Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Aftermath

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We had a lovely Christmas! I love Christmastime, it is easily my favorite holiday, but once it's over, it's over. My mom always left her Christmas tree up until after New Year's Day. I've been known to take ours down Christmas night! I usually wait until the next day though ;-)

I had extra reasons to take the tree down early this year. My kids chipped in and bought me a 7 ft air hockey table! I'm not posting a pic of it today, but suffice it to say, a lot of furniture had to be rearranged to fit it in.  It is all set up though, and several games have already been played on it.

I thought I'd pass on an idea I had of how to store my Christmas lights. See the bolt above? It is from some binding that already had prairie points on it. I had purchased the whole bolt at a local store that sells everything sewing related. When I used up all the binding, I re-purposed the  plastic bolt to hold my Christmas lights, and it works great. No tangled lights at my house!

I have a thing for metal sculptures, and my husband had this one custom made for me. He wanted it to have orange flowers, and the designer hadn't made any with orange flowers. After a chat between the designer and my hubby, I have one with orange flowers. I think my husband associates me with orange, because I am always saying orange is a happy color. Honestly, I can't think of a happier color than orange, which is likely why I use a lot of orange in kids quilts.

Another Christmas gift from DH? An extension table for my Featherweight, all made to match. I wanted this smaller one so it will fit in my sewing trolley. The featherweight is my travel machine, though I do use it at home too. Yes, DH did a good job on gifts this year!

I received fat quarters from several different people, along with a couple of remnants. Fun new fabrics to play with!

As I've had time, I've been working on all my floral/cream blocks. I finished sub-cutting all the strip sets I had sewn, and I finished these paddle wheel type blocks. This stack has 96 blocks in it, so I thought I'd set it 8x12. That would have worked great, until I looked up and saw I had one more block on the design wall, so I have 97 blocks! I think I will make two more blocks and set them 9x11. These blocks were really an afterthought, I realized if I sewed an extra 14" of each strip set, I could make two of these blocks out of each fabric set. I'm going to end up with a twin sized quilt for very little effort! Sewing the four patch blocks together was really quick! I have almost all of my sub-units for floral/cream blocks made, just a few more HST's to sew up. 

Tomorrow Clue 6 comes out for the Easy Street Mystery. I am not likely to sew tomorrow, but I should have some time this weekend. I'm making some progress on all my projects, and hey, at least the Christmas stockings got finished in time ;-)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from My House to Yours!

It took me three days to get step 5 of the Easy Street mystery done. Was it because I was busy getting ready for Christmas? Nope. Babysitting? Nope. It was mostly because I was sleeping, sleeping A LOT. I caught a chest cold and it knocked me flat. Coughing myself silly, and barely able to catch my breath. I feel a little bit better today, I wanted a nap but made it through the day without one. Hopefully, I'll feel even better tomorrow since I'll have 16 or so people here for dinner!

Anyway, a sampling of my step 5 pieces are all lined up like a little neighborhood. I'm guessing they'll be oriented differently in the quilt, purple stars perhaps? Time will tell. I'm trying not to guess too much.

Today the twins got to play in the snow. No snow down here in Tucson, but on Mt Lemmon there is plenty, so the girls brought the twins up the mountain to play. I would have liked to see them playing in the snow, but I was way behind on Christmas prep and not feeling up to going anyway. I guess they had fun, they sure came home tired!

All of our family Christmas activities occur on Christmas Eve. DH works every Christmas Day. On Christmas Day things will be pretty quiet around here, in fact, I should be alone part of the day, which I am really looking forward to. I sub-cut the rest of my floral/cream strips and I'd love to get the rest of those quilt blocks done before I have to flip the calendar. I am planning on sewing the whole time I am home alone, and it will be great!

I am wondering how the twins will do with all the presents and such. I bought them the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set, and they've been playing with that while I tell them about about Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. I told them it was almost Jesus' birthday and we were going to have a party, but I don't think they understood. They turn two in January, so they are still pretty young and next year they may have a clearer idea of what's going on.

If you want to check other people's progress on the Easy Street Mystery, check out Bonnie's Linky here. I wrote this post Sunday evening, but am saving it to post Monday morning after I can link it to Bonnie's post, so if my timeline seems strange, that's why.

