Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just in Time!

I did it! I made my goal of having all my 2011 "must finish" quilts done by the end of August. Yes, I know today is the last day of August, but still, I finished in time :-)

Here is Mr. L's samurai quilt. I had a hard time deciding on what design I wanted to quilt on this quilt. I'm in the mood to try new things, and I do not do well with practicing. I know everyone says to make practice sandwiches to try new free motion designs, but it seems a waste of fabric and batting to me. I'd rather just go for it on a real quilt. I was watching Patsy Thompson's Fast and Free Volume 2 DVD for ideas, and I originally thought I'd try something like candlelight which looks sort of like flames. When I sat down to start quilting, I decided samurai on fire was a bit violent for a baby quilt, so I opted to try the innies and outies design instead.

Here is a close up of the quilting. I just picked a spot where it showed up well. It looks better from a distance ;-) I had a lot of fun quilting this design, it's like doodling on your quilt. I'm sure I'll try this design again.

I have two more baby quilts pin-basted. I hope to get one finished tomorrow, and maybe the other on Saturday. I picked out my next quilts to pin-baste, and I decided to go for a bunch more baby quilts. The baby quilts are so fast to finish, it will get my number of quilt tops waiting for quilting down quickly, which I think will encourage me to do the bigger ones. It will also give me chance to try more new designs so I have more options when it comes to the bigger quilts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Miss S.'s Geisha Quilt

The twin's nursery is done in a samurai/geisha theme. They are 7 1/2 months old, and I am finally finishing the quilts that match the theme. They did already have some flannel quilts from me, that I made before they were born, and I've made most of their other blankets as well. Still, DD#3 had to wait a while for the themed quilts.

Here is Miss S's geisha quilt fresh form the dryer with the wrinkly look I love in quilts.

Here is a close up of the quilting. I did free-motion Baptist fans with no marking. I quilted with a peach colored thread. I've really been playing around with thread colors. I love variegated threads, but I've been playing with solids, trying to figure out if I prefer threads that blend in or contrast. I think it just depends on the quilt. I do like the peach thread on this one.

This is the back of the geisha quilt. The width of the fabric wasn't wide enough for the quilt, but it was close, so I just used a length of border left over from another quilt to make up the difference.

I started quilted on Mr. L's samurai quilt, which I am really hoping to finish tomorrow. My goal was to have all the deadline quilts done by the end of August, and tomorrow is the last day. RRCB is back from the LAQ, and I really like how it came out. The star log cabin is finished and in the mail. I'll try to get a photo of the completed RRCB soon. The samurai quilt is the last of my "must finish" quilts, so I get to work on finishing up some donation quilts and fun quilts after that is done.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Out of My Comfort Zone

I started free motion quilting last year. In fact, I started almost exactly one year ago. I have done mostly meandering, which I am comfortable with at this point. I tried loop D loops which didn't go well at all for me. I've used stencils which went great, but it's a lot of work to do all of that marking. I've done Baptist fans with no marking and it looked OK. I got a couple of DVD's on free motion quilting, but between being very busy and just chicken, I mostly kept meandering.

I have a bunch of baby quilts I made when I was trying to use up some denim squares and some flannel. The seams are really thick because of the fabrics involved, so I wanted to do some quilting that stayed away from the corners of the squares. Today I felt brave and just went for it. The only practice I did was some doodling on the back of an envelope yesterday.

Here is a close-up of the quilting I did, and honestly, I'm pretty proud of myself. It's far from perfect, but that's not the point. The point is I went out of my comfort zone today, and the results are passable! This design worked up very quickly, and I actually quilted the whole center before I even took a break. I came back after my usual break of unloading and loading the dishwasher, switching the loads of laundry, and helping with the grandtwins (which is the fun part of my break!), and meandered in the borders. I was on a roll so I got out some binding and finished the quilt.

Here is the back of the quilt. This quilt is going to some friends of DD#3 who are having a baby girl. I told DD#3 she could pick the backing fabric. She chose the salmony-pink color to match the butterflies. The thing is I didn't have enough of that to make the backing. I dug out some orphan blocks, and thought surely this will make it enough. Nope, not even close. I got out the rest of the border fabric, which I knew I didn't have much of and voila!, just enough to piece a backing. There are some strings of the pink left from trimming before binding, but not even enough to make a 1 1/2" strip.

