Saturday, June 26, 2010

Faking It

This is my Juki 98, which is normally set up for quilting. I have so many things in the works right now, I decided to set it up for piecing for a little bit, before I start my quilting marathon. The only thing is, I don't have a 1/4 inch foot for it. Well, I have what Juki calls a 1/4 inch foot, which is a darning foot and it's circular. This would be great for echo quilting, but seems impractical for piecing. To guarantee my 1/4 seam, I had some kids craft foam with adhesive on the back. I cut a piece and placed it at the 1/4 inch mark on the machine bed. I sewed part of a strip, then opened it and measured, and adjusted my foam guide a bit. Since I am dealing with flannels which are a bit thicker, I thought I may need to adjust a bit. This is working out just fine, and the Juki seems to be a great piecing machine. It is so fast, sewing strips together like this is very quick on it. A Janome foot should fit the Juki, so sooner or later I'll probably get a Janome 1/4 inch foot. I already have Janome walking feet for it, because the one that came with the Juki was awful.

Doing some of my piecing on the Juki is helpful, because the little guy I babysit hates the sound of the sewing machine, and I can't sew on the Bernina at all while he's napping. The Juki is downstairs, so he can't hear it, and that's working out fine. I never got a lot of sewing done while I'm babysitting, but even a half hour here and there during naps adds up.

I'm piecing on the Bernina too, but with a darker gray thread. I have a couple of dark quilts in the works right now.

I got the magazine backing boards I ordered, and the corrugated plastic arrived yesterday afternoon. Those are both for my mini-bolt project. I managed to get all the magazine backing boards cut to the size recommended for fabrics 1 yard or less. I bought the Life Magazine sized backing boards, and I figured out you can get five 4x6 1/2" pieces from one board. Using my guillotine style paper cutter, I cut them as shown in the photo. I had three extra pieces. The larger leftover piece at the top right I am saving for bookmarks, and the smaller pieces I put in the recycling bin. The magazine backing boards are like a thick poster board. I'm glad I decided to go with the plastic for the larger fabrics, but I think this will work fine for the smaller pieces.

DH is going to have to cut all the plastic for me. As long as he gets it cut sometime in July, I'll be happy. We have a trip planned in August, and I fully expect to have August be a wash as far as quilting goes. I think fabric rearranging is something I could probably do even with jet lag though.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Losing my Mojo

I just finished getting this quilt top assembled about ten minutes ago. I've been on such a big assembly spree, I have actually lost count of how many tops I have waiting for quilting. I think I need to switch to something else for a while though. This quilt top was hard to get through, and I don't think it's because it is flannel, I think I'm just tired of assembling quilts. It's time to do some piecing!

I love piecing, and I have several quilts cut out and ready to sew. One of those needs to be completely finished by the end of July, so the fact that I am in the mood to piece some blocks, and not in the mood anymore to assemble quilts is not really a problem.

Oh, but in some ways I have been completely sidetracked! In one of my Yahoo groups, someone posted a link that really tweaked my interest. Here is the link:

In case you don't want to look it is all about folding your fabric as mini-bolts and storing it upright just like a fabric store. Now to store it upright, you have to wrap the fabric around something so it holds its shape. I have spent the last two days doing much more internet research than sewing. I found two different companies making ready made forms to do this on, both of which are completely beyond my budget.

I figured out the lady in the link was using corrugated plastic cut to size, so I started searching for the best price for that. It is fairly pricy for the amount I would need to do all of my stash, but the price does very drastically by company. I really liked this idea, so I kept searching for other options. I found another article where someone was on a strict budget, and they did the same type of thing, but they used magazine backing boards that magazine collectors use to keep their magazines from bending. The backing boards are completely acid free to protect the magazines, so it should be safe for my fabric as well. I searched for those, and they are much more affordable. The magazine backing boards come in more than one size, so you have a couple of options with those.

Here's the thing though, having not tried this, but just thinking about it, I think I really prefer the corrugated plastic option. The price is a problem though. After mulling it over, I think I've come to a compromise. I think I will buy the magazine backing boards for the small sized mini-bolts, and the corrugated plastic for the larger mini-bolts. I still won't be able to afford to do my whole stash at once, but it will be less overwhelming to do it in parts anyway. DH has agreed to cut the corrugated plastic for me, and he's letting me order some of both as my birthday present, which is great by me. I'm glad I got obsessed with this idea right before my birthday.

