Thursday, January 28, 2016

Still Kicking

Wow, it's been a while since I blogged! I haven't fallen off the face of the planet, just dealing with a complicated mess in my life right now. Any prayers on my family's behalf are appreciated.

I don't know about any of you, but when life is really hard, a few minutes of sewing time is a sanity saver for me. I haven't had much sewing time lately, but even 30 minutes can seem like a lifeline.

I finished all the "Tower of Pisa" blocks in both colorways for Allietare. There are 20 of these blocks in each colorway, for those who didn't follow the mystery quilt.

I am currently working on the star blocks in the brights colorway, and I have 20 of those blocks done, but I need 30. Once I have the brights colorway blocks done, I'll finish up the shirts colorway blocks, then move onto piecing the setting triangles.

I had leftover units from the pink camo wedding quilt, so I pieced some blocks from the extra parts.

I have 12 of each of these blocks, and I think if I set them with some wide sashing, and a border or two, they'd make a decent lap quilt. I love "bonus" quilts like this, just made from extra pieces and a quilt you hadn't planned on making, but somehow gets done. A lot of the quilts I donate are made just this way. I made all of these blocks as leaders/enders.

My current leader/ender project is the second baby quilt I need, and I've got half the rows assembled now. I know I'll have the second baby quilt top together before I finish the Allietare blocks in both colorways. This second baby quilt will need a little applique, and that can't be done as leader/enders, but at least I'm making some progress on multiple quilts in the short bits of time I've had to sew. I'll need to take the time to cut out another deadline quilt, so I can use it as my leader/ender project once the baby quilt is assembled.

I know I have too many quilts in progress right now, and my plan to deal with that is this. Until my 8 deadline quilts for this year are finished, the only leader/ender projects I'm allowing myself are another deadline quilt, or a UFO. No new starts aside from deadline quilts. Once my deadline quilts are finished, I'm OK with starting something new, but I'm hoping by then I'll have several UFO's to quilt top stage. Once a UFO is a quilt top, I don't worry too much about it. If an occasion sneaks up on me, I can quickly take a quilt top and turn it into a quilt. Once it's a quilt top, I can use the leftover fabrics in other projects and not worry about needing it. Every time I need to baste a couple quilts, I try to baste and quilt one extra one from my quilt tops. It usually keeps the quilt tops down to a manageable number. Right now it's the quilts that I have all the blocks made, or the quilts I have the sub-units made, but not the blocks that are bogging me down. I have often assembled quilts as leader/enders, and that's what I hope to do this year too.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Baby Quilt Top

As often happens when I use baby quilts as my leader/ender project, I have the baby quilt top done before my main project. This isn't a great photo, I'll get a better one once it's quilted.

I'm seeing the light at the end of clue 4 of Allietare! I only have 10 more sets of clue 4 to do, 5 in each colorway. Since I'm planning on using hourglass blocks as my centers  in the shirt colorway, I'm now piecing those as leaders/enders, and I'll have those done soon. I did get a few more blocks assembled this week for the brights colorway mystery quilt.

I need to get the next baby quilt due cut out, so I can assemble it as leaders/enders while I'm getting blocks for the mystery quilts together. I'm planning minimal quilting on both baby quilts, so if I can get them both pin-basted, I could probably quilt them both in a day. Both quilts are equilateral triangles, and I'll probably just use a walking foot and quilt on both sides of the seams. I can't quilt them until I get the second top done though! As it turns out, I don't actually need the first one done this month like I thought, it can wait until next month.

Tomorrow we have a birthday party happening, and that should be fun. I don't think I'll get much, if any, sewing done this weekend.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Slowly Making Progress on Allietare

I have to say, I've only had a fraction of the sewing time I thought I'd have in the last week. Even so, I have made a little progress on quilting front.

 Those knocked off corner rectangles to go with the setting triangles -done! Clue 4 units? I have 14 sets of each colorway done. I really thing the only thing that makes clue 4 so time consuming is the fact we need to keep them in sets of four. If they were completely scrappy, I could sew the right wings on all the pieces, then the left wings on all the pieces, sew two units together and be done with it. If I was using constant fabrics it would be similar. It's the groups of four thing that makes it take so long in my mind.

