Friday, August 18, 2017

Too Busy Sewing to Blog

I have been sewing a LOT, and not thinking much about blogging, so if this is disjointed, I'm sorry in advance. 


All of this is waiting to be pressed. I have an ironing station set up in my bedroom, but it heats up the room too much for me to want to do it in there, so I set up an ironing board in the kitchen. This ironing board is 30+ years old, and I think it's time for a replacement. It's not particularly stable anymore, and I think it may just be time to bite the bullet and replace it. I looked at some ironing boards online, and I saw really cheap ones that I'm not thinking will last long, and I also saw some REALLY expensive ones. Who knew you could spend $1,000 on an ironing board??? Any suggestions on a decent ironing board that doesn't cost a mortgage payment to buy?

Looking at all of that waiting to be pressed, you may think I haven't pressed anything this week, but that's not true either. To be fair, I have been waiting until I absolutely have to press things. Summer in Southern Arizona is no laughing matter, and heating up the house is less than desirable right now. 


All of these were pressed this week. I had so many blue 2" strips in the scrap user system, I cut out two blue quilts at once. One will be a wedding quilt.


Here's the layout I'm going to use. The quilt will be 108" square. The quilt idea came from a magazine last spring??? I think the quilt design was called Waterfall, but maybe not because a google search didn't find it. The magazine quilt was much smaller, and didn't use the same layout, but my design is based on someone else's. In the photo of pressed blocks, the blocks in the middle are for this quilt, but the other blocks for it are still on my ironing board board waiting to be pressed. No border for this quilt, I'm using borders less and less these days. The quilt in real life will be a lot more colorful than this, because I'm using up a LOT of novelty fabric scraps. 

So, if the framed blocks are pressed, and the blue strip blocks are on my ironing board, what's with the shoebox full of blue strips? Actually, the shoebox is filled with blue strips sewn in pairs, that will go for a Weed Whacker quilt. All of the corner pieces that need to be sewn onto the pairs of strips are also in the shoebox. I pieced a traditional piano key border for the Weed Whacker quilt, and it's pressed too. 


I wrapped the four long borders around a piece of pool noodle, so it will stay nicely pressed until I need it. Between the two quilts I'm busting a LOT of blue scraps, which is a really good thing.

So that only leaves one stack of pressed blocks unexplained. Remember I made a comfort quilt last month? Well I took all those bonus HST's, and made blocks for a Twisted Ribbon quilt. 

I think the Twisted Ribbon quilt will look pretty cool when it's done. 

So why am I jumping from project to project without finishing anything? I actually have a(n) excuse reason. DH will be out of town for a week, and I want to get as many quilts into blocks as I can before he leaves, because while he is gone is the perfect time to assemble quilts. If I lay out quilts on our bedroom floor, but don't manage to finish getting the top assembled before bedtime, better to only inconvenience myself than DH too. 

As for all the stripsets on the ironing board, I'll explain what those are going for next time. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Microburst!

I've had a pretty productive week. I finished the blocks for the center of one wedding quilt. I also made 124 of 144 blocks for another wedding quilt, when I was rudely interrupted by a microburst! I shut my Bernina off as soon as the weather turned nasty. I'd hate to fry the motherboard with a power surge. Since I wasn't sewing, I watched out the window.




Crazy, right??? 

Here's the neighbor's house diagonal from me.


That tree wasn't on their house before this storm. Another house on our street ended up with a tree on it, and that one was far more damaged. We drove around the neighborhood today, and a couple of the houses lost their roofs, several lost carports. There are downed trees all over, and an apartment complex right by us had so many trees felled by the storm that people were trapped in their apartments and had to be rescued. We were without power for about nine hours, but I think that's a quick turnaround considering how much damage there is. 

We were blessed that we had almost no damage. I was home alone at the time, and I was surprisingly calm, even though I anticipated damage to our house. The house was shaking, and debris was flying, so I was figuring there was a good chance we'd have some serious damage. 

Today, after a look around the neighborhood and some errands done, I'm being serenaded by the sounds of chainsaws and hammers, as people go about repairing the damage. That's what people do, rebuild after storms, whether it's literal rebuilding after a physical storm, or emotional rebuilding after a traumatic event. Resilience is one of the more noble human traits.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cutting? A Little. Sewing? A LOT!!!

In my last blog post I mentioned I couldn't find my 2.5" shirt strips. Well, technically, I still haven't, BUT, I remembered that when I first started using the Scrap User System, I didn't keep shirt parts separate. I looked in my regular 2.5" strips, and found a decent amount of shirt strips, so I cut those up into squares and kitted up that last project. 

