Friday, May 30, 2014

Working in the Sewing Room, but Not Sewing

I have been pretty busy in the sewing room, but actually have done very little sewing this week. 
I did get the extension on my Arrow Olivia cabinet, or rather DH put the extension on it ;-)

When I had my Bertha cabinet over here, it was hard to access anything stored under the extension, because the back of the Bertha cabinet comes low to the floor. I am very happy my overflowing basket of scraps can fit back under the extension, and its easily accessible should I actually have time to cut up scraps. You can see what's on my utility cart too, mostly upholstery fabrics for the reusable grocery bags I keep planning to make.

I spent one day this week cutting out scrub tops for DH. I've been putting off making him any since the twins were born, so I had this stack of fabrics I had put aside for him, but never got them made. Well, I needed scraps from some of those for a project, and I didn't know how many scraps I actually had until I cut out the shirts. I still don't know when I'll have a chance to make them, but there is a much better chance I will, now that they are all cut out.

I just had a great nephew born yesterday, he got the penguin baby quilt I made a while back. I'm getting a great niece in September, and the above are the alternate blocks and setting triangles for her quilt. I'm going to be using some nine patches for the other blocks, and those are already done.

My other big cutting project this week was for Thousand Pyramid quilts. DD#1 is due with baby #3 in September, and she wanted an elephant quilt in predominantly yellow and gray/grey. I found some elephant fabrics in those colors, plus some blue/teals. Most of the fabrics are pretty modern looking, so I thought a borderless thousand pyramid quilt might be the perfect way to show off the fabrics.

The funny thing is, I have some vintage fabric I bought at a thrift store, that has an Egyptian theme on it, and the colors are yellow, gray/grey, and lime on an off-white background. I had always wanted to do a thousand pyramid quilt with the vintage fabric being the border. Since I was cutting yellows and greys anyway, I just overcut, and grabbed a few lime fabrics to add for the Egyptian quilt, and I cut and cut and cut! You can't tell in this pic, but that stack of equilateral triangles is several inches thick. I have no size requirements for the Egyptian quilt, it will just be whatever size it ends up. Overcutting for a quilt I need, is the easiest way for me to make donation quilts. I've ended up with as many as four extra quilts when I seriously overcut for a project. I don't ever stress about overcutting, obviously since I do it on purpose. If I end up with a few extra units, I just toss it in the orphan box, and they can come into play at a later date. If I end up with a whole extra quilt, that's perfect, because I happily donate it and it can go to someone who needs it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Graduate, a Rearrangement, and Other Stuff

What a busy week! DD#3 graduated with honors this week! She now has two Associates Degrees, one in Applied Science in Welding, and one in General Studies. She's got 85 credit hours of college, so if she were to decide to pursue a Bachelor's degree, she'd be well on her way. She didn't walk in the graduation ceremony, so no pics. She heard it was going to be at least three hours long and said she didn't really want to sit there that long. She opted to not have a party either, but we did take her out to dinner, along with the extended family that could make it. Our graduation gift to her, was to help her buy her first car! It's a 2004 Kia Sorrento, and she is thrilled to not be riding the city bus anymore. Now she'll be looking for full-time work, but her part-time position at the college is good for another month so it buys her a bit of time.

On the sewing front, I rearranged my sewing room last weekend. I was originally just going to switch to of the sewing cabinets, but once I started I kept think of better ways to arrange things.

The first thing to move was the green cabinet into the "quilting corner". If you look behind my Bernina, you can see the new quilting extension standing up behind the cabinet. I haven't gotten it onto the cabinet yet. I found out a while back that quilting in a corner is great, because the two walls help keep the quilt from falling off the table and creating drag. I wanted the Bernina back in the green cabinet, because now I can use the knee lift again, and I already had a custom insert for the Bernina in this Arrow Olivia cabinet.

