Thursday, January 31, 2013

Scrap Management

   Week one of cutting scraps is coming to an end. I am trying to cut scraps on Monday-Thursday, which are the days I have the twins all day. If nothing else, I am cutting during naptime. I press a small pile of scraps the night before, and rotary cut some at night if I have time. During naptime I am using the Go cutter. I finished a decent amount this week, more than I thought I would truth be told.

 Here is a pile of 10.5 inch squares I cut last night. These are adding up quickly, because DH's grandmother had a bunch of 12-15" cuts. This pile is about an inch high as shown, but if I squish it down, it is about 5/8". This pile has 50 squares in it. The container I have the fits these so well is about 6" high. If I fill the container, I was trying to figure out how long it would take me to empty it. Using the squished down size, I'm figuring maybe 500 squares would fit in that container. If I use these to piece backings, I could empty it in five 100x100" backings, or more likely ten 60x80" backings. That's really not that long when you stop to think about it. Even in a bad sewing year I usually get at least a dozen quilts finished. I am pretty consistently making large quilts too. When I make a wedding quilt, I try to make it over 100x100, so it could be used without a bedskirt, and could be used with one on a king sized bed. If I made a backing 110" square, it would use 121  of these squares, and that would make a huge dent in it. Until I piece a backing, the fabric is still in a pretty good sized piece to sub-cut into other sizes too. I think I am in favor of saving this size. Most of my scraps aren't big enough to cut into this size, but I may go through my stash of smaller sized pieces occasionally and pull some that have been sitting in the stash long enough and cut more if this size becomes one I use regularly.

The Go cutter is making processing scraps so much easier! Here is the fabric "waste" after cutting 6 dozen two inch finished HST triangles in one pass of the Go cutter. The little triangles I threw away, and the outside edges were cut apart and tossed in the string bin. When I cut from yardage I have far less fabric around the outside, but I am just using pieces as I grab them out of the scrap pile, trying to cut them as few times as possible. I am matching the size of scrap with the die I use to cut it, cutting the largest size piece I can of the dies I am currently using. I am not using every die I have for this, I am trying to stick with the most common shapes I use, and a few that just make great scrap quilts, like the tumbler dies.

I am almost through DH's grandmother's scraps. If I do as well next week as this, I will be on my own scraps by next Thursday, possibly sooner.

I'm hoping to get some sewing in tomorrow and through the weekend. I won't have a ton of time to sew with everything else planned this weekend, but I'm thinking I should have a bit of time each day. I have several things piled on my machine cabinet ready to go, so any time I have to sew should be productive. That seems to be the key for me right now. I only have short bits of time to do things, so if I have everything prepped the night before (scraps pressed if I'm cutting, or pieces sub-cut or pressed and ready to go if I'm sewing), then I get much more done when I do have time. It's making me change how I spend my evenings, but it is making my days more productive, and that is worth it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dealing With Scraps

^See my trash? How great is it when you just have sliver trimmings of fabric to throw away when processing scraps? I am still going through my DH's grandmother's stash, and I am cutting all the smaller pieces into pre-cuts for my scrap user system. While I am at it, I brought up some of my own scraps to deal with. My scraps have been bothering me for a couple years, and every time I start dealing with them, something happens and I get interrupted. Well, I'm giving myself a deadline this time. Any scraps I don't have cut into the sizes I save by the end of this year must be given away to someone who will use them. I use the scraps once they are pre-cut, I avoid them when they are a wrinkled mess.

I don't have a lot of time to cut up scraps, and because I have so many to cut up, I decided on the end of the year for a deadline. Even in 15 minutes a day, I should be able to process them in 11 months. Of course my hope is to be done with them long before that! I am thinking if I press a handful of scraps every evening, I can cut them a few minutes at a time the next day. Today I just rotary cut, tomorrow I am planning on using my Go Cutter. I have some plastic shoeboxes already labeled with some of my Go die sizes, and I am hoping to get those boxes filled with pre-cuts! Then I can sew lots and lots of quilts with little prep!

