Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Many Seams Does It Take?

How many seams does it take to get four quilt centers together? A few very long seams. I spent several hours sewing today, and I got four quilt centers together. I can show you three of them.

Pineapple quilt, that now needs three borders, which are ready to be sewn on.

Aussie quilt 2.0. I made DS the Elder a quilt out these Aussie fabrics, and liked them in these large blocks so well, I cut up the remaining fabric to make more blocks. I had enough of the original border fabric for this quilt too, it will just be a narrower border. Two borders total will be going on this quilt, again, ready to go.

DH's maternal grandmother had started a project before she passed away, and I'm not quite sure of her intention, as her notes didn't match up with what I had. She made the four patches on point, with sashing on two sides. She may have wanted to straight set them, being as I had a ton of extra sashing and cornerstone pieces. I opted for a setting with more movement, and used all the cut sashing pieces to make a piano key border. She rarely made large bed quilts, but since that's usually what I make, I opted to go that route. I'll be adding two borders onto this quilt too, and they are ready to go.

The fourth quilt I can't show right now, but it will get two borders, the outer one of which is pieced and ready, the inner border I need to cut. I keep debating between two different fabrics for the inner border. The indecision has kept me from prepping it.

I started sewing together the wedding quilt into rows as I was assembling. You'd think I would be almost out of quilts ready to assemble, but not even close. I have at least 8 more quilts at the assembly stage. I need to get the wedding quilt into a top, the wedding is in November, and I have at least one more quilt I'd like to get to top stage right now, but I may have to buckle down and get to quilting after that. I plan on quilting three quilts ASAP, all with deadlines, then I have some non-quilting projects I need to work on before quilting any more.

I told you after a while of nothing looking like much, I'd have a bunch come together at once. For me, that's the thing about using leaders/enders, I work on a second quilt as leaders/enders while I work primarily on the first. If I finish the second quilts blocks first, and I don't have time to make it the primary project to assemble it, I start a third quilt. After a while, things hit critical mass, and I just have too many projects ready to assemble, so I take the time to do that. It looks like I did a bunch of stuff all at once, but actually, most of the quilts were made as leaders/enders over months. I'll have to have another quilt assembly spree next year, to get a few of my others into quilt tops. I try to quilt at least one extra top every time I do a quilting spree, and it keeps the UFO count at a dull roar.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rows upon Rows

  This is what I've been working on this week, getting quilts into rows. On top of my new Bygel cart from Ikea, are rows of four different quilts, all ready to be sewn together into pairs, then pressed, then sew pairs together, etc... until I have four quilt centers. All of these are getting borders, and almost everything is ready to go for those, I only need to cut one inner border. It may look like a mess right now, but hopefully by next week at this time, I'll have at least 4 quilt tops done.

You can't really see the cart in the this pic, but it's working out great. I have my trash can and a leader/ender project on the bottom shelf, I have some pieces for another quilt I'm assembling on the middle shelf, and all the rows over the top. It has a drawer, which I haven't put anything in yet. I like that is has two wheels. It's not too hard to move from machine to machine because it does have wheels, but since it also has two legs, it doesn't move when I don't want it to. I picked up he extra Trofast bins while at Ikea too, so all my strings are happily in their new home.

One of these quilts is a Pineapple Blossom quilt, and I did use sashing, but I found it kind of tricky to add the sashing and keep it straight which sashing piece goes where. When all the sashing is the same, it's not hard, but when it's different, and you are trying not to have the same fabrics touching, it gets a little confusing. I finally figured out a system that worked for me, and I'm so glad I did, because I have another Pineapple Blossom quilt in blocks, and it is going to be an adventure to assemble. I made myself a color map so I could hopefully avoid mistakes.

Graph paper and Crayola crayons, it's old school, but still works. In my head, this quilt is going to be really great, and the blocks are done, so soon I'll see if I'm right. I'm not planning a border for this quilt, because it will be about 106" square without a border. I have another Pineapple Blossom quilt started, but it will be totally scrappy, so no color maps needed for that one.