Here is the front of the quilt. I love making baby quilts. You get the quick finish that feels so good. Next in the quilting queue are the samurai/geisha quilts for the grandtwins. I have the Juki all threaded for working on the geisha quilt tomorrow if I get any time since I'm babysitting. Freehand Baptist fans are going on that quilt.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On a Quilting Spree!!!!

When I talked to my mom this morning she reminded me I hadn't updated my blog for a while. Truth is, I haven't been online near as much as usual lately. I've just been too busy doing other things to play in cyberspace. Not everything keeping me busy is work activities. DS the Elder lent me a couple books via Kindle, and I had to finish them before my time was up. I enjoyed the books, and I think it is very cool that we can lend each other books when we don't even live in the same state. I am really enjoying having a Kindle!

I finished the last of the I Spy quilts. Here it is quilted, bound and even washed! Now that the two quilts I had pin-basted are done it was time to pin-baste some more quilts, and that's what I did today.

Here are five baby quilts pin-basted and ready to quilt. I did all of these today, which is really a lot when you figure in all that I did. I only had the backing pieced for the top quilt, and I had to piece all the other backings today. Most of them just needed a vertical strip added in to make them a bit wider. I didn't want to cut anything off of yardage, just because it would have taken longer, so I searched through old borders and such to find some strips that worked well enough.

My rolls of batting are going down really quickly, but I'd like to be able to hold off until after the first of the year to buy more rolls of batting. I am trying to be creative on these small quilts, and save the rest of the batting on rolls for the bigger quilt tops I need to quilt. Two of these quilts are for the twins, and for those I went ahead and cut batting off the crib sized roll of batting I have. I found one piece of batting that was cut off of a large individual batting, and it was just the right size for one of these quilts.

For the other two baby quilts, I searched through my pieced batting. A while back, I took all my batting scraps and pieced them together, polyester batting with other polyester batting, and cotton battings together. I found out a lot about piecing batting from that experience. I found out I do not like piecing polyester batting together, but piecing together Warm and Natural cotton batting is a breeze. I used most of the pieced batting right after I pieced them, but I have some smaller ones still hanging around. Since I don't like piecing polyester batting, I only keep bigger pieces of it now. If it's not 8 or 10 inches wide and a decent length, I throw it away. I know some people save all the small pieces, but that doesn't work for me. I don't want to spend an hour piecing together small scraps of poly batting to save a couple of bucks. Life is too short to spend my quilting time doing something I dislike to do. I found a pieced poly batting that was a bit too small, but I had some bigger batting scraps left from the I Spy quilts, and by adding one strip to the side, and one to the bottom, it was big enough! That gave me four battings to use.

I found a pieced cotton batting that was close to the right size. I searched through the sewing room a bit and found enough cotton batting scraps to make it bigger too. I feel really good about what I got done done today. I pieced four backings, using up some leftover orphan blocks and border strips in the process. I used two of my pieced battings, after making them a bit bigger. I made some room in my sewing room closet by using the miscellaneous battings, which is really nice. I pin-basted them all today, and now five quilts are ready for quilting!

This batch of quilts has the rest of the "must-do" quilts. The twins quilts are long overdo, but at least they'll be done before it turns cold again. Another of these is for one the kid's friends who is having a baby. Of the other two quilts here, one will be donated to Project Linus, and I think I'll hold on to the other one for a baby gift. As I quilt on these, I'll think about which quilt tops get quilted next. I'm debating between doing all the baby quilt tops in a row, to get my number of finishes up, or doing a couple larger ones, so the quicker ones are saved for last. Whichever way I decide to do it, the goal is the same, to turn my pile of quilt tops into a pile of quilts!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yardage is for Backings

I like quilts with lots of fabrics. They may or may not be scraps by the strict sense of the word, but why stick with 4 fabrics when you can use 40, or 400? When I do have scraps, anything smaller than a fat quarter gets put aside to cut up into the sizes I save for my scrap user system.