Instead of moving the cabinet that had been in the quilting corner to the place the green cabinet had been, I opted to create a sewing island, which I've had before. Right now I have three cabinets right here. On the right is my Arrow Bertha cabinet with my Singer 201 in it. My Juki insert works well with the vintage Singers, only about a 1/4" gap along the left hand side. To the left in the front is my Singer 99 in a cabinet, and you can barely see behind it there is an Arrow Gidget table (thrift store find) with one of my Singer 301's on it. Can you see all those quilt blocks piled up on my Bertha cabinet? I am working on too many quilts! I'm anxious to get some rapid fire finishes.
Along the wall where the green cabinet was, I moved my cutting table, and my smaller mini bolts. I think the sewing island will work better this time than the last time I had it this way, because with the small mini bolts behind my sewing area, instead of the larger furniture that was here the last time I had a similar set up, I have more room to move around.
My fabric wall remains unchanged. No way I'm in any hurry to move all that fabric again! I did have enough holes in my stash, that I shelved all the rest of my fabric that isn't being used on an immediate project. My stash is fitting in its allotted space! That makes me happy.
Is there a quilter that doesn't have any sets of plastic drawers? These were originally sets of three drawers, but I had the upright frame on one drawer break. I bought  new set to replace them, and as I was looking at the now defunct drawers, I realized I could take them apart and add one drawer to each of my other sets, and only lose the one broken drawer. Turns out two sets of four drawers exactly fits the space under my cutting table. On the opposite side of the cutting table, there is a similar set up of drawers, but narrower sets of them. In case anyone is wondering, I bought a counter top height kitchen table to use as my cutting table. The height is perfect, and now that my storage underneath is using every bit of space, I don't think I could have chosen anything better for my sewing room.
My ironing station is still the same, in the same place. I am debating adding a light strip under the shelf above my ironing station, to help when I'm ironing at night.

I finished the blocks for another quilt this week. I have three grandsons, and I have pieced the blocks for a quilt for each of them while working on the 25 patch quilt. I am a firm believer in leaders/enders, and a project like the 25 patch goes through a lot of leaders/enders. I only have 8 more 25 patches to make, I've got 92 done! I'm hoping to get those done on Memorial Day, and start assembling quilt tops sometime next week. I still have three baby quilts I haven't started on, but I really want to a couple of the current quilts finished before I start those. The babies are all due in September, so I can't wait too long! I have company this weekend, but Monday should be quiet.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Black and White and Spoiled All Over!

I have been trying to be really good and not buy fabric unless I absolutely had to have it for a current project. As a result, my stash has been thinning quite noticeably by me, but I was fine with that. I have a lot of fabric, so a thinning stash isn't worrisome to me. When Mother's Day came along, I asked for black and white fabrics. Before Mother's Day, I had a total of three white fabric with black prints in stash, two of which were only fat quarters. I had a dozen or so fat quarters of black with white designs, most of which will be used in a quilt I need finished next year.
The thing is, there are several quilts I have in mind to make that require black and white fabrics, so  thought it was a good thing to ask for, since I honestly didn't have enough in stash to do a quilt with black and white fabrics dominating. Turns out my kids didn't get me black and white fabrics, but DH and I went shopping to the odd fabric store in town that has cotton fabric for $3.99 a yard. You never know what they'll have, they are like a fabric closeout place, but I found quite a haul of black and white fabrics!

Here they are in all their glory! Oh will I have fun playing with these once my current quilts are finished!

The funny thing about buying fabric is once you buy some, you tend to buy more. Overall, I was actually good, but there is still a lot of new fabric in the house. Most of it won't be here long though! I ordered a border fabric for a wedding quilt I'm making. I also ordered two fat quarters of fabric to use in the quilt center. All the rest of that quilt is from stash, backing included, so a total purchase of three and a half yards for a 110" square quilt, not bad.

One of my nieces is having a baby, and I am actually going to use some nine patches I made a while back in the baby quilt, but I wanted a musical fabric for the alternating squares, and I had nothing in stash in the appropriate colors. I found a flannel on ebay I think will work nicely, and I'm hoping the piece I bought will be enough to back the quilt too. I may have to piece something else into the back, but that piece of fabric will be completely gone in that quilt.