I fold all of my fabric neatly now, and it always looks good for a while. The problem is, even though the fabrics are in neat stacks, as I take fabrics out and slide them back in, after a while some fabrics get shoved to the back in a clump. I had an instance a couple of months ago where I really wanted to use a particular fabric for an inner border. I knew I didn't have a lot of this fabric left, but I thought there was enough. I have my fabrics divided by color, and I thought I looked through everything in that color, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I ended up using a different fabric. Guess what I found a couple of days ago? You got it, the fabric I had been looking for and couldn't find, it had been shoved to the back.

Since I already fold all my fabrics neatly, I don't think it will be a stressful thing to put all my fabric on mini-bolts, and again, since I can only afford to do part at a time, not overwhelming. I think the benefits of having my fabrics upright will be well worth the money in the long run. I can always reuse the mini-bolt forms as I use fabrics up and acquire new ones. I am really excited about doing this!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Swing Your Partner

Here is the Swing Your Partner quilt top finished. I really needed access to my closet, so it was time for this quilt to get assembled and off the design wall. The borders are not really crooked, they are just folded a bit. Now that this top is done, it is folded and on top of my growing pile of quilt tops waiting to be quilted.

Since I finally have enough of the blue/green background fabric for the sea quilt, I decided to make my first block for it. These fish finish at 2" each. I think I may try making the humpback whale next, because it looks a little tricky. I want the humpback whale to be the largest thing on the quilt, so I'm trying to scale down a few fish blocks I've found. I'm just working on the sea quilt one block at a time when I need a break from whatever I'm doing, or just whenever the mood strikes.

I haven't even cut out DH's vest, so it's not likely to be done for Father's Day. It took me washing the fabric 3 times before the black dye stopped running. I wasn't planning a whole day just to prewash the fabric!

I need to get that flannel quilt that is on the guest bed assembled, then I will start working on the quilts I cut out the other day. I think I will need the guest bed soon, so getting that off of the guest bed comes first. Maybe someday I will get caught up on my projects? At the rate I've been starting new projects, it's not likely ;-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Special Project

I wasn't thinking I would be able to post this until next week, but thanks to a very efficient postal system, my dad already got his Father's Day gift! A while back, my dad gave me the patches he had earned over the years doing various activities. I tried to think of something cool to do with the patches, and I came up with an idea for a cloth book. Dad's patches, muslin, novelty fabrics, and some fabric pens all went into the making of his book.

I didn't figure I needed to comment of each page. Suffice it to say, my Dad was pretty eclectic in his hobbies and his work. I put some random patches on the back, that I hadn't used in the center.

I wrote my Dad a book several years ago, and my oldest sister illustrated it. It was a story from his childhood that he used to tell, with some embellishment by me. I thought of doing something similar this time, but patches and paper just didn't seem to be very compatible. A cloth book made more sense to use the patches on, and the subject was so varied it didn't make a great story. It is what it is, but he liked it. It's kind of funny, I'm in my 40's still saying, "Daddy, look what I made you!"

So, besides the book making, and cutting up all of my flannel, what have I been doing? I've been on a cutting spree. I've cut out four quilts, plus the border for my purple quilt all since yesterday. I am trimming up the leftovers from DD#2's star quilt to make a throw sized quilt. DH is getting tools for Father's Day, he knows it, I let him pick them out. He also wants a denim vest to put his scooter patches on, so today we went and got the fabric for his vest. I also picked a border fabric for the star leftover quilt, and I got some black for a stained glass quilt. All allowable purchases, so I don't owe any penalty squares, yeah!

I want to finish getting the star leftover quilt ready to go, I need a few more HST's and some filler strips cut. I also want to get the stained glass quilt cut out. After that, it is back to the sewing room for a sewing marathon. Oh yeah, and I need to get DH's vest made. I may cut a few blocks for my sea quilt too. I think I will just be cutting those one block at a time, that quilt is just going to happen, not too much planning. No problem right? Now if I just knew when my nephew is getting married, I'd know if I needed to get that quilt cut out too. Right now, it's not on my short list.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

If Only I had Taken a Before Picture :-(

Yesterday after I posted, I grabbed all of that flannel I had thrown on the floor, and brought it down to the kitchen table. Yes, I have a cutting table in my sewing room, but although I have cleaned it off some in the last 24 hours, not nearly enough of it was cleaned off for this big of a project! I wish I had thought to take a picture of all of that flannel covering my table.

My flannels pretty much fit into one of three categories, grown-up, baby pastels, and baby brights. Mostly I had baby prints. I decided to take most of the printed flannel and cut it up for burp rags. Above is my mountain of burp rag pieces. I cut all of those last night.