I've cut enough to keep me going for a while, so I've been sewing away. My main project right now is the wedding quilt for DS the Elder and DDIL. They just celebrated their first anniversary, so that's a good indication of how far behind you fall when you don't quilt much for a year. My goal on all these wedding quilts I am behind on is to get it to the couple by their second anniversary. 

I love the pattern I chose for this first wedding quilt, BUT, it's an easy quilt to get mixed up on. There are only two types of blocks, but multiple colorways of each one.


I've got all the slanted blocks done, but I have a long way to go on the nine patches. You need differing amounts of each colorway too, so I have to pay really close attention to what I'm doing. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but for me, I need a completely different leader/ender project when my main project is complicated. I'm afraid if I just used another nine patch as my leader/ender, I'd end up with 20 of a colorway, when I only needed 8. 

While I was making the slanted blocks with all those flip and sew corners, I was using some Flying Geese as my leader/enders. Now that I'm working on nine patches, I made those Flying Geese units into quilt blocks.


I have more Flying Geese units to sew, and I will sew them, next project I have flip and sew corners. I really like how these blocks are coming out, and I may cut more when I run out and make this into a bed sized quilt. You never know, but for right now these are just being set aside. 

Now, on those slanted blocks with the flip and sew corners? I sewed a second line about 1/2 from the first, and then had a stack of bonus HST's. Because of the odd colorways of blocks I needed, the bonus HST's were in different amounts in each color, just like the main blocks. I trimmed all the HST's to size, and yesterday I sewed the bonus HST's into 12" blocks.


I didn't want any of the blocks the same, so I just played around with what I had. I've decided to piece the backing of this wedding quilt into what will basically be another quilt. I pieced these blocks as leaders/enders while making the nine patch blocks. I have a few different ideas in my head about how to add to these blocks for the backing. I am planning on a medallion style backing with the last border being very wide, knowing I won't be able to line the top and backing up exactly, so I'm planning for fudge room. 

Now that I've used up all the Flying Geese unit I had, and I used all the large bonus HST's, I'm back to using these blocks as my leader/enders.


 I get asked pretty frequently how I keep all my projects straight. Well, for one thing, I am actually only sewing two things at once. When I was using my bonus HST blocks as my leader/ender, I was working on those and nine patches. When I was sewing up the Flying Geese blocks as my leader/enders, I was working on those with nine patches. Once I've used up all of whatever units I have, I move those blocks off my sewing cabinet, so I don't have as much visual clutter. Every time I finish the correct number of blocks in each colorway, I move them off the sewing cabinet. 

I also have two areas that I use for laying out blocks. I like to have a table at 90 degrees to my sewing cabinet. Right now, that's where I'm laying out my leader/ender block since those are larger than my main project blocks.


To the right of my sewing machine, on my sewing cabinet, I'm laying out the next main project block.


I think it sounds like I'm working on more than I am, because I have so much kitted up right now. I will keep changing what I am working on, as I run out of units of certain things. I am hoping to get all the units made for more than one wedding quilt in August. DH will be away for a week in September, and that would be the perfect time to assemble some quilts. I'll likely have one quilt at a time spread out on the floor of our bedroom, so having some time where I don't have to clean up before he gets home from work would be good. It can take a while to get these huge quilts assembled. 

Oh, I wanted to tell you about something I heard this week, that I'm already putting into practice. I was reading through the posts in one of my sewing Facebook groups, and someone mentioned their hip was hurting after sewing for long hours. I've been having the same problem, so I anxiously read through the comments. One lady said her hip hurts if she doesn't put something under her left foot, to raise it to the same height as her right foot on the sewing pedal. She said she used a piece of 2x4 she had lying around. I looked around my sewing room, and found a plastic box about the right height, and I've been resting my left foot on it. What a difference it has made! 

I knew my set up wasn't the best ergonomically, because I have short legs and even with my adjustable chair at the lowest height, my legs are still not at a 90 degree angle, and they dangle down. Because of that positioning of my legs, my legs tend to fall asleep, my ankles swell, and I'm just basically not getting good circulation in my legs when I sew.  I try to get up and move around pretty often, but sometimes I just get "in the zone" and forget.

Anyway, now that I've raised my left foot, my legs are almost at 90 degrees, I'm realizing how twisted my body was before from having one foot up and one foot down. No back ache, no hip pain, less swelling, it's amazing! I think I may have DH build me something to put my feet on. I'm thinking of it being just a tad higher than what I'm using now, a place for my sewing foot pedal to keep it in place, and a rest for my right foot when I don't want it on the foot pedal at all. Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

More Cutting!

