Friday, May 31, 2013

Cut it Out!

I have been busy in the sewing room! The best chance I have to sew all year is mid May- mid August, while DD#3 is off college for summer break. Once she goes back to school in August, I'll be back to only sewing on weekends or naptime, because I'll be watching the twins full-time again. For right now, she can watch the twins herself, and I hope to take advantage of that as much as possible. DD#3 is scheduled to graduate at Christmas, and hopefully she'll find a full-time job in January or February, so this is really my last big break for the foreseeable future.

DH and I have a trip planned for the end up June into July. He will be at AmeriVespa, a very large scooter rally for the first few days of our trip, and I plan to stay at the hotel and sew, read, and nap! No interruptions, just time to myself. I am trying to get a few projects ready to bring with me. I'd rather bring more than I can possibly get done, than run out of things to sew. I don't really know what I can get done when I'm not being interrupted all the time, by grandkids, kids, or household chores, so I am erring on the side of bringing too much.

^I got all of this cut up this week. I need to make four wedding quilts, and I decided two of them can be Pineapple Blossom quilts. I had straightened up my 2" strip drawers a while back, and I put all the shorter strips in a large salad bowl to be cut up for a log cabin quilt. Well, I wanted my bowl back, and since the Pineapple Blossom quilt uses 2" strips, I cut those short strips into the correct sizes for that instead. I knew I still didn't have enough pieces, so I grabbed some bigger strips, and cut those up too. I didn't count any of these pieces, the strips or the squares needed for the pattern. These are really scrappy quilts, so if I don't have enough pieces cut, I'll just cut some more. I plan on making as many blocks as I can, then I'll count and see where I'm at. I ended up cutting a bunch of 2" squares from the ends of the strips, so I'm bringing those along (plus some 2" squares that were already cut) and I'll make scrappy nine patches as my leaders/enders at the hotel. In case I get sick of making Pineapple Blossom blocks, I also brought a bag of neutral strings to make string blocks for Jamestown Landing. I'm sure I won't have time to get all of that done in the days I won't be traveling, but it does give me some options, without taking up a ton of space. 

We will be doing a lot of driving after the rally, so I likely won't use my sewing machine again on the trip after the scooter rally. I am bringing a couple things that I can do in the car, or at night in the hotel that take very little equipment to do. I am not good at being idle, and I need to feel like I'm getting something done, vacation or not. I am so looking forward to the vacation!

I finally got a chance to sew on my Singer 301, the machine I bought hoping it would become my travel machine. I am in LOVE! The stitches are perfect, and it is by far the quietest machine I have! When I bought the 301, it came with no accessories aside from the presser foot that was on the machine. It did come with the manual, which I appreciate. The Singer 301 is kind of a hybrid. It uses the same bobbins as a featherweight, so I had bobbins to fit it. It is a slant shank machine, so all the presser feet I have for my Singer 503 Rocketeer fit it. Since I am only planning on piecing on the trip, I am only bringing a 1/4" foot for the machine. I did bring a bunch of bobbins, wound and ready to go. I am already packing up the sewing trolley, and the projects. I know I still have almost a month before we leave, but I have a lot to get done in that month, so packing early is my best bet to not forget anything. 

I finished a quilt this week, so I got a fifth finish for the year. I'm up to one per month! I haven't taken a photo of the completed quilt yet, but I will. I finished quilting a different quilt today, and I hope to get the binding on it tomorrow, so I can start June with a sixth finish for the year! I have one more quilt I really need to get finished before our trip, and it's not even a completed top yet, so lots of work ahead! I also plan on getting as many quilts as I have pins for pin-basted before I leave. I had hoped to get all the quilt tops I had finished quilted this summer, and I'll feel more able to meet that goal if I have quilts ready to go when I get back from vacation.

Once DD#3 goes back to college in August, my priorities turn to the wedding quilts. I'd like to scratch several things off my to do list before that happens. I'll still work on other projects as leaders/enders, but my main projects will be the wedding quilts. I'm hoping to "clear the decks" a bit before I have to switch gears. 