I really didn't have a lot of grown up flannels. I had a remnant of the dart board flannel, the green basket weave print and a solid burgundy, both purchased from a thrift store, and the black that was left over from making my design walls. I had a couple pieces of white, and cut some up for this quilt, and some for the baby quilts. Since I had so few grown up fabrics, I cut everything to 6 inch squares, making sure to only cut just enough of the white squares. I had enough of the basket weave to cut it into strips for the border. This is just on the guest bed to see how many squares I needed. Swing Your Partner is still on my design wall.

Here is a close up of the fabrics. In the other picture, the dartboard fabric looks almost like a floral :-) The fabrics may not match completely, but good enough to get sewn together and out of here! I only have about a dozen squares left.

I already had a bunch of 4" flannel squares left over from another project. I like baby quilts to have smaller blocks, so I'm sticking mostly with four inch squares. For some variety for me, I also cut 2 1/2 inch squares and 1 1/2 inch strips so I could make the Chunky Churndash blocks from Bonnie Hunter's website, All of the remaining flannel I had is now cut up and piled in this pan. It took me all day to cut it all, and I probably shouldn't have cut for so many hours. I am, however, thrilled that all my flannel is cut up and ready to use! You can't tell in the picture, but some of these stacks of squares are almost 6 inches high. I should get several baby quilts of them.

I didn't count any of the squares, so I have no idea how many there are. I will just play with them on my design wall and when I come up with something I like, I'll sew it together! Good plan? Well, fun anyway. I'll try to use as many of the squares as I can in quilts, but when I'm done playing, if there are any left, I have someone I send my scraps to, and she'll get whatever I didn't use.

I have a few other quilts I want to get cut out. I really am just going to make as many quilt tops as I can in June, and start a quilting marathon in July. With the tops I already have made, and the flannel ones I hope to do, I should actually be able to meet my goal of donating 12 quilts this year. I know of women who donate a lot more per year than that, but I think this is a good goal for me, with all of the other things I do, and all the other quilts I make.

I am so excited to get this flannel sewn up and out of here. I have some extra room on my shelves now, so I can rearrange a bit, and move some fabric from the closet onto the shelves. Although I am sure I will buy flannel again now and then, if someone requests it, or if I want to back a quilt with it, I am pretty sure I won't ever have this much of it again. I was thinking about other categories I could use up, and probably not replace. I think next year I might concentrate on either printed panels, or gingham. Plenty of time to decide, as I definitely have enough to keep me busy the rest of this year!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Still Making Quilt Tops

I took all of my flannel and dumped it on the floor. I love the feel of flannel quilts, but I have decided they are not my favorite things to make. I don't dislike using flannel enough to just give it all away, but I am going to try to use up my flannel, and try to avoid buying much in the future. I do like to back the occasional quilt with flannel, and I don't mind working with flannel when garment making. I'm sure there will be more flannel quilts in the future, even after I bust what I have now. These flannel squares were left over from my GS's quilt, and they were already cut into squares. I tried for a random placement and just sewed it up. The border is not flannel, but I've mixed flannels and regular cottons together before and they've done fine. I wash all of my flannels several times to get them to shrink, because they usually shrink a lot.

I will probably stick mostly to squares for the flannel quilts I'll be making. I don't like how bulky the seams get when making HST's with flannel. I'm sure that's one of the main reasons I don't like quilting with flannel. I'll also make some more burp rags with my flannel, everyone I've given those to have really liked them, and it seems I almost always know someone expecting.

At the beginning of this year, I was making a bunch of string blocks. I got a green string block quilt finished, but I never got the autumn strings assembled, well, until now that is. I really love the colors in this quilt top, and I think it's going to live here, at least for a while.

Since fall colors are my favorite color scheme, I have several fall prints in my stash. I put several next to the center of the quilt, before I decided to use this one for the border. Unfortunately, I had less than a yard of this one, so the border had to be a bit narrower than I wanted. It looks fine, I just would have liked the border 1/2" - 1" wider. I had enough of a couple other prints, but this was the right print for the quilt.