When I go on a cutting spree, I really go for it! I just spent most of the last week with DD#2, and I brought three projects with me. I brought one needlepoint project, a box of squares to draw lines on, and some strips to sub-cut. The only one I did was sub-cutting the strips.

After cutting up all those shirt backs, I ended up with smaller strips that wouldn't work for the quilts I was currently making. Instead of sticking them with stash, I decided to kit up another quilt, to use as leaders/enders in the future. I ended up with the most 2.5" strips, so I took those to my daughter's house. I have some rulers that are the exact size to use with 2.5" strips, which is great for when I'm talking and visiting and might use the wrong line if I had a multi-size ruler. I decided to cut as many HST's as I could, having no pattern in mind at the time, but knowing HST's are always a good option. While I was cutting I decided to use these in a split nine patch with a solid center square.

When I got home, I cut all the 6.5" strips into HST's for a couple twin sized quilts, then cut as many 2.5" squares as I could from those scraps to use in the split nine patch project. Here's what I've got now!


Do I know how many HST's I've got? No. When I'm improvising, I don't really care. I have more men's shirt parts, and I can always cut more. Cut too many, no such thing, they'll just go into another project. 

I don't have near enough squares cut for the split nine patch quilt, and I certainly have plenty to work on already. I did try to find my containers of 2.5" shirt strips. I found one of dark strips, but I thought I had two of dark strips, and one of light. I KNOW I had one of light strips, but I could have been wrong about two of dark, it could just be one. 

With no sewing room right now, my stuff is all over the house, and even though I looked all over the house, that shoebox full of light 2.5" shirt strips is hiding!!! When I have a sewing room, I keep everything organized, because not being able to find what I want drives me crazy! I have enough darks in the one box I found to make the quilt, but you can't make a split nine patch without lights. Hmmmmm... Guess I'll keep looking and hope I stumble onto it. With all the projects I have going on right now, I may not need to find them before I have a sewing room again. I'm thinking I'll have a sewing room next summer, if nothing unexpected comes up. I have plenty to keep me busy until then even if I can't find that box. 



This is Mr. LJ, kicking up a storm! I know it's blurry, but it's one of the only photos I managed to get where he was looking at me. A week of baby snuggles was just what I needed. 

We've had a bunch of errands to run, but the weekend should be prime sewing time! DH is working, and the only plans I've got are to sew, sew sew!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Blazing Rotary Cutter

I think my rotary cutter needs flames on it, because it's gotten so much use in the last week it deserves flames.


Here are five quilts, all ready for sewing. Some will need sub-cutting after I get the strip sets made, but they are all ready to sew. 


These stacks represent three quilts in the making. Well, it could be more, or I suppose less, if I guessed wrong and need to cut more. The baskets in the top photo have been cut with a specific pattern and size in mind. Those are all gifts, and I take that more seriously. The bottom photo, those fabrics are all from men's shirts I bought on that last big shopping spree. I need to make two twin sized quilts for the grandkids guest room, and while I was cutting up shirts, I decided to make a Scrappy Mountains Majesty quilt too. 

I need to sub-cut the 6 inch strips into HST's with my Easy Angle ruler, but, honestly, I'm sick of cutting and need a few days off. I have a couple ideas of how I want to set the HST's, but mostly, I plan on making as many HST's as I can with this stack, and then start playing with them. I don't know how many shirts I cut up, if I need more, I'll grab some from my shirt stash. If I end up with a lot more than I need, I'll just start another quilt. 

I have no idea how many squares I cut for the Scrappy Mountains Majesty quilt. Again, I'll make as many blocks as I can, then see what I can come up with. That quilt has no intended owner yet, but now that my house is almost empty of people, I realize how few quilts I own. I give them all away! Right now there is not one single quilt on any of the beds in the house. I own two quilt racks, but only enough quilts for one. It's time to start making some quilts for our house. I am swamped with wedding quilts to make, but I figured if I cut out some quilts for the grandkids guest room, I may be able to get those done in between the other quilts. 

I also think that, for the time being, I'm going to be keeping the UFO's I finish. I'd really like to see quilts all over the house, and right now there are hardly any. Once I have some, I can replace them with ones I like better, and pass some others on, but for now, I just really want some quilts that stay here. DH has been bugging me about this for a while, and I've just realized how few quilts we actually have. All of my kids have more of my quilts at their houses, than I have here. No wonder DH has been saying we should keep some. 

