Monday, January 30, 2012


Here is the pastel Indian Hatchet quilt. Pastels are not my thing, but these were too light to work with the other six inch squares I was trying to use up so they got their own quilt. The border fabric has seashells on it, which in no reflects a theme for the quilt, but the colors were right so I went for it. I had sewn the inner border on yesterday, and I cut the outer border lengthwise, so no piecing to do. It was only four seams to put the last border on, so it didn't take long, but sometimes those are the things I put off, so I'm glad that's done.

The only sewing I've done today is sewing this border on so I still haven't finished the last row of the dark Indian Hatchet quilt. I will probably finish that and assemble it as I am working on a baby quilt. I cut the sashing and cornerstones for the baby quilt today, so if I have a chance to sew in the next couple of days, I can start working on that. I have found that anything can work as leaders/enders, if you assemble your quilts as leaders/enders you are just making longer seams, but the concept works the same. I'll end up assembling the baby quilt and the dark Indian Hatchet at the same time, and that works for me.

I went through my quilt tops, and I have three without borders. One of them I know exactly what I want for borders. I've misplaced the inner border fabric I want for it, so I'll have to look for it. One top I had been stumped on, but this time when I looked at I realized I had a fabric that should make a fine border for it. I'll have to lay it out and look at it. The other I need to spread out and check the size of it. It is another Indian Hatchet, all from men's shirts. I pieced it early last year. I might leave it without borders, I think that was my original plan for that one. If it is smaller than I'd like, I'll add borders. My throw sized quilts keep getting bigger and bigger, so even if I thought it was big enough last year, I may not feel the same now.

I did a very quick count of my finished quilt tops. Some are folded with their backing fabric and those were hard to count because they are squished in a cabinet with my batting. I think I have 18 finished quilt tops. Once I get borders on the other three centers, that will be 21, and when I get the dark Indian Hatchet and the baby quilt together that will make 23. I knew they were stacking up, but I didn't realize I had quite that many.

I actually have to start some new quilts before I can go on a big quilting spree. I need a wedding quilt and the scooter rally quilt for the first half of this year. I have another grandbaby due in August, and that quilt top is made, I just need to quilt it. Believe it or not, I have a few garments on my to do list too! I am just sewing as I find time, and I am happy with my progress on turning finished blocks in quilt tops, or quilt centers into quilt tops. For right now at least, the quilting can wait.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Two More Quilt Tops

If any of you were paying attention I mentioned I was assembling quilt tops as my leader/ender project during the Orca Bay Mystery. I got three quilt centers together while working on Orca Bay, and I put borders on two of those today.

Here is one of the quilts I got borders on. I like making Indian Hatchet blocks, and I have two more quilts like this in the works. This one is all brights, I have the first border on one in pastels, and I am still assembling the rows of one all in dark colors. These quilts were started in my effort to bust my six inch squares. I have no more six inch squares to use, but not all my quilt tops from that square busting spree are together, and few of those are quilted.

This quilt top is made from leftovers of DD#1's Buckeye Beauty quilt. The pattern is from Kim Brackett's book "Scrap Basket Surprises" and is called Beach Cottage. It was a stretch for me to do such a low contrast quilt.

I have been looking for ways to challenge myself and expand my experiences in quilting. Doing a low contrast quilt was one of my personal challenges. When I made the RRCB mystery quilt, I challenged myself to use an odd color for the background, and I used blue. I've been looking at new free motion designs to try, and I am itching for a quilting spree, but it just hasn't been the right time for that yet.

I am babysitting a lot this week, so little sewing time is available. I chose the outer border fabric for the pastel Indian Hatchet quilt, so I'd like to get that cut and sewn on. I am sewing the last row together on the third Indian Hatchet quilt. If I can get that together that will be great! I have a baby quilt that I have the blocks done, but I still need to cut sashing for it. I chose the sashing fabric already, but haven't even thought about borders on it yet. I can probably find the time to at least cut the sashing. I also am hoping to find the time to go through my quilt top pile, and figure out how many quilts need borders. I'd like to put the ones that need borders out where I can see them, so I can start thinking about what kind of borders I want. Sometimes if I have a quilt out where I can see it when I look up from sewing, I also will also have a fabric from my stash catch my eye as going with it well. I love the way I have my fabric arranged, where I can see it all at a glance!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

None of the Above

I blogged my options for inner borders on Orca Bay last night, and then this morning I decided to go with green and use none of the options I showed you!

