Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Finish!

Here is the baby quilt for my very first great-niece! I have four great-nephews, but this is the first great-niece. I like the way it came out, and this is my own design. I am considering writing up pattern directions and putting it on the blog if anyone is interested. I think it would be fun in different color schemes.

I have the center of the comfort quilt together, and maybe half of those stripsets from last post pressed. I did get the scooter patches sewn on the vests, but now I have another person's vest to do, so not quite done with that after all.

No sewing at all today, but I did wrap some Christmas presents. Yes, I'm one of those early shoppers, and I am over halfway done with the Christmas shopping. I always spread out the shopping due to financial reasons, but I also find it less stressful. Last year I ended up shopping in (EEEEK!) DECEMBER and that was very stressful for me. I ended up giving a lot of gift cards.

I may have some sewing time in the morning, and if I do I'll be working on getting borders on the comfort quilt. I'd like to get it quilted this weekend, so I need to make this happen!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sew Busy :-)

I have had two big sewing days, and made lots of progress!

Look at my bin of strips! I ran out of colored strips, so all the stripsets I am going to make are done. I even put these leftover white strips away in my 2" light strips drawer, and put the container away too. Step 1 on DD#2's quilt is done!

Here are all my newest strip sets ready for pressing. The pattern is from a book called Noodle Soup. Doesn't this look like a bunch of noodles?

Here is where I really made lots of progress. From left to right are all the rows for Mr. L's quilt, the borders for the comfort quilt, the rows for the comfort quilt, and last are the rows for Miss S's quilt.  Another day or two of assembly and I will have three quilt tops done. Well, maybe, I still haven't decided on borders for the twins quilts.

I also finished quilting the baby quilt, though the binding isn't on yet. I was taking photos for this post, and I hadn't planned on putting up another picture of the baby quilt. I saw how the lighting was accentuating the texture of the quilting on the backing and I just had to take a photo.

Tomorrow will likely be a lousy day for sewing, but the plan is to at least get the binding on the baby quilt, and sew some patches on some vests for scooter club members. If I have any more time than that, I will work on assembling the comfort quilt. Hooray for good sewing days!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Getting Somewhere

Today was my first chance to sew this week, but it was a good sewing time. The twins other grandmother had picked them up right after naptime, and didn't bring them home until bedtime, so I tried to make the most of it as long as I had any energy at all. During naptime, I arranged the blocks for the twins quilts the way I wanted them, and piled them up in numbered rows so I can start assembly on those. Once the twins left, I still had to finish the layout on the second quilt, but when that was done, I brought all of it downstairs ready to be put back into the sewing queue.

 I worked on the blocks for the comfort quilt, and now all the blocks are done. This weekend I will have to figure out the layout for that, and then when I am back to piecing I can assemble the twins quilts and this one.

I started assembling Mr. L's quilt while I was working on the piano key border for the comfort quilt. Since the comfort quilt and his quilt have the same sized blue squares, they have a lot of the same fabrics in them. Do you remember I wasn't counting nine patches for the twins quilts as I made them, I just tried to make a few too many? Well, I have enough extra nine patches of each colorway to make baby I Spy quilts. I have a whole drawer full of extra I Spy blocks, so I will just alternate them with the extra nine patches and get two quick donation quilts.

This photo didn't come out very good, but it still gets my point across. These are the strips for DD#2's quilt. Originally this container was overflowing with white strips, and I had the colored strips in a separate container. They all fit in the same container now, so I have been making good progress on getting strip sets sewn. I haven't counted the strips either, I already have a donation quilt started in these colors from the extra pieces from the last quilt I made from this pattern. Any extras will just get added to that quilt. I am faking this quilt, I haven't really planned it out, and I was thinking about that today. The blocks end up about 7", so if I set it 15x15 blocks to make a 105" square quilt, I need 225 blocks. It takes one white strip and one colored strip to make one block. I think it would take on a really modern look if I don't add a border, but then all my outside edges will be bias, I wonder if that would be hard to bind?