My string collection is already growing by leaps and bounds, and I love making string quilts so I am happy to have those. I am sticking crumbs in a box, and those will be given away when the box is full. I've made a few crumb blocks, and someday I'd like to make a crumb quilt, but not right now when sewing time is at such a premium for me. String blocks don't take me near as long to make as a crumb block, so giving away the crumbs I make now makes sense, as it would take me years before I worked with them, and by them they would have overrun the house.

I got the centers of two gift quilts together, but haven't worked any more on Easy Street. I need to figure out borders for the gift quilts, and start working on the scooter rally quilt too. Lots to keep me busy!

My DDIL and Miss E will be coming to town later this week. DDIL needs surgery, and she is having it here so life will be really busy for a while. She will be staying with my MIL, since she has room and no stairs, and we have no room and stairs. I will try to spend at least one day a week over there helping, but with having the twins 50 hours or so a week, I don't have much time to help. My MIL is being great by stepping in and helping! I am anxious to see them, I haven't seen Miss E since she started walking!

Oh, I started cutting a new size now, and I'm thinking the possibilities are good with this. If the fabric is large enough, I am cutting 10.5" squares. I can piece a backing a la Bonnie K Hunter from with those. I could trim them and use them in layer cake patterns. I can use that size square on all but one of my Go dies. Best part of 10.5" squares? I have a container that they fit in exactly, and I have an empty container the same size. Some women would say a 10.5" square is not a scrap. If I want to get a fabric out of my stash, I don't care if I have three yards of it, it's getting cut for my scrap user system, because then it will get used and be out of there. Once a fabric is less than 12" wide, I normally cut it for my scrap user system. Since 90% of my quilts are scrap or multi-fabric quilts, this makes sense for me.

Every time I move something in my sewing room I am finding more fabric. It is the less than one yard pieces I am overwhelmed with, so I see some pieced backings in the near future to clear some of those out. I brought home a trash bag of what my MIL told me was batting scraps, and when I looked in there today, there were three grocery sacks of fabric scraps in there! Yes, there were also batting scraps in case you were wondering ;-) Some of the fabrics were polyester blends, which I am donating, but a lot of the scraps got added to pile of scraps needing processing. So many scraps, so much potential! Someday they will be lovely utility quilts, keeping people warm and loved!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Easy Street Block B

I have made good use of my three day weekend. Saturday I made all the setting triangles for Easy Street. Sunday I made all the Block A's, and today on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I made all the Block B's. Next step on this is assembly!

^The photo from my phone post wasn't very good, so here is another look at Block A.

^And here is a Block B from today's sewing.

^How about a Block A and a Block B together?

^A sneak peek of the layout, with the proposed border fabric. I think Stephanie is right, and the inner border should be purple.

^Just for fun, here is a sneak peek of the floral/cream quilt I laid out the other night. Today I was counting blocks and figuring out settings for all of my other floral/cream blocks. I think I have a plan for almost all of them, though there will be a few orphan blocks that will likely end up on a backing somewhere. I have lots of quilts at assembly stage now. I know what I'll be doing with any sewing time I get :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Easy Street Block A

I am trying to do a blog post from my phone and I've never tried this before. Hopefully this will come out right.

I sewed all day today and got all 16 block A's done for Easy Street. The colors remind me of fruit salad which sounds pretty tasty. I took a photo of a couple blocks along with my potential border fabric. If I do an inner border I am clueless on which color to use, maybe cheddar? I think I need to see the center together before I can decide.

Tomorrow is a holiday so DD3 can watch the twins and I can sew. I've already laid out Block B and my goal is to make all 9 of those in a day. Less work than I did today so it should be doable.

I don't know when I'll get the top assembled but just having it in blocks is a relief. My sewing room is slowly getting cleaned up as I get projects to block stage. I have several quilts ready to assemble which just makes me happy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Easy Street Part 7

I am so excited! I actually had a productive day in the sewing room today! I did all of part 7 of Easy Street today, and I have one of the blocks laid out to sew up tomorrow.