I actually had a grown-up day this week, where I acted like a responsible adult and vacuumed the house, scrubbed the stove, etc... a whole day of housecleaning, and no where near done. That's one of the buzz kills about housecleaning for me, once you clean a couple things, everything else looks dingier, and then you have to clean more. Hmmm...I'd rather be quilting!

I've also been busy planning to redecorate the twins room. I think we are going to do it the end of September, and we're planning on them having a sleepover with DD#2, and redo things while they are gone. It should be very fun seeing them see their "new" room for the first time, they are even getting new beds! Lots of plans going through my brain right now!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Confession time. I am both an organization junkie and a bad housekeeper. Sounds very conflicting, doesn't it? I am an organization junkie in things I am passionate about. When I was homeschooling my five kids, I had all my homeschooling stuff super organized. I loved homeschooling my kids, and I was proud to see them excel in both homeschooling and life after homeschooling. Right now, DD#1 and DD#3 are homeschooling their own kids, and with DD#3 living here, I've been organizing her homeschooling stuff.

I love to read, and my books are separated by genre, and series are in order on the shelves. Our CD collection is also separated by genre, and in alphabetical order by artist. DVD collection is alphabetical by title. I like to be able to find what I'm looking for at a moment's notice.

Almost every drawer in my house has a drawer organizer in it. I went to more than one Goodwill store and bought every drawer organizer I could find. I fiddled with things until every drawer in the house was organized the way I wanted it. The one drawer organizer I didn't use, I donated back to Goodwill. I did most of the drawer organizing about a year ago, and my junk drawer in the kitchen is STILL clean!

My quilting is the same way. I like my quilting room to be very organized. I use the scrap user system which works for me. I have drawers of colored strips, one drawer per size, and stacks within the drawer divided by color. I have drawers of neutral strips in nice neat piles. I have my 1 yard and less pieces of fabric in one section of my sewing room, on small mini-bolts divided by color. I have my over 1 yard pieces on larger mini-bolts, organized by color in my glass door cabinets. I like to be able to FIND whatever I need, right when I need it.

Sometimes what I try for organization doesn't work. Sometimes it doesn't work at all, and sometimes my needs change, so even though it worked for a while, it is no longer working. Now that I've had to change things in my sewing room a bit, due to the sewing cabinet change, a few things weren't working well anymore.

I had my Go cutter and dies at the bottom of my Trofast ironing station hack from Ikea. I've since added more dies, and they weren't fitting well anymore. I had a tall skinny cabinet in the corner of my sewing room that wasn't working well for me either. I had a set of shelves in one of the bathrooms, that I wasn't happy with either. Hmmm, a little repurposing was in order. I moved the tall skinny cabinet from my sewing room, into the bathroom, and now the towels are stored in it. It fits perfectly in there.

I moved the shelves from the bathroom into the sewing room, and although it's kind of crammed in the corner, there is more space than it looks like in this pic, and I can reach the entire shelf all the way down. Now my Go dies are on this, and my flannel stash that was in the cabinet, is now on the lower shelves.

Now that I have more space available on my ironing station, I reevaluated what was in the bins in the ironing station. I am going to Ikea on Friday, so I can buy more bins then, but I needed to know which size bins I should get.

When I made the ironing station, my original plan was to use it to sort my stash of strings. I never just cut strings, but, when I am cutting fabric for any project, that initial cut to straighten the edge? I cut it a bit wider, so I get a string from it. When I'm using up the last of a fabric, I usually end up with strings. When I use my Go cutter, I sometimes end up with strings. The part of a backing I trim off after cutting and before binding usually ends up in my string collection. Even my color controlled quilts usually use 100 different fabrics or so, and that means every quilt nets me a lot of strings. I love string piecing, so that's not a problem at all. If I'm really stressed, I may just take a day to do nothing but string piece. It's really brainless sewing, and is great therapy to get my head together. I haven't had time to work on a string quilt in a while, because I've had so many deadline quilts the last couple of years. You want to see what I mean?