Merry Christmas and Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stringing Stockings

I was scheduled to babysit today, but last night my charges father texted me saying he'd keep the kids today. Hmmm, an extra day to do some Christmas-y prep. I still haven't made a single Christmas cookie, but tomorrow the twins will be gone all afternoon. I decided cookie baking would be best done without their help, so that's on tomorrow's schedule. I do plan on making at least one kind of cookie dough this evening so it can chill overnight.

Here is what I did with my extra day instead! The extra stockings I needed are finished! Add these to the 11 stockings I made last year, and I have 17 stockings that need to be stuffed. I plan on working on that every evening this week until it's done. I usually wrap everything that goes in the stockings so people feel like they got more stuff. I can usually use the small scraps of gift wrap for wrapping the little things I put in the stockings. Just like in quilting, I feel the need to use up the scraps. I don't have a lot of presents to wrap for under the tree, I scaled WAY back this year. Most of the ones I do have are already wrapped, just a couple left to do.

I cleaned up the strings in the sewing room, and put them all away. I am planning on bringing a string project on my getaway in January, but for now they are all put away in an effort to clean up something in the sewing room! It was funny, I had been making blue string blocks as leaders/enders while making the Christmas stockings, and I sewed the last piece on the front and back of the stocking, as well as the two blue string blocks all in a row! Quilting serendipity to finish all at the same time! It was a good time to clean up the stringy mess :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Easy Street Step 4

Thank you, Bonnie, for making this year's mystery easy! I love the complicated zillion pieces, string piecing mysteries, those are my favorites. The thing is, I probably wouldn't have played along this year if she hadn't said it would be easier. Life is just crazy around here. This year's mystery has been really easy, and I am actually keeping up.


Here are samples of my new flying geese, sewn to half of my old flying geese. They are pressed, dog ears are trimmed, and ready to go. You can see a bit of the rest of them at the top of the photo.

My green squares are all cut, and here is a sampling of my fabrics. Fun bright greens and I am anxious to see where they will go.

It's funny, I was using my new red washer and dryer, and I realized they match my Easy Street quilt with my red background. I must be on a red kick!

If you want to see how everyone else is doing on their Easy Street Mystery, check out Bonnie's Linky post here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Change of Plans

Wow! Last week did not go at all like I had planned! I didn't have to babysit on Monday or Wednesday, so I thought I'd have all this extra time to sew and make Christmas cookies and such. I didn't make any cookies, and I did little sewing. 

One reason I got little sewing done was because DH and I were running all over town comparing new washers and dryers. It took me a while to decide, but I finally got the red ones I had been wanting from the beginning. They were delivered today, and obviously from this photo I put them straight to work. So far I am really liking them.

The other reason I got little done is that the twins have been running fevers, and just feeling under the weather. They mostly have wanted me to hold them. When you have a little one who has a temp of 101.6 and they will only be calm if you hold them, what do you do? I know I spent a lot of time this past week holding little ones.

DH's grandmother passed away in August, and I just received what was left of her quilting stash. She mostly made small projects, lots and lots of placemats. She always had impeccable taste,  so no surprise there are some gorgeous fabrics in here.

Some of her stash was in bundles by color like this. One of my favorite pieces is the paisley on the top of the pile at far left^ She had several fabrics I also have in my stash, but rarely in the same colorway I have.

Her stash was in a nice plastic tote, but I've already repurposed it so for right now most of the fabrics are overflowing this box. It will be fun to go through all of this. She had a bunch of strips cut, and some of the blue ones have already made their way into my blue string blocks.

I found a bunch of these quilt blocks. When I saw them, I wondered if she had made them as a disappearing nine patch, but I have since found some extra pieces, so now I know she didn't do them as a disappearing nine patch, but cut to size.

Here is one block. There are some extra four patches, and some extra sashing and cornerstone pieces. There are no extra background pieces. I found one piece of fabric that might be the background fabric, if not the one, close enough to work if I need more blocks. Something was spilled on it, so I will need to wash it and see if whatever is on it comes out.

^Here is the box full of quilt blocks and extra parts. I will lay it out and see how big I can make it now. If it only needs a couple extra blocks to finish a row I will make a few more blocks but if I can work it out with what is already made, I will do that. I had a good chuckle when looking over her piecing. She used all colors of thread while piecing, which I do when making darker colored projects. She pieces with red which really shows though the white fabric. She also pieced with pink, and white, and the bobbin and top threads were often different colors. I'm sure she was likely just using up threads, and piecing with whatever was almost gone.

