Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scrap Attack

Still no sewing for me. We ended up pulling up the carpeting in my sewing room, so it was completely trashed. Slowly, but surely, I'm getting it back together. So far my green sewing cabinet with my Bernina is back in place, and my cutting table with all the stuff stored under it is in place. Tomorrow I hope to get the other sewing machines set up. For the time being, I'll just live with the ugly tile that was under the carpeting, but hopefully in a couple years we'll be able to put down indoor/outdoor carpet or something similar.

Since my sewing room has been a complete no-go, I'm continuing to work through my scraps. I hope I never let them get this out of hand again! Most of these scraps are several years old, I've been trying to keep up with the recent stuff. I've even found scraps from stuff I made in the 1990's.

See this tote with two four year olds in it? This tote was full of scraps. If that was all I had, I had waited too long, but I had a large laundry basket filled with scraps too! 

Last time I blogged, I said I was going to start on the red scraps. Here they are finished! Usable strips, selvages, and strings, much better than the mess they were before.

I decided to tackle neutrals next. I had more of those than the greens or reds. I had these two grocery sacks full. What does that many scraps look like after processing them?

They look like this! I had plenty of room in my drawer of 2" light strips to actually put these away.

Tomorrow I start tackling the black scraps, and I have about as many of them as I did neutrals. My mind is racing with ways to use all these strips. Since I am going to have so many black strips, I'm thinking I'll make at least one quilt with black as a neutral, maybe a log cabin half black/half colored scraps? Since most of these fabrics are novelties, they will make for some interesting quilts.

I am quite happy to be finally tackling these scraps. It gives me lots to play with, and relieves my mind to think that doing this huge job may not be on my to do list much longer.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Strips, Strings, and Crumbs

No sewing for me this week. I have been processing my scraps though. My original plan was to cut for specific quilts, and I may do that for some colors, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I use 2" strips the most. I have emptied my 2" strip bin more than once, and although I've gotten my 1.5" and 2.5" strips drawers low, I've never actually run out of those. I am very comfortable resizing quilt patterns too, so if I concentrate on 2" strips, but want to make a pattern that calls for something different, I am perfectly capable of resizing the pattern to go with 2" strips.

I started out with the bag of "too many colors to fit into one color family" scraps. I had one plastic grocery sack of those type of scraps, and this is what I ended up with.

From left to right I have some strings, a couple 3.5" strips, a couple 2.5" strips, two stacks of 2" strips, a few 1.5" strips and some selvages. Above those are a 2" square and some crumbs.  This is much more usable to me than a grocery sack jammed full of wrinkled fabric scraps.

I just finished processing the green fabric scaps today. I had TWO grocery sacks full of green scraps. 

From left to right here, I have a whole basket of 2" strips, some 1.5"strips, some 2" strips I decided not to keep with the greens, 2.5" strips, 3.5" strips, and some selvages.

Here are my green strings. I hear a lot of confusion by quilters about strings. I have heard lots of people specifically cutting strings, and that really baffles me because strings happen all on their own. I have an endless supply and have never gone cutting up fabric to try to make them.

I could be wrong, but as I understand the definitions, and how I use them are this:

Strips- a strip of fabric a consistent width
String- a strip-like bit of fabric, with an inconsistent width
Crumb- a leftover bit of fabric, too small or oddly shaped to get a decent sized square from.

Most of the scraps I'm dealing with are left over from garment making. I have stuff shaped like this.

The first thing I do with this, is get the strips I can from it.

After cutting off the uneven part, I got two 2" strips, a weird 2" section and some waste.

What went into my scrap user system was this. I evened up the top od the strips and put the triangles in my crumbs. The 2" strips went in with the other 2" strips, and that weird piece I got a 2" square from. The rest went in the trash, but most of it is usable. I didn't end up with a string from this piece, but here's one I did get a string from.

This was one piece, and I cut off the selvage, got three 2" strips, and ended up with a string left. It isn't a consistent width, I can't get a 1.5" strip out of it, but it will still work in a string block.

Here are some other strings I ended up with.

Here are some crumbs I ended up saving.