I use my scrap user system so much, it sometimes seems to me that I never use any yardage. With the comfort quilt I made recently, I used 3 yards of Moda white, and the rest was all 2 1/2" strips from my scrap user system. With RRCB, most of the fabrics came from my scrap user system, aside from the yellow constant, and the outside border. The log cabin quilt? All from my scrap user system aside from the white, burgundy, and borders.

I don't know quite how it works, but my scrap drawers never seem to go down at all. That is part of the reason I am behind on cutting up scraps, I don't think they will fit in the drawers once they are cut. Now, If I'm barely using yardage on the quilt tops, and my scraps never seem to go down, am I actually using any fabric?

AHA! I am on my quilting spree, and I am finally seeing dents appear in the stash. Backings take a surprising amount of fabric. I rarely think about how much fabric I used on the front of quilt, because in most cases, I am just grabbing pre-cut pieces from my scrap bins and not figuring yardage at all. If I need 240 red 2" squares, I just grab 12 or more red 2" strips from the drawers and cut until there are the number I need. I rarely consider that 12- 2" strips is 2/3 yard of fabric, because I don't need to do that way.

This is the back of the I Spy quilt I finished today. It is the transportation/travel themed quilt. The blue fabric was what I had chosen for the backing, it has different states with touristy kind of things on it. I didn't measure the fabric, I just grabbed it out of my stash and knew I'd end up piecing something to it to make it large enough. All that is left of the blue fabric is what I trimmed off after quilting. I ended up adding the black and white check to it, and I used most of that too, but I do have a little left.

On the comfort quilt I made, I used all but about a foot of the backing fabric. I have pieced the backing for the last I Spy quilt, and I used the rest of a bolt of fabric as well as pieced in some other fabric. I pieced a backing for a baby quilt, and I used up some orphan blocks, as well as the rest of two different fabrics.

So there you have it. I may not be seeing my scrap drawers go down, even though I use them frequently, I may not notice my yardage going down often, but get me piecing backings, and I go through lots and lots of yardage.

Since I had recently posted a pic of this quilt, I didn't worry about showing all of it. You can see in this pic that I quilted it with yellow thread, and bound it with yellow too.

DD#3, mother to the twins, has been making Steampunk inspired jewelry. This is one of my favorite of her pieces. She has a local store interested in promoting her work, so that is exciting.

Here is another of her pieces, I think she made this last week.

DD#2 had been busy crafting as well. She is slowly but surely working on a Victorian costume. She has also been making macrame jewelry, and today she was working on a purse. For the purse she ended up needing to use more than one of my sewing machines, to do different tasks. It was extra incentive to hurry up and finish quilting that I Spy quilt because she needed the Juki to sew through several layers of denim. I'll try to get a photo of her purse when it's finished.

I cleaned up the mess from today. Tomorrow I am working on something I can't blog about, though it is quilty. Monday and Tuesday I babysit, and I'd like to go back to working on the bibs during naptime. Wednesday I will hopefully start quilting the last I Spy quilt. I have lots of quilts to work on, at least I am getting some finished finally!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Ran Away From Home!

You know those times when life is crazy, and it seems you don't have time to breathe? DH and I were both feeling a bit like that, so yesterday we ran away from home! We only left for the day, but it was wonderful!

We left soon after we got up, I only took the time to have one cup of coffee, and I usually drink three. We left town and headed towards Benson, AZ, where we went to a quilt shop, Cowgirl Up Quilts. The woman who owns the shop was so nice, and her two little dogs were very friendly and sweet. I found a couple pieces of fabric on the sale table that followed me home.

The top piece I've seen at several shops, and it keeps catching my eye. Since I found it on the sale table, I decided it was time to give in, and I got three yards. The bottom piece I had never seen before, but the frogs with the paisley was just so cute! I got one yard of it.

We went to Sierra Vista next, and went to The Squirrel's Nest, which is the largest quilt shop I've ever been in. I know there is a green and purple quilt in my future, so I picked up some half yard pieces with that in mind.

