Monday, February 27, 2012

A Creative Mess

I have routinely had people comment or email me and tell me how neat my sewing room is. My stash is well organized, just the way I like it, but when I am in the middle of a project, or several projects in this case, it looks like this.

What a mess, right? There are a lot of things in this mess, my Orca Bay quilt top, most of the pieces for the pink/black beast, including the backing fabric for it, pieces to the two quilts I cut out yesterday, and some fabrics for the parts I haven't cut out yet. There are some finished blocks for the penguin quilt (finished except for eyes of course) Some fabrics that need to be cut for sashing for my Quiltmaker test block quilt. Oh, and in the far corner of the sewing cabinet, behind my Juki, is some fabric I still haven't gotten put away after rejecting it for Orca Bay. I think there is only one piece left, I've been working on putting stash away regularly. Oh yeah, there are some strips to go into my strip drawers too. I have been cutting so much, and my personal policy on fabric is that if there is less than a foot of it left, it gets cut up for the scrap system. I have a couple pieces of really rare novelty fabrics I break that rule for (like the 8 inches of Space Invaders fabric I have) but for most fabrics, they get stripped for the scrap user system at less than 12 inches.

Obviously, I won't be using my Juki any time soon, but I wasn't planning on it anyway. I need to get some piecing done before I start quilting. I only quilt on the Juki, I piece on my Bernina. The Bernina cabinet looks exactly the same as it did in the last post. I spent Saturday cutting, not sewing.

These are all pieces for the two quilts I was cutting out. The stacks aren't even sorted by quilt, but one will be mostly red, white, and blue and one will be mostly burgundy and green. The piles don't look that big in this photo, but some of them are. To give you an idea of what I cut, I needed 102 2 inch finished blue/white HST's, and 80 green/cream flying geese.

I cut all of these pieces out with my Accuquilt Go cutter, and oh, how I love that thing! I can cut 36 2 inch HST's with one pass through the cutter, and they are all perfect with no dog ears to be trimmed. How great is that? I actually planned these quilts based on which Go dies I have. I still have more to cut out for both quilts, but I am done what I can use the Go cutter for. I need to cut some sashing and borders, but I don't have any of the strip dies, and both quilts will have appliqued areas which I will cut by hand. I also need to rotary cut four cowboy boot blocks, which have some weird sized pieces. The Go cutter will never be able to cut all my pieces for me, but it sure saves wear and tear on me when I can use it.

I didn't figure out yardage until I was getting ready to cut each size piece. I ended up having to make several substitutions from what I had pulled. Usually I am making multifabric quilts, so if I run out of green, I just grab another one. These quilts need to be more cohesive than that, and I wanted all the fabrics for each unit to match. This was one of those times I was really thankful my stash is so well organized. It took time to reselect fabrics, but not that long since I could go right to the color I needed and see what I had available. I usually pull from the small minibolts first, which are 1 yard and less pieces. I have finished off several of those pieces lately. If I needed more than 1 yard, went to the larger minibolts. I have finished off a few of those lately too, and moved others of those pieces to the smaller minibolts if they are now less than yard. My system may not work for everyone, but it is working great for me! I was good and put all the fabrics I had pulled for these quilts away if I was done with them or decided not to use them.

Tomorrow is my day off, and I am hoping to get quite a bit of sewing in. I'd like to get some of the thousands of quilt pieces sewn together before I cut the rest of the pieces I need.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Better to See You with My Dear

Sewing is going pretty slowly these days. For one thing, I have very little time to sew right now, doing tons of babysitting. For another, when chain-sewing massive numbers of tiny quilt pieces, it takes a long time for it to look like anything.

The only thing I can show you that looks like much is my first sawtooth star for the penguin quilt. The fabric in the center of the sawtooth star is leftover from making DH a scrub top. I need five of the sawtooth stars, and I am doing them as leaders/enders right now. Notice something about my penguin block- no eyes. I have four of these guys and no eyes on any of them yet. I really need to get those on, but I'd need to rethread the machine, and change the presser foot, and all that jazz, so it can wait. I was auditioning the border fabric and trying to figure out sashing and cornerstones. I think I will use a silvery gray for the sashing and white for the cornerstones.

The border fabric I think will look great. I picked it up at a thrift store when I was making the penguin blocks for Quiltmaker. I got to make some really cool blocks while testing for them. I believe the penguin block is in Quiltmaker's 100 blocks Volume 4.