Tomorrow I start on the red scraps! I want to at least get the red and green done, but I might keep working my way through the scraps, I haven't decided yet. I hope I motivate someone to work on their scraps! Don't wait as long as I did to get them into usable bits, even cutting mostly 2" strips, it would take at least a month tofinish processing my scraps, I've put it off so long. Everything needs to be pressed before cut, since it's all crammed into bags. Pressing can take as long as cutting. 

I'm having to blog from my tablet, as my laptop is with my SIL, being converted to a Linux operating system for better security. I'm having a hard time keeping my text consistently oriented to the left on my tablet, so I apologize if this is hard to read. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A January Finish!

Since I had been looking through my quilting notebook recently, and had it handy, I looked to see if I had ever had a finish in January. Well, since I started recording in 2009, the answer is no. I happen to know that the 2nd and 3rd quilts I ever made were finished in January, because I made them on Christmas break from homeschooling. I had to hurry and get them finished before I went back to teaching 5 different grades, so I know I had them done early January, not sure of the year, maybe 1999 or so. They were matching denim quilts for DD# 2&3. We were pretty broke at the time, so I used our old jeans ( a family of seven has a lot of these) I bought one set of sheets on clearance and used that to back them. I had to cut apart the fitted sheet, and piece it together with fabric from the pillow case to make it large enough to back the quilt, since I made the quilts about the size of the flat sheet. I had no idea how to quilt, so I tied them. Both of those quilts are still around, though a bit worse for wear.

Well, this year, I have a new January finish!

This quilt for my newest great niece is done and ready to mail. The blocks were made from bonus HST's from the Carolina Christmas mystery quilt several years ago.

Now that the twin's birthday has come and gone, and my first deadline quilt is done, I've been working on other misc. projects. A couple non-quilting projects are on my list to be completed and crossed off this year. I've been working on some of those, and also getting a couple quilts to the next stage. No good pics of anything yet. DD#3's work hours are ramping up, which is good for her, and bad for my sewing time. I am figuring out some things I can do while I'm watching the twins, though actually sewing isn't one of them. Mr. L is really curious about sewing machines, and if I set one up in the living room, I'm thinking he'd end up with a needle through his finger, if I had to leave the room for anything.

I did think of something I will have the twins help me do. A couple years ago, DD#2 and I went through all my fabric scraps and divided them by color. Those are still divided by color, in the tote I put them in when I first did it. Yeah, I don't use scraps when they are divided by color. I USE scraps when they are cut to size in my scrap user system. That said, I am going to have the twins help me divide all the newer scraps by color too, then I will combine the old scraps and the new scraps by color, and start cutting them for specific quilts! I have a few color specific quilts I want to make in the next year or two, and my scraps have been taking over. Sometimes I take the time to cut up all the scraps after a project, and that is certainly my goal, but when I'm really busy, it just doesn't happen.

I need to start dealing with the scraps, but it's so much at this point, it's overwhelming. I figured cutting for specific quilts was my best bet, and since I'm going color controlled, I won't have to look at all the scraps at once. I'm thinking if I make myself stay out of the strip drawers (which is normally the first place I look when starting a quilt) and instead cut the pieces from the color divided scraps, eventually, I will have the scraps down to a not-so-overwhelming pile, and I can just process whatever is left into my scrap user system. I'm trying to process those scraps like eating an elephant, one bite at a time! I have debated just getting rid of the scraps I have, but that's hard for me, since scraps are my favorite things. I'd rather give away yardage, really. In my quilting world, yardage is for backings, but scraps are where it's at.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It All Adds Up

I was trying to tidy up the sewing room a bit after getting Grand Illusion into a quilt top, and I came across my quilting notebook. In 2009, I started writing down each quilt as I finished it. Back then, I had more free time than I do now, so I put down the measurements of the quilt, date completed, and yardage used. The last couple years, I write down the quilt "name", usually something inspired like, "John's quilt". If I'm really motivated,  I'll write the month I finished it. At any rate, every year I add up how many quilts I made that year. When I saw the notebook, I realized I had never added up how many quilts I've made since I started keeping the notebook. Hmmm...a little counting, and I had my answer. In the last six years I have made 112 quilts. I don't know how many I have made in my lifetime, and I can only guess. Pre-2007 I had made four, but 2007 was when I really started quilting as my main hobby, and I kept no records in 2007 or 2008. Maybe 130 or so, as a lifetime total.

