Thursday, July 30, 2015

Presto Change-O

I FINALLY finished making all those pineapple blocks!

How's that for a stack of blocks? One hundred blocks, 29 pieces each, so 2,900 pieces. Now I'll need to get to work on the pieced border.

Any sewing will have to wait a little bit. I was trolling Craigslist for a handcrank Singer 99 (no luck yet), when I stumbled across an interesting sewing cabinet.

A cabinet that holds two machines, and for sale very reasonably??? Yes, I'll take that. I'll actually be selling my largest sewing cabinet now, which is worth quite a bit more than I paid for this one, so I should end up with some money in my pocket at the end of this rearrange.

I got the cabinet I'm going to sell (Arrow Bertha cabinet) out of my sewing room, but getting this cabinet in there is as far as I've gotten so far. I need to put my sewing room back together before I can sew anything else. I had a Gidget sewing table in my sewing room that's leaving too, so overall, I should have more space in my sewing room, not less. I can still have four machines up, but they'll take up less space. That's an improvement! If anyone is in Arizona and interested in my Bertha cabinet, leave a comment and I'll see if we can work something out.

Selling the Bertha cabinet is a little sad, since it's a great cabinet. The thing is, I've since bought the quilting extension for my Arrow Olivia cabinet, and that cabinet just fits in my space better. There was no extension for the Olivia cabinet available when I bought the Bertha cabinet.

My plans for the two machine cabinet are that is will hold two vintage machines, one with a fabric guide screwed into the machine bed, and the other without one. I'll use one machine for piecing with 1/4" seams, and the other for flip and sew corners and string blocks.

I mentioned I wanted a Singer 99 handcrank. I have a Singer 12 handcrank, but sourcing needles for it is a chore. It's a gorgeous machine, and DH got it running great last weekend. The thing is, I want a handcrank I can use. I looked through all my vintage machines, thinking of converting one to a handcrank. The only machine I have that would work is my Singer 99. None of my other belted machines have a motor boss to screw a handcrank onto. The thing is, my Singer 99 is in a cabinet, and 3/4 size cabinets are hard to come by, so I kind of hate to separate them. I'd be willing to part with the cabinet, if I knew someone was going to use it for a 3/4 sewing machine, but the thought of someone ruining it in some DIY project makes me shudder. There just weren't many 3/4 cabinets made, and I think the ones out there should be preserved. This one is in really nice shape too. I really love my Singer 99, and I think it would be a great handcrank option. I'm thinking if I wait, I might stumble across an original Singer 99 handcrank for an acceptable price. The ones one ebay are going for $300+ and that's too rich for my blood. I think my preference would be to keep the electric one in the cabinet, and locate an original handcrank. I'm not in a hurry, so for now I'll just keep looking.

I won't be sewing for a few days. Tomorrow I hope to work in the sewing room some, but we have a really busy weekend with company, so sewing is not in my forecast!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sewing, Trimming, Cutting

I am STILL working on pineapple blocks! I redesigned the quilt, so now I only need 100 blocks, but I still don't have 100 done. I am getting closer though. Having to stop and trim all the time really slows me down. I am one of those quilters who makes log cabin quilts by cutting all the strips to size first, I just don't enjoy having to stop and trim all the time. I think this quilt will be worth all the work it's taking, it's just taking longer than I had expected.

I was getting a bit worried about the wedding quilt that I need to have done by mid-November, so I've been assembling blocks for it as I work on the pineapple quilt. I have about 2 dozen blocks for the wedding quilt done now. I have almost all the sub-units done for the wedding quilt, just short a few HST's. By working on both quilts at once, I feel like I am getting closer to both finishes, and I needed to see some progress on something, since the pineapple blocks are taking so long.

...and because I didn't have enough to do...I've been cutting for a new project.

Every year Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville announces a new leader/ender project. I have never joined in, because I usually just use one of my own projects as a leader/ender project. Well, this year she chose tumblers, which are really easy for leader/enders. I've been wanting to make a quilt out of my stash of fabric from men's shirts, and I hadn't been able to work one in. I decided that I'd cut for it now, and sew it up whenever I need some leader/enders.

A lot of people are alternating darks with lights, but I want mine a bit more random than that. I have no idea how many tumblers I've cut, nor do I particularly care. If I sew these up and I don't have enough, I'll cut more, if this is too many for one quilt, I'll make two. I had some 2.5" strips cut from my shirt stash, so I decimated my strips to cut these. I have plenty more shirt fabric, so I don't have to buy anything to make this quilt, even if I were to decide to go king-sized. Sometimes I really need to make something without a firm plan in place. My tumbler quilt will be whatever it becomes, and I'm OK with that. No deadline, no plan, no recipient in mind, just to make it because I want to. Yes, I needed that.