How's that for a LOT of strings? I put the huge pile of unsorted strings in the center of the table, and dumped the sorted strings from Ziploc bags into the bins from my ironing station. I spent this evening sorting that big pile of strings, and now all my strings are ready to be put away, ready to be used as I have time. I'll buy three more Trofast bins on Friday, and I will finally have my strings sorted and stored the way I originally intended over two years ago.

This isn't a great pic, and you can see the holes I have until I buy more bins on Friday. On the left, I'll have three project bins on top, followed by my larger bin of selvages, and the bin of misc. strings, (too many colors to put in a color bin). In the middle from top to bottom, I have a bin of red, pink, orange, yellow, and a larger bin of green. On the right I'll have a larger bin of blue, purple, brown, and a larger bin of black. For right now, I'll keep my neutral stings in a basket near my Singer 99, because I've got a Jamestown landing quilt in the works, and I'm using them. Right now I have the most neutral strings, and I'd probably need a bin three units high to hold them. I don't want a bin that large though, so I'll just work on using some strings up, and eventually, they will all fit under here, I'll just have to go down to two project bins.

So, there are my organization junkie tendencies, what about the bad housekeeper? I don't like to dust, which is why I've been converting all the storage in my house to closed storage. I don't like to wash the floors, vacuum, and such. I'd rather be quilting. I let those things go too long. Thankfully we entertain often enough, that I do a fairly decent cleaning job before each event. My house will never be spotless, and I'm OK with that. It is clean enough to not be nasty, but I'm just not too picky about something being dusty, or dog fur getting on my clothes. I don't like clutter, so I stay on top of the mail for the most part, and if there is junk on my kitchen counters, I can practically guarantee I didn't put it there. Why am I the only person in the house capable of putting away the peanut butter? I bet there are things in your house that are the same way, if not the kitchen counters, maybe an entryway table or something?

I only have 17 more blocks to make for the wedding quilt, I have the pineapple quilt in rows, and I am on row 3 of the bonus Aussie quilt. I am assembling rows as leaders/enders while making the wedding quilt blocks. I have another quilt laid out and ready to assemble too. I found some blocks in the bins of my ironing station, and I'll be working on assembling those into quilt tops too. I found two different sets of nine patches, and I can easily make them into I Spy quilts, since I have novelty fabrics precut into 6" squares in my scrap user system. I bought two more skirt hangers, that hold four each, so I can hang a total of 16 quilt tops in my closet now. I have 7 already hanging, but with all I'm finishing right now, I know I might hit the 16 before I have a chance to have a quilting spree for non-deadline quilts. I debated on buying three more hangers instead of two, but that would allow me to have 20 quilt tops hanging, and I'm thinking that's too many. If I keep my UFO's under 20, I'm ok with that. DD#1 claimed one of UFO's hanging in the closet already, so when I get it quilted, it will be leaving the house immediately.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Snail Trail AHA Moment!

I've made snail trail quilts before, and I think they are great fun, but I hate cutting them out. I recently saw that Accuquilt came out with a snail trail die, but it only works with the new electric cutter Go BIG. Now I love my Go cutter, but if I were to upgrade my cutter, I'd buy a Studio cutter, not the Go BIG cutter. Even with all my hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder issues, I just don't find turning the handle all that difficult. If it is difficult for you, try cutting fewer layers at a time.

I was on facebook, and someone asked about the snail trail die, and one woman mentioned that she already had all the dies to make that block, so saw no reason to upgrade. I don't remember which online group it was, nor who said that. Now, I have a lot of Go dies, so it got me wondering if I had all the dies to make it. I went to the Accuquilt site and looked at the specs for the snail trail die. I'm not sure the last snail trail blocks I made were 12" blocks, but when I looked at the dimensions of everything, I realized that in finished sizes, I needed 2 dark/2 light 1.5" squares, 2 dark/2 light 3" QST, 2 dark/2 light 3" HST, 2 dark/2 light 6" QST, and 2 dark/2 light 6" HST.