After piecing batting for the baby quilt, I realized I did not want to piece batting for the comfort quilt. Since people will be signing it, I didn't want seams in the batting to mess anyone up. I didn't have any white batting large enough for the comfort quilt, and a lot of it is white. Then I started thinking about DD#2's quilt, and it will be half white, so it should have white batting too. DH said I should just buy another roll of polyester batting, but until my roll of Warm and Natural is almost gone, I don't have room to store it. I checked Joann's website to see what my options were, and I saw that they had prepacked batting on sale for half price, but Saturday when I was looking was the last day of the sale. I knew I didn't have a chance of making it to the store that day, but they also had a $2.95 flat shipping deal, so I took advantage of that. I ordered four king size polyester battings, and one king sized Warm and White batting for DD#2's quilt. I got my batting today, and I did find room for it all. Of course it's on top of cabinets piled to the ceiling, but it is out of my way, and that is what counts for now. I think that amount of batting will hold me over for a while. I have quilts that need to be quilted, but I doubt I'll have a major quilting spree until next summer, so I will just be quilting quilts here and there as I have time for now.

Tomorrow DD#3, aka the twin's mom, doesn't have school, so I should have time to start quilting that baby quilt. I'm doubting I can finish it tomorrow, but Saturday should be an OK sewing day as well. I'm hoping to get that quilt finished this weekend, and maybe get the comfort quilt finished next weekend, if I can get the top done during short sewing sessions next week. I'm hoping it works that way anyway. Time will tell, but I am getting closer!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Apple Picking?

We went to the apple orchard as planned yesterday, but I don't think you could call what we did apple picking, especially since we came home with no apples. We used to go apple picking every year in Missouri, but we lived in a very rural area, and the orchards near us were not that busy. Also, there were a lot of apple orchards in Missouri. We would pick somewhere between 240 and 300 pounds of apples every year, and I would make all of out apple sauce, apple butter, dried apples and such for the year.

We've lived in Arizona for 10 years now, and although we always say we'll go apple picking, this is the first year we actually got to the orchard. If we had gotten there earlier in the season, we likely would have done fine, but this is the very end of apple season here, and the trees were pretty bare. This one tree had a few apples on it, but several were too green or rotten on the branch. Nevertheless, it was worth the trip so the twins could see that apples really do grow on trees.

Here is DD#2 holding Mr. L while he picks his very first apple. He had gotten the one in his hand from the ground.

Here is Mr. L trying to put that same apple back on the tree, completely confused as to why it wouldn't stick back on ;-)

Mr. L loved riding around in the wagon the orchard had available. Miss S was terrified of the wagon, so she either walked or her Mama carried her.

Miss S did pick a couple of apples though, and she carried them the whole time we were at the orchard.

So what did we do at the orchard since the apples were a bust? We ate apple pie, and had freshly made apple cider donuts, still warm from the fryer! Yummy! The pie was good, but the donuts were amazing, and made the trip worthwhile. Plus, the twins got a good lesson in where apples come from.

On a quilty note, I have the baby quilt pin-basted. I pieced the backing and found some larger pieces of batting so I only needed one seam to piece it. I might have a chance to start quilting the baby quilt on Thursday, but I know I won't before then. I won't start quilting unless I have a chunk of time to work, and Thursday is the earliest possible time that's possible, with Friday being more likely.

I caught most of Bonnie Hunter's marathon 3 hour quiltcam session on Saturday. She is usually on less than 2 hours, so I decided to work only on sewing stripsets  for DD#2's quilt while she was on. I needed more breaks than Bonnie took, plus I had company come over during the broadcast, but I ended up getting 51 colored strips sewn to white strips. I have about half of those pressed so far. I have been working on the comfort quilt any time I have a few minutes to sew, and I am making good progress on it. I think I will have all the blocks done and the borders pieced by the end of next weekend, even with quilting the baby quilt. If too many things come up that may not happen, but it should happen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Starting to Look Like Quilts!