DH really wanted me to use the pine cone fabric, and so did DD#3. DD#2 and I were leaning towards the solid brown. I measured the pine cone fabric and I was 4 inches short! I had enough of the solid brown, but by that time I had decided to try the green, and I stuck with it. The borders went on with no problems, everything fit nicely. It always amazes me how so few seams can take so much time because they are just so long, and there is so much rearranging of the quilt top at that point. I measured the finished quilt top and it is now a respectable 91 x 101".

I will get DH to take a photo of it laid out in the driveway and post that. At least with this pic you can see the borders. I now need to decide if I want to quilt this myself or send it out for quilting. I normally send quilts this size out for quilting, but I had planned on quilting this one, before I realized how much larger I was really making it with the extra borders.

Tomorrow I am hoping to get borders on a couple more quilt centers I have finished. Only one has a border I've already figured out, so I don't know how much I will get done. Depends on how fast I decide what I want to do I suppose. Busy week ahead, with little quilting time available, so I am looking forward to my sewing time tomorrow.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting Back in the Groove

Wow! I thought I would be posting this days ago. I have chronic pain issues, and sometimes I just have a string of bad days, and that was my week, bad day after bad day. I just did the bare minimum around here, plus some busy work that I could handle with how I was feeling. Sewing was not in the cards. Thankfully that string of bad days is done, and I am feeling a bit better.

I finally got the center of Orca Bay together today. Now I need to make decisions about the borders. I'd like the quilt to be a bit bigger, so I will just add a couple more borders. I want to use the bear fabric that started this whole colorway as the outer border. I have lots of it, so it will be the backing as well.

I really like how it came out in this colorway. I have seen others I like better, but I am happy with my choices.
My plan is to use the thin inner border fabric twice, on each side of the pieced border. This rusty brown^ was my initial choice. I wanted it in the main part of the quilt, but it blurred the lines between brown and rust, so I didn't use it. It is a possibility for this.

This second choice is a cream fabric with rust colored splatters on it. I really like how it looks with the border fabric, not quite as sure about how it looks with the center. This was a thrift store find.

This rusty colored Michael Miller fabric I picked up at a thrift store too. Two yards for 99 cents! It might be too pink/salmony for this.

Using Bonnie's plan but with my colors, my inner border should be brown. I have this pine cone fabric that is used in the center of the quilt multiple times. It's another thrift store fabric :-)

Finally I tried a solid brown. I thought it might give your eye a rest. I like how the dark brown brings out the bears in the border. I love bears!

I will probably cut the bear borders tomorrow, but I need to decide which inner borders I want. I will sleep on it and see how I feel about it in the morning.

One thing I do know, I need to get this quilt top finished before my new sewing machine gets here! I bought a Bernina Aurora 440QE!!!!!!! Bernina has discontinued this model, and replaced it with the new 500 series machines. I knew if I wanted to get an Aurora with a warranty, I needed to get one while I could still find one. The shop near my house had two, one was already reserved, both floor models so deeply discounted. I went and paid for it yesterday, but I can't pick it up until their technician makes sure it is cleaned and perfect. I get all the classes they give to new Bernina owners, I get a 20% discount on supplies while I am in the classes, and my first cleaning/tune-up on the Aurora in a year or so is free too! I need a new machine, and I decided there was never going to be the perfect time to buy one. I got a great deal on my dream DSM, so I am one happy quilter! I was a little disappointed to not be able to bring it home yesterday, but it may all work out for the best. I ordered my new acrylic insert for my sewing cabinet it will go into, and they both may be coming home at the same time!