My methods have changed drastically since my early quilting days. I started out being a start to finish quilter; one quilt until it's finished, then the next, no UFO's, no mess. Well, in the last four days, I have worked on seven different quilts in some form or another. If you count tweaking a design on EQ, you can make that eight quilts. I have quilting projects going on two different sewing machines right now, each has a leader/ender project on it too. I pin-basted a quilt, got Grand Illusion into a top, and cut out another quilt, which will be perfect as a leader/ender project. One of my quilt projects has bonus HST's, and I already have a project planned using them.

Do I have UFO's now? Yes I do. I think I have seven quilt tops hanging in the closet (counting Grand Illusion), and at least five as completed blocks, still unassembled. I have a couple other quilts cut out, and parts done, but not enough to assemble anything yet. Does any of that bother me? Overall, I'd say no. A couple of those projects I'd really like to get finished soon, but overall, I've learned having a couple extra quilt tops hanging around is not a bad thing. There have been a couple times I really needed a quick quilt for someone, and I just finished a UFO, instead of starting something new. One of the ways I still get to donate quilts, even with so much less sewing time than before, is I often cut out two or three of the same quilt. I may or may not use the same fabrics for each, but while I'm sewing that pattern, and "in the groove", it's pretty easy to sew a few more blocks and make a donation quilt from the same pattern I was making a gift quilt. Working on several quilts all at once, is the only reason I finished 15 quilts last year. If you had asked me at the beginning of last year if I would have made that many quilts, I would have said no way, because I knew it was going to be a crazy year. Several of the quilts I finished in 2014 were actually started before that though, and it was just their time to be completely finished.  That's why I made no predictions on what I'd finish in 2015. There are a lot of variables on my time, and that will determine a lot of what I get done, but if I spend the year mostly finishing things already started, I may surprise myself. I have several things I want to sew this year that aren't quilts, and that will affect things too.

One of my non-quilty projects is finished. I finished that t-shirt dress for Miss S today.

The twins are having a Scooby-Doo birthday party, but I couldn't find a girl's Scooby-Doo shirt the correct size. I just bought two boys shirts, made one into a dress with some Scooby-Doo fabric  had in stash, fringed the sleeves and added some pony beads that have been hanging around since my kids were young, and voila, his and hers birthday outfits.

Now that this dress is finished, I can work on quilting that baby quilt for my great niece. I got it pin-basted on Monday, so it's ready to go!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt is a Top!

Bonnie put up the reveal for New Year's, and it was perfect timing for me! I had caught up on my clues, and I has the weekend pretty free, which hardly ever happens. I started sewing things together, using the sashing as leaders/enders while making the blocks, then the borders as leaders/enders while assembling the middle. It worked up pretty quickly (relatively speaking, I did spend long hours sewing).

I really like the top, and thankfully, DD#1 liked the photo I sent her of it. She chose the colors and placement, and she gets the quilt when I get to quilting it. Her birthday is in May, so that's what I'll shoot for.
It's funny, when I got caught up on the clues, I dug out my Pineapple Blossom project box to work on some of those blocks. I cut out enough pieces for three Pineapple Blossom quilts two years ago, and so far I only have a few blocks to show for it. I started working on those blocks, and am making some progress on the first of those quilts. I am sewing the logs on with my Singer 201, and I'm using a traditional pineapple quilt as my leaders and enders on that machine.
To sew the diagonal corners, I am using my Singer 99, and I'm using string blocks as my leaders/enders on that machine.
Here is the first block of my traditional pineapple quilt. It's all cool colored batiks with scrappy blacks. DD#2 will be getting this quilt when it's finished.
I will piece as I have time and inclination to, but my great-niece is due in February, and I'm hoping to get her quilt pin-basted and start the quilting on it this week. Of course, I have to make a T-shirt dress for Miss S this week too. I bought the twins matching Scooby Doo t-shirts for the birthday party, but Miss S always wants a dress, so I'm making her shirt into a dress with some Scooby Doo fabric I already had. Their birthday is the 12th, but the party is on the 11th, and I have several things to do before that. Lots of little ones in my life, and lots to do!
To see how everyone else is doing on the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt, click here.