Friday, April 22, 2016

It's All About the Process

I've been home a week, and the only sewing I've done is hand sewing closed a hole in a stuffed animal. I haven't been sewing, but I wouldn't say I haven't done anything quilt related.

Remember I brought home 300 yards of fabric from my trip?

Here is a close up of the tone-on-tone design of one of my bundles. I have 17 different colors with this same design. I put all of these fabrics on my mini-bolts, and have them on my fabric shelves.

I knew I didn't have enough empty mini-bolts to hold all the solids, so I started with the fabrics that were duplicates. In both solid bundles I had white, cream, red, black, and dark purple. There were 17 fabrics in each bundle, so since I have 5 duplicate colors, means I have 29 different colors of solids in those bundles. I wrapped the solids I could on my remaining mini-bolts, and the rest are just sitting on a shelf. I will put them on mini-bolts as I empty other ones. I couldn't fit all 300 yards on my fabric shelves, but I did get the excess easily on the two shelves I had just emptied when I weeded out some quilting books. Since all the fabric fit in available space in my quilting studio, I'm thinking that's not too bad.

Now, would you consider putting fabric away, in a fashion that you can easily find it, part of the quilting process? I do. I function best when I can easily find what I need. I don't do well with fabric in totes or boxes, I need to see it. For me, sorting by color works best, although I know some people don't like that. I do have one container with 30's repro prints, because I don't collect those, and I have a couple specific projects in mind for them, so I don't want those mixed in with the rest of the stash, though I do have 30's repros mixed in my scrap user system, when the remaining bits are too small to want to store with the 30's stuff.

Another quilty thing I've been doing? Well, my best friend sent me home with a huge black trash bag full of jeans she couldn't wear. She knew I liked making denim quilts. I've spent the week "de-boning" all those pants. I know there are crafts out there that use almost every bit of a pair of jeans, but I'm not interested in doing all of those. I keep the back pockets, and the fabric left after cutting off the waistband, all seams, and zipper. Someone else may have kept more, but I know I won't use the waistbands, zippers, or belt loops, so I am happy to toss those. There were several pairs of colored denim, which to me is anything not blue or black. I de-boned those, and set those aside for another time. I know exactly what I will use them for, I just don't want to spend the time right now cutting those parts to size. At least will all the excess stuff cut off, they take up a lot less room.

With the blue and black pairs of jeans, I dug out my Charming Circles Ruler, and I traced around it so I have a big stack of circles to cut out. I am aware that they say you can use a rotary cutter with the ruler to cut out the circles, but I have pretty dramatic numbness in my hands, and any time I try to cut at odd angles with a rotary cutter, I either am very inaccurate, or I am in danger of cutting myself. For me, using a rotary cutter to cut a circle is a dangerous proposition, so instead, I just trace around it, and cut with scissors at my leisure.

Here is my stack of circles to cut so far. While I was working with all that denim, I realized I likely had a couple pairs of jeans hanging in my closet, and I haven't worn a pair of jeans in at least three years. I went digging through my closet, and came up with NINE pairs of jeans, that haven't seen the light of day in years. Guess what I added to my pile to process? I got those all de-boned today, but I'll be working on drawing those circles this weekend. By the end of the weekend, I should have one box of colored denim to process later, and one sizable stack of circles to be cut.

Here is the thing that confuses people about the way I work. I won't be making that Charming Circles quilt soon. Maybe next year, definitely not this year. So why am I working on it now? For the same reason I am always drawing diagonal lines on squares ahead of time. So that when I start that project, the drudgery part is already done! I am not good at sitting still and not doing something. If one of the kids wants me to watch a movie with them, I need something to work on. I rarely hand sew, so I need something else to do. Cutting out circles, or drawing diagonal lines on squares for sew and flip corners is pretty much a no-brainer, and I can watch a movie and happily get something boring done, while not really concentrating on it. That really works for me, but you have to plan for those things. I've been asked over and over how I get so much done, and that a big part of it. I'm usually thinking several quilts down the road, and if I can get the non-sewing, time-intensive stuff done before I ever start the quilt, the quilt goes together a lot faster! It helps that I am a planner by nature, so thinking several steps ahead comes easily to me.

Now that I have three wedding quilts on my deadline list, instead of just one, I started going over what quilts I could make queen/king sized, but that are already started. My niece's quilt is already planned, so although it's not started, she will get the one I've planned on making her. The two weddings that snuck up on me are another story. I may just finish a quilt I already have started. Here's what I've got that could work.

1) Pineapple Blossom-blocks done, needs sashing and assembled.
2) Fading Charms quilt- units done, needs to be assembled, and one border pieced
3) Scrappy nine patches on point- nine patches done, need to cut a solid for alternating blocks and setting triangles.
4) Black/white nine patches on point- nine patches done, need to cut fabrics for scrappy alternate squares and setting triangles.
5)  Blazing Star/Courthouse Steps quilt in green and burgundy- Blazing Star blocks done, need to make Courthouse Steps blocks.
6) A log cabin variation- some blocks done, all cut out.

If I finish a couple of those, I could get off pretty easy on the wedding quilts. Most of the parts that I already have made, I made as leaders/enders, while working on something else. I always have a project in mind when I'm doing leaders/enders.

I did ask the newest two couples for color preferences, and if I get a response, I may very well make something new. I'll probably choose something easy like a Strip Twist or log cabin and I could likely find everything I need in my scrap user system. If I don't get input on colors, I'll likely just finish a couple of UFO's, and call it good. Scrappy quilts match everything, right???

I am always happy to have quilts in different stages. Need a really quick gift? Quilt up a finished quilt top. Have a bit more time? Finish a UFO. Have a lot of time? Start something new, but get another project a bit further along as leaders/enders while working on the new start. It's OK with me if the process takes a circuitous route. If I just move a project along a bit at a time, but it isn't finished for several years, I just trust it will be finished when I need it to be. I always give my quilts on time, I don't have hundreds of UFO's. I do have UFO's, those quilts started with no deadline, and those are the ones that get strung along. Quilts done for an occasion, get done on time. I enjoy the process more, when I am not so uptight about finishing every quilt in a timely manner. Not every quilt needs to be finished right now, or next week, or this year. By working on a few without deadlines, it makes me happy, and gives me some variety, to add in with all the special occasion quilts.

Oh, and what about when the process is done, and the quilts are finished?

My friend that gave me all those jeans, also sent me home with a quilt rack, so the quilts we use on the couch have a place to be in the living room, aside from being on the couch ;-)


Katie M. said...

You sound like a very organized person and I've found that people who are organized tend to get more accomplished in less time than someone who isn't. I, unfortunately, fall into the non-organized category. I get side tracked too easily and in the process of organizing, find myself drawn to something else that I want to work on or new technique I want to try or "gee, I forgot I had this..." and on it goes..

phxquilt said...

Great ideas for those of us not quite as organized! You list is longer than mine. I only have 2 wedding quilts and 1 baby quilt on the calendar so far this year.