I took multiple photos of these, but I just can't get the fabric on the end to show up accurately. It is a very dark, very rich purple in real life.

After that quilt shop, we went searching for the monument for Ed Schieffelin, the man who founded Tombstone, AZ. Evidently, Mr. Scheiffelin was told that if he went out in the western wilderness he would only find his tombstone. He ended up finding silver instead, named his mine the Tombstone, and the town that grew there after people heard about the silver strike became known as Tombstone. I have been to Tombstone many times, but had never heard that story until DH told me while we were looking for the 25 foot tall marker where Mr. Schieffelin is buried. DH has the photo we took there on his phone, but if you are curious as to what it looks like, I found a photo of it here.

Bisbee is one of our favorite places to go for day trips, so we left Tombstone and headed to Bisbee. We ate lunch as soon as we arrived in Bisbee, since by now we were both really hungry. We ate at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, which is a fun little restaurant. We went to several antique stores in Bisbee, I saw an overpriced featherweight, an anniversary model Singer, and one treadle. The treadle had no price on it, and although the anniversary model was reasonably priced, I really didn't want an old electric machine, I'd rather get a people-powered machine. I searched for handcranks, but didn't see any. We didn't buy any antiques, but we did get some coffee at one of Bisbee's great little coffee shops.

We made our way back to Sierra Vista, and DH stopped to look at some Ural motorcycles, which are Russian motorcycles. He really wants something with a sidecar, and he is debating between a scooter with a sidecar or a motorcycle with one. I'm not sure if all Urals have sidecars, but they have several different models with them.

All the driving brought us by some beautiful scenery. It is our rainy season, and the desert greens right up during rainy season. It was all beautiful and green, and looked more like grassland than desert.

We headed back to Tucson, and went to the movies to see "The Help". I thought the movie was excellent, and I highly recommend seeing it. The movie was so good, that I didn't realize it was over 2 hours long, until we got out, I turned on my phone and saw it was 8:45 PM. We still hadn't eaten dinner, so we went to Mama's Hawaiian BBQ, which we enjoy. We had debated going to local Greek restaurant, but weren't sure what time they closed, and we knew Mama's was open late. By this time the kids had started texting me, we're out of milk, and this, and that. Our trip to the grocery store was our call back to reality, so we came home ready to go back to normal. I LOVED our day of escape though.

Here is what I worked on today, continuing quilting on one of the I Spy quilts. I am about 2/3 done with this one. I think this photo is funny. It looks like I am quilting on it with two machines at once! I'm only quilting on it with the Juki, which is the far machine. I have my cabinets back to back so the excess quilt is supported by the other cabinet.

Tomorrow I'm babysitting, I may get a small bit of time to quilt during naptime. I hope to get this quilt finished this weekend, then babysitting again Monday and Tuesday. Maybe by Wednesday I can get started quilting on the last I Spy quilt.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Finished It!

I finished the comfort quilt tonight. Now DH will be in charge of getting his coworkers to sign it and get it delivered.

I hadn't realized I was getting so low on polyester batting. I bought whole rolls of cotton batting and poly batting at the same time. The poly batting was only 25 yards, and the cotton was 40 yards. I have quite a bit of the cotton batting left, but I am almost out of the polyester. By the time I get caught up on quilting the quilt tops that are ready, I am likely to be out of both battings. It's time to start looking for rolls of batting on sale.

Tomorrow is another babysitting day, but if my little guy takes a good nap, maybe I can get a backing pieced, so I can pin baste another quilt Saturday morning. That would be a good thing. I still have lots of other projects to do, including finishing the bibs for the twins, but I will just flit from project to project until I get more finishes. I don't want to start anything else new until I get a few things done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It's been eight days since I decided to make this quilt. I was hoping to be farther along than this, but life keeps interrupting. I've got the top of the comfort quilt together, and the backing pieced. I'll go pin baste as soon as I'm done with this post. That outer white border was a last minute addition, but I really like it. I've never done borders this way before, but the quilt had a mind of it's own. I am planning to bind with dark green, and I think it will look much nicer against the white than against the busier border.