When I first bought my Accuquilt Go, I also purchased the 12" block bundle with it. I've had my Go so long, that at the time, it was the only bundle available. Well, with that bundle came the 3" HST (55009), 6" HST (55001), and 6" QST (55002) dies. Later on, I had purchased the 1.5" finished squares (55022), and when the 2", 3" (55396) and 4" QST dies came out at the same time, I bought those too. So, I've had all the dies to make a snail trail for quite a while, but I had no idea!

In total, you need 5 dies if you have the Go cutter to make a 12" snail trail block, and I just gave you the numbers for the ones you needed. I did not bother listing the numbers for other dies I talked about. If you are like me and bought the 12" block bundle, you already have three of the dies you need. It's pretty easy to cut squares, so you could probably do that without a die (remember to cut 2" squares so they finish at 1.5"), and just add the 3" QST die to your block bundle and be good.

I cut enough for one block today, just to do a sample block.

It went together just fine, and will finish right at 12" in a quilt. I was just finger pressing until the block was finished, but when I get around to making a whole quilt, I will not finger press, as it stretched things just a bit, and the block doesn't lie as fat as I'd like. It's not bad, just would be better if I hadn't finger pressed and had hit it with a dry iron instead.

I had another AHA moment while I was pressing the block. Even before I had the Go dies to do this, I could have used my Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers to make these blocks much more simply than the pattern directions. It's just that it never occurred to me these shapes were typical HST's and QST's. Every pattern I had followed had me cutting odd sized squares, cutting some in half and some into quarters. Just cutting normal sized strips and using those rulers would have made cutting out a snail trail quilt so much easier.

Now the snail trail die is off my wishlist, but the Lemoyne Star and Hunter Star dies remain drool worthy.

No more fooling around with sample blocks now, I've got quilt tops to finish. I started assembling the pineapple quilt, and I have the layout done for the extra Aussie quilt blocks from DS the Elder's last quilt. The wedding quilt I'm working on is a two block quilt, and I've got all 60 of one block done, and about 27 out of 61 of the other blocks done. I played with EQ last night, and wrote a bunch of notes on how I want to layout a couple other quilts that have finished blocks. I should have a bunch of things that actually look like something coming up quick!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Baby at Sea

I finished the baby quilt top I showed in the last post. I have several ocean fabrics in stash, but none of them were exciting me for a border for this quilt. The lighthouse fabric caught my eye, and I liked how it picked up the colors of the seahorses and fish in the blocks. It's nice to have these pieces into a quilt top, instead of cluttering up the surfaces in my quilt room.

I measured the top, wrote it down on a piece of paper, pinned it to the quilt top, and hung it in the closet. I started writing down the quilt top measurements for a couple reasons. I like to piece batting scraps, and knowing what size quilts need to be quilted gives me a size to shoot for. I also like to piece backings, and knowing the size also helps with piecing a backing. Skirt hangers are my personal favorite way to hang quilt tops. This quilt isn't that big, so when it's turn to be quilted comes around, it will be a quick finish.

 The fabric I ordered for table runners for one of my "adopted" daughter's November wedding arrived. Her wedding colors are yellow and teal, so I think this will look nice.

I have over 80 blocks of the wedding quilt done now! I either really miscounted, or I have a pile of 40 HST's misplaced in the quilt room. I had enough fabric remaining to make 40 more HST's, so it's not a big deal, but still, I'm hoping I miscounted instead of having all those HST's to find a use for later. It is a dark/dark color combination, so not as easy to use as most extra HST's. I'm hoping by next weekend, I'll have all the wedding quilt blocks done.