My oldest daughter is expecting baby #3, and they aren't finding out the gender. For her first two, I made gender neutral quilts, but this time I was really hoping to make something gender specific. We talked it over, and she wants a yellow/gray elephant themed quilt for a boy, and a predominantly coral/teal butterfly quilt if it's a girl. DD#1 lives in South Africa, so it's not just a matter of bringing the correct quilt to the hospital when the baby is born. I think what I'm going to do is mail the elephant quilt before the baby comes, and if the baby is a girl, I'll mail the butterfly quilt afterwards. A yellow/gray quilt could be gender neutral.

Here's the thing though, I had no fabric in stash for the yellow/gray quilt. I ordered everything for it. I did buy the smallest amounts of fabric allowed, so I was still trying to be good.

The butterfly quilt I decided to do in 1930's repro prints. I had exactly one charm pack, and one layer cake of 30's prints in stash. One of these days, I want to make a king sized quilt in 30's repro fabrics. I have in mind an Irish Chain, with Dresden Plates in the open areas. One charm pack and one layer cake wasn't going to make a baby quilt and a king sized quilt. I did NOT want to accrue a big 30's stash, but I needed more than I had. I found a place online that sold fat eighths by color in bundles of 30's fabrics. I bought a few of those, and it will definitely be enough for the baby quilt, and a start to the king sized quilt.

I laid out the quilt I'm making for DS the Elder, and changed my mind on what size I'm making it. I decided to make it a bit larger than I originally planned. Hmmm.... Now that wide backing I bought for it a while back, is no longer large enough for it. I could cut the backing and piece something in...but that seems like a waste of a wide backing. I decided to hold onto the wide backing and use it on another quilt. Now I needed to get 10 yards of flannel to piece a large enough backing. So I did, and I got it for half off too!

I have one more wedding quilt due this year, that I haven't started yet, and it won't be scrappy. I already have the backing fabric for it, and I think I have everything else in stash except for the background fabric. I am so glad all the fabric places had such great Mother's Day sales, because I bought the background fabric for that quilt too.

DD#3 said she could use some more burp rags. The ones I make are from cotton batting, which I have, and flannel. I have some flannel in stash, but it's all gender specific. I've used up all of my gender neutral fabric making burp rags. So, guess who bought some gender neutral flannel? Again, I was conservative on the amounts, but I did buy some.

So, while on the fabric buying spree did I buy any fabrics just to stash? Yes, the black and white fabrics that were my Mother's Day gift from DH. I also picked up four remnants at Hancock fabrics. They price their cotton remnants at $2 a yard, so I always look when I'm there. That's why I don't go there very often. I really find it easier to control my sending when shopping online. I search for what I need, and don't browse online. In a store, I'm more likely to overspend on impulse buys.

Today DH and I went thrift store shopping, and I found some flannels (maybe three to four yards total) I could use for burp rags, bought those too. I also found a king sized polyester batting for $2.99, and I happily bought that!

I think my fabric purchases are done for now. The lion's share of what I'm making is coming from stash, so I'm not going to stress too much about buying what I need. It was more that I didn't want to spend the money, than any bad feelings about it.

I did order something else for Mother's Day too. I'm thinking of selling my Juki sewing machine, so I've been quilting on my Bernina 440. I've done a large queen on it now, so I know I can do without the Juki, even though the throat space is better on the Juki. The thing is, my Bernina and the sewing cabinet my Juki were in do not play well together. I had my Juki in an Arrow Bertha cabinet which has a huge amount of space for supporting a large quilt. I have a custom insert for my Juki in that cabinet, but I've been making do with just the extension table that came with my Bernina to have it in that cabinet. The thing is, even if I bought a custom insert for the Bernina, I can't use the knee lift when it's in that cabinet. They just aren't compatible if I use the knee lift. I had my Bernina in an Arrow Olivia cabinet. I can use the knee lift when it's in the Olivia cabinet, and I have the custom insert for my Bernina for that cabinet. the thing is, with the Olivia cabinet, I lose all that extra quilting space, or do I???? When I bought my Olivia cabinet, there was no quilting extension available for it, but now there is! DS the Elder gave me an Amazon gift card for Mother's Day, and I bought the extension from Amazon, which, since I now did not need to buy a new custom insert, was really not a bad deal.