My corner and edge setting triangles are all finished, just in piles here. It looks like I should have good amounts of sewing time tomorrow and Monday so I am hoping to get a lot of the blocks together. I know it's been slow going for a lot of people, so we'll see what I can do. I'd really love to get Easy Street into a top this month. I found a fabric in my stash that has all of my Easy Street colors in it, so it is a possible border.

I didn't think I'd be sewing at all this weekend, as DS the Elder was supposed to be flying in with DDIL, and Grandbaby E. They didn't end up making it in, so my plans changed too. Last night was the first sewing I've done in a couple weeks, and I sewed on floral/cream blocks while watching Quiltcam. I sewed 34 blocks together during Quiltcam, so I was feeling really good about that. I sewed several more floral/cream blocks today, all the rest that I had kitted up. I still have sub-units left in the floral/creams, but I need to count up the blocks I have and see what I need to make some quilts out of these. I'm thinking I will have a bit more cutting to do to make a few more blocks.

Tonight I laid out blocks for 2 quilts, and now they are all piled and pinned in order so I can assemble the rows. My brain hurts after laying out two quilts in one evening. One of these quilts is one of the floral/cream quilts. Both of these will be gifts. My queen sized bed wasn't large enough to lay the quilts on so I was having to figure them out one half at a time. Not my favorite way to do things, but my bed is the largest area I have in the house to spread things out, so I have to work with what I've got. My dream house has an 8 ft x 8 ft design wall, and of course such a large quilting studio there is no furniture blocking any of it. My actual house has no room for such a thing, so I will happily make do.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Long Post

Wow! I actually thought I'd have a post up before now, but since I didn't get one up, you'll get a long one now. Last week DH and I went away for a few days alone. He had planned on bringing his scooter, and I was going to bring my Featherweight, but plans change. He opted to not bring the scooter, so I didn't bring the Featherweight either. I haven't sewn in well over a week! I did, however, bring a cutting project with me.
I am making a quilt for DD#2's bed. I had all the strip sets sewn into tubes like this

I needed to get the strip sets all cut into triangles, which takes a while.

When you use 2 inch cut strips, the Easy Angle 4 1/2" ruler is exactly the right size to use for this method.

I always have to undo a couple stitches at the top of the triangle, but then you get this squares with diagonal lines. Four of these make a block, you can make X's or O's out of them.

Here is my bin with all the triangles cut, so this project is at the block assembly stage. It will have to wait a bit, as I have other projects with higher priority than it, but at least its ready to go.

While we were gone we went to LOTS and LOTS of thrift stores. Thrift store shopping and antiquing is really the only shopping I enjoy. It's a treasure hunt, and you never know what you will find.

An industrial Singer treadle? I can just imagine the click clacking of the treadles in a room full of them. This stayed at the store.

A Singer 201 that had just been serviced and came with a lovely bunch of attachments? Ah, this one came home with me.

And what other quilty thing did I do on our getaway? I got to see Bonnie K. Hunter in person!


DH and I drove up to Cottonwood, AZ so I could crash the Quail Country Quilter's guild meeting and hear Bonnie's lecture. Her lecture was all about the Scrap User System, which I already use, but it was still fun to hear her in person. I also bought one of the elusive seam guides that she sells, since I didn't want to wait for her next book to come out, and I already have all the ones she currently has out.

Since I have been following Bonnie for years, long before her first book, it was funny to me that so many of the women in the guild had never heard of her. I had several women ask me if I knew she had a website, and I just smiled and said that I did. I know she ended up with some converts to using leaders/enders, and maybe even a couple to the scrap user system. I am glad I found quiltville so early on in my quilting. Scrappy quilts are my absolute favorite, so her methods work well for me.

I know some women have trouble using their strips once they've cut them, but one of the things I've done that helps is buy several quilting books that are for jelly rolls or honey buns. I even have a book that uses all 2" cut strips. Now I have lots of patterns by several designers that all use my pre-cut sizes. I've never bought a jelly roll, and don't ever plan to, but I have plenty of 2 1/2" strips to use in a jelly roll pattern.