I still haven't figured a layout for the pineapple quilt, but this weekend should be a good time to do that. DH is off this weekend (a rarity), so I probably won't sew much, but will likely have enough time to figure a layout for the pineapple quilt.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Some Progress

Lest you think all I do anymore is shop, I have been sewing.

The chevron borders for the pineapple quilt are ready to go on once the center is assembled.

I have about 30 blocks done for a wedding quilt, which I can't show.

I had extra pieces from the Christmas/sea quilt border, so I cut a few more, and I'm making a baby quilt.

I got this baby quilt into rows today, and hopefully on Tuesday I'll be able to get it to be a quilt top. I chose a lighthouse fabric from stash for the borders, which I hope to get cut tomorrow.

I am assembling quilt tops as my leaders/enders right now. I sew up the rows while working on blocks for the wedding quilt, then once the rows are done, I will take the time to sew the rows together, and use a wedding quilt block as my leader/ender for that. It's all a matter of keeping the fabric moving.

I have extra chevrons, since I changed the design of the pineapple quilt. I came up with a plan for the extras, but now I'll need a few more. I'm just planning a baby quilt with the extras, and I think it will be a fun one. Nothing terribly fancy, but no use wasting the extra units. I will go ahead and work on that quilt top while the design is fresh in my mind. Nothing like throwing in another project!

Actually, I'm feeling pretty good about my strategy right now. I want to get my sewing room cleaned up a bit, and to do that, I need to get several quilts assembled. Nothing cleans things up like finishing a project or two. Besides the three quilts I must have finished this year, my goal is really just quilt tops right now, not quilted, bound finishes. Once I have a quilt top, I can hang it in my batting closet, and it can wait it's turn to be quilted. It still helps clean up my sewing room to not have quilt parts all over. I'm thinking I will need to have a couple big quilting sprees next year to start getting caught up, and that's fine. I know this year the only finishes I am likely to get now, are the ones I have deadlines for.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Naughty Girl

I've been a naughty quilter the past couple of days. I ordered some fabric while on no-buy. I did keep it to two pieces. One fabric is for table runners for one of my "adopted" daughter's weddings, so that hardly counts in my book. I bought enough fabric to make the runners, and that's it.

The other fabric I bought was for a backing for the pineapple quilt. I had planned on piecing a backing from stash, but honestly, I really want this quilt done, so getting it out of here was more important than saving the money. Wide quilt backing wasn't wide enough, so I ended up buying yardage, but still only two seams on the back of the quilt. I can deal with that. Connecting Threads had some fabric on clearance for $3.56 a yard, so not too bad for a backing, even if I did buy twelve yards of it! I figure I needed 11 yards, but I ordered an extra yard to be safe. At that price, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

...And the other naughty thing I did... well, I'll give you a hint.

  Here's another hint
Wiring is shot and spliced in several places. Light is broken. It has a motor boss. $30. It's perfect!

Yup, I bought another sewing machine, a Singer 66 red eye, that I plan to convert to a handcrank. I had been looking for a Singer 99 handcrank, but this will do nicely. I really just wanted a round bobbin handcrank that took regular needles. My Singer 12 handcrank is a long bobbin, and I can get more bobbins, but not any more needles, since they are no longer being made. This machine I have everything for, aside from the part to turn it into a handcrank. I will order that tonight after I blog. Since this machine already has a spoked wheel, I only need to order one part and a screw, for a total of less than $20. A round bobbin handcrank for under $50! All the original handcranks I have been looking at are going for at least $250 after shipping costs are added, but $50 is more my speed.

I haven't had time to clean the machine up yet, it just came home with me a couple hours ago. Everything moves easily, and even under the machine looks clean, so no problems there.

I tried to look up the manufacture date, but it is a C series machine, and all the records were lost for those. I did gain a history lesson while researching for the date though. C series machines were made in Wittenberge, Prussia. They started production in either 1904 or 1908, depending on which source you believe. During WW2 the factory was mostly being used for war items, and after the war, the factory ended up in an area of Germany under Russian control. The entire factory was stripped and everything taken back to Russia as war reparations. The number after the C is high, so I'm guessing 1930's sometime. The scroll plate is lovely, I should have taken a pic of it.