I think the goal of making some quilts for our house, is going to keep me motivated to finish the gift quilts I need to make. I hope so anyway, because I hate having a to-do list as long as mine is right now. I've never fallen so far behind on gift quilts before, but the last year has been really hard, and sewing just wasn't happening. I'm so glad things have changed for the better now!

Monday, July 10, 2017

30 Years of Scraps

I finished a UFO today! I am trying so far to stick with my goal of finishing one UFO for every new finish. 


All the pieces in this quilt finish at 1x2 inches. There are scraps from maternity clothes I made in 1986, all the way though to scraps from a purse I made in 2016. 30 years of sewing history!!! This is going to be a great quilt to use for napping! I showed this to DD#1 yesterday, and she was looking over the scraps pointing out which ones I had used in making things for her. Dress scraps from when she was little, scraps from her wedding quilt, scraps from quilts I've made her children, they are all in here. It may not be the prettiest quilt I've ever made, but the memories it holds are priceless, so it may be one of my favorites!

I had a little bit of quilter's serendipity going on, and Dino says, "Hi!" to everyone!




I backed this quilt with purple fleece, and free motioned some fans on the quilt. I do use batting, even with fleece backings, and this is a nice squishy quilt. I free handed all the fans, doing one row left to right, the next right to left, which is why my fans are going different directions. 

I also had to do some salvaging of another quilt. For our 25th anniversary, we took a very short trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. I made a quilt from the fabrics I bought there as soon as we returned. It's been on our bed almost 8 years, and it's in sad shape in certain areas. 


Some of these fabrics are just shredding! There was no way to applique over all the areas that were damaged, so I opted to cut the quilt down to a small throw, saving only the best areas of the quilt.


This is the new look for this quilt, and it should last quite a few years more only getting occasional use. 

As I was cutting off the parts I was no longer going to use, some of which was in decent shape, I thought about all the projects I've seen done with cutter quilts like this. Placemats? I never use them. Cute Hawaiian teddy bears? Those would be adorable, BUT do I really want to make them, and do I want to spend the time to make them, and what would I do with them when they were done??? You know what I decided? I decided the cut-offs were not worth saving to me. Could I have done something with them? Sure, I could have. When it came right down to it though, keeping the throw sized quilt was enough for me, and I don't need any more on my to-do list. It felt weird throwing the rest of the quilt away, but I know it was the best thing to do for me. Now that it's done, I feel relief, and no guilt over not adding yet another project to my list. 

I think the rest of this week is going to be spent cutting out more wedding quilts. If I can get all the quilts I am behind on cut out, it will seem like it's going faster, sewing them together. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Comfort Quilt


I put in long hours to get this quilt made from start to finish in 7 days. Lots of white areas for people to write well wishes with fabric markers. 

I needed white batting for the quilt, and the only white batting I had was polyester. It's not my favorite, but it's OK. If you remember, I don't currently have a sewing room. That means the contents of my sewing room are literally all over the house. I have stuff in seven different closets, under the stairs, as well as four different rooms not in closets. Knowing I have batting, and knowing where it is are not the same thing. I thought I had a little bit of polyester batting left on a roll. After much searching, I remembered I used the rest of that roll last year. 

Hmmmm....Well, I know exactly where some king sized packaged batting is, but I really don't want to cut into a king sized batting for this sized quilt. I have pieced batting large enough, but I don't want to use pieced batting when people are writing on a finished quilt. Could I possibly have an unopened roll of poly batting somewhere in the house? I usually buy another roll when I'm down to just a couple quilts worth on the current roll. 

Just the size of a roll of batting narrowed down the possible places it could be, if I even had one. Eureka! Hiding behind an almost empty roll of cotton batting, I found an unopened roll of polyester batting! Poly batting expands so much when you take the wrapping off, that it was in a smaller space than I had originally thought it would fit, it was so compressed in the packaging.

I tried to make the front of the quilt bright and cheery, and when I went hunting in my stash for a backing fabric, I found a pretty good option.


I had to piece it a bit, to make it the right size, but I'm happy with how it looks with the front. I had purchased this fabric a year or two ago at a thrift store, for $2-3. I had enough to back this quilt (took 3 yards) and I still have two yards left. I'll tell you what, without thrift stores, my fabric stash wouldn't be near as large as it is!