I had decided a while ago that the Aurora was the machine I really wanted, and this was really my last chance for one with a warranty. I could have gotten one on ebay, but most of those are going for more than what I paid for this one, and I don't know that the warranty would have been valid if I purchased a used machine on ebay. Bernina guarantees they will carry parts for 20 years after the last machine of that model is made, and I know they often carry them much longer than that. I figure if this machine lasts 20 years with how much I sew, I will have more than gotten my money out of it.

Friday, January 20, 2012


When it comes to certain areas, I am an organization junkie. For most of my house, it is well lived in. Things have a place, but they may or may not be there. There are six people living here, trying to get everyone to put everything just where I want it would be pretty unrealistic. My house isn't complete chaos, but neither is it incredibly neat.

My sewing room, however, is my domain. My girls do get things from it from time to time, as well as sew things occasionally, but overall, it is my haven. Kind of like the batcave was for batman, what he said goes, my sewing room is for me. In there I like things just so, everything should be right where I put it.

Just like every January, when all those New Year's resolutions are fresh in people minds, stores put out the exercise equipment, diet plans, and organizational supplies. I found some really great stuff for organizing, and since I never did finish organizing my sewing room after moving it a few months ago, I bought a few things while they were available. You know the best part of this? Every item I bought for organizing was MADE IN THE USA!

I already had the green plastic shoeboxes, but I bought all the clear ones this week. Some have labels on them, because in my plan to attack the scraps in my scrap pile, I chose which Go dies I have that would make good scrappy quilts, and I labeled a box with each shape I plan on cutting. When I have a shoebox full, it's time to make a quilt. As I get more Go dies, I will probably start saving more sizes, so I bought a few extra boxes. They were only $1 each, so not that big of an investment.

Here is my cutting table. The green and purple baskets are new. The green basket holds the scraps I will cut up next. I'm not even going to show you my real pile of scraps. I got the green basket to make it seem like a reasonable amount. When the green basket is empty, I will fill it from my scrap mountain. The purple basket has strings left from cutting. I love making string quilts, so I'll keep any strings left over from cutting. I am going to stick all the crumbs in a flat rate box, and when it's full I'll mail it off to someone who wants them. Sometimes I like playing with crumbs, but they add up too fast for me to keep up with them. I decided if I just give all the crumbs I accumulate this year away, I will have more to play with soon enough, and they won't weigh me down now.

On top of my cutting workbench are four sets of drawers. Two sets I had, two sets are new. The two sets I had hold 1 1/2", 2", and 2 1/2" squares. One set of drawers holds the lights, the other the darks. The new sets of drawers aren't full yet. In one set I am saving HST's in the aforementioned sizes. I have all the Go dies to cut those. The other set of drawers so far just has all my extra rotary blades and an extra cutter. The new sets of drawers I bought were $12 each.

More new baskets making an appearance. One basket has my larger Go dies, the other my smaller ones. The baskets fit just right on this shelf with my Go cutter. My four new baskets were $6 each.

I bought these two new sets of drawers too. I hadn't ever seen drawers this size five high before. I am replacing a shorter set of three drawers with these two sets. The two sets together are about the same width as the old set, but since these are five high, I get more storage with the same amount of floor space taken. These were my "big" purchase at $24 a set.

In total I spent just over $100 at Big Lots where I bought everything. I am really excited about being able to start taming the scraps now that I have a plan. I am still cutting strips and squares, but I wanted some more variety pre-cut. I always go to my pre-cut stuff first when making a quilt, so more variety pre-cut means more complicated patterns at my fingertips.

Here is one of the rows I have assembled for Orca Bay. I have two of these together, but not the filler row that goes between them. The way I divided the quilt for how I am assembling it, I need four of these, and I'm going to make all four before I worry about the filler rows. I've started on the third one, but I've mostly been organizing the past few days.

Today I went to the Tucson quilt show. I was amazed at how many of the quilts were hand quilted, a LOT of them, and lots and lots of hand applique. This is Arizona's centennial year, so there was a whole separate category for centennial quilts. There are always a lot of southwestern themed quilts, and this year was no exception. I went with my MIL and a friend of hers. We try to go together every year, we see the quilts and then go out for lunch. We always have such a fun time.

I got to try the Tin Lizzie sit down model.