DD#2 got me the things I had forgotten at Ikea when she went to Phoenix this past weekend. I now have my Trofast units filled with bins, with the exception of where my Go and Go dies are stored. I have the boards I need to put up the rest of the wall shelves I want. My heat resistant fabric got here today too, so now I can make the ironing station covers I need to make my ironing station fully functional. My sewing room is closer to being done! I really liked the height of my new cutting table, and the size is much better than my old set-up. Improvements are good things!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ikea Hack- Trofast Ironing Station

I've had multiple rooms in the house as my sewing room, and it seems like the ironing board is always an afterthought. It ends up in my way, I have to take it down between projects, and it just wasn't working for me. I also wanted to be able to iron full widths of quilting fabrics without a hassle. I looked at the quilting ironing boards, and they were either too expensive, too big for my space, or simply a waste of space. Ikea to the rescue!

I had noticed the Trofast units when I was looking for storage solutions for the grandtwins toys. I ended up going with something else for them, but these units were stuck in my mind. I realized that some of the Trofast units were about the right height for ironing, and an idea was born.

I bought three Trofast units at Ikea earlier this week. I thought I had picked up a package of shelves, but I hadn't. It's just as well I didn't, because now that I see how the Go cutter and dies fit on these, I think I will just buy more bins to fill the first unit, and skip the shelves entirely.  Trofast units have three sizes of bins, and you can see I bought two different sizes. There is a larger size as well. The bins come in multiple colors, but I chose to stick with white.

I bought lids to go with all my bins. The lids are a little different. The set down in the container so they don't interfere with the way the bins slide in and out of the grooves. That circle in the center is a fingerhole so you can pull the lid up. Since the fingerhole will always be covered when the bin is put away, I'm not expecting dust to be an issue. 

To give you an idea of what can be stored in the shallow bins, Aurifil spools can stand up and large cones can be stored on their sides, and the lid fits easily over these. I keep my thread elsewhere, but I thought this was an easy comparison for quilters.

Yesterday DH and I went to Home Depot, and bought a sheet of 1" plywood. We had them cut it for us, and I decided I wanted my ironing top 16"x56". In this photo I have the board sitting on top of 4 layers of Warm and Natural batting, and 1 layer of the extra wide heavy duty aluminum foil. I had looked up ways to make ironing boards, and a lot of people suggested the aluminum to protect the wood from steam. I don't use steam very often, but I had some foil on hand, so decided it wouldn't hurt. I used Warm and Natural because I had it on hand as well. Had I wanted to purchase something for the padding, I likely would have gone to a military surplus store and bought a wool blanket. Why four layers of batting? Well, I had looked around on different sites that had directions to make ironing boards, and most said two or three layers of cotton batting, one said one layer, and one said six. I found a couple that said four. I have a roll of queen sized cotton batting and after cutting the batting to the correct length, folding it a couple times gave me four layers about the right size, so I only had to trim off a couple inches. 

DH and I turned up the sides and used an electric staple gun to tack the batting to the bottom of the board. I was busy holding the edges down while he stapled, so I didn't get any pics of the process. It was pretty wasy though. 

I had a piece of that rubber gripper stuff they sell to put in cabinets, so I laid the last of what I had on top of the Trofast units. You can see the bottom of my ironing board with the batting stapled down towards the bottom of the photo. I need to make an ironing board cover, but I haven't yet. I didn't have enough duck cloth, so I ordered some scorch resistant cloth online and it should be here next week. Two yards of cloth will be enough to make two covers for my new ironing board.

There is an overlap all the way around the board, so the batting doesn't touch the top of the units. In this pic I had lowered the right side flap of my Juki cabinet so I could see if it would be in my way when I iron. I think it will be fine, and if it is in my way, it's easy enough to flip it up. 

