Monday, April 26, 2010

Decisions, Decisions....

I am very surprised, but I got the other blocks sewn together today. I never plan on getting any sewing done on days I babysit, so this is a bonus. This first photo is one of the new blocks.

Here the blocks are filling in the holes on my design wall. The pattern is really 5 blocks by 5 blocks, but my design wall isn't that big :-) This is the way the quilt was designed, with no sashing. I really want to add sashing, so now my problem is which fabric to use for sashing.

I was hoping this quilt would use up more of this gray fabric, so I considered it for sashing. I think the squares of gray show up as holes with the same fabric for sashing, so I am not thinking I'll use it.

This blue polka dot has possibilities. It is a nice bright color, and looks pretty happy. I didn't use this blue anywhere else in the quilt, so this is a contender.

I am thinking about a solid to tone the busy factor down. It has a completely different feel than the polka dot, but it also has certain advantages.

I decided to try a lighter color, so I chose this white calico with blue flowers. It doesn't interrupt the flow of the quilt as much, and blends well. I did not use this fabric in any of the blocks either.

Those are the fabrics I'm considering, and I'm definitely going to have to sleep on it. The gray is out, but the other three are in the running. I will not use pink, because I don't want to add any more pink to the quilt. I will probably use cornerstones too, but I can't decide on those until I pick the sashing!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Carolina Christmas Revisited

I don't know that any of you remember that around Christmas I was working on a mystery quilt called Carolina Christmas. I didn't use Christmas colors for mine, and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to finish it before I had other projects with deadlines to work on. Well, with scooter rally things dominating my life right now, I didn't want to start anything, but I needed to do some sewing to save my sanity. I dug out Carolina Christmas today, and made a little bit of progress on it. This first pic shows some of my blocks on my design wall.

These 16" blocks are made from four 8" double bow tie blocks. I have all of the 8" blocks done, but I didn't get a chance to make the 16" blocks while the mystery was going on.

Here is another 16" block together. I got all of the star 16" blocks done today, there are 13 total. The next chance I have to sew, I'll be working on the other 16" blocks, made from the poinsettia 8" blocks. There will be twelve of those. Once I get a few of those made, I'll start auditioning sashing fabrics. The mystery quilt didn't call for sashing, but some of the women added sashing and I prefer that look. I also like the fact that adding sashing will cut back on some of the really bulky seam intersections.

When will I work on the other 16" blocks? I honestly have no idea. I took today to sew, but I am babysitting 3 days this week, and the rally starts Friday. I'm hoping to get at least a few of the other 16" blocks sewn up this week, and pick and cut the sashing. I have a few different ideas for the border, but I won't decide for sure until the center is done. I've even considered not putting a border after the sashing, so I really need to see the center to figure it out. I don't want to use the border designed to go with this quilt. It's pretty, I just don't want to make it. I might use that border on a different quilt though.

I just love quilting, mix and match things, change colors at will, and make a pattern your own way. I think that's why I enjoy mystery quilts so much. Everyone starts out with the same directions, but everyone adds their own ideas along the way. The finished quilts seem like they should all look the same, but they never do. With everyone's different fabric choices, and people setting their blocks differently, there is always amazing variety in the finished quilts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rally Projects Done!

See this pile of fabric in baggies? They are 75 cool ties, ready to go into rally bags for DH's scooter rally. They are not difficult to make, but making this many still takes some time. I went through about 2 lbs of polymer crystals, and almost 9 yards of fabric on these.

All of the projects I was making for the rally are now completed, so now I need to decide what to work on next. Since I have other things to do for the rally, like putting all the goodies in the rally bags, and helping with registration and such, I don't want to start a big project right now. I think I will go back to one of my already started projects and work on those.

Two of my mystery quilts need to be assembled and sent off for quilting. They are HUGE quilts, and I'm not ready to tackle quilting something that big yet. I'm sure it can be done on my Juki, but I'm not ready to try it. I also have three quilt tops ready for quilting, and I'm planning on quilting those myself. Now I just have the problem of picking which one to work on. My next couple of days are pretty booked, so it may be the weekend before I decide. I have a couple of new quilts that need to be made, but I'd like to finish some of my WIPS before I have a new start.

Monday, April 19, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

On some of the blogs I read, people have been talking about their favorite quilting tools. I have found it all very interesting. I know different people like different products for all kinds of reasons. For me, ergonomics is a big deal. I don't know if it is the years of cross-stitching and needlepoint I did, or changing cloth diapers on five kids and dealing with all of those diaper pins, but for whatever reason, I struggle with recurring tendinitis in both wrists and my right thumb dislocates easily. I know, I'm 42 and I sound like I'm falling apart ;-) At any rate, ergonomically designed things are a must for me, or I trigger another bout of tendinitis. Just in case anyone out there struggles from any similar problems, I thought I show some of my favorite quilting tools.

This first photo shows the Gypsy Grippers that I use to hold my rulers. I bought all three sizes, and I have never regretted the purchase. Those purple grippers make it much easier to hold the ruler in place, and holding them is much less stressful on my wrist than pushing really hard on a ruler. I like the rulers too, though none of these are my favorite. Besides disliking Omnigrid's yellow markings, I'm not too picky about most rulers.

This next photo does show my favorite ruler, June Tailor Shape Cut. It has slots every half inch, and I love to cut strips with this ruler. Stashbusters had a discussion about this ruler recently, and it seems to be a love/hate thing. Either you really like the slots and find you cut more accurately with them, or you hate this ruler and think it's inaccurate. I think my strips are much more accurate with it, and make it easy. I also have June Tailor's Quarter Cut ruler, which has slots every quarter inch, but I prefer this one. Sitting on the ruler are my Martelli rotary cutters. What a difference those have made! My wrists don't hurt, my thumb doesn't hurt, and I think my accuracy has improved with them. I only used 45mm cutters before I bought these, but I bought the 45mm and 60mm at the same time. I actually prefer the 60 mm most of the time now.