How I have been handling clue four is I sew one wing on each trapezoid of a set, then throw in a leader/ender. I snip the chain, sew the other wing on each trapezoid set, throw in a leader/ender, snip the chain, finger press, snip dog ears. I sew the two trapezoid units to each other, throw in a leader/ender, and put the completed set of four in a pile to be pressed. I've been alternating between the two colorways I'm doing.

Notice how many leader/enders I am throwing in? I am getting three leader/enders sewn for each set of four clue four units. So, what's my leader/ender project?

I'm working on this baby quilt, that needs to be finished by the end of the month. I've got seven rows finished out of nine rows total. I'll have the baby quilt together before I finish clue four. Once I've got the baby quilt together, I'll start assembling blocks of the mystery quilt as my leaders/enders, so the quilts will be their own leader/enders. I've got another baby quilt due next month, so eventually I'll throw it into the mix too. Baby quilts are a great leader/ender thing, because they come together without ever making them the main project. They only become center stage when I quilt them.

If I were only doing one colorway, I'd have clue four about done. I have 28 sets done, and we need 30 sets for each quilt. Since I have 60 sets to make, I'm just under halfway. Considering how much other stuff I've had on my plate lately, I'm pretty happy with where I'm at. I have clues 1,2,3, and 5 completely done in both colorways, and clue 6 is the blocks, setting triangles, and final assembly, of which I only have four blocks in each colorway complete. Slowly, but surely, they are coming together. I applaud the people who have their mystery quilts done, but I knew that wasn't going to happen quickly for me, and I'm OK with that.

The sunbonnets I made for my youngest granddaughter finally made it to South Africa. She's so fair she burns easily, and I hope these help protect her from the sun. 

Tomorrow the grandtwins (who live with us) turn five, but we aren't doing their birthday party until Saturday. Where did the time go?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Mystery Quilts Gone Wild!

I was hoping for a couple more weeks of clues so I could get caught up on the sewing, but the reveal is out for the Allietare Mystery Quilt. Overall, I'm not doing too bad, I now have clues 1, 2, 3, and 5 done in both colorways, with the exception of those knocked off corners on the big rectangles in clue 5. Now that the reveal is out, I know those are part of the setting triangles, so I know they can wait a bit.

My goal for today was to get two of each block done in each colorway, and I did that, along with several more sets of clue 4, and about 2.5 rows of a baby quilt I'm using as my leader/enders right now.

Are you ready? You may need sunglasses for this...

DD#1, who chose the colors, says this reminds her of Scooby Doo, which is pretty funny, since she was never into Scooby Doo, but DD#3 was obsessed with it for a while. After thinking about how bright this quilt is becoming, and that I really wanted more purple involved, I decided I am going to use purple setting triangles, and one purple border, so the center blocks should end up "floating" in a field of purple. I think I will get this colorway into a top before I set it aside.

Now for the men's shirt colorway...

DH said this reminds him of a board game. I can see that. I'm not sure it will still remind him of that once the whole center is together.

I opted to make hourglass blocks instead of a solid center square. I'm going for lower contrast hourglass blocks, but doing that lets me use up some smaller pieces of shirt fabrics, instead of having to cut up the backs. According to my placement of colors, the setting triangles should be blue, and I might do that, or I might not. I do know I'll be using yardage for the setting triangles, I just don't care for them being mismatched. It's kind of funny I dislike mis-matched setting triangles so much, when I love scrappy quilts. I can check and see if one of the plaid shirts I have is big enough to make all the setting triangles out of. I prefer not to do stripes for setting triangles. If I use yardage, I will likely go for a solid or blender fabric.

I don't know what I'm going to do on borders. I still want to use shirts, so I'm leaning towards a piano key border, and just cut off the borders wherever they need to end. I love math, but I just don't want to do the math to figure out exact pieced borders on an on-point quilt. Since I am so unsure on which direction I want to go on this, I may very well finish the blocks and set it aside for now, or even finish the center, then set it aside without borders. Sometimes I just need to think about something for a while. 