It was fun seeing Bonnie's quilts in person. I have seen photos of all of them, but I was amazed how different the colors are in person.

I couldn't help it, I just had to look for millennium fabrics in her quilts, and I found several, but here is one.
Of course I also kept going, I have that fabric, and this one, and this one.... Fun, fun stuff!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

I've Hit the Jackpot!

2,000,000 dollars stitches!

 Ok, so I didn't hit the lottery, you'd have to buy a ticket for that, and I never have. I did, however, hit 2 million stitches on my Bernina Aurora 440 QE, and I know because the service icon goes off every 2 million stitches. I've had it less than a year,so that's quite a bit of sewing, especially considering I have multiple machines, and I quilt on my Juki, and do most string piecing on my vintage babies. I've done quite a bit of strip piecing on my vintage machines too. I dropped off the machine at the Bernina spa today, and I will be out of town next week, so I'm thinking it will be done when I get back.

I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to play with my Singer 503A Rocketeer, which I haven't played with yet. I got it out, oiled everything, and went to wind a bobbin. Hmmm, the bobbin winder doesn't seem to work, maybe I didn't disengage the handwheel enough. Nope, still nothing. Oil the areas around there a bit more, OK it's trying to move now, but can't get going. I could have wound a bobbin on my Singer 99, and played with it anyway, but the place I take my vintage machines to was about to close, and I knew if I could get it over there right then, I'd have that one ready when I came home too. So second machine drop off of the day. 

I won't have much time to sew this weekend, but if I can, I'll sew on the Singer 99. The Juki is set up for FMQ, and I won't have enough time to bother with switching it over. The Singer 99 is set up and ready to go. The featherweight is packed in the sewing trolley, ready to go on my trip with me. I packed some strings and paper foundations, so I can start on Jamestown Landing, and I packed all the pieces for DD#2's bed quilt, which requires a bunch of sub-cutting before I can sew another stitch on it. I only needed one ruler and a cutter and mat to do the sub-cutting, so I thought it would be a good change from sewing strings, if I get bored with that, or want to watch a movie with DH or something and I want to do something quieter. 

Easy Street? Haven't sewn on it in two weeks. I am excited to get it to top stage, and my goal is to have it be a top by the end of January. I have cut almost everything I need to finish it, but I was working on sewing all my floral/cream pieces into blocks, and getting DD#2's quilt to the sub-cutting part. I got half that done anyway. I did finish sewing all of the Jacob's Ladder floral cream blocks. I ended up with over 130 of them. I knew I'd have enough for 2 quilts, one smaller than the other. I made the extra two paddlewheel blocks, so I'm done with those too. I am not done sewing the floral/cream Friendship Stars, or the Double Four Patches. If I can, I'll work on that in any spare moments this weekend. I am planning on busting more large floral prints by piecing the backings for these quilts, and I will be quite happy to see those fabrics used instead of languishing in the stash.

I am really excited to spend five days away with my husband. We are doing our unique to us vacations, sticking his scooter and my sewing machine in the back of the van, taking off someplace in state, and I sew while he rides, then we spend the rest of the day together. Our kids think we are weird, but it works for us. I know we will hit at least one scooter/motorcycle shop, because we are picking up three tires for his Ural motorcycle and sidecar when we go through Prescott. I would imagine we will stop at a quilt shop as well, though maybe not, because I don't really need anything right now, and my vote would be to stop at a couple thrift shops instead. I always feel a little bad when I stop at a little quilt store and don't buy anything, but I already have fabric I haven't put away yet, and I have everything I need for my next several projects.

I do need a cutting mat for my Go cutter, so I could look for that if we stop anywhere. I bought the Winding Ways die, and I didn't pay attention to the fact it needs the 10x24" mat, and I don't own one. I don't have any of the strip dies, I bought the Go cutter for HST's, QST's, and more difficult shapes. Strips are easy for me to cut with my June Tailor Shape Cut ruler.