Swing Your Partner is up on my design wall, waiting to be assembled. I did get my gift project done this past week, and I'm going to try to make another gift this coming week. I have several quilts that need to be cut out, but my cutting table is such a mess right now! I just received the background fabric I needed for the sea quilt, so I can start playing with that quilt too. I'm sticking with making quilt tops all of June, then going on a quilting spree in July. Two of the tops I really need to get made aren't even started yet, so I can't start my quilting spree yet anyway.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Orphans Find Home

I've been wanting to try a Disappearing 9 patch (D9P) for a while now. Since I was trying to empty out my orphan block box, I found a few squares I had left from making another frog quilt. I needed one extra square, and I had some scraps to cut that from, and I cut the green and blue squares too. It was an easy quilt to make, and I think it does a good job showing off the novelty prints. It would really be great if you wanted to show off a novelty print and you didn't have much of the novelty print to start with.

Here is a close up of the novelty frog prints.

Here are some more four patches I had, plus some HST's I made from leftovers of the Mardi Gras quilt. I think it will be a nice boys quilt. OK, I just noticed one four patch is turned the wrong way. It's going to stay that too!

Yes, here are still more four patches I had in my orphan box! I had enough in the brown and blacks, that I figured I could put them in their own quilt, once I added alternating squares. I think the musical border print really ties it all together. I was talking to DD#2 while I was sewing the borders on, and one border is upside down. She said no one will notice. I'm leaving it for now, but if it's still bugging me when I go to quilt it, I'll fix it then. Mistakes on two quilts in the same day? Maybe I'm working on too many projects? Nothing earth shattering, and my perfection quotient is not that high. Finished is better than perfect, right?

By the way, I've been taking photos of the quilt on a queen sized bed if you are looking for a size estimation. I prefer to hang them up to take pictures of them, but lately my design wall has always has the next project already on it.

Speaking of quilting, I did get the backing pieced for DD#1's quilt. Her quilt and Carolina Christmas are off to the LAQ. I ended up buying more of the paisley for the back. I bought the rest of two bolts the first time I bought the paisley, but there was only about 3 yards between them. This time I bought all that was on the bolt too, and there was about 7 1/2 yards. It took nine yards of fabric to back that quilt, so even after buying all that was on 3 bolts, I only have a bit over a yard left.

I also got my no-buy penalty squares sent off for my men's shirt spree, and DSIL's computer quilt fabric. I am not good at this whole no-buy thing. I am buying a lot less, but I just don't feel bad when I do buy. I've always shopped my stash first, but if I really want something different, and I can afford it at the time, I'm going to buy it. DH never complains about me buying fabric, because he sees how fast I use it. He also reaps benefits from my sewing, I make all of his scrub tops, and when he takes me fabric shopping he looks at the novelty fabrics for scrubs. I'm supposed to come up with another scooter quilt this year, but it's not on my radar screen yet.

Friday, June 4, 2010

...and the winner is....

...a brown inner border with the concentric diamonds outer border. I just finished sewing the borders on about 5 minutes ago, snapped a photo, and here I am posting it already! If any of you were looking for a comment from DD#1 on her choice, sorry, she told me on facebook :-) Now to get a backing pieced for it!

Here is one of my four patch and furrows quilt top. This one has the dark squares of the four patches following the furrows.

This is the other one and it has the light squares following the furrows. This one has more random four patches, and the other is more planned. The inner border on each quilt top is different, but the outer border is the same.

Last year I was in a secret sister swap in one of my online quilting groups. One of the things I got from my secret sister was a Moda charm pack. I have been debating on what to do with it, and I have several patterns using charm squares, but I decided to try something I saw in a quilting magazine a while back. I had to add a few of my own 5" squares to make the center the size I wanted it, but I wanted to try adding rick rack over the seam lines. I have a bit of rick rack just languishing in a drawer, and I decided to try this idea and see if I liked it. I think it looks cute, but I want to see how hard it is to quilt before I do it again. This used a lot more rickrack than I thought it would. I used 4 packages of green rick rack, and they are not all the same shade of green. At that rate, it would not take long to empty my rick rack drawer, but the last few quilts would be very colorful as far as the rick rack goes. I don't think I have four of the exact shade of any of it.

This is the first charm pack I've ever had. I've never bought a jelly roll or anything along those lines. I would never have thought to put those colors together. The pack had a Valentine's feel to it, and the colors white, red, and pink are typical colors for that. It was when I saw the brown and lime green that I was surprised. Not even the brown so much, it just remined me of Valentine's chocolates. The lime green was what really surprised me the most. I think that's why I went with it, and used green rick rack and a lime green inner border. I don't think I would have ever put lime green and red together in anything but a scrap quilt, but I'm liking it. It also gave me a break from the other colors I've been working with.