This is what my sewing cabinet looks like right now. I am working on the border blocks for the pink/black beast. They are mostly pink, but you can't tell that yet. This quilt is based on a half log cabin design, but you have to piece every log before you can add it on. The four patches with one pink square in the bottom right hand corner of the photo is the corner of the half log cabins. Towards the top of the photo you can see I have the next two logs pieced and ready to sew on. One block in this quilt is made up of four half log cabin blocks. There are two each of two different half log cabin blocks. I decided to start with the more complicated of the blocks. It will likely be weeks before you can see a completed block, since I have so many blocks to make, and I am chain-piecing, working on all of the identical blocks at once. It seems to take forever on a pattern like this to get anywhere when chain piecing, but the up side of that is everything comes together all at once.

I'll try to take some photos now and then of the pink/black beast, but really, it won't look like much for a while. I am hoping to cut out the rally quilts this weekend, and use them as leaders/enders once my penguin sawtooth stars are finished. Only one quilt will be raffled off this year at the rally, but I designed two, and I am not sure which one is more appropriate for this year's rally, so I am going to work on the blocks for both, and leave the applique for after I know which to use this year. I'll use the other one next year, and this way I'll have a head start on it, so not a bad plan.

The only days off I have from babysitting in the next week are Saturday and Tuesday. Saturday I hope to cut two quilts out and sew a little if I have time, Tuesday I will try to sew quite a bit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pink and Black Beast

I am working on a wedding quilt I am very excited to make, but this project is a doozy! I looked at simpler patterns, I really did, but this one called out to be made in the colors that were picked.
I started with 100 fat quarters, 45 pink, and 55 black. Yes, I did buy most of the fabrics for this quilt, and I don't feel one bit bad about it. My stash was seriously lacking in pinks and blacks with small enough patterns to still read as that color in the tiny pieces of this quilt. Some of these pieces are 3/4" x 1 1/2" cut. The largest pieces are 1 1/2" x 3 1/2". The fabrics needed to be tone on tones or have tiny, tiny prints, and I just didn't have it.

I started cutting the quilt out by working with the pinks. I tried ironing a fat quarter, cutting it into 1 1/2" strips, and sub-cutting the strips into the specific sizes I needed, but that really wasn't working. Since I wasn't sticking with one activity, I couldn't get a rhythm going. By the time I went to iron the next fat quarter, my auto shut off on my iron had tripped, and I was having to wait for the iron to heat up again. Definitely a bad plan, I needed a better one.

I took all the pink fat quarters, ironed them and cut them into the 1 1/2" strips. This was going much faster!

Here are all of pink pieces cut and separated in their appropriate baskets. I needed 9 different sizes, so I had to keep my pieces separate. See that big black container? It has about 2,000 pink 1 1/2" squares in it!

Today I managed to strip all of the black fat quarters, so I can try to get some sub-cutting done tomorrow. I had to dump out some stuff I had organized in my sewing room to come up with enough baskets to separate all the sizes for the black pieces. I am really anxious to start sewing on this quilt, but I can't sew anything until it is all cut out. I figure in total it will take me a full week just to cut it out. I am really excited about it though, I think it will look amazing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Some of my Quiltmaker Test Blocks

At this point, I would have to go through the Quiltmaker 100 blocks volumes 3 and 4 to see which blocks came from which magazine. I tried to stick with a black background with bright fabrics theme when possible so I could eventually make a sampler quilt. I actually have about 15 blocks with a black background, but I chose 12 to make a quilt with right now.

The block in the upper lefthand corner was supposed to have embroidery in the center. I didn't do the embroidery, so I will probably applique a couple flowers in that block. The block in the second row down center is my favorite of these blocks. It was an "I can't believe I made that!" block for me.

I have been debating on how to set the blocks, I debated on point, with alternating plain blocks with cool quilting, and using the blocks as a border around a bigger center block (I was thinking a Carpenter's Star) I decided to go with a more complicated sashing/cornerstone plan. I am going to make a five rail sashing, but I am still playing with cornerstone ideas. The sashing will be out of the fabrics above. I haven't decided on borders at all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Catch Up Posts

Life has just been so crazy lately that even when I find something I want to post about, I've been forgetting to do it. I've decided to do some catch up posts this week, while my quilting activities mostly consist of cutting out new quilts.

When DD#1 and family came back in November, they brought me some South African fabrics. Aren't these gorgeous? Most of the South African fabrics I've felt are heavier than our quilting cottons, but the red and blue on the far left are close to ours. Notice the two on the right have orange in them? Every time I go to South Africa, I always notice how popular orange is there. You see far more orange there than in the USA.

One of the things that is so fun about South African cottons, is that they are often printed on both sides. This piece had the logo of the company printed randomly on the back.

This one did too, but notice the difference? One says 3 Leopards, one is Three Cats, one is manufactured in South Africa, and one just printed in South Africa. The one manufactured in SA is heavier weight than the other.

This one had a completely different logo on it.