The extension should be here sometime next week, so I'll have a bit of rearranging to do in my sewing room. For now, I'll just swap the locations of the two cabinets, and just drop the quilting extension on the Bertha cabinet. I've already measured, and with just a bit of tweaking, the cabinets can trade places easily enough. I'll be using the Bertha cabinet with my vintage machines now, and not having an insert when you are using a flatbed machine is no big deal. I just move the machine flush with the front left corner of the cabinet opening, and sew away.

So there you go, I am one spoiled Mama! birthday is coming up, and I've always wanted to make a Winding Ways quilt in red and white. Maybe I'll ask for red and white fabrics for my birthday!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Yet Another Start

I know I'm starting a lot of quilts with only one finish for the year so far, but all of the quilts I'm working on need to be completed this year. The best I can do right now is use each quilt I need to make as a leader/ender for another. I'm making a fishbowl quilt for my oldest grandson. He'll be five in July, and evidently is obsessed with marine biology, which makes sense since he lives in Cape Town, South Africa, very near the coast.

I took last Sunday to sew all the knocked off corners, and during the week I sewed the tops of the fishbowls onto the main part. Now it's just a matter of sewing on the four background pieces to each block. I'll have all of these blocks finished before I finish my main project, which is still the 25 patch quilt. I'm up to 48 blocks done on the 25 patch quilt, so I'm happy with my progress on that too!

Once I get all the blocks I can done, I'll start assembling quilts, so I can figure out the order I'd like to quilt them. I have a couple baby quilts to make too, neither of which are technically started, but I may be using some blocks I made a while back for one of those.

I'm feeling pretty good about how the sewing is going. None of these quilts will have fancy quilting, so if I can get the tops done, it shouldn't be too hard to finish them up.

It funny, I keep thinking about when I will have more time to quilt, and I realized it will take a couple years just to finish all the things I've put on hold. When sewing time is limited, I tend to only finish what I need by a certain date. My UFO pile has gotten bigger over the last three years, but that's OK too. Right now I'm only working on quilts I need this year, so I'm not making more UFO's right now, but I also don't have any time to work on any. I figure I'll have some easy finishes down the line, when I someday have time to work on them. Until then, they can wait, and I'm not going to stress about it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Coming Along

The two quilts I'm working on are coming along nicely. I am almost done piecing the blocks for one of my grandson's quilts.

Here is a sampling of the blocks for Mr. J's quilt. DD#1 just told me to use wheels as my theme, and she wants tilted blocks. I saw the directions of how to make tilted blocks, but honestly, since they still need to be trimmed, I just decided to use larger borders and I'll trim at a tilt. After trimming, I will have some fun skinny triangles to add to my strings. I love to throw some wonky stuff in my string blocks!

There are just over 30 blocks made for this 25 patch quilt. I need 100 blocks, so a long way to go yet, but I have enough to start looking at layout options. This sunshine and shadows layout was my original intention.

I didn't think there would be enough contrast between the blue and green squares to pull off a barn raising layout, but it looks better than I thought it would. It will be at least another month of piecing before I have all 100 blocks done, so I have plenty of time to think about it.
I have been trying to be good, and go downstairs and sew at least one 25 patch block during naptime. On the days I have time to sew for a few hours, I try for at least five blocks. Today I made seven, but it was really sitting too long, even with breaks, and my back is letting me know that was a bad idea. Increasing productivity without overdoing is a fine line to walk.
Next week DH will be gone all week on a scooter trip, so I'm hoping for productive sewing times when I don't have the twins.