I have been working on so many different projects at once, that for a while it just looks like I've gotten nothing done, then everything seems to come together at once. Today was that day.

 ^Here is the baby quilt top I've been working on. Tomorrow the plan is to figure out batting and backing for it. I have some sage green and white plaid flannel that I'd like to use as the backing. It's not wide enough as this quilt is about 48" square, so some kind of piecing must be done. The batting is a little more difficult. I will either piece some polyester batting together, or use Warm and Natural which I have on a roll. I normally don't use Warm and Natural when I have this much white in a quilt. I will have to look at the polyester batting scraps I have, and see how much piecing I'd have to do. I'll decide after I look and see what I have. I don't want to buy another roll of batting for a while, so I either need to make do with what I have, or just buy single battings. I know for sure I will buy a big roll of batting come late next spring, as that will likely start another quilting marathon for me. I only have space to store one roll of batting in my current sewing room, so I plan to use up the roll of Warm and Natural before buying another roll, and that should take me through spring, but maybe not, we'll see. I do have a couple big quilts to quilt, and those use the batting fast.

While I was looking at the baby quilt pinned up, I realized that a Churn Dash block put on point would looks a lot like the Green Lantern symbol. I wonder if I could find any Green Lantern licensed fabric for a border, then put Churn Dash blocks on point for the center of the quilt. It would be a great boy quilt!

^This is a sneak peek at the comfort quilt I'm making. I have all the white bordered blocks finished, but these are the only two blue bordered blocks I have done. I used a solid white so people could sign the quilt with fabric markers. The first comfort quilt I made I tried collecting the signatures first, but people wrote in the seam allowances even though they were marked, and it took forever. There were still people who wanted to sign the quilt that hadn't gotten a chance to sign the pieces before it was sewn, so probably half the people who signed the quilt ended up signing the finished quilt anyway. Since then I just make the quilt from start to finish, then send along the finished quilt with the markers for people to sign. It works fine, people are pretty careful to write neatly on a quilt, and honestly, it is much less stressful for me.

The comfort quilt took all the rest of my Kona white. I bought about 8 yards not long ago, but I've had to make a couple comfort quilts, and its gone. I'd actually love to have about five bolts of Kona solids, white, cream, black, red, and I'd probably pick bone or snow too, or maybe tan. I really like using solids in my quilts, and I think one of these days I will make an all solids quilt, though not Amish in style. I have my solid scraps stored separately from my prints with that in mind.

Tonight I sewed while watching Bonnie Hunter on Quiltcam! It was one of the few times I've been sewing while watching. I'm usually making dinner or feeding the twins. It was great fun to feel like we were sewing together. I'm hoping to be in my sewing room while she's on tomorrow too, but we'll see. I need to get that baby quilt layered and pin basted ASAP. Sunday I will likely have no sewing time, if we actually get to go apple picking as planned. We were supposed to go last weekend, but it didn't happen. Next week is a big babysitting week, so likely no sewing time until Friday again. I need to make tomorrow count!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Organized Chaos

If any non-quilter looked in my sewing room right now, they may think a bomb went off in there. It looks awful! For that matter, a lot of quilters may wonder how I am functioning in there. The thing is, which quilt is my priority keeps changing, but all the quilts I have out I want to sew on in the very near future, so I don't want to stick anything in a bin or box. 

Last month I was happily sewing on a gift quilt on my Singer 99. I am still really anxious to sew on that quilt. The thing is, the twins are very close to moving into beds, so I switched to working on their bed quilts. I now have all the blocks made for their quilts, but I need to take the time to lay them out, and get the rows arranged and labeled so I can assemble them. It will likely take an entire day to do that, I end up doing a lot of fiddling when I arrange I Spy quilts. Once I have the rows labeled I will likely assemble the center as leaders/enders, so I will make progress on those after I do the layout, even if another quilt is my primary project.