I stitched out a couple flowers and a few leaves. It is fun to think about for a someday possibility.

I talked to a Bernina dealer as well, for my Bernina was making a really odd noise the other day. It is probably 20 years old or so, and I know I've sewn a lot on it, and it looked well used when I got it. A new Bernina will probably be my next new machine, but oh, deciding on which model is the tough part.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Assembly Line

Wow! Did I have an assembly line going today! I got the centers of three quilts together while I was assembling the Orca Bay mystery quilt. The mystery quilt is not an easy quilt to assemble, because there are not separate quilt blocks to put together then assemble. I can still build parts and then put it together, but it is easy to get things mixed up.

This block isn't sewn together yet, but I am considering this the main "block" of the quilt. I need 16 of these, then I fill in the blanks with the other parts. I have two horizontal rows together, but not the filler row I need to put between them, so no serious progress on the assembly of the mystery quilt. Just getting the two horizontal rows together took quite a while. In those two rows are 8 of the above "blocks", plus some filler sections. If you are doing the mystery quilt, don't use this photo as an example. I switched the lights and darks, the dark brown is my neutral, so if you are using Bonnie's colors this would just confuse you more.

After I got the three quilt centers together, I decided to start using the Orca Bay pieced borders as my leader/enders. I got one side border together today. I will probably be able to finish piecing the borders before I am finished the quilt center, so then I will need to use something else as my leader/ender project. I have the blocks done for 2 other quilts, so I think I'll figure the layout for those and assemble those as leaders/enders. I think I already had 3 or 4 quilts waiting for borders, today I added three more to that number, and I'm looking at adding two more to that. If I have my own bordering party I could have a bunch of quilt tops completed pretty quickly.

Here are a couple pics of the twins on their birthday. They were wearing Mr and Ms one-derful shirts. Miss S was really thankful for her presents, can't you tell?

This was right before the got their cake. Don't they look cute in their Mickey and Minnie Mouse hats? You can tell these are Arizona kids, they had enchiladas for their birthday dinner because they LOVE enchiladas. We had 22 people here for their birthday, mostly adults. It's amazing how fast the time flies by, it hardly seems like a year has passed since they were born.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Components Are Done!

Here are all the parts for the Orca Bay Mystery quilt, aside from the inner border. I haven't decided what color I am going to make the inner border, since I am adding extra borders outside the pieced border. I haven't cut any of the borders aside from the pieced one. I'll make all of those decisions when the center is together.

Along with getting the rest of my Orca Bay parts done, I ironed the rows for 3 quilts that I've been assembling as leaders/enders. Now the the rows are all pressed with the seams going in opposite directions so they will nest nicely together, I am hoping to get the centers of those three quilts together while I am assembling the Orca Bay quilt. One of those quilts I even have the borders finished for, so maybe I can get at least one quilt top finished, in addition to Orca Bay.

I really need to do a big pinbasting spree, so I can start quilting up some of these quilts. Orca Bay had so many pieces it completely took over my sewing room, and I had no room for anything, not even to take out some of the my quilt tops and figure out backings. Pin basting is what I have planned once Orca Bay is together into a quilt top. I don't dare set Orca Bay aside before it's assembled, for fear I would end up losing some of the pieces.

I have been mulling over what to do for the next scooter rally quilt. It will be DH's third scooter rally that he's run, but the fourth scooter quilt I've made, since I made one for another event. The scooter rally has a western theme, so I've been thinking stagecoach or covered wagon, pulled by scooters of course, and I ordered some fabric today with that in mind. Whichever I don't use this year, I will use next year. I was leaning towards stagecoach, but I've heard the person designing the rally shirts is using a covered wagon, so I may make the quilt to match. The rally quilt will be my next start, the rally is the first weekend in May, so I need to start it, but I'm going to try to move a few projects closer to completion first. We'll see how I do on that!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Back to Work on Orca Bay Mystery

I guess it isn't technically a mystery any longer, since I know what the quilt will look like, but this is the project I am working on. I'd like to get the top together before I start on the other quilts I need this year. This mystery quilt has too many components to not get them sewn together ASAP. I'd probably lose some pieces if I just packed it away to start on the scooter rally quilt.

