Thursday, July 21, 2016

Once is Enough

I've heard some people say they don't want to ever make the same quilt pattern twice, and others that have go to patterns they make over and over again. I am in the latter group, I love to do certain patterns over and over again, seeing how much they look different with different fabric choices.

...but not always...

Sometimes I find a pattern or technique that I don't enjoy doing, or downright hate doing. Guess what I've been working on for the last 10 days? Something I don't plan on ever repeating!

I wanted to get rid of the rest of the minky I had from the first weighted blanket I made. I decided to make a blanket for the grandbaby on the way. DD#2 and I had been looking at puff quilts (biscuit quilts, bubble quilts, whatever you want to call them) and I decided to give it a whirl.

I cut the rest of the minky I had into 5" squares, except for four 5" strips for borders. I cut some muslin into 4.5" squares, grabbed the polyfil stuffing I wanted to get rid of, and started making these little pillows.

Yeah, that's a laundry basket, filled to overflowing with little puffy pillows! I felt like I had surely miscalculated, and this quilt would be huge!

I had miscalculated some, when I laid out the quilt, I had three pillows too many. I also ran out of polyfil, had to buy another bag, but have half of that left. But a half bag of polyfil is better than two partial bags and one full bag hanging around.

I was only using the fabric I had leftover, so I had to rearrange a few times to find a layout that worked with what I had.

Sewing the puffs into rows wasn't too hard, but much more difficult than normal quilt assembly. Sewing the rows to each other though? I felt like I was fighting it the whole time. My hands and arms were cramping, it was NOT fun for me.

I finally finished assembling the center yesterday, and I added borders today. I'm going to be cutting the backing in a few minutes.

Isn't the backing fabric cute? I think this is going to be so cute when it's finished, and I'm never making another one!

I don't plan on piecing with minky again, because I hate all the mess, but I have no problem with using minky as a backing. The extra width makes for an easy quilt backing on a baby quilt or throw. I actually bought enough of the elephant backing fabric to back two quilts, this one and another baby quilt I have partially cut out. The colors work perfectly with the other quilt, which is thankfully just quilting cottons and NO polyfil ;-)

I hope to finish this quilt tomorrow, and deliver it on Sunday, when I go to the gender reveal party, and find out if my 8th grandchild is a boy or girl. Right now it's 4-3 in favor of boys, so either the boys will get a bigger lead, or the girls will tie it up!

What else have I been up to?

The setting triangles for both colorways of Allietare quilts are done.

I pressed the brown/green quilt center and hung it in the closet with my UFO's. I can't decide on a border.

I finished the third weighted blanket, mailed it off, and it's already being used by it's recipient. I have some plastic pellets left, but they'll likely be used in a couple bean bag type toys. Definitely not enough for another blanket.

I still have the quilt for me on the guest bed. I had just enough purple fleece from the weighted blankets left to back it, but I haven't had time to get it basted yet. I'd like to get it basted in the next week, even though I wont have time to quilt it for a while. If it's basted already, I can probably sneak it in the next quilting spree. Next week I'll be back to piecing normal quilts, all with deadlines!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Life is Messy

Every person has their preferences in decorating. Some like minimalist stuff, clean lines, and neutral colors. Some people are bright and fun, some only want calming influences. I've noticed in the same way, quilters vary widely on the scrappiness factor.

I make a lot of scrappy quilts, and even if they aren't actual scraps, they are multi-fabric quilts.

I assembled this quilt center while I was working on the weighted blankets. Lots of different browns and greens, but incredibly color controlled. I used only dark greens, medium to dark browns. Even people who aren't normally scrappy fans, can usually handle a quilt this color controlled.

The other quilt top I assembled while working on the weighted blankets is this one.

The pieces in this quilt finish at 1x2 inches, and this is one of my "Kitchen Sink" quilts. You know, everything in there but the kitchen sink? These are my favorite kind of quilts, even when I see antique quilts, the ones that are so scrappy the design is lost, those are the ones that I love.

Why am I so enamoured by quilts that to most look like a scrappy mess? These quilts tell a story, the story of the makers life. It's not a neat example of their best work, it's a mishmash of moments, some happy, some sad, all memories that to the maker, are like a walk down memory lane.

My husband and I decided before we had kids, that we wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom. We raised five kids on one income, and times were pretty tight. I made a lot of my kids clothes to save money, and any time I purchased fabric, it was a big deal. When I look at this quilt, I see moments in time, captured in a scrap of fabric.

^See the black fabric in the middle? The one with the tiny rosebuds? My mother-in-law gave me that fabric, and I made myself a maternity dress out of it.