Here is a piece of quilting fabric spread out on my new ironing station. Once my ironing board cover is made and on, I will easily be able to iron the full with of fabric, and still have space to rest my iron. I have the ironing board top about an inch from the wall, so if I am pressing yardage the fabric can go behind the ironing station. 

This is a great height, has amazing storage space (even better when I fill the first one with more bins), and seems very sturdy. I didn't attach the Trofast units to each other, and I didn't attach the ironing top to the units either. Since we used 1" plywood, it's pretty heavy, and the gripper stuff really keeps it from sliding at all. I have a two inch overhang front and back and less than that on the sides. If you wanted a much larger top, attaching the top to the units may be necessary, but with this small an overhang, I'm not anticipating any problems. I can't wait to get my ironing board covers made, and get to work on my new ironing station!

Another Ikea find was these shelves. I had to move my Juki cabinet to get these up, then move it back afterwards, but now my glass caniters filled with sewing notions have a place to live in my newly rearranged sewing room.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I have actually finished three quilts! That brings me up to four finishes for the year so far, which is not great, but with how busy I've been, I'll take it. I'm hoping by the end of the year to have at least a one per month average, so I'm getting closer to that goal.

 ^This first quilt is a Twice Broken Dishes pattern. I used the directions from Debbie Caffrey's book Noodle Soup. That book is all patterns using 2" cut strips, so if you use Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User System, this book works great with that system. Books using 2.5" cut strips are easy to find, and Debbie Caffrey has a couple of those too, but I was quite happy to find a whole book using the smaller sized strips. DD#2 liked this pattern so much, I have a queen sized version of this already started for her. I have block quarters done, but haven't sewn them into blocks yet. She even liked the blues and greens in this, but wanted me to add brown, so the next one of these will be blue, green, brown, and white.

^This is the quilt that is going to be a warm hug for someone I know going through a tough time. The main pattern is from one of my very favorite quilt books, called Making Scrap Quilts to Use It Up! by Lynne Edwards. I love almost every pattern in that book!

^I think this is the last quilt from my 6" square phase. When I first started quilting, I loved the idea of pre-cutting my scraps, but I didn't know enough to choose the right sizes. I was saving 6" cut squares, which are hard to work with. Now I know better and save 6.5" squares. I don't have any more 6" squares, and I don't think I have any more quilt tops needing quilting made from them. Those squares are BUSTED!!!

Today DH and I took a trip to Phoenix, and went to Ikea. We bought the things I wanted to make into an ironing station. I plan on taking photos as we go along with that project, and I will certainly let you know how the ironing station works out. I still need to make a trip to Home Depot for some plywood to make into the ironing top. I have some Warm and Natural batting, and some duck cloth to make an ironing cover. I need to pick up some spray paint for another project too. I am really excited about the changes in the sewing room! It is already working better than before, and I think when I'm done it will be great!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

ADD Quilting

You know those times where you are in the middle of a project, but a more pressing one comes up? That was my week.

 ^This is my main project, a large bed quilt I am trying a new quilting pattern on. It's a more complex pattern than I'm used to stitching out, so it's going slow. I'm hoping I will have it down by the time I'm finished this quilt. I'd like to use this quilting pattern on a wedding quilt that is coming up soon.

I know someone who really needs a hug right now, and I was just sure this quilt was for them. I have been holding onto it for a while, knowing it was someone in particular, I just didn't know who. Now I know, and to get it finished without moving my main project, I set up the Bernina for quilting. This quilt is just throw sized, but still the largest I've quilted on my Bernina. It went easier than I thought, but I'm glad I'm not using the Bernina for the other quilt, partly because the other cabinet is better for supporting the quilt.