Now that this quilt is finished, I am faced with my self imposed rule of finishing one UFO for every new finish. I have two quilts pin-basted, that are really in my way, so I'm going to start quilting one of those today. I might just go ahead and quilt both, I haven't decided yet. It would be kind of nice to finish two UFO's before I go back to the wedding quilts. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Twofer

I'm assuming you've heard the expression "twofer", if not, it's a slang way of saying "Two for one". I had a big interruption on making wedding quilts this week, because I need to make a comfort quilt. Yet another person we know has cancer, and cancer sucks. Unfortunately, this is far from the first comfort quilt I've made for this reason. I don't mind putting everything else aside to make a comfort quilt, it's such a small thing when they are facing such a big thing. 

As with all the other comfort quilts I've made for this reason, I use some solid white so people can sign the quilt with well wishes. Wouldn't you rather have a quilt than a card?

I know a lot of people have people sign fabric before it gets sewn into the quilt, and I've tried that, but in my experience, people never follow directions, always write in the seam allowances so important parts of the messages are lost. Also, If I have to make the quilt after the pieces are signed I feel under even more pressure to work quickly, which makes me cranky. I've yet to have everyone sign before the quilt is finished anyone, so some people end up signing the finished quilt anyway, so why not make everyone sign the finished quilt? This is the way I've done it the last several comfort quilts I've made and I've had far less drama this way. Your experience may vary, but for me, finishing the quilt first is the way to go. 

I cut my white squares at 6.5" from yardage. For the corners I dug through my 3.5" strips. I wanted fabrics that were bright and cheerful, and I found a nice selection already cut to size.


I'm so glad I precut strips into common sizes, if I didn't, this quilt wouldn't have as much variety as it's got. If I had had to handle a bunch of fat quarters or yardage, I would have opted for just a few fabrics in an effort to save time.

I decided to make square in a square blocks, and although I certainly could have just cut everything to size from the beginning, I opted for making flip and sew corners. I didn't want to take the time to draw diagonal lines, and as with most things quilty, there is more than one way to get things done. 


I got out my Folded Corner Clipper ruler, and used it to cut the corner off leaving a perfect 1/4 seam allowance ready to sew. 


After I sew the corner onto the white square, I turn my cutting mat, and use the same ruler to cut a 2.5" HST from the "waste". This HST will finish at 2", and I already have a plan for all the HST's from this quilt. The only real "waste" is the small strip leftover from cutting between the corner and the HST. It's less than 1/4" wide, and I have no problems tossing it. 


I do opposite corners, finger press open, then do the last two corners. 


Here is the square in a square unit finished, no sliver trimming needed. If you'd like to try making units this way, but don't have the Folded Corner Clipper ruler, you can still try it if you've got the Easy Angle Ruler.


The lighting makes it look like the lines aren't quite lined up, but they are actually spot on. The markings are a little easier to follow on the Folded Corner Clipper for this use, because that's what it's made to do. 


Using this method, with the sizes I chose to use (6.5 and 3.5 squares) You'll end up with one 6" finished block, and four HST's that would finish into a 4" block. I played with various layouts for the HST's, and I figured out something that will use exactly the number of HST's I have after making the 99 blocks I needed for the comfort quilt. I'm not saying what I'm doing with them right now, it will be a surprise for you later! At any rate, the little bit of extra time I took sewing those bonus HST's will net me a second quilt for what seems like free, a twofer!


This was my set up for cutting an sewing these blocks. The extra table allows me to just turn my chair to cut, then turn again to sew. 


I haven't pressed all those blocks yet, but I just finished the last block about an hour ago. The plastic tub has all the bonus HST's. My goal is to assemble the comfort quilt top tomorrow, and get it pin-basted. Sunday the goal is to get it quilted and bound. DH has Monday off, so if I can't get it finished until then that's OK. He can bring the quilt and the fabric markers to work on Tuesday. I'll post pics when it's finished.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Starting on the Backlog

I've finally started sewing on a wedding quilt! I am SOOOO far behind on wedding quilts! Five to make and four of those couples already married! No matter how much I want to sew, getting back in the habit of sewing long hours is hard. Interruptions are still a regular occurrence too, life hasn't calmed down as much as I thought it would.

At any rate, I've gotten some units for the first wedding quilt done!


I have so many different colorways of units to make, I'm actually using my leader/ender project to keep the different colorways separate. When I am doing flip and sew corners, I like to use a flip and sew corner leader/ender project. One of my new scrap projects needs Flying Geese units in sets of eight, so I'm using those as my leader/enders right now.


Since I need sets of eight for the Flying Geese, I'm actually using an entire set as my leader/ender. See the chain of Flying Geese at the end of my chain piecing? I'm double sewing all of my flip and sew corners, so I'll have plenty of bonus HST's to play with.