Based on the age of the other kids in this pic, I'd say I was pregnant with number 4 in this pic, and funnily enough, I'm leaning on my sewing machine. We lived in Moberly, MO here.

^The blue paisley? From DH's grandmother's stash, that I got when she passed away. The pink floral stripe? Matching dresses for my oldest two daughters and me.

^The blue fabric in the middle is cut too small to tell, but it's squid fabric from which I made shorts for my boys.

^That purple tone on tone? Matching Christmas dresses for my three girls.

^The light green calico just right of center? One of my favorite outfits I made for my middle daughter.

 The stripe fabric? A blouse for my oldest daughter.

So many things I've made through the years, so many memories.

The green fabric under the yellow stripe? I snagged that from my mom's stash, and made curtains for my boys bedroom. 

The light purple fabric, a Bible cover for one of my daughters.

Where other people see a scrappy mess, I see memories, clear and sure. Fabrics from maternity clothes, that I wore in the NICU in Texas, when they told me my oldest son was not likely to live (glad they were wrong!), fabrics from baby blankets I wrapped my babies in while I nursed them. There is a scrap from the very first quilt I even made, a crib sized quilt I made as a wall hanging for my oldest daughter. Scraps from before I had children, all the way to scraps from the quilts I've made my grandchildren. There is even a couple scraps from the purse I made one of daughters-in-law earlier this year! 

Is this the prettiest quilt I've made? No. Does the pattern get lost is the scrappiness? Yes. You know what, life is messy, and there isn't always a clear path. The more I worked on this quilt, the more I decided this is MY quilt. I'm not giving this one away, it will be my snuggle quilt. I've got just enough purple fleece left over from the weighted blankets to back it. No border, I'll just quilt it and bind with purple. I might be the only one who appreciates this quilt, but that's OK, it's mine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Back to Sewing!

It feels so good to be back to sewing! I still haven't sewn in my new sewing room, I've been using my Bernina in my bedroom. The cabinet in my bedroom is better for assembling quilts, and that's what I'm doing, so that's where I'm sewing.

I finished another weighted blanket, and I'm making another one identical to this one. After actually seeing a weighted blanket in use, I changed my construction methods a little, to make it sturdier. I still sewed just the  longer sides right sides together With the backing two inches longer on top and bottom. After I turned it right side out, I added topstitching along the sides to further re-enforce the seams. Instead of stitching in the ditch like I did on the first one to make the channels, I used a serpentine stitch, which further re-enforced every seam.

Here's a photo of the back, and you can see the serpentine stitching. I think re-enforcing the seams was a good move, because these blankets are heavy, and the pellets inside are always moving around. I was much happier with this weighted blanket, and I am making the third one exactly like this. I think I'll be out of plastic pellets after the third weighted blanket. I had originally only planned to make two blankets, but I bought enough pellets for three, and as soon as a friend of mine found out I was making them, she asked for one. I had enough of both fabric and pellets to make one more, so it worked out for the best.

The weighted blanket in the photos is on the way to its recipient, but I've already started the third one. In fact, I'm using UFO's as my leaders/enders while I work on the last weighted blanket.

I've got the rows sewn together for three quilts now. Tomorrow I'll press these rows and get some quilt tops together. I'm only using UFO's as leaders/enders as much as possible right now. I have a whole laundry basket full of blocks ready to be sewn into quilt tops, so every time I assemble a quilt, I'll be using at least one UFO as my leader/enders until that basket is empty. When I assemble a big quilt, or one with a lot of rows, it's not hard to get two UFO's assembled for one main quilt. I'm not going to mess with borders right now, I'm just getting blocks sewn into quilt centers, then I'll make decisions about borders later. I'm making more and more quilts without borders these days, but I know some of the UFO's I have will be getting borders.

I still have six deadline quilts for this year, since I've had a few additions to my list. If I wasn't using UFO's as leaders/enders, I wouldn't be making any progress on them at all. For the quilts that need borders, there will still be more piecing work down the line, but at least getting them to quilt center stage allows them to be hung in the closet, more out of my way than they are currently. I already have one deadline quilt on my list for 2017, but I'm hoping it will be a big quilting year instead of a big piecing year, and that I get a lot of finishes next year.

I didn't want to work on assembling more than three quilts once, so when I ran out of leaders/enders, I started making the setting triangles for the Allietare mystery quilts. I should have the setting triangles for both of my mystery quilts done by the time I'm done with the current quilt assembly, so then the mystery quilts will be ready to assemble too! Next deadline quilt I assemble, I may be using the mystery quilts as my leader/enders.

I may have too many projects in the works right now, but I feel like I'm moving forward on several, so it's all good!