Making a quilt seems like so little to help someone deal with a serious illness. I am hoping it will bring them some comfort.

I took the time to trim up all the quilt leftovers on my Juki cabinet and get it cleaned off. I might be able to start quilting tomorrow, but maybe not until Thursday, we have some company in town, and errands to run as well.

I have been assembling other quilts as my leader/ender project while making this quilt. I have the rows for two other quilts completely done, a couple rows for another, and piano key borders for one quilt ready too. I have so much quilting to do, that once this quilt is finished, I'll have to decide what comes next. Since I prefer piecing over quilting, I may make piecing my reward for getting to a quilting goal. I have too many quilts in the works right now, and I really need to see some of them finished and out of my sewing room.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday, and I haven't had a chance to tell her happy birthday. It is too late her time to call her now that I have the time, so this is the best way to tell her. I will call her tomorrow, but still, I feel bad, I didn't even send a card :-( I love you, Mom, and I hope you had a great birthday!

I haven't been card sending or calling, so what have I been up to? Chaos. My sewing room looks like a bomb exploded in there! I'm not taking any pics of the worst areas, believe me, it's bad.

There are pieces to about seven different quilts on the sewing cabinets. Some are just scraps that were leftover from some of my last quilt tops that need to be cut up, other pieces are blocks, block parts, or border parts. This actually looks better than it did yesterday.

I babysat for over ten hours today, but while the little guy was napping I got some rows for two different quilts together. The pile on the left is a comfort quilt I started Monday, after finding out a friend of ours has cancer. I'd like to have it finished next week, but we'll have to see how that goes. The pile on the right is the leader/ender project I was working on while doing the log cabin quilt. Yesterday all of the pieces and the border pieces from the next pic were all on the sewing cabinets too.

Here are some piano key borders I am working on for the leader/ender project. The comfort quilt will have a piano key border too, and why I didn't start piecing it first is simple, these pieces were closer to me at the time. None of these borders are done, they all need several more pieces added.

When I laid out the blocks for the comfort quilt, I decided to go ahead and lay out three other quilts as well. I figure out the layout on my design wall, pin a post it note with the number of which row it is on the first block in that row, pile all the blocks in order for that row, then pin them together. I can then keep an entire quilt straight and pile the blocks up so it doesn't take as much room. With two big dogs in the house, keeping a quilt up on the design wall while I assemble it is not going to happen, just trying to keep them from knocking the blocks off with their tails while I am figuring out the layout is hard enough. With eight people living here, I definitely don't have enough space anywhere to leave a quilt laid out, unless it is a one day rush job of assembling and it's laid out on my bed.

The magazine I've been waiting for is finally on the news stand here in the USA. Australian Patchwork and Quilting Vol. 20 No. 4. I bought two copies of it. One for me, one for my best friend of 25 years, Rebecca, but I call her Becky ;-) She prefers Rebecca, but I am an old friend and get nickname rights.

This is why I wanted this magazine so badly. Before Christmas last year, I finally got around to quilting Becky's quilt tops, that had been handed down through her husband's family for 80 years, but no one ever finished them. There are no quilters in their family at all now, so I finally finished them. These quilt tops were not in the best shape, and one I had to completely disassemble and use new sashing and cornerstones on. The double wedding ring was too tattered on the edges to be able to keep the scallops.

I know the quilt police will be all upset, but I crosshatched all the quilts, over the applique and everything, for the simple reason I was trying to hold everything together. Eighty year old quilt tops that had been passed around from non-quilter to non-quilter have rough lives. No one knew they couldn't just throw them in the washer when they smelled musty, they didn't know the edges would unravel. At any rate, the quilts are now finished and usable, which was all Becky wanted. The applique quilts are made with feedsacks from the 30's, the wedding ring quilt from yardage of the same period. Made with 30's fabrics because it WAS the 30's when they were made.

I have another friend, Stephanie, who is my online buddy. She needed some photos of vintage fabrics for her article, and she knew I had finished these quilts. She asked my permission to use some of my photos, and I checked with Becky and we were both fine with it.

So that is the story of how my name, and my best friend's name made it into an Australian quilting magazine, through another friend.