Here are my bonus HST's so far. I'm keeping the sizes separate, and I will press them at a later date. Right now I am sewing as much as I can before I have to press, then my goal is to keep my iron on as little time as possible. Temps have been in the 110's, and anything that heats the house is not welcome.


Here is my progress on the next colorway.  Notice that double sewing so I can just cut between the lines of sewing and my bonus HST's are ready.


My Flying Geese are starting to pile up too! I'll sew these into blocks when I get to the nine patch portion of this quilt.

I LOVE bonus HST's, and I will do flip and sew corners just to get them, even if it's just as easy to use a ruler and use less fabric. Bonus HST's are just so much fun to play with, and when I sew them like this, it feels like I get an extra quilt from nothing. I know in my head it's just as much sewing, but it FEELS like less.

I always have so many ideas running through my head for bonus HST's, and for this wedding quilt, I am debating using all the bonus HST's from the front on the back to make a double sided quilt. I based my color choices on some fabrics that likely won't be used on the front, because of the pattern I chose. I could use all those fabrics on the backing, and with some creative thinking make a really cool backing. The bonus HST's could work in there just fine.

I'm not sure I've ever shown it here, but because I do flip and sew corners so often, and most of my quilts are scrappy, I usually have my clipboard case full of neutral or blacks squares ready to draw lines on. Here is my case


I usually have a piece of paper clipped onto it so I don't draw all over it while drawing lines. I use mechanical pencils so I don't have to worry about sharpening on the go (or white or silver markers if I'm marking black fabric) I keep this little ruler in the case, along with an assortment of Bonus buddies cut to various sizes. I use template plastic for my bonus buddies, cut them into different sized squares, then cut them diagonally. I get two bonus buddies from each square of template plastic. When I'm working with 2.5 inch squares, I like to use my 1.75 inch bonus buddy, so I draw the first line diagonally on each square with the ruler, then I fit my bonus buddy into one corner, and draw the second sewing line. I know some people use a 2" bonus buddy on 2.5 inch squares, but I don't like cutting the seam short. I often do 16 patches with the bonus HST's, which finish into a 5" square when using 1.75" HST's.


Here is my case open. When I finish marking all these squares, I'll cut another batch, not necessarily the same size or colors, and then start marking those. This case goes with me on long car trips, hotels, or anyplace I'm going to have down time and need something to do. When I wanted to do a Flying Geese leader/ender project, I didn't have to mark anything, because I had already marked enough squares for the project ahead of time. I'm usually thinking a dozen or more quilts ahead, and being able to do some of the tedious stuff ahead of time makes the time seem to go faster when I actually start the project.

There will be no sewing for me the next three days at least. My schedule is completely full of family events. I may get a few more units sewn up tonight, but I'm pretty sore from sewing all day. I may just put on a movie and draw diagonal lines on the last of the squares that need them for this quilt. If I have time, I'll draw lines on some the squares in my case.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bounty, Beauty, and Birthdays

Remember a while back I posted my huge haul from thrift store shopping? While I've had out of town company, I've been cutting up those thrift store shirts, tossing the seams, and consolidating the shirt parts to take up a LOT less space. I realized a couple weeks ago, that right now there is not one single bed in my house with a quilt on it. I have a quilt top finished that is destined for the queen sized guest bed, but it's not pin-basted or quilted yet. I have old ratty blankets on the grandkid guest beds, my DIL has a comforter on her bed, and I have a bedspread on mine, because the quilt we had on ours was falling apart. 

I decided while cutting apart these shirts, that I'll be making two twin sized quilts for the grandkid guest room from shirts. With all my deadline quilts well past due, I need something easy, so I'm thinking 6" HST's set in a barn raising pattern. That is a larger size piece than I usually use from shirts, so I'm saving all the backs of the shirts for this project.


These are the backs of the shirts I've "de-boned" so far. I'm doing a few shirts a day among other projects, and I hope to reach the end of my thrift store bounty by next weekend. I think all the rest of the shirt pieces will fit in one box when I'm done. They really do take up a lot less space when cut apart and the unusable bits are tossed. 

Yesterday I got my hair cut. For most people that's not a blog-worthy item, but for me, maybe it is. 


This is what got cut off. In case you can't read the numbers, the longest bits are over 21", with most being around 20", not a small amount of hair to cut off. So, are you wondering how long my hair is now???



Still past my shoulders...


And long enough for a ponytail! My hair grows REALLY fast, it always has, and cutting off this much is no big deal because I know it will be long again before I know it. 