 ^Here are some blocks for the baby quilt I am making. The baby is due in December, but after having five dreams the baby comes early, I want to have it in the mail by the end of this month. This is my primary project right now. See that little bitty green churn dash block? What it is about traditional blocks that when you make them tiny they are just so darn cute? I am hoping to have the quilt top together and pin-basted by Sunday evening, which would give me next week (when I will have precious little sewing time) to quilt it. I know what fabric I will use for backing fabric, but I will have to piece it to make it a bit wider. I might try the John Flynn diagonal backing method. If you haven't heard of that, an explanation and calculator for it is here. I have been wanting to try it, and this may be just the perfect project for it, as I only need the backing a little bit wider.

I am back to piecing on my Bernina now, and look at the mess on my cabinet! The blocks for the twins bed quilts are in the basket on the corner. The black container with white strips goes with a container of colored strips you can't see but it's on the floor. I am strip piecing a quilt for DD#2 as leaders/enders right now. My goal for it right now is just to get each white strip sewn to a colored strip. That quilt has quite a few steps, and lots of sub-cutting.

You can see more pieces for the baby quilt, but what about the blue pieces and white strips near the blue four patches? Well, I am sad to say that yet another coworkers of DH's has cancer, so I am making a comfort quilt, and they wanted it blue. I planned out a fairly simple blue and white quilt, and as always when situation like this come up, I am so thankful for my pre-cut pieces! I need 384 blue 2 1/2" squares for the quilt, and I had over half of those already cut to size. I also needed blue 2 1/2 x 4 1/2" pieces, so I dug through my 2 1/2" strips and cut those and the rest of the of the required squares in an evening. I am only using one white, and I managed to cut it during naptime. If I had to cut everything from yardage, I wouldn't have used near the variety of blues, and the quilt wouldn't have been near as interesting. I know some people don't like pre-cutting, and that is perfectly fine with me. It does work well for me though, especially when I am in a hurry to get a quilt done. The comfort quilt will become my priority quilt when I get the baby quilt finished.

I always get asked how I keep things straight when I working on projects simultaneously. All of the five quilts I have pieces of on my sewing cabinet have white backgrounds. That could be confusing I suppose, but the blocks for the twins quilts are finished, so although they are taking up space, I don't need to work with them right now. DD#2's quilt is only using WOF strips, and that is the only thing I am working on in white that is WOF. (I didn't show you the other sewing cabinets with cream WOF strips all over them) The comfort quilt has only blue squares, and solid white pieces. It is the only project I have going with solid white, everything else has WOW patterns. The baby quilt is purple, pink, and green, with one constant WOW background. I am dealing with multiple sized pieces on it, but any pieces to it are not the same color/size as the other quilts. Since I am dealing with different sizes, it would be hard to grab the wrong thing to sew together and not realize I am making a mistake. I work on multiple projects like this all the time, and it just makes sense to me. I don't really ever struggle with keeping the projects straight, and the more I get assembled, the harder it would be to mess it up. Once things start looking like blocks it is really easy to keep it straight.

So what else is going on in my chaotic life? Let's see, I have a UTI, and the antibiotics for that gave me a yeast infection, and now I've caught a cold from the DD#3 and the twins while my resistance is down. Fun stuff!

DD#3 and I worked out her school schedule for next semester, since the college schedule came out last week. I will end up babysitting the twins 40+ hours a week next semester, so after some prayer and soul searching, I told the couple I babysit for I could not watch their two little ones next semester. I think having the twins that much is my limit. Spring semester doesn't start until January, and it runs through May. I may have all four kids up until then, and who knows, I may get the other two back after that, but during that semester I will be only be watching the twins.

Potty training is in full swing here. The oldest one I babysit has been struggling with potty training, but all the talk about going potty has gotten Miss S interested in trying it. Mr. L is not interested at all, so we aren't going to push it, but we'd like to capitalize on the interest Miss S is showing. I bought a second potty chair, and some training pants, and a couple potty training videos to hopefully help both the potty trainers out. I even downloaded a potty training app to my iPhone. You can even keep digital sticker charts on it, to track how the kids are doing.