The baby quilt I'm using as leaders/enders? Yeah, it needs to be done in three weeks. It's all equilateral triangles, and the front is pretty modern looking. The backing I'm using for it is a funky vintage Egyptian print, that I purchased at a thrift store a while back. The fabric is only 36" wide, so it's an old one, maybe 1950's??? I think it will make a fun baby quilt, and the Island of Misfit Fabrics will be missing one more print. I love putting vintage fabrics to use, instead of them just getting passed over again and again. I chose the fabrics of the front, based on the colors of the backing, so it should blend pretty well.

Of the 8 deadline quilts I have for 2016, six of them need to be done in the first half of the year, so finishing the mystery quilts right now isn't going to happen. I just want to get them to a good starting place when I pick them back up again, centers done would be good, tops done would be better. I try to never pick a good stopping place, lots of places are good stopping places. The key to actually finishing something when you have to set it aside for a while, is having it at a good STARTING place!

If you'd like to see how everyone else is doing on their mystery quilts, including a bunch that already sewn into tops, click here

Friday, January 1, 2016

Bye-Bye 2015, Hello 2016!

Every year I do an evaluation of my quilting life for the last year. Last year I listed six projects I wanted to get finished in 2015, plus another few things I'd like to tackle if I had time.

How did I do? Well, I only got four of the six specific projects done, the other two I haven't worked on at all. No excuses here, I did what I could.

On the other hand, of the projects that were really weighing me down, which were finishing other people's last projects, I finished four quilts that other people were working on when they passed away, and the last one I have is a quilt top now. On that goal, I feel really good about my progress.

I did a Pay it Forward thing for 2015, where I had to make things for five people, and I did get those projects finished.

One thing I got done last year that was not on my goals, but has been a huge weight off my mind, is getting all my scraps cut down to the Scrap User System. It took me six or eight weeks, I can't remember which, but it was well worth the time it took, to have the scraps dealt with and usable, and not all wrinkled in tubs throughout the house. Those scraps represented years of sewing!

Here are my empty spools from 2015. They don't look like much, but they represent 16,041 yards of thread, or 9.1 miles if you prefer. Towards the end of this year, I went on a bobbin busting spree, trying to empty as many bobbins as I could to free them up for other projects. I emptied almost 70 bobbins, and I have no idea how much thread that was, but suffice it to say, it was a lot. All that thread from bobbins is not included in the 9 miles.

I didn't keep good records of how much fabric I used this year, but I think 150 yards would be a minimum. I used over half that just on Christmas presents. 

I finished a total of 10 quilts this year, which is a little disappointing. I did get several other quilts to quilt top stage, which is good.

Let's see, goals for 2016? I have a few deadline quilts. I know of two boy babies coming, I need two girl twin sized quilts, and one wedding quilt for a niece getting married in the fall. I'd like to make DS the Younger an Army quilt for his graduation from AIT (Advanced Individual Training), and I need to finish the rag quilt for DD#3. DD#1 wants another quilt for her birthday this year, but she chose one of my UFO's, so the top is done, and I just have to quilt it. That already puts me at 8 quilts for 2016, and you never know when another wedding or baby quilt will be added to the mix. With 8 deadline quilts, I don't think I need to add to that list. I'll just get done what I can, sewing when I can, and trying not to stress about it. Quilting should be fun!

I stuck pretty well to no-buy on fabric in 2015. I did buy a few things starting on October, since I started no-buy October 2014. Almost everything I did buy was used immediately. I am not planning on no-buy in 2016, but I'm not planning on buying a bunch either. Let's just call it low-buy. Since I wasn't buying fabric in 2015, it gave me a chance to stock up on my most used threads, as well as a few other quilting necessities. Overall, it was a fairly inexpensive quilting year compared to others. This year I also plan on keeping my costs low.

Oh, I got the fat quarters I received for Christmas put onto small mini-bolts.

These are from Connecting Threads Quilter's Candy line. I also dealt with all the fabric my MIL brought me, and all of it is put away now too.

After all the Christmas sewing, and working on two mystery quilts, the sewing room was looking like a tornado hit, so some cleaning up was in order. Now that the reveal for the mystery quilts is out, I can cut the last fabrics I need, and get the rest put away. Just getting some things put away will help the sewing room quite a bit. If I manage to get some projects finished in the next month or two, that will help even more.

I hope you all have a great 2016!