When I hold the Martelli cutters, my hand stays in a more natural position, and my wrist is not turned sideways, which is key for me. I can't imagine going back to a different cutter, and I find most cutters called ergonomic really aren't. This one really is a more natural position.

Scissors? I have two pairs of spring-loaded Fiskars which I really like. I don't get as tired cutting when the scissors are doing half the work for me by opening themselves back up. Also, I don't have to deal with a thumb hole on these which is great for my poor dislocating thumb! For fine work and snipping threads I just use the orange-handled Fiskars micro-tip scissors. They are very sharp, and not very expensive. I have more than one pair.

Most people don't like to rip, and I'm no exception to that. With my thumb issues I really hated using those tiny rippers with the skinny handles. I just couldn't grip them properly. This Dritz ergonomic ripper was just what I needed, and I have more than one of these too.

I don't know that this information will help anyone, but I would recommend them to anyone having pain issues while cutting or ripping. Quilting should be fun, and for me having the right tools is key to keeping it fun instead of painful. I bought the Martelli cutters and the Gypsy Grippers at the same time, during a painful bout of tendinitis in both wrists. I haven't had another bout since then, and I think the tools have helped.

Now, if I could just find some straight pins I really liked....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Luggage Tags Finished!

I took this picture so you could see the variety of luggage tags I made for the scooter rally. Each tag has a scooter appliqued on it, and a clear vinyl sleeve on the flip side for contact information.

Now you can see how many I made! There are 75 or so, I honestly haven't counted them. I think there are more like 77 or 78. I made sure I had the 75 DH wanted and just cut the rest of the fabrics strips I had. I make luggage tags on a fairly regular basis, so I didn't worry about extra vinyl, interfacing or bias tape straps.

This put another huge dent in my single fold bias tape stash. I'm happy to be using it up, instead of having it just sit there. All of the bias tape is doubled, so it really used a lot of yards. I'm completely out of several colors now. I need to think of some girly things to do with the single fold bias tape because I have a lot of pink and lavender left. If you have any ideas for me, leave me a comment.

Only one rally sewing project left, and that's the cool ties. I'm rocking!

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's a scooter quilt...really!

The scooter quilt is now finished. I managed to get it quilted yesterday, which surprised me, since I had a big birthday dinner to prepare. Even more surprising is I got it bound today while I was babysitting! Baby was very accommodating, and took a 2 1/2 hour nap. I managed to get the binding done, and cut out all 75 cool ties!

I took Saturday off of sewing altogether, and I think I needed that. I was debating working on luggage tags tonight, but after babysitting all day, and taking into consideration I got all of the cool ties cut and the quilt finished, I think I'm going to go watch a movie instead. I may even eat a bowl of ice cream while I'm lounging around ;-)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's a scooter quilt....almost....

I got the quilt top assembled, and boy, had I misjudged how much border fabric I would need! I made some other appliqued scooter squares thinking I would run out of border fabric, and need them to fill in, but as it turned out I had plenty even with having to deal with the directional print. I even have a bit leftover, so I'm sure it will end up in another scooter quilt somewhere down the line. I decided to save the other appliqued squares for another quilt too, so no cornerstones on the border. I made the border a bit narrower than my original plan, so I'm sure that has something to do with my being so far off.

Here is the border fabric close-up. It is so hard to find any fabric with scooters on it, and most of what I can find is so girly. This was less girly than most (yes there are hearts on it, but at least the background color is not pink), and I could afford it. There is some great fabric from Japan with scooters on it, but at $20 a yard plus shipping it can stay there! The quilt still came out more feminine than I wanted, but hey, at least it's bright and cheery, right?

I'll have to go stash-diving to come up with a nice backing, but that shouldn't be too hard. I'll probably mess with the backing tomorrow, and work on luggage tags tonight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Scooter Quilt Progress

Here is the scooter quilt on my design wall. There will be white cornerstones but I didn't bother putting them up. I was just rearranging until I had none of the same color together. That was a trick since I decided to go scrappy with my sashing.

Here is one of the blocks close-up.

And here is another close-up.

I finished appliqueing scooters on 75 soon-to-be luggage tags. I may spend my evening working on finishing a few luggage tags instead of working on the quilt. Assembling the quilt may be better off left to when I'm fresh and not so tired.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Roses and Rally Bags

DH bought me a dozen roses for our anniversary. Aren't they pretty? They are a salmony-pink color. They look more pink in person than in the picture.

Twenty yards from my stash are now transformed into rally bags! I finished a few minutes ago. I am hoping to get the scooter quilt cut out tomorrow, but I've said that before, and it didn't happen. If I don't get to it tomorrow, I'm afraid it will wait until Monday. I don't think I'll have any free time this weekend with Easter and all.

In case anyone is curious as to how I'm feeling (like my mother, hi Mom!) I am having antibiotics failure, and I am not really any better. Well, my sinus infection may be a little better, but not the ears. I'm afraid I will spend part of my weekend in the urgent care center going for antibiotic #3. We'll see, I still have a couple of pills left, and maybe my ears will clear tomorrow. That would be great, I'd be thrilled to hear again! If my ears don't clear tomorrow, I will be out of antibiotics and will have to try to find the time to go to urgent care on the weekend.