just seemed very cheap to me. I have walking feet for my two other machines, and they are both better than this one. Unfortunately, neither of those will fit the Juki so I had to order another one. After the quilt was done, I dropped the feed dogs, and switched to the darning foot. I wanted to see if I thought I could ever gain the skills to free motion quilt. I just used the extra batting I had trimmed off the quilt I finished, and the photo above is some of my scribbles. Well, my name is legible at least! I think I might be able to at least become proficient enough to do normal throw around quilts. I have a couple of very big quilts in the works right now, and I am planning on sending them out to be quilted, but with the Juki and it's 9" of space I think I could do most of the quilts I make without too much trouble. Hey, there is always crosshatching, which I like to do, and it looks good :-)