I just love this piece, and my daughter bought me the most of it. It is completely double sided, with a different print on each side. This piece should give you a good idea of the weight of the fabric, since you can't see the other design through the fabric at all.

I am currently cutting out a wedding quilt, and before I start sewing on it, I plan to cut out the scooter rally quilt, and some sashing for a quilt using my Quiltmaker magazine test blocks, and sashing for a baby quilt as well. I just found out I have another great-nephew on the way, so I will have to think on what I want to do for his quilt. The baby quilt I need to cut sashing for would work just fine for a boy, so I may just use it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Last Orca Bay Link Up

Here it is, my Orca Bay Mystery quilt! Well, the top anyway :-) I may send this one out for quilting, it will certainly get finished sooner if I do. I think the name Grizzly Bay sounds pretty good, but the bears in my border are black bears, so it doesn't really work. Black Bear Bay doesn't sound nearly as good to me. The bear fabric will be the backing too.

This was a really fun quilt to make, thank you so much Bonnie for doing these mysteries for us! If you'd like to see how everyone else is progressing on their Orca Bay Quilts, you can check here

I just took a look, and several quilts are completely finished, quilted and bound, some are just tops like mine, and other people are taking things a little slower. Since we all have varying amounts of time to sew available, makes perfect sense to me that we are all at different points. For those who haven't gotten their tops finished yet, keep at it, it's worth it!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Finished This One on Roxanne!

I had to switch to a darker piecing thread than I had been using, since the quilt I was working on had a black background. Since I had to switch thread, I went ahead and switched machines while I was at it.

Meet Roxanne, my Bernina Aurora 440QE! She sewed like a dream today! The lighting is so much better on this machine than my old one, it was just amazing. The stitches were perfect. I had to look in the manual a few times to see how to make the needle stop down and such. They went over those things when I picked up the machine, but there was so much information presented it was hard to remember it all. I wanted to get some time to sew on her, so if I have any questions I can ask at my Mastery class on Tuesday. I also have a CD that presents a bunch of information as well as the manual. Since I already had a Bernina, the mechanical aspects are pretty much the same, changing the presser foot, threading it, making a bobbin. I can still use my 1080 bobbins in this machine, though the presser feet are not compatible. My patchwork seam guide works on this machine too, but I may end up buying another, so I can have one for both machines.

I don't have my new cabinet insert yet, so I raised the machine and just used the extension table that came with it.

Here is the quilt top I put borders on today. The center has been done for months. When making this quilt I was thinking of warm fiery colors, but although the quilt looks bright, there are actually several pastels in it. I used any shade of red, yellow, and orange. I think the variation of shades makes the quilt have a sparkly look to it, and it creates motion. Yes, this is yet another four patch and Indian Hatchet quilt.

I realized I had no leader/ender projects ready, and this was my last quilt center waiting for borders. I have finished 9 quilt tops in the last week! I looked through my orphan blocks, and my other projects that weren't as far along. My orphan block container is almost full again, with some ingenuity I could probably get a few quilts out of there. I decided to work with my Quiltmaker blocks, from when I tested for Volume 3 and Volume 4 of Quiltmaker's 100 blocks. One of the blocks I tested is a penguin, and I made four of the blocks (finished except for appliqueing the eyes), and I had planned to make 5 star blocks with some penguin fabric in the centers. I had cut the centers, but not the rest of the pieces, so I cut those out today and used it as my leader/ender. It will just be a baby quilt, and won't take long to get the top made. I also took out 12 of the other Quiltmaker blocks I made, and I will make a sampler quilt out of those.

All of those have black backgrounds so they will work well with the dark piecing thread I am using. The next wedding quilt is in black and hot pink, and it has between 8 and 9 thousand pieces, so I will going through lots and lots of dark piecing thread. I think I can get away with dark piecing thread on one of the other quilts I need to make too, so I will try to get it cut out soon, so it can go together as a leader/ender project. With the wedding quilt having so many pieces, I would imagine I can get together several other projects while I am working on it. I need to get my fabrics pre-washed for that, so I can start cutting it out. I think it's going to be hard to just to keep track of how many pieces of each I cut. To give an actual example for that quilt, I need 1,832 black 1.5 inch squares, and 1,968 pink 1.5 inch squares! It's a lot of pieces, but I think cutting it out will be harder than sewing it together. I think it will be amazing when done! If I didn't think it would be amazing, I would have chosen an easier pattern :-)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Island of Misfit Fabrics

Remember in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer there is the island of misfit toys? There must be an island of misfit fabrics too, and I've rescued a few of those lately.