Since I had finished all the ripping before I left for Houston, it didn't take me very long to sew up my birds in the air units. I had cut a few extra and I'm glad I did since we ended up needing four more than originally thought. I haven't cut the pieces I need to sew these to yet.

My flying geese units are now finished as well. I had enough variety that none of my flying geese units have a repeat of fabric in one unit. I'm thinking that should make it easier to not have repeats too close to one another in the final quilt.

I was having problems sewing up my Ohio star blocks because my hourglass blocks were a little off. Trying to use a regular ruler to trim them was murder on my hands, and because of the lump in the middle of the block, hard to hold the ruler steady enough to be accurate. I don't like sliver trimming, but I know the results will be worth it in the end. Some blocks I'm not having to trim at all, but others are just wonky. I am usually pretty accurate, I think it was cutting in too much of a hurry that caused me to be off.

Someone on Quiltville chat, the yahoo group suggested using this June Tailor ruler, and I am so glad they did. I had a 40% off coupon for Joanns so I paid $12 for the ruler, and it was soooo worth it! I have several June Tailor rulers with slots. and I like all the ones I have. Since I struggle with numbness in my hands, not all the usual rulers work for me, but the ones with slots really help me when cutting. I like the Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers, but if the numbness in my hands is bad the day I am cutting, they are difficult for me to use with accuracy. Any time I have the Go die for the pieces we needed for the mystery, I used the Go cutter. That is how I plan to cut the 3" HST's to go with the birds in the air units.

I belong to several online quilting groups, and the use of die cutters comes up pretty frequently. A lot of women can't afford them, and I completely understand that. What I don't understand is the women who have never tried them, and bash them, and imply anyone who buys them is a fool for spending so much money on them.

I really like my Go cutter. It allows me to make more quilts, because I can cut on days when my hands would not allow me to use a ruler. For women like me, who have numbness, or women with arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome or a myriad of other physical problems, die cutters are a wonderful thing. For women who just struggle with cutting accurately, or who need to save some time on the cutting process, or who just hate cutting, it is a wonderful thing. There are dies for patterns I would never dare cut with a template, for fear I would be off just enough to screw it all up.

I do spend quite a bit of money on quilting, something I would not have been able to do a few years ago. I do babysit and sell a quilt now and then to "support my habit". That said, I still need to budget and weigh purchases carefully. When I bought my Go Cutter it was an amazing bundled deal, and I basically got the 12" mix and match set of dies for free. I have a wish list of Go dies I want, and I buy them usually just one at a time, sometimes more if there is a good sale. I've gotten dies from Accuquilt directly, Amazon and ebay, depending on who had the best deal for the die I wanted.

I cut costs on some things in quilting, so I can have things like my Go Cutter. If you averaged the cost per yard of the fabrics in my stash, I'm sure it would be no more than $4 per yard, probably less. I try to buy good quality fabrics, but at a quilt store, I usually only go to the deeply discounted fabrics or remnants. I order a lot online, and I get the clearance specials. I buy a lot of fabric at thrift stores, where else can you find 8 yards of 100% cotton fabric for 99 cents? I never buy a line of fabric, I've never bought precut fabric, I've never purchased a kit, I've only purchased two patterns ever, and I've never taken a class. I do send wedding quilts out to be quilted, but I only get pantographs, no custom quilting. Anything smaller than a large queen I quilt myself. I buy batting by the roll, when I have a 50% off coupon. It is a large purchase at once, but saves me money in the long run. I piece batting scraps together too, to further stretch the batting investment.

Right now I am really trying to limit my quilting purchases, because I know I am going to need a new sewing machine one of these days. I have plenty of supplies to keep me busy, and not that much time to sew these days, so it's not that hard to limit spending right now. I know of lots of quilters who spend far more than I do on quilting, as well as lots who can't afford to spend what I do. Since we all have different needs, different interests, and different resources, when posting on an online group, please try to not blast someone who does things differently than you do. It is narrow minded and mean. Come on quilters, let's play nice!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Year End Review

Here are the spools I emptied in 2011. This represents 6,596 yards, or 3.75 miles, or just over 6 km of thread. I finished 12 quilts in 2011. I have no idea about yardage used, because I didn't even write down the finished size of all my completed quilts. I'm sure I probably used at least 50 yards for all of the scooter rally things, and at least 50 yards in quilts, so somewhere over 100 yards used.