I did get one more stocking string pieced last week. I opted for traditional Christmas colors. I started the last stocking which will be creams today.

I realized I was going to have a bunch of extra four patches from the floral/cream sewing spree, so I started making some double four patches, and laid a few out to see how they will look. My piles of floral cream blocks are steadily growing, I am sewing on these when I work on the Easy Street Mystery. I am still making blue string blocks when working on the stockings.  I have several more blue string blocks made, and I will have a couple more by the time I'm done piecing the last stocking. I am running out of time to get these stockings done, so I am going to have to find the time to sew in between babysitting this week.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Easy Street Step 3 and More Strings

I had a good time on Easy Street Step 3. I started playing around with these units, and there are lots of possibilities for these units in a quilt all their own. That may go on my to-do list.

Here are a sample of my step 3 units.

I got 8 more string blocks done too. I'm not sure this container of blue strings will ever empty. I'm sure I will eventually have to make smaller string blocks, but will they ever be all used? Probably not, I even added more blue strings when I was squaring up the blue fabrics I cut for the Easy Street Mystery.

I pieced another Christmas stocking too. I have Easter eggs on this stocking, and Be My Valentine fabric on the pink stocking I made! Too funny! If my count is right, I need two more stockings for this year's festivities. I am thinking a white/cream stocking and ????? I'll have to look through my strings and see what I have. I already have two blue stockings and two green ones. The other colors I only have one each (black, brown, purple, yellow, orange, red, pink). My stocking is made with selvages, and I have a couple two color stockings as well. Maybe a red/green Christmas-y stocking instead of going for a specific color? Patriotic?

I got a bunch of other blocks made for my floral/cream quilts made this week. I'll have to lay out some of those and take a photo of them too. I get extra sewing time this week because I only have to babysit the twins, my other two charges are gone on vacation. Hurray for sewing time!

If you want to see how everyone else is doing on the Easy Street Mystery, you can go to the link up on Bonnie's blog here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In Little Bits of Time

It's been a busy week for me, but in any bit of time I could find to sew, I did. I got all the blocks I had made while working on my flying geese for the mystery pressed. I am now done all of the blocks for one quilt, the one I can't show. I pressed several other blocks I made, and snipped off all the dog ears on my flying geese. I am ready for step 3 to come out tomorrow!

I've been working on string piecing in my little bits of time.

I got the front and back done for a blue stocking. No rhyme or reason to the strips on this stocking, just trying to use those blue strings.

 I finished the front and back for a multi-colored stocking. Some of the fabrics are the same on both sides, some aren't, it really just depended on how much of each fabric I had.

Nine more blue string blocks are finished as well. You can barely see the ninth block in this picture. My sewing room is such a disaster right now, with quilt pieces everywhere, that there wasn't a good spot to lay these out. You'd think that after making the blue stocking and thirteen total 8" string blocks I'd notice my blue strings going down quite a bit. Well, I think they've gone down, but not by a lot. I will keep making blue string blocks as leaders/enders while I work on the Christmas stockings. I have the most blue strings by far.

After making RRCB with all blue string blocks, I would have thought it would have taken longer for my blue strings to build up this much again. On RRCB I eliminated using the lightest blues and the navy blues, so I am finding the most of those blues for these blocks. I have some blue string blocks this same size I made before RRCB, so when they are all mixed together, I think it will be a good assortment. No quilt size in mind, I am just making blocks until I run out of strings, and then I'll see what I can do with the number of blocks I have.

Bring on clue 3 for Easy Street!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Easy Street Part Deux

Here is a sampling of my step 2 Flying Geese. They are all finished, I just haven't had a chance to trim the dog ears. I went very scrappy on my purples, maybe a little too scrappy, we'll see. I don't mind the blue-purples and red-purples mixed, but I have a few pink-purples which I am questioning. I have a few extra Flying Geese, so I can switch out a few that really stick out.

I have a huge pile of blocks and sub-units to press. I had a marathon piecing session during Sunday's quiltcam. I am almost done the blocks for another quilt I'm working on, and I have made good progress on my floral/cream quilt blocks. Maybe I can get my pressing done during the twin's nap tomorrow, and if I can get the dog ears snipped off too, I'll be a happy quilter! No sewing time to speak of until Friday for me, and that's when step 3 comes out, so it's all good :-)

If you'd like to see how others are doing on the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, check here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Working on Everything at Once

I have been sneaking to my sewing room every chance I get this week, and am working on so many projects it's funny. I usually have at least some time to sew on weekends, so I've designated that my quilting time. Any chance I can snag during the week is bonus time, and that's when I've been working on other projects, like more Christmas stockings.