I finished quilting the purple quilt today, and I'll sew on the binding tomorrow. I was washing the quilt on my bed, and realized some of the binding was coming unstitched, so after it was washed I machine stitched the binding down. Since my machine had black for sewing that binding, and I had planned on binding another quilt in black, I sewed the binding on that quilt too, so I actually finished that quilt today. I'll have to take a pic of it, I haven't yet. The Bernina is now threaded with purple ready to sew that binding on first thing tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be a very busy day. My DDIL and DGD fly in in the morning, and they are moving here. DH is in Houston now, ready to drive her van here, while DS the Elder drives his car and DDIL's father drives his truck with a trailer. They should arrive here on Saturday, and basically the whole weekend will be happy chaos. We have some furniture at our house ready to be moved to their apartment, which we will try to do before the rest of their stuff arrives. I am really hoping DDIL likes living here, she's made some friends here from visiting, and she knows all of us, so it's not completely foreign. She is moving here just as it gets very hot though, and that will be a shock. I am happy to have them in town, for however long that ends up being. I know they are planning to move back to Texas someday.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Little Closer

I've been busy in the sewing room, in any bits of time I can find. I had an hour or so yesterday morning, and a couple hours available last night to work in there, and I did a LOT! I still can't get DD#2's shelves out of there, but I did figure out how to move them enough to get the Juki into the corner I wanted it in. I know the Juki isn't actually in the cabinet, it's at the spa getting all spiffied up.


Now the Juki cabinet is in the corner, and the back flap can stay up all the time :-) See the brown tabletop in that space between the back flap and the left side flap? That is an old microwave cart. It's been in my sewing room all along, in fact it was in the last sewing room too. That microwave cart is pretty versatile. With the wheels on, it is the right height to fill that space, not quite as deep as the back flap, but close enough. You haven't seen it in any photos of my sewing room recently, because when I take the wheels off the cart, it fits under the left flap of the Juki cabinet, and hides there happily storing some of my odd non-quilting fabrics. It has been under there since the last rearrange. The microwave cart still has non-quilt fabric on it, but the only thing in front of it, is two totes that are now under that left flap. It wouldn't take long to move two totes to get to the other fabrics.

I almost made a huge mistake on what to store under the back flap. I have one huge tote with scraps in it, and that tote would fit perfectly in the space under the back flap. I started to move it there, then I realized that if I did, there is no way I would process those scraps this year as I was hoping. Instead, I moved a box of non sewing stuff that just needs to be stored someplace there, along with my box of denim scraps on top of that. I can get to the denim scraps, but I have no plans for a denim quilt this year. I am much happier with my decision on what to store there.

Today during the twins naptime I rearranged my pegboard. The workbench I had been using had a built in pegboard, so I had space to hang my most frequently used rulers there. Now all the rulers need to hang on these, which meant hanging multiple rulers on a single hook. There are a few I kept hanging singly, because I use them so often I didn't want them to get buried on the hook.

Tomorrow I am planning on moving the cutting table over a few inches, to make sitting at the Singer cabinet more comfortable. I have the cutting table mostly cleaned off, and I could actually cut on it now. I washed up some fabric today, to cut up for a couple Pineapple Blossom quilts. At the beginning of this year, I knew of no wedding quilts that needed to be made, and now I have four. I think the Pineapple Blossom pattern may work for two of the wedding quilts. One of the wedding quilts will be a traditional pineapple quilt, and the other will be a Smith Mountain Morning quilt. When DD#3 goes back to college in August, the wedding quilts will be at the top of my to do list. This summer I just plan on finishing things up, not really starting much.

Now that the Juki cabinet is in position, and I opted to keep my small mini-bolt shelves on either side of the cutting table, I realized I actually have just enough space to keep my ironing board up all the time. I can put it along the wall next to the Juki cabinet. The thing is, what I really want is an ironing station more like this. My wallet can't buy that set-up, but I am thinking it could be made for far less than what they are asking for it. I'll have to keep mulling that over, and work on DH to see if he'll help me build it, or better yet, build it for me. Hmmm....maybe I should make him some new scrub tops, then ask him... In the meantime, once the shelves are out of the room, my ironing board will have a home. Yes, I am glad I decided to rearrange.