Now, hopefully, I'll be good for a while and not gain any new acquisitions for a while. You never know though, when the vintage machine bug bites, and you see a lovely machine for $20 or so, they are hard to pass up. I did see a great Singer 301 shortbed in the original trapezoid case for $70, which is a great price. I was good and left it though. It was tempting, I love 301's, they are just great machines.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

600th Post!

It's hard to believe I've been blogging long enough to hit 600 posts, but this is it! I wish I could say I had something really cool planned for it, but I don't.

I have things settled in the sewing room again. I can use three sewing machines and hardly move my chair! The sewing room has more walking area now, and so far I'm really liking it. Today I finished half the chevron units for a pieced border for the pineapple quilt. I set up my pink Atlas sewing machine, and I'm anxious to use it. I got it all cleaned and oiled last weekend, so it's ready to go.

Moving a sewing room around at all is always enlightening. Sometimes it's a, "Wow, I have too much fabric!", or "How did I get so many rulers?", or "Why do I have this pile of HST's?" This time when I was rearranging, my "aha" moment was definitely, "I need to get some of these projects at least to a quilt top!" I have a LOT of projects going on right now. I have a couple long term projects that aren't out, and that's fine, but the number of projects I am actually working on simultaneously is ridiculous.

My basic theory of cleaning a sewing room is really simple. Finish stuff. If you finish the projects you are working on, they leave the sewing room, you deal with whatever leftovers that project created, and then it's clean. My problem right now is I have projects everywhere! I am getting close to having a few things finished, so clean-up is getting closer to happening. I have three quilts that must be finished this year, and a fourth I'd love to finish this year, but it's not the end of the world if that doesn't happen. I am well on my way to having three quilt tops done. The blocks are finished for two of them, one has a border already pieced, one pieced border is half done. The third won't have a pieced border, some of the blocks are done, and all the sub-units are done. Those three projects are rolling along, and I'm not too worried about getting them done this year. The fourth quilt I'd like to do this year has only been designed, nothing cut yet, though I do have the fabric set aside. Will that one get done before December 31? I honestly have no idea.

I was not overwhelmed at my fabric collection, partly because I didn't move around much fabric, but mostly because I'm fine with how much fabric I have. I use a LOT of fabric, around 300 yards per year. I've not been buying much in the way of fabric, so by using what I have, my fabric stash is doing what it's there for, allowing me to create things for people I love.

I did find something want to cut down on, and that is plastic containers. I have plastic containers everywhere in my sewing room, and I'd like to weed some of those out. That's really where finishing some stuff comes in. A lot of my plastic containers have projects or the stuff for projects in them. I'd like to whittle down how many containers I have, and to do that, I need to finish some stuff. A few of my containers have a set of fabrics I put together to make a quilt. I don't consider that a UFO, if it's just a collection of fabric, and nothing is cut. I tend to raid those containers of fabric if I need to, so I'm not opposed to breaking up a set of fabrics I chose, if I need one of the fabrics for a different project. I haven't put together a set of fabrics like that for a while, since that's not very motivating for me. I've actually emptied several containers over the last month, and I am working on emptying a few more. When I get the three deadline quilts done, I'll have three more containers empty.

Things go so much better when you figure out what works for you. Pre-cutting strips works for me. Making myself kits of sets of fabrics does not. Cutting out multiple quilts at once works for me. Working on one quilt at a time does not. I haven't been reading much in my yahoo quilting groups lately, because I've been pressed for time, but I am in a couple facebook quilting groups and I see some good ideas in them. I love seeing what other people are doing, how they arrange their sewing rooms, how they plan projects, their color choices, it's all fun to see. There are so many great ideas out there, the trick is finding which ones work for you!