I love the look of the string stockings I made last year, but I am five stockings short for how many people we are expecting for Christmas this year. The string stockings take longer to make, but I like them so well, I am doing more the same way. I got the front and back of a pink stocking done. I won't assemble the stockings until all the string piecing is done.

I have been string piecing on my featherweight, trying to cycle through my machines. I still haven't messed with my 503 Rocketeer named Cliff yet. I need to get some projects out of my way so I have a cleaned off spot to put him. I started some blue string blocks ages ago, and got sidetracked with other projects, but since I am string piecing anyway, I'm using the blue strings blocks as leaders/enders for my stockings.

 Right now I'm over halfway done string piecing a blue stocking, and while I worked on the pink stocking and the blue one, I've finished four blue stings blocks. I've trimmed them, but haven't removed the paper yet, I'll wait until I have a stack of them.

I looked at step 2 to the mystery this morning, and saw I'd need purple strips. I decided to check my strip drawer to see what I already had cut that would work.

What a mess! Time to organize this. I did not figure it would take me the two hours it did.

All sorted by color now, and I took the shirt strips that were mixed in out, as I am storing those elsewhere now. I still mix them in with quilting fabrics when I feel like it, I just have several quilts in my head that will use only shirts, so for now I'd like them separate. I also separated out any strips that did not fit into any particular color family, and all the really short strips. I have a pineapple blossom quilt planned for early 2013, and I hope to make several log cabin quilts next year, so I figured I'd start cutting the short strips first. When I sorted my 2.5" strips, they stay stacked pretty well, but these stacks keep falling over. I may resort to ziploc bags to keep the colors separate. I make so many just light/dark quilts like log cabins, that I hate having the colors SO separated. I want them separate, but not.....hmmm, I'll have to keep thinking on that. I do a lot of color controlled scrappy too, so separate makes sense. One of these days I need to tackle my 1.5" strips.

 Here is my bowl of short strips and way multicolored (don't fit in any color family) strips. When I get a chance, I'll start cutting logs for some 2013 quilts.

A lot of my current projects are all from the same fabrics. I wanted to bust a bunch of floral fabrics, and I had about twenty yards of the same cream fabric. The cream fabric was misprinted, so I am having to dodge some wonky printed areas, but the fabric is nice and it was hugely discounted because of the misprint. I wanted to make a Floribunda quilt (Jacob's Ladder) a la Bonnie Hunter, but I purposely cut too many pieces, and strip pieced more than what I needed for the four patches in the Jacob's ladder blocks. Right now I am working on three different style blocks from the same fabrics, and I pinned sample blocks up on my design wall to keep the orientation of the blocks all the same.

Top left is a Jacob's Ladder block, right is a paddle wheel block. On the bottom is a Friendship Star block. On the friendship stars I am planning to make half with cream stars, half with cream background, and alternate them in a quilt. I have to be careful when I making blocks like the friendship star and paddle wheel blocks. There have been a few times I didn't pay enough attention and had some blocks spinning one way and some the other. I am piecing these on my Bernina, which faces my design wall, so hopefully I can keep the ripping to a minimum. After sorting my strip drawer today, I didn't feel like cutting the mystery quilt pieces, so I just worked on these quilt blocks today, plus quilt blocks for another quilt I can't show yet. One of the floral quilts is for a gift, but since I am making multiple quilts, I don't mind showing the quilts along the way. The other quilt I am working on is a gift, no occasion, just because so no deadline, but if I showed a pic of it, some of my family that reads my blog would know immediately who it is for, as it is a themed quilt. No pics of that one until it is given away.

Tomorrow's plan, cut the pieces for step two of the mystery, so some more sub-cutting for my cream/floral blocks, and start sewing the newly cut pieces. I'm already planning on ordering pizza for dinner, then the girls and I have planned a Christmas movie/present wrapping session. I finished my Christmas shopping this week, and since DH is out of town for a scooter rally, it's a great time to make a big mess in the living room wrapping everything that's not wrapped yet!