This is a far cry from the previous year, since my 2010 numbers were over 20,000 yards of thread used, over 300 yards of fabric used, and 35 quilts completed.

These numbers do not indicate a change in my zeal for quilting, but they do reflect the fact that I have had my grandtwins living with me all year.

I just read over my quilting goals for 2011, that I wrote last January. I knew my quilting time would be greatly reduced, so my only goal was to make the quilts I needed as gifts. I knew then that I would need one wedding quilt, one "big boy" quilt, and a couple baby quilts. I figured anything else I finished was just a bonus. As it turns out, I made two wedding quilts, three twin sized quilts, one comfort quilt for someone with cancer, a scooter quilt for the rally, and several baby quilts. That's not bad for the crazy year we had.

I've been thinking about 2012 quilting goals, and I am really stuck. I will likely have even less time to quilt this year than last. I will soon be babysitting the grandtwins five days a week while DD#3 attends school. I still babysit the little boy I've been babysitting, and now he has a little sister. With four kids in the house two and under, that doesn't make for great sewing opportunities.

Keeping that in mind, here is what I would like to get done in 2012, but will not beat myself up about it if I can't. I would like to quilt and bind at least half the quilt tops I have done. Most of these are baby quilts, so that should be a fairly reasonable goal. It is probably what I am most likely to succeed in, considering the lighting over the machine I quilt with is great for night sewing, so I can quilt after the twins are in bed. Finishing up some quilts is the most important goal in my mind right now.

I have several quilts in assembly stage, and I would like most of those to be quilt tops by the end of the year. If they are all quilt centers just waiting for borders, I'd probably still consider that victory.

Here are the new starts/gift quilts I know I will need in 2012 as of right now-

*the scooter rally quilt, for the rally in May
*one wedding quilt- this number may change, but right now I'm thinking one
*two baby quilts, and this number is VERY likely to change. At least one of these I am likely to use a top I have completed already, and just quilt it
*two quilts for family friends which are already started and in rows

That's better than I thought, writing it down made me realize that I actually only need to start three of the quilts I currently need for 2012, some work has been done on all the rest.

If I get very many quilts finished in 2012, it will be because I have so many quilt tops finished already. I am not expecting a banner quilting year, but you never know when circumstances will change. It's looking like the beginning of 2012 will be very busy for me, but only God really knows what this year holds. I will just hold on and try to enjoy the ride.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm Back!

My trip to Houston was great! Who could resist this little bundle?

Isn't she just precious?

This photo is a tad blurry, but I was so excited I caught her with her eyes open!

Here is DS the Elder, with his girlfriend and her daughter. It was so fun to see them creating a new family.

I got home last night, and all day today the twins didn't want me out of their line of sight. I think they missed their Nana pretty badly. It was just as well, since I needed to go to the party store to get the stuff for their first birthday. How did that sneak up so quickly? At any rate, we just took the twins with us, so they could see I wasn't leaving again. Their birthday is on the 12th, but we are having the party on the 10th, because as usual, DH is working on the "real" day. Sometimes it seems as if he works every holiday and birthday :-(

I haven't made it down to the sewing room yet, I'm kind of hoping I can get down there tomorrow, at least during naptime. I saw the mystery quilt reveal, and I LOVE IT! I can't wait to start working on it again. I did indeed get the rest of my mistakes ripped out before I left last week, so I am ready to start sewing again.

My mom isn't having surgery until the 23rd of January, but by then I will babysitting the twins five days a week so DD#3 can go to school to be a certified nursing assistant. I am so glad God can hear my prayers just as well from here.

Since I was traveling over the new year, I haven't really done any year end summing up, or any goals for 2012. I'm hoping to post again tomorrow, with my yearly photo of the spools of thread I've emptied this past year, as well as the total number of quilts I finished in 2011.