I've still got one more lap quilt waiting for borders (besides the purple one), one in rows waiting for final assembly, one on the design wall, and three others waiting for their turn on the design wall. As soon as the back is pieced for DD#1's Buckeye Beauty quilt, it and Carolina Christmas go to the LAQ. I'm quilting the rest myself.

Time is sort of getting away from me. I usually only babysit once or twice a week, and this week I'm babysitting three times, and next week at least three. Assembling the quilts hasn't taken as long as I thought it might, but sewing on the borders has taken much longer. When I'm adding two simple borders, I always think, it's only 8 seams, how long could it take? The answer to that question seems to be about two and half times more than I thought it would!

I have a non quilty project I'd like to work on next week. I don't know if it will get done, but I've been putting it off for two years already, and I really need to just get it done. If I do work on that, there will be no pictures of that until late this month. It will be a present. We'll see what happens, I've been ADD on projects lately.

I thought I found the perfect background fabric for my sea themed quilt, and then I found out the place I found it doesn't have enough. It's so frustrating! I can't start any of the quilt without the background. I already know that quilt is going to take a while as it is. I think I have a lead on another source for the background fabric, so I may just have to order it from there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Arizona Border Patrol?

Nope, nothing political here. I'm talking quilt borders in Arizona, not US/Mexican borders. I have been plugging along on my assembly spree, so now my quilt tops need borders, or not. I was originally making two purple lap quilts. I decided to sew them together and go for a twin size. I've already decided borders for this one, a purple and white zig zag, but no time to make it right now, so I'm putting it aside. I'm hoping to cut the pieces for it this week or next, and then I can sew the border as a leader/ender project.

Have you ever counted wrong and made way too many of a block? Well, I had a truckload of leftover HST's from DD#1's new quilt. No problem, I've been wanting to get rid of some of my huge stack of four patches, and this works. I have another of these hanging on my design wall too, that's how many extra HST's I had. I couldn't remember if the light squares of the four patches were supposed to follow the furrows or the dark squares. This one has the white squares following the furrows, the other has the dark squares. I'll compare them when I'm finished both tops and see which I like better. I was just digging through my stash, and I think I picked a fabric for the border. If there is enough of it, I'll border both of these quilts with it.

Since I was digging through my box of orphan blocks, I realized I had enough blocks in there to make several lap quilts if I just took the time to trim some of them to the same size. I will also have to cut a few fabrics for alternating blocks, but I think I can get some quilt tops made pretty quickly and empty my orphan block box quite a bit. That would be very good, and help me to my goal of donating 12 quilts for the year.

DD#1's quilt center is done. Now to decide on borders. Her internet connection in South Africa is not the fastest, so the easiest way for her to see things is for me to post it on my blog so bear with me here. I want her to be able to choose the borders for her quilt.

OK, Hannah, here is the paisley print you liked so well. I also have one other print I want you to consider for the wide border. I want to use a narrow inner border and you have six choices on that. This shows the wide paisley for the outer border, and brown, tan, or a sage/white stripe for the inner border.

Here is the same paisley, with sage, lime, or blue for the inner border.

Here is the other fabric I bought with borders in mind. To help keep it straight we'll call it concentric diamonds, OK? Here it is with the sage, lime, and blue.

And here is the concentric diamonds with the brown, tan, and sage/white stripe.

Since I know you love the paisley, if you choose concentric diamonds for the border, I'll use all the paisley I have for the back. It may not be enough, but it will be most of the back. If you choose the paisley for the border, I'll use something else completely for the back.

If any of you want to chime in with an opinion, feel free. Hannah (DD#1) gets final say though since it's her quilt.

I got the quilting stencils I ordered from today. I am so excited to play with them on all of the smaller quilt tops I'm making. I was pleasantly surprised to find a paper with "Proudly made in the USA" with my stencils. If I end up wanting more stencils, I'll keep that in mind.

Tucson in June is hot, no way around that. Since I've been busy assembling quilts, I'm doing a lot of ironing as I add each row, and my little sewing room is roasting even with the air conditioner and the ceiling fan. Because of that, I decided I will spend a couple more weeks assembling as many quilts as I can, and then I'm going on a quilting spree. The machine I quilt with (my Juki) is in the living room, directly under a ceiling fan. My living room is much larger than my sewing room so it has better air flow and doesn't get as hot. I won't need the iron on either, so I think this will be a good plan for the hottest part of summer. I do have some non quilting projects to work on if I just want to sew, but they shouldn't be too bad to work on in the sewing room. Funny, in the winter I appreciate the iron warming up the room, but definitely not a plus in summer, and we should hit 105 degrees this weekend. Yuck!