DD#3 and I have been watching the Harry Potter movies, which I had never seen. We still have two left, and now I need to decide what to work on during those. I had been cutting tumblers during the others, but I've used up my pre-cut shirt strips, so I'd like to see how far the ones I've already cut go before I dig out the shirt fabrics to cut more. Hmmm...I never finished drawing lines on the neutral squares I brought on vacation, maybe that. I bet I'm not the only quilter out there that can't just sit and watch a movie. I have to be doing something else too. I like to save some of the easy quilting stuff to do while watching a movie. Cutting is OK if I have a template the exact size, like with the tumblers. I can also use the Accuquilt Go! cutter while watching a movie. Drawing diagonal sewing lines is good, pressing fabrics to be cut later is also a good movie activity. Anything where I need to keep an exact count, or pay close attention to cutting lines on a ruler is a no-go while watching TV. Other people may be able to do that, but I can't. Do any of you have a favorite thing to do while watching TV?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fabric Waste

I am plugging along on the pineapple quilt, I've got 40 blocks done now. There are several ways to make pineapple quilts, and most of them waste quite a bit of fabric, something I am NOT used to. I know how to paper piece, but rarely do it because it wastes a lot of fabric. When I do knocked off corners, I almost always double sew and end up with bonus HST's, which usually net me a second quilt. String piecing ends up with fabric waste, but since most people would have tossed those bits to start with, I don't usually feel bad about it.

I am using Gyleen Fitzgerald's pineapple ruler, and I really like it. The ruler is easy to use, and you end up with very accurate blocks, with NO paper piecing. I bought the book Trash to Treasure too, but you don't need it to use the ruler. There is a youtube video on using the ruler if the directions included with the ruler confuse you.

I think I would LOVE making pineapple blocks as leaders/enders with this ruler. It would probably take me two or three years to have enough blocks for a queen sized quilt doing it as leaders/enders, but it would be more fun for me. All the trimming required for making a pineapple quilt, which you do even if you paper piece it, is really aggravating my joint issues. If I were doing it as a leader/ender project, I'd probably only get a block finished every week or two, depending on how much sewing I'm doing, but the trimming would be spread out, and not bother my joints. I also wouldn't be so aware of how much fabric is wasted.

Here is a pineapple block with just round one sewn on.  It hasn't been trimmed, and you can see I didn't use super long pieces on the sides.

Here is one of my cuts, on the third side of this block. See what is cut off? Two small triangles, too small for me to bother saving.

Here are my piles after trimming round one on 40 blocks. My nicely trimmed blocks on the left, the pile of trimmings on the right. I am not into doing miniature quilts with 1/4" finished HST's, those trimmings are indeed waste for me. The thing is, combined, it just seems like a lot of fabric waste. You get that much waste from every round you add on. I think not accounting for the fabric waste is what had me running out of fabric too soon. It's not an unreasonable amount of fabric waste, it's just not something I'm used to having. I have a large stash, but I like to use every single bit of it!

I looked up no waste pineapple block, and I found this. It's cool, and I might try it sometime, but to me, it gives a completely different look than a traditional pineapple quilt.

You know what would be perfect? If Accuquilt came out with a Go! die for a pineapple block! I'd buy it. Sure, I'd have to use fat quarters or something instead of strips, but it would be worth it. To be able to stitch up a traditional pineapple quilt with no trimming, and little waste? Perfection!

As it is, I promised to have this quilt finished by early December, so I will keep plugging along on it. I'm using a wedding quilt I need to have done by late November as my leader/enders. Two BIG quilts due in a few months, and another two smaller quilts due shortly after. I think I am a little over-committed right now. If I can actually get them all done, I will be ecstatic.

I was working on EQ this week, finally designing a quilt I've been putting off too long. I am happy with design I came up with, and hopefully I'll be able to start using it as my leader/ender project soon. I also started tweaking my design for the pineapple quilt. My original design requires 144 blocks, with a chevron border. I've only got 40 blocks finished so far. I made a newly revised plan that only requires 100 blocks, has a black inner border, the chevron border, followed by a wide black border. I haven't decided which design I will use. I'll finish the 40 blocks I'm currently working on, see how much fabric I have left, and how my wrist and elbow are feeling.

I do plan on making another pineapple quilt someday, with red centers, and super scrappy with only a light/dark thing going on. I won't be trying to complete in a couple months like this one though. I've learned my lesson, pineapple quilts should not be rushed.

Monday, July 6, 2015


I tend to make a lot of piano key borders, and I don't always measure how much I need, nor particularly care if I have extra. I always find a way to use the excess, even when there is a LOT of excess border.

I made a bunch of blue/green/brown quilts, and I had originally planned to put piano key borders on several of them. As it turned out, I only put piano key borders on a couple of them, so I had way too much piano key border left over. No problem, I simply made the piano keys into a quilt of it's own. I finished sewing the quilt top together today (mostly because it was in my way), and now it's hanging in the quilt closet, where it will stay until I get around to quilting it. I have three deadline quilts still to get done this year, and this isn't one of them. I don't plan on adding borders to this quilt, it seems fine as is. Eventually, I'll get it quilted, but for now, it's fine hanging out with a few other UFO's.