I don't know how often I mention it, but we are doing sign language with the twins. We bought the Baby Signing Time DVD's and started showing them to the twins when they were about 5 months old. By nine months they started signing things like "more", "again", and "finished". They are 21 months old now, and we mostly watch the Signing Time videos for older kids now. We are thinking Miss S knows about 200 signs. Mr L is harder to guess, as he doesn't use the signs all the time, but he recognizes a lot of them. Miss S recognizes the entire alphabet, and by watching the sign language video that teaches the alphabet, she can also recognize all of her letters written as well as in ASL. Mr. L knows some of his letters, and he is using more sign all the time. During breakfast and lunch, I usually sit across from the twins, and I sign random things to quiz them. I do not keep to any predictable order. It usually goes something like: helicopter, red, Pappy, sheep, pear, tree, outside, who, four, run, family, gorilla, etc... At first Miss S answered everything first, but now Mr L is answering first almost half the time! We've started playing games in just sign too. I will sign "Where's the bear?" and one of the twins will go find it. I keep asking for different things until I have a heap of toys next to me, and I rarely say a word. They know what "good girl" and "good boy" are in sign, so I just praise them in sign. It has really expanded their working knowledge of sign. I have no affiliation with the company at all, but if you have any little ones in your life, I highly recommend signing with them. They can sign more than they can say, and it has been so great to have the twins sign somethings hurts, or they want to sleep, when they were too young to speak clearly on things. We use Baby Signing Time, and Signing Time videos, and one of the potty training videos I just bought, it's Potty Time by the same people! If you are interested in finding out more you can go to http://www.signingtime.com/ I have just been amazed at the results!

Friday, October 12, 2012

I'm Still Here!

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, really! Between company, cleaning, cooking, dentists, parties, babysitting and such, I have just had NO time to blog. The scooter function went well, and I am not sure of a total number of people who ate here that day, likely close to 50 counting family. 

DS the Elder was here with DDIL and Miss E longer than expected. They were planning on being here Friday-Tuesday, and ended up here Thursday-Wednesday. That's the thing about flying standby, you have to go when you'll make the flight. I'm not complaining, it was great spending time with them, and Miss E is just precious. She is quite the Nana's girl, which just pleases me to no end.

Before everyone got here, I did get the rest of the floral and cream HST's cut out. I also cut out a baby quilt I need to make for a great niece. The baby is due in December, but I've had FIVE dreams the baby comes early, so guess which project is switching to the top of my priority list?

That baby quilt is my number one project for tomorrow, but I had a bit of sewing time yesterday and today, so I finished sewing up the scrappy nine patch blocks for the twin's bed quilts. Obviously I haven't pressed them yet, but all the nine patches for both quilts are in this pile. Once these blocks are pressed, I can work on the layout when I have time, and get the quilts ready to assemble. I haven't decided on borders yet, I'll decide that when the centers are together.

Tomorrow I'm planning on working on the baby quilt. I'd like to have it completely finished and in the mail by the end of the month. I had been thinking I could get the quilt top finished this weekend, but we decided to take the twins apple picking on Sunday, so I'll likely have no sewing time that day. I'm not sure I can get the quilt top completed in one day, but I'll let you know how far I get on it. I designed it myself, just a variation of a traditional pattern, and I am excited to work on it. If I just get all the components sewn tomorrow I'll be happy. I know I'll be pressing those nine patch blocks tomorrow too, and there a bunch of them, so it will take a while.

Things are pretty much back to normal now, so I shouldn't have any really long periods without blogging for a while anyway. I am finding bits of time to sew in my normal schedule, and even just a bit at a time, things do eventually get done. I have six quilts going at once right now, so that's a little crazy, but they are coming along. I haven't decided whether or not to do Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt starting next month. It is supposed to be a bit easier than her normal mysteries, which would work with my time limitations better right now. I will look at the fabric requirements and such when they come out and decide from there. I love her mystery quilts, and I love that they are normally complex and have lots and lots of little pieces. Her timing of a simpler quilt may be just the ticket for me this year though, so I may just jump in anyway. I hate to miss out.