See this fabric, red, oranges, and black? I think it's really pretty (my daughters disagree) In fact, were I to find a skirt made out of it, I would consider buying it. I took this fabric out of my stash to be the border on my dark Indian Hatchet quilt. I knew I was cutting it close on how much fabric I had, it was a narrow piece, and last night I was thinking it was because the piece had been cut. In the light of day, I realized it was 36" fabric, it hadn't been cut down the center. Ah, this stuff was old, it had been on the island of misfit fabrics for a while. How long?

See the selvage edge? Textile Corporation of America 1961! This fabric is 51 years old! I am 44, so obviously I didn't buy it new. Actually, I'm not sure where it came from. It could have been a thrift store find, or it could have come from DH's great-aunt's stash, of which I got quite a bit.

It is now the border on the dark Indian Hatchet quilt.

Here the quilt top in folded in fourths and you can see the borders better. I think it looks happy after being rescued. Only a small amount of this fabric is left, so it's going into my scrap system.

This is the quilt top I had been so stumped on for the borders. I had originally thought piano key borders, but I couldn't decide if I really wanted that or not. I had looked at some of my green fabrics a few months ago, and couldn't find anything that looked right.

Now that my sewing room is moved, and all of my quilting fabrics are on minibolts in view, I found a suitable green fairly quickly. I liked the green swirls (another thrift store find, $1.99 I think for about two yards), but I thought it needed a darker green too. I decided to go with three borders, and put the dark green, the tan, and then the green swirls. I am happier with this than I would have been with a piano key border.

Here is a better view of the borders. I really like the swirls. Did you notice there are Indian Hatchet blocks in this quilt too? It is just Indian Hatchet blocks and four patches. The four patches are all in greens, so they are harder to pick out. It's funny, I was reading a quilting book on color and it showed a bunch of greens together, similar to the mix in this quilt, and it said you can't make a quilt with such a variety of greens, it would look bad. Either I'm wrong or the book is, but I like all the greens together, and there is everything from a pastel green to a dark almost black green, and all shades in between. I think I am going to ditch that quilting book.

One of the awesome things about this assembling/bordering spree I've been on, is that I can see the system I have in place for my fabric really works for me. I have all my larger than one yard pieces of fabric on plastic minibolts, on shelves with glass doors. I can see all of my fabrics at a glance, which really helps when choosing a border. With some of these borders, it used all of the fabric, which gave me an empty mini bolt form to reuse, and any small scraps were cut for my scrap user system, and put away. If I had more than a fat quarter left, but not more than a yard, it went onto one of my small mini-bolts, which are stored on multimedia shelves. A couple of my fabrics shifted this way, including the green swirls. For several of my inner borders, I went to my small minibolts from the start, and several of those are now completely gone. Moving my fabrics to where I can see them, was key for me to actually use, appreciate, and turn over my stash. Unless I am short on a color, or I need themed fabrics, I am using my stash first, and that makes me happy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quilt Top Numbers Climbing

I picked up my new Aurora yesterday from the Bernina shop. and although I played with it some there, I have been trying to finish up what I was working on before I play with her at home. I should finish up tomorrow, then I will have the weekend to play with Roxanne, which is what I named my Aurora 440QE. It's like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey!

I assembled this baby quilt today. It took exactly a fat quarter of fabric for the sashing. I think it's funny when things work out exact like that.

I also got borders on this Indian Hatchet quilt made from men's shirts. The center has been done for months and months.

I thought I was only one seam away from having the dark Indian Hatchet quilt assembled, when I realized I had flipped a row upside down, so the diamonds didn't form right. I have two long seams to rip out, of which I've ripped one.

I've had a couple people comment on how much I've been getting done, but don't give me too much credit. Some of these quilts have had the centers together, and I am only adding borders. Most of the other ones the blocks were made and I am just assembling them all into quilt tops. All these Indian Hatchet blocks were made early last year, so it's not that I'm whipping out quilt tops, I am FINALLY sewing the blocks together after they've sat around for a year! Orca Bay and Autumn's baby quilt that I made in December have been my only recent starts on quilts. I am just moving UFO's along right now. I'm not actually finishing anything either. I am just getting them a step or two closer to being finished.

Tomorrow I will be doing more of the same. I have two quilt centers that need borders. One has the first of three borders on, I sewed that one on today. The second border is cut, I still need to cut the third. The other quilt center is getting two borders, the inner border is cut, the outer border needs to be cut. The dark Indian Hatchet will hopefully be completed tomorrow, if I can rip that last seam tonight. I already cut the inner border, and I chose an outer border, but it is going to be REALLY close on if I have enough fabric. I think I will just make it.

Does it sound crazy to work on so many quilts at once? I saw something on facebook today that made me chuckle.

"You say I am insane, that is OK with me, but I prefer the term mentally hilarious."

I don't know where the quote came from aside from Giggle Palooza.