One of the biggest perks to rearranging, is finding the things you knew were in the room, but haven't seen in months. Today was a big day for finds! I bought some vintage sewing machine accessories, I think last summer. I knew I put them in a drawer, but I thought I had checked all the drawers in the sewing room. Aha, found the drawer I missed today, and there they were, buried under a couple remnants. Now I can put them with all my other vintage machine accessories.Oh, and the remnants? They are getting cut up for the Pineapple Blossom quilts, that was the fabric I washed today! Another thing that once was lost but now is found? Some seam guides I bought from Bonnie K Hunter. They were actually where I thought  they were, but had fallen into a basket of scraps and I didn't dig down deep enough when I looked before. Now there is a seam guide at each machine ;-)

By the weekend I will be sewing, but I am happy with how things are moving along with the rearrange. I am always on the quest to have the studio of my dreams on a bare bones budget. The kitchen table I bought for my new cutting table is the perfect height (36") and cost less ($129) than any cutting table I looked at. The least expensive cutting tables also seem far less sturdy than this table. Most of the cutting tables I've seen can be folded down, but I used all the space under the table for storage, so I don't consider it a waste of space to leave it up. So far the only things I've bought for this rearrange was the table, two used cork boards ($3 each) and one set of plastic drawers for thread that was on sale for $20. I am debating building an ironing center, and I'm considering mounting one shelf on the wall. I have brackets to do that, but I think I'd have to buy a board. Other than that, I'd like to see something pretty on the walls, but I'm thinking a few mini quilts will do the trick for that. That I won't have to spend a dime on.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sewing Room Progress? Maybe...

I've been continuing to work in the sewing room, not sewing but rearranging. The workbench has been moved out and replaced with the counter height kitchen table I bought to replace it.


I put a lot of my plastic drawers and project bins under the table, and there is a lot of storage available under that table! I may move some of these later, and switch what gets stored there, but for now I'm trying this. I also decided to try putting my small mini-bolt shelves on either end of the cutting table. The shelves are narrower than the table so nothing sticking out in my way, but I'm not sure I like how much taller they are. Once I get the cutting table cleaned off and cut on it, I can see if I find the shelves being taller distracting.


Here is the other side of the cutting table, with more plastic drawers stored here. Once I move the Juki to it's final place, the totes and batting currently in my way will have a place to live. 

This is the area under the window. My Singer 99 is set up and ready to go. Most of those bins under the cabinet flap are filled with strings or selvages, and I think for the rest of this year, the 99 will be used for sewing string blocks. The string stash is getting out of hand, and I love making string blocks, but with all my scrap cutting I am making strings faster than I can make them into blocks. I don't have quite enough room right now to sit comfortably at the Singer 99, but once DD#2's bookshelves are out of the room and I move the Juki to the wall, I can shift the cutting table over enough to make this into a comfortable sewing spot.


I've got the Bernina almost unburied! I'm hoping to get some sewing time in this week sometime, and it will be on the Bernina.  I still have several quilt tops to assemble, that I'd like to get quilted this summer. Since they are not even tops yet, I need to get going on the assembly.

I don't know how much more I can get done without moving the bookshelves out first. Once those are moved I can work on the rearranging until it's finished. I will likely spend one big day moving a lot of stuff, then fine tune things over time. I have figured out sewing rooms are always in flux to some extent. Fabric you have set aside for a certain project gets used, then you have that space available. Sometimes you lose interest in a certain technique or activity, and then all of those supplies can get moved on. I have already purged a lot of garment fabric, but I did keep a couple dozen pieces I would like to use. Garment making is something I don't mind doing once I get started, but trying to motivate myself to get started is getting harder and harder. Overall, I prefer quilting. It's funny, the last couple of garments I made, I was amazed at how fast they went together. I forget that making a garment can take just a couple days, unlike a quilt which can take months.