One thing I've started doing with my finished quilt tops is measuring them, writing down the dimensions, and pinning it to the corner of the quilt. This way if I want to piece a backing, or piece some batting to fit, it's easy to see what size I need. I've been using skirt hangers to hang my ironed quilt tops, and I've had great luck with not having to do much re-pressing when I am ready to pin-baste. The measurement notes are helping with that too, since I don't have to keep handling the quilt top to see if the batting or backing are large enough. I don't find ironing large quilt tops or backings much fun, so if I can keep from having to do it over and over again, so much the better!

Now I need to get focused back on my other projects. I still have two queen/king quilts to finish this year, plus a smaller one, and several other projects. Half the year is over, and I feel the clock ticking. I tried to keep my to-do list down this year, but as usual, it's gotten away from me, and I'm not sure I'll get everything done I'm wanting to do. I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets too ambitious with their project list. I've seen several quilts lately that I'd like to make, but I'm making myself refrain from starting something else new. Even my leaders/enders I'm trying to limit to quilts already started.

Hopefully now that I've gotten that quilt top out of my way, I'll be able to get back in the routine of being home. That vacation we took has just completely thrown me off, and I'm fighting to get back to normal.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Christmas-y or Christmas/Sea

On our trip I got to give away one of my Pay it Forward projects, one I hadn't shown in it's entirety on this blog. It is a sea themed Christmas quilt.

The fabrics in the shadow boxes all have Santa relaxing at the beach, in the water, fishing or golfing. The fabrics in the border are all ocean novelty fabrics. At first glance, it certainly doesn't appear to be a Christmas quilt, but in actuality it is.

I've shown the backing on here before, but just so you can see them together, here it is.

I gave this quilt to one of DH's cousins, who lives in Florida, but was at the family reunion in Indiana. The scrappy backing allowed me to clear out a few novelty fabrics, and I got a very positive response from it. Again, I have NEVER received a negative response from a pieced backing, most people just consider them a reversible quilt. If fear of a bad response is keeping you from piecing backings, I hope you'll consider this encouraging. If you just don't like pieced backings, or don't want the extra work, that's one thing, and valid reasons to not make one. On the other hand, if you'd like to save some money and use up stash on the back, be encouraged by the fact most people love pieced backings.

I gave away another Pay it Forward project a couple days ago. I had worked on it while on our trip. I made a set of cherry pit pads for one of my Pay it Forward people who suffers from frequent headaches. I made one neck/shoulder style pad, and one rectangular pad for other areas. I know a lot of people make microwavable bags with rice inside, and rice is an inexpensive way to go. I prefer cherry pits for a couple of reasons.

1) Cherry pits won't go rancid, which rice can do
2) You can wet down the cherry pit pads, then microwave it for moist heat.
3) I prefer the smell when microwaved, it just has a woody smell.
4) They hold cold as well as heat, and can be tossed in the freezer. 

The only disadvantages I see with cherry pits instead of rice are cost and availability. Rice is cheap and easily obtainable. Cherry pits are more expensive, and I cannot source them locally. That said, I still prefer using cherry pits for microwavable hot pads, and this is where I order them.

Of my five Pay It Forward projects, I have three projects done, but only two of those given. The other two are in progress. I hope to mail the third finished project next week. I think I was a little crazy to do the Pay it Forward thing this year, since I already had a pretty long to-do list, but it's been fun anyway.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Fall off the Wagon or a Pass?

I've still not sewn much since I got home from our trip, but I have been dealing with fabric purchased on our trip.'s the thing...I am on a self imposed no-buy for this year, and I hadn't bought any fabric since last October. BUT, I realized I did not have enough fabric to finish the pineapple quilt I am currently working on. I am using green, blue, and purple batiks, alongside black tone-on-tones or gray-on-blacks. I had already cut up all the appropriate blacks I had in stash, as well as all the green, blue, and purple batiks in stash, to the point of raiding another project to steal the blues and greens. Batiks are not something I stash, I normally only buy enough for the project I am working on.

DH insists that fabric bought on vacation does not count against no-buy. I don't agree with that, but I do think buying fabric to finish a current project is acceptable. We managed to find several quilt shops on our trip, and here is what I bought, mostly fat quarters or half yards pieces.

Here are my purchases, and they are all for the pineapple quilt. We found one quilt shop that was going out of business and had everything marked down. That was a hard shop to not buy more stash in! I think I deserve a pass if for no other reason than I controlled myself in that shop!

I've realized my sewing room is well organized, and exceedingly functional, but not super pretty. I decided I wanted to start dressing it up a bit, and DD#3 helped me out, by buying me some vintage toy sewing machines for my birthday. Aren't they cute?

DD#2 bought me this great quilting coffee mug for my birthday, another good choice.

Don't you just love getting quilt related gifts? Then you know the people that love you "get it", and support your passion for quilting.