I may or may not post on our getaway next week. If I don't post for a week or so, I'm just playing!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


de·plete  (d-plt)
tr.v. de·plet·ed, de·plet·ing, de·pletes
To decrease the fullness of; use up or empty out.

A bunch of people in one of my online quilting groups have chosen a word for 2013. A lot of women chose "simplify", some chose "enjoy", others chose "purge", or "finish". My word for 2013 is deplete. The funny thing is, my word choice was not brought about by anything sewing related. I chose deplete because of a jar of pickle relish.

I am a stock the pantry kind of girl. My mother bought canned goods once a year, and she had it down to a science on how much the family used. I learned from my mom that a stocked pantry can carry you through some lean times, and it has benefited us many times.  Six people live in our house, and we go though a lot of food. A couple days ago, I had to throw a jar of pickle relish away, and it really bothered me. Why did I throw it out? It was over a year past the date, which in itself may not have bothered me, but it was a weird color and that did bother me. You know what bothered me the most? I know for a fact we have emptied at least four newer jars of pickle relish. If it had been buried at the back of the pantry, maybe I could see that, but it was right in front, where the older stock should be. Why then, had this little jar of pickle relish been passed over again and again? I have no idea. I do know that I hate wasting food like that, and to that end, my word for the year is deplete.

For 2013, I am going to go against my stocking up tendencies, and only add something to the grocery list when the last can, jar, box, or whatever is almost gone. When I started thinking about how many things I have around the house half used, it is startling. I have a favorite hand cream, every time I get that hand cream, I use it up pretty quickly. On the other hand, I have half used bottles of hand cream all over the house, the ones I don't like as well, but were either given to me or I bought to try them or they were on an amazing sale or something. I could easily go all year on the hand creams that are not my favorite, but I already have. After that, I can only buy my favorite, which is what makes sense anyway.

Hand lotion is not the only thing I have like that, cleaners I tried but didn't really care for, detergents I am not find of. Yes, 2013 is the year to deplete my supplies of those things, not waste them, but use them up, and learn from my purchasing mistakes. It will also save us some money in the short term, which will help us with our financial goals in 2013. I think this is a good plan, now can I stick to it? We'll see.

Here are the spools from threads I depleted in 2012. These spools represent 14,584 yards of thread, or about 8.3 miles. I used up most of my pre-wound bobbins too, but I didn't count those. I have plenty of thread for 2013, and shouldn't need to buy any this year.

I just read over my 2012 goals, and I am happy to say I met all of them. I had a few gift quilts that needed to be made, and they all were given on time. I wanted at least half my quilt tops from the previous year quilted and bound, and I think I got all but one of those done, so far over half. I wanted all the quilts I had in the works last New Year's Day at least to top stage, and I did that too. I finished 28 quilts in 2012, which was far more than I thought I'd be able to do. Most of those were UFO's from previous years. I didn't keep track of yardage this year, and I didn't even write the size of all my quilts down, but I know I used a lot of fabric, because there is extra room on my fabric shelves. I do have new fabrics that need to be put away, but there should be room for it to go on the shelves when I get it onto mini-bolts. I am in no hurry to use up my stash, but I do like to know I am regularly using it.

I've been thinking about my 2013 quilting goals, and besides finishing up the quilts I have in some stage of production, I don't have a lot. My top four quilts to be finished are two I am currently working on for gifts, one for DD#2's bed, and one for the scooter rally in April. I'd like to try some new patterns this year, and work up some of my own designs I have made in EQ7. Non-quilt related, I'd like to make DH some new scrub tops as some of his are ready to be retired. I will be watching the twins a lot this year, as DD#3 continues in welding school, so sewing time won't be readily available, but I will have some. I am looking forward to a good year of quilting, improving my FMQ skills, and trying some new things. I am not on no buy this year, but hopefully, it will be a low buy year. If I run out of something, I won't hesitate to replace it, but hopefully I will be working mostly from stash.