Is it helpful at all to see the process of rearranging? The mess is worse at first, but eventually it will be neat. I don't have any built ins, so if this arrangement doesn't work for me, I'll simply try something different. I already have an idea that would likely work and allow for a fourth machine to be set up, but I want to try this configuration first. I think once the Juki is moved I may be able to set up a fourth machine on the right side flap as a temporary thing when I'm not quilting a project, so I don't know that I need a fourth permanent spot right now. I'm not sure what will be my next post, sewing or more rearranging. Happy sewing in the meantime!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Mess That Is My Sewing Room

I said I'd show the process of rearranging the sewing room. This is never a pretty sight. I tend to dump everything in a big pile, and sort as I put things away. I am sure when I get to the putting away point, a few things will be purged, but I had a huge purge last year, so I don't know how much I'll part with this year. I thought I'd be farther along in the process that I am, but this week has been unusually busy, so the workbench still hasn't been moved out of the room, which means I can't set up the new cutting table, you know it goes. Here is where I am now.

This is the view from the doorway.The far side of the room is piled with quilty "stuff". Underneath some of that stuff is my Singer 99 in a cabinet. See the workbench, right in the middle of the room. This is getting passed to DH, and hopefully it will be moved out of here this weekend.

Here is my Juki cabinet. I just lowered the back flap down  about an hour ago. I've quilted three quilts in the last three weeks, and I am ready to take a short break from that and have the Juki cleaned and serviced. I realized the other day I haven't had that done on the Juki since I bought it, and I bought it in February 2009. Oops! The sew and vac guy who services my mechanical machines is quick and reasonably priced. I really have no excuse for waiting so long. Once DD#2's bookshelves (on the far right hand side of the photo) are moved out my sewing room, I will move the Juki cabinet forward and keep the back flap up all the time.

My Bernina cabinet is now against the wall, (well actually about an inch from the wall, I needed space for my chain piecing to be able to hang down) and I've yet to sew on it since I moved it. I will be using it while the Juki is in the shop getting its spa treatment.

DD#3 only has six more days of this college semester left. After that I should have a bit more time for sewing until fall semester starts in August. She and the twins live with us, so I'll have 2 two year olds underfoot no matter what, but I won't be their primary caregiver during the summer.

I have been trying to come up with summer goals, since I will have some extra sewing time. I tried to do a quick count of where I am in my projects and although I could have missed something big with the mess, I think my projects are at this point right now.

2 quilts quilted - bind this summer
2 quilts pin-basted - quilt and bind this summer.
4 quilt tops done, 3 of which have backings ready to go - I'd like to finish all of these this summer as well.
6 or 7 quilts with the blocks done, waiting for assembly - I'd love to get these to quilt top stage, but won't stress about it if I don't.
I also have several projects in just the piecing stage, not even completed blocks. One of those I'd like to finish this year, but the other ones are just long term leader/ender projects.

As far as deadline quilts go, two quilts I need to finish by the end of June, one of those is in the pin-basted category, one is a quilt top. Those will be my primary projects when the Juki comes back from the spa. I have one baby quilt to make, but depending on the sex of the baby, I may be able to use one I already have made, or possibly just finish the one I have as a completed top now. I need to start three wedding quilts, one for a wedding in November, two for weddings without dates as of yet, likely next year. For the November wedding, I could just take the "easy" way out and give them my "Easy Street" mystery quilt, which is at block stage. I am debating a few patterns as well, something that uses my pre-cut strips or squares. I likely won't decide for sure until I get a few projects crossed off my to do list.

We have two trips planned for this summer, so I won't have all summer available to sew anyway, and DS the Elder and his family will be moving here to Tucson in two weeks, so that may take up a bit of time too, just helping them get settled. I also will be finishing the rearranging of my sewing room.

Overall, I think things sound good, a couple deadlines to keep me motivated, several projects getting close to completion, and lots of ideas, but not too much pressure. It should be a good summer.