You probably think my hair is the beauty part of my post, but it's not. The beauty and birthday part is combined. You see, in a couple weeks I will be turning 50! How that much time has passed I have no idea! I don't FEEL that old. I want to make MYSELF a quilt to celebrate turning 50. This is actually the first time I've felt weird about getting older. Turning 30 and 40 were no big deal to me, but somehow 50 feels HUGE! It could just be because the last 18 months have been incredibly stressful, with lots of nasty things to deal with, so I'm pretty overwhelmed already. 

That's why I've decided to turn my life verse into a quilt. The Bible verse which has always been closest to my heart is 

 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

The last 18 months have been really hard, and I've had to remind myself that God can turn bad things around and use them for good. To give myself a visual reminder of that, I want to make an ugly fabric quilt, or in my case, a Romans 8:28 quilt. On facebook, I asked my friends and family to send me a piece of fabric they consider ugly, and that if they did, I would include it in my quilt. 

You know the saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Well, evidently, so is ugly!


Here is what I've been sent so far, and most of it is not ugly in my opinion. (To be fair, the person who sent the cute little elephants knows it's not ugly, but they wanted it to be a memorial fabric for a family member of ours) Do you have an ugly fabric that you wouldn't mind passing on? If you do, comment on the post telling me so,  and I'll contact you privately with my address. I'm really looking forward to this challenge, trying to make something good out of ugly-ish bits. I'm not God, and I can't turn things around like He can, but I am excited to try in this small way. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bibs for Baby

I had been hoping to finish Mr. LJ's bibs before our out-of-town company arrived, and that didn't happen, but I did get all the ribbing sewn on for the necklines. 

Today I had a bit of time alone, while company had other plans, so I managed to get all the appliques fused on, so a bit of time sewing around the edges is all I need to call this project done.


Here's how they look right now. The two with printed towels on the right are finished, I won't add applique to those. The rest just need the applique stitched down, and then I can pack them up and mail them if we don't decide to drive up to Phoenix next week. I know DD#2 is anxious to get the bibs, she's been getting by with only three bibs leftover from the twins.

Since I try to keep a lookout for hand towels at thrift stores, I had everything on hand to make these bibs. The appliques are just cut from novelty fabrics with fusible on the back. My mom gave me a bunch of ribbing a while back, and so I had several colors to choose from. 

I have a stash that would make a lot of people uncomfortable, thinking it was too much, but I like everything to be on hand for a project. I have weeded out things I am unlikely to use, most of my garment fabrics, and pretty much everything non-quilting related. Some things I make somewhat frequently, like bibs, I kept the stuff to make. About the only thing I use ribbing for these days are bibs, so any scraps too small to get a neckline from I tossed. I'm just not likely to make baby t-shirts with ribbing, so saving tiny pieces of ribbing is silly. 

The pre-cutting scraps vs. not pre-cutting scraps question came up on one of my quilting groups again. Honestly, there is no right answer to that question, and anyone who thinks there is, must believe every works the same way they do.  It really depends on what you like to do as a quilter, how prolific you are, and how much money you have available for quilting. If you hate scrap quilts, there is no reason to save scraps at all, you'll likely never use them. If everything has to be matchy-matchy for you to enjoy a project, don't bother saving scraps. If you do a lot of applique, and need a bunch of odd shaped pieces, pre-cutting may not be efficient for you. If, on the other hand, you love scrap quilts like I do, and hate matchy-matchy things like I do, than pre-cutting scraps may work great for you like it does for me. I make lots of quilt patterns that can be cut from strips, and the more variety the better in my book, so pre-cutting scraps into usable sizes and storing them neatly so I'm not having to iron a huge mess saves me a ton of time. I tried just saving scraps in totes, and I never got around to using them, I just kept filling more totes with scraps. Once I took the time to cut them down into the sizes I use most? Yup, I use them all the time. I start out in my scrap user system every time I want to start a scrappy quilt. I divide my strips by color, so if I have an overwhelming amount of strips in a certain color, I tend to start a two color quilt, soon I'll start a blue and white quilt. I will likely have over 100 different blue fabrics in that quilt, and only one white. I'm looking forward to making it, seeing what I can do with what others may have tossed. 

DH is talking about retiring in a few years, and I want my stash to be MY retirement fund! I want to be able to quilt for years to come, without spending a fortune when we are on a fixed income. I'm blessed to have a great fabric stash, and I have lots of plans on how to use it!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Making My Own Rules

Now that I'm back in sewing mode, I'm trying to stick with my finishing one UFO for each deadline finish. The only quilt I've finished this year is the night fairy quilt for my youngest granddaughter, and technically, it was a UFO, but I'm counting it as a deadline quilt. 

I had cut out 11 placemats back in October, and I never got them finished. No piecing was needed, just quilt and bind, and it was more than I could do. Since I'm making my own rules, I decided to count those placemats as one UFO.


TA-DA! All finished, and there are 11, because there are two of the beach cats in the lower right corner. I have SO many novelty fabrics in my stash from my scrub top making days, and I'm always looking for ways to use them. I back a lot of kids quilts with novelty fabrics, and that's gets rid of the bigger pieces, but it gets trickier as the pieces get smaller. I make kids placemats 12"x18", so a twelve inch WOF piece easily makes one placemat, and I strip the remaining bit for my scrap user system. I do save 6.5 and 4.5 inch novelty squares for I Spy quilts, but I normally don't cut those squares until I'm dealing with scraps. I could probably make two dozen I Spy quilts from what I already have cut! I can whip up an I Spy quilt really fast if I need to, and I have!

Next project on my docket is making towel bibs for Mr. LJ. I routinely check thrift stores for hand towels in good shape. I have nine I purchased a while back that are in boyish colors.


The printed towels are really fast to make up, because I don't bother doing any applique on them. The solids will all end up with something added to make them more fun. I plan to cut the holes and ribbing today, so I can sew them up later this week. Sometimes, if I find a great sale, I'll buy new towels, but honestly, you can find some almost new hand towels at thrift stores really easily, and they cost a lot less. They are just going to be covered in food, so is having a new towel really necessary? Towels make great bibs, wash up great, and the hand towel size is my favorite, because it covers almost the whole baby, protecting their clothes much better. I always use the clean side of the towel to wipe the baby up afterwards, and it just works great!

We've got company coming for a week or so, but after that, and after I get the bibs done, I can start a QUILT!!! It's been so long since I pieced anything, I am beyond excited!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sewing is Happening Finally!

As usual, it's been busy around here. We had the birthday party that had been postponed, and there were approximately 50+ people here! I honestly didn't have time to count, and since I didn't know a lot of the people here, it's hard to figure out. Now that we've got so much family in town, we decided to buy three picnic tables for the backyard, giving us enough seating for the family in town, and we'll only have to set up tables and chairs for any extras.



Since we were actually having this party, it gave me the incentive I needed to finish up the house redo. It took me quite a while to get the kitchen looking decent again, and again, stuff got stuck in our bedroom to deal with later. :-(

Today was LATER! I was planning on sewing first thing this morning, but I looked around the bedroom, which is where I sew now, and I just couldn't take the mess anymore. I decided no sewing until I tackled the mess. That meant going through mail, sorting through piles of stuff that had been dumped in here during the flooring install and hadn't been put away yet, and some *gasp* DUSTING! 

Sometimes things look worse than they are, and after a couple hours, my bedroom was back to rights again! I feel SO much better now that the bedroom is tidied up, and I know DH will be too when he sees it. 

Before any quilting gets done around here, I have a few projects to finish first. Today I finished piecing the batting I started piecing a while back. Now I am ready to quilt those placemats I cut out in OCTOBER!!! 


Once those are finished, I'll be making baby bibs for Mr. LJ, who is now eating solids and really could have used them before now. I also managed to mend a few things I found during my cleaning spree. 

My goal is to have at least the placemats, but hopefully both the placemats and the bibs done before next Friday, when DS the Elder, DDIL, and Mr. A arrive for a visit. 

Everyone keeps asking me how I like my quiet house, and while it is certainly quieter most of the time, it's still a busy place. I am enjoying not having to be busy every minute of every day, even if there is still lots to do. Life is calming down, and that's a good thing! 

I have been thinking about quilting, and since I only have one of the wedding quilts I need to make cut out right now, I spent yesterday getting a different leader/ender project ready to sew. I had a bunch of scraps cut into 2.5 x 4.5 bricks already, and I found a block that only uses that size, so no cutting required. I did have to sort out which scraps I wanted together for the blocks, so I pinned the bricks for each block together yesterday. 


Some will be color controlled, some completely scrappy, but still arranged by value. With each block pinned, it should be an easy leader/ender project. Depending on how much I like how it's coming out, I may dig into my 2.5" strips and cut some more blocks. The color controlled set should make a decent sized throw quilt, but the completely scrappy ones would only make a baby quilt, and I'm not sure I want it to be a baby quilt. No worries, scrappy quilts are easy to add to, and I can cut